God has done so much for me and my family, my heart is spilling over with gratitude. I have everything I could ever need, and then some more. Every good thing, I owe to God.
Every year on Thanksgiving my family and I sit around for a few hours and talk about what God has done in our lives over the past year. I probably say this about a lot of things, but it's really one of my favorite things we do each year. God is alive and very real. He's not a made up character to make us feel better about ourselves and life. He's very real. Even if you don't believe in Him, He believes in you.
I want to share with you our day of Thanksgiving. I know the holiday has already past us by and we're getting well into the Christmas season, but I believe every day can be an opportunity to give thanks to God. He's always up to something good! The question is, do we recognize it?
Every year we must come up with five things that God has done. This year we added a requirement for two of those five. We needed to find one situation that was totally bad, and share about what God did for our good in it. The other one, we had to come up with some person who was not a family member that has had a big impact on our lives this year, and that we were especially grateful for.
In 2011 I thank God that…
• I am really thankful for the book study that I've started doing with my friends on Tuesday nights. I've known each of them for a really long time but I don't think we've ever connected on this level. It makes it really hard to be uncomfortable when we are talking about insecurities. We've only met 3 times and already it has been really good. I know it's going to be beneficial for everyone in the group.
• One of the most significant things that happened to me this year was meeting Birgit. I think searching for her and not being able to find her and then having her come find me was really incredible. I believe that she had a much bigger impact on me than I had on her. I want to learn Estonian and go to Estonia someday. I don't know when, but I believe it's going to happen.
• I have had a lot of bad experiences that turned good. I am thankful for the orange car. The guy cheated us; he knew there was a problem with the car so he covered up the check engine light. He did however give us warranty insurance on the car. We were able to get a used engine and we only had to pay for less than half of it. We had bought the car with 70,000 miles and our new used engine had 50,000 miles. In July someone stole Titus' debit card and spent $2000 and the bank gave it all back to us. All of the things that we thought were bad, God turned to good.
• I have always wanted to read the Bible through in a year. I've tried many times but I get too focused on checking off what I need to do, rather than take my time and think about what I'm reading. I always end up quitting. This time I've decided I was going to find one scripture out of the reading, and focus on that for the day. One day I was reading it and I found a love note from my husband. Just last week, I had an argument with my husband. I was reminded of the scripture that says "don't let the sun go down on your anger" and I thought, "I'm not angry. I just don't want to say sorry right now." I didn't want to apologize the next morning either, and I still said to myself, "I am not angry." When I was reading my Bible later that day I came upon, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." [Ephesians 4:26-27] I realized that the devil sure did have a foothold on me. I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "If the devil can't make you bad, he'll make you busy. He can accomplish the same thing both ways." Well, I found that day, if the devil can't make you bad, he'll make you mad. The whole argument had come about when my husband and I were taking a stand for God. We were doing the right thing, and somehow the devil weaseled in and made us mad at each other. He ended up accomplishing the same thing as if we had not made the stand. This year, I'm thankful at how the Bible can come to life for us when we're obedient to read it. God has been speaking to me through His word on many occasions!
• I am extremely thankful for my friend Rachael. I was especially grateful for her just last night. I was talking with her and another friend before church, telling them how I was sick. I planned on just going home and resting. Rachael met me at the door and said she would take me to the doctor and then she drove me there. I didn't have much of a choice in the matter. I wouldn't have gone if she hadn't have taken me, and today on Thanksgiving I'm certain I would have been visiting the emergency room if my issue had not been dealt with. I am grateful for a friend that will force me to take care of myself. She is also very open and authentic and is very good about apologizing. She makes sure to apologize face to face and not through e-mail, even though it’s more difficult. She has a lot of qualities that I appreciate in a friend, and I'm inspired by her. She is also really pretty, and has great hair and clothes. ☺
• I talked to Grandma Lemon last week and she is doing pretty well. I seriously thought she was going to die at the beginning of March. She was in and out of the hospital. I'm glad I was able to visit her this year. During our conversation last week, we talked about my dad and she was very vulnerable with me. That is very unusual for her. She talked about how she did okay when she was at work but she would cry on her way home thinking 'he's not going to be there' and she started crying when she told me that. I bonded really well with her because she was open....I'm thankful that she's alive and feeling well today.
• I would say that Barb Callahan, the lady that we go to counseling for, because she's a really sweet spirited lady and is also very generous. I go and pray with her every two weeks and my husband goes every week. BlueCross & BlueShield has decided that Mike doesn't need to go every two weeks. They aren't paying but we still go to see her every week. We pay the $25 co pay. She loses $200 a month, but she does it anyway. She loves to pray with people and she is very humble. She has never prayed with anyone who has issues like Mike does and she researches and goes to conferences to learn information to help him. She is very soft spoken and gentle and I respond really well to that - she is an answer to prayer. She gives counsel and prays. She says 'I'm not in it for the money; I'm in it because it is what God wants me to do.'
