45. I am thankful for GOD'S PRESENCE...

This happened ONE YEAR ago exactly (and it is a repost from a January blog):

God, my Heavenly Father, visited me in a profound, unforgettable way.

I had come home really worn out, ate a quick bite, and went to bed early....

Read the "rest of this story" on my January 20, 2010 post....

44. I am thankful for Homemade Tomato Soup....

Even if I did make it myself....I just couldn't bear the thought of opening up a can of "Condensed soup" and consuming it as though it were the "best thing going..." My conscience would not, REPEAT, would not let me do that...

Here's my recipe:

1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 14.5 ounce can of chicken broth (fat-free, low sodium is what I use)
1/2 can of water
1 large carrot, shredded
2 large celery stalks, diced finely
1 tablespoon, dried rosemary leaves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning (I use Tony Cachere's).

In a large pot, saute the vegetables in 2 tablespoons of oil (I use olive oil, but vegetable or canola will work just fine) for about ten minutes.

In your blender, combine the two cans of tomatoes, and the rest of the ingredients, except for the chicken broth.

Add your tomato mixture to the large pot with the vegetables sauteeing, stir in the chicken broth. Bring to a boil for about ten minutes or so....

Eat this however you most enjoy it....I like it with crackers.....

43. I am thankful for Gordon Lin...

Or should I call him "Dr Lin"?

Gordon is one very, very special person. His family immigrated from Taiwan back in the 1980s (they did it the RIGHT WAY). He grew up in suburban Naperville--slightly southwest of Chicago. A smarter, more caring person can't be found.

He got a great education from the school systems, and then attended Northwestern University, and Northwestern University Medical School. He is now doing his residency at a local hospital here in Chicago. He is going to be an Emergency Room physician.

But more than that, he is a dear friend to me.

In his late 20s, Gordon was one of my TOP TIER ENCOURAGERS last year when I told him of my plans to become a living kidney donor to my friend Dr Bill George. We spent many hours talking about what all would be happening during the surgery. A few of the things that were my "greatest fears" (which were really nothing to be afraid of, after all) were explained again, and again and again by my buddy, Gordon.

Eleven days after my surgery, I returned to Chicago...and was immediately transported over to Gordon's condominium in downtown Chicago--so he could "look after me"--just in case....

Gordon took wonderful care of me...He gave me his bedroom, set me up with his laptop, and made sure that I was drinking enough fluids, and taking my medicine(s) properly. His great sense of humor kept me wonderfully motivated and encouraged.

But more about Gordon: Brilliant, brilliant man. Marvelous musician--he plays the cello. He is also a terrific cook, and makes some of the very best beef stew I've ever eaten.

He also follows Christ with his whole heart. He models Jesus to me in so many ways...

He married a marvelous woman...Emily Claire (Mattson) Lin...and I was thrilled to be part of this great ceremony....I sat in the congregation smiling with all that was in me....

I could go on, and on...but it's barely 6 a.m. in the morning....Gordon is probably in the ER right now....taking caring of people who need his skills and attention. Caring for people who need to know that Jesus really does matter to him...and them.

I'm very thankful for my friend, Gordon.

42. I am thankful for Dr Cheryl Bridges Johns..

Cheryl Johns is a communicator extraordinaire. She is a real scholar to all the would-be scholars, inside and outside of theological circles.

But more importantly, Dr Cheryl Bridges Johns is a loving, humble child of the Living God. She has shown me what JESUS looks like on more than one occasion. She has reminded me that CHRIST really does love me, and that I have a "place" in His service...regardless of where I am. (She's not the only person who has ever affirmed this in my life, but I AM writing about her...so let's keep the focus there...)

Twelve years ago this past March, she so graciously allowed me to "assist" with one of the great events I can recall: The first joint meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies and the Wesleyan Theological Society--held at our seminary (where I was a student at the time). What a glorious, glorious event! I offered my assistance in whatever ways I could be of use, and it was a most fulfilling, rewarding experience for me. Cheryl definitely kept me busy...and I pray that my contributions were worthwhile.

She and I disagree on a lot of things, but we agree on a lot more...she causes me to think, ponder, muse, meditate. My friendship with this wonderful woman of God has caused me to look at a much larger picture of the Body of Christ...and to realize that "every single member of this Body" has an important part to play.

She is a devoted wife, mother, and DOTING Grandmother--we must not leave that part out---and rightly so. She is a wonderful cook (have eaten at her house a couple of times), a brilliant speaker, writer, and dedicated servant of the people of God.

But, she is my friend. She has inspired me in ways that only Heaven will reveal.

I'm most thankful for her and this friendship from which we have both (hopefully) benefited.