With the US celebrating Thanksgiving and the country beginning the wonderful holiday season, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and hope your list is endless in terms of things to be thankful for. Though this year was one of the toughest years of my life, it's also a year I'm extremely thankful for.
* I'm thankful that God provided a sabbatical year of rest and restoration. I would have never planned it into my schedule, so I'm glad that God did! Through it I learned a lot about myself, both good and bad ... showing me how much I need Him and His grace each moment of my life. God showed me areas I needed to grow in as a son, a husband, a leader, a follower, a sheep, a shepherd, a servant ... I'm thankful for the challenges that both revealed and refined my character ... and for those that are still shaping me to this day.
* I'm thankful for faithful friends who have stuck beside me with prayer, laughter and meals throughout the year. God provided just the right gatherings at just the right times when I needed a community to connect with again. I'm thankful a certain couple who will be getting married soon because the marriage prep sessions became such a source of blessing and encouragement to me these past few months. I think I gained more out of those times together, even though it was for you!
"I thank my God every time I remember you." Philippians 1:3
* I'm thankful for gift of technology. Through Skype, Gmail, and Blogs, it was a wonderful year of re-connecting with old friends and finding new ones that have added great value to my life this year. I'm thankful for my family members around the world who pray for me and always sound so happy when I call them =) It was a great year to learn that faith and family really are the most important things in life.
"I thank my God every time I remember you."
* Most of all, I'm thankful that God is faithful even when we are not. That He is gracious, surrounding us with presents instead of punishment every day of our lives ... that He is merciful, not giving to me according to my sins ... I'm thankful that He is good ... loving ... and in control. I'm thankful that God is happy and that He loves when we share in His happiness. And I'm thankful that though I don't know what the future holds, You do ... for You hold the future in Your hands and all things that come from Your hand are good and beautiful in your sight.
And to my good and faithful God: "I thank my God every time I remember you."
The First Time