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Those who are close to me know that I’m approaching a milestone birthday. (I’ll let you guess which one.) In some ways, I don’t think it will make a difference in the way I lead my life, or how I feel about things. In other ways, it looms over my daily walk with great significance.

One thing that I’ve noticed about getting older is that I appreciate a lot of things I’ve previously taken for granted… simple things like a good night’s sleep. I am immensely grateful for those few mornings when I sleep peacefully through the night and wake up slowly and languorously rather than being rudely awakened by a cramp in my leg. Life’s simple pleasures.

As I get to an age where many of my friends have only one or no parents still living, I am daily reminded how blessed I am to have both of my parents still active in my life. I’m grateful for all of the things my parents have done for me, taught me, and given me, and that I have people in my life who love me, just as I am.

I’m thankful to have been raised with a hard work ethic, that I was not brought up to feel entitled, but with the knowledge that if I worked hard. I could earn the things I wanted and have the freedom to do what I wished. Those principals have shaped my life, and because of that, I have been very blessed.

I also find that I spend far more time being grateful for what I have and less time lusting after what I don’t have. It’s the realization that I have enough or even plenty of what I need, and that if I don’t need something, I should find someone who does.

B&W Blue Belle Inn

I’m privileged to have owned and operated my own business for 25 years, and to have served my wonderful customers, and participated in their lives, their special occasions, and the hard times they’ve gone through.

I’m increasingly thankful for my good health, even as it daily worsens, even as the definition of good has to be continuously downgraded.

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I’m grateful for a soft mattress, a sweet husband, nieces and nephews who make me smile and do me proud.

 

I’m grateful to have been able to see so much of the world, to have had the luxury to enjoy beautiful landscapes and picturesque places in so many countries.  I’m thankful to have been given the gift of an artist’s eye to capture that beauty in photographs, to appreciate art and beauty.

B&W View

I am grateful to have been given second chances, and that when I’ve made mistakes, I’ve had the opportunity to try again and again, until I’ve gotten it right, or even made amends.

I am thankful for the few, true blue friends who have stuck with me for a lifetime, and not just a season.

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I’m grateful for a Savior who forgives me over and over again, who loves me unconditionally.

I’m thankful that I have the right, the honor, and the skill to express myself.  I’m grateful for every single person who admires my art, listens to me speak, or reads what I’ve written and respects me enough to take the time to let me share a little bit of myself.

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Getting older may not be the most fun thing in the world, but it comes with its perks – one of which is that every so often you have time to sit back and count your blessings.

So, thank YOU – because I don’t take you for granted either.

On this day of Thanksgiving, in the midst of mashed potatoes and turkey and stuffing, and even pie, I would like to take a minute to express my gratitude for each of you who reads the words I put together with paper and pen.

Today, I’d like to share ten things I am thankful for, from a writer’s perspective.

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  1. I’m thankful for a publisher who not only saw merit in my work and took a chance on me, but who encourages me to write what’s on my heart. Thank you for not pressuring me to write what’s selling, or what fits into a certain box.

Shy Violet  Blue Belle, a contemporary romance by Sherrie Hansen  Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

  1. I’m thankful for faithful readers who return to my stories again and again, and clamor for more. It means the world to me.

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  1. I’m also thankful for those adventurous new readers who take a chance on my books, who spend their valuable time and money on books by Sherrie Hansen even though there are millions of others to choose from.

 

  1. I’m especially thankful for those wonderful, glorious people who actually take the time to write and post reviews of my books. I am quite convinced they are angels!

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  1. I’m thankful that I come from a family of thinkers who talks things through, tries to figure things out, and speculates on possible outcomes. From my grandmas on down, the family members who influenced me the most, know how to tell a good story, nurture imagination, and ask the question “What if…?”

Romania - stairs

  1. I’m thankful that I’ve been blessed to live a life sprinkled with novel (novel-worthy?) experiences. It hasn’t always been fun. It’s been traumatic at times. But it’s never been boring, and writing about some of the things that have shaped me, in story form, has been therapeutic and uplifting.

Romania - Castle

  1. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to live in and travel to some very exotic locales. From Scotland to Romania, Bar Harbor, Maine, Colorado Springs and yes, even Lawton, Oklahoma, my sojourns and journeys have provided amazing backdrops for my stories, and opened my eyes to unique people, different ways of thinking, and alternate perspectives. I love it when I can escape my own comfortable little corner of the world and experience the grand adventure of seeing the universe through other people’s eyes.

Sherrie - Mark

  1. I’m thankful for a supportive husband who encourages me to write and helps me make time in my hectic schedule for writing. I am thankful for his little acts of thoughtfulness, like driving us places while I write away in the car, my laptop propped on the open door of the glove compartment – yes, even at night when the light from my screen irritates him.

