Posts Tagged Thanksgiving
Happy Thanksgiving! We should be thankful all the time no matter what the circumstances, so in honor of this special holiday where we remind ourselves of this, here are some things I’m thankful for this year:
1. I’m thankful that God is in the restoration business. If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you may recall that this year was a particularly difficult one in our marriage. We are still in that healing process, but I am so grateful that God is in the business of taking broken pieces and transforming them into something new. He did that with my life by saving me from my sinful nature and redeeming me so I’m no longer a slave to sin. He’s continuing to do that now in our marriage by taking what was broken and restoring and transforming it into a new and better marriage. Of course, this is not an easy process because He’s having two imperfect, sinful people work to make a marriage more holy, but I’m thankful that God has given us the opportunity to work on our relationship and the desire in both Gerald and me to make it stronger. We still would appreciate prayers in this area though as it can be a struggle when life gets busy and it’s going to get a lot busier with this baby’s pending arrival!
2. I’m thankful for a fairly easy pregnancy and a healthy baby. I know I’m one of the lucky ones who didn’t have any morning sickness or really any other issues (no swelling, not too many aches & pains except for lately, no real health issues with the baby, etc.) throughout this pregnancy. I know some people hate being pregnant, but it really hasn’t been too bad for me. I’m still not even that huge (people can’t believe that I’m due in about 2 weeks) even though to me I feel big. So I know that plays a big role in me not having a lot of back pain and other discomforts. I’ve been sleeping well aside from getting up a couple times in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and maybe luckily for Gerald, I haven’t had any strange cravings to drive him crazy (people have been telling me to make them up just for fun). At our 21 week ultrasound, the baby had a calcification on his heart, which can be a soft marker for Downs Syndrome, but the doctor wasn’t too concerned about it. Then at an ultrasound I had a few weeks ago (because they thought I was measuring small, but baby’s actually okay–66th percentile for growth), they said the calcification was gone and the heart looks great! That was a huge praise for us because Gerald also has a heart condition that could possibly be genetic. So far everything looks good. I’ve enjoyed how easy this pregnancy has been (hopefully my future ones are similar), but I’m definitely ready to not be pregnant now. So I’m excited for labor to begin, but also kind of nervous about it because I don’t know what to expect. This is another area we’d appreciate prayers for–pray for a smooth, hopefully quick, and safe delivery of baby in the coming weeks!
3. I’m thankful for my family. This is always a given, but I have a wonderful family–immediate and in-laws. This year I’ve appreciated the grace and forgiveness both sides of our family has demonstrated. I’m also so grateful for their generosity in helping us fix up our new home, furnish it, and in providing us with things we’ll need for baby. I’m grateful that our families lives nearby because this will be a huge help once the baby arrives too. I’m also glad my family loves pugs because they’re going to take care of Chloe for us for a while when baby comes. My sister and dad also helped us care for Chloe every day for about four months when we first got her.
4. I’m thankful for my pug. This is our first Thanksgiving with Chloe and now we couldn’t imagine life without her. She brings us such joy (and sometimes frustration when she goes through the trash, recycling, or eats our food that she finds in bags). We love her energetic personality and I appreciate how considerate she was the one time she had an accident at home by peeing in the kitchen and not on the carpet (she stays home alone for 11 hours about 3 days a week – luckily probably not anymore). Chloe is a great companion & hopefully she’ll be a wonderful big pug sister.
5. I’m thankful for God’s provision. He provided us with a new home to call our own in His perfect timing. We have been blessed with more than we need and somehow He provides for us when finances begin to stress us out.
6. I’m thankful to work for a company that supports working moms. Tyndale has been so great with allowing me to work from home twice a week starting in September. This has helped since my commute is now about an hour and 10 minutes one way. I’m grateful for such a supportive boss and HR department that is also allowing me to work from home from now until the baby’s born. I love how Tyndale is so supportive of the work/life balance and understands the importance of family. I’m not sure exactly what my work schedule will look like after maternity leave, but I am grateful for the support and flexibility they’ve given me so far.
7. I’m thankful for my husband. Even though this has been a rough year for us, I am thankful for Gerald. He works hard to provide for our family and more specifically, did a lot of work (painting, handiwork, etc.) on our home this summer. I was even pleasantly surprised yesterday when I got home from work (he had the day off) and saw that he’d put up our Christmas decorations on his own AND did all the tasks I suggested he could do during the day–including washing dishes, which he hates. I’m thankful that he chose me and that he is willing to work with me to make our marriage even better than it was when we first got married nearly 2.5 years ago. I know he’ll be a great father.
I could find lots of other little things to be thankful for, but these are some of the things that have been on my heart lately. Most of all, I’m thankful to the Giver of all these good gifts. He has shown me this year how to be thankful in the good and the bad circumstances.
It seems funny that I should write a post on Thanksgiving on the first day of December, but I was so busy spending time with the people I’m thankful for (and doing things I’m thankful for), I just didn’t get a chance to write this post. But as I was reminded from numerous social media posts last week, Thanksgiving is not a day; it’s a lifestyle.
