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Ten Things I’m Thankful for This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  I spend the day at home with my immediate family and maybe a close friend or two.  I slow down, rest, and enjoy good food and intimate moments with the people I love.  I remember all the things I have to be grateful for.  Here’s my “top ten” list for 2009:

1.  My phone has been ringing

I’m busy.  My schedule has been full for several months now.  Money is coming in.  I’m immensely grateful for this alone.  I’m also grateful, though, that I’m not living in a bubble, insulated from the crisis so many people are going through.  I can relate to my patients and their painful difficulties because I’m affected by this financial meltdown, too.

2.  I’m following my passion and finding great fulfillment in my work

Not only am I busy, I’m busy doing the work I love.  Every morning I get up and go to work at my own business.  I’m my own boss, and what I do makes an enormous difference for good in the lives of people who are hurting.  As hard as it can be some days, this is still my dream job.

3.  I have a staff I can count on

My staff, including my wife, is committed to the work we do.  They work long hours, they give unselfishly of themselves, and they are dedicated to growing personally and professionally.  When I need them, they’re there for me.

4.  My health is holding up, in spite of the long hours I’m working

Next month I will turn 64.  Many people my age are thinking about, or already “enjoying” retirement.  I can’t imagine ever quitting.  I take care of myself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually so that I will be able to continue to work all the days God gives me.  So far, it’s paying off.

5.  My family is well, and after years of paying his dues in the wine industry, my son’s business looks like it’s on the verge of taking off

Last year, my wife Lynn had a serious health scare.  She’s doing fine now, but the memory of that wake-up call stays with me.  I cherish her more every day.  My son is growing and learning how to be a man and survive and succeed in a very tough business.  I’m immensely proud of him.

6.  I’m closer to my mother now than at any other time of my life

Mom and I haven’t always gotten along well.  My childhood was extremely difficult for both of us.  She has matured dramatically in the past year and sets an example for the grace and wisdom that comes with age.  I’m so grateful she is alive now, and that we have this time and opportunity to build a new and precious relationship together.

7.  I live in a beautiful part of the world

Northern California, and Petaluma in particular, is a wonderful place to live.  The landscape restores me both daily and through the change of seasons.  If the Bay Area only had a warm, tropical beach, this would be paradise.  (You can guess where I love to vacation.)

8.  I can ride my horse during breaks from work

My first thought here is almost a complaint – I wish I had more time to ride – so I’m only human.  But I’m glad that when I have the time, I can trailer my horses and head out to the beach or American Canyon.  In a time crunch I can take to one of the trails on my ranch.  Time spent on the back of my horse is time away from it all.

9.  The pastors of my church are there for me

Rich Cundall and Andy Sodestrom of Hessel Church are truly men of God.  They’ve counseled and encouraged me through some rough times over the years.  Their compassion and support for me and for my work has given me renewed strength and hope.  They have come along side me as true examples of obedience and service to God and to others.

10.  God is with me

He carries me, he protects me.  He promises He will never leave me or forsake me.  I am not alone, no matter how I may feel when hard times come and I have moments of fear and doubt.  I am loved by God, He has saved me, nothing happens in my life which is out of His plan or beyond His control.

Practicing gratitude isn’t just for Thanksgiving.  Remembering to be thankful is an act of emotional and psychological health.  I encourage you this Thanksgiving, and all through the year, to stay mindful of the blessings in your life.  Commit yourself to acknowledging the really wonderful people and events you’ve been privileged to know and experience.  A deep sense of gratitude can lead to positive humility and the desire to share with others in need.  Your opportunity is waiting.