The First Thanksgiving – an Historical Perspective and Contest

Ed Note: According to here is a huge reason to not only be humbled but exceedingly thankful to our Puritan ancestors as we prepare for the big day.  “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for if we do not give up we will reap a harvest of righteousness.”  I am so grateful to these folks who had a vision and did not give up despite overwhelming difficulties.

Of the eighteen married women who sailed on the Mayflower, only four lived through the first winter to see Fall of 1621.  With the assistance of five surviving girls and one maidservant, the four, thankful to be alive and grieving for those not, prepared a meal of gratitude.”

We have an amazing amount to be thankful for even during difficult times.  I am particularly thankful for the legacy left to my family and I by my late husband Duane, that my daughter and son-in-law will be home for Christmas,  my daughter, Mary for her terrific housekeeping and musical talents, and my son Stephen’s soon-to-be  officer commissioning.  Please post some of the things, large and small  you are thankful for.

I have complimentary copies of either one of my spiral bound books (your choice), A Beginner’s Guide to Baking Bread or  Breakfasts for Busy Moms, for 15 people who post their thankful comments. I am particularly looking for contest particpants willing to share how they have faced very difficult trials this past year and you are still able to see the positive blessings of God’s goodnesss to you and your family.

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48 comments to The First Thanksgiving – an Historical Perspective and Contest

  • Ginger Narmour

    Greetings Marilyn! I am entering this new holiday season with thankfulness! It was just a week after Thanksgiving of 2008 that my dear husband unexpectedly lost his job. Honestly, it was such a difficult job in many respects, and it had taken a huge toll on his health and well being, so the job loss was really a blessing in disguise. I had graciously been prompted through the year to buy things ahead as I could, and so most of my Christmas shopping had already been accomplished. We had also been purchasing food ahead a little at a time, so we had a nice assortment of ’emergency foods’ on our basement shelf and in the freezer. I was able to have peace that I could feed my family, even with no income. The Lord continued to bless us through our sweet friends, who surprised us one day by cooking for us, and supplied us with beautiful meals for our freezer as our stock began to run low. Other friends supplied firewood to keep us warm, and happy encouraging notes and calls kept us thinking positive thoughts. Seeing my sweet husband reading his Bible every morning was such an encouragement to me. During the months that followed, he worked in the woods surrounding our home by clearing brush and working hard to make our yard beautiful. The Lord allowed him to heal physically and mentally through this work in the fresh air. We had a lovely winter that was not too cold. We listened to inspiring music, we stayed close as a family, and we prayed for a miracle. We learned, through faith, what things in our lives were really important. Although we thought that our family would have to move away and leave our sweet home to find employment elsewhere, the Lord again provided for us with a wonderful new job for my husband near our home. It has been a wonderful blessing, which has encouraged my husband more than we thought was possible. Yesterday his workplace was voted one of the 5 best places in the entire area to work! Now our lives are better than before, our home is running smoothly, our homeschool is buzzing along, my homemaking skills are ever improving, and our lives have been bountifully blessed this year! Praising God each day for all He has given to our family in 2009!

  • I’m thankful for a God who gives us what we ask for, even when the gift is not exactly what we thought it would be.

    Ten months ago, I would have told you that it’s a blessing to have children (we have six). I had waxed eloquently in a blog post about the dangers of birth control, and I felt smugly sure that God intended for us to leave it all in His hands instead.

    I still feel that way. Except I’m not so smug now. We’re just days away from the birth of our seventh child, but this pregnancy has tested my faith in TOO many ways. I’ve been really sick and have even had to wonder what would happen if I should die and leave my husband to care for our family on his own.

    I’ve had to admit that God really is in charge. Not me. He’s asking me to not fear, not because things aren’t scary but simply because He said not to. I’ve had to learn to say “thank you” for His blessing, even when I don’t feel very thankful at all.

    There have been days when my faith has been shaken to the core. I guess God wanted me to learn that my faith was a gift from Him and didn’t come from my own “faith.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) I hope that made sense!

    Anyway, I’m thankful for my children, each one of them. Even on the days I don’t feel thankful, I hope I’ll learn my lesson to say “thank you” anyway.

  • Jenni

    I have been truly blessed this year with a new husband. God has supplied our needs through his pay check only. I have homeschooled even when I was a single mother, and he has supported me. My x-husband has not given much child support this year, but we are still managing because of God’s mercy and goodness! He will supply all our needs (not wants) through HIS good mercies! God is SO good, and I am thankful for being one of His children!

  • cindy blauch

    There is much to be thankful for in my family this year. The one thing I am most mindful of is the fact that our family will be extended in 2010 with the birth of a grandson in March. Our family lost two grandchildren to miscarriage. The Lord has His Hands on this little fellow, and we are excited to meet him.

  • Joy

    I am thankful to walk with my family to the park. I am thankful I can exercise. I am thankful I can think clearly all day long. I’m thankful for energy to play with my children. All of this b/c God miraculously brought healing into my life this year. I could not do this before Aug. 31st. Now I feel alive and it’s such a blessing to be alive and able to live!

  • Emily

    I am thankful for the freedom to worship, to fellowship with other Christians, to pray and to read God’s word without fear of government. I am thankful to God who granted us this freedom and most of all the free gift of salvation. I am thankful for those who gave their lives that we can live free.

  • I am thankful for the slow but steady progress of my younger son who is 5-years-old. He was a failure-to-thrive baby and all his life he has struggled to do the most basic of things many of us take for granted. This year his three-year-old sister has surpassed him on so many levels but he has continued to bring joy and love into the lives of his family, teachers and therapists, and strangers. With every new thing he accomplishes he smiles and grows excited. Once a picky eater he has developed a strong appetite in the last few months. He has taught me to not compare his development with other children his age but to rejoice in the love and compassion of a child-like joy who sees beauty in the smallest and weakest of things.

