Category Archives: Thanksgiving

Happy Birthday to Me!

Forty years ago today I made the most important decision of my life. I stopped fighting and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Happy Birthday to Me! Photo Credit: Abby

Happy Birthday to Me!                                                        Photo Credit: Flickr/Abby

Little did I know what that decision would mean. I was simply looking for a life preserver, a fire insurance policy. Since my friend, Jadene, had shared Jesus with me a few months before, I knew that day would come. I figured that when I hit bottom, I could just pull out Jesus – my “get out of jail free card” – and all would be well. It took me awhile to realize that I didn’t have to hit bottom. After all, how much lower could I go? And did I really want to go there?

I drove from San Francisco to the church her husband pastored in Fresno, and in a bucket of tears, surrendered my life to the Great Unknown. And that Great Unknown met me, right where I was. I didn’t have to clean up my act first. I just had to come.

Well, by the time I got back to San Francisco, He was already beginning to rearrange the furniture of my life. Within a week he threw me into a Christian singles group where I was loved, discipled, and given every opportunity to grow. And every time I said yes to an opportunity, they gave me another. Never since have I seen a better discipleship program, and these folks were all lay people, unpaid and untrained. But they nurtured me to maturity and laid a firm foundation for me. Many of these people are still my best friends, and one – the coordinator of the group – is my husband.

I want to offer a huge thank you to everyone who has played a part in my life over the past 40 years, and a monstrous thanks to Jesus, who rescued me from the miry pit and set my feet on solid ground. I couldn’t ask for a better life.

This Year, I’m Thankful For…

I wish all of my loyal readers a blessed Thanksgiving today. What are you thankful for today?

My list could go on and on, but here are those that top it this year:

  • Jesus, who redeemed me and has given me almost 40 years of hope, peace, and fulfillment.
  • The Father, who loves me and the Holy Spirit, who counsels and directs me.
  • Family, especially a wonderful husband, son and daughter-in-love, and two precious grand daughters.
  • A renewed relationship with my nuclear family after years of indifference.
  • Friends who are like family. Many of these people have been my friends for 40 or more years. We had dinner this week with my college roommate, who has been my friend for 50 years.
  • America, and the opportunities we still have to live in freedom, to worship freely, and to prosper.
  • Our Constitution, which provides the framework for freedom.
  • Abundance, even in this time of recession.
  • A ministry where I get to see and participate in lives changed with great regularity.
  • Beauty – flowers, trees, sunsets, grandchildren…
  • I finally graduated from seminary after an eight-year journey! It was awesome! And hard.

I pray that whatever your situation today, you will find a way to praise and thank our Heavenly Father for his many benefits. We are still more blessed than any other nation on earth.

Feel free to list the things you’re thankful for in the comments.


This Thanksgiving, Practice Gratitude

Well, I had planned to do a complete series on the importance of gratitude, but life came crashing in. Again. So that series will have to come later. But I can’t let this Thanksgiving holiday pass without at least a few words about what I’ve learned about gratitude.

Praise Him for His Marvelous Works! Misty Sunset

Praise Him for His Marvelous Works!
Photo Credit: Rennett Stowe

I didn’t used to be a grateful person. In fact, I was pretty cynical and thankless. I would complain about everything. I was crabby. I was pretty unpleasant to be around. Then I started a gratitude project, working with a ministry client. We would email one another ten things per day that we were grateful for. Yep, ten things. No repeats. Every day. We’ve been at it for a couple of years now.

It was hard. Very hard. And still is. Sometimes we struggle to find ten things. But we were consistent. And little by little, we became grateful. And as we did, our attitudes changed. Our countenances changed. We became more pleasant to be around. And our hearts changed. Our joy increased.

So this Thanksgiving, I invite you to find a strategy for increasing your gratitude. We serve a good and gracious God who has blessed us with freedom, abundance, beauty, and grace. No matter your circumstances, there is much for which we can be grateful. So this Thanksgiving, I wish you gratitude.

