Starting the New Year with Thankfulness

family sitting at table with birthday cake

Paul, The Deer Hunter, Tipper, Chitter, Chatter

New Year’s Day found me doing around the kitchen. I was washing up the dishes, straightening the after Christmas mess, and making sweet orange cinnamon pull apart bread.

The Tony Rice station was playing on Pandora.

Tim O’Brien’s cover of Bob Dylan’s song “Senor” came on and it stopped me in my tracks.

Its been more than a few years since I heard the song and for a few minutes I was paralyzed by the emotions it made me feel.

I was immediately taken back to a time when my family was in dire straits and my life was in shambles. Paul knew all about my troubles and he’d gifted me with a cd that included the cover of Dylan’s song by O’Brien as a way to cheer me up. I wore that cd out driving miles and miles to visit The Deer Hunter where he was working out of town.

Every weekend found me loading the girls in the car and heading out with all of us anxious to see him and even more anxious to leave our troubles behind. We knew they’d still be waiting when we returned late Sunday night, but at least we’d have a respite from our plight.

Sometime the girls slept as I drove along the interstate in the darkness. I’d listen to Dylan’s words and try to make them fit my life’s struggles.

can you tell me where we’re headed Lincoln county road or Armageddon

how long are we going to be riding how long must I keep my eyes glued to the door

will there be any comfort there Senor

there’s a marching band still playing in that vacant lot

I can’t stand the suspense here any more can you tell me who to contact here Senor

son this ain’t a dream no more its a real thing

you know their hearts are hard as leather give me a minute let me get it together I’ve got to pick myself up off the floor

this place don’t make sense to me no more can you tell me what we’re waiting for Senor

Once I woke from my daze I leaned on the kitchen sink and looked high into the blue sky that covered my house and shed tears of thankfulness.

Thankfulness for my strong, good, and honest family. Thankfulness for the happiness that’s in my heart when I go to bed at night and when I arise in the morning. Thankfulness for my God who brought me out of the darkness back into the light where goodness abounds.

As Dylan’s crazy words finished playing and my heart overflowed I felt like one of the old testament prophets who lived to see the Lord’s plan unfold in a glorious magical way.

Way back then, when my days and nights were filled with sorrow and despair, I promised God if he ever let me be happy again I’d never take it for granted. I’ve failed at most everything when it comes to my relationship with him, but I’ve kept that promise. I’ve found happiness in the largest things in life and the least things in life. From life changing things like Granny’s first great grandbaby to the simple joy of watching wood smoke curl above our house—it all brings happiness to my heart.


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  • Reply
    Catherine Spence
    January 6, 2021 at 9:20 am

    You had me tearing up by the end of this one. Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    January 7, 2020 at 9:49 am

    Oh Tipper, I somehow missed this post earlier, but I’m so glad I scrolled down and found it today! Thank you for sharing this heartfelt story. I know well how powerful a song can be for reigniting emotions and revisiting experiences. I’m so glad that you persevered and your precious family was a touchstone for you even in those dark days which are now far behind you.

  • Reply
    January 5, 2020 at 10:18 pm

    Amen! Amen! Thank you for sharing, Tipper. Your post and the comments have been such an uplifting read today.

  • Reply
    January 5, 2020 at 7:00 pm

    ………. One more thing , Tipper I’m so glad about the Joy you know, it’s what we’ve come to know too, and I’m so thankful how the Lord in His Great wisdom and love will send someone alongside just at the right time to encourage us in love with a ministering song…….. ”Speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs , singing and making melody in your hearts ,unto the Lord”

  • Reply
    January 5, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    I can relate to everything you’ve shared, and I too am so ,so thankful ,….where would I be if the Lord hadn’t found me, suffering alone in sin, but He loved me ,he laid down His life for me, and by His Blood I have been set free

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 5, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    God allows evil to exist so that we will know what good really looks like!

  • Reply
    Allison B
    January 5, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    Thanks for each of your posts here… and for goodness that abounds all around….
    One of my favorite expressions, too… ‘Happiness is not having what you want…but it’s wanting what you have’ …. You probably remember one of your posts a few years ago that stated that…along with a photo of your house, I believe,…probably even had some curling smoke above it. That is peace…isn’t it?
    Enjoyed hearing ‘Senor’.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    January 5, 2020 at 12:23 pm

    I have found that the trials of the last two years have made me so much more appreciative of the blessings I have tended to take for granted. When I looked around at my wife, children, grandchildren and great grandchild I know that I am blessed beyond measure and the care shown me by my family and friends during my battle with cancer has reiterated my good fortune.