  • Janette

    I am so thankful for God’s peace which passes all understanding. I am thankful that God is always here for me 24/7. I have gone through two miscarriages this past year and if it weren’t for God helping me through I don’t know what I would do. I am thankful for my Christian husband and our two children. When you go through loss you really do appreciate those around you all the more. I am thankful we can cast all our cares upon Him because He cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7)

  • I’m thankful that God is always with us showing us more of His nature each passing day. This year has not been a very eventful one, but the year before (2 years ago next Feb.) our house was hit by a tornado. We were home at the time and saw God’s awesome protection. (The house wasn’t destroyed but the garage was torn off the house and laid in the back yard requiring a new vehicle and moving to a rental house for almost 5 months while the house was repaired.) In the aftermath, we saw God’s amazing provision from everything from places to stay to cars to drive (ours was in the garage). As my then 5 year old told us at Bible time when we were just getting settled in the rental house, “I always knew God was there, but because I couldn’t see Him, I wasn’t sure He could REALLY help us. But NOW I KNOW He helps us even though I can’t see Him.” I knew then that I would go through another tornado in a heartbeat to have those Truths written on my children’s hearts (not to mention our own). :)
    Thanks for this wonderful post and opportunity to share.
    In His love,

  • Janet

    I am thankful for my husband and my two daughters, my mother, my sister and brother-in-law, my father who has preceded us in arriving in heaven, my in-laws, nieces, newphew, and cousins–all my extended family. I am also thankful for my church family and friends here as all our relatives live at least three hours away since these are the ones who are immediately on call to help with all needs–and wants as well! I am thankful for the good health that we all enjoy, and the “guidebook to living”–our Bible– we have been given to instruct us. I am thankful for the opportunities I am given to be the Lord’s helper, to serve others, and thankful that, being made in His image, I am blessed when I choose to serve. I am thankful that I live where I am allowed to worship and serve, and that many people who have made their way here from around the world have been placed in my path to bless me.

  • Kathy

    Through the years I have learned that it is more important how I react to what happens in my life then the actual difficulty itself. My daughter was born with special needs and through caring for her I have learned that this difficulty could have been much worse. I just can’t seem to find the reason to whine about her cognitive and emotional problems when there are children out there who are hospitalized with terminal conditions. This year my husband was diagnosed with MS and while it poses new difficulties, he is still with me. The Lord has shown me that there are good and bad things in just about everything and I can exercise my free will on how I choose to respond. That doesn’t mean that I am living in a blissful bundle, but when I feel bad, I don’t do it for very long. I want to be thankful for what I have today so that I don’t regret not being thankful when it is gone.

  • Corinne

    July 13, 2009 was a the most joyous day as our 1st grandchild Ezekiel was born. He was a 1st born child as well as 1st grandchild for both sides of the family. We were blessed to be able to hold, kiss, love and pray for Ezekiel a couple hours after he was born. The Lord is so good!

    July 15, 2009, we receive a frantic call from our son that something was wrong with Ezekiel. Within a couple hours, he had left their arms and was resting in the arms of Jesus. Never have we experienced such grief! The highest of highs and the lowest of lows in 2 days. Proudly we watched our son proclaim, “The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh. Blessed be the name of the Lord!” We truly felt the Holy Spirit in the midst of our anguish, anger and grief. Oh, yes, I doubt and question my God, but because I know HIM and trust HIM, and believe HIS Word and that He keeps HIs promises, I surrender to His will, moment by moment, day by day. Yes, I can praise Him, because without our gracious and loving God, life would be hopeless and meaningless. I long for heaven now, like never before, but have a renewed purpose in living my life for Christ. Had Ezekiel lived, he would need people in his life (along with mom & dad) to lead him to Christ, to pray for him, to help him grow to be a godly man. I am determined to be a women who prays, loves and works to help those around me come to Christ and live for Him.

  • Stephanie

    Hi Marilyn! Although here in Canada we celebrated Thanksgiving in October, I still tend to incorporate lessons of Thanksgiving through to the US version.

    This year, finding things to be thankful for was often difficult. From times where money was an issue, to dealing with changes in our autistic daughter’s behavior and aggressiveness despite medication, dealing with challenges in homeschooling all 5 children and then finally my health finding itself on a steady decline…it was often difficult to give thanks, let alone find (and keep) my faith in God in check.

    While I know He is the Master Planner, Master Physician and my rock in this crazy world there were times when I simply questioned His will and asked “Why me?” When I was growing up, Mama used to say “God will never give you more than you can handle.” I started asking Him if he had the right person, because I was starting to buckle under the weight of it all.

    On October 12th, God gave me a very clear sign that He was listening to me. I have a pink rose bush in our back yard here in Canada…where the leaves on the trees had all turned by this date, and we had already had frost more than once. Well…after my “why me” episode with God, I went outside for some air on the 12th…and to my amazement found 2 beautiful yellow roses on my pink rose bush.

    I take that to mean I’m not alone during our times of struggle and hardship, no matter how long the list is. He is there with me, every step of the way. How can I not be thankful for that?

