This Thanksgiving

During a small Bible Study a group gathered for prayer and Bible Study.  The minister asked for prayer requests.  The requests poured from our lips non-stop.  Then our minister asked for praises, what we are thankful for.  During the abrupt silence that ensued, I searched my mind for a really big ‘praise’.  My mind went blank.  I looked around the room at those gathered there, the room grew silent.  “Surely someone has something to thank the Lord for….”
How Great Thou Art, sang in my head.  What am I thankful for?  I am thankful for my home, my family, music, my husband, my friends in Christ, the experiences I had, our salvation in Jesus Christ, my parents and being their child.  I am thankful for the beauty of creation that surrounds me, the sunrises and sunsets, the stars and moon at night, the vibrant colors of Spring and Fall, the cleanness of snow, the shimmering waters of the nearby lake, the glorious trees that lift their arms to pray to God.  The majestic mountains so high, they were tipped with snow.  The birds that fill my life with melodies, the lush greenery decorated with blossoms of intricate design and beauty.
But those aren’t big, or are they?  One family has the tradition of telling what they are most thankful for – one by one.  It is always more than Thanksgiving dinner, more likely it includes relationships of siblings and parental guidance.
Being thankful brings a smile.  Karl Barth said that Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.  That is it – when we are shown gratitude, it brings joy to our heart.  Each day, my husband, now deep into dementia, teaches me gratitude.  He doesn’t remember his children or grandchildren.  He doesn’t remember me.  But he never fails to say, “Thank you!” over and over again for a glass of water, for a meal, for taking him to the bathroom and for putting on a clean shirt.  When someone helps with the walker, he says, “I appreciate you!”
I like this scripture, Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.  Psalm 85:10.  I would add this: When a heart of gratitude meets a serving heart, peace and joy break forth in song of thanksgiving.
A small child finds many things for which to thank the Lord God.  We are to be as little children as we come to God, humble, searching and thankful for every gift from God.  A child thanks God for a new puppy, a friend, Mom’s apple pie, the swing in the back yard, new jeans and a myriad other blessings.  Such thankfulness is a delight to God, who loves all his little children.  Somehow we forget our own thankful heart as we grow older.
It is more than a football game, more than food – it is all about love, the attitude of gratitude that permeates the heart.
When we find joy in the little things God gives us, a bird that visits our office window, a butterfly kiss, a rainbow, a melody of praise, the aroma of fresh baked bread and holding a small babe fresh from a bath.  Receiving a letter from a cousin and an email from a grandchild.  Each evening, a message comes from a daughter, Night, night, I love you, Mom.
“As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.”   Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts.
Develop the eye of seeing the huge and little gifts from God and let the joy spring up in your heart this moment, this day, this year.  God told Elijah, the prophet, to stand on the mount.  Elijah did.  And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.  I Kings 19:11-12
Listen for the love-whispers of our Lord and give thanks for our Lord who gives us Hope through Jesus Christ every day in a myriad ways.
Mother wrote many poems in her lifetime (1907-1998) and I found this one while writing.
We walk through Indian summer day, O’er mounted blessings on our way.
We think of fruit and garnered grain, Of sunny skies and gentle rain.
A touch of pain to guard our health, A bit of want to thank for wealth.
Of love enfolding all of man, Around this world and back again.
Of hates all weeded, joys all sown. Of nourished hopes, at last full-grown.
Of family trees that ever grow. And all the special friends we know.
Count not enough one day of praise, But thank the Lord through all your days.
Anna Daisy Siemens.
† – I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased. …  Psalm 138
† – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with
 thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16
† – And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.  Colossians 3;15
† – Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Ephesians 5:20

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