Count Your Blessings

Last Sunday, we visited a country church up the road from our new home. There were probably 20-30 people in attendance. They sang the old hymn Count Your Blessings: “Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.” What a great reminder as we approached Thanksgiving this past week to stop and count my blessings.

We have much to be thankful for, having just settled in a new community. After being rooted for 20 years in Chicagoland, and planning to be so for many more, my husband received a call out of the blue in April to see if he would have interest in applying for a theology professor opening. That had been his career for 16 years, but the last four years had been in publishing with one year in Christian education/administration. By early June, he had the job offer, and by early August, we had moved!

Suddenly, life as we had known it was over, and a life with new opportunities was waiting in a new season and place. We saw God’s hand in every step along the way, in every detail, so that made it easy to move forward with confidence, even when some days were difficult. It was hard to leave behind family, but my mom is joining us here next week. We love being back in the Appalachian mountains, having enjoyed the Smokies during our college years and the Blue Ridge during PhD years.

Thanksgiving yesterday was different. My husband flew back to Chicagoland to help my mom get packed up as the movers will come Monday. He celebrated Thanksgiving with our family there, which was our tradition for many years. My daughter and I stayed behind so we would not be in the middle of the move, but we missed being with family. I decided I would not try to cook a full Thanksgiving meal for just the two of us. After I couldn’t find an open reservation locally, I ordered Cracker Barrel! It was acceptable and tasty, but not quite the same. Still, it will be a Thanksgiving to remember!

This Thanksgiving, as I count my blessings, I give thanks for my family, both near and far.

I’m thankful for our new home and our wonderful neighbors!

I am also thankful for Bible Study Fellowship and the new friends I have made there. Knowing we wouldn’t be settled on a church home immediately, I signed up online for BSF near my house. What a gift to study the Word with a group of women locally, many of whom are also newer to the area. We get together for walks and meals, and I’m glad to have new friendships.

I’m also thankful for the couple that was recommended to us to help with some painting in our basement. They are a wealth of knowledge and have been invaluable to us in a few home projects.

I’m thankful for the university where my husband teaches, for the students and faculty we are getting to know, and for the beautiful landscape surrounding us.

I’m thankful for my work, being able to continue it remotely, and for the routine and consistency it has provided.

I’m thankful for an affordable, non-stop United flight from a nearby airport that gets us easily to Chicago when we travel back.

I’m thankful for a day set aside to be thankful! Living in Virginia, I’m learning more about history again. We came upon a reenactment of a pastor from the late 1700s who shared from the Thanksgiving Proclamation given by George Washington on October 3, 1789. It says in part:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.” Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be…

From the Thanksgiving Proclamation, October 3, 1789 – read in full here.

It was interesting to hear how Thanksgiving Day was established and what its purpose was.

Beyond that, it reminded me as I count my blessings that there is a Giver of all these good gifts, a source of all the blessings we enjoy. I am not simply thankful in the general sense of a positive attitude or gratefulness, but my thanks is directed to the One who meets our needs and provides so graciously, abundantly, and faithfully. He first and foremost has given me salvation through Christ, an eternal hope, and purpose in the present here and now as we await His return.

With that in mind, I look forward to Sunday as we begin Advent and turn our focus to Jesus’ birth. He has come and will come again. He is the Giver and Sustainer of life, who carries us through all life’s hills and valleys, joys and griefs, to bring us safely to Himself. Thanks be to God today and always.

“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.”

Psalm 9:1-2