Thursday, November 26, 2015 || By Rev. Regi Ratliff
OPINION | Thanksgiving is the time of season where you have an opportunity to give thanks for things that are important to us. It’s a moment to give thanks for making it through another year. Many who started the year with intentions of making it through another year didn’t make it through for various reasons. The painful loss of parents, children, friends and classmates is the unfortunate reality of how precious life is. Many of us can only attest that it was because of God’s grace and mercy that we have breath in our body, the activity of our limbs and a mind to think clearly.
I am thankful for being a child of God. Being called into the ministry means that I have an obligation to serve others before I can think of serving myself. It is because of my Heavenly Father that I am here today. It is because of my Heavenly Father that my prayer requests have been turned into a praise report. That my test became a testimony. That I can truly trust Him, even when I cannot trace Him.
I am thankful for my wonderful wife Monique. Even when I’m not at my best, she remains patient and brings out the best in me. She is a woman who fought off any challenges that came her way to ensure that as a single parent, her three beautiful daughters received the best education and were actively engaged in extracurricular activities.
Through it all, Monique still had enough energy to love me tenderly throughout our courtship. Now, our love is even stronger because we are one. Our family is stronger because we are one. She is my companion and best friend. She completes me and I am truly thankful to have such a beautiful woman in my life.
I am thankful for my children: Jasmine, Jeremiah, Shawn II and Isaiah. Each one of my children has his/her own individual personalities, yet they each get along so well with one another. I am also thankful that each has excelled as a high performing student/athlete. Jeremiah is currently on a college scholarship for academics and track; Shawn is well on his way to receiving a scholarship in academics and basketball; and Isaiah isn’t too far behind.
I am thankful for my parents. Raised in Mississippi and Alabama respectively, they met at a school that was once called Tuskegee Institute (later Tuskegee University). My dad, who served in the Air Force, retired after 32 years of service as an engineer and supervisor at the Main Post Office in downtown Chicago, while my mother retired as an education consultant.
Through the years, my parents faithfully attended our baseball games, basketball games and wrestling matches. As a high school senior, my parents took time off from work to travel to Champaign-Urbana, where they watched my teammates and I win the State Wrestling Championship with Proviso East High School in 1986. They were also there when I became the first African American to win NCAA All-American honors in wrestling at Ferris State University in Michigan. They were there when I graduated from college.
Sharing those moments with them gave me a newfound level of respect for them, because they were there to support me. My parent’s strong family upbringing has led my siblings and I to instill those same values of achieving a good education, working hard and having a never-say-die attitude to our own children.
Last, but certainly not least, I am thankful to call myself a Maywoodian. I was raised in a time when a village raising a child had meaning. Those of us who were raised in the Village of Maywood through the 1970’s and 80’s had a great deal of support from other parent’s as well our own.
They were the parents who coached us during baseball season, fed us when we were hungry after games, allowed us to have sleep over with our friends and even spanked us if they heard us swearing on the block (I won’t get into that!).
They were the business owners who gave us free candy and pop when we received good grades in school and they were the teachers who were in enough physical shape to play in the annual student versus teacher games at school.
Although some of my classmates who grew up during my era have moved out of the state, we are still close to this very day with each other and our former teachers. Thanks to social media, we are able to communicate more effectively than ever by showing pictures of our children, grandchildren, spouses, and posting local events.
As I close this editorial, my question for the reader is what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving season? Give yourself a moment to ponder that question before answering. We take advantage of so many things. We receive blessings that we don’t deserve. As we enter Thanksgiving season, I would encourage all of us to become thankful about something that we may have overlooked this past year.
While thinking about things we should be thankful for, think about others whom you may have walked past that you could’ve helped. Being a blessing to them could make a difference between them fighting and giving up.
Be thankful that what you thought was a medical scare turned out to be nothing at all. Be thankful that you even have the ability to give a homeless person some change, a bite to eat or offer words of encouragement. Be thankful for when your feet hurt after a hard day’s work (it shows that at least you can feel your feet). Be thankful for making it to Thanksgiving season.
This is the season to reflect, a season to make peace and a season to give thanks! VFP
Reverend Regi Ratliff is the Founder and Executive Director of Eternal Light Community Services, located at 200 S. Fifth Avenue in Maywood. Eternal Light provides the following programs:public speaking, financial literacy, health and wellness, and entrepreneurship classes to youth, ages 5-18.
Contact Rev. Ratliff at (708) 813-4722 to register your child for one of our programs today.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Village Free Press.