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As the holiday season approaches, it is a time when we think of gifts -- gifts we give and those we receive. Not all gifts are exchanged at Christmas or for special events such as birthdays or weddings. How many times have we exchanged a hug, a smile or a "thinking of you" during the year just because it was needed at the time? And, hopefully, the days of saying "thank you" are not gone and lost forever.

I have been retired for over a year, and the time has come for me to say "thank you" to The Weekly Vista for allowing me to share my Simple Faith column since 2009. When I began working there, Jenny Deshields needed someone to write a cooking column after the person who had been writing it moved away. I said I didn't think that would be my thing, and she asked me to write it the way I would if it were mine. They were pretty desperate, and I think I could have written it in hieroglyphics and they would have loved it. However, with time, she became aware that I had been writing about my faith journey and several pastors had suggested I should be published. I gave her samples of what I had done, and she said she could make it happen.

Gifts, like blessings, come in many forms and fashions, and it has been a gift for me to be included in the monthly columns of the Vista for all these many years. When I would sit in church on Sunday mornings and listen to the message from the pulpit that we should reach out and share God's love for us with others, I have often thought ... I do that when I write my column. And, over the years, I have had many friends who have been generous in their positive response. They have told me how it has meant something to them to be able to read them. And also, over the years, I have been fortunate to win several awards for freelance writing in a weekly newspaper. To be able to share my thoughts with members of Bella Vista has been a gift beyond measure for me. To know what I have written might have meant something to someone else has been one of the greatest gifts in my life.

However, all good things must come to an end and this will be my last column. There is no way I can ever express my full gratitude, but it has truly been a gift. I could never have imagined -- especially when I never thought -- I could become a writer.

Now, when I sit in church and think about how I can share my faith with others, I have decided to give them a hug and tell them, "God loves you, and so do I." I will be forever grateful to the Vista staff for their gift of including my columns in their weekly newspaper.

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Jan Burgess moved to Bella Vista in 1995. She considers each day a gift -- although some are more fun to open than others. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Religion on 12/06/2017

Print Headline: Saying Thank You

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