The Most Thankfulest Time Of The Year

Many of you know that I post on Facebook every Thursday about the five things for which I am most thankful that week. I provide a virtual donut for anyone who joins in and shares a “thankful” to keep the gratitude game going. It is something I have done, in one form or another, for about fifteen years. While the past two years have been especially challenging for many of us, I continue to keep my thankfulness train on the tracks. I believe there is a lot for which to be thankful even in challenging times. I also believe that celebrating the thankfuls increases hope and connection. It may even burn calories. See, celebrating thankfuls DOES increase hope! False hope, perhaps, but that is something. Sometimes, false hope is all that stands between us and despair until we can feel the real hope that truly does exist in the world.

We can look back at the past year with amazement in many ways. As we approached the end of 2020, we all breathed a sigh of relief. We seemed to think that the end of 2020 would somehow magically mean the end of our national troubles- COVID, race relations, violence, divisive political wrangling, supply chain snafus, economic hardship, the disintegration of the family, and the wearing of white after Labor Day. I think we can all agree that we still face all the same troubles. On the other hand, it is heartening to see some hopeful trends foment in 2021.

Since we in the United States celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving tomorrow, I wanted to raise the bar on gratitude. In this post, I am going to share thirty thankfuls I have noticed since last Thanksgiving…one thankful for every day in November- the most thankfulest time of the year!

  1. I am thankful for the COVID vaccine.
  2. I am thankful that COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are decreasing.
  3. I am thankful that we can worship together in person.
  4. I am thankful that we can take what we have learned about virtual training and meetings to supplement in person connections, not to use instead of in person connections.
  5. I am thankful for the return of hugs.
  6. I am thankful that the economy has mostly reopened.
  7. I am thankful for Todd Payne and for his coaching.
  8. I am thankful that Gary and I have grown even closer during the challenges of the pandemic.
  9. I am thankful for the family and friends who love me no matter how neurotic I am.
  10. I am thankful that I was able to spend time with my brother and his family in California.
  11. I am thankful that I was able to visit two close friends in California.
  12. I am thankful that my brother has a treatment plan in place for his health issues.
  13. I am thankful for a wonderful trip to Williamsburg in last spring.
  14. I am thankful that I got to take virtual classes at the College of William and Mary through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program.
  15. I am thankful for a fun girls’ trip to Marco Island.
  16. I am thankful for God renewing and enriching his family through infant baptisms and adult conversions… both of which I witnessed in this past year.
  17. I am thankful for the opportunity to develop and deliver the Blessed Stewardship: A Door Of Opportunity course at my church.
  18. I am thankful for Fr. Tom Trees, Seth Peter Trees, and all the members of the stewardship committee for their assistance.
  19. I am thankful for my family at St. James Episcopal Church and the generosity with which they offer their gifts to benefit God’s people and give glory to His holy name.
  20. I am thankful that Gary and I are worshipping and fellowshipping together.
  21. I am thankful for a fun trip to Las Vegas with good friends.
  22. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit blessed our Alpha class, even in the virtual environment.
  23. I am thankful for good health.
  24. I am thankful for enough material blessings to live comfortably and, with God’s help, give a little more than comfortably.
  25. I am thankful for healthy food, clean water, pure air, and all the necessities of life.
  26. I am thankful for the demise of the rat that was living in my garage.
  27. I am thankful for a birthday blessed with so much love from around the world.
  28. I am thankful I decided to continue my blog this year.
  29. I am thankful for the wise leaders and creative visionaries in my life that help me see a way forward when times seem unmanageable.
  30.  I am a thankful to God for giving me a life blessed with opportunities to learn, grow, worship, and serve as I walk the path He set out for me… and for giving me that life in a free country that allows me to pursue that path without persecution.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Here is one more bonus thankful:  I AM THANKFUL FOR YOU!

