By the crunch of the leaves under our feet, it tells us that the change of the season is upon us and fall is here. I am quickly reminded of soft warm sweaters and fluffy scarfs on a cool day. I am more significantly reminded of the season of thanksgiving and gratitude. Not only am I thankful for my family and friends, but for the multitude of people who have been an integral part of my life journey. These are the people we can all numerate that have appeared in our lives to bring hope and clarity, grace and empowerment. But, I am most grateful for God's love and grace that has followed, led and walked beside me all my life. It is God who has weaved people throughout my life to be reminders of the goodness of God.

I am also fortunate that every day, when I look around, I see the amazing staff I am blessed to work with. Staff who is compassionate and kind. Staff that go the extra mile to care for our patients, residents and families. Sometimes they are the comforter and listener, and other times it is the simple things that they do, like bringing water or a ChapStick®. They have expertise and wisdom beyond comprehension. They can imagine and design adaptive tools for greater independence or skillfully stretch a muscle to become more flexible. But most of all they hold out hope. Hope for healing, hope for peace and grace. They celebrate the smallest progress and healing, like the slightest wiggle of a finger. They understand what is needed to help our patients feel whole and cared for. They motivate and empower our residents and patients to be the most independent they can be. Moreover, they hold their hands when setbacks occur.

These people are gifts from God. They bring with them a special quality, that when gathered with others, creates an unstoppable team of healing. Papa and Mama Raker knew what they were doing when they created a place where all are accepted for who they are and their abilities. This includes the staff. Modeled after Jesus, they are invited to come be part of a family we call Good Shepherd. They change lives with their presence and become part of the integral group of people that impacts our life journey.

Life is full of blessings and gratitude, from the smallest to the biggest life-changing moments. I hope and pray that, if you need these remarkable healers and care givers, you will get to experience their hand-holding kindness and you will also see the beauty that God created them to be.

What are the blessings that surround you? We need to count them daily instead of once a year. We need to celebrate them with the same love and grace that God offers to each of us. If we look closely enough, we can see the smallest of cherished moments even in the midst of trials and tribulations. These are the hope builders that lift our spirits and remind us that God is working through, within and around our lives. We need to be open to new blessings that God brings our way, peeking into our lives like sparks of light.