A Time Of Thanksgiving

Reflections On The Season Of Gratitude

Our national day of Thanksgiving is fast approaching, a day to give thanks for those things that we have gone through in the past year. I remember when I was a child we would go to my dad’s parents to celebrate, eating from the traditional fare that my Nana made each year. There were several years we either lived with my grandparents or we lived across the street, so it wasn’t a long journey. That close family connection, the bond, is something that I truly miss today.  

Prior to eating we would have short memorized prayers said, then the food would be passed and eaten, finally we always ended with talks about naps or going outside and walking, because we usually ate way too much food! Since I grew up in California, where the weather usually stays warmer through the fall, we were still able to go out and play after our meal. But I cannot remember ever talking about God’s blessings bestowed upon us, either individually or as a group. It was really just another Holiday to mesh personalities, clean up the mess from cooking, and sometimes tip-toe around unvoiced conflicts. We were bonded because we were family, but not bonded by Word of God and our gratitude for Christ Jesus.

The first Thanksgiving I spent in Nebraska was amongst my ex-husbands parents, six siblings and their family. The number was staggering. I remember feeling lonely and very out of place in a room full of people. We had just arrived less than a month before, and I was already homesick for my family. My two daughters, however, blended with the other kids, running around, having a good time. Of this I was very thankful. Psalm 118:1 reminds us to, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” I confess this isn’t always something I have done in my lifetime. Today I make it a point each and every day to give my Heavenly Father praise for all of the blessings I have received from him. It’s in the stopping and reflecting that we realize just how much we truly have to be thankful for.

There are so many things that cause me to feel thankful. I am thankful for my children: three beautiful daughters. Even though a fourth one was taken back to be with my Heavenly Father, I know I will see him one day when it is my time to go home. My grandmother’s heart has grown with love watching my six grandchildren grow, along with the pending birth of number seven at the start of next year. Of this I am truly thankful.

I see the hand of my Lord and Savior very much present in my life even when I was a child, the gentle touch, the warm embrace, reminding me time and time again that I am not alone. Of this I am truly thankful. God has always been in my life protecting me, guarding me, guiding me towards his salvation. I hungered for his presence, even when I was unaware of my need.  “Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man. For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:8.

I have been blessed with a church family that is truly there for me when I am in need, not just physically but spiritually and mentally. They have helped me through some dark times just by being my friends. My Sister and I are finally taking time to heal our relationship. In fact I just recently learned that she has been praying many years for me to give my life to Jesus. Prayers truly work. I am so thankful.

I have a job working with many teenagers, something I would never have dreamed I would be doing. I am so filled with love and compassion for these children, because I lived the life of many who struggle today. When I was their age I never knew the love that comes from following Jesus Christ. I never understood the salvation or the savings grace that came upon a person when they followed the Word of our Heavenly Father.  So I give to them the Love I know they are missing, building a positive relationship, working to encourage them in their struggles. 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us, “So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is Love.”  I am so thankful God put me through the tests in my life to be able to give testimonies to these sometimes bruised and wounded students.  I am also thankful that God has given me the gifts of love and compassion to be able to share with others.

There have been many people who have come into my life, some for just a short time, some for longer, some to nurture me, some to train me, some to break me down, so others could lift me up. Each one has had a purpose. I believe a purpose from God. I can truly see his hand in everything that I have gone through in my life. God promises to turn the bad things in our lives, into good for those that love God. I’m thankful no situation or difficulty is ever wasted for those that submit to Christ.  Until we ask we will not receive. Jeremiah 1:5 tells us, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you..”. God truly knows me and I am so thankful that He decided to create me in the first place and that I have breath in my lungs.  I have a wonderful Father to help me when I listen and get down on my knees and ask the Holy Spirit to guide me. I am thankful the blood of my savior, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, washes me clean from all sin and grants me eternal life with Him.

I pray this post inspires you to make a list of the things you are thankful for this Holiday season and that you truly recognize God as the source of all blessing. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

Lorrie Stierwalt