Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankfulness

     As I sit in my hammock with two dinners already weighing me down (at only 4pm), I'm reminded that Thanksgiving actually does a pretty great job of allowing most of us to take more than just a moment to give thanks.  Most people gather together with friends and family, and are putting first what they are most thankful for - each other.  (Football is a close second).  It's a neat holiday made possible by a fellow named Abraham. Lincoln to be more specific - President number 16.  Since first reading his Thanksgiving proclomation, I've always enjoyed reflecting on it.  I encourage  you to read it in full,  but it culminates with this:


"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."
     Never should a day go by where we fail to  thank God for our many blessings,  but it's cool all the same to make a holiday of it.  And my last couple of days have provided additional perspective on thankfulness. 
     I've been pouring over old medical records lately,  literally searching for hours on end for several days,  and I was amazed at how vivid some of the memories were that surfaced from something as simple as a medical report.  I was brought back to the time when Brynn and I excitedly realized we were expecting our first child,  only to quickly and painfully endure our first loss as a married couple.  That hurtful memory stayed with me as I fast forwarded two years in the medical records to when we discovered we were pregnant once more.   I had forgotten the fear we experienced in those first few weeks as Brynn's Hcg and progesterone levels were tracking  low again,  reminiscent of our first pregnancy.   This time,  however , we were blessed to have the medical team at the Pope Paul VI Institute providing a solution.  And now we have AJ, such a smart and wonderful young boy to love and raise up.   How very possible it was for him too to be taken from us before even having a chance to know his sweet face.   We wouldn't even know  what we would be missing.  The same is true for each of our the children.   How thankful we are for them, and to God for blessing us in this way. 
     I also took a rare scan at Facebook this week.   Not at anybody else's life, but at my own history of posts (I know, I'm self absorbed).  In just a few minutes I was able to reexperience so many cool things we've been able to do this year as a family.   We've seen oceans, rivers, (Great) lakes and bays; waterfalls, rapids, cliffs and caves.  Counted stars brighter than the moon.  We witnessed pine cones small and large, palm trees and grand forests, leaves of fiery reds, yellow and orange.  We've had campfires in New York, West Virginia, Texas, Florida and everywhere in between.  We even dressed up as dragons for Halloween.  We've hiked sandy dunes, damp caverns, and steep terrain.  We've run through beaches, fields, forests, city parks - Central Park, even through the rain.  We've seen 23 states and gone on more "bear hunts" than I can remember.  And of course we've been able to do it all as a family,  and I'm so thankful for it.  
     But none of the above would have been even remotely possible without my absolutely incredible wife. She is so wonderfully passionate about her faith, her commitment to loving and raising her children, and to working hard every day to grow in her marriage and business.  I'm blessed to be married to someone who does not accept life as something that happens to her.  She happens and life adjusts to her, all the while knowing and trusting God with everything.  To know someone that makes the world a bettter place is pretty special.  To be married to her - now that's something!  I am so thankful for my wife, who never lets me settle for less than what God desires of me.
     And while I am endlessly thankful for my family, I am most thankful for a loving God.  It seems like God has been appealing to my love for all of my life.  He is a God that seeks me, and asks that I seek Him.  Huh?  I'm baffled.  Even my own children would sometimes rather have nothing to do with me.  And yet the God of the universe is forever patient with me, forgiving all my sins.  Among the scariest things I can imagine is where I would be if it were not for God and the Holy Spirit at work in my life, long before I even knew it.  I am thankful for this God who saves and is at work in this world, even though I'm usually too selfish and blind to see it.  

"We love because he first loved us."
-1 John 4:19