 

  1. I’m thankful for friends and relatives who critique my work, share candid opinions, and let me pick their brains so I can learn everything they know about cows and everything else under the sun. (Yes, Victoria, you will get credit for sharing your expertise on cows in the dedication for Sweet William.)

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  1. I’m thankful for a God and Savior who created me in His image, and gave me the gifts of creativity, artistry, music and passion. God could have designed us to be obedient, robotic type creatures, but instead, he gave us free-wills, and imaginations, even though He knew both good and bad would come from our choices.

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My sincere thanks to all of you who have read my blog, and in doing so, listened to and shared my thoughts. Anyone who has experienced the thrill of having someone read what they’ve written knows what a true joy this is. On this day of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for you.

I have a confession to make. I do realize how blessed I am to have family, friends, a wonderful husband, relative health and wealth, and more or less everything I could ever need plus many if not most of the things I want. I should be grateful beyond measure. But the truth is, I more often find things to bemoan or gripe about than I do to be grateful for.

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How dare I complain about anything, or wish things were better, or spend even one moment dreaming or plotting to improve one or another area of my life when I already have so much to be thankful for? I know things could be much worse – I’m reminded of the odds that they may soon be every time I see a headline or read the prayer list at church.

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Part of it is being a perfectionist. I have very high expectations. If they’re not met, I feel sadness and disappointment. If anyone has a cure for this unproductive malady, let me know. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with aspiring to be the best you can be, anything – anything – served up in too big a batch, has a way of metamorphosing into something sour.

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Power corrupts, and gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. We take our rights, and use them to destroy instead of building up. Too much of any good thing can so easily go bad.

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Thanksgiving should be about being grateful. Christmas should be about love coming down to save us. Instead, it seems that both holidays have become about excess and greed – shopping frantically for things we don’t need instead of being grateful for what we already have.

Food - Pie, baked

So your turkey is dry instead of moist, or the crust on the pumpkin pie is burned, or it’s cold and snowy and the roads are slippery on Thanksgiving Day. So there’s friction from the family around the table or you feel the sniffles coming on or someone is late. So your date cancelled at the last minute or your favorite restaurant is closed or you put on your favorite dress and find a grease spot center front. So that beautifully wrapped box under the tree turns out to be something you never would have bought and don’t even want – please don’t let unrealistic expectations rob you of your contentment and satisfaction and the things that are really important in life.

This year, as you gather together with your family or friends, as you look around at the beauty that surrounds you, give thanks with a grateful heart.

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“Be thankful for the bad things in life. For they open your eyes to the good things you weren’t paying attention to before.”  I saw this quote on Facebook a few days ago.  The photo it was attached to was of Kermit the Frog leaning against a pillar. I don’t know if this is a quote from Kermit or if whomever posted it just thought it was a good match.

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It did make me think. At our community Thanksgiving service last Sunday, my husband spoke about a song called, Forgive Us, Lord, For Shallow Thankfulness, which came from a Missouri Synod Lutheran hymnal. It resonated with me because, probably like many of us, I tend to get excited about things like getting fiber optic internet access, my latest hat or earrings, a big night at work where everything goes smoothly and I actually make money instead of losing it, getting to play the piano with my musical friends, and things like having a whole day to myself when I can hang out in my nightgown and write all day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but…

Sherrie and Mark 2013

I take the really good, important things in my life for granted. Shelter, enough food to fill my stomach, a family that loves me, a husband who is a dear, friends who care about me, my nice, blue PT cruiser and my nicely decorated homes and … how quickly I forget to enjoy  and give thanks for these very precious things.

Guest Room

And when bad things happen or things don’t go the way I’d hoped they would, like most of us, I tend to grumble instead of giving thanks.

Zion 2013 Stormy

If I go one step further and look at the really big picture – I am embarrassed that I don’t feel more gratitude for the most important things – the fact that God loves me and gave His son to die for me, and that He is always by my side, through good times and bad. The fact that I am loved by the Lord Creator, Risen Savior of all is certainly something to be thankful for, yet, so very often, I live my life as though the stone, unrolled, still lay across the door.

Zion 2013 Frost Close

When bad things happen, we’re often jolted into realizing what’s really important, and feeling appreciation for what really matters. My husband tells the story of a study about a man who won the lottery and a man who endured a horrible car accident and many months / years of healing and rehabilitation. The study looked at who was happier after ten years, and surprisingly, it was the man who survived the horrific car accident.

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I wish you nothing but happiness on this Thanksgiving Day, but the next time your day, week or month is frustrating instead of ideal, and your microwave dies and your glasses break and your blog disappears and won’t post, I hope that we are (I am) able to humbly give thanks with a grateful heart and remember I Thessalonians 5:18 – in ALL circumstances, give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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