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Excerpt from an upcoming prayer letter:

GRATITUDE:  “A feeling of thankfulness and appreciation.”

It seems like a simplistic definition for a word as overused as it is under-felt.  Gratitude is simply being thankful—like cheer is being joyful and Thanksgiving is being turkeyful.  I’ve spent the better part of this year in a state of overflowing gratitude and, as my favorite holiday draws nearer, I’ve taken the time to ponder not only my current blessings, but also that season not long ago when gratitude was scarce.

September, 2005.  I had just returned from a yearlong “home ministry assignment” marred by losses I was still trying to overcome: loss of identity (displacement), loss of health (a gaggle of ulcers!) and the foundation-rattling loss of my father.  I imagined, naively, that a return to BFA would ease the constriction my losses had inflicted on my hope.  I would be back where I belonged, doing what I loved, sure of my purpose.  But I soon discovered that my year of losses was not over yet, and I returned to BFA to discover three new reasons to grieve—my choir no longer existed, the school play was no longer mine to direct, and my presence at the dorm would be limited for a while.

School play 2004 – “Diary of Anne Frank”

When I returned to BFA in 2005, gratitude became a challenge and an exercise in character. Did it come easily?  Not always. And when it did, it required an adjustment of my perspective, a sharpening of my purpose and an intentional pursuit of Joy. One of the great mysteries of the believer’s life is the conjugation of our human condition and God’s merciful providence. Our lives are, by nature, riddled with losses. Some of them are God-ordained and others are the inevitable product of living in a fallen world, confined to aging mortal bodies (ask my physiotherapist!) and subjected to the consequences of our own and others’ free will. It is an apparent contradiction adults and students frequently address. How can a good God allow bad things to happen? My answer usually involves the story of Pinocchio (it’s a stretch), my bumbling life journey, and a challenge to look for God’s benevolence despite this world’s malevolence. Even amid the pain of 2005, there were nuggets of good to be found.  And each small blessing I painstakingly uncovered brought solace and healing.  Gratitude didn’t change my circumstances, but it changed my state of spirit.

And now?  Gratitude is coming a lot easier to me these days, not because God is being more faithful than He was before, but because His gifts are a bit more obvious—more visible and audible and palpable and exhausting…in a dozens-of-students-run-amuck kind of way!  My gratitude journal is full to overflowing, and, according to recent research, that makes me a healthy person indeed.  Some of the reasons I have to be thankful?

Storch girls stashing our “Star Academy” ballots in the ultra-secret Star Academy Drawer.

Choir boys – it’s like trying to herd cats…

Writers – what’s not to love?

Get-togethers Chez Phoenix – the male contingent getting their pout on…


  1. awwwww…..star academy predictions!! i remember those days….*sigh*. good times good times. oh how i miss garlic bread and salad and good ol french tv…..

  2. We do have a lot to be grateful for!!

  3. Thankful for you, my friend.  Let’s have a wopping good time tonite celebrating our beloved “urchins” amidst the sparkle of Christmas!  Your strain to find JOY amidst the struggles and sorrow is such a powerful manifestation of the Holy Spirit in you!!!  Love you…so how about sleep and a brown lacey dress?

  4. Turkey. And Taylor. Other places I feel accepted and loved and known. Never thought I would get to that point at Taylor, but there you go.

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