For what are you most thankful this Thanksgiving? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can send me an email at

Terri/Dorry 😊

Rats!! 2: The Sequel

A few weeks after my unwelcome encounter with the rat in our garage, I received an email inviting me to attend the passholder “squeak peek” of Ratatouille, the new ride in the France pavilion in EPCOT. For some reason, this seemed too good an opportunity for me to miss. Never mind that I live in terror of rat-like tails. Never mind that I had just paid vast quantities of money to rat-proof my home. Never mind that I cannot even watch a movie with rats in it without covering my eyes and cringing. I was not going to miss this very special opportunity to experience Ratatouille before the general public. I love being special. Surely, after facing my fear of an actual rat (well, kind of… the closest I got to the said ex-rat was texting a picture of its lifeless body to the critter control guy), I could sit through a ride depicting a cute cartoon rodent.

Or not. Here’s the thing. I knew the ride was based on a rat. However, I did not expect quite so many rats. I also did not anticipate that, as part of the ride “story,” the rider is supposed to be a rat. We rode in a little plastic rat vehicle through the various vignettes of the ride. Because we were supposed to be rats, the veritable armada of rats on the screens were HUGE. It was terrifying. Everywhere I looked, I was surrounded by buck-toothed, mangy-looking giant rats. Maybe to the average rational person,  they were somehow cute.  Truthfully, I could not opine on what reaction normal people might have had. I was too busy keeping my eyes closed and cowering against Max to take in the nuances of what I will now always refer to as the “rat ride.”  At one point, I even screamed involuntarily, 

In retrospect, I could give the imagineers points for the premise and execution of the ride. There were too many rats, but, apart from that, the ride was clever and well-produced. The ride vehicle was innovative. I get all kinds of feels from creativity and the rat ride was certainly creative. Unfortunately, what it created within me was horror.

So, let’s review what I learned from my Ratatouille experience:

Rats are not cute.

One rat is too many rats.

Rats do not belong in a kitchen.

I can manage Mickey Mouse and Cheese, the mouse from the Tinker Bell movies, but Ratatouille is pushing my luck beyond wisdom.

“Special” does not necessarily mean “good.”

Sometimes, it is important to overcome your fears; sometimes it is important to just avoid the rats!

What amusement park ride do you avoid and why? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a magical day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

It May Take A Village, But The Village Gets Something Out Of The Deal, Too

The other day, we had two baptisms during our Sunday church service. One thing that made the occasion especially noteworthy was that the rector was baptizing his own grandchildren, ages two years and about two months. It was All Saints’ Day. The rector gave his sermon surrounded by precocious children, who he asked to help him with his message.

The whole event was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I reacted in such a profoundly joyful way in my deepest soul. It is trite and cliched to say that my heart was exploding or melting, but my heart definitely did SOMETHING quite extraordinary and dramatic during this celebration.

I am certain that part of my reaction had to do with my not having children of my own. I do not get these milestone moments in my individual experience. The regenerating joy of family milestones is one of those empty spaces in my heart. When others are kind enough to share their moments, I enthusiastically… perhaps, greedily… partake.

There is an even more significant reason I had such a profound reaction to the baptisms. The love and grace that God was pouring out that day, as He renewed His Church, was so abundant that it runneth over even the largest cup. As God graced the newly baptized children and their family, that grace overflowed right into my soul. It was a reminder that we are all family through baptism. At least for a time, I become part of the family and piggybacked on their grace. It was also a reminder that all of us in the congregation have spiritual responsibility to support their journeys of growth in wisdom, faith, and favor. In witnessing the ceremony, God also gifts us with grace, and we also take responsibility as members of God’s family.

I am teaching a course on stewardship at my church. Stewardship is about taking care of all the gifts God gives us and using them wisely for the benefit of His people and the glory of His name. We usually think of stewardship in regard to sharing the “three Ts’- time, talent, and treasure. The gifts God gives us are much more diverse than that. The baptisms are a good example.

Most people count their families- perhaps especially their children and grandchildren- as one of their most precious gifts from God. They try to steward that gift well by taking good care of their families. What they may not realize is that is also blessed stewardship when they are generous and thoughtful enough to share their children with the church as our rector’s son and daughter-in-law did. Their decision to share their children and their commitment to God with the community generated more faith-enriching power than they will ever understand.

