Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tis the season to be thankful

So the month of November is a popular time to state what all we’re thankful for.  And for good reason … it’s nearing year end, and it’s the month of the holiday food extravaganza: Thanksgiving! What better time to reflect on what has made us thankful throughout the year, right!

On the social media sites, folks are telling what they’re thankful for each day.  I could’ve done that too.  Maybe I should have.  Instead, I just decided to write a blog entry to collect my thoughts. 

On one of my previous blog posts, I finished the entry with this statement:

Relationships are far more valuable than any thing I’ll ever possess.  I cherish all of those God has put in my life.  We can’t take our ‘things’ with us when we leave this earth, but those spiritual connections will live on through eternity! I’m a richly blessed girl, and I give all the glory to the Lord. 

This is my heart! Relationships, especially those I call “God bonds,” are what I’m most thankful for. 

First of all, I’m forever thankful for my heavenly Father and His unfailing love for me.  He made a way for me to be with Him forever by sending His one and only son, Jesus Christ, to come into the world as a man and die a cruel and humiliating death, taking on my sins and the sins of the world.  He who knew no sin became sin so I might have eternal life with Him.  I’m thankful for Jesus and all He has done for me! He has saved me and rescued me from eternal separation from God.  I’m thankful for the intimate relationship I have with Him.  I’m thankful that He sent His Holy Spirit to live in me and guide me.  Without Him, I would be dead.  With Him, I’m alive! And I’m a daughter of the Most High!

What’s amazing is that we’re all unworthy of God’s love, yet He loves us.  If being with Him was all I had, it would be more than enough! Yet He has blessed me above and beyond! Every year, I reflect on all my earthly blessings.  And every year, I find myself starting with my relationships, more specifically, my family.  He has given me an incredible family! And this year, we have A LOT to be thankful for. 

Where to begin?!  To express the enormous gratitude to the Lord, it is fitting to explain the depth of it all.  Last year, both my grandfather (Pawpaw) and my Aunt Pam (his oldest daughter) were diagnosed with cancer.  Pawpaw had cancer of the ureter, and my Aunt Pam had colon cancer.  They both had major surgeries to remove the cancer.  Aunt Pam’s treatment involved not only the extensive surgery, but she also had to have radiation and chemotherapy treatments for eight months following her recovery of the surgery.  Along the way, she rejoiced in victories, as she didn’t lose her hair during chemo.  And the surgery went very well, considering all of the possibilities facing her.  During the months of treatment, she had her good days and her bad days.  The latter involved many of the common side effects of the radiation and chemo.  There were many dark moments, days when she couldn’t see how she’d go on … I cannot imagine the desperation and pain.  But through all of it, she drew near to her Savior.  She had faith that her healing was a reality.  And she endured all of the pain and sickness with His strength pulling her through.  Praise the Lord! She is cancer free today! For that, I am so thankful!

And Pawpaw … his surgery was very risky due to his age and other health conditions.  In surgery, the doctors were able to get all of the cancer.  And he didn’t have to have other treatments like Aunt Pam.  Sounds good, right?  Well, some of the risks became reality.  There were at least four times during the touch and go days following his surgery that we almost lost him.  Four different times amidst fervent prayer, we were bracing for the worst.  And every time, God spared his life.  I still pray for him every day, as his recovery is still ongoing.  Yet God has brought him so far! Last year, he spent Thanksgiving in a rehabilitation facility.  We all went to visit and took him a plate of food.  And I cannot fully describe how amazing it will be to see Pawpaw back in his seat at Thanksgiving this year.  God is so good! And I’m so thankful.

During all of the scary and sad news going on, all of the uncertainty with my family, God brought a glimmer of hope.  I remember walking down the hospital hallway with Mom and Mawmaw soon after Pawpaw’s surgery.  We weren’t sure if he would make it.  He was in ICU in a very critical state.  As we walked, I waited for Mom to finish her thought.  I then asked them what they would be doing during the first couple of weeks in May.  They looked confused (as if they had any forethought into the next few hours, much less the next year!!).  I said, “well, I’m going to be having a baby in May!”  They were still a little confused, but excited.  Just so many emotions bundled up inside. 

Then, last Christmas, we found out we were having a girl! That was exciting news for everybody, seeing as I already had three boys.  Pawpaw was still recovering.  Aunt Pam was still enduring treatments.  When I called to tell them, Mawmaw just broke out in laughter! Oh how she was excited! I remember hearing Pawpaw over the phone say “Hallelujah!”  And Aunt Pam, she said that was the best news she had heard all year!

