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What Are Your Blessings?
By Susan Hines-Brigger

Q U I C K S C A N

We Are Blessed
Counting Our Blessings
For Teens: A Helping Hand
For Kids: Turkey Time

This past summer, my kids and I decided to grow a garden. We planned on growing pumpkins, zucchini, corn, sunflowers and carrots—planned being the key word. By the end of August, our garden consisted of a few carrots, some dead zucchini and pumpkin plants, no corn and some gigantic sunflowers.

The carrots never quite made it to maturity because the kids kept feeding them to their rabbits. I forgot to plant the corn at the appropriate time. And the other plants fell victim to a heat wave and my brother-in-law’s puppy.

Granted, the sunflowers were over six feet tall and beautiful but, from my perspective, the garden was a failure. Instead of reveling in the fun my kids and I had working on the garden and what it did produce, I lamented my dead plants.

If you asked my kids, though, they would have called our garden a rousing success. They had grown something that fed their rabbits almost every day—although I can’t see how the rabbits enjoyed the carrots much, given their size. And the kids giggled each time they walked beneath the sunflowers that towered over them.

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We Are Blessed

Blessings are a lot like my garden, I think. We often tend not to see them, even when they are right in front of us.

Now I know that my life is very blessed—a loving husband, three healthy children, my health and many other things. But to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I stopped and really took a moment to appreciate all the blessings in my life. In fact, probably the only time I do is when something tragic or unfortunate reminds me to do so.

Our faith grants us an abundance of blessings. We are surrounded by the love of Christ, offered forgiveness when we have done wrong, invited to receive the Body of Christ each week at Mass, welcomed and supported by members of our faith community and many others. The question is, though, do we take the time to recognize and rejoice in those blessings?

Counting Our Blessings

This month, we celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday that’s all about recognizing our blessings. Many of us will probably ask for blessings on us and our turkey dinner—without even giving it a second thought. Here are some other suggestions for ways in which we can remind ourselves that we are truly blessed:

Name your blessings. Sometimes even though we may know we are blessed, we don’t take the time to recognize those blessings. Take some time to name your blessings out loud. At dinner tonight, have everyone in your family name one way in which he or she is blessed.

Accentuate the positive. Focus on the blessings you do have rather than those you don’t. For instance, I could have basked in the shadow of those gorgeous giant sunflowers, but instead I focused on the things that didn’t grow.

Write it down. I recently reread Sara Ban Breathnach’s book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy (Warner Books). In the book, she urges readers to keep a gratitude journal where every day you write down five things for which you are grateful. I was surprised at how quickly I started recognizing things for which I am grateful.

Pass the word. If you consider someone to be a blessing in your life, let that person know. Tell your kids, parents, siblings or friends how much they mean to you and why.

Be a blessing. Try to do something nice for someone today. It doesn’t have to be something big. Bake some cookies, give a card with a personal note or a framed picture of you and the recipient, or make a CD of some favorite songs. You’d be surprised how much such blessings will be appreciated.

Recently, I was having a particularly bad week and my friend dropped off dinner and dessert for my whole family. Not only was it a thoughtful gesture, but it saved me from having to cook. And my family and I had a wonderful meal for which we gave thanks!

Next Month: And a Child Shall Lead Them

 

For Teens: A Helping Hand

Each year around Thanksgiving, there always seem to be appeals from local food agencies for donations that can be distributed to needy families. Unfortunately, the need is often greater than the resources. But you and your friends can do something to help out with that dilemma.

Contact a local food pantry—your parish may have one—to find out what is needed. Then pass out fliers in your neighborhood, parish or school indicating the needed items. Make sure you indicate on the fliers specifics about what you are doing, such as where the donations will be delivered and, most important, the date that you will be collecting these items. When you’re done collecting, deliver the items to the food pantry so they can be distributed to those in need.

For Kids: Turkey Time

Did you know that your hand can become a turkey? Here’s how. Place your hand down on a piece of paper. Spread out your fingers really wide. Trace around your hand and part of your wrist with a crayon or marker—or you can have someone else trace it for you. Draw a face on the thumb and color the other fingers as if they were the turkey’s feathers. You now have your very own Thanksgiving turkey!

 

Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at “Faith-filled Family,” 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to Family@franciscanmedia.org.


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