    Blessings to you,

  • What a wonderful idea! We have so many things to be grateful for! Our story begins three years ago. We had three children, a house and two vehicles. But the bank was trying to repo the car and foreclose on the house. With big dreams, we sold the house and paid off all debt. Then bought a 5th wheel trailer and moved to where my husband was working. For 2 years we lived in our home on wheels. We really enjoyed it! The kids, even after moving out of the 5th wheel, wanted to move back in it! We loved our time in that home. But God called my husband to something greater. After lots of prayer, my 30 year old husband joined the army as a Combat Medic. What a lifestyle change for us, but so many blessings it has brought. Our family is much closer since we now cherish the time we have together. Through our previous travels we have learned to travel well, which fits with the army lifestyle! And looking back I can see all the blessings we had. We are grateful for the freedom that debt-free living brought us. We are grateful for each and every moment we have together. We are grateful for the hundreds of field trips we have taken. We are grateful for my husband’s medical training. We are grateful for the opportunity to get more education. We are grateful for the freedom to homeschool. We are grateful for the many people we have met along the way. We are grateful for the Lord who loves us and blesses us when we follow His ways.

  • Wow, this past year has been an interesting one! My ex-husband came back into my life after we each (separately) were effected by the movie Fireproof; my son was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum; I had to have major surgery; we have had to live week to week, sometimes wondering if we’d make it. But through it all, I wake up each morning and thank God; I go to sleep each night and thank Him again. We have been blessed with a few wonderful friends and family members who have been so generous and kind. We are grateful for a roof over our heads, food to eat, clothes to wear, a car that runs, the ability to homeschool, a business to run from home, etc. Our basic needs and more are met daily.

    I am still recovering a bit, we are still adjusting to my son’s dianosis, and my business is not allowing for a salary; yet we are here and together. And while I sometimes wonder why God does what He does, I’m always grateful and will continiue to praise!

  • Gracelyn

    I am very thankful that Father led me work in our church’s parent’s day out program this Fall. Co-teaching in the two-year-old class, I met a precious little boy who is currently in foster care. My husband, four children and I are now in the process of adopting he and his little sister in the next year. I am so thankful for God’s provision through this. Our extended families are struggling with the changes two new children will bring to our family, but we are rejoicing in the priveledge. We are also thankful for the opportunity to see God work in the lives of our extended family and soften their hearts in the process.

  • Carolyn

    I am thankful for life,
    as simple as it seems yet as complex as it becomes.

    I am thankful for the lives of my ancestors,
    grandparents and great-grandparents, for giving me roots and
    teaching me not to give up because the hard times really are

    I am thankful for the lives of my parents as children,
    how their childhood experiences shaped them into what they became
    as adults.

    I am thankful for the lives of my parents as adults,
    providing me not only with the basic necessities and the warm memories
    of family traditions, but with teaching me about God and about trusting
    in Him, about trying to live as Christ did, about learning to forgive
    the devastating betrayals of my siblings just as Christ forgave his

    I am thankful for the lives of my step-children,
    for the love they have for their father and the lessons they’ve taught

    I am thankful for the lives of my grandchildren,
    for the joy of sharing in their lives and in the lives of our great-
    grandchildren, watching them develop as they move through each stage
    of life, sharing their joys and their disappointments.

    I am thankful for the lives of our men and women in uniform,
    for their sacrifices, dedication and willingness to fight and die, if
    necessary, defending our freedom.

    I am thankful for my life, this life,
    given me by a loving God, to have the opportunity to learn to live and
    love as He has taught.

  • Carrie

    This past year has been a big year of changes for our family. My husband retired from the Navy a little over a year ago and we moved from MD to AL. Trusting that God would provide, we decided to have my husband begin a small business from home and live off of his retirement check. It has been HARD! But God has been oh so FAITHFUL! We have 6 children and although we have no money to buy any extras at this point in life, our children (and we) are healthy, clothed, sheltered, and loved! God has provided for us in ways we could not have forseen and has been gracious to allow us numerous confirmations that we have made the right decision to move here. There are many times I am actually thankful that we DON’T have any extras right now—it has been a wonderful opportunity to learn/teach to truly praise & thank God for the “little things” which aren’t so “little” anymore to me!
    It has been a challenging year in many respects, but I am so thankful for a God who loves me and cares for me and provides for me!

  • Jennifer

    I am very blessed to have 3 healthy children and a wonderful christian husband. I am very thankful to have them in my life and thank God daily for the joy they bring to me and others. We have been thru some hard times but God has been there to get us thru them and we are so grateful to Him for all he does for us daily. Thank you for your website it is very encouraging!

  • Karen

    This has been such a challenging time of our lives. Our son was diagnosed with a seizure disorder in August and it is still not under control. I’ve watched my dear boy go from a normally great student to a struggling student because the seizures are affecting his memory. This has really challenged me as I home school him! Yet, through all of this, we’ve had much to be thankful for! The CAT scan and MRI were normal, so we’re not dealing with a brain tumor. We’ve learned that God holds our live and our health in His hands and He gives us strength and grace for what He calls us to bear. We’re also thankful that we are homeschooling our children, because we’ve been able to be more flexible when the seizures wipe him out.

  • Dottie

    It was two years ago this Sunday (but it landed on Thanksgiving Day that year) that my late husband Jose, was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer. I knew Jesus, and I knew that He would bring us through this. Now, to the other side, the fog has lifted which I didn’t even realize was there. So many times the hand of God moved, and I was yet again in awe of His husbandry to me. When bills had to be paid, how? The LORD yet again made the way. Decisions that were always made with two head and one Head, were now so challenging. I had to truly hear what the LORD said to do or not to do. I am thankful that my sister Bernie has been walking with me through this to help keep all six of us in check. The children have had their challenges too, but they have seen His miraculous hand at work in their lives. I can celebrate this Thanksgiving with such joy in my heart, no fog in sight, only the glory of the LORD. May His Name be praised. He said He will NEVER leave us nor forsake us. And He hasn’t and won’t ever.

