Thanksgiving offers perfect time to reflect on all we take for granted

Here's a somewhat scary thought: A year from now, the elections will be over. That may be difficult to comprehend, considering how it seems campaigns never end. But by November 2012, America's way forward will be set. Lord knows where it will lead.

Actually the Lord does know where it will take us, and for that I'm grateful. In this season of Thanksgiving, I appreciate this truth more than ever: The future is in God's hands. Don't worry.

In an earthly sense though, we cannot escape the non-stop campaigning and ubiquitous TV debates. Hey, it's only our future, so we should be concerned and involved. But day-to-day information overload and the stresses of life should not take away our sense of gratitude for those things that are going well.

Every year at this time it's a tradition to pause and reflect on this topic, but I'd like to expand on the concept by sharing some "little" things for which I am thankful. This is not a complete list by any means, nor is it in any particular order, but here goes…

I am thankful for …

Hearing the "electronic rooster" every morning: That's what speaker Zig Ziglar calls the alarm clock. Realize that saying I'm grateful for mine, in all of its irritating, high-pitched chirpiness, is a big leap for me.  

Every weekday morning my clock starts screaming at 4:20 a.m., giving me ample time to get ready and out the door in time for be on the air at 6 a.m. The process wires me in a way that I wake early even when it's Saturday and I'm trying to sleep in. There are times when I want to beat the clock, literally, but upon reflection I know that hearing the alarm means God has given me another glorious day, no matter what challenges come along.

Speaking of hearing… For me it's not just a sense of knowing I'm alive another day, but that I can hear the annoying tones of my clock (and the back up buzzer). After 40 years in radio, wearing headphones everyday, that's really something. Sure, my right ear is not as great as it used to be, but plenty of friends in the business can't hear a bomb blast. So, thanks, Lord.

And I am always and increasingly grateful for…

The "long-suffering" Mrs. Larson: After 35-plus years of marriage, she knows my every habit and quirk. We joke that she is, of course, my "long-suffering" wife. Apparently I'm not always the most lovely person to be around. (I know that may come as a shock to you). She is absolutely wonderful as a spouse, mother and now, grandmother. We have been blessed for her to be a "stay-at-home mom" through the years, too. She doesn't miss a thing each day. She also always preps the morning coffee maker and packs me a "lunch" each night. I feel like I'm in third grade again when I take my little sack breakfast (aka "lunch") to eat during the show, but it is a crucial element when it comes to getting work done at 100 percent. I really appreciate this every day and don't usually remember to thank her. So there, I said it. In print.

Creativity and a sense of humor: OK, this isn't exactly a small thing. But in the busyness of life, I remind myself to stop and offer thanks for this special "wiring" from God. Having the ability to multi-task and take on new challenges helps handle whatever life holds, and it is crucial to have a sense of joy to ease occasional problems and pain. You don't want to take yourself too seriously. So I enjoy embracing my "inner nincompoop" when necessary. Often.

Coffee … and a "little something:" I'm not as addicted to coffee as I used to be, just show me a fresh pot of ground java and I'm there. But it is best with "a little something," as my Swedish grandfather would say. Translation: I need a couple of fresh-baked cookies or chocolate with this.

Books: Reading always goes well with coffee, too, of course. Now you know my big-time vices. The Bible and pretty much anything else written and worthy of attention are pleasures and wonders of life. God gave us the ability to explore new information and expand our knowledge whenever we like.

Vision: I know … it's a not-so-little thing either. When seeing the vibrant colors of our world and having the ability to absorb all that text and web content, I am forever thankful for sight. Something else that it's easy to take for granted each day.

There are so many others for this list: Like having an inquiring mind, healthy attitude and well-being, plus pretty good genes ... parents and other roles models. And being built with a conscience and the capacity for discernment … music of so many genres … and the love of adult kids and now grandchildren.

See? Once you start counting those blessings, it is truly a chore to find a place to quit. I will, after one more…

Pets: I know our dogs aren't trained theologians, but they carry on the work of the Lord every day. 

No matter how things have gone, no matter my mood or stress level, big ol' Eddie and little Izzy are there to greet me each moment … as if it's the most important part of their day. Always with the eager looks (and yes, they smile) while trying to help me behave the way they see fit. But it's always an unconditional, never-ending love and adoration.

It reminds me regularly of how God loves us as we are. Max Lucado writes "He is CRAZY about you!" The Lord is our biggest fan, cheering us on each day into a closer relationship with Him. Now that is truly a cause for Thanksgiving.


Larson is a veteran Southern California radio/television personality and media consultant. He can be heard daily in San Diego on KCBQ 1170AM from 6 to 9 a.m., and on KPRZ 1210AM from 2 to 4 p.m. E-mail: mark@marklarson.com.


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Published, November 2011