A couple of years ago, I happened onto a plethora of boxes full of pictures from years past…you know, those pictures lovingly stored with the intention of putting them in albums.About the same time I found them, my friend gave me a large, unique basket that she was discarding—she thought I might like it.

The basket became the home of some of the pictures I had found.  I placed it on the table where we eat.  I noticed that each time someone sat down at the table, they would thumb through the pictures, eventually picking one and sharing their memories.    The basket has provided laughter, moments of gravity, and remembrance.

Then the other day, as I lifted our cat out of the basket, I noticed a picture on top of the pile.

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This is a picture of my husband and me. It was taken on our trip to Canada last month in celebration of our 24th wedding anniversary. Wanting to fully embrace the blessing of the few days we had been given, I researched ‘things to do in Toronto.’  I learned that it was the weekend of the Canadian Thanksgiving.   I searched the history…this is an excerpt from Wikipdedia…

…“Martin Frobisher, an English explorer, set out on his 3rd expedition from England with his fleet of 15 ships.  His hope was to start a small settlement in Canada. However, the expedition was plagued by ice and freak storms which at times had scattered the fleet.  Upon meeting together again… Master Wolfall, a learned man, appointed by her Majesties Council to be their minister and preacher, made unto them a godly sermon, exhorting them especially to be thankful to God for their strange and miraculous deliverance in those so dangerous places.” 

The words felt important; however, time did not allow contemplation.  I packed for my trip and  flew to meet my husband.

Our first day in Canada found us walking the streets toward a place called Little Italy.  The temperature was invitingly cool, the sun shone brightly, the sky was cloudless.  As we walked the city blocks, taking in the sights, we soon realized our destination was further than we had anticipated.  Rather than being defeated and turning around, my husband grabbed my hand, his optimism and playful risk coming to the rescue.  I could see it in his eyes…he had a plan.  I felt my hesitation.

He stopped, looked and began walking toward a quaint restaurant with tables outside.  I read the name – Bier Markt.  Its fame came because it sold almost every imported beer known to man.   Being a beer and cheeseburger girl, I had the joyful thought that I might have just hit paydirt!

Then, I heard it.  The doubt in my head, “They won’t have a table – he’s crazy to think we could get one outside on such a glorious day!” “Why try?”  The thoughts tempted me to lose the joyful hope (and the fun) of joining my husband in his play.  I silently waited. “Your best table for two outside please!” he stated, no question involved.

The waiter didn’t hesitate.  He led us to a lovely outside table for two.  We sat together.  We ordered amazing appetizers.  We ordered amazing beer.  When the waitress brought our order, I was struck by the message on the coaster she set before me…

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“Do one thing really, really well.”

OK.  It resonated.  I was exposed.  I am a multi-tasker.  I can contain a lot and I can falsely believe that I can ‘do’ a lot all at once – really, really well.  The message on my coaster was a timely guest at our table.  I took a deep breath, committing inside to slow down and enjoy every ounce of blessing around me, and of course, every ounce of beer :)!

I looked across the table and spoke the words I felt in my heart.  “I want to do one thing really, really well right now.  Gratitude.”  I began to name the blessings I was enjoying.  I began to name the blessings I enjoy in my husband… his presence, his playfulness, his courage to risk.  I began to remember the blessings of God’s miraculous deliverance from ‘those so dangerous places’ in my life: the places of discontentment in my marriage, doubt, fear, disillusionment.

Remembering and Savoring God’s goodness and deliverance in the past and embracing His goodness in the present – It was a glorious afternoon.

Throughout the weekend, we enjoyed more of Toronto…Many blessings…some of which were shockingly humorous!

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I wonder just how many blessings and how much of God’s goodness I normally miss in my bent to doubt and multi-task!

Today is a new day…

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-24

I can choose to stop, take a deep breath in and revel in the goodness of God in my past and in my present.   And as I do, hope comes alive and I can dream with faith for the future.

I think about Martin Frobisher.

He was ‘thankful to God for their strange and miraculous deliverance in those so dangerous places.’   He remembered the One with gratitude.

Yes, Lord, Yes.  I want to do one thing really, really well…live with a heart of GRATITUDE!


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Ellen Oelsen lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband of 24 years. She is a mother of 4 children and loves their 2 dogs and 1 cat. Her hobbies include cooking, nature, reading, plays, and two stepping. She delights in offering hospitality of the heart and creating spaces of care, rest, play and reflection to inspire hope. She is beginning to expose the writer within her.
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