I don’t know how to explain it, but I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach 2016 was going to be a long haul.
Some things I knew were happening—a wedding in the same time frame as a graduation. A child’s genetic testing. Another child transitioning from high school to college.
But, as the year unfolded, there were plenty of surprises.
- I felt a stirring I attribute to God that I was to my own ministry/business as an author and speaker. By February, I was moving forward with Surrendered Scribe Media. By March, ENTRUSTED was re released and ENTANGLED was released.
- My husband changed his job. I had a feeling this was coming, but what I didn’t anticipate was his working from home much of the time.
- My father-in-law passed away in July. The kindest man, talk about a huge void.
- Grief from loved one’s choices I couldn’t control (and still can’t!)
- A complete flip in health that was hormone/menopause related. It hit me HARD.
It was rough, and I honestly wanted to define the year that way. However, the word for my year is perspective, and I’ve really tried to apply that. I see why it is the word for me, because I learned a lot.
The absolute fear and anger I had over my husband being home on “my” schedule also offered a lunch partner at times, and help when I wasn’t able to get our child from school.
Watching God grow our loved ones closer through as they listened to us share with transparency regarding choices. Had I stayed grief-stricken, I don’t think God could have used us. Seeing it in time as an opportunity instead of devastation changed everything.
I’m sure there is more I’m not seeing yet, but perspective definitely helps me move forward and not dwell on the negative. As we wind the year down, we also had a very thankful Thanksgiving. Not only are we surviving all these things, but we learned Tom’s oldest daughter is expecting. It’s the first grandchild for us, and we are thrilled for her and her husband.
What are you thankful for this year? Do you think of perspective at all? How?
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.)
A Thanksgiving Challenge
by Mary Weaver, as told to Deb Brammer
The family photo I slipped from the pages of my Bible pictured me with my husband and our two children—before I was sentenced to life in prison without parole. As I sat on my prison bunk, I caressed my red-headed son, John, and his blonde sister, Catherine, in the picture. For sixteen months I had only seen them once a week, when my husband brought them to the prison visiting room.
These changes in my life had started on January 22, 1993, while I was providing childcare for eleven-month-old Melissa. I was putting the baby’s snowsuit on her when Melissa quit breathing. I called 9-1-1 immediately and performed CPR until the ambulance came. But the baby died within a day.
The autopsy found a two-inch skull fracture and other severe injuries that were seven to ten days old. Some doctors ignored these older injuries, however, and asserted Melissa’s death was caused by acute injuries from shaking and possibly slamming the baby just before her breathing stopped. Since I was with Melissa during the forty-two minutes before she stopped breathing, they believed I must have caused the fatal injuries.
I had never done anything to hurt Melissa but opinion on my guilt was divided. My first trial ended with a hung jury. My second trial, by judge, ended with a conviction for first degree murder and child endangerment.
Over a year had passed as my lawyers sought to appeal my case, but they still had not been able to get a new trial. Meanwhile, I was separated from my husband and our children.
I believed with certainty that God would eventually free me and clear my name. As a Christian, I knew God would get me through prison one day at a time. But I grieved for my children and for my unsaved husband. As the months passed into a year, my children had turned five and six. I would never get the year back, nor other years still to come.
As I sat in my cell worrying about my family, a guard appeared at the door. “Mrs. Weaver? You got a visitor.”
I laid my Bible aside and preceded the guard down the prison corridor. Who could this be? As I stepped into the visitor’s room, my daughter, Catherine, skipped up to me.
“Mommy, Mommy, I’m going to my dance recital! Aunt Lisa brought me so you could fix my hair!” Catherine jumped around until I could hardly get a hug from her.
I smiled my thanks at Lisa Murphy, my friend who had figured out this creative way to include me in my daughter’s special occasion.
I drew my daughter close. “I’d love to fix your hair, Catherine. Shall we do French braids?”
“Yes, yes, yes! With pink ribbons!” My daughter bounced with every word.
I removed ribbons and elastic bands from Catherine’s ponytail and pulled long blonde strands into sections with my fingers.
“Hold still,” I reminded her as I started one braid. I breathed in the fruity fragrance of the superfine hair as I began to weave the strands into identical braids, then tied perfect pink bows to them at each end.
Catherine shook her head to feel her new hairdo. “Thank you, Mommy! I can’t wait to see myself in the mirror.”
“You look beautiful!”
My daughter gazed at me with puppy-dog eyes. “I wish you could come to my recital.”