  • What a time we have had! I am thankful for peace, health and heaven! We had a hectic time, you don’t appreciate and perhaps take for granted peace in your life until it is snatched away! My daughter was finally diagnosed with what was wrong with her after a year of spitting up blood (by the cupfuls!) and is now symptom free (all pertained to a head injury which occured the Tuesday before last Thanksgiving!) I broke my back after falling out of the attic, had to wear a brace for 3 months, but I am able to walk! The Dr.’s told me that falling just a hair differently would have led to differet results. Lastly, after being bedridden for a couple of years after a hip surgery that led to many infections, my wonderul father passed away. I am thankful for my faith in God that he is now with all of his family, and my mother in heaven. I miss them and am too young to be without them, but am happy that they are pain free, and have no more worries. God Bless everyone this Thanksgiving!!!

  • Becky

    This past year has been a year of trials and changes for our family. A year ago this week, my husband was laid off from his job. This was an awful surprise. While there had been layoffs across the nation in this firm, he was told he was an absolute asset to the company and was safe. They even told him he was being groomed for a promotion. I was in shock when he called to tell me he suspected he was on the next layoff list and then called back an hour later to confirm the bad news. How I cried. We were already living paycheck to paycheck with no savings and behind on a mortgage that we never should have been approved for in the first place (creative financing during the housing boom was a very bad thing). A few months later, still unemployed, we lost our home. Thanks to a miracle from God, just a week prior to that, we had received a check from a mistake on our tax form. We used that check as a security deposit on a rental house that allowed our family of six and two pets. My husband’s unemployment continued through April of this year. He finally found a job but the pay was 25% less than his former job. We have struggled since with making ends meet and overdraft fees every month. Through all of this, my health continues to deteriorate (serious back damage from a car accident in 2007). Over the summer, our second child, a daughter, made a bad decision and broke the law with two of her friends. Fortunately, she was under 18 and was treated as a juvenile with a first time offense. She left for college in August…this caused me to lose someone who had become my best friend (she had been grounded at home for all of July and August, only allowed to leave for work.) I seriously wondered if God had abandoned me. Then, about 2 months or so ago, my 16 year old son recommended a book that talked about mediocrity in the Christian life. I was so convicted after I read it. I was determined to beg God’s forgiveness for doubting Him and change my walk. I have not always been faithful yet I have seen God making changes in me..I am now thankful for the loss of our house (it was a 2 bedroom and we have 4 kids). The house we now rent has the most beautifully large kitchen…and I love to be in my kitchen! I am thankful that I can still walk instead of being bitter that I have pain. I am thankful that my 16 year old son announced that he wants to be a pastor. I am thankful that my 14 year old daughter wants to live a set apart life for God. I am thankful that my 19 year old son, who is on the autism spectrum, has a good part time job where he is able to be successful. I am looking everyday to find things to be thankful for. It is a mindset that is new to me for sure, but one I am enjoying!

  • Molly

    I am a celebrator at heart and I love tradition! I grew up dreaming of spreading a holiday table before my husband and children and giving praise and thanks to God for all that He had done. Once married I finally realized that it is not “my” tradition to do. It is either his mother’s or mine :). Now that I am grown my professing Christian parents are divorced so I now have my Dad’s home thrown in there as well. To be quite frank, the holidays have become very stressful and the time leading up to the day, very frustrating. I am always having to chose where to be, and always feeling guilty that I am not with the other family. The only year there is a break from this is when we are at my husbands families home since they live 5 hours away. Even this year, as my father calls me to ask me if I will be at his house or my moms, I cry out to Christ asking him to show me what to do. It is very difficult to have to chose between your parents. Now that I am a wife and mother of 5 precious children I desire to instill in them a love for Christ that surpasses all things, for we know not what the future holds for our lives, but Christ commands us to be content and to be thankful. I do not enjoy having to chose, but I am thankful that I have parents, and that they love me, and that they are still kind to one another even after the divorce. This is not heaven, and I can not look for my joy here, but often God is ever so sweet to bestow it on me anyway :)!

  • rose

    Hi Marilyn,
    God is so good. My daughter has 3 children and hasn’t had any income for a year so we have been paying her utilities and rent. Through this my husband had his hours cut back on a minium wage job but through it all God has blessed us. He has provided all that we need. Every time that we thought we weren’t going to make it He came through with a blessing. Just recently my daughter and I were talking about putting a small fence up for her dogs and would you believe we happened to ddrive by a house and there in the trash was a complete fence and gate that they had taken down and thrown away. God provided again. The children needed winter coats and shoes and through someone else God provided them. There are so many blessings like this that I can’t begin to list them all here but maybe someone out there will read this and know that there is hope even in the bad times.

  • Tina

    Despite many setbacks this past year we can Lift our hands in Thanksgiving and Praise the father through each storm that has tossed our life about this past year. It all began in January when my oldest Son had a wreck on Ice, his car could have went over a bluff but instead it ended up in a ditch. In the month of May my whole family went on a mission trip to Mississippi to help with damage & cleanup from a Hurricane, My husband fell 23 feet to the ground from a ladder and left the hospital the following day with 11 broken ribs, a broken collar bone and broken hand. July the 4th we lost our dear family pet, our lassie dog with a heart condition, a wonderful Girl named Angel that we had rescued only two years prior. In August our 21 year old son started having some heart trouble and was diagnosed with a heart condition. Here it is November already and the past year seems to be a big blur, yet we can Praise our LORD and Savior who numbs us just enough to get through the storm’s and we say “WOW, what an Owesome God we serve!” He never left our side, and carried us through many days when we felt our strength had left our bodies. It’s easy to praise Him in the good times, it’s earth moving to Praise him in the bad. Happy Thanksgiving! Praise God from whom all Blessings Flow!