In All Things, Give Thanks

10 Positive Trends in Society |Being Thankful for the Big Things

Giving Thanks in All Things

How do you face adversity and frustrations? Do you complain or give thanks? 1 Thes. 5:18 commands – yes, commands – us, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” As a young Christian, this concept really confused me. How could I give thanks for everything?

Praying hands In everything give thanks...

In everything give thanks…
Photo Credit: Irina Patrascu

But note that Paul doesn’t say to give thanks for everything, but rather, in everything. Yes, there is a huge difference. We may not be grateful for the thing that is happening to us, and that often makes sense. There are a lot of awful things happening in our world and our individual lives today. But when those things happen, we have a choice. We can complain and whine that God is being mean to us. Or we can assume that he is our good father, caring for us even better than the best of earthly fathers. And if we can believe that, we can give thanks in those circumstances for this care, even if we don’t like the circumstances.

How do we do that?

  • We can thank him that he is carrying us in the midst of the adversity.
  • We can thank him that it isn’t worse than it is. (Yep, it could always be worse).
  • We can thank him for what we are learning — or are going to learn when we calm down.
  • We can thank him that as others see our thankful reaction, they will be amazed at how good our God is.
  • We can thank him that we are being strengthened for the next trial.
  • We can thank him that we are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

So take a minute right now and thank God in the middle of your circumstances. Praise him. Trust him. Then you will see much more clearly.


10 Positive Things to be Thankful For

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (Pt. 1)

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (Pt. 2)



10 Positive Trends in Society |Being Thankful for the Big Things

Childhood Mortality 1970-2011

Childhood Mortality 1970-2011
Photo Credit: WorldBank

I’m a big fan of deliberately developing an attitude of gratitude–being thankful in all things. Yet we seem to be bombarded on every front with all the negatives happening all over the world. Lately my head has been spinning as I try to keep up with the many negative stories in both national and international affairs. I may be ordinary, but I do try to keep up. Really. But with a new crisis surfacing with almost every news cycle, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and even depressed. It’s easy to feel that life is crashing in on every side.

That’s why I was excited when I talked to my friend Stephanie Shoquist. She mentioned a talk she heard by Johnny Enlow, who pointed out ten trends in society that are improving over time–things like reduced world poverty, reduced abortion rates, and reduced child mortality. She blogged about the list earlier this month. I was surprised by some items on the list, but can definitely add these to my list of things I can thank God for.

I’m sure this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many trends that are improving. Can you add to this list?



Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff |Relax and Trust God (Pt. 2)


Hand (of God)

Everything is God-Filtered
Photo Credit: Andreas Levers

Once we realize that it’s all small stuff, it’s much easier to put the minor—or even major—foibles of life in perspective. Here are three more strategies for whacking those seemingly looming problems down to size.

  •  Everything is God-filtered: This is perhaps the most useful lesson I’ve learned in a long time. We somehow give Satan a lot more credit than he deserves. We think the world and everyone in it is out to get us. We magnify our problems and minimize the role of God. In reality, it’s just the opposite. God is in control. In Jesus, everything holds together! Col. 1:17 tells us, “And he (Jesus) is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” This means that nothing is random. Nothing comes out of left field. Nothing touches me that isn’t filtered through the hand of God. So, if something hits me, my Father must have a reason and if I trust him, I can receive it differently than if I decide He’s against me too.
  •  God is with me and for me: Closely related is the knowledge that God is with me and for me.  He isn’t up in heaven wringing his hands and lamenting the mess I’ve gotten myself into this time. He didn’t lose me in the underbrush. He didn’t get distracted in the Middle East and forget me. No, His eye is ever on me. And he is on my side.  He’s my greatest fan. He loves me. And he isn’t surprised by anything going on in my life.
  •  Give thanks in all things:  Therefore, I can thank Him even when circumstances seem random. Even when I don’t like what’s happening. Even when I’m sure he’s on vacation. Paul tells us to give “thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20). In the Greek, the words for always and everything translate to mean always. And everything. When we learn to thank God for everything, whether we like it or not, we are on our way to being unflappable.

What are your strategies for becoming unflappable?


Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff | And It’s All Small Stuff (Pt. 1)