First find thankfulness

I photographed this harvest display at Montreal Botanical Garden, May 2009.

I photographed this harvest display at Montreal Botanical Garden, May 2009.

“This is the only life you will have before you enter eternity. If you want to find joy, you must first find thankfulness. Indeed, the one who is thankful for even a little enjoys much…It does not matter what your circumstances are; the instant you begin to thank God, even though your situation has not changed, you begin to change. The key that unlocks the gates of heaven is a thankful heart.” —  Francis Frangipane

We are thankful today!  We are thankful that Jeff is not in the hospital fighting for his life, as he was one year ago.  We are thankful that he is still able to work and enjoy life.  We are thankful that Matt survived his long-dreaded fifth major heart surgery, and that it has so far been successful at controlling his ever-increasing cardiac issues.

We are thankful for our precious grandson, Grady, and for our extended families.  We are grateful for the endless blessings of life, and for the friendship, prayers and support we have found here and elsewhere.  We are keenly aware of those who are hurting today, and our hearts share their sorrow even as we acknowledge that there is always reason to rejoice.  We pray for open eyes  to see opportunities to share our bounty with those in need.

We are thankful you are here with us today!  Feel free to leave a comment sharing your joys and sorrows, as we lift our hearts in appreciation for this wonderful, complicated, difficult, rewarding gift of being alive in this world.  Happy Thanksgiving Day!





  1. Jim Beavers

    Julia, I am thankful that you have been here for the past two years. You have been such a blessing. My wife has come a long way out of her depression and is able to function again. Your blog helped us through this long and difficult process. I am so thankful that you and your family have been blessed and Jeff and Matt’s health issues are improved. I have been praying for you all and will continue to do so.

    • Jim, thanks so much for your kind message. It means a great deal to me. I am happy to know your wife is doing better, and I wish you both a wonderful holiday season! We so appreciate your prayers and encouragement!

  2. Ann

    Hope this link works.

    Thanksgiving Medley of songs we (at least I ) grew up with.


    • Ann, I so enjoyed listening to this! I had just told Jeff the other day, I really miss hearing (and singing) “We gather together” at church, and I remember singing “Come you thankful people” in elementary school. We still sing “For the beauty of the earth” sometimes at church, though not as much as in years past. It was nice to hear them again today. I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

    • HarryS

      What a beautiful medley!

      • I agree, Harry. Thanks for sharing it, Ann!

  3. Happy Thanksgiving!
    Last night I was thankful when a local power outage forced me to go out for pizza instead of cooking dinner – and thankful again when the power came back on so that I could easily see to finish packing for my trip home.
    Blessings in every minute!
    (Yes, some minutes you have to look harder than others, to see the blessings)

    • Susan, what bad timing for a power outage! I’m glad it came back on at the last minute. There’s nothing like the absence of electricity to make me realize how much I take for granted most days. I hope your travels are safe and your holiday at home is wonderful!

  4. Julia, I am thankful for You. You have been such a comfort to me. Things are looking up and Ron and his son have been reconciled. They are planning to come visit after the holidays. I have so much to be thankful for. Mainly that Jesus is my Savior. I pray that you and the family have many blessings this Thanksgiving Day!!!

    • Cherie, thanks so much. I am so happy to learn that Ron and his son are reconciled! We have much to rejoice over this weekend! I will continue to keep you in my prayers. I appreciate so much your encouragement, prayers and presence here.

  5. “Blessed is he who endures the trials of life; for when he has proved his worth, he shall receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those that love Him. – James 1:12
    Happy Thanksgiving, Julia, and all your loved ones.

    • Thank you Alan, for reminding us of the foundation of our gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones as well!

  6. Happy thanksgiving. I always say gratitude is the antidote to all that ails me. 🙂

    • So true! Nothing chases away the blues quite as effectively as focusing on all that is good, right and beautiful. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  7. Sheila

    Happy Thanksgiving, Julia. My day started at 6:30, when I awoke to a beautiful sunrise and went for a solitary walk on the beach to think of God’s many blessings and enjoy the beauty of the quiet early morning hours. I am so thankful for you and treasure our friendship. 😍 I am so glad that both Jeff and Matt are enjoying better days now. 🙏 Our family enjoyed three days together in Garden City. I will email some photos that I took this morning of my brisk walk. Love and my prayers cross the miles, Sheila

    • Hi Sheila, so sorry it has taken me so long to reply to this — we were out of town, visiting with relatives in two different cities, and when we got home I was down with some sort of flu-like illness. I’m starting to feel human again, though not 100%. I did get the GORGEOUS photos (and might have to post them here sometime 😀 ) and I so enjoyed the seaside sunrise. Thanks so much for being here with us, and for the love and prayers that have been a continual source of strength for us.

