“How do you do it?” my friend Marty Griffin asked. “I mean you get after it every day with kids dying, folks overdosing, and people attacking the good work you do… how do you keep the faith and keep plugging away?”
There are a multitude of components that go into that answer, more than one column can cover, but November reminds me of one key part: Thanksgiving.
Yes, the work can be hard, emotionally draining, and painful sometimes… but starting every day by counting our blessings puts things in perspective.
My wife is amazing, and she’s stuck it out for 30 years. Our adult children are productive and kind, talented and fun to be around. Our young daughter is just a gem, a true bright point in life who brings a smile to just about everyone she encounters.
My broader family – mom, Fran, and my six sisters, are awesome. Fran Hogan has received so many awards this year for her contributions to this community over the decades that we’ve joking called 2021 the Year of Fran. She’s even more amazing than most folks know.
My sisters are all successful and they’ve built impressive, important careers and families that amaze me when we all can get together.
In this day and age, all seven of us are married to our first spouse – certainly a rarity and another thing for which I can be grateful.
Folks I know in other ministries, from Father Regis Ryan to Reverends Murray, Freudenberg and Tracey here in town, and others across the city, region, state and country are inspiring people to know and watch operate. I’m glad to call them friends.
The folks I work with at Faithbridge, they knock my socks off. There are too many to name, but the collective energy, empathy, love, kindness and passionate pursuit of God, His ways and His desire to see this town bettered which thrives in these folks picks me up when I’m battered. I’m grateful for each and every one of them.
My friends at the newspaper crack me up. They’re eclectic and disparate in personality, with wildly different outlooks on things, but we get along and all want to see this little paper do well in and for this place.
I can, and do, go on. In my time with God in prayer, I’ve always found that if I begin with a glimpse at the blessings in my life, thanking Him for them, my day looks better right out of the gate.
It’s one of the things we train new believers as they begin to be discipled – bring an attitude of gratitude to your prayer life and do it with consistency, and you’ll start to see your troubles exist in a sea of blessings, and even your biggest challenges start to seem smaller in the hopeful light with which gratitude bathes circumstance.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone, and may God fill each day with much for which you may be thankful.
Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.