• I'm thankful in this, I'm not exactly thankful for this, specifically with the stuff with my husband. This year has been a pretty hard year in a lot of ways. It is really hard to live with someone who is in a lot of pain, when you can't do anything to help them. There was a particular time when it was really bad and I was really stressed out about it, and I was distraught and I didn't know what to do. Nothing was going right; I was getting more and more angry and upset. I ended up on the floor screaming and yelling at God. The thing that is good in that is that I definitely got to the end of myself. God had showed me before that "when your husband gets healed it is going to be totally and completely healed and it is going to be me. You have to get out of the way." God reminded me of all the things He has done for me. He always starts out with "look at your family." I am extremely grateful to God that no matter how we feel, no matter what is going on in our lives, He is always so kind to us and so gracious. My husband has decided to find the fight.
• I am very thankful to God that when I drive up to my house I can drive slowly and see a fence in a straight line and I have a different color on my house. It's not finished yet but it's almost there.
• I'm thankful to God for the way that He speaks to us, through the Word of course. I was thinking of these 2 books that I've read "Total Forgiveness" and "The Bait of Satan". Sometimes I just don't want to forgive people. Sometimes I don't realize it. In marriage especially because you live with people and you do the same things over and over again. My husband is very good at forgiving but I do not always want to forgive. If I were to think of What Would Jesus Do and the song Seven times Seventy, I realize He isn't saying to forgive 490 times but He wants you to forgive over and over again because surely that is what God is doing for me. I have prayed about forgiveness and God gives me opportunities to practice that.
• For Gabe
• I'm just thankful for Jesus. He just gives me presents, a cake, with cars on it. My cars party at church. And Blaize was at it.
• Uhhh...God. A baby cake...at Subway. A guy with a giant belly.[On the way to Colorado Springs there was a guy at Subway that talked about his giant belly full of banana bread. He made a big impression on Zech]
• [Jesus gave me] Mark. [Why do you like Mark?] I get to make him a present.
• I'm thankful for my blocks. [What makes you happy?] When you (mommy) just do karate.
• I'm thankful for mommy's birthday. We got the cake with daddy.
• I'm thankful that my mom is getting remarried, because she's happy.
• I'm thankful for my dad, because he takes care of me and he's fun to do stuff with.
• I'm thankful for Rachael because she is fun to be around.
• I'm thankful for encouraging friends, friends from church and friends from school. They encourage me to do things I didn't think I could do.
• I know one of the good/bad things - since Stefanie moved to Colorado any time she comes back is a good thing.
• I'm thankful that I got my 350 page notebook because I was really hoping I would get one. I really wanted to write a really long Gabriel and Stefanie book, the final one.
• I am thankful to God for giving me a great brother. I get to do everything with him. I can play with him when I'm not allowed to play on the DS or with my notebook.
• I'm thankful to God for giving me my food so I will be able to eat something and live.
• I am thankful that I went to St. Louis. It was fun and I got to stay in a hotel and we got to swim a lot and also we went to the zoo and went to the Science Museum and I think there was also an Art Museum and we also we went to the Spaghetti Factory and we also had mom's birthday. It was a great trip that God gave me.
• I'm thankful for Valentine because I love her a lot and she's my only pet.
• I am thankful for my family because I love them a lot because they are my family. They are nice and they love me a lot. Mom gave me the sticker birds on the wall. Dad lets me play on the computer for a long time sometimes. Zech and Gabe play Monopoly with me together.
• I'm thankful for Michaela Blankenship and Mikaela Glaubitz. They are both good friends. They care.
• I'm thankful for playing flute and being able to play flute.
• I'm thankful for Mrs. Snell and school and Mrs. Hedstrom our principal.
Stefanie brought a friend with her from Colorado Springs that also lives at her host family's house. We all loved Alex and really enjoyed spending time with her. We found that Mikaela closely resembles her, and had to take a photo of the two of them together.
• I'm thankful to God for Jesus' faithfulness in my life. He's really shown me that this year.
• The person in my life that I am thankful for is my best friend Holly because she has a lot of wisdom. She is always there when I need to talk to her and she really understands me. We get along better than anyone I know. I am thankful for her faith. She is paralyzed from her waist down and she still does anything she wants. She goes on mission’s trips and hikes. She is really inspirational to me. She is very determined, more determined than I am, and I can walk.
• Last semester when I first moved here I had no car, I didn't know anyone, I had an air mattress as a bed. I didn't have a job and it was really hard being away from home. My friends drove me here and then they left and it was really hard. The good thing that came out of it is that I appreciate now what I have. It was my first time away from home. God replaced everything for me - a car, a job, and a family.
• I'm thankful for the relationships that God has brought into my life and the friendships that I have. If I didn't have them I would be one lonely person. I'm thankful for the people who encourage me and love me and I'm thankful for the community I have.
