The last two weeks I’ve been teaching Abraham Lincoln’s first Thanksgiving Day Proclamation to Chinese graduate students and visiting scholars at Denver University.

Written in 1863 when the U.S. was still in the midst of the Civil War, Lincoln points to a bigger picture:

To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

Beautiful! But a bit tricky in a second language (you know me, I tend to just dive into the deep end. But the students enjoyed it).

The line that’s sticking out is so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget.

If something is so constantly enjoyed I am prone to forget it, I decided I needed to tune in and name 100 of the constant blessings. Ten just seemed too shallow and 1,000 absurd (thank you for my left pinky, my left ring finger, my left middle finger).

Would you like to know what’s embarrassing? I swim in blessing, but this list didn’t just flow out of me. I’m thankful I made this list. Just as Adam and God sat down together to name the animals, I sensed God prodding me and bringing to mind the constancy of my blessing. There is power in naming.

Thanksgiving 2013

Group ONE

  1. Air
  2. Sight – I can SEE
  3. I can hear
  4. My nieces smile when they see me
  5. Good hair
  6. Taste buds
  7. Funky glasses
  8. Friends who support me
  9. Ability to Zumba (not everyone can, just saying)
  10. The variety of the seasons

Group TWO

  1. Ability to smell
  2. Running water
  3. Indoor plumbing
  4. Shoes
  5. I can read!
  6. Books!
  7. Libraries
  8. I’m not afraid to go outside my home
  9. I can feel pain (thank you Yancey for your book pointing out this blessing)
  10. All my organs work!!! Life would be different if I didn’t have

Group THREE

  1. Functioning kidneys
  2. Lungs
  3. Liver
  4. Heart
  5. Brain
  6. Blood
  7. Stomach
  8. Small and large intestine
  9. Bladder and other very helpful bits on my insides. I rarely think about them
  10. The ability to drive

Group FOUR

  1. Not being harassed by police
  2. Laundry done relatively easily
  3. Refrigerated food
  4. I live when Diet Coke was invented
  5. Knowing how to make tortillas, but not having too
  6. Good relationships with my sisters (even when they roll their eyes at me, they know they 98% find me endearing)
  7. Being educated
  8. And the freedom to have pursued different degrees over the years
  9. Friends who have known me for decades!
  10. The amount of people who got to visit me in China

Group FIVE

  1. Growing up in a loving home – not abused in any sense. Blessing!
  2. Knowing each of my four grandparents – I can still hear their voices in my head.
  3. Scars in my body that remind me of a life lived and that I didn’t stay on the sidelines
  4. Fresh fruit and vegetables
  5. Much beyond my elementary school imagination, there are better things in life than getting the Denver Broncos pencil after sticking your coin in the slot and dreaming BIG. Still, those pencils were pretty cool!
  6. Getting to attend college when my team won the National Championship in basketball
  7. Ability to walk!
  8. No broken limbs or illnesses
  9. Not having a stalker (I did once and it was creepy)
  10. Not caring what people think when I sing the national anthem at sporting events.

Group SIX

  1. Knowing I can kill mice IF I HAVE to, but not needing those skills in years!! Woot, woot!
  2. Parents who lived out the name they gave me – beloved. I know I am by them
  3. Blue skies
  4. Not living with rationing – I truly have little idea of what it’s like to go without (and not having easy access to chocolate chips isn’t what I’m talking about)
  5. My humor … I forget not everyone has as good of a time as I do
  6. My ankles, I like them
  7. My nose
  8. My memory – no Ground Hog’s Day here! And I can build on where I’ve been
  9. Sheets!! When I first moved to China, sheets weren’t unheard of and I hadn’t thought to pack them. I slept for years on what were essentially beach towels. But now I have sheets every night!
  10. And a good pillow