  • Kelly

    Marilyn: what a wonderful way to encourage us all to share our walk with God! My trials this year may seem small to others, but I can assure you that I have learned to Praise Him fully and completely on a daily basis!!

    Sometimes God moves swiftly and unexpectedly in our lives, as He did in ours this past year. With a home that we thought we’d live in till old age, a call came and it was clear that God was providing in a Mighty, mighty way with a good job for my dear husband. We just had to move out of state, away from family and friends that are so very dear to us both. Now with two mortgages, I can see my husband in a totally different light. He is being unlifted in a way that as his wife I could never, never do. It is totally God and God alone. The financial hardship is, quite frankly, breath-taking…..losing sleep and worried beyond belief. But God is so good Sisters!! Somehow, every week when my husband and I sit together and chat about the finances and the week coming it works out…it’s paid!

    I’m learning. I’m growing and streching in a way I never thought possible. I love praying and talking to God every single day. I love praying for my husband, my children, my country, my day, my parents, friends & enemies too!

    I’m thankful that I didn’t ignore His sweet whisper to me…for me to Worship Him in the storms. I’m thankful that I have learned to believe more and more, fully in who He is and how much He loves even me.

    This year has been a blessing. All the tears. All the worry……a complete, wonderful Blessing!!

    Thanksgiving Blessings to all of you!!

  • Kathryn

    I lost two babies due to miscarriage this past year. The first baby I named Joy because I was so joyful during the 13 weeks I was able to be pregnant. After that loss, I allowed myself to be bitter and angry against God. After several months I came to trust Him again and He blessed me with another pregnancy. This pregnancy also failed. I wasn’t angry this time, only extremely sad. I named the 2nd baby, Faith… for I knew my faith had grown through my losses. When my 2nd baby died this past September, I also found out that my mom had breast cancer. I am thankful that they caught it early, at Stage 0, and she doesn’t need to have chemo or radiation.

    There is so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving… two babies that are being raised by God in Heaven and my mom who is okay and recovering after breast cancer.

  • His Child

    Dearest Marilyn,

    My name is anonymous because I want to protect the anonymity of my family. I am grateful for a trial I have endured by the love and Grace of God, because as James says it has produced patience in our family and served to strengthen our faith. I share this to encourage other women in the Faith. Last year I discovered after 22 years of marriage that my husband had been unfaithful. When I confronted him he admittedly admitted the relationship. I could immediately see repentance and lifting of a heaviness I had seen over him for months. Unlike his nature, he contacted our Pastor and his best friend and confessed to both of them. Also, unlike his nature he immediately placed himself in counseling with the Pastor and an accountability relationship. He never blamed me for what happened and took ownership of everything. This was the most devastating event in my life. This was the last thing I thought could or would ever happen to us. The pain I endured for months was unspeakable and unbearable. I honestly did not think I could or would survive. Honestly, there were days I did not want to survive. My children were devastated and our oldest was ANGRY. But we came through it victoriously. Our marriage is stronger than it was before this trial. Through it I learned to extend the forgiveness of God and celebrate the repentance of one of His. I learned the sufferings of our Messiah and the sacrificial dying to self. I learned that my trust should have never been in a man, but only in God. I also learned that God does answer prayer. I had prayed for 15 years that my husband would become a man who loved God and sought after God fervently (he was a good man, but not consistent with the Lord). At one point, I even prayed that God would do whatever He needed to do to break my husband so that He would lay his life before Him. God allowed the one thing my husband always said he did not want to do and believed he would not do – be unfaithful. I learned to believe that “all things DO work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose”. You see in the midst of this trial and the tremendous pain, I was pliable enough for the Lord to lovingly share with me some things (and some of them were sin) that He needed to work in my life. He was gentle, but firm. Our children learned to see repentance and forgiveness. They learned to work through righteous and unrighteous anger. So this Thanksgiving, I am most grateful to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for His love, grace, and mercy. I am grateful that He is a God we can trust, One Who is true to His word. I am grateful for my husband who has died to himself and now loves our children and me with the pure love of the Messiah. I am grateful this Thanksgiving because I can say that I count it all joy when I encounter various trials. The next one is coming – as my husband will be out of work in January, but – count it all joy.

  • This year started off with the knowledge of my husband leaving on another deployment to Afghanistan. This was his fourth or fifth, I’m not sure. You’d think after so many (he’d had deployments prior to Afghanistan also) that it would be routine by now. This deployment was somehow different, it didn’t start out like all the rest, I won’t bore you with all the details, but three weeks into it we got reports of some of our guys that had gotten hurt and one killed. You would think that with all those deployments that would be routine too, but amazingly enough this was the first time, in a long time, that it had hit so close to home. I recovered from that scared, only to be shaken again the following week when one of our friends was killed and some more were injured. We were heartbroken for his family, scared for our own, yet could even feel God’s love and provision through this time. My family had come to visit, from out of state, and it was great to have their love and support, plus the distraction of just having company. Slowly, but surely, we (myself and the children) settled back into a routine, praying everyday for my husband and doing our best to rest in God’s peace, knowing He was in control. The months slipped by, until May 12th, I received a phone call from my husband saying that he was o.k., but that he had gotten hurt. He tried to stay sketchy about what happened and even tried to joke around with me, but I was having none of it, I wanted to know what happened. He told me he had taken some shrapnel in his foot from a grenade that the enemy had bounced off of his back and that had rolled some distance away. He was pretty lucky he said, one of the guys nearest to him was not as lucky, his injuries were more extensive, thankfully they both fully recovered. But you can just imagine my horror. I went into “survival mode”, you know, physically functioning, but emotionallly and spiritually shut off. I felt I had to stay strong, we decided not to tell anyone at the time because his injuries were going to be treated over there and then in a week or so he could return to full duty again. The only one I could talk to was God, He was the only one who could fully understand and comfort me anyway. I had so many questions and He gently answered them all over the next 2 and 1/2 months, I didn’t always like the answers but they were there anyway! Well, on July 25th my husband finally returned home, it was the sweetest of homecomings, you can imagine! Blessed even more so, by shortly finding out we were expecting our third child, something we had been praying for for a long time! The due date, in May.

