Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Different Kind Of Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It's a time to gather my thoughts and focus on what I'm grateful for. Yet this year there was a sense of unease in my heart. The wants and needs of those at SCC loomed over the campus. So many of our students couldn't afford to serve a Thanksgiving dinner to their families. Not only that, so many people in Spokane were homeless and struggling to have a Thanksgiving meal. Most days I knew all of this at a logical level. Yet somehow my heart couldn't rest this Thanksgiving knowing how blessed I was and the contrast in my life and theirs.

One club at SCC decided to help our students and have a Thanksgiving Canned Food Drive. They chose to make it a campus contest. That started the ball rolling. I set up my own contest in my four classes. We brought in four huge yellow plastic bins, and I challenged my four classes to compete against each other to see who could bring in the most food.

There were several conditions in the contest:
1) The class that brought in the most cans would get a party, and
2) I would personally match the total number of cans that the four classes brought.

Now mind you, lots of schools have canned food drives. What was different here was that many of my students are scraping to get by and bringing any cans would be a personal sacrifice. Many of these amazing folks needed food themselves.

We talked every day about gratitude, about what being a servant leader is about. We talked about helping the poorest of the poor, the homeless here in Spokane. After all, half of what we gathered would go to the SCC Food Bank, and the other half would go to the House of Charity in downtown Spokane. This is one of the places where Spokane's homeless would spend Thanksgiving. We talked about what goes around comes around and that giving to others who are less fortunate fills up your own heart.

Have I said lately that I have the most amazing students? Have I told you that they are generous and giving beyond belief? I have tears streaming down my face as I write this because I could NEVER, EVER have imagined the depths to which they would go to help others.

Several students emptied their own cupboards. Several students did extra jobs at school to earn money to buy cans. The huge yellow bins filled again and again and again. Our final total was 876 cans for the food drive.

Yet that was only part of the fun!

We decided to participate in making Thanksgiving dinner at the House of Charity. We were going to cook turkeys, bring down those cans, and help other SCC students make, serve and eat Thanksgiving dinner with those who are homeless.

Our first House of Charity run began at 4:30 am last Tuesday, November 23rd. Yes, you read that correctly, that was the day of Spokane's first snow "blizzard". At 4:30 in the morning we were gathering at the House of Charity, carrying our cooked turkeys through the snow in the toughest part of town. Our job was to peel potatoes, make green bean casseroles, and other traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Our meals would be serving hundreds of Spokane's poorest of the poor.

When I arrived at 4:30, the 4:00 crew was hustling and bustling. The meal would be served at noon and there was LOTS of work to be done. There were so many familiar faces, students I have in class, smiling, drinking coffee, and peeling potatoes so others could have a Thanksgiving meal. I will never in my life forget that sight. I had a blast working in the kitchen where we took the meat off of 27 home-cooked turkeys, putting light meat and dark meat in pans to be served to our new homeless friends. You should have seen the faces of two men who slept in a car outside of the House of Charity (all the beds were taken) when a group of chattering college students walked at 4:30 am on their way to the House of Charity kitchen.

And as if that wasn't enough, on Thursday, November 25th, Thanksgiving day, we did it all over again. Round two. More turkeys, more potatoes, and more amazing students. One of my absolutely favorite SCC students was at both events and even cooked his first turkey. He had been homeless himself a few years back and wanted to "pay it forward!"

So as I sit by the fire this Saturday morning , sipping my coffee and watching the snow fall, I have been thinking back on the last few weeks that have been filled with cans, contests, turkeys, students, and giving from the heart.

Was it a traditional Thanksgiving? No.
Was it one of the best Thanksgivings I can remember? Yes, it was.
Am I more than ever aware of all of my blessings? You bet I am!

It was a different kind of Thanksgiving this year, and it is one I will cherish and remember for the rest of my life.

God Bless!
Love Linda

Saturday, November 20, 2010


One of my students asked me a thought provoking question this week. She said, "How do you fit it all in? You seem so busy and your life is so full. Why are you still smiling when there is so much on your plate to do?"

My answer was short and simple. "As I get older," I said with a twinkle in my eye, "There are many more days behind me than in front of me. I know each day is precious. I want to pack each day FULL of wonderful activities so when it's all said and done...I want to have no regrets. And I want to do those tasks in front of me with a smile on my face and joy in my heart"

Erma Bombeck, an old comic and writer, put it best when she said, "Lord, until the very last day, let me use up every gift and talent you gave me so that when you call me home I can smile at you and say 'I used 'em all up'"

One of my life lessons in the past 63 years is that there will ALWAYS be lots of "things to do".
Yet I can do each of those activities with gratitude and positive intentionality or they can just be something I'm trying to hurry through so I can get them done and check them off my list.

I ask myself quite regularly, if this was my last day to live would I slow down and just appreciate the chance to clean up my kitchen? Would I feel joy that I have a refrigerator when so many in the world don't? Would I be grateful for the dishwasher that cleans my dishes, feel each dish as I put it in, enjoy their beautiful patterns and colors? Would I taste the food on my plate, take joy in its preparation, and not just rush through another meal? 

Would I savor the moment?

As the holidays approach...I want to be fully present as I buy each gift, relishing the person I got it for. I want to wrap each package, fill each basket, and appreciate the moment. I want to be more grateful to God that these wonderful folks are in my life.

As I wrap up the quarter at school and spend hours reading journals, grading papers and evaluating final projects... I want to STOP and give thanks that I have had time with these amazing students.  I don't want to let the workload spoil my attitude.

I want to be intentional about experiencing the JOY in my life!

So this morning, as I sit by the fire and sip my coffee, I have a smile on my face. A new day is dawning. I am grateful to be alive so I can enjoy every second of it! I hope you enjoy your day too!

God Bless!
Love Linda

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Years ago, and I do mean Y.E.A.R.S ago, the Pointer Sisters sang the lyrics "I'm so excited, I just can't hide it. I'm about to lose control and I think I like it!" Now granted the object of their excitement was a man, but still these lyrics perfectly summarize how I feel today!

What am I sooooooo excited about you may be asking yourself? Here are just a few of the things that are putting a smile on my face right now....

Drum roll please.....

1) It's BABY time at the Thompson house!!!

Jessi, Roger and Emma are having a baby next May! Well, technically Jessi and Roger are having the baby, but if you know Emma you know that she is all geared up to be a BIG SISTER!
This baby is a miracle, a blessing, and a joy for them and our extended family. I have love, love, loved being in on this glorious moment, praying for this pea- in- the- pod and celebrating this new life and member of our family! More on this later...:) Please keep this family in your prayers during this pregnancy.

2) It's ADOPTION time at the Farrell house!!

That's right, you heard it here first! OK... maybe not first, but this is a miracle too. Was it on the radar screen for the Farrell family to adopt a wonderful girl from Ethiopia? Nope. Did God put it in Amy and Ryan's hearts! Yup! Is this a story that warms your heart and renews your faith ? It is! Where the heck is Ethiopia and what is that culture like? We are all finding that out and we can't stop smiling and praising! More on this later...:) Please keep this family in your prayers as they go through the extensive adoption process.

So, in short, (and you all know there is no "short" with me)... my heart is overflowing with God's grace and love for us. Two more good does it get??

Add the upcoming holidays to this equation...and I am OVER THE MOON WITH EXCITEMENT AND JOY!!!... and I just can't hide it!

God Bless!
Love Linda

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