It is amazing what gifts come to me before coffee.

I awaken, a comfortable bed and my wife breathing quietly as she sleeps. I hear a morning dove cooing outside the window. I throw back the sheet, put my feet on the carpet, stand, and can walk. I turn on the faucet and clean water comes out for me to wash my face. I wander down the hall of our little house, cool from the AC. I turn on the light over the coffee pot and take filtered water from the refrigerator which just keeps running. The water is poured into the coffee maker, sounding like a running stream. I pour the coffee beans in the grinder and as I grind them (for exactly 13 seconds) the warm aroma of coffee excites my expectations. I open the blinds and soak in the garden. I lay down on the floor to do my stretching and my body still works. I stand and stretch my muscles and sleep gives way to the energy of the day. I then go in the kitchen and pour a cup (then taste it to make sure it is good) and quietly take it in to place on the night stand next to my sleeping wife. I then go and pour my first cup of coffee.

Wow! What a life I have!!  I have only been awake for 20 minutes and already I have received incredible gifts. I am alive. I can feel the carpet on my skin. I can hear the dove, the water, the beans grinding. People who have worked on the infrastructure of my city make it possible to feel cool water on my face, to have electricity for cooling the air, to provide a safe community so I can live without fear. I can be stimulated by the aroma of ground beans. My body, while having some parts that don’t work as well as they used to, still is able to carry me and hold me and nurture me.

When I think of my life before coffee, I am simply overwhelmed.  For if I kept a log of my whole day, I am sure I would drown in gratitude. For the goodness that I experience is beyond measure. The gifts are innumerable. 

So, for at least a while now, I am considering myself a truly blessed human being.


I heard it twice in 2 days from 2 different people.

In a men’s group, we were checking in. How are you feeling as you sit down and come apart? One friend said, “I don’t want to be here tonight, but I know that I will feel differently when it is over. This is the one place where I come that I think about what I am grateful for.”

Another friend who was a pastor for his whole life wrote a response to a question from the newspaper: “What are the Best Parts about Going to Church.”  He said, among other things, “Church experiences affords participants the regular discipline of reverence as well as opportunities for usefulness through hands-on service.”

Where do you go to think about what you are grateful for—to reflect on what you reverence?

When I was a child we prayed at the table before each meal, acknowledging gratitude for the gift of food and those who had made it possible. I was taught the practice of kneeling beside my bed at night and saying a prayer. I would list the things that I liked about the day. I listed the people who had been part of my day. I named the things that I thought were good. When I was older I gave up the kneeling, but not the practice of nightly thanking the source of life for the gift of life.

It sometimes seems that there is much to stress us in our world today. Even if we are not addicted to the news feeds on TV, Computer, Tablet, Phone, Facebook, we can’t help but catch headlines that keep us exposed to difficult and painful events in the lives of individuals and the world. That can have a way of absorbing us and creating deep anxiety and stress.

That’s why I think we all need some regular place to go and think about what we are grateful for. Where do you go to be mindful of all the incredible gifts of your life?


We all have or had at least one. “To be” is to “have been born” into this world in the body of one. We had a birth mother.  We had those who bore us physically and then we had one or more “mothers” who birthed our soul’s song. We have had and have women in our lives who have hidden us in their womb of grace and nourished our fragile and vulnerable selves.

This season we celebrate these women. Some of us celebrate them by inviting them into our presence for dinner or throwing a grandkid party. But, others of us can only celebrate them by inviting their spirit into our memory. These women who have born us and borne our burdens with us are no longer physically with us. We can only remember.

And there is so much to remember. Mothers have dared to confront our dangerous behavior and we remember not liking them very much. We also remember times when we were sick and they sat beside our bed deep into the night. We remember their lack of patience on some occasions and we remember how they kept showing up, year after year, to support us in our uneven growth into self-agency.  Those of us who have parented children can’t help but marvel at how much self-doubt is present in the heart of a parent as we try to do the best thing for these little ones. And then we think of how much our mothers might have struggled to figure out the best way to help us in our emotional rollercoaster of maturing. We remember their persistent presence even when their bodies were rebelling and their hearts were broken. 

This season I remember and celebrate both the courage of my mother to do the tough work of discipline as well as the thousands of tender mercies that were showered on me —most of which I took for granted. I know my memory is faulty but I am choosing to remember with gratitude the mother who gave me breath and who taught my heart to sing.


I have often wondered why it is so hard to hang on to gratitude. I mean, why is it that the first response to every minute of our day isn’t, “Wow. Just think of all the gifts of life that I have?” I mean, when we stop and think about it, each breath is an incredible collection of biological gifts. With each breath, the body assimilates the various components of that breath and distributes them to the various parts of the body to keep us going.  And that is just one little thing among the many things that keep us alive each minute.

But, even with these and thousands of incredible gifts of each day, we are sometimes overcome by discontent. We look around us and there are many more things we lack than what we have. We look at those who seem to have life together better than do we. We look at all the gadgets advertised incessantly and think how good life would be if we just had more of them. We look at the lovely people in the media and think how many things would make us look better and have the gifts that they seem to have.

So, maybe because we always lack more than we have, we will always have a level of discontent.  We will always look out and see what else we might be and either work to become more than we are or just be distressed because we do not have all the attributes that we would like to have.

And if this is true, maybe that is why we need to stop and worship regularly. For worship is the regular reminder that we are recipients of grace beyond our own deserving.  It is a reminder that while there is much that we don’t have, what we do have is incredibly amazing. And if we regularly stop to remember that, maybe what we lack won’t be so powerful in shaping our attitude toward the life we live.


I have been reading people’s response to the gratitude challenge on Facebook. It has caused me to think. And remember.

Monett High School, 1957-1961. I was allowed to play basketball. That is the advantage of going to a school in a small town.  I got to play. I was not very good, but in those days when there were not a lot of good players, I could play. And I learned. Jim Julian, former football star was the coach. And I am grateful to him, even though he fell on me in a scrimmage and broke my back and basically ended my basketball career.

And the Speech Department. I am grateful for it and it’s teacher, Priscilla Bradford. For when I couldn’t play basketball, I could go to Debate Tournaments, I could develop skills at public speaking, I could have leads in High School plays.

And the Jounalism Class. I not only learned to communicate, but I was able to do the 5 minute daily broadcast of the Monett High School news over the local radio station, KRMO. I learned not to be afraid of sharing myself with others.

And the Music Department and BC Bundy. I learned to read music, to sing and to play the trumpet in the marching band. I was in the Jazz band and learned the music of the streets.

And the citizens of Monett who came to the Dairy Queen my daddy and mother owned. I worked in it and i got to see them. But equally as important as my development in interacting with the public was the fact that they spent their hard earned money there and as a result I and all my siblings were able to go to college and to graduate without debt.

I am grateful to Monett and the High School for helping me grow into a person who could contribute as a citizen of the world.