Life is full of unexpected changes

Published 9:39 am Monday, November 7, 2016

“It’s not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, that’s the true measure of our thanksgiving.”  – W.T. Purkiser

If you follow these pages you know I’ve been absent for awhile. The reason I’d been away was medical, and I’ll just leave it at my – once more – being grateful for a healthy return.

That’s especially significant for me at this Thanksgiving time, because I underwent a similar experience during last year’s November holiday season.

This time, though, I hope I’ve learned a little bit more than last time.

Life is unpredictable, that’s for sure. It takes some unexpected turns sometimes, and it surprises us in so many ways that we sometimes have to pause to brace ourselves.

Life is also a challenge, and at the end of the day you won’t win a prize, except maybe something so obvious you’ll end up tripping over it: the warm protection of that comforting shell we call home.

You see, home is more than the privilege of having a house; it’s also a place where we enjoy a certain freedom. I don’t live in a mansion, but I’m fortunate for having a roof over my head, food in the cupboard, and a shield from heat and cold.  When I feel like complaining about my modest possessions, I think about the less fortunate and a certain realization hits me: I am very, very blessed and lucky, too.

There were times during my convalescence when I was in a lot of pain. But I’ve tried to turn my pain into some sort of ‘good’. I won’t say I consider my illness a “gift.”  But during this second go-around it’s taught me to value each day, appreciate the moment, and try to get my priorities straight. Shucks, I might even discover I’ve got the power to do things I never thought I could.

Therefore, faced once again with a season of recovery, this Thanksgiving I won’t complain.  I’ll be grateful for the small, priceless gifts God has given me: family, friendship, a means to sustain myself, and especially the gift of life.

For many of us, Thanksgiving usually means a lot of feasting, four-day weekends, football, parades and floats, family reunions, even Black Friday sales and other forerunners to Christmas.  But Thanksgiving is more than that: it’s also an attitude of the heart.

This year when I celebrate Thanksgiving I’m going to try to do a better job of remembering that it’s about more than being thankful for one day, it is an entire lifetime.

This Thanksgiving holiday I want to do a better job of opening my heart to giving. Helping other people will make you feel less alone.

Yes, life is full of unexpected changes. Even though the harvest ain’t always one giant ‘Horn of Plenty’ remember we all still have a great deal to be thankful for.

I’m thankful that I have the strength to meet the challenges that come with life. I’m thankful for each memory that family and friends have given me. I’m thankful to understand that it’s more important to give than to receive. This Thanksgiving I have so much to be thankful for.

Even with a new lease on life, I’ll going to be thankful for what I have to give, not just what I’ve received.  And, boy, have I received a lot!

Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7211.