    This year, at Thanksgiving, I can say I am so very thankful for many, many things, not the least of which are; that God is in control, and He is good, mighty, and that He provides even in the darkest of hours, and that I am loved, by Him and my family, and that no matter what happens He’s got me and I’ll be o.k. I’m so very thankful for my family, and try to show each of them how much so each day. All the rest is just icing on the cake, but I’m thankful for that too!

  • Dawn Norman

    Hi Marilyn! It’s been quite a year here for our family. In April I went to Florida to help my grandmother for a week. At the same time I was finding out that I had major issues with my digestive system that have been causing severe flareups of eczema on my face, neck and fingers and resulted in me not being able to eat over 40 foods right now that exacerbate the problem. Seven months later, I’m still on the special diet although I think I’m finally on the right track for healing my gut. In June my grandmother was put in the hospital with blood clots which turned out to be caused by bone cancer. I spent two more weeks with her thanks to my precious husband who watched our girls so I could go help her. She died within two weeks of my last visit. Just this last week I suffered a miscarriage that is still running its course in my body and also had the dentist tell me that I needed to have a tooth removed because of an abcess that won’t heal. All while still dealing with the digestive issues. At times I feel so overwhelmed, but I can sit back and see all the good things these trials have brought into my life.

    God really blessed me with the opportunity to spend that precious time with my Grandma. I was able to really see evidence of how much she loved Christ and how He was her rock during this time. She just cried and cried when my sister and I gave her a large print Bible for her birthday which happened while I was there the second time because an aneurysm had affected her vision and she couldn’t read her Bible anymore. It was so precious to her and that memory is so precious to me! The time with family during her funeral was also very special and has deepened some relationships that are much more meaningful now. This digestive issue, while frustrating, has also been a catalyst for me to learn more about eating healthier and feeding my family better which will have huge dividends in the long run and I’m so thankful for how much I’ve already learned even though I have so much farther yet to go. When I look back, I’m amazed at how many positive changes we’ve made because of this. I have no answers for the miscarriage, but I do know that I am so blessed already to have two beautiful girls that bring me joy every day and praise God for the love they bring into my life. We hope to try again for more children in a few months.

    We’re still working with nutrition and supplements to clear up the underlying cause of the digestive issues that were causing all the severe eczema, but I feel like I have had support when I needed it and really have been able to take stock of what is really important in life….my relationship with God and my relationships with others. God is sufficient through everything!

  • Amber Weber

    I am so thankful that God supplies all of our needs! Last year, we were living on the Gulf Coast. Right about the time my husband’s job was starting to slow down (he was off work 3 out of 4 weeks), we found out our hurricane insurance was going up…A LOT. We knew we couldn’t afford it, and we would be in the same boat if we moved to a different house in the area. So we asked a friend in Nashville to be watching out for a job in his area. Within 2 weeks, our house was sold and my husband had a great job working for a wonderful Christian man. Now we live in the Nashville area, and continue to see God working in every situation. Praise God!!

  • Christine Westerholm

    Dear Marilyn,
    God is good all the time, even when we don’t understand circumstances or the WHY? behind it all. He is acquainted with grief and what it means to lose someone you love….the beginning of this year began with much grief, the loss of a child, our niece Jenna. She died on January 22 at 5 1/2 years old! She was diagnosed at age 2 with a rare cancer, Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. We prayed so fervently over 3 years for her healing and strength. She fought the battle hard and with such smiles- all were amazed at how she handled things. How do you explain the loss of one so young to your own children, who think life here lasts forever? How do you teach them to keep the faith when their prayers seem to go unanswered? Why is a life born to only be taken so soon after? We know that God is loving and just, we trust Him to know best even though we would like things to be different sometimes. The pain of losing someone is tremendous, especially someone so young but I know we will see her someday again. She did know Jesus and her faith was in Him. We don’t know the why but have been encouraged and not shaken through this…we have laid our burdens and hurts down at our Savior’s feet and He has comforted us as the Word says He will. We have asked questions and found some answers but others not- we know we see in part now but will see in full someday and understand. We are thankful for God, his Son Jesus who makes the way possible to see Him face to face someday, to see Jenna again, for the peace that passes all understanding, for the trials that produce patience, hope, wisdom,understanding…we are thankful for our health, our family, the moments to share and love together, we are thankful for all these things and so much more. When you lose a life, you so cherish the lives around you so much more…

    Happy Thanksgiving to you!
    Blessings to you and yours,
    Wade and Christine Westerholm and family

  • Rebecca Shepard

    Hi Marilyn,
    i have so many reasons to be thankful not only this year but every year. We like so many individuals in our country are struggling to pay our bills, keep a roof over our head, put food on the table and the list goes on. However, we serve a faithful GOD who says HE will never leave us nor forsake us and that has been shown to us time and again. You see we were one of those families who had an upside mortgage and owed more than our home is worth. We also were on an interest only loan and making the payment was becoming harder with each passing month. Yet the Lord put the right people in our path and not only were they gracious enough to modify our mortgage but we also are now locked into a fixed rate for the next 30 years. In addition to that my husband has been Blessed enough to have and keep his job as a nurse with the 15% pay cut being returned to him and all state employees here in CA. We now have a pinch of breathing room we did not have before. Now the goal is to pay off the enormous debt we racked up trying to keep our home but I know that the Lord is faithful and just. The Scripture that keeps coming back to my mind is Ps 46:10 which states “Be still and know that I am GOD” As a go getter and one who tries to “fix” everything HE is far better and more skilled at it than I ever hope to be.
    God Bless You and Your Family,

