Dennis Norwood: Counting My Blessings One By One

Thursday, November 25, 2021 - by Dennis Norwood
Dennis Norwood
Dennis Norwood
As I sit down to pen my annual Thanksgiving column, I can’t help but think about what a tough year it has been for so many families across our great country. Many have lost dear family members, mine included, and others have experienced maladies brought on by this cursed pandemic.

Yet, through it all, we can still count our blessings, and, as the old hymn says, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one.” And so, let’s begin:

But, first off, my heart goes out to all those affected by the horror inflicted upon the Christmas parade in Waukesha. In the midst of all their pain and suffering I hope they might find a little peace and comfort today. Let’s all hold them close in our thoughts and prayers.

Again this year, I am blessed and thankful for my family.
I can’t imagine going through life without them. I am blessed with a strong, loving mother and my sister, Lee Ann Smith, of whom I am very proud.

I am thankful for my wife, Gail, who is the very definition of the word blessing. She is a Proverbs woman and, perhaps, the strongest Christian lady I know. She is hard working and makes the best impression everywhere she goes.

We recently and unexpectedly lost my stepdad, Ken Sharp, to that insidious plague called cancer. I am thankful for the influence he had on my life and many others. A good, Christian man, our family will forever miss his epic prayers before family meals.

During his time in hospice care at home, my uncle and aunt, Bill and Joyce Montgomery, left their home in Gastonia, NC and moved in with my mom to help out. Their love and support were key in getting us through this tough time. Thankful doesn’t begin to express  my feelings.

If you have ever seen the need for hospice care, you know how essential the folks at Hospice of Chattanooga are. The North Georgia team of nurses, aides and doctors are some of the most caring people I have ever met. They really do become part of your family in the direst of times. We should all be thankful these folks answer the calling into their chosen profession.

In my job I am blessed to get to know many fine coaches who not only teach sports, but also help to shape lives at a very impressionable age. One of those is Lance Rorex, the baseball coach at Silverdale Baptist Academy. Lance imbues not only a great knowledge of baseball to his team, but also impresses upon his charges a love of Jesus and that they have a greater calling in life than just athletics. I am thankful for Lance and the many other wonderful coaches at Silverdale.

I have to mention Roger Woods, the Director of Campus Life at Silverdale, as well. What an inspiration he is to so many of us, but especially the kids at SBA. I have never seen him without a smile on his face and an encouraging word on his lips. 

Red Bank’s Chris Brown is another coach I am thankful for, as well as Drew Lyness at Walker Valley and Jason Reuter at Bradley Central.

This year those of us who have lived and died with the Braves have many reasons to be thankful. Chop on!

I am thankful that today I will be able to enjoy a great meal with all the fixins with Gail’s family. Daughter-in-law Beth sets a yummy table, which also makes me thankful for expandable waist line britches.

Baseball has always been my favorite sport and it thrilled my heart to see the Atlanta Braves win the World Series. I am thankful for the fans that cheer them on, through thick and thin.

Hopefully, today, as we all sit down with our families, we will all take the time to remember our military members and thank them for the many sacrifices they make. Many times I have had people thank me for my service, when, in all actuality, I should be thanking them for being someone it was worth serving for.

May we all be thankful for our police officers, fire fighters and EMTs, those who run into the breach when others are running away. Recent times have shown us just how much we need them. Personally, I am thankful for officers like my friends Charlie Brown, Eddy Chamberlin, Robin Davenport, Chad Rowe and John Collins, who put on their badge and kiss their families good bye every day and then head out to ensure our safety. My prayer is that they all make it home at the end of each and every shift.

Let’s all be thankful for our nurses, hospital staff and doctors, as well.

I am thankful for our current cat, Gibbs. He is so different from my cats that preceded him, but I have come to love him as much as the others., even if he does like Gail better than me.

As you sit down to your Thanksgiving repast with your family and loved ones, remember that many of our first responders will be enjoying their meal while sitting in a patrol car, fire hall, nurses’ station or ambulance. Please, keep them in your prayers.

I am thankful I live in the United States of America. Even with all our problems and division it is still the best nation on earth. My prayer is that we will overcome the things that divide us and get back to being a nation of laws and of being, truly, One Nation under God.

Another blessing I have is that of working with a guy I truly admire, James Beach. Beach is one of the best sports writers I have ever known. What makes him unique in a world where egos normally run rampant is his humility. Beach is also one of the best family-oriented men I have ever known.