I hope and believe that these parents also received grace in this act of stewardship. I hope they felt the love, prayer, and support of the community. I hope they felt the special power of God’s grace “when two or three are gathered.”  Some time ago, I posted a piece called Giving is FUN-damental, in which I argued that sharing what we have with others is not only noble, but also darned fun! It feels good to give and God often equips us with an extra helping of grace when we have momentum in giving. I hope that the parents of our two new Christians felt that extra helping of grace!

How do you steward God’s gifts to you? Please share your perspective by adding a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a blessed day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

The Melodrama In My Mind

In one of my earlier posts, Birthdays, I mentioned that I was engaged in a battle royale with myself to figure out some substantial, long-time “straight edge” issues that cause me a great deal of trouble with my emotional health. I said I would tell you more about these issues once I started figuring them out. As I sit down to write this, I am uncertain as to whether I will publish it. I am not sure that a discussion of the dysfunctional workings of my psyche will be interesting or helpful to anyone. These are all my neuroses and insecurities. Why should you have to struggle with them, too? On the other hand, I did say I would spill the tea and I am a woman of my word. It is a pickle. I decided to write it out and see if my words decide for me.

When I started sorting through all the crap in my brain that forms my decisions and perceptions about myself, I realized that there is one big, ugly, menacing issue that I have been trying to hide from myself and the world for decades. It is ironic that I try to hide from it because it is all about what people see.

Somehow, somewhere along the line, I inextricably linked value with physical beauty. My appearance is the litmus test by which I assess my value and worth in the world. I have never been good-looking. I have never been pretty, desirable, or sexy. I have never even been average-looking. I have always been overweight, under tall, and dowdy. I would say I have no shape, except that round is a shape. I truly have no waist and no neck. The various parts of my body are completely out of proportion. My skin has always been dull and mottled looking. My lips are thin and blend into my face. My eyes are not bad, but my cheeks and my glasses kind of obscure them. I have decent hair, but it doesn’t do what I tell it to do. My measuring stick of worth has become physical appearance. I fall so short, I have trouble feeling worthy of anything.

As a child, other children were often cruel because of my weight and looks. They called me unkind names and yelled at me. There were times when there was even physical bullying. This went on consistently from about third grade through high school. I did not want to upset my parents, so I carried all this hurt on my own back. I have never really downloaded it because I am so embarrassed and ashamed.

For years in my life, I believed I was the ugliest person on the face of the planet. I did make progress. I do not believe that anymore. I just believe my appearance would rank in the lowest one percentile.

I do not say all this because I am looking for pity or asking you to reassure me. It would not help. You could tell me that I am completely wrong about my level of unattractiveness, but I would not believe you anyway. To be honest, I have never really dealt with this issue because no one I have ever talked to about it took it seriously. They tend to not believe the depth and breadth of this belief within me nor understand how painful it is.

The thing is that my looks are not just my looks. I wish I could just accept that I will never be pretty and move on. I have such a sense of shame and unworthiness and fear wrapped up in my perceptions of my appearance. I truly do not want to be overdramatic, but, if I am honest, I think I do many things in my life to “make up” for imposing myself and my ugliness on the world. I want to be as little trouble as possible because my looks already mean that I am getting more than my share of generosity from people. I do not deserve to come first.

My head knows that this perception never made sense. Now, at 62 years old, it makes even less sense. Even the most beautiful people in the world usually do not look like the most beautiful people in the world once they hit their sixties.

I started this whole journey of figuring all this out as part of a coaching process I joined a few months ago. I am working with Todd Payne (Todd Payne, Life Coach ( process is based on the enneagram. I am not going to try to explain the enneagram worldview because I am no expert. You can get better information from other sources by looking it up on the internet. Todd, the coach who is collaborating with me, is excellent. I do feel I am progressing quite rapidly in overcoming anxiety. It is a very practical approach. It has helped me strategize how to manage many specific situations. I was flying quite high over the whole thing, as I became more proficient in managing myself in stressful situations. However, I think I have just been practicing… and, perhaps, testing the coach and the process… before facing the most powerful negative forces in my life.