  • jamie lyerla

    I am so grateful for the way the Lord has graciously led us and protected us throughout our lives. He has led us to foreign land, provided for us and protected us, and then led us home again. Through difficulties and trials, he is always near by and shows Himself faithful in every situation. We thank Him for the gifts He has given us in our 5 children, and we thank Him for the grace He gives us in training and loving them in His ways. We are overwhelmed with His grace and praise Him for His most precious gift of Salvation!
    With Hearts Full of Thanksgiving
    Jamie and Jeremy Lyerla

  • Judy

    It has been a very hard few years for our family. Our son suffered from mental illness and then drug addiction. He is finally realizing that he is ill, and in treatment.

    This Thanksgiving is very special for us, because he attempted suicide last spring. The fact that he is alive and will be sitting at the Thanksgiving table is something we will never take for granted.

  • Kori Ireland

    Wow. Well, my “year” began Sept 2 of 2008. My fourth child, Chase, was born that day. Within an hour he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect which had been undiscovered through 3 ultrasounds! He was transferred a few miles away to our children’s hospital. I was released as soon as my epidural wore off. Chase had his first surgical procedure the next day and the second day (about 43 hours old) he went into open heart surgery. This was not “supposed” to happen to us! I “should have” been at home with my now 4 kids and letting them love on their baby brother! But God’s hand was in it from the first moment. Even the neonatologist at the hospital when Chase was born was a cardiac neonatologist – the only one at that hospital. He told us we were lucky, I told him it wasn’t luck. Chase did well with few setbacks and came home at 19 days old. He was on many medications and a heart monitor and getting RSV shots. We had to keep all of our 3 older kids healthy so Chase could stay healthy and we were home bound for quite a while. Nursing was a big struggle because Chase was intubated for the first 14 days of his life. (But he is still nursing today at 14 months old!) We were just starting to get comfortable at home three weeks later when my 1 year old had a seizure. My husband was at work and I was sitting on my bed nursing Chase while Carter slept beside me. I had never seen a seizure before, but it was cearly nothing but a seizure. I called 911 – but they didn’t answer. The seizure stopped so I called my husband at work and he said to go to Children’s. HE then called a friend to come watch the other kids and arranged to leave work. Carter had 3 seizures that day. It turned out that they are febrile seizures, God in control again. Then on the evening of Thanksgiving Day we got a call from one of my best friends. Her son Conner (same age as my Carter) had gone into a very deep coma, they had no idea why. He was being helicoptered down to our Children’s hospital (the helicopter flies right over our house so we knew when he went by). When they got Conner to Children’s he was nearly brain dead (very minimal abnormal brain activity). They had no idea what could have caused this. He had bumped his head earlier in the day but it was several hours before. A friend scoured the house looking for any sign that he had gotten into any chemicals or medicines. But they are dorm parents, so we wondered if there was a chance some pill (of any variety) had been dropped in the dorm and Conner found it, that scenario opened up any number of possibilities. Donna told me that she felt Satan in the room and she just knew he was going to take her baby. The Lord was able to speak through me to comfort her and reminder her that our responsibility is to 1-not allow Satan in our presence! and 2-pray and trust that God would work it out. We immediately began praying for a miracle. The doctors were dreading making the announcement that Conner was gone. But we prayed for a miracle. Within the hour Conner started coughing, not much but something! By Sunday Conner was awake! Some of us came and worshipped with them in Conner’s room on Sunday. The doctor’s were amazed, one told Donna that he was “not supposed to be here, he was already gone”. We told him it was a miracle. Praise the Lord, Conner came home a healthy and completely normal child. (We found out weeks later from final blood work that he had gotten a muscle relaxer out of Nana’s purse and sister admitted to it when asked.) Christmas passed uneventfully with us all just so thankful for our families and children, with Chase growing slowly and cardiology check-ups going well. In mid-January Carter had another seizure where he turned blue. This time we took him in via ambulance. It was still febrile seizures, but they call his “complicated”. But after 2 days at the hospital we confirmed there were no tumors or anything to show something other than febrile. So now we are on an extremely proactive fever preventing routine. Once February hit we started getting the bills. We thought we would have to file for bancruptcy. But God provided a LOT of extra shifts for my husband.Now we have nearly paid off everything. But most importantly we have our children and our friend’s children – all healthy and safe. God has reminded us all, as we are getting to one year reminders of these events, that He is always in control and He does always work it out in the end. Sometimes how we wish, sometimes not. I still cry nearly every time I allow my brain to think about any of this. But my kids are definitely getting used to the “extra” level of hugs and kisses and cuddling. And we’re still praying for the doctor who couldn’t accept the answer of a miracle! Hopefully we will never forget how fragile our time is and keep God and then family at the center of our lives. Through living that properly, we are exposed to and able to show many people Christ in our lives!
    And thank you Marilyn for giving us all a time to focus on this and share with one another! How uplifting to read through all of these entries. Sorry mine is so long. :-)

  • Lynn

    Like so many other people, this has been quite a year for us too.
    Last winter my daughter and I were gone one evening and my husband came home and found our house on fire. We were very thankful that no one was home to be hurt. Life has become very interesting since then. After spending a couple of months in a hotel, we are working at settling into our new home. Working on our insurance inventory after the fire showed us how much stuff we had that we truly didn’t need. I am thankful for the support and help of friends. I also have to admit that I am thankful to have a stove again!

