A Day for Thanks

In two days, millions of people around the globe will celebrate the day known in the USA as Thanksgiving. I’m not in the States for the celebrations, but that isn’t stopping me from making 10 kg of mashed potatoes and some gravy to share with nearly 60 friends… 🙂 (The first on my list of things to be thankful for this year is that the rest of the feast will be provided by other cooks!) 🙂

Instead of actually giving thanks, Thanksgiving is so often just equated with eating way too much, napping, “American” football, and plotting the route to various stores for Black Friday deals. I must admit that I am not sad to be missing out on those things this year… Well, okay, maybe just the nap. I will miss being with my family, but I will be surrounded by friends that have become like family during the year and a half I’ve called Ireland home.

I thought, as Thanksgiving Day is coming so quickly, I would be rather unoriginal this week and make a list of a few of the things I am most thankful for. This will be only a small sample because trying to list all, or even most, of the things  I’m grateful for would take far too much of my time and yours…

  1. My infinitely powerful God who loves me intimately enough to care about the details of my life. He is a God who creates new realities with a few spoken words, and yet He cares enough to speak to me daily. That is something to be truly grateful for!
  2. My family. We are spread across the globe, and I miss them all! I am so grateful for the part they have each played in shaping who I am, and that I can count them as not only family but friends as well!
  3. My friends. I have friends on nearly every continent, and I am thankful for all of them. God has blessed me so much with the people I get to do life with on a daily basis!
  4. My life. It doesn’t look anything like I thought it would by the time I reached this age, but I wouldn’t trade it. The opportunities I’ve been given, places I’ve visited and lived, people I’ve met, and things I’ve learned have brought me to a place in my relationship with God I never dreamed of and given me a story to tell that can change lives.
  5. My hopes and dreams. Perhaps more than ever before, God is pouring hope into me for the days that are still to come. Dreams that have seemed far away for so long suddenly seem closer than ever, and the hope that accompanies the anticipation of fulfillment is something that I cannot put into words, nor can I adequately say thank you to the Author of that hope and the Giver of the dreams.

That is just a fraction of what I am thankful for this year. I don’t believe that once a year is often enough to say “Thank You” to the Giver of all good things, but I’m glad for the reminder to stop and count my blessings. May you have much to thank God for on this Thanksgiving Day (whether it is a holiday in your home country or not), and may we all remember to recognize and be grateful for all the good things in our lives more than just once a year.

Thankful!

Today I just want to say “Thank You” to God for the blessings He is pouring out on me.
* I’ve been able to sell all of the furniture I need to get rid of before my departure, and made a little cash to help with last-minute expenses.
* After twenty years of wearing glasses/contacts, I was told by the eye doctor that I need only wear them when my eyes feel tired or strained. I purchased a cheap pair of glasses to use for those occasions, but this saved me the cost of a contact exam, prescription sunglasses, contacts and/or better quality glasses that would have been much more expensive.
* I have continued to receive one-time donations that are helping to cover moving expenses.
* I am continuing to see results (in inch loss) of being diligent in working out.
* I have gone through my closet, and there are more clothes that now/still fit than I expected, so I will not have to buy quite as much as I anticipated.
* Perhaps the biggest praise report I have is simply that God loves me enough to not let me stay where I’m at in my relationship with Him.
He has recently pointed out to me that I had painted Him into an image that does not look like Him at all. I had imagined Him as Someone who did not communicate – at least not clearly – with me. And those times I did think I heard Him, I did not necessarily expect Him to follow through with what I heard.
For the last week, I have been spending time with Him in my journal, listening long enough (with no agenda of my own) to let Him speak and fill a page or more with His thoughts alone.
This daily time with Him is my new “hustle” for this month, and I am excited to see what all He will speak with me in the days to come. It has already been so good to practice hearing His voice, and just being with Him without the list of requests and questions that are constant in my mind these days.
No matter what is to come in this month or the next or any after that, I am so happy to be more connected once again with the God that loves to speak to His children! There are good things ahead, and I look forward to hearing His thoughts, and thanking Him for His many blessings (whatever form they take) each step of the way!

Thanksgiving and Pity-parties

Wow. I feel like a terrible human being right now. I think getting my thoughts out might help, but is it right to inflict them on others? I guess I’ll find out.

So, you may be wondering why I feel so terrible, and the answer is that I am in a bad mood. I’m feeling discouraged about several things, and really just want to have a good old-fashioned pity-party. Of course, we all have rough days, so that in itself does not make me such a horrible person. The thing that has solidified that title in my mind is that it is the day before Thanksgiving. How can I be in such a bad mood just when I’m supposed to be grateful? I have SO much to be thankful for, and yet here I am feeling the need for a pity-party about things that are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I know people suffering far worse circumstances than I can imagine, and I feel guilty for my own discouragement about seemingly trivial stuff.

And yet, the feelings remain. The choice I have, not only today or tomorrow (Thanksgiving Day, here in the United States), but everyday, is to either focus on those things and tell God how discouraged I am, OR to focus on Him and remind myself how awesome He is. It isn’t always easy to keep my eyes focused the right direction, but it is possible. When I doubt that, I think of David. I heard someone refer to the story of David and Goliath once, saying that we should not tell God how big our giants are, but tell our giants how big God is.

I love the story of David. He screwed up royally on several occasions, (even committing two of the sins many people would put at the top of the “bad sins” list – murder and sexual sin), and yet he is still the only person in the Bible referred to as a man after God’s own heart. I think one possible reason for this is his brutal honesty with God. He had no problem telling God exactly how he felt about his circumstances, and he certainly had his share of nasty situations to endure. The Psalms are full of David’s complaints, many of them  legitimate; but those same Psalms are also full of his faith and gratitude for all that God had seen him through.

One chapter that comes to mind is Psalm 13. David basically accuses God of forgetting and forsaking him, and says that if God doesn’t answer he’ll “sleep the sleep of death”. Then, he ends the Psalm with these words in verses 5-6(NASB): “But I have trusted in Your loving kindness; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 27 finishes with: “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.” (verses 13-14, NASB)

David knew that no matter what happened in his life, how bleak the picture seemed to be, that God was still good – and He still cared. We can have the same assurance. Yes, I’m feeling a little down today, and some of the things I’m working toward feel unattainable. So what? Without God, those feelings could be true. The choice I’m making today is to be thankful that, because of Him, those goals can be reached. I will see His goodness in the land of the living – even if the results don’t look like I have imagined. I don’t have to sit and dream of the time when I will finally die and go to heaven so that I can see Him. He is here, at work in our lives, if only we will choose to see and partner with Him.

Thanksgiving is not about ignoring discouragements, sorrows, or disappointments. It’s about choosing to focus on all that we have to be thankful for, even in the midst of those things. I want to live every day (not just the 4th Thursday in November), filled with gratefulness for all of the blessings in my life: family, friends, relationship with God, provision, my “job” and the opportunities it brings, and life itself. Each of those things could be separated into countless other things to be thankful for too.

So, I guess I’m not such a terrible human being, after all. I do have bad days, but today I’m choosing to focus on the positive and thank the Giver of all good things for all His many blessings!

What are you thankful for? Leave your answers in the comment section below…