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    Giving Thanks for Everything

    Today, some of us will gather around festive tables, eating our fill of roasted turkey, whipped potatoes, and pumpkin pie. It’s Thanksgiving in the United States, and so we pause today to celebrate —to give thanks—for a year filled with beautiful and hard things. But it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Perhaps there’s a chair at our table sitting empty this year. There’s a longing within us that a smile can’t dull. Maybe there’s financial stress that the holidays only highlight. A festive tablescape and full stomach may make us feel good for a moment, but they cannot fix the hurts and heartaches that we often carry with us…

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    A Prayer of Thanksgiving

                        Lord today we stop to come before you—to remember the reason why we give thanks. We live in such fragile times and if we are not careful this day will pass us by. The jingling of bells, the sparkle of lights, and the Black Friday sales already have captured our attention. Lord, keep our eyes only on you. May we get rid of any distractions today that will eclipse the glory of thankful worship.   Lord help us as we prepare to serve our family, friends, and guests. We ask you to get our hearts ready to serve wholeheartedly, unconditionally,…

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    Thanksgiving 2017

    It’s Thanksgiving. But let’s suppose you can’t be very thankful this year.   Let’s suppose you have spent more than five years pouring yourself into a group of people who are not thankful for you at all. You have given them everything you have. You have not charged them anything for your sacrifice. While you have not complained to them or asserted yourself over them, you have been faithful to them and truthful with them. You have given them all you can possibly offer them, and they have freely taken what they wanted and rejected the rest. No one has given as much to them as you have, and no…

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    What a Day of ThanksLIVING Looks Like

    “Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father . . .” (Ephesians 5:20). That’s a pretty tall order: all the time? for all things? Seriously? When I was first challenged to obey this scripture, some 44 years ago, I thought that surely it wasn’t translated properly. Or maybe there was a footnote. Or an asterisk. Surely some kind of loophole, right? Nope. It means just what is says. We can continually give thanks for all things because if God is truly in control, then everything He allows us to experience comes with His permission-and thus He has a plan.…

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    Thanksgiving: Thanks and Reconciliation

    While we associate Thanksgiving with Pilgrims and Native Americans, it was Abraham Lincoln who made Thanksgiving a national holiday in the midst of the Civil War. Our country was fractured, yet in his October 3, 1863 proclamation, Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving. Not only that, he asked for prayers for “the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.” Our recent election has aggravated and exposed many divisions that have been simmering below the surface in the United States. Like it or not,…

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    Thanks Be To God – For What?

    Thanks Be To God – For What? Thanksgiving is one of the most precious times of the year because we have so much to be thankful for: our nation, family, life, health, opportunity, the list never ends.   But what if you’re in a season of uncertainty, if you’re asking what God is doing in our nation or your family is struggling or your health is questionable or you’re unemployed? What if you’re living in confusion and fear and don’t know how to respond to what is happening to you? How can you be thankful?   The apostle Paul faced that exact situation. He had written a letter of rebuke…

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    Feast on God’s Goodness

    I recently read post-election family feuds continue due to tensions and discord after the divisive and challenging campaigns that occurred here in our nation. Add a dash of protesting, a side of expectations, and the one sibling who won’t let you graduate from your fifteen-year-old self and voila! You now have a feast of dread! Happy Thanksgiving?   How should we approach this day of giving thanks? Gratitude seldom comes easy when hurt feelings, stress, and exhaustion demand our focus. The sleepless nights of uncertainty and hopelessness don’t help either. What about “the renewing of our minds?” Okay sure, but how?   Stay diligent and strive to continue to pray against…

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    Dealing with Disappointment

    There seemed to be a gigantic collective gasp at the 2016 Rio Olympics when American gymnast Simone Biles bobbled on the balance beam and had to steady herself with her hands. Instantly, the girl expected to win five gold medals lost the gold, even before finishing her otherwise excellent routine. She still won a bronze, but Simone (and the entire media machine) knew she was capable of a gold. How disappointing!  Simone handled her letdown with grace and realism, limiting her disappointment to the one missed skill rather than globalizing—as we so often do—by saying things like, “I am such an idiot! I can’t believe I did that!” Then, quickly…

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    Struggling to Feel Thankful in This Circumstance

    “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances.” That’s what I read in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. I’ve taught this principle of thankfulness to others for many years. I know it’s how I am supposed to respond to daily life, including hard situations. Yet, I am struggling to feel thankful today (ironically, the day after Thanksgiving). While attending a women’s conference in Colorado Springs last weekend that was supposed to encourage me in my own ministry to women, my dear husband broke his ankle in two places. Yep. Ambulance ride, ER, crutches, pain, very little sleep at night. It’s been a very hard week. He’s having surgery on…

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    Give Thanks for a Little

    "Give thanks for a little, and you will find a lot." — West African Proverb I tore those simple words out of a health and wellness magazine a year or two ago and hung them on the fridge. After a while they started to blend in, feeling ordinary just like the other papers and cards and magnets cluttered around them. I'd glance at them occasionally, but their poignancy seldom stuck with me.  The page hung that way for weeks, and even months, until I started reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts Devotional. The book’s challenge to count my blessings and daily write them down—until I reach one thousand of them in…