Thanksgiving is a Calling

Gratitude is not an emotion.  It is a choice.

Thanksgiving is not a holiday.  It is a willful determination.

Choosing to be utterly grateful and sincerely appreciative should consume more of our lives than a single holiday is able to facilitate.  Thanksgiving should be remembered and honored for more than just a month of the calendar year.

Thanksgiving should indeed dominate every waking moment of our lives on every day of every year.  Being grateful for the life that we have been given should be our first thought in the morning when we awake from that sleeping stupor. 

Counting our blessings should fill every minute of every hour.

Our “Gratitude Lists” should be enormous and never ending.  When one notebook is filled with the blessings of our lives … then we should start another one … and another one … and another one.

Thanksgiving is more fulfilling and delicious than a gourmet meal!

Thanksgiving is more celebratory than a parade marked with colorful balloons and loud marching bands!

Thanksgiving is more victorious than a championship football game!

Thanksgiving is a calling … it is a determination … it is life at its finest.

I don’t know what pain or challenge has marked the days of your calendar in 2015, but let me assure you that each one of us can dig deeply down into the experiences of this year and loudly proclaim, “For that … I am grateful!”

I am so grateful that the cancer that invaded my body was caught early.

I am thankful for mammograms.

I am thankful for the medical expertise and wisdom of doctors.  I am thankful for encouraging nurses and for clean hospitals.

I am thankful for skilled surgeons and for brilliant oncologists.

I am thankful.

I am thankful for a husband who took care of me on the horrific days and who sang over me when the pain was enormous.

I am thankful for a college roommate who has become a sister to me.  I am grateful for her ability to make me laugh, to administer medications, to drain drains, to stay up all night with me and to see me at my very worst yet love me still.

I am thankful for children who have prayed for me and cheered me on as God and I battled cancer.  I can tell you … it was mostly God Who was doing the fighting while I was watching in awe and wonder!

I am so grateful.

I am thankful for encouraging e-mails, cards and phone calls from friends near and far.

I am thankful for meals delivered to my front door and for flowers that adorned nearly every table in my home!

I am thankful for everyone who whispered a prayer on my behalf.  So thankful.  Unspeakably grateful.  Truly humbled and honored.  Truly. 

Prayer.  I will never again take it for granted.

I am thankful for the love story that was born in the midst of my health battle and culminated with a glorious July wedding!  I am thankful for this young couple who held up my arms even while planning the wedding of their dreams.

My heart aches with joy just because I am speechless with gratitude!

I am thankful for a son, a daughter-in-law and a precocious 3 year-old granddaughter who lived with us during those challenging days and then even brought a newborn baby boy home to our house!  What delight!

I am thankful for a son who cried for me … a daughter-in-law who held him while he cried yet stood in faith that all would be well.  I am thankful for their little boy who prayed for his Marmee.

I am thankful for 4 extraordinary grandchildren in Texas who sent pictures, cards and the sweet thoughts of childhood to me.  I am grateful for their parents who held me up in prayer and told me to, “Kick cancer in the face!”

I am thankful for a daughter who just wanted to be with me during the intense battle but stayed where she was called and finished her junior year in college earning a place on the President’s List.  If that wasn’t enough, she also went to Puerto Rico and to India on missions trips and was named a head RA for her senior year.

I am thankful for 3 daughters-in-law who have modeled healthy eating and healthy living to me!  I finally “get it”!

Have I mentioned that I AM THANKFUL?!!

I am thankful for a book that was published in the middle of the cancer battle entitled, “Refined:  Finding Joy In the Midst of the Fire!”

And I am thankful for the opportunity to live again … to sing again … to teach the Word … to travel … to write … to partner with other ministries in changing the world.

I don’t know what pain or what joy has filled the days of this year, 2015, that will soon be history to all of us, but I hope that your ability to give thanks and to celebrate your many blessings has roared over the circumstances of your life.

One of my favorite Thanksgiving hymns has always been, “We Gather Together”.  Although this song is song traditionally only at Thanksgiving, it was actually not written by the Pilgrims nor was it written specifically for this American holiday.

This beloved hymn of the church was written in 1597 after Holland had suffered devastating losses in battle to Spain.  Dutch citizens had been weakened by the pervasive and cruel exile of thousands.   In order to help Holland acknowledge their turbulent past yet look ahead to a promising future the words of this triumphant hymn were penned by a young tax collector, Adrianus Valerius.

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;

He chastens and hastens His will to make known.

The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,

Sing praises to His Name, He forgets not his own.


Beside us to guide us our God with us joining,

Ordaining, maintaining His Kingdom divine.

So from the beginning the fight we were winning;

Thou, Lord, was at our side, all glory be Thine!


We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,

And pray that Thou still our defender will be.

Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;

Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

What have you gone through this year?  Has your life been devastated by disappointment and by losses?

Have your joy and hope been taken captive?

I have found that when in a battle, it is the most appropriate time to sing and to sing loudly! Battles do not have the power to diminish the human song of thanksgiving but battles fan the flames of honest gratitude and cause the melody triumphant to burst forth in spite of tragedy.

 I pray that you will discover with the pilgrims of old … with Adrianus Valerius … and with me, “So from the beginning the fight we were winning, Thou, Lord, was at our side, all glory be Thine!”

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!