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

Happy Thanksgiving 2020!

I hope your Thanksgiving was a special time of giving thanks and being with those you love. We had a much smaller gathering, just my family of four, plus my mom. It was my first year to ever make the turkey! My mom brought the most important dressing and gravy, along with a pecan pie. My son made the pumpkin pie. And I made the rest of the sides. It was a joint effort and sweet time together.

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Verses for the Day: Phil. 4:4-7, 1 Thess. 5:16-18

I love it that “the Lord is near” and we have nothing to fear. Instead, we can rejoice, give thanks, and pray.

Philippians 4:4-7: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s been a quieter Thanksgiving. We were in Florida for a family wedding two weekends ago, and my sister and her kids came back through for an eight-day visit. We enjoyed being with them; it’s far too infrequent. They left on Tuesday, and after a busy last couple of weeks, we had a nice, quiet Thanksgiving with my mom. We went to church last night for the annual Thanksgiving Eve service, and that’s always a favorite service during the year to be encouraged by testimony of God’s faithfulness in many lives.

There are so many things to be thankful for on this day and every day. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

A week ago today my son and I were involved in a car wreck. While waiting at a red light, on a dark and rainy evening, two cars had a wreck in the intersection, each trying to beat a yellow light, one turning, and once they collided, the wreck came flying into our sitting car. I had my son and his friend in the car, coming home from his driver’s ed class, of all places! I have no doubt we were intended to be right in that place, right at that time, for that very moment.

I had just been praising the Lord that morning for such a fun time in Florida with my extended family and for the many good gifts from his hand. And I was wondering would I respond with praise when things aren’t as good. Would I love Him and recognize His goodness to me in all things. I’ve been reading through the gospels in my daily Bible readings and seeing how Jesus told his disciples to watch and pray that they might not fall into temptation. They needed to be prepared.

Before the wreck, unrelated to it, as we had headed to the intersection where we were waiting at the red light, a car had come speeding by us on the left, illegally, and raced past to turn in front of us. His cutting me off made me miss the previous light. As I sat at that intersection, the first car in line, waiting for the next green light, I wondered about how that car was on down the road in my place, and I was sitting in his place. I thought, wouldn’t that be weird if I find him down the road in a wreck and he ended up taking my wreck. But moments later, I was in a wreck, in his place.

Of course, I was right where God intended. And would I praise Him even in this? I do praise and thank the Lord for that. Could it be, in God’s good design, my son, who just took to the road today to drive for the first time, is now more sobered by the responsibility of driving, aware that we really aren’t in control, recognizing firsthand that cars can be really dangerous? This will definitely cause him to always wear his seat belt, if he ever wanted to be lazy about it!

But whether I can find good in it or not, I know it was for good purposes, and I know that God is good.

And I thank Him this Thanksgiving, among other things, for His protection over us. And I thank Him for our family and friends. Perhaps not being with many of them today reminds me all the more of what a gift they are. I thank Him for the many good gifts from His hand (James 1:17), and most of all, for His salvation. I thank Jesus for taking my sin, bearing my shame, suffering for me, taking my place, the punishment for sin that I deserved, and giving His life for me, so that I could live, and know Him, my Creator and Lord and King. He is good, and I praise and thank Him.