As is our family tradition, after a scrumptious healthy "vegetarian" lunch (the Turkey's are happy here), we went around the circle and shared some of the things we are especially thankful for this year. Of course, we are only given a couple minutes to expound upon it all (and I could share much longer than that). Sooooo, I thought I'd take time to share a little more here on my blog. Hopefully this will bring and "Leaf you" with some smiles...
The following are some of the things I am most thankful to God for from this past year 2009! (In random order, not order of importance...)
- God's WORD (actually this IS in order of importance!!!) is one of the gifts I am most thankful for this year. I am thankful for the guidance, the direction, the encouragement, and the inspiration that I am constantly finding within its pages. "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart." Jer 15:16 I'm thankful that we still have freedom to freely read these words and share them...I know that freedom will not last much longer.
- I'm thankful for the golden yellows and pinks of the early morning sunrise across our lake. And I'm reminded that it's because of the dust and atmospheric debris that we have such beautiful radiant colors. (It's a little more technical than that...but that's the gist!) And so it is in our own lives, the pain and sorrows and irritations can, when given to God, be used to make a beautiful picture of His love and mercy to be shared with all the world. "When He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10
- I'm thankful for my parents and brothers, and their love for me. I've lived away from home basically ever since I was 15, and yet every time I come back to visit or stay a little while, I am reminded again of what a great home I grew up in. I'll never forget sitting in daddy's lap, as an early teen, with 3 babies on top of me... all squirming and squiggling...and singing... "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam!" What great memories!! Now we all gather in our living room...my dad with the same "Happy Songs for Boys and Girls" books, my brother Daniel with his guitar, me at another guitar or at the piano, my mom with flute, and Homer with his grin...and we all sing away...just like old times...well, almost...ha ha!
- I'm thankful for the fragrance of flowers... I'm also thankful for the gift of "Forgiveness"...for it is "the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it." And this fragrance we have great need of in this sin filled broken world.
- I am thankful for "salt." Daddy made some apple pies today, and forgot to put in the salt...and the moment we tasted them, we knew something important was missing!!! Only 1/2 teaspoon...but that little lack made a BIG difference. Reminds me of how we are to be the "salt of the earth" (Matt 5:13) and add the "seasoning of Heaven" to all our interactions. If Christ is not at work in our hearts, then we will be like "salt without savour" and we will be just like those apple pies... "Man, something just ain't right here! Something is missing..." :-(
- I'm thankful for the kindness of strangers. This spring I spent several months on a travel nurse contract in a lonely town in TX, and during this time was blessed immeasurably by a church family that I had never met before. If only we all could be as kind to the strangers within our midst...
- I'm thankful for my girl-friends...the best friends that share my life and my heart!! Whether it's talking late into the night during a sleep over (yep, we still have those), or talking on the phone across the miles...I am soooo blessed to have such a great group of girl-friends. (Thanks Val, Season, Vanessa, Sunny, Sue, Heather, Becca, Rita, Cara, Joy, Mary and others!)
- I'm thankful for the warmth of a home-built fire...especially as I realize that there are many in our world who don't have such a luxury, let alone, a home to enjoy it in.
- I'm thankful for my new Fami-LEE...for the unique perspectives they have added to my life, for the ways they have encouraged and challenged me to grow in the Lord, and for the privilege of being "GoMo" (Auntie) to little TaeHo and HeeSunny. (God is in the business of "last-minute" encounters and "miracle moments." And we've had a few of those already.) Wonder how many more of such God-ordained encounters are waiting ahead for me...
- I'm thankful for old-fashion hand-written letters and cards that we still get from time to time in our mailbox. These are rare, but when they come, they are treasured and read over and over again. For some reason, e-mail and Internet communications just can't come close in value...or specialness.
- I'm thankful for the love and affection of my many little kiddos in Bangladesh. Even though it had been a year since I visited last, when I visited the Orphanage this past September, they all came running to meet me as if the Queen of England had come to visit. (Come to think of it, the Queen of England probably wouldn't have gotten such a warm welcome!)
- I'm thankful for the Hollands...and their continued contributions to my life. We've made a lot of great memories over the last 17+ years...and this year, we made some more...moving Tim and Sunny to Ohio...and waltzing through the streets of Phoenix in the scorching heat. "What would I do without you guys??? I love you sooooo much!!!"
- I'm thankful for music...and the ability to praise God in song. Right now my brother is playing his guitar and singing his heart out. I know that God is looking down with approval and love...
- I'm thankful for LIGHT and TRUTH. Light dispels the darkness, and the truth sets us free. "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness." Jn 12:46 "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32
- I am thankful for ARME...and the passion of our team...as we seek to work together to help equip people how to REALLY STUDY the BIBLE for themselves!!! We had our first powerful conference this past summer, and look forward to several more this next year...
- I'm thankful for the "Set-Apart Life Discipleship Series" by Eric Ludy that has been one of the most spiritually impacting series of talks I have ever heard. I continue to be challenged by these messages and share them with as many friends as possible...
- I'm thankful for Pictures and Words...they say "A picture is worth a thousand words" so...between my pictures and my words...there have been a few hundred thousand I've shared just from this year alone!! I pray continually that both...my words and pictures...may be to the glory and honor of God!
- I'm thankful for MEMORIES...and especially those of Thanksgiving day over the years. But they haven't all been easy. Twelve years ago, on this very day, a good friend (Debbie Fox) died after a two year struggle with colon cancer. She was 25. Even though we all knew she was finally at peace, it was heartbreaking. Thanksgiving has never been quite the same since...and there's not a Thanksgiving that goes by that I don't remember her. Yet I thank God for the blessing and inspiration she was in my life, even thru her pain.
- I'm thankful for KEYS...the keys that allow me to lock and unlock my car door (especially when I am in California - ha), the "Keys of trust" that others give me...the key to their hearts (wow - what a treasure), the "Keys to truth" that God gives us in His Word (the ultimate gift)...and the list could go on. Keys are such privileged gifts to own...maybe I'll have to expound upon this further in another blog! :-)
- I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit...and for being privileged to often feel it's sweet wind upon my face. It's not something you can see, but you see its effects...in the gentle rustle of the leaves on the trees or the hearts close by. You see its subduing effects upon the lives around you, and you feel it softening your own heart. What a special gift... this unseen miracle that you cannot touch.
- Most of all...I'm thankful for the gift of LOVE...the love of my collective family, the love of my friends, and most importantly, the love of my God...who loved me soooooooo much that He sent His only Son to die for my sins!!! I'm told that, even if I'd been the only one that sinned, He would have still died...just for me! I will never cease to be amazed!!!!!
I'm sure I could go on and on...but for now...these are a few of my most favorite things, valued blessings, and gifts from God that I am most thankful for from this past year!!!!
We are encouraged:
"At these [holiday] seasons God's grace is brought before us in a special manner. We are bidden not only to recall the manifold blessings of the year, the rich gifts which Providence has so bounteously bestowed, but above all to remember the priceless gift of God's dear Son." ST, December 8, 1887
"Talk faith, live faith, cultivate love to God [and others]; evidence to the world all that Jesus is to you. Magnify His holy name. Tell of His goodness; talk of His mercy, and tell of His power." Our High Calling, chapter 14
I hope this post will "Leaf you smiling" and that you too, will take time to THANK GOD for all the blessings He has given YOU!