Tag Archives: thanksgiving

O, Give Thanks

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

For His mercy endures forever. 

1 Chronicles 16:34 (NKJV)

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My screensaver has this verse sprawled across the top with falling leaves blurred in the background. It is the season of Thanksgiving with the holiday less than a week away.

Reasons for giving thanks in year 2016:

  • The election is over
  • Family is all back in California
  • Vision is stable
  • Grandgirlies are happy in school
  • New church with new opportunities
  • Everyone has a job
  • Mark and Parker are taking it one day at a time

Our pastor often noted in his Thanksgiving sermon that he was thankful for his bed, his car, and his dog, good food, and clothes to wear — so many things we take for granted. In a world of war and confusion, the everyday creature comforts become expected. But just ask a Christian family fleeing from Mosul, having to leave everything behind, what they are thankful for.

Yet, I think the one thing I am most thankful for is hope. For without hope, why even try? Why go to work? Why study for that test? Why take those medicines or go to physical therapy? Why make time to visit that friend in the hospital? Why care about the outcome of that election? Why look for anything different in those hard areas of life?

Because, there is someone and something greater than ourselves who gives us hope and ultimately an eternal home. Christ defeated Satan at his own game because death is not the end — it is only the beginning. His resurrection put the final nail in Satan’s coffin regarding our future.

Fretting and worrying about tomorrow only takes away our joy and peace. God knows what’s next on His calendar and ours. Our job is to trust Him and do the tasks each day that He calls us to do.

Take time to say thank you to those who cross your path. Lift thanks to God for His many blessings each day. A heart of gratitude changes our outlook and makes our heart happy, and this is a perfect week to practice.

That is our hope.

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The Big “E”

Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving
    and sing joyfully about his glorious acts.

Psalm 107:22 (NLT)

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I love a good puzzle whether it’s the kind spread out on my game table or a good mystery or thriller. Give me a new Vince Flynn or Daniel Silva book and I’ll see you in a couple of days. I’m always fascinated by the title of a book and why it was chosen. As I read the story, I look for clues to the answer and see if I can figure it out.

The same thing happens when events or situations in my life seem to be puzzling. I want to figure them out because I like to have control. Isn’t that it really is all about? Yet the only one who is really in control is my Heavenly Father. Most of the time, He asks me to simply trust Him but sometimes, He lets me see the path we traveled to get there.

A year ago, my ophthalmologist told me that I would not be driving in five years due to the progression of macular degeneration in my eyes. That was a real blow and I shed many tears. When I mentioned it to my primary care doctor, she encouraged me to get a second opinion with a retina specialist. I left my appointment with this new doctor encouraged that the future was not as dim as I thought.

However, this last weekend, I noticed that the vision in my left eye was really bad and all the straight lines looked wavy. Not good. An emergency appointment on Monday revealed that the dry macular degeneration in my left eye had developed into wet. I could barely read the big “E” and it looked like it was floating in a fishbowl. The good news is that wet AMD can be treated.

My mother had the same eye condition and was part of a trial for the drug Lucentis about ten years ago. This medicine was injected into her eyeball and really helped her. She didn’t live much longer to enjoy the benefits of her restored vision but I always thought that she may have done that for me. And she did.

New medicines have been developed that do an even better and I had my first shot this week. My vision is slowly clearing and hopefully, will be back to normal soon.

I’ve been reading Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, for our Bible study this semester. I had just read the chapter on how do we handle the hard gifts of our lives — the ones that don’t make sense or meet our expectations. We give thanks–eucharisteo–In the good times and the hard times.

As I sat in the waiting room, anticipating the shot in my eye, I prayed for peace. I remembered that singing is a way to offer thanks so I started singing,”Great is the Lord” in my head. It calmed my heart. And the shot? I never felt it. Each day I see things a bit more clearly.

So why the verse at the beginning? It mentions a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

I find that I can thank God for the good times, the victories, the answered prayers. For me, it’s not a sacrifice because I feel like giving thanks. The test of my trust in God comes when things are not going so well. Will I give God thanks then?

Yes, and amen.

 Great is the Lord,

He is holy and just

By His power we trust

In His love

Great is the Lord

He is faithful, and true

By His mercy He proves

He is love

Chorus

 Great are you Lord

And worthy of glory

Great are you Lord

And worthy of praise

Great are you Lord

I lift up my voice

I lift up my voice

Great are you Lord

Great are you Lord

 

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Joy

They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35:10 (NIV)

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As I was getting dressed this morning, I heard an interview on Good Morning America about how to tell children that Santa was not going to be bringing as many presents this year. In case you missed it, the economy has been in a bit of decline. I liked the answer the guest gave because she noted that young children don’t really care about the cost of the item, particularly if it is given with joy.

Years ago, I learned an acronym for JOY – Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last. Christmas is the perfect time to teach young ones about real joy. Children are naturally self-centered and one of the greatest challenges and responsibilities of parents is to teach them to think beyond their own needs and to share. You won’t have to sit very long in a room of young children before you hear a mother remind her child “to share.” Years ago, we wanted to teach our children to think beyond their desires and Christmas list, so we decided to adopt a family in need. We spent our time and treasure choosing special gifts for each one and it ended up being a great time for all of us.

This year is the perfect time for families to reassess what is really important and what is with just fluff or tradition. Are all those presents under the tree really excess and greed? I heard the story of one family that only allows three gifts for each child with the thought that if it was good enough for Jesus, it was good enough for them. It is something to think about.

In those quiet moments of reflection about this special time of year, let’s not forget that the greatest gift ever given was from a Father to His children…the baby Jesus. Even though it cost Him everything, it didn’t matter because He loved us so much. Our bank balance may give us pause this season, but when we accept that gift of life through His Son, then we, too, will enter Zion with joy and singing.

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Bless the Lord

As for me, I will always have hope;
    I will praise you more and more.

Psalm 71:14 (NIV)

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I love our church’s Thanksgiving service. We have a tradition of singing the praise song, 10,000 Reasons. It always stirs me as I reflect over the events of this past year and realize that God has provided for me at every turn. He has given me hope when I was at a low ebb and blessings when I least expected them. In turn, I praise Him with my whole heart—singing when the evening comes.

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

Jesus, I’ll worship Your holy name
Lord, I’ll worship Your holy name

 A highlight for this service is watching and listening as our pastors walk through the aisles of the  congregation with a roving mic. Old and young pop up with special thoughts of praise and thanksgiving. There is never any hurry or pressure, only encouragement, some clapping, and a few tears. Because I sit in the choir, I get a bird’s eye view of it all and it brings joy to my heart…Couples married for 60 years, a son miraculously healed, financial disaster beginning to turn around, a little guy thankful for cookies. 

Nothing is too big or small to bring to our Heavenly Father. He delights in hearing the praise of His people.

Thanksgiving is only a few days away. Maybe your tradition is to take turns sharing a blessing around your dinner table. Some write notes on a special tablecloth.

Whatever, else is going on, steal away from all the busyness and preparations to spend a few minutes alone and thank God for His blessings to you and those you love.

Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
Jesus, I’ll worship Your holy name
I’ll worship Your holy name

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