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I don’t think there has ever been a Thanksgiving season where I’ve taken such intentional time to think about everything in my life that I’m thankful for. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by God’s bounty and His good gifts? I’ve been feeling this way so greatly in recent weeks that my eyes seem to be constantly filling with tears of gratitude. Tony and I have had a whirlwind of a few years. Really, our entire marriage has been non-stop moving and going and transition and growth. This November, however, we find ourselves becoming more “settled.” I feel like I’ve sort of finally been able to take both a physical and mental breath.
After several months of stress and worry and frustration, we are in our new (to us) Ohio home – and unless the Lord says otherwise, this is where we plan to have our “forever.” We are loving our post-military life. Our time of moving, different states, and uncertainty has ceased, and we feel now that we know where we’re going to be for a long, long time. It’s a cozy, farmhouse-type home nestled on a cul-de-sac with 6 acres. There is plenty of space to grow our family, and we are praying that this dwelling would be a haven – a place for friends and family to run when rest is needed. Tony and I bowed before the Lord when we closed on the house. As our voices echoed in the empty spaces, we asked God to bless the home He had given us. I walked through and touched the door frames as I called on Jesus’ name. I cried as I meandered down the driveway for the first time it belonged to me, and I thanked God for what was now so undeservingly ours.
"As our voices echoed in the empty spaces, we asked God to bless the home He had given us. I walked through and touched the doorframes as I called on Jesus’ name. I cried as I meandered down the driveway for the first time it belonged to me, and I thanked God for what was now so undeservingly ours.
The greatest part about this new house is its familiarity. As I look out the French doors in our kitchen that beautifully frame the backyard, I see a sight that stills my heart – pine trees. Pine trees that I’ve gazed upon for about 24 years now. Pine trees that border the 5-acre plot of land where I grew up. Our new next-door neighbors happen to be my parents, and the fact that this is a reality for us is probably one of the greatest things to ever happen.
I never dreamed that I would be here. Well, I’ll be honest, I dreamt about it – but I never in a billion years thought this would be my truth. This is my heart’s desire coming to fruition – dwelling in this gray, two-story house in the country, in the school district where I grew up, in my hometown. A quiet, pretty place to spend my days with my family and live a life in relationship with the Lord. And the reason I’m sitting at our “way too tiny for the room” kitchen table is all because of grace – grace wrapped up in a gift that I’m not sure I’d ever be able to repay. Nothing based on merit or because of who we are as a couple – this was a gift given to us purely out of love and two hearts longing to see us fulfill our dreams of raising children on the grass where I was raised. To see us plant a garden, chase around some chickens and goats, use the barn for fellowship, community, and fun, and simply enjoy the bones of a beautiful home that our dear friend and neighbor once poured his entire soul into. We are never promised tomorrow, of course. One of us could fall ill, or our new house could burn down in a week. But today, right now, I’m looking around at our newly painted kitchen with our dirty dishes in the sink and our pup asleep on her favorite chair – and I’m at home. And I’m finding myself to be so thankful that I could burst.
This incredible gift is constantly reminding me of the greatest gift that has ever been given – Jesus. God freely gave us His Son because He loved us, longed to have a relationship with us, and wants us to dwell with Him eternally (John 3:16). The grace found in the blood of Christ is free – and we can never repay what it cost (Romans 3:24). Isn’t that a wild notion? Thinking about this always seems to cripple me – as I ponder the rawness of my past and my sin and my overall, daily brokenness… that it has all been wiped away. Now, I’m clean and new and forgiven, all because of a gift (Romans 5:15). God knew me before time began (Ephesians 1:4). He knew of this brokenness and my inability to save myself. And yet, He loved me despite my crimson stain and chose to make me as white as snow at the highest possible cost to Him (Isaiah 1:18). And He asks us to believe, to call on His Name, and to follow Him (Romans 10:9, Matthew 4:19). And – this grace is unchanging. In the midst of my miscarriages and motherly grief – His grace is the same. It was the same on my wedding day, the same at my 16th birthday party, and the exact same on the days I became a big sister each time. With my highest highs and my lowest lows, His grace has always been sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). And much like our earthly gift we just received, this grace has nothing do to with our successes or achievements or “goodness.” This gift was simply given because our Father loves us.
Wrapped up in our new home and “thankful season” has been a multitude of other graces and gifts that God has lovingly bestowed upon us through our loved ones. So many “little isms” that have blessed our lives and postured our hearts with immense gratitude. Friends helping us dust, hold ladders, scrub out our cabinets, install our floors, and pick up our Craigslist washer and dryer. Our aunts and uncles cleaning our carpets, watching our pets, painting our walls, and anointing our new home with precious keepsakes and gifts. Our neighbor cutting our grass. Our realtor giving her all to serve us and make us smile. Our parents helping us make our house a home with their work, their food, and in general – their time. I’ve also been overcome lately with gratitude for the things that I (guiltily) don’t normally take the time to be thankful for – things like my healthcare, the food in my refrigerator, the shoes in my closet, and the heat in my vents.
I am undeserving of it all – of God’s love, of this new home, and of the love of my tribe.
All of our stories and lives vary, and we have different things to be thankful for. You may be giving thanks for your precious, new baby. Or you may be thankful that you were fortunate to eat a hot meal this morning. You may be grateful for your MRI results or for your teenager’s C on his last math test. Maybe you are thankful for your broken past and the ways you’ve since learned and grown. You could be thankful that you get to go to work today, or perhaps you’re thankful for the coworker that saw your quiet tears and decided to buy you lunch last week. You may even be giving thanks for that hard trial you’re walking through in faith – “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:3).
There are always a million and one things to be thankful for, and Thanksgiving does not need be the only time a year we reflect on the good things in our lives. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows”. Praise God for the good gifts He gives to us – our homes, the breath in our lungs, our trials, and for the most precious gift of His Son.
Psalm 138:1-3, HCSB
I will give You thanks with all my heart;
I will sing Your praise before the heavenly beings.
I will bow down toward Your holy temple
and give thanks to Your name
for Your constant love and truth.
You have exalted Your name
and Your promise above everything else.
On the day I called, You answered me;
You increased strength within me.
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