I began by thinking of the simple, everyday blessings we take for granted. But the more I give thanks for, the more things and people come to mind….
The first twenty……
I’m thankful for bananas in my local store. They were picked green in some Caribbean country and shipped here in refrigerated containers, unloaded in New Orleans and then trucked to Mac’s Freshmarket down the street. I am so blessed.
I’m thankful for crunchy peanut butter. Wonder if George Washington Carver thought of leaving crunchy peanuts in the butter he invented.
I’m thankful for a faucet I can turn and hot water comes out. The first eighteen years of my life we did not have that.
I’m thankful for a bed. Nothing rejuvenates a weary body like a good night’s rest. And I have a king-sized one. Am I blessed or what?
I’m thankful for someone teaching me how to read a long time ago. First grade teacher Marguerite Gilder, perhaps? She was wonderful in every way.
I’m thankful for someone teaching me to write. I write every day. Mrs. Gilder again? We didn’t have kindergarten in rural Alabama in 1945, so school started in the first grade.
I’m thankful for al the churches around here. They seem to be on every corner, although that’s just an illusion. But they are so greatly used of God and I feel at home in every one I enter. It truly is the Lord’s house.
I’m thankful for books. I love all kinds of books, but these days in particular history books, westerns, and crime fiction (Michael Connelly, Lee Child, John Grisham).
I’m thankful for the Bible. So many people paid the ultimate price so we could have a Bible in our own language. And I have several copies. So, so blessed.
I’m thankful for flowers. They brighten up our yard, liven up the inside of our home, and do wonderful things for birds and bees.
I’m thankful for radiation that killed the cancer cells in my body. Although it also took along with the cancer cells some of my saliva glands and taste buds, most are still in tact and I’m still alive and healthy and cancer-free for 13 years now. So blessed.
I’m thankful for honey-nut cheerios from Battle Creek, Michigan, for strawberries from Watsonville, California, and for blueberries that come from down the highway or Chile or Peru, depending on the season of the year. This is my breakfast every morning of my life, and I’m so grateful. The potentates of old never had it so good.
I’m thankful for Mississippi, my adopted home state. Everyone is friendly and living here is easy. I’ve lived in Alabama, West Virginia, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Mississippi and this is my favorite.
I’m thankful for football. The games this weekend–high school on Friday night, college on Saturday, and NFL on Sunday–were a delight. I wouldn’t want to live or die by the fortunes of a team, but I love the relaxation and diversion of a good game.
I’m thankful for sweater vests. After seeing so many men wearing them in recent days, I bought one an hour ago and am wearing it now. A lovely sky blue. I may go back and buy a dozen.
I’m thankful for mules. They are agriculture’s workhorses, so to speak, and figure prominently in my memories on the farm. Toby was the mule I plowed every day through the summers of my 15th, 16th, and 17th years.
I’m thankful for shoes. As a child, I had one pair at a time. There was a difficult time in my early teens when even that pair was coming apart, and there was no money for new ones. These days, I’m embarrassed by the number of shoes in my closet. But thankful for them and for the happy socks I’ve been buying lately. Why did we men ever settle for boring socks? No more.
The next twenty. (Hey, I told you these are simple things. But I can see I need to tighten up this list before it takes all day and fills a book.) Okay…..
I’m thankful for this laptop, for the wedding ring on my left hand, and for the bottled water to my right. I’m thankful for my favorite magazines (in a stack to my right, waiting for me to have time to get into them). And I’m thankful for cartoonists whose work makes reading the paper and magazines so enjoyable (Marshall Ramsey).
I’m thankful for Lee who cuts our grass, for my wonderful wife who tends the flowers outside, and for Bob and Doris who lived in this house before us and made it so wonderful. I’m thankful for the garbage pickup that comes every Wednesday morning. And for the recycling program, which makes me feel less guilty about all the water bottles I run through.
I’m thankful for someone somewhere growing birdseed and selling it at our local store. Our feeders draw in birds from far and wide and they delight us every day. I’m grateful for the great blue heron which visits our pond almost daily. And I’m thankful for the pond, right behind my house. And I’m so grateful for the fresh air in this city (in contrast, I have to say, to the air in metro New Orleans where I lived fro 1990 to 2016).
I’m thankful for Jan Karon and her Mitford books, for John Grisham and his series of books on Theodore Boone, kid lawyer, and for the swing my son put in his front yard when the grandchildren came along. I’m thankful for all eight of my grands and for their laughter and hugs.