Group SEVEN

  1. The third earring hole in my left ear – my friend Kim and I shared the price of piercing and now I have a constant reminder of our friendship
  2. My second earring hole reminds me my dad cares about me and feared it would be the first step towards become a punk rocker and going down a dark path. But I didn’t! And here I am, two holes and no drug demons to battle.
  3. People let me speak into their lives
  4. Electricity
  5. I own a computer and other electronics that allow me to do my job and relate to people
  6. Pets when I was a kid – you can’t take those memories from me
  7. Road trips! And parents who loved to go on them
  8. Medical care around me that I trust – for me and my family members
  9. I like myself
  10. Nature that feeds my soul

Group EIGHT

  1. I can feel all of my fingers and toes
  2. Many more kind words spoken to me than harsh
  3. Inside jokes that point to a collective history
  4. Little girls crawling in my lap
  5. Going to the store and not worrying if I can pay for what I need
  6. Mostly good smells
  7. A gym membership
  8. Hot showers any time of the day
  9. Freedom to worship God
  10. Ability to do simple math in my head

Group NINE

  1. My overall life – I didn’t die 16 years ago
  2. Toothpaste and brush to make it easy to clean my teeth
  3. Heat in the winter and AC in the summer
  4. Easy ability to transport myself
  5. A wide range of ages in my life
  6. I can sing decently and read music
  7. Window (natural light!)
  8. Framed photos around me – small stones of remembrance of people and events
  9. Children’s art work –reminding me that time passes and to enjoy “this” phase (whatever it may be)
  10. Nice smelling shampoo

Group TEN

  1. Comfortable furniture (and my saga/couch trilogy/obsession told here, here, and here)
  2. A cell phone
  3. Morning cups of tea
  4. Enough clothes
  5. Friends from and in many countries
  6. Privilege
  7. Regular meals
  8. Sleep – I have troubles sleeping, but truth be told, I get enough to function
  9. Reminders of truth
  10. Reminders of grace

:). The end.

Grace and peace, Amy

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Categories: Faith, Holiday, Velvet Ashes

Amy

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  1. Janet November 22, 2013 at 6:44 am - Reply

    I love this, Amy! It’s so easy to become a complainer instead of being thankful for how MUCH we have! I think I’ll try making a list of my own.

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      Amy November 26, 2013 at 10:39 am - Reply

      We really do have SO MUCH

  2. Danielle November 22, 2013 at 6:57 am - Reply

    Way to go, Super Star. That’s quite a list! And yes to the power of naming!

  3. Jessica Hoover November 22, 2013 at 11:44 am - Reply

    What a wonderful and powerful list! Keeping those things continually before our eyes and hearts really does change our perspective. Love that you are teaching Abe Lincoln to visiting Chinese students!

  4. Mark Allman November 22, 2013 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Abraham Lincoln is my favorite historical person.

    Great lists Amy

    Some of the things I’m prone to forget…… blue jeans, long sleeve pull over shirts, shoes that fit, glasses, q tips, a truck that starts, laundry at home, electric blanket, hoodies, books and books and books, touch, seabreeze cleaner, science fiction, football, hard top roads, cheap water, 30 year old saw and drill, hammer, our dog, pizza, medicine, doctors, snow, Christmas lights, music, radio, ……

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      Amy November 26, 2013 at 10:40 am - Reply

      Mark! Love seeing your list. Shoes that fit. Yes. See, it’s so constant I forget that simple blessing. Thanks for bringing it to light for me.

  5. Kristi November 23, 2013 at 8:21 am - Reply

    What a wonderful list! So many of them made me smile. Most recently I am grateful for FEELING alive. I am also grateful for BEING alive but life is more than existence, and I FEEL more alive than I have in way too long! :)

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      Amy November 26, 2013 at 10:40 am - Reply

      Oh Kristi, I’m really happy for you :)

  6. Amy L Sullivan November 27, 2013 at 4:22 am - Reply

    Ahhh, I swim in blessing too, but I also tend to forget.

    Love hearing what you are up to (teaching graduate students at DU?). Super fun.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Amy.

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      Amy November 27, 2013 at 9:54 am - Reply

      Oops … I should clarify that on Thursdays I eat lunch with international students (all happen to be Chinese that come) and then offer an hour English class. Not really officially teaching as in earning a salary :). More like hanging out with my people.

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