• I am thankful to the Decker's because they are really really encouraging. They have become like my family. My family doesn't love Jesus so they are really encouraging and everything I want in a family. It is easy to fit into their family because they welcome you in. They are just wonderful.
• I'm thankful to God for the joy that He's given me. I feel like God has changed me and given me joy that I didn't have before. When I was at home, before DLA, I went to work and school and I just felt stuck in my life. I feel like God has changed me and given me new perspective on life.
• I'm thankful for the Decker's. Not only do they provide a great atmosphere for me to live in, and they listen to what I have to say, but they also encourage me. Mr. Decker's pulls out his Bible and reads to us at family dinner and asks us what we should do about that scripture, or what we should pray for. The Decker's prayed over each and every one in their family one night. They welcomed me in to their family. I am so grateful for their family and the environment that they provide for me.
• I'm thankful for the dent in my car. The day that I got it was a day that God had told me to keep driving and He showed me a special place for us to get alone. It was really good because I had been frustrated with never being able to find a place to get alone - I share a room, I am at school all day with people, I live in a house full of people - and then God showed me our special place. I saw my dent when I got home and I decided it wasn't that bad. I could deal with the dent. Then I found a note that had the information of the person who dented my car. I still wasn't sure if they were going to pay for anything or not. After I found out I was going to get my car fixed, Patty Decker told me that I should just keep the money instead of fixing my car. I really wanted to be able to get a new car fund started, but I don't have a job. I now have a new car fund - $1300 - in place of a dent in my car.
• I'm thankful for God's promises. [Ezekiel 37: 1-14] God showed me this verse and told me it was for my father. I have been very discouraged in praying for my father and God gave me renewed hope. I really believe this is His promise that my father is going to be healed. God said that it is going to be so evident that it is Him and only Him that healed my father, not anyone else.
• I am grateful for God revealing things to me. I asked God to open my eyes to the ways that He romances me and He did. I've begun to notice Him in the little things that before I could have just thought were cool things. God reveals to me His jealousy for me. The times when I have been blessed by family and friends God showed me how He is pushing His way to the front of all of these good things and saying that He is jealous for me. He will always be at the front of everyone else.
• I'm thankful to God for the wife that He has given me. The primary reason is that she sometimes feels like I take advantage of her for all the things that she does for me - she is my calendar and my activities coordinator but I really do feel appreciative of her.
• I'm thankful to God for the opportunities that He gives. I spend a lot of time at work so a lot of times those opportunities come directly at work. The Bible talks about how God gives you favor when you follow His will. There have been several times at work when He has shown me things that I really hadn't gone out of my way to accomplish or I didn't feel like I deserved. That is the gist of it.
• I'm thankful for the opportunity that God gave me this summer to play soccer with Gabriel.
• I'm thankful for all of the ways in the last year that God has taken care of us. There have been the obvious things but even in the little situations - the Birgit situation - Ariel got to be in the play - Gabriel got to play soccer - Zechariah got to learn multiplication. There's more ways than I could think of.
• I have been thankful for Josh. He is always very encouraging. The first impression is that he is running around like a chicken with its head cut off but the one thing about it is that it gives you the desire to get things done and get involved and I really appreciate that.
• I'm thankful that God provided me with another person to help at work. I didn't even have to ask, they just provided it for me. It was getting to be a lot of work for me to do and nobody to help. The people around me noticed how much I do and saw I needed another helper. The people actually noticed how much I do.
• For me, someone who is kind of an inspiration right now - Tim Tebow. Anytime he is interviewed, he always starts out with "First of all I want to thank my Lord and Jesus Christ.' Not a lot of people are that open about their faith. A lot of people don't like that or think he is a good football player because of that. There is a website that is called tebowing and it shows different people kneeling down praying. He prays at every game and he kneels down after every touchdown and it is just inspirational.
• Some things that are not bad but difficult that ends up good - anytime I have a video to get done, Game Plan especially. When I am working on it I always get attacked. It is not always easy while you are in it. The effect that it has on people makes it worth it. It is a life lesson; it can be hard but if you continue to work on it, and don't give up, God will use it.
• I'm thankful for positive encouraging music. Music that you can just turn on when you are going through hard times and good times and it reminds you of the goodness of God.
• I'm thankful for Mikaela and the relationship that we have. She is growing up and becoming a young lady. She is going after God and desiring to follow Him. I wish I would get to see her every day, but I don't.
Pretty inspiring, huh? See why I like Thanksgiving so much. It is such a joy to have a family you can get together with and talk about the goodness of God. That is what life is all about.
I wanted to close with a few thoughts from Sunday's sermon this week at church.
Everyone is something. If you're not grateful, what you are?
Prideful? Cynical? Fearful?
What if in the middle of all the badness, we stubbornly acknowledge God is up to something good, even though it may not feel like it to us.
His faithful love endures forever."