There are so many things I have to thank God for this year, so I’m just going to list them. This list is more for myself so I can remember how God was continually faithful in my life even when I was less than faithful to Him. If you’re reading this, I hope you are encouraged to look back to see how God has been working in your life–even in the little things.
So far in 2012, I’m thankful for…
– A family vacation to Puerto Vallarta (I’d still love to go back!)
– Celebrating one year of marriage with Gerald
– A great job at Tyndale working with amazing coworkers (I can’t wait to share our new team photo…soon!)
– The opportunity to do PR for Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson’s book, Winning Balance, where I got to go on my first book tour. This was a great learning experience for me–not to mention fun. 🙂
– Winning first place in my age group in the Long Grove Heritage Run 5k (I’ve come a long way in my running)
– Two successful bachelorette parties planned for my sister (her wedding’s this month!). I think she loved them.
– Gerald getting his first teaching position – I’m so proud of him.
– The crazy jr. high kids in my youth group Bible study who are teaching me how to study the Bible differently so I can make it relevant to their lives.
– The opportunity to return to Taylor for my 5-year reunion & seeing old friends
– Somehow God has been providing for us financially even when we’re horrible at figuring out a budget
– A weekend of pug-sitting 🙂 Made me happy. (By the way, you can follow our family’s pug on Instagram).
– A successful chalazion surgery on my eyelid (I guess I was all worried for nothing)
– Great parents & in-laws who are so supportive & generous to us
– The ability to run (and the chance to run a Turkey Trot with my cousins on Thanksgiving)
– A wonderful husband who I love doing life with 🙂
– Continuing new married life traditions–like going down to the Christkindl Market in Chicago
And since today is December 1, I’m thankful to my mom for all she’s done for me. Today is her birthday!! Most of all I’m thankful to God for loving me & for the gift of salvation. I’d be nothing without Him.
Yesterday we had a very meaningful service in place of our regular worship service at church. It was a time of worship and sharing from the congregation, giving and directing all praise and thanks to God. I loved how God-centered all the thanksgiving was–the way it should be. The mics were pointed away from the congregation, looking at the cross. Here’s some of what I shared yesterday (the expanded version), inspired by this Boundless post I read last week from Lisa Anderson.
God, I thank you for the things you have not given me.
Thank you for not allowing me to work at the US Center for World Mission in Pasadena, CA after graduation at my parents’ request. They offered me a job, but if I had moved there, I wouldn’t have met and started dating Gerald and I wouldn’t have worked at the Chicago Tribune, getting me into the public relations industry and giving me future job opportunities. I’m thankful that I did not get the internship at Edelman (a big PR firm), but instead got a job at Tyndale House Publishers, allowing me to work with wonderful people and to help spread the Gospel around the world through the written word.
Thank you for not allowing the housing situation with Heidi and me to work out earlier this year. We were going to sign a lease on an apartment together for a year, but through a series of events, God led us to give up the apartment. Instead, God took Heidi elsewhere, and I ended up getting a different apartment for myself in a better location than the one we were originally going to take. What seemed negative at first ended up being a blessing.
Thank you for making me wait on things that I wanted even when I didn’t want to wait. I was reading some old prayer journal entries over the weekend. I read one from this time of year six years ago. I was a sophomore in college and apparently at that time I was very obsessed about a guy I liked then. Most of my entries at that time weren’t really directed at God, but were me analyzing this guy’s behavior toward me. He seemed like he was interested, but then it didn’t really work out. I know it was a confusing time for me emotionally and I wrote about wondering if I’d ever date anyone or if I’d ever get married someday. It’s kind of funny when I look back on it now and see how much God needed to mature me and grow me in order to prepare me for a relationship. Even in my first and only relationship with Gerald, he has been showing me how selfish I can be and areas where I’ve needed to change to become more Christ-like. I’ve seen how unlovable I can be at times. Yet God still loves me–and he brought me a man that loves me despite all that too. I’ve always desired different things in relationships–first to have a guy who was interested, then to start dating, then to get engaged and married. I’m still waiting on those last two, but I know they’re not too far off. God didn’t give me those things when I wanted them. He made me wait because He knew I wasn’t quite ready and that’s not what He wanted for me just yet.
I can also thank God for not allowing me to win or place highly in my horse shows
in college. It was humbling to say the least. I came in to school thinking I’d be a great addition to the equestrian team because I’d been riding for a while. The competition turned out to be tougher than I’d thought. God humbled me by placing me in a division where I couldn’t compete over fences for the first two years of college. But it also allowed me to improve my riding on the flat and to be more humble about my experience and abilities.
These are just a few of the things I’m grateful God did not give me. At the time, I wasn’t too happy about these things, but I see how God used those times of waiting, of humility, of what I thought were “missed opportunities,” to mold me and shape me. I’ve been blessed with much that God has given me, yes, but I’m also blessed by the things He has chosen to withhold from me when He clearly had something better in mind.
What are some things God did not give you? Have you given Him thanks for those circumstances too?
