The new year is a great time to look back and consider how blessed you are. I try to do that every day, but often in my life I am overwhelmed at the enormous blessings the Lord has bestowed on me.
No, I didn’t get a great big financial windfall last year. And I walk with a cane, because of painful arthritis in one of my knees. Still, I am blessed. I can still walk.
A few years ago, I was told by two doctors that I was going blind. But today, I can see without eyeglasses. So, every time I pass a patch of flowering weeds along the road, I say a silent "Thank you," to the Lord for allowing me to see His beautiful handiwork. I even get excited when I see my mango tree heavy with new blossoms, signifying a bumper crop (hopefully) of mangoes this season. And when I see a momma bird caring for her young, it brings a smile to my face.
Yes, I have a lot to be thankful for as I go into this new year. And so do you. This is even more evident in a letter I received a few months ago from local gospel recording artist Pat Jackson. She briefly told her touching story of survival and blessings and wanted to know if I wanted to interview her. I did, and still do. However, Jackson’s email doesn’t seem to work and the number she enclosed in her letter was missing one digit.
Jackson said she is a survivor of thyroid cancer. Her story is so touching for this and any time of the year, that I will share with you what she shared with me in her letter.
Jackson, 50, has been plagued with serious health issues nearly all her life, that included multiple cysts, benign tumors, diverticulitis, ruptured intestines, four major surgeries, during one of which she nearly bled to death, survived six car accidents and a stray bullet that came through her sister’s home.
She never knew her biological mother or father and spent her entire childhood as a foster child. "I was very fortunate and was able to live in the same [foster] home until I became an adult," she said.
"But," she added, "Today, I am cancer-free, even though doctors doubted that I would ever be able to speak or sing again. To God be the glory, for allowing me life and a second chance," she wrote. She has an album titled, Lord, I’m Still Standing.
What’s your "I am thankful for another year" story? Tell me in a few words and I may use them in a future column.
Email them to me at: email@example.com, or write to me at: Bea L. Hines, c/o The Miami Herald, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028.
‘Jews of Asia and Africa’
If you want to be in the class, "Jews of Asia and Africa," to be offered at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, Jan. 9-April 17, you have until Jan. 9, to register.
The class will be taught by FIU research professors Nathan Katz and Tudor Parfitt, and is open to both degree-seeking FIU students and community members interested in taking the class on a auditing basis.
Community members interested in auditing the class may enroll through the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education at 305-576-4030, ext. 128, or firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost is $295. Students seeking credit may enroll in course REL 4312 through FIU.
The 12-week course will look at the Jewish experience beyond Florida, which has been the traditional focus of the museum. The class will also feature guest speakers to include a visiting member of Zimbabwe’s Lemba Jewish community, and will employ different methodologies, from genetic anthropology to participant/observation findings.
For more information, contact Katz at email@example.com.