Appreciation is what I feel during this Thanksgiving season. It only takes one day of giving thanks to make me aware of the countless blessings I have received. In the spirit of giving thanks, I sat down and read my prayer journal from the years of 2007 through 2010. I was amazed at how many of my prayers were answered with added blessings I hadn’t even petitioned God about.
Throughout those prayerful writings I recorded my gratitude for my son-in-law’s safe return from one military deployment after another. I recorded evidence of God’s promise to those who are trusting in Him: “All things work together for good to those who love God and are fitting into His plans.” Some of the most challenging experiences of my career occurred during that time period, but God wove a tapestry of blessings out of them all.
I realized how quickly time passes by us all. Those years seem like a few months ago. Now, I am more determined than ever to spend precious moments with my loved ones…family and friends. I am committed to making an extra effort in relationship and memory-building activities. This calls for more effort on my part to use my “working time” more efficiently. As I’ve heard many times from my pastor, no one ever said when at death’s door, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.”
This past week as our family spent celebrating Thanksgiving in two cabins deep in the woods of the Ozarks, I had plenty of reflection time. I had time to review the life of my cousin’s husband who passed away the previous week, and to be thankful for the lessons his well-lived life taught others. I had time to breathe fresh air, watch for wildlife, listen to the wind in the pine trees, and enjoy the display of stars in a pitch-black night free of the encroachment of city night lights. The final evening bonfire which included roasting marshmallows stirred memories of long forgotten “simpler times.”
I am especially feeling appreciation for my daughter’s ability to help our busy family make the time to enjoy these special times. I see in our grandchildren that same spirit of “family” being groomed and nurtured for introduction to their offspring in the future. And, I pause…bow my head…and say, “Thank you God for all these blessings! Thank you for letting me be born in the United States where I am free to have such wonderful experiences.”