Hi! Remember me? I’m the author of this blog. It’s been so long I feel like I need to re-introduce myself. I look like this:
This blog was my first, my baby, the one writing vessel I clung tightly to as I sought publication. In the last couple years as I followed God’s call to have my own writing and speaking ministry (and released four books,) this little blog hasn’t featured my own voice for a long time.
And I hate that.
I miss it.
I hope to catch you up with this post, and most importantly, kick off what I think might be the 10th year of the thankful series here at juliearduini.com. Each November I hand the blog over to anyone wishing to share why they are thankful. There are some great guest bloggers lined up with amazing gratitude. I don’t know about you, but I feel this is a critical juncture at this time, in this world.
I need to hear positive words. Encouragement. Affirmation. Thankfulness.
Why not start here?
If you aren’t subscribed to the blog, click to the right sidebar and you will be able to receive the posts to your inbox. You don’t want to miss the thankful series, trust me!
This year hasn’t been horrible, but it’s been hard. I figured I’d be thankful for the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- We have two grandsons! They both live in the same state (sadly, not the state we live in,) and are very close in age. It’s going to be so much fun watching them grow up together.
- Our daughter is thriving. She has braces, she is on student council, and bouncing back after a brutal 7th grade experience.
- Our son is doing well as a sophomore at Kent State. This semester he’s 100% online, and that’s been such a blessing for me with various projects.
- We have a wonderful family living in our rental property. God did an amazing thing orchestrating it.
- I finished the Surrendering Time series, and am grateful for the readers who have been transformed by the surrender messages.
- I received an invitation to join Inspy Romance, and love being a monthly blogger with them.
- I created a community of encouragement called 180 Encouragements. For us, we pick a slip each school day and start it with words of life. It’s also for anyone else to take the images/words and encourage someone else.
- My word for the year is transformation and I never thought I’d see so much change hit so fast and hard. Our son saw so much change with friendships, school, and work. What was hard to watch was knowing he’d done all the right things. It was Christ refining him, growing him. As a mom, it was tough to observe.
- As I mentioned, our daughter did not have a great 7th grade year. Like her brother, she was doing the right things and there were key people around her who destroyed the joy she so naturally carried.
- Car repairs. My husband’s retirement was on the table as something to talk about with a timeline. Then the transmission on his car went. The repairs were crushing. Our son’s car had a major repair that was a fire hazard, and the dealer really could have cared less when I brought it to their attention, making us pay $200 more than they quoted, and that quote was outrageous. Retirement? We can’t even afford for him to talk about it anymore.
- We had a situation where we trusted and got burned. It was a financial gift that was a sacrifice for us that cost us thousands in the end. More than that, it paralyzed us from trusting for a bit. It forced us to work on restoring property we didn’t have time or money to invest, but we had to. Things we lent that were nearly or brand new were lost or destroyed.
- Not even a week into the new year and we learned that our friend’s three year old daughter was taken from them through the actions of a refugee who received her license although she can’t speak or read English. Before this tragedy, she had already been cited for driving down the wrong way. In this instance she hit both the girl’s father, and the girl, while her friends from pre school witnessed it. The driver was not cited, and last I knew, has her license and is still driving. I don’t want to be political, but I will be real—this aspect of the refugee debate has not been discussed, and it is a real issue. No one should have to attend a funeral for a child. No. One.
- All the changes with the kids took me to a new place I had not known outside of hormone imbalance, anxiety. I feared new situations for them and wanted to be one step ahead. I wanted to take their pain and wrap it in a ball and throw it all away. I yearned to talk to the people who hurt them, intentional or not, I wanted to have the last word. I was exhausted even after sleeping, craved sugary foods again, and felt like I backtracked in health progress from last year.
- So many tragedies this year. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Terrorism. Division. Ugly isn’t a strong enough word.