Orion Grace’s arrival into the world is another huge blessing.  The fact that she’s alive and with us is a miracle.  When I went to the hospital that day in May because I was in labor, I was expecting an easy and smooth labor and delivery like I had with the boys.  My midwife broke my water to get labor progressing.  Little did any of us know the whirlwind of events that would take place.  I had an abnormally large amount of fluid that caused the umbilical cord to rush past her body.  There was nothing they could do except get me to the OR for an emergency C-section.  They had to put me completely out because I hadn’t had any medicine yet.  There was no time for an epidural.  James couldn’t be in there with me.  It was traumatizing to say the least.  They broke my water at 2:47, and she was born at 2:54! Fast huh?! And my midwife told me afterward that she could tell my water was bulging before she broke it.  It would have most certainly broken later in the day.  And if it had happened while I was at home without the care of a medical team, I would have lost my precious daughter.  Praise the Lord! He’s in control! He ordered my steps that day (and everyday).  And He allowed my baby girl to be born healthy! I would have chosen an uneventful birth (like with my boys), but I don’t get to choose! And that’s okay! God knows what’s best.  And she was definitely worth it!!

Those are just some of the biggies for which I’m thankful! God shows His power and His glory! I am overflowing with gratitude to Him! Yet, there’s always more! He has blessed me in countless other ways throughout the year.  I can look back through my prayer journal and see all the ways He has come through and steadily upheld me and my dear family, all of them.  And when I thank Him for it all, I always come back to ultimately being thankful for Him and for eternity.  Eternity with Him and relationships He’s given and some yet to give that will last through eternity.  

If you are reading this, I want you to know that I am also thankful for you.  I pray that you know how much God dearly loves you.  I pray that His love would penetrate in you and fill you.  I pray that you know and experience an intimate relationship with Christ Jesus that changes you every day from the inside out.  Abundant blessings to you and Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, November 9, 2012


This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it! God is so good! Today, I’m reminded of His goodness and His love for me.  It’s refreshing to know that I can find refuge in the shadow of His wings.  No matter what this life brings, I rest in His arms! His grace is sufficient for me. 

How often do you praise Him for ALL He is? I’ve found that coming to Him and offering praises and thanksgiving to Him is the best way to start my prayers and my day! Whether my heart is overflowing with happiness or downcast with discouragement, giving praise to my King and proclaiming His goodness and ALL He is gets the joy flowing! Friends, He is everything we need!

I’ve gotten into a routine when taking my kids to school.  It’s something I’ve done every day since my oldest first started preschool.  On the way to school, as we get to the last 5 minutes of the ride, I turn off the radio.  We all say together Psalm 118:24, “this is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” And we usually say this prayer from Psalm 90:14, “satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” I love how His word reminds us that God is in control of the day and that because of His love, we have joy and gladness! So after proclaiming these verses, I pray for the kids and for their day.  It has become such a part of our routine that if I get carried away singing worship music in the truck on the way and forget to turn it off at the certain point in our ride, they will remind me that we need to pray now.  That melts my heart. 

Well, just this year when taking my three year old to preschool, after we finish praying I’ve started singing a sweet song that I know he likes to sing.  It’s the simple chorus … I’m sure you’ve heard it, “God is so good.  God is so good.  God is so good.  He’s so good to me.”  Ty loves it so much that some mornings he’ll start singing it on his own and tell me to sing with him.  We’ll finish it, and he tells me to sing it again.  We just keep singing it over and over until we’re at school.  

Just a simple tune proclaims a deep truth: God is so good to us!! He IS good! He is good all the time.  No matter our circumstances.  No matter our struggles.  No matter our sicknesses.  No matter our finances.  No matter our persecutions.  No matter our weaknesses.  No matter our condition.  No matter our worries or fears.   No matter WHAT! Our God is good.  Another song proclaiming His goodness:

You are good.  You are holy.  You are worthy of all praise.  Mighty God.  Wonderful Counselor.  Blessed be Your Sovereign Name.  We see Your Glory.  We rest in Your splendor.  Most High Renown. (lyrics from my song, “Most High Renown”)

And because of God's goodness, I am going to trust Him no matter what.  No matter what the cultural, social or political landscape may be, I choose to trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding (Prov. 3:5).  I have such a sweet peace.  I know He is in complete control.  I know how incredibly blessed I am to be a child of the Most High! And I am genuinely FIRED UP! I am excited to see what He has in store for the future.  Knowing that I’m His, I can just rest in His arms (like I’ve already said) and hang on for the ride.  My prayer is that He’ll prepare us for what’s in store.  May He prepare our hearts for His ministry and may we walk in full obedience as HE leads.  Be blessed and encouraged this day as you reflect on His goodness and His unfailing love for each of us!