“ Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” - Colossians 3:15
In 1621, the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony had reason to celebrate. Half of their group had endured their first year in the new world. Those 50 survivors joined 90 members of the Wampanoag tribe in a combined harvest celebration, giving thanks to God for His provision despite the hardships and trials they experienced since their arrival.
Every person experiences pain and loss. Difficulty is woven into every life. It is the nature of the human condition. We see it in every set of headlines and we hear it in daily conversations. The truth is that it does not require much skill or talent to discover the negative in any situation or relationship. But that doesn’t mean the joy isn’t there as well. We just need to become deliberate about finding it and celebrating it. Thanksgiving gives us such an opportunity. May we all rise to the occasion!
As I take time to count my blessings, I want to thank the Lord for His provision. I see His blessing and involvement in so many areas of my life. Our family is coming up on the two-year anniversary of our shift to St. Louis. In so many ways, our lives are now very different to what they were before the move and the tragedy that brought us this way. In the midst of all the change, however, the strength and care of Father God has been evident over and over again.
On this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for the peace that passes understanding.
I am grateful that he made a way for us to purchase our own home this past Spring.
I have fallen in love with our new puppy, Grayson, who provides surprising and regular moments of stress relief simply by cuddling alongside and being the cutest dog in the world.
My service as the chaplain director for a premier area senior living community has been an unexpected delight. How I ended up in this role is its own miraculous story. Additionally, I have discovered such joy and vibrancy in our elder population and seen many lives enriched and brought closer to Christ during my time there. I walk in to work with a smile on my face every day. My coworkers are all fabulous, caring, hard-working people. I am glad to serve on the same team with them.
I am thankful for the opportunity to stay connected to my ordaining organization, Open Bible Churches. Currently I am on the front end of helping them develop a resource concerning the ministry of the Holy Spirit that will be potentially used throughout all of the churches in our movement.
I am grateful to still be learning. I became an online student at Regent University last winter and am now well into my pursuit of a Masters of Divinity degree. The work load has been significant, but I am so appreciative of the opportunity.
I am ever grateful to my good friend from Cambridge, OH, Pastor Jeff Russ who has stayed in regular on-going contact with me. He and I still regularly share hobby interests, heartfelt stories, honest soul-searching, moments of prayer, and so much more. Every person should have a least one really good friend. I am thankful that he has been one to me.
I deeply appreciate my extended family in Michigan. I miss them all terribly but am thankful that they are doing well. I give thanks to the Lord for bringing my dad through his heart surgery this past Summer. It seems his health is the best it has been in years.
Being in St. Louis this past two years or so have enabled me to interact so much more with my wife’s extended family. What amazing and inspiring people they are. Though we have all been through deep emotional pain with our shared tragedy, there is a real sense that we are all in this together. Along the way, there have also been many moments of laughter and joy, and I so appreciate getting to know my nieces and nephews. I’m looking forward to being with them later today. I’m bringing butterscotch pie (my grandmother’s recipe!).
Last night during our community hymn sing, I invited those present to share a moment of giving thanks. Invariably, people emphasized their great appreciation for their family, and it is no different with me. I am so proud of all my kids. They are each wonderful. With Clark and Bri in Ohio, and Kayla in California, they will each be greatly missed today. Connor is with us for at least a couple more years, thank the Lord! As I give the Lord thanks for each one, I pray that they would all experience His love and strength in an ever growing and meaningful way. How I love them so.
My wife is amazing. I thank the Lord every day for her. Somehow, she has balanced her teaching career, the needs of our family, and the processing of her own emotions in the midst of our on-going story with great poise. She is so good at what she does. The grace of God is evident in her. Whatever comes, we are in this together, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. She is the love of my life, now and forever.
The old saying is that God is good, and good all the time. He has proven Himself over and over. As our story continues to unfold, I am trusting that He will see us through. This next week brings its own unique challenges. We are taking part in a trial related to the causes that contributed to our family tragedy in 2016. There will be discussions that rip open wounded areas and the rehashing of heartache. Yet, I am thankful to the Lord knowing that He will meet each moment of emotional pain with comfort and strength. He has brought us this far and isn’t going to leave us now. His grace is more than enough and I am fully confident that He will surround us with love and support. The fact is, like the Pilgrims of old, we have made it through a tremendously difficult season and we are still standing.