Finding Gratitude in the Daily Encounters


The wonderful editors here at Tirzah asked me to be a part of Thanksgiving Celebration. A holiday entirely devoted to expressing your gratitude.  Appreciating the mundane things that we do not always stop to savor. A holiday where we tell our friends and family that we love them. One where we pray and thank God for his goodness. We take a moment to disengage from our materialistic culture and remember all of our blessings. What a beautiful celebration it is. They asked me to write an article about something that I am thankful for. A lot of things flashed through my mind: Family, friends, adequate food, clean water, a home to live in, my health, my education, my ability to follow my dreams. If you stop and think about it, there are a million things to be thankful for. Yet, we aren’t, are we? I think we become very accustomed to things we experience every day.

Then, the idea came to me. I am very thankful for special and blessed experiences. Things you don’t experience every day. But something that made an impact on you. Something that touched your heart. Compelled you to take a step back. Realize what a good life you have.

Two experiences pop into my mind.

For several years, I was a part of a Therapy Dog Team. My Golden Retriever, Molly, and I visited residents in Nursing Homes who did not have regular visitors. The intention of cheering up their days and giving them something to look forward to lightened my life. For many years, we did this every week.

But one experience sticks out from all of the rest. One with a woman who had severe dementia. We had met her about a year earlier when she was not as greatly impaired. Kindly and frail, this older woman became a friend to both Molly and I. We spent countless hours talking with one another. But, being that I was only 10 years old at this time, I did not realize that my friend was slowly becoming confused and forgetful. The very last time I saw my friend, she did not remember my name. She had no clue where she was located. No clue who she was or what was happening. She only knew one thing. And, she said, “Molly.”

She remembered only my dog, Molly. Of all people and occurrences, only Molly was vibrant in her mind. Witnessing this precious moment, Molly crawled up into her bed with her and laid beside her. Comforting her while my friend petted Molly’s soft coat. We stayed for several minutes, engulfed in silence until we knew it was time to go. She passed away only a few hours later.

Years later, I had another special encounter.

How many of you have been a Disney Princess? I have. Once I worked as Pocahontas, where my job was to take photographs, sign autographs, and interact with the children. I was instructed to stay in character the duration of my time. Coming from a Theatre background, this was easy. However, I was asked to do something special in my job. Several special needs children were coming to visit the facility where I was employed as an event princess, each wide-eyed and excited for the experience. I, as Pocahontas, greeted the children, engaged, and interacted with them.

A young boy, perhaps only a few years old, approached me. He ran as fast as his small legs would allow and wrapped me into an animated, exhilarated hug. Then, he pulled back and stared at me. I could see in his eyes that I was truly Pocahontas to him. He asked what my name was, and I responded. Struggling to pronounce Pocahontas, he proceeded to hold my hand and talk with me for several minutes. He introduced me to his mom and dad. Took photos with me. I wrote him special notes in his autograph book. His appreciation and love radiating. When it was time to go, he turned to say- “I love you.” And, my heart melted.

Experience is precious. I hope that you can find an experience to be grateful for this year. Reflect, because there are so many beautiful moments in our lives. I hope you can find yours!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him... Rom. 15:13