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

Sovereign God

It’s strange to think that I started this blog over four years ago now!

As I was looking back recently, I noticed that I had written four years ago about the last presidential election.

I thought I’d repost some of the truths I was reflecting on then:

  • I’m thankful for a Sovereign God who is seated on the throne in the heavens and whose kingdom rules over all (Psalm 103:19).
  • I’m thankful to know that He alone raises up and brings down leaders and rulers (Daniel 2:21).
  • I’m thankful that He alone is great and worthy of all praise (Psalm 145:3), worthy as the Lamb who was slain to receive all power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and praise (Rev. 5:12).
  • I’m thankful that He sets my feet on the Rock (Psalm 40:2) and keeps me secure.
  • In Him, I have complete confidence and hope, and I have no cause for fear.
  • He is my Rock, fortress, deliverer, strength, salvation, and shield (II Samuel 22; Psalm 18).
  • He will not forsake those who trust in Him (Psalm 9:10).

I’m thankful that the Lord knows the outcome of tomorrow. He knows the beginning from the end, and He is not surprised. May His good and perfect will be done.

Simple Thanks

My daughter has updated my blog to give me a background. She has insisted for a while that I need it, so I let her take control! It’s funny to me that she knows how to do this by herself, and I like what she chose!

I recognize this is a simple acknowledgment of thankfulness, but I feel it nonetheless and want to say it: I am thankful for 2 good dental checkups for my children today! I always dread the dentist, and my son has had some cavities in the past on 2 baby teeth, and I always am nervous how well they are brushing. So it is with a thankful heart that I received word of how great their teeth look, how good their bite is, how unlikely it is they will need braces, etc. I know this can seem like such a small item to give thanks for, but I want my heart to always be having a back and forth of thankfulness to God and rejoice in even small things. I don’t do that all the time, but this one struck me to do so, so I am!

I also am thankful for the school my children attend. As we are having some strategic planning sessions and prayer times simultaneously this month, my heart is reminded of the wonderful things God has done to bring this school into existence and the amazing things we see as we continue down this path. I pray He will always use it for His glory and eternal purposes and cause those who attend it to love Him and serve Him faithfully all of their lives. I pray for His perfect will and His continued leading. He has shown Himself so much to me in this endeavor, and I am thankful.

I would like to spend the next 24 hours or so really reflecting on things that I should be thankful for and seeing reasons to give thanks at every point in my day. I rarely am this deliberate, but I do want to cultivate a mind fixed on God and praising Him, thanking Him, and rejoicing.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

A Quick Praise

Well, I went to the dermatologist a couple of weeks ago for a place that had come up on my nose a few weeks prior to that. While he assured me it was not dangerous, he immediately wanted to freeze it off. I didn’t want to do that, so he said I could come back when I wanted to, but that in the meantime, it would keep growing.

I had been praying about it since I had first noticed it, so I decided I would just keep praying about it. I’ve had things like this happen before where a doctor tells me what I need, I opt to wait and pray, and things improve. I’ve seen miracles in my daughter’s life and mine physically (both big and small), and why then would I begin to underestimate God?

I know this was small, I know it seems inconsequential, I know freezing it would have worked out just as well. But I chose to wait and pray. After my last appointment, it did seem to change, and I got nervous, and decided the sooner I got rid of it the better. I made another appointment for today, but continued to pray that it might go away before the visit.

Well, last night, I rubbed a washcloth over my face, and it came right off, completely. I was so thankful. The doctor’s office told me this morning to still come in so he could be sure it was gone, and it was. When he saw it was gone, the doctor asked me, “What did you do?” I could only tell him the only thing I had done: pray! He said, “Well, if it comes back, pray again.”

So anyway, I just want to thank the Lord for this. I know it’s a smaller thing, it wasn’t anything serious, but it was just a small sweet blessing. I had had a rotten day yesterday, too, and was so sad last night, convicted of my ugly sin — and at all times for Him to be gracious to me — in the midst of such ugliness — it just seemed to show me a glimpse of His kindness, patience and mercy, His forgiveness and help when I feel helpless.

Now literally, since I have arrived home this afternoon from the visit, seriously, there is a place itching on my face. I just went and looked in the mirror and it’s some kind of spot! What in the world am I to make of that?! Well, at all times, and in all things, God is in control. He is good. He is worthy of our trust. I want to believe Him and know that He is able. Even when we have suffered physically in greater ways, God has always been near and made Himself known. For all these things, for who He is, for His power and love, I am thankful!

A Week of Thanksgiving

With this being Thanksgiving week, I thought I would try each day this week to share specific things for which I’m thankful.

One thing that jumps to mind after this past week is that I’m thankful for our school. We had Grandparents’ Day on Friday, and part of the program was giving the history of the school.

As I listened to the stories again, I recalled the 8 months of Saturday morning prayer together as families before the school started, committing this all to God. It was amazing to reflect on how what was started in living rooms has now moved into a school, now in its 4th year, with 82 students and a Vision to propel students for a life of service to Christ.

As the students came in and sang “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” my heart was indeed full of thoughts of His faithfulness to us in this endeavor. This is His work, and He has done it. We are blessed to have watched it unfold before our eyes and truly thankful for His provision.