As I remember the roots of Thanksgiving Day, I'm humbled. We base it on the day of thanksgiving the Pilgrims enjoyed. To put their thanksgiving into perspective, remember that they did not come off of an easy year:
- Their trip from England to the New Land had been delayed several times. Can you imagine the packing and unpacking involved? How unnerving and daunting for moms to provide for their families after having sold and/or packed all their possessions;
- They had spent nine weeks crossing the ocean through storms in a very small vessel (think of sea sickness, cramped conditions, homesickness)
- They landed in an unexpected place in a land with no access to man-made resources and unfamiliar plants to grow and eat (imagine if something broke and had to be replaced—this was not possible);
- They often feared for their lives from unfriendly Indians (they built stockades and kept watch, never certain what would happen);
- Out of the 102 people that sailed, 47 people died that first year. Hardly a family would have been untouched by death. They certainly struggled with doubts about whether they made the right choice (e.g., My husband/child/brother would still be alive if we had stayed in Europe).
This group of people gathered to give thanks to God for his care and his provision!
In light of this example, I offer the following list as a starting point of my own thanksgiving to God. I plan to not repeat any thanks from my thanksgiving list last year merely because it encourages me to reflect more deeply. So here is my list, in no particular order:
- Books: They provide a chance to learn and expand the mind; I'm thankful for a chance to read daily.
- Godly friends: I'm grateful for the opportunity to meet weekly with a precious sister who has wrestled for two years with incredible health issues and great pain. To hear her testimony of God's goodness and see her cling to Him is good for the soul.
- Work: I know many who think of work as a negative. But I believe we are created for work (of various kinds – from employment to cooking and laundry), and that's why we get satisfaction from it. I am grateful that work is fulfilling even when it's hard.
- Healthy Pregnancy: My daughter Jonelle will deliver by C-section on December 9. After two life-threatening pregnancies, I'm grateful for a scheduled C-section and the promise of new life. We're anxiously looking forward to a brother or sister for Natalia.
- Thrilling results from Sonlighters' generosity last year on behalf of the needy: Last fall Sonlight families and their friends raised $157,000. As this money was doubled through a matching gift, Sonlighters sent 314,000 children in India to Bible Club. Many of these children have reportedly become believers, and I look forward to meeting some of them in heaven. I love that so many Sonlight students and families experienced the joy of giving. I heard stories of children giving up birthday presents and working hard to raise money. I think the joy that came from that must have been great.
- Bird watching: Now that the frost has put my flowers to bed, I fill my bird feeder and enjoy watching the antics of my feathered friends—finches, chickadees, mourning doves, woodpeckers, nuthatches (one of my favorites) and more. Fun!
- New crop: John and I planted potatoes this year. We planted one pound and figure we harvested at least twenty pounds. What a tasty increase!
- Two 90-year-old parents: John's dad turned 90 this year, as did my mom. John's siblings and their spouses, his dad and his wife (John's mom died many years ago) and any grandchildren nearby met in Colorado for a family reunion. Since the family is normally quite scattered over the globe, we enjoyed seeing one another to catch up and share meals.
- Homeschoolers (this one bears repeating from last year's list)—people who choose to not put their children on a school bus but rather invest in their children during the day at home—may your reward be great!
I am exceedingly grateful for my daughter Jonelle's healthy pregnancy so far. Here we are on a walk with Natalia this summer.
I would be interested in hearing your list. What are you thankful for?