I’m grateful!

The Pileated Woodpecker is striking in its coloring and top notch. (Photo by Craig Taylor)

Last Sunday, we woke up to a beautiful sunrise. The sun glimmered off the tree limbs that had lost their leaves. The evergreens’ color vibrantly stuck out among the bare trees, bringing life to the scene. The whole picture was gorgeous and I thanked God that we get to live in such a place of beauty. I’m grateful.

On the way to church, a Belted Kingfisher flew directly in front of our car. I’ve only seen one on one other occasion, and never in Clarkesville, so that was a wonderful surprise.

The Belted Kingfisher is not always easy to see, much less photograph. (Photo by Craig Taylor)

Then, we saw a Pileated Woodpecker, a stunningly beautiful bird that I haven’t seen often. I thanked God that those birds showed up in such a way so we couldn’t miss seeing them. They were both extraordinary in that moment. I was grateful to be there at those specific and special moments in time.

The Pileated Woodpecker is usually seen deep in the woods, drumming on dead trees. (Photo by Craig Taylor)

The year 2020 has been a bust for so many reasons. Our parents are not able to do the things they’ve enjoyed. Their lives have become limited and often disappointing. Our kids haven’t been to our house since last Christmas. We feel the loss of getting with our family on special occasions. But we’re all healthy. We have the ability to be together virtually. I’m grateful that we’re safe and that the bonds of our family are made stronger through absence.

I don’t want what I’ve lost this year to prevent me seeing what I have. So, here’s my list of what I’m most grateful this year.

I’m grateful for our families, and for how I’ve seen God strengthen those relationships during this time.

I’m grateful that we were able to be present in June when our six-year-old granddaughter was baptized in a swimming pool after she made her profession of faith. She wasn’t willing to wait for COVID to be over before she did that.

I’m grateful to be part of a church family who loves each other and our community well. I’m grateful that God has led us to this place at this time and made our lives better for it.

I’m grateful for friends, both old and new, who have made life in the pandemic tolerable. Life is better with friends–either in person or virtually or through texts or social media.

I’m grateful that God opened the door this year for me to join the Now Habersham staff and for the challenges He places before me as a writer. And I’m so grateful for the skills of Craig Taylor, our friend who shares his knowledge, expertise, and photos with Bob and me as new birders and with this column. I couldn’t do what I do in Confessions of a Rookie Birder if Craig didn’t have a personal library of photos he’s taken over the years that he’s willing to share.

Above all, I’m grateful because I know that God is sovereign–He is greater than coronavirus and greater than any struggles the virus has created. He is greater than everything. And like the evergreens that haven’t changed even as all the trees around them do, God is constant and unchanging. His presence is with us as surely as the evergreens keep their color year-round. What an amazing gift to us that is.

I’m grateful for so much. What are you grateful for this year?

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