Sunday, November 23, 2008

Instructions for Giving Thanks

I love instructions. I am one of those weird people that actually reads the instructions before I do something. I drive my husband nuts, because I insist on reading AND following the instructions when we are putting something together. He drives me nuts on an equal level, because he insists on not reading the directions. (Shhh! Don't tell him, but I'm usually right! 9 times out of 10 he ends up going back and reading the directions.)

We have found a system that works for both of us. I read the instructions out loud while he is doing the building. It works!

There are also instructions for giving thanks. In God's Word, a beautiful passage in Psalms contains the exact recipe for giving thanks.

Psalm 100
1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

I realized today that I needed this recipe. Those closest to me know how difficult this time of year is for me. Thanksgiving is the kickoff and it doesn't end until after Christmas. It isn't the usual holiday depression that plagues many people. For me, it's anniversaries. Thanksgiving 1995 marks the anniversary of when Nick was diagnosed with cancer as a 15 month old baby. He had subsequent surgeries and chemo in the weeks in between the two holidays. Christmas 2003 marks the anniversary of when Keith was diagnosed with cancer. December 2006 also marks when we were told that Keith's cancer is terminal. December is when Nick almost died from an infection in 1997, and my Grandpa died that very same day. So, it starts at Thanksgiving and ends after Christmas.

I need the instructions on how to give thanks. Each year I try to be very determined and not let the past rear it's ugly head. Sometimes I win; sometimes it wins. The last couple of years have been especially difficult, mainly because I can't quite shut out the thoughts that this might be Keith's last holiday with us.

These instructions have given me a tangible way to stop and give thanks for what I have and for what God has given me. As I listened to the sermon about this passage this morning, I began to think about exactly what I was thankful for.

Here's my top 10 list of things I am thankful for:
1. Jesus Christ is MY Lord and Savior. I could NOT do this that is my every day life without HIM. Thank you Lord!
2. My extended family. They aren't perfect, but they're mine. I love each and every one of them. They are a blessing to me daily. Thank you Lord!
3. Keith. I am thankful that I still have him with me today. There isn't any reason that he is still on this earth, except that God wants him to be! Thank you Lord!
4. Nick. A repeat of #3. I am thankful that I still have him with me today. Only God knows why. Nick has survived only by divine intervention. Thank you Lord!
5. Kacie. She is the sweet blessing at the end of a hard time. Her birthday is January 3. God blessed me with this sweet child at the perfect time. I HAVE to put aside all of the difficult junk and focus on her, celebrate her. Thank you Lord!
6. My friends. I don't have tons, but I do have a few that are my heart friends. They are the ones that I can call anytime, day or night. They are the ones that I can cry with, scream with, laugh with, or be quiet with. Thank you Lord!
7. Freedom. I am thankful that I have the freedom to be or do anything. So many places in the world don't allow women the freedom to even walk down the street, much less worship. Thank you Lord that You allowed me to be born in America.
8. My church. I am thankful that God has provided us with a place to worship and learn about Him. Thank you Lord!
9. My house. It isn't huge. Right now it isn't perfectly clean, but it's mine. We have shelter over our heads. We are warm and dry. Lots of people don't have that. Thank you Lord!
10. Heaven. I am thankful that God has prepared a place where cancer doesn't live, finances aren't a worry, cars don't break down, cats don't need expensive surgeries, children don't struggle with school, and life doesn't wear you down. Thank you Lord!

That's my Top 10 List. You may think it's a self centered or hokey, but it truly is what I am thankful for.

I'd love to hear what you are thankful for this week. If you're led to, please share.

Have a blessed week this week.


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