Pausing to Give Thanks
With Thanksgiving nearly upon us, I pause to give thanks for several reasons.
For one, the week of Thanksgiving is traditionally quiet. That means there are rarely assignments to be finished or deadlines to be met.
Two years ago, that proved to be a blessing when a pre-holiday tumble down the stairs left me with a moderate concussion.
For the next two weeks I could work only a couple hours at a time before retreating to my bed for an hour-long nap.
The week after the holiday, a magazine editor offered me an assignment.
But it had to be done faster than the time I anticipated I would need to get the challenging story completed.
I asked for an extra week, but that wasn’t possible.
Looking back, I’m quite grateful I said, “No.” In my weakened state, I couldn’t have finished in time, even with an extended deadline.
Ultimately, it took me about 10 months to recover from the injuries, which included a broken bone, ongoing tiredness, and continuing confusion.
Humbled mightily, I learned two key lessons:
- How much my wife loved me. She helped me when I was literally helpless.
- How dependent I am on God. We like to go through life under the illusion we are in control. When something like this comes along, it destroys that illusion.
For both lessons, I am grateful.
Becoming More Productive
Last May, I led two workshops at the Christian PEN’s annual meeting in Nashville.
One reviewed the benefits of scheduling your time on a spreadsheet, which had helped me be much more organized in my work.
Over a five-year period that practice helped boost my annual revenue by 70 percent. I hadn’t known that until I started working on the workshop outline and added up the figures.
A few weeks ago, I realized that wasn’t the only factor.
Soon after I implemented spreadsheet planning, my wife started helping me when her part-time job came to an end.
She began by screening my email every morning and weeding out all the junk.
She also unsubscribed me from about three dozen lists, most of which I had never asked to be on anyway.
She took over routine tasks, like picking up stamps, copy paper, and office supplies; mailing packages; and regular visits to the UPS Store, where I get business mail.
Next, she started processing all my invoices.
Over several months, I saw that the time I devoted to administrative duties had declined by 25 percent.
So it wasn’t just better scheduling of my time that made the difference, it was the help she gave me that made me more productive.
For that awareness, I am grateful.
Give Thanks for Friends
Last Thanksgiving, my wife was in another room at my brother’s house when her cell phone rang.
I grabbed it to answer when I saw a close friend was calling.
He asked if we were at our daughter’s house for turkey dinner.
“No,” I replied. “We’re actually in Massachusetts.”
He was in the emergency room at the hospital about two blocks from our house with his wife. She had been having heart palpitations and shortness of breath.
At that point, they didn’t know what was wrong, but he wanted prayer. We texted family and friends to let them know what was going on.
The next day, we learned that after spending the night at the hospital our friend had gone home. Though not sure what had caused her problem, she was fine.
A year later, she’s still fine. For that—and the friendship we have with her and her husband—I am grateful.
So, the question at this time of year is: what stirs your gratitude meter? How will you pause to give thanks?