One other blessing I have is working with a young writer named Joseph Dycus. Joseph has so much energy and a real feel for finding the story behind the story, whether it is sports or hard news. Keep your eyes on this young man, he is going places.

I say this every year, but I remain thankful for our publisher at The, John Wilson. His vision has given so many of us an opportunity to ply our trade and to report the news ‘without fear or favor.”

Again this year I am thankful for my church family at Silverdale Baptist. We are blessed with a truly magnificent pastoral staff led by Tony Walliser, our senior pastor. There are others who bless us on any given day, but I am so thankful for Pastors Matty Finley, Chuck Patrick, David Thompson, Eddie Wilson and Mark Habermas. Over the past year these men have had a profound influence on my life and walk with Jesus.

Other coaches I am blessed to know are Norma Nelson at East Hamilton and Kelli Smith, Greg Elie and Mike Kinney at Baylor. Mike Wood at McCallie is a championship coach and a champion in life.

I am thankful for my friend and co-worker, Jen Gienapp, one of our crack editors and the brains behind our annual prep football pick ‘em poll.

I am thankful for pecan pie and banana pudding. Probably a little bit too thankful!

I am thankful the Tennessee Sports Writers Association had the wisdom to select Chris Dortch and Dan Fleser to be inducted into its Hall of Fame.

A blessing you all get to see on an almost daily basis is the photography of my friend, Michael Locke. I am thankful for his friendship and his talent.

I am thankful Chattanooga still has the Lookouts. What a blessing it is to have baseball in our town each summer.

I am thankful Tennessee hired Josh Heupel as its football coach. We weary Vols fans can finally feel encouraged. Now we just have to hang on to him. Along those same lines, we should be thankful for Rick Barnes, Kellie Harper and Tony Vitello.

As a father I am thankful for my sons, Jonathan and Ben, and for the four grandchildren they have blessed me with. Madison, Carter, Allie and Ryan are my heart, as are my bonus grandkids, Emily, Anna and Caleb. They each and every one make my heart swell with pride.

I am thankful that the TSSAA has given Chattanooga a chance to show how well we can host state championships. The recently completed girls’ soccer championships which culminated at the Red Wolves’ beautiful CHI Memorial Stadium were a great success and the upcoming state football championships at Finley Stadium will be another chance for our city to shine.

I am thankful for SiriusXM Radio Classics channel. I absolutely love listening to the old radio shows, especially “The Whistler,” “Johnny Dollar,” and “Dragnet.”

As I grow older I gain a sense of just how much I was blessed by my grandparents, Harry and Beatrice Clark. Granddad, for his influence of hard work and quiet love and my Grandmother for her influence of the importance of church and faithfulness. They taught me life lessons that become more apparent with each passing day.

One other “benefit” I am experiencing is the appreciation of a good cadre of doctors. Along with the good docs and staff at the Chattanooga VA Clinic, I count among my blessings, Dr. Stuart Ginther, Dr. Marty Scheinberg, Dr. Camille Sommer, Dr. Poonam Puri, Dr. Prayesh Patel, Dr. Brett Gerwin, Dr. Cynthia Eby, as well as P.A.s Misty Gilliland and Tiffany Hayes.

As you can see, I am truly blessed and sometimes it does take a village!

Even with all my ailments, I am afflicted with diabetes, chronic heart and kidney diseases, a bad back and acute neuropathy, yet I consider myself truly blessed with so much to be thankful for. With every passing day I get to enjoy the sunshine, the passing clouds and the beautiful earth with which our Creator has blessed us.

I am thankful my profession lets me watch young athletes grow and compete. As I follow their careers I see the next generation of Americans show the strength that will allow them to lead and make our country even greater. I pray that God will bless them and keep them strong.

I am thankful for my neighborhood here in The Meadows and the pride I see in well-kept lawns and the joy I hear in the laughter of the young kids as they play. Life in America can be good if we just look in the right places. 

As we approach the Christmas season, I am thankful that those many years ago a baby was born in a manger in Bethlehem and that that babe brought hope to a world that needed it then as we do now. A supply chain crisis can’t stop the true meaning of what Christmas means. I am thankful for that knowledge.

To conclude, let me say how thankful I am for each of you, our readers. Without you, all our work would be for naught. I pray that each of you will enjoy a truly thankful day today and a wonderful holiday season.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, I return you now to the Hallmark channel for your Christmas entertainment.

(You can contact Assistant Sports Editor Dennis Norwood via email, or on Twitter at @noogasportsdude)


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