I finally broke the wall a couple of weeks ago. Todd asked me to contemplate what in my life has caused me to embrace the unhealthy strategies I employ in managing my life. In other words, how did these strategies occur and how have they served me over time? Truly, many of my life skills do have benefits. It is just when I apply them in an unhealthy way to inappropriate situations that I sink my spirit. Over the week I was thinking about these life situations, I felt awful. I thought of a few things- mostly easy to face- and we talked about them. I did mention the weight/looks thing, but I let it skitter to the corner of the conversation. After the conversation, I still felt unresolved and dodgy. The hopeless feeling was there. I came to a revelation, which led me to a fundamental question.

Obviously, I have struggled with this issue for decades. I believe I have grown and improved. Normally, I am now a pretty happy person. That has not always been the case. There have been times in my life when the melodrama of my mind took place on a dangerously dark stage. Today, after much maturation on my part, I do not walk out onto the dark stage very often. When I do wander onto that stage, however, it is awfully bad. My revelation was that I have not resolved my issues around body image; I have simply learned how to manage the pain they bring. The question I had for my coach was whether it was possible to actually change my perceptions completely instead of just learning to deal with the scarring… and, if fundamental change is a reasonable goal, is it too late for me?

I found the courage to revisit the coaching session, show this very damaged part of me, and ask for help, I felt terrified. It was irrational fear, but that irrational fear refused to listen to reason. I pushed it all away and avoided contemplating it until the night before the next coaching session.

I thought that my coach might try to convince me that I was wrong about how unattractive I was. I thought my coach might try to help me lose weight and improve my appearance. I thought my coach might be flummoxed by the whole issue, as others have been. What he did instead was plot out a course of how we can get me to completely change the measuring stick. Mind blown.

First, he normalized this huge, deep, dark, monster of a secret that lives in my mind by pointing out that the world is going through a huge transformation in trying to see beyond how people look- color of the skin, age, disabilities, ethnicities. He did not say body type, but I could fill in that blank. Then, we spent time talking about inherent value and God’s plan for each of us. Intellectually, of course I could understand what he was saying, but I was still having a tough time kicking the monster to the curb. What really tells the story was when he was asking me about what I wanted to be able to truthfully say about myself, I honestly could not realistically visualize any goal beyond believing I look “fine and not off-putting.”  I am still a work in progress.

We did talk about simple things to do to fight my way into the light when I feel myself pushing onto the dark stage. We also discussed that I will often just need to trust and have faith and step into life without the certainty that I will be okay. One of those things was to produce a prayer, mantra, or system of words that would remind me of my worth completely apart from physical appearance. I was not firing on all cylinders on this activity. Nothing was resonating with me.

That evening, as I puttered around in my brain, I remembered something someone had once said that made me feel very, very good. When I was received into the Episcopal Church, I was talking to the archdeacon who was coordinating the ceremony. She said to me, specifically to me, “You are a precious child of God, and we are so happy you are here.”  I adapted that message to “I am a precious child of God and I bring joy to the world.”  Immediately, I knew this is what I had to tell myself.

The next morning, I woke up feeling even worse than I had been feeling. I was dull-spirited and dull-minded. I felt completely worthless, unlovable, unattractive, undesirable, and hopeless. It did not take me long to go back to bed, where I stared through dull eyes at the walls, with no real trust that anything could ever get any better. Then, I remembered my epiphany of the night before and began to tell myself, “I am a precious child of God and I bring joy to the world.”  I truly did not believe it would work, but I was trying to follow my coach’s advice to do something just on faith.

It did not sink in right away. I said it ten or twelve times before anything changed. When I did feel the change, though, the wave of power and well-being was palpable. As I kept repeating the words, I felt better and better. My eyes were registering objects and motion. They sparked up instead of looking deadly out into space. I am sure my brain chemicals changed.

Maybe hope is possible. Maybe change is possible. Maybe killing the infection instead of just taking aspirin is possible. Maybe I am a precious child of God and maybe I bring joy to the world.

I’m not sure what question to even ask today.  I am feeling wicked vulnerable right now, so please be kind.  If any of you have ever felt the way I do, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at I’d also recommend that you think about contacting Todd Payne if you think you could use some help moving into a more joyful way of living.   

Have a day you deserve!

Terri/Dorry 😊