The last six months have been among the hardest of my life. Caring for Sam Wiley in his dying was difficult emotionally and physically. Most days, I fell into bed exhausted, was up and down through the night, and awakened just as tired as I'd been when I retired.
Those days were also among the sweetest. Sam and I had precious times together. He let go of bitterness and anger, embraced forgiveness, and gained the most peace he'd ever had.
I marveled as my son faced our loss of Sam with courage and love. I rejoiced as he served Sam with tenderness and humor. I was amazed by the sweet eulogy he shared at Sam's memorial.
Despite all the difficulties, the past year has been a wonderful one. I've traveled, met new friends, learned new skills, begun to learn a new language. I've had one adventure after another, and I've seen the hand of God over and over again.
I'm a blessed woman with so much for which I thank God. Today, I'm counting my blessings and naming them one by one... This isn't an exhaustive list. It's a jumping-off spot for thanksgiving.
I'm thankful for the empty tomb and the freedom and forgiveness that emptiness purchased for me.
I'm thankful for family. For my son, Ryan, my sister, Cookie, and all the other wonderful family members who have loved me at my worst, rejoiced with me at my best, and cheered me along all my life.
I'm thankful for my Grandmother's faith. She loved missions and she lived her life on mission for Christ every day of her life. I'm thankful for the gift of prayer she imparted to me, and how her frank, truth-in-love words still speak to me decades after she moved to heaven.
I'm thankful for the Word of God that is sharper than any two-edged sword. The truth in those pages continues to transform my life.
I'm thankful that, in 1989, God placed me on the farm. I'm grateful for the twenty-five years I raised cows, the sheer joy of new calves in the spring, the goats, chickens and bunnies I've raised, and for Andy the pig (who nearly drove me crazy with his antics), as well as for all the lessons I learned along the way.
I'm thankful for these spunky, funny, sweet Wonder Dogs that are so much more than companions and storyline material.
I'm thankful for Sam Wiley and the many lessons he taught me over the 28 years he was with me. I'm thankful for the peace he gained before his death, and the way he continued to persevere, even when life was hard. I'm especially grateful that I'll see him again in eternity.
I'm grateful for my faithful friends, who love me through thick and thin, and for the perennials they've shared with me over the years.
I'm grateful for the reminder that God always keeps His promises, for the body of Christ, that's so much more than I can yet understand, and for the sweetness of my church home.
I'm thankful for the call to missions that changed my life, and that God brought me to Global Outreach for this amazing season.
I'm thankful for this nation that has been blessed beyond measure and for the hope that God might, one day, make us strong in Him again.
I'm thankful for veterans like my daddy who fought and suffered in so many ways for the freedom we hold far too lightly. I'm grateful for the ones who gave blood, limb, and life for those freedoms.
I'm grateful for our forefathers, who established this nation on Christian principles and grateful for the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14.
I'm grateful for the opportunities I've had and the adventurous life I've lived.
I'm grateful that my life is never boring, that it's forward-looking, and that God still has a plan for me.
No matter what our circumstances, let's choose gratitude. Let's tell the people we love and appreciate how grateful we are. Demonstrate thanksgiving in word and deed. Let's live as thankful people, not just today, but all year long.
"I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all of my heart; I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds." Psalm 9:1
It's become my tradition to read Lincoln's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation every year. Here's the link: Lincoln's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation.
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In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: Why Every Day Should Be Thanksgiving