I blinked away some tears. “Me too, sweetheart, but Aunt Lisa will take pictures and I’ll study them carefully. Just remember that your mommy is very proud of you!”
I gave my daughter a quick, prison-acceptable hug and watched the two walk away.
“You are missing her recital and all the other important moments in her life,” Satan whispered.
I lifted my chin. “But God allowed me to fix my daughter’s hair. God gave me that precious moment. God is good,” I answered with faith.
I returned to my cell, sat on my bunk, and prayed. “Lord help me focus on what I have, not what I don’t have.”
A prison sentence made it easy to slide into self-pity. Satan could use the unfairness of the case made against me to defeat me, but I determined not to let him do that. Instead I thought about a prison library book I had read recently. It was a biography Corrie Ten Boom who had hidden Jews in Holland during World War II. She had been imprisoned in a bitter cold prison for four months, then a women’s extermination camp in Germany. She lived in an overcrowded, filthy cell with little to eat, no exercise, and no fresh air. She had almost no contact with her family.
Like me, this woman was unfairly imprisoned. Yet she focused on what she still had in the midst of the injustice. In solitary confinement, she thanked God for an ant that crawled into her cell and provided a bit of company. She thanked God for the sunshine when she could stretch to feel its warm rays. Later, at the extermination camp, she thanked God for fleas that infested the stinking straw she slept on because the tiny pests kept the guards away from the bunk where she hid her precious Bible.
I closed my eyes to shut out the conversation of inmates lounging right outside my own cell. My prison cell was the Ritz Carlton compared to the ones in the book. “Thank You, Lord, that my family is safe and that I can see them every week. Thank You that I have other gals to talk to. You’ve even given me a roommate who seems to be born again. Thank You that I can feel safe in prison, that other inmates haven’t given me trouble, that the guards treat me with respect. Thank You that I have a Bible and that I can read it openly, whenever I want. Thank You that I have grown closer to You in prison.”
The first year, the justice system of the state in which I lived had seized all my possessions, even my clothes. Now they were allowing me to keep a few personal things. The State could separate me from my home and family, but they could not take God away from me and they could not take me away from God. I would focus on Him and on the things He sent me to enjoy. Today that meant the joy of fixing my daughter’s hair for a special occasion.
God showers us with so many blessings every day that we sometimes get used to them and claim them as rights. While we have them, we don’t appreciate them. And when we don’t have them any longer, we complain that a right has been violated.
Thanksgiving is a great time to focus on what we have. What has God given you today?
This story comes from the memoir: Edges of Truth: The Mary Weaver Story by Deb Brammer. Due to God’s amazing work in her case, Mary has since been acquitted. Deb teamed up with Mary’s lawyer, Steve Brennecke, to write the book. Deb and her husband also wrote a companion Bible study book called I Survived! It uses examples from Edges of Truth to illustrate Biblical principles from the lives of 5 Biblical characters. For more information see: www.MaryWeaverStory.com
Deb Brammer has been writing for Christian publication since 1980. In addition to these books and many ministry resources, she has written six novels. Since 1980 she and her husband have served in Taiwan and New Zealand as church planting missionaries.
Purchase Edges of Truth: http://www.amazon.com/Edges-Truth-Mary-Weaver-Story/dp/1491070714
My guess is the tradition is almost ten years old. It receives a lot of traffic and the private feedback I get is always uplifting. The posts inspire. Impact.
It’s my annual thankful series.
Each November I open this blog to guests who share why they are thankful. They can be as little as a paragraph and as much as 750 words. If someone goes way over, I suggest they take two slots.
The posts can be serious or humorous.
No one needs to be a writer. Just a thankful person.
I need submissions!
Here’s what you do:
- Choose your November date by signing up HERE. Check off the sign up box on the right for your desired day, and click the box in the bottom center that says submit. If you don’t do this, you are not signed up. You WILL receive a reminder from SignUp Genius, so check your folders. You won’t receive a reminder from me.
- Write your thankful post and send to email@example.com with a brief bio and an optional picture. If you are an author, you are invited to share a blurb, purchase link and book cover to your newest release. You can write your thankful post from your character POV, if you desire. Make sure you sign off the way you want the public to know. Ex: Julie A. or Julie Arduini or anonymous.
I’d love to keep this tradition going, but I can’t do it without YOU. The simplest thankful sentiments tend to mean the most. Don’t be afraid to share yours!