Thankful Thursday – A Long, Loving Look At the REAL


Jeremy's graduation

I'm so thankful for my son, Jeremy, who just graduated from middle school and is ready for the adventure of high school

It’s another “Thankful Thursday.”

This means you have the chance to share your thanks and be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card – along with blessing the rest of us who get to read what you’re thankful for.  Here’s how it works:  between now and the end of June, anyone who takes the time to write something they’re thankful for in the comment section of one of my “Thankful Thursdays” series will be entered into a drawing to receive the gift card.  I will announce the winner in July.


So what are you thankful for this week?

This week, my thankful list includes…

26. A wonderful young man who just graduated from middle school and is ready to take on the adventure of high school.  (Seriously?  I now have two high school sons?  Where did the time go?)

27.  Gardening in the rain

28.  Wind chime tinkles on a breezy spring morning

29.  Snickerdoodle batter

30.  Finding hidden treasures when I clean my closet.


Transparent dragonfly on purple petunias

I'm thankful for transparent dragonfly wings on backyard purple petunias

I’m learning the importance of getting specific with my thanks.  This is a way of heightening my powers of observation and increasing my ability to pay attention to God’s presence.

35.  The Princess Bride truth that “as you wish” really means “I love you.”

36.  A telephoto lens for seeing up close

37.  Flowering strawberry plants in the garden

38.  Leftover garlic chicken pizza

Orange Star flowers

I'm thankful for the gift of Orange Star flowers from the women of Stockton Covenant Church

Getting specific reminds me that God is specific.  He is committed to the particular, the real.  When Jesus came to earth, He didn’t come as a generic person or an amorphous spirit.  He came as a particular person at a particular time and place in history.

42.  Diamonds on the water of the Solano County wetlands

43.  My voice (both literal and metaphorical)

44.  Sore muscles after a day of productive and rewarding work

45.  Early morning birdsong

46.  Smiling boys


Learning to give thanks for specific things is a spiritual practice – it’s what theologian Walter Burghardt would refer to as taking a “long, loving look at the real.”  Long.  Loving.  Look.  At the Real.  Each of those words is pregnant with meaning.


To truly give thanks takes time.  Sometimes it takes a LONG time.  I often don’t notice things at first or even second glance.  But if I’m willing to spend some time, things come into focus.  Patterns emerge.  Light and shadow take on form.  “Aha’s” can happen.

Christian professor and psychologist Gary Moon observes that “God is already present in the hidden depths of the present moment; it is just because we were skimming along across the surface of what was happening that we were unable to know and rest in that presence.”


Sometimes I am thankful as a result of the joy and love I feel from God.  These are times when I can’t keep the thanks from flowing from my lips.  I know I am loved, and I see God’s good gifts everywhere – which gives me much cause for thanks.

Other times, I do not necessarily feel the love of God – or perhaps I do not feel particularly lovely.  These are dark, ugly days.  When I want to hide in a hole.  When I may not feel thankful.  So what do I do?  I begin by simply noting things to be thankful for, remembering the truth that God loves me whether I feel it or not.

By choosing to use God’s love as the lens through which I look at the world, I can begin to notice His good gifts.  Remembering that I am God’s beloved changes my heart.  Then my list of thanks grows – and as it does, my feelings are given the chance to catch up.


In order to look, I need Jesus to continually do for me what he did for the blind man in Mark 8:22.  After Jesus touched him a first time, He asked if the man could see.  But all the man could see were people who “look like trees walking around.”  He was not yet able to see clearly.  So Jesus touched him a second time – and this time the man was able to see clearly.

This story does not reveal a weakness in Jesus – that somehow this particular form of blindness was too much for Jesus on his first try.  No.  The story reveals that often the blindness in us takes time to be removed.  We are so blind, that seeing does not come quickly.  We must let Jesus touch us more than once, and allow our fuzzy eyes to take on His vision.

 At the REAL

What is real?  This is a question that has haunted philosophers throughout the centuries.  In the movie, The Matrix, Neo is given the chance to see reality behind the false construction of the matrix.  His eyes are opened, and he sees what the makers of the matrix don’t want him to see – reality as it truly exists.  And in seeing reality, Neo is able to make choices rather than be manipulated by the matrix.

In the book, The Velveteen Rabbit, the toy stuffed Rabbit wants to know what it means to be REAL.  When he asks the other toys, this is what he learns:

     “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse.  “It’s a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become real.”

     “Does it hurt?”  asked the Rabbit.

     “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.  “When you are real you don’t mind being hurt.”

     “Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

     “It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse.  “You become.  It takes a long time.  That’s why it doesn’t happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

So seeing what is real comes back to love.  And when I am open to Love, I am open to seeing and receiving God’s good gifts. And when I am open to these gifts, I see them everywhere.

And I am thankful.

Today, I invite you to take a LONG, LOVING LOOK at the REAL – and let it reveal things to be thankful for.

Then take a moment and share below what you discover.  What are you thankful for this “Thankful Thursday”?





  1. Bridgette

    What a beautiful and uplifting message. 🙂

  2. Lindy Stickels

    Linda….that’s such a nice picture! Very good looking son…

    • Linda Sommerville

      Thanks, Lindy. He is handsome, but I’m still getting used to his black hair (he dyed it just for fun – it’s usually brown).

  3. I was just talking with a friend about this, thank you again for the reminder! This morning I was grateful for the smell of toast and coffee.

  4. Diane

    Great to see this book is inspiring you in similar ways as it has inspired me 🙂

    114. Pools–refreshing and relaxing
    117. A long weekend to meander through
    118. The many shades of green–especially in spring
    119. Other like minded moms, keeping each other sane and laughing
    112. swedish fish (candy)–memories of grandma and long summer days
    125. chirping birds reminding me of God’s care and provision
    128. a perfect cup of tea at the perfect time

    • Linda Sommerville

      Diane, Thanks for sharing some of your list – LOVE it!!!

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