  • Reply
    January 5, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    Tipper, this post really touched my heart. I am so thankful God has brought you full circle to see the fruition of His promises fulfilled in your life. Your words reminded me of the old song, “The Hard Times Make the Good Times Even Better”

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    January 5, 2020 at 11:30 am

    I’m so Thankful that You and your Family are Friends of mine. I have known youn’ze for over 10 years, and I’m Proud of that.

    Like a 94 years old Fred Lunsford says, “Well Glory”. That was his By-word, and when he did My brother’s funeral, you could tell he was telling the truth. When the Wise Men looked into the Manger and saw Jesus’ face, they knew it had been worth the Journey. …Ken

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    January 5, 2020 at 11:13 am

    I’ve been in that dark and frightening place too. Sometimes too many bad & sad things just overtake people. I’m glad you made it through!

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    January 5, 2020 at 10:51 am

    As I get older (I turn 50 this week!!), I’m starting to see that those things that really matter are the small things and those small things aren’t so very small. Lately, I’ve been thinking about Elijah’s vision of God and how God was in the small, still voice…not the fire, wind, and earthquakes.

    I know I tend to get distracted and fixated on the noise. But, like you said, it is the small where we find the meaning that gives us joy.

    I love Dylan. Did you know he was inspired by Appalachian “riddle songs”? Actually, your post gave me a great idea for another guest post I could write!

    Also, if anyone would like to hear Dylan songs played Appalachian style, I highly recommend Bob Dylan Revisited. It is on Amazon. It is my go to when I’m down.

    I’m a little late, but Happy New Year to all y’all!

  • Reply
    Dan O’Connor
    January 5, 2020 at 10:39 am

    I was just talking with my wife, Kathy, about that very thing. You are a “fantastic” ( a word my a dad used to say) example of how people persevere. Everyone, without exception, experience times of hardship and sorrow. But seeing beautiful people like you that have made it through help those in that part of their journey. Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    January 5, 2020 at 9:37 am

    I’m glad you have found happiness in some of the simple things that life has to offer. Sometimes those small blessings are worth more than all the riches in the world. Several years ago, you posted about one of the simple things in your life that made you happy. I have thought about that post many times as I crawl in my warm bed that was heated by an electric blanket. I help my sister with her mission to provide warm clothing and bedding to the poor and homeless folks in our community. Seeing how some less fortunate people are forced to live will truly open your eyes to some simple things we so often take for granted.

  • Reply
    January 5, 2020 at 8:43 am

    Well, I may be the only one with my hand raised but I can say A-men, the things life can throw at you can be so heavy at times, but it just seems that once that valley is behind we’re back on the mountain again, and I’m getting emotionally tired. The Good Lord knows our needs and I try not to forget that ( but ) always seems the beginning, of my conversation with him, in times of trouble. After all, this is not our home, and when you don’t belong here life will be a struggle some days and we know that one day we will be home at peace, no more troubles, and wonderings. I love these guys music but it says it all

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    January 5, 2020 at 8:38 am

    Thank you for opening up your heart and sharing, Tipper.

    There’s fog lying in the hollers, but blue skies overhead.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 5, 2020 at 8:37 am

    Thank you and bless you for sharing that.

    In putting together the Sunday School lesson today I saw something that has been right in front of me for years. Once I went through a very long and dark time. Like Job I struggled with the ‘Why?’. In later years I would just say I never understood it, then or afterwards. It was so confusing and strange. Yesterday I read it, again. Peter wrote “think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you” and earlier in the book also wrote;

    1Peter1:07 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

    I do not know if every Christian experiences such a trial. I think so. I am reasonably sure the nature of any such varies by individual. Just why it occurs I am not certain either unless it be to prevent us from being deceived. There is also a reference to “the fellowship of His suffering” which is some part of it.

    Like you, if I got nothing else from it, I got more gratitude.

  • Reply
    January 5, 2020 at 7:58 am

    Golly my English teacher best not be reading this….let me try that again. read with great interest as so much of your ‘everyday life’ I find fascinating! (it is way too early in the a.m.)!!

  • Reply
    January 5, 2020 at 7:52 am

    Happy New Year from Canada Tipper and family….may it be a wonderful year filled with love and promise! I look forward to each daily post and read with great interest as so many of your ‘way of life’ is fascinating! Keep on keepin’ on!

    • Reply
      Sue McIntyre
      January 5, 2020 at 4:43 pm

      Thankful Jesus promises to be there with us through those trials. They seem to bring is even closer to where we need to be in our walk with GOD in our lives. There is a song we sing at church; “SOME THROUGH THE WATERS, SOME THROUGH THE FLOOD, SOME THROUGH THE FIRE, BUT ALL THROUGH THE BLOOD…” God bless, and to HIM goes all the glory.

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