  8. bobmielke

    This was such a peaceful Thanksgiving for me. With all the stress and personal challenges I faced on my housing issues last year being in a warm home with lots of room to kick back was delightful. Since I share the holiday meal with friends a day before Thanksgiving I actually spent yesterday home alone recovering from that delicious meal. LOL It was fantastically quiet and peaceful all alone as my landlord and cohabitant was out of town enjoying his meal.

    • Bob, sometimes those quiet, low-key holidays can be the best. Last year Jeff was home recuperating from surgery, so we didn’t do any of the usual holiday festive merry-making, and the year before that (just after his diagnosis) I didn’t even decorate a tree. But we enjoyed those holidays immensely, just being home and resting. I’m glad you had a calm, rejuvenating holiday. Truly a chance to feel thankful!

  9. MaryAnn

    Thank God for you, my dear! If I remember correctly, you & the family were thankful for cold pizza as Thanksgiving dinner last year. Now that’s leaning on your faith & embracing the bit of joy even though Jeff was “in the hospital fighting for his life”. I appreciate your encouragement to so many people! I love you & your family.
    Wed. Terri borrowed my “Beyond Balderdash” & it made me recall the immense joy I had playing it w/ Drew! Wishing I could right this minute! I am thankful for those & many more “Denton” memories! Hug my wonderful, Smile Man: Matt for me!!!

    • Mary Ann, Drew, Matt, Megan and their cousins enjoyed a game of “Apples to Apples” on Thanksgiving afternoon. Wish you could have been there! Thanks for your love and affection. Matt always grins his biggest grin when I mention your name, and often he adds, “AAAWWWWWW” as he remembers all the fun he’s had with you.

  10. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours Julia. I hope you find this season joyful.

    • Thank you! We had a lovely holiday and I didn’t get sick until we were home again, so that’s something for which I am thankful. I’m looking forward to a relatively relaxing holiday with not a whole lot planned. But the joy is always there. I hope you and your students are having some festivities to enjoy as well.

  11. Julia, good morning. a delightful and encouraging post. Thank you for all the beautiful pictures and words of comfort these past two years. Even during your darkest days, you found something to be thankful for…
    blessings to you and your family. 🙂

    • Thank you Merry! Hope you and your family had a nice holiday too. This is my favorite time of year, with the holiday festivities and the last of the autumn color. I appreciate your presence here, and I’m so happy you have enjoyed the posts.

  12. Rene

    Happy Thanksgiving Week! Among other things, I am thankful for my husband, my boys, adventures, my new job, my two dogs, and the desert in fall. We had dinner with my son’s girlfriend’s family, just 6 of us. It was quiet in contrast to the large, chaotic, and sometimes contentious gatherings we often have at our house. Reflecting on it two days later, fighting a cold, I am thankful for the change.

    • Hi Rene, you do have a lot for which to be thankful! I too am fighting off some sort of flu-like illness. I often get sick at this time of year, probably from lack of sleep and too many sweets that lower my resistance to disease (although I know some doctors say that is irrelevant, but I don’t think it is). A quiet holiday can indeed be a great blessing. The reference to the desert in fall made me curious; I suppose I had not imagined the desert to have seasons! When do the cactus flowers bloom?

  13. LB

    Such a lovely, thankful message. I’m glad for the blessings of improved health in your family since last year. And I’m thankfulf for the WP friends I have made.
    Thanksgiving truly is my favorite time of the year.

    • LB, I think this is my favorite time of year too. The anticipation of the Christmas season coming up, the awareness of the abundance that surrounds us, the colors of fall and the cooler weather combine to make this a deeply joyful time. I too am thankful for online friendships. Correspondence may take a different format now, but I’m happy that it’s alive and well, and more freely available to anyone than ever before. I often think of the months-long time lag that people endured between letters long ago, yet many of their letters survive as a testimony to the power of keeping in touch.

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