As I take up my challenge to spend a week being thankful, I’ve reflected on the times when God has been faithful to provide in my life. It’s so easy to talk about trusting God to provide and to know that He has a great plan for my life, but it’s another thing to live like you believe that.
I remember first really worrying about my future when I was a senior in high school. It was around this time of year, actually. I only wanted to go to Taylor University in the fall for college, so I applied for early admission and didn’t apply anywhere else. My parents were okay with this, and so was I until I started getting nervous. I was supposed to find out in November if I got accepted or not and November was quickly coming to a close. I was pretty sure with my grades and ACT score that Taylor would accept me, but I kept asking myself, “What if…” I even started looking into possibly applying to Purdue as a backup school because their application was easy. I didn’t even want to go to Purdue and I knew nothing about their English program. I was trying to trust God about my future, but I wanted to be prepared just in case He didn’t come through.
That was the year I took up Jeremiah 29:11 as my “life verse.” Think what you want about life verses; I needed
something to cling to while I waited. Sure enough, the day before Thanksgiving, I got a letter–more like a packet. The kind where you know you got accepted because they’re sending you a big packet of stuff instead of a little rejection letter. That was one of the greatest Thanksgivings ever because I knew I had something to be thankful for–God provided my college acceptance to Taylor in His own timing and I never had anything to worry about. I went to Taylor and God worked out more of His plan for my life throughout that time up until now.
There were other times where I didn’t trust God’s plan while in college. Going into sophomore year I almost didn’t want to go back because one of my good friends who was supposed to room with me and another girl transferred in the summer. I was scared I’d be alone and not have any close friends at school. Basically, I worried. Then we got a freshman as our third roommate (I was in a triple and we were hoping it’d be a double with the other roomie gone). I wasn’t sure how that would work out either. I should’ve trusted more in God’s plan because the three of us–Alicia, me, and our new roommate Rachael, became great friends. Rachael was my roommate for three years and I love her. Those last three years of college were even better than the first and I knew I was in the place God wanted me to be.
There are a couple things I’ve learned from these past experiences:
1. God works on His own time, not mine. I continually have to remind myself of this. Whether it’s waiting to get a college acceptance letter, waiting for the day I’d have a boyfriend, waiting for those job interviews to pour in, or waiting for that engagement ring to come, I know that God will allow those things to happen on His timeline, not mine. If it were up to me, all those things would’ve happened sooner, but in making me wait and be patient, God has used that time to mature me and to draw me more to Him. As a senior in high school, I reminded myself that God’s timing is perfect–never early and never late. He knows what He’s doing.
2. God’s plans are way better than my plans. I’m a planner. I like to organize and plan events. I plan out my weeks and my days and I don’t like to get off schedule. It throws me off. I’m getting better at being flexible in this though. When I graduated from college, I didn’t have a job lined up. So I just moved back home and sort of looked for jobs while enjoying the break from school. My resume was up on job sites and I wasn’t being too proactive about applying, but somehow God had the communications manager at the Chicago Tribune call me and ask me if I’d be interested in a three-month freelance position. I interviewed later (though there’s more to this story) and ended up getting hired. After my three months, my boss kept adding another month, then another month, and finally he said I could stay until I found a full-time job. They even gave me a raise! Shortly after that, I got a call from Tyndale and ended up getting hired there soon after. Talk about God’s provision. I know having the Trib on my resume helped get me noticed, so when I look back, I can see how God provided all along.
So even now when I wonder what God’s doing with the timing of events in my life or what I’ll be doing in the next seven months, year, two years, or five years, I can think back on these moments when I’ve seen His faithful provision and perfect timing. Then I know I should “wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:14 NIV)
How has God shown you that He is faithful?
A couple weeks ago, our pastor challenged us to a week of thankfulness. One week without complaining, worrying, and all that other stuff that makes us forget about the things God has already done in our lives. With our annual youth group Thanksgiving potluck coming up this Friday, I’m going to take this week as my week of thankfulness.
It will be challenging. Whenever something goes wrong (like I feel like I’m getting sick, I’m having a pain in my knee, I’m suffering from some kind of tiny physical ailment, a situation that’s bothering me) I constantly talk (or maybe “complain” would be a better word) about it. Some people would think I don’t really complain about much, but that’s because I mostly do it to the people who are closest to me…and lately that would just mean Gerald, my boyfriend. I know it drives him crazy and I know my motives for sharing those things over and over again aren’t always just so we can pray about it. It’s more for myself. I want to elicit sympathy. I want to feel justified in thinking it is a big deal. I want to know I’m not alone in thinking this way.
So this week, I will try to make a more concerted effort to take my focus off myself and my needs/worries/wants, and I’ll turn my attention toward God, reminding myself of the ways He has already worked and how He is always faithful in my life. I’m not going to post about these things everyday this week, but maybe I’ll post once or twice about some specific things I am thankful for. We should be thankful in everything, but we’re not. Hopefully this challenge can begin building a good habit that will last a lifetime.
Will you take up this challenge to a week of thankfulness?