BUT of course this decision to remain silent is accompanied by guilt every year as the opportunity to say what's in my heart comes and goes, albeit by my own choice. Now, this year I have the added excuse that I'm sick and not even at church (thank goodness for livestream!) and I've completely lost my voice. Still, I've got so much to be thankful for, and I really do wish I had the ability to get up and share it in church, but alas... everyone would be so distracted by my shaky hands and voice that any praise would get overshadowed. (The debate class scene in Princess Diaries comes to mind.) So, this is what I would say IF I had my voice, IF I were at church, and IF I weren't crippled by a fear of public speaking. Also, it's way longer than anyone at church would tolerate without kindly escorting me away from the microphone.
This Thanksgiving, I feel like my life has changed more in the past year than ever before. Jonathan and I are on a journey that I definitely didn't see us on this time last year. Our jobs, our ministry responsibilities, and even our living arrangements have changed drastically in the last few months. And as I've said before, I have not always been thankful. In fact, there have been days that I've felt sorry for myself, days I've cried over the changes, and days I've been just plain grumpy. But lately I've been so convicted at my lack of gratitude because no matter how different my life has become, it's still better than the lives of so many hurting people.
I'm thankful for my salvation. I'm thankful for this season. I'm thankful for time to read and learn. I'm thankful for a place to live right now that is saving us a TON of money while we raise our support. I'm thankful that Mamaw allows us to live with her and didn't give it a second thought. I'm thankful to be back home at Faith, resting and being encouraged. I'm thankful to have Mr. Powell as our pastor right now. He's doing such a great job! I'm thankful to be back in the choir and be blessed every Sunday afternoon... that's been one of my favorite times since college. I'm thankful for my parents. I'm thankful for FaceTime. I'm thankful for my precious new niece. I'm thankful for Amanda and Steven, Jake and April, Amy and Ethan. I'm thankful for Emily, Steven, Leslie, Landon, and Ella. I'm thankful for the opportunity in the last few months to see a bunch of family members (a perk of living with Mamaw- they come to visit her!). I'm thankful for Uncle Jay and Aunt Annette and Matthew and our time with the Baines family this year. I'm thankful for my cousins. I'm thankful for my in-laws and Ryan and Rebecca. I'm thankful for Uncle Walter and Aunt Peggy. I'm thankful for all my family! I'm thankful for Brook and Blake, Brandi and Stuart, Stephen and Lauren, Sara, and Cheryl. I'm thankful for Kevin and Susan and Miles and Meghan. I'm thankful for Mrs. Jo. I'm thankful for my students. I'm thankful for the Powell family and the Mann family and the Edmonds and the Davises and our Sunday school class. I'm thankful for Berean Baptist Church and Emmanuel Baptist Church and the Schmidt family for taking in my family in the unknown of New England. =) (I need to stop naming people because I'm on cough medicine so there's no telling who I'll forget.)
I'm thankful for those who have supported us in this adventure. I have told so many people lately that it is incredibly humbling that there are people we don't even know- and those we do know- who somehow think that what we are doing is worthy of their money. Every faith promise card surprises me, not because I haven't expected God to work, but because it blows me away that people are generous enough to give to us every month. It really does. I'm thankful for the sweet people we've met at our services, the pastors who have allowed us to come share our work, and the prayers of countless friends and family as we prepare to go to Houston. I'm thankful for the Fergusons and the fact that they want us to come and the kindness they showed us this summer when we needed it most.
I'm thankful for my husband, who has worked so, so hard these past few months. He has stepped outside his comfort zone in so many ways, he has encouraged me to step outside mine, and he has impressed me time and time again with his passion for and dedication to getting to Houston to minister to the kids and families at Woodforest. He tolerates my shopping habits, makes me coffee, and takes care of me when I'm sick (today included!). He is a good, good man and I'm so thankful God gave him to me.
I could go on and on... in the past year, and in the past three months specifically, God has proven Himself to us time and time (and time and time) again. It's amazing that after times of difficulty, unrest, indecision, and fear, God directed our path. Even though that path doesn't look like the path we were on or really any path I would have conjured up, it's the best path for us and I'm thankful for it. I remember years ago (back in 2007!) being at the Powell's for the their annual Thanksgiving game night with some of the teens. I was a freshman in college and, in all the worldly wisdom of my 18 years, told the teenagers that night, "If you honor God, He'll honor you." That sounded really good at the time but my faith was largely untested when I said it. But this year has tested my faith like never before, and I can confidently agree with my naive younger self =) by saying it's so true. Staying faithful to God, even through the hardest times, allows us to receive blessings that we never could have imagined. One of my favorite songs says, "Never once did we ever walk alone." How true!
So tonight, as so many people step timidly to the microphones at church and share their heart, I'm taking the cowardly- and wordy- route and sharing here. But whether I ever say it out loud or not, I am thankful for all these things. Oh, and I'm thankful for YOU for sticking around through this dry spell and reading my sporadic posts, even ones like this that are less than coherent (again, I blame the cough medicine.)
Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks be to our God!