The third twenty. Will try to pick up speed now……
I’m grateful for dental hygienists (one saved my life by finding the oral cancer in 2003), for my ENT doctor Dan Jacob (who did surgery on me several times and was a great friend), and for my family doctor Catherine Wilson (who in 1995 put me on a regimen of vitamins and things and said, “Mr. McKeever, I think we’ve just prevented a heart attack in you.” She must have been right. I’m grateful for my dentist of 20 years, Dr. Jim Roethele and his great team. And for the doctors at Beckley Memorial Hospital who in 1949 performed surgery on my hip that has kept me going strong ever since.
I’m thankful for laughter, for a great joke, for funny friends, for the jokes and stories in Reader’s Digest, and for the laughter of a small child. I’m thankful for tears and hugs, for sweetness and thoughtfulness. I’m thankful for great choir specials in church, and that 30 piece orchestra with the pipe organ which never fails to stun me with the beauty of their arrangements. I’m grateful for worship leaders who know what they are doing (Lavon Gray, Larry Black, Ken Gabrielse), for accompanists on the piano (Eva Hart), and orchestral leaders (Tim Walker). For violinists (Sarah Rhinehart Walker and Stephanie Screen), dobro guitarists (Jerry Douglas), and for Alison Krauss. For Ricky Skaggs and the White Family and for Tom T. Hall.
I’m thankful for political discussion and for news media people who refuse to take a politician’s word for anything but question, investigate, research, and snoop. I’m grateful for the privilege to vote in this country. I try to vote in every election, no matter the issues. And I’m grateful for the newspapers. I still subscribe and plan to do so as long as there’s one to be delivered at my door.
The final forty….
I’m grateful for the five Camrys our family has owned since the 1996 used one Margaret bought (and loved dearly). They’re all still in use in our family with the exception of the 2001 we donated to a missionary organization. And grateful for the new Avalon in my driveway, a dream of many years.
I’m thankful for Guidestone, the investment agency of our denomination which manages my retirement funds. I’m thankful for two missionary friends who are working in Texas with Hindu and Muslim residents, for two missionary friends in South Africa who are using music training as a vehicle to share the gospel, and for the five chaplains of New Orleans’ Global Maritime Ministries who spread the gospel throughout the world without ever leaving home.
I’m grateful for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary which has been a strong part of my life and ministry since 1964. Some friends and professors from that great school are as much a part of me as my siblings. Dr. George Harrison, my teacher and mentor, whom I will see this week the day after Thanksgiving.
I’m grateful for friends Chet and Eva Lee Griffin of Washington, DC. For Jim and Darlene Graham of Atlanta, GA. For Don and Audrey Davidson of Alexandria, VA. For Joel and Wilma Davis of Loganville, GA. For Ken and Jana Gabrielse of Truett-McConnell University. For Bryan and Rebecca Harris of Cumby, TX. For Mike and Terri Miller of Jacksonville, TX. And for Larry Black, mentioned earlier.
I’m thankful for seminary classmate Dr. Gary Fagan. Over the decades, we knew each other only slightly and saw one another rarely. But after over a half century of serving God in pastoring churches, chaplaincy in a college, and missionary in Malawi and Brazil, the Lord took Gary home in May 2014. Nearly two years later, his widow Bertha and I met for the first time. I had been widowed 13 months earlier. Bertha and I were married on January 11 of this year. From the first, I’ve given thanks to the Lord that Gary left Bertha “in tact.” She was a whole human, solidly Christian.
I’m thankful Bertha married me. I’m thankful she teaches (English literature in a community college), sews (makes great afghans), cooks (like you would not believe and makes it look so easy), gardens, and works the crowd at every church where I go to preach. She is easily the best teacher any of her students have ever had or will ever have. (One said so in an email today!)
I’m thankful for Neil and Julie, Grant, Abby and Erin (also Cody and Conner), as well as Maggie and Baxter; for Marty and Misha, Darilyn and Jack; and for Carla and Leah, Weston, Jessica, and JoAnne. I’m thankful for Ray and Betty Gatwood and for Peggy Bynum. I’m grateful for Cottage Hill Baptist Church, for First Baptist of Indian Trail NC, and for Springfield MO’s Second Baptist Church, as well as FBC of Jackson, MS.
I’m thankful for Lari and James Beckley and for Allison, Megan, Shannon and Ethan; for Jeff and Kim and for Zoe and Juliet and Jaycee.
Wait! I can’t stop now! I’ve just gotten started. That’s a hundred already?? Think of all the people I’ve left out.
Now, get started on your list!