Friday, November 29, 2013

Thankful Thursday #11

I am thankful for the gifts God has given me, ones that I take too often for granted. The greater of these are tongues, music, words, and science.

1. The gift of tongues. Here I am talking about present-day languages, not about talking in tongues, a gift that would be problematic for me to accept, were it to be offered, because, as a linguist, whenever I hear someone talking in tongues, I begin to analyze the structure and lexemes of the utterances. One has to accept a gift without question, or as the American proverb goes, "don't look a gift horse in the mouth." Otherwise, it is lost as a gift. So, my gift is modern tongues, or as the common English word is today, languages. I am currently studying my 18th foreign language and acquiring it very rapidly, perhaps because I will need it soon for one of my upcoming tasks. (Never let it be said that only children can learn languages rapidly; that is an entrenched myth.) As I blogged last month (see post, Arrogance), being able to speak their language and interpret for them gave me the opportunity to relieve a good deal of stress for two Russians stranded at Dulles International Airport. In helping them, my own stress disappeared. And then, there is the Greek and Latin basis for the language that I will term, Medicalese, for lack of a better name. Being able to understand doctors and talk in "their language" often prompted them to share more information with me about my chidren's various conditions than otherwise they likely would have, including allowing me into some places that parents do not go (e.g., the echocardiogram back room).

2. The gift of music. On the last day of our retreat last month, Fr. Kevin, who had himself been playing most of the hymns we sang, needed someone to take over so that he could lead the adoration. I may not have been the only other piano player, but I was the only one who volunteered to play. It could have been that I was the only one with good skills at sight reading. I'm embarrassed to admit that this skill comes from years of trying, as a child, to trick my piano teacher into thinking I had actually practiced. Then, too, years of playing for various formal and informal situations have made me intrepid before a crowd. As a counterbalance to the child abuse Ma heaped on us children, she made sure that we could read books, sew (and crotchet, knit, tat, and embroider), play the piano, swim, and ice skate. (I'm not sure what advantage the latter was other than fun, except being able to swim exempted me from a college requirement and being able to ice skate got me an A in physical education in college -- where my teacher was the 1957 Olympic champion, whose name I have forgotten, but I could probably find it online if it mattered.)

3. The gift of words. I suppose there is not much to add to the obvious: no gift of words, no blogs. Nor would I have been able to write a dozen professional books, two of them considered seminal works in my professional field. Then, of course, there was that day when I was told, "I gave you the gift of words; use them for Me," that resulted in Blest Atheist and hopefully will result in two new books now in progress: Raising God's Rainbow Makers (which I am excerpting on Clan of Mahlou) and Angels of Abkhazeti (a first spiritual novel attempt, which I am excerpting on Mahlou Musings).

4. The gift of science. In high school, I had a decision to make: take a college major in physics or in linguistics. I chose linguistics because even though I held the highest grade in my physics class, had a solid score on the college-board physics exam, and had won top prize in physics in the school science fair, everyone from my teacher to my parents to my school counselor discouraged me from majoring in physics because "girls don't do that." I have never regretted majoring in linguistics, but one does always wonder. Seventeen year later, my younger sister, a carbon copy of me in many ways, graduated from Michigan State University with a 4.0 in nuclear physics. Times had changed! My ability to understand science became essential in a very different way: with three children and two grandchildren living with birth defects, being able to understand medicine and question doctors has made a considerable difference in the quality of the kids' lives, even to the point of saving Doah's life when my knowledge gave me the courage to steal him from the hospital.

Gifts have been coming to the fore in recent days, so it is certainly time for me to say thank you. What about you? For what is it time for you to say thank you?

More information about one of the Thankful Thursday memes can be found at the website of Grace Alone. This meme host is shared with other blogs so you will need to check to see which one is hosting any given month.

Link up with Greg's and Daryl's Thankful Thursday at Greg's General Store.


  1. Wonderful post--especially liked how you applied your knowledge to deal with your kids and grandkids.

    I wish I had a talent in physics. I ran away from that class in undergraduate.

  2. Elizabeth,

    What a great list that this was for me. More insight into the gifts God bestows upon us all each day that we all too often take for granted. Thanks for bringing these gifts to light.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  3. These are great gifts you have listed...God is very generous to His children....

  4. Elizabeth you are special, not because you have been given so many gifts (we all have them) but you recognize them, give thanks for them and use them to help others. Well done my friend....Hugs

  5. Great list! Beautiful gifts! Praise God!

  6. Slamdunk, I still love physics. Read the Tao of Physics in one day when it came out years ago, and occasionally have reasons to read other books or talk to my kids about physics. Too bad you did not like the subject, but gifts are distributed differently. I definitely did not get the cooking gift, as my children complained when they were growing up!

    Kat, hugs to you, too!

    Yes, indeed, Karen, God is very generous. I could probably come up with a secondary and tertiary list of equal length. But these will do for one post!

    Thanks, Bernie!

    Colleen, absolutely, praise God! Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Though I know that we all have gifts, but just reading about yours overwhelmed me completely. I just wish I have one of your gifts, the ability to master foreign languages! Wow, you're really gifted. Having said this though, I know that God has created us all, given us different gifts to serve in different areas in His kingdom. I'm contented with mine. God bless you Elizabeth, I really enjoy your blog!

  8. Thanks, Jane. I think God gave me the gift of languages because He had work for me to do in other countries. I don't think He gives a gift for naught. I think He gives a gift to be used -- and likely has an idea for its use in mind from the beginning. I am glad you enjoy the blog.

  9. I dreamed of learning to ice skate when I was a little girl. :) Ice skating still lands on my "thank-you" list. The beauty of it.

    I echo you on the gift of words--as well as music...although sometimes I struggle with writing beautiful thoughts and beautiful melodies, and calling it a vocation, when I see people suffering. I think, "How can I spend so much energy on something that doesn't help the poor and suffering?"

  10. You have a beautiful blog and many wonderful gifts.
    So glad I stopped by from Conversion Diary.
    Pax Christi, Elizabeth T

  11. Kathleen, how do you know writing does not help the poor and suffering? God gives us gifts for reasons, and the poor and suffering need encouraging words as much as anyone else does. Other people who have been given the gift of physical healing or wealth may be able to help in more overt ways, but our lives are multi-facted. Sometimes it is the wealthiest among us who are the poorest and most suffering spiritually. And sometimes is is the most impoverished who have the most to give. It is all relative, isn't it?

    Thanks, Elizabeth. I enjoy Jennifer's blog very much, as do many others.

  12. You are very gifted person Elizabeth and you are using your abilities to bring God glory. God bless you

  13. Isn't that the point, Amrita? What good are talents, given to us by God, if we do not use them for God?