It’s hard to be thankful for the bad and the ugly, but as much as I can be for these hard and even terrible things, I am. With the kids, I had to lean on God and trust Him. Instead of acting on my temptations, I was able to wait on God and watch Him work wonders. And He is. I still have a quick seize of fear when something new or shocking comes our way, but my time is shorter in surrendering that fear to Him instead of trying to tackle it for myself.
With our friends, they are grieving, understandably. I am thankful to see they have a very strong support system. They created a page on Facebook encouraging people to do acts of Kindness in Regan’s memory. Their goal is for her not to be forgotten. There is also space dedicated to Regan at The Wild Animal Park in Chittenago, New York. Families can now have a seat and photo opportunities at a place Regan loved. Many people came together to make this happen. Recently, people are painting rocks and hiding them as another way to honor and remember her. These are ways to make the goal a reality, and help her family.
These days, it’s hard to be thankful. I haven’t met anyone this year who has boasted of a perfect life. There is hurt and hardship everywhere. Thankfulness makes a difference and is a choice. I pray the posts throughout this month lift you up.
Just like you have for me.
WHY BE THANKFUL?
By Sue A. Fairchild
Ten years ago, if you would have asked me what I was thankful for, I would have provided you with the basics most people list: Family, health, job…I may have even included God at that time, but He probably would have been my last thought. (And only because I would have been pressured, as a Christian, to say so.)
Since then, I met and married a devoted Christian man and began to dig deeper into my own faith. I searched my heart for the things that I was truly thankful for—not just the mundane, everyday things—but the things that Christ has asked me to be thankful for. That’s when I finally began to discover just how much I have to be thankful for.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV) says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
We should be giving thanks in all circumstances. Do we know what that word all means? Everything. Every minute of our day, every second of our lives, and for every single thing that happens…even the bad stuff. “In” means during all these circumstances. Some people have also stated that this verse also means to be thankful for all circumstances. Think about the differences. “In” is in the midst of it all, the hardships, the heartaches, we need to thank God for all the good things He is providing during those times. But we can also be thankful “for” the circumstances. This means we appreciate those hard times, when they come, because they cause us to grow, learn and lean on the Lord more strongly.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: It’s not that easy. That was my immediate thought, too. How could we possibly be thankful for everything? How can we be thankful when we lose a much-needed job or suffer the loss of a loved one? Who could be thankful when faced with illness? How can we be thankful that those types of times may be headed our way? (That seems really crazy to me.) It’s not an easy task.
My heart was once broken badly and it took me many years to grow from the experience. It was not easy then to be thankful. In fact, I often yelled at God, begged and pleaded with Him, too, trying to figure out how I could ever be happy, and thankful, again. As I look back on that time, I still wish it were different, but I am thankful now. I wouldn’t be with my husband now if it hadn’t happened—a man who has helped me grow closer to the Lord. And I wouldn’t have had those moments with God—the begging and pleading and yelling—that drew me closer to Him. Only when I could say, “Okay, Lord. You tell me how,” was I able to finally find the path to the truth of our Lord. Part of that path includes being thankful for the time and part of it is knowing that if it ever comes again, I’ll know God is looking out for me and using that moment for His greater purposes.
I know it’s different for loss. We can never have those loved ones back. So how can we be thankful then? I look again to the Word.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Yes. This is how I try to see things in the most difficult of situations. As a Christian, I am never alone, especially when I can take things to Him in prayer. Christ is always here with me and ready to listen. When I’m facing situations that seem too incomprehensible to bear, I look to Him. Only Christ can give me peace about it. Only He can heal my wounds, cover my transgressions, patch up my broken heart and guard it as I move forward.
Now that I think about it, I’m thankful for really just one thing: God. Because it is through Him that all other goodness ebbs and flows through my life. Without Him, there would be nothing to be thankful for.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17 NIV)
Sue A. Fairchild is a freelance editor and writer who specializes in substantial edits and Christian writing. She has been published in The Secret Place and The Upper Room devotion magazines as well as numerous other publications. Her blog, Sue’s Simple Snippets, explores the everyday moments of her life in order to find happiness (which is sometimes addressed with snark first.)