Thursday, November 27, 2014

For these things I am thankful

Putting aside all my griping and complaining and lamenting (I'm working on it!), I want to do what we all are supposed to do this week: Count my blessings and be thankful.

First, we must acknowledge that being thankful has to have an object. We are giving thanks, but to Whom? To God Almighty, from Whom all blessings flow. After all, there is no Thanksgiving without God. As George Washington said to the nation on October 3, 1789:
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us...

And on that note, I am thankful, 225 years later, to be a citizen of America, which is still the greatest nation on earth. My immigrant father taught me early on that this nation really is different, and despite my concerns with the direction we are going, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. I'm deeply, deeply grateful for the privilege of living in America.

I am thankful that my father is doing well, after a harrowing year, medically speaking. Multiple heart issues/procedures and a second recurrence of his cancer gave us many touch-and-go moments. But my parents were able to go on their 50th anniversary cruise last month and they will be hosting the family for Thanksgiving at their home, as usual. A real blessing that we are not taking for granted.

I am thankful that my cousin and dear friend Michelle, who was diagnosed nearly a year ago with stage IV non-smoker's lung cancer, is doing well and continuing the good fight. She is a beautiful and holy woman, a single mom to three teen girls, and our entire family is so grateful that she is in a better place this year than she was last Thanksgiving, right before her diagnosis. May God continue to pour his grace and healing down upon her.

I am thankful that my daughters are with their wonderful husbands for Thanksgiving this year, and although it's the first year we will feast without them, they are never far from our hearts and only a plane ride away. I am thankful for my dear sons-in-law (faithful, honorable men), and for my beautiful granddaughter Felicity and my grandson who is still in the womb.

I am thankful that this year, thanks to some special suffering I endured, has been incredibly fruitful spiritually. In moments of real torment, I clung tighter to Him, realizing that ultimately, He is everything and He is all. What a profound, unmoving consolation in times of trial and disorientation. And Mother Mary was right there by my side at every moment, just as she has been since I was a small child, even when I didn't recognize it.

I am thankful for my husband, whom I do not deserve. He puts up with me and loves me no matter what. We have built a life together. Yes, it only hit me a few weeks ago, we have built a life together. And he feeds me! The man feeds me! Oh, how I love him for that. I am thankful for the nine children he gave me, eight of them still here on this earth. Those precious, irreplaceable, unrepeatable children are the only earthly treasures we get to take with us into eternity, and if I went into how thankful I am for each one of them, this blog post would never end.

I am thankful for the best girlfriends I could ever ask for, and you know who you are. You ladies keep me laughing and sane, and you keep me steady on the path to sanctity. We're in this journey together, and you are strength for the journey. And one of those best friends is my sister, Pauline, whose friendship and support are invaluable in my life, every single day. God truly blessed me with the best big sis in the world!

I am thankful for all of you, my Bubble family, because you teach me so much every time you comment and every time you email, even when you blast me. I need it! I need to be challenged and humbled and I have always needed to learn how to love better. You have helped me greatly in this regard, and I thank God for you.

There is so, so, so much more I am thankful for, including the soft bed I am about to fall into.

I pray that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and/or friends, and I would love to hear what you are thankful for this day!

...And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. 
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

On my mom's side, I am a direct descendent of two Mayflower Pilgrims, 
John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley, who married a few years after they landed in Plymouth. 
It's amazing to think of them feasting at the first Thanksgiving. 
I'm glad they both survived when so many others didn't,
because otherwise I wouldn't be here!


  1. Thank you for this post. Absolutely beautiful. 50 years together for your parents! A blessing indeed! We all have so much to be thankful for. Thank you for your comments about being grateful to be an American. It is easy for all of us to take it for granted. Godspeed, Leila. Praying for all God's blessings on you and your family.

  2. Lovely post, Leila. Happy Thanksgiving! Annita +JMJ+

  3. Thank you, Annita! God bless you and Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. My sister's absolutely favorite book growing up was Constance: A Story of Early Plymouth by Patricia Clapp. She read it over and over. Neat thing - she married one of Constance's descendants! My brother-in-law is a direct descendant of Nicholas and Constance Hopkins Snow. I bet your family and my sister's family are related somewhere way, way back!

  5. Leila, what a beautiful post. Wow, what a year! Your heart felt gratitude says much. It's all gift! And George. We have "Prayer at valley forge" (Frieberg) on our wall as a constant reminder. Gratitude, Providence and the sovereignty of God. Yes, He is real and that's where thanks belong.
    So... Things I'm thankful for? I feel like I could right a small book here ( I heard that gasp! I know the editor would need triple pay,... the Iwo Jima of editing jobs)
    Thankful For:
    My Parents. My mom told me 2 nights ago that she feels like God has given them a second vocation. To pray for her children and the world! She wanted to be Carmelite when she first converted but said God needed to teach her about Sacrificial Love and gave her many children. But now she can live her spiritual dream of a Carmelite prayer Life. ( fist bump to you 3rd order Carms, Connie and Abigail etc) Does it get any better than this?
    My Wife. Simply amazing. The Best. Inspring! Who would I choose if I were stuck in a foxhole, surrounded, with only a pocket knife and a cue ball in sock? That’s right, my wife. Poor bastards wouldn't know what hit um.
    Our Catholic Community! Speaking of foxhole types. Having an amazing community of Shiite Catholics to raise our children with and experience life with is truly, truly a blessing. The Body of Christ is mind blowing and lacking in nothing. We have so much fun and tears! To know that We could check out tomorrow, and feel confident(without hesitation) that your kids would be taken care of in all ways. Priceless! And to know it extends into the other great communities (like people on this blog). Priceless
    Our guys in the service (to include Police officers). Who agreed to make it their job to protect the rest of us slobs. Grateful!
    And Finally, Material things (I know, that's a little sad). But this last year has brought the loss of many big things and much pain. But God provides Grace and he sometimes dispenses it with a fire hose to your face! That has been us this last year. I can't tell you the craziness of it all. You would cry and then say "what? , are you freakin kidding me?". OK,OK, a small recent example, we were gifted a free Baby Grand Piano. Free, $0, and Free delivery! Is that insane? The next time you turn on Joel Osteen I'll riding on his shoulders, fist pumping, while Victoria claps wildly in the background.
    Peace to all.

  6. Chris, that is so awesome!! Hooray! Blessings indeed!!

  7. Thanks for this post, Leila. I too am thankful for you, and all those God brought into my life these past years, when I began my blog and the caring of my mother. So many brought me deep consolations, advice and prayers when I needed them.

    Now I go on to other tasks the Lord is placing before me. I'm reading a book titled: This Tremendous Lover, by M. Eugene Boylan. In it he makes a analogy of how Jesus lives in us and we in Him. He says it is like a movie about Jesus' life, in which we have a bit part. His starring role in the movie is already filmed; ours is being filmed now. We go through take after take, trying to get our role correct, the way the movie's author intended us to act it out. And Jesus is there, encouraging us, cuing us our lines when we forget, and occasionally allowing us to see how our role fits into the whole movie about His life --- and ours, together. I don't know the next part of the script He has for me, but I suspect that you and others who have become part of my life will continue to play some supporting role.

    I am thankful for all those He brings into my life, as I try to live in His.

  8. DNBA, thank you for that lovely comment! I actually have that book on my shelf and have for many years! I have never read it... but it came so highly recommended. Someday soon, I pray!

  9. Happy Thanksgiving weekend!

    I just wanted to say thank you to Nubby for the apology, which I didn't read or know about it because I've been so busy.


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