    Our new home was in need of a great deal of fixing up. We’ve been working hard at getting our new home habitable. God has watched over us and provided for us. It amazed me to see how much my poor very neglected garden provided for us, even though I had to use hedge trimmers to find my tomato plants in Aug. Only the Lord could have provided in such a tangle of weeds.

    We decided to take a family day and go to the zoo last month. We came home to 4 inches of water in our basement. The next day we had several families helping us pull everything out of the basement. I was amazed that there was actually very little that was wrecked and had to be thrown. I was quite touched by a family that brought us dinner that night and since they are a large family, they felt they were only bringing us one meal, but it actually feed us half a dozen times, that was a true and unexpected blessing.

    Yes, this year has been challenging, but I know that the good Lord has been watching out and providing for us through it all. We may never know why God had us go through some of our struggles, but God is good and he will not let us be tempted (or tested) beyond what we can bear. When I have felt at the end of my rope, he always provides.

  • Angela Seever

    We had finally done it!! My husband and I had paid off our last credit card! After years of trying to budget and pay them off, we were able to do so. We have even raised our 7 month old in a group home so we would both be able to work and yet stay with him. We had just applied to serve as dorm parents for a missionary school in Pakistan when our supervisor(from the group home)came over to our house and said “We are going a different direction.” Just like that we had both lost our jobs and home (owned by the company) without any warning! Since that day, we have had the church who is supposed to support us in our mission endeavors grow cold feet because we were let go from our job and a large unseen medical bill appeared in the picture. We’ve also had a garage sale where we sold half of our belongings that we will not be able to take when we move. And it’s only been 2 weeks since this has happened! But in the midst of the endless job searching and trying to figure out where to move, and wondering if missions is even a possibility this year… we are trusting God. We know He has a plan for us and will take care of us. We are trusting Him that everything will work out for His glory and our good in the grand scheme of things. We are so thankful for our son and that our family is still happy and healthy. But we are most thankful that we are children of a mighty God who knows everything and cares for His children!

  • Karen

    This has been a very challenging year, ant yet each day I make it a point to open my eyes and be thankful for the abundance around me.

    In January I was laid off from I job I loved but that was wearing me down physically. I was a traveling sales rep and spent 90% of my time on airplanes and in rental cars. Losing my job allowed me to be home with my new husband and puppy. It made me slow down and take inventory of my life. I am very thankful for the time with my husband and how it has made our relationship even stronger.

    In April my mother lost a short & difficult battle with cancer. Losing her has changed my perspective on life & made me thankful for all the things she taught me while here on this earth. She taught me to bake, cook, and sew. She also taught me to love, forgive, have patience, and be the peace I want in the world. Even though I’m still in pain over her death, I am thankful for all the love she gave me, all that she taught me, and all the time we had together.

    As the year draws to an end, I am struck by the abundance of beauty and love around me. For that, I am thankful.

  • Rebecca

    This year I am thankful to the Lord for bringing me through a “dark night of the soul”. 2008 was tough, our beloved Grandma passed on to Jesus, my precious sister was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and my brother in law also passed from this world to be with the Lord. I thought I had weatherd the storm, and was happy to kick 2008 to the curb, when I was gripped with a horrible depression that lasted from January through March. I could barely get off the couch, I gained 30 lbs, and, as a homeschooling mother of 4, I was racked with guilt. What was wrong with me? I was so miserable and horrified with what I had become. As I slowly emerged from my stupor, I started to realise that I needed help if I was to avoid this kind of problem in the future, and I was so terrified of a repeat of the past winter that I started to look into counseling. Our pastor directed me to a wonderful woman who believed her purpose in life was to “bind up the broken hearted”, me! By working with her this past summer I started to see how I could feel better, and, most importantly that I did not have to weather these big storms alone. I had the Lord, and He had shown his infinatie care and love for me by directing me to someone who could help. I am looking forward to life again, as the adventure it is, not the long road to trudge down that it had become for me. Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! Our Redeemer lives!

  • Last October 2008 our beloved 5 year old son “B” died from brain cancer. We had kept him alive at least 6 months longer than the Dr’s had expected. His cancer had returned twice in 2 years. After spending over $7000 on treatment for him we had found a Dr to help us and the treatment was working amazingly but the cancer was fighting and just took him 5 days after his first seizure during his entire sickness.
    We have done all the firsts like you have Marilyn. The Thanksgiving, the Christmas, Easter and his birthday, and many others. The days are sometimes so long thinking of what he was going to be – he had planned to become a chef and grow up and teach everyone what healthy eating was all about.
    His two brothers 8 and 2 have missed him too. His older brother often plays with B’s toys in order to remember what they did together. I cry as I watch this but know that he has experienced something most children do not – life with an angel.
    My husband and I struggle every day as to why the Lord would choose us to be B’s parents even though He knew B was going to die. I don’t think I will ever understand why and have lots of questions.
    The reason I am thankful this year is that we had “B” for 5 years and not just 3 or less than that. He taught us so much about endurance no matter what the cost. He also told me 1 month before he died “Don’t Give Up” on finding me medicines to help me Mummy. This touched my heart so much. We did not stop until he was in a coma and even then strived to find a way to heal him. I am thankful I have our 2 other boys to hold, love, homeschool and touch. Thank you Jesus for the hard times that make us into stronger people who can then turn around and help others.
    Yes I am fighting some depression, sadness and guilt “but Goddoes not give up on me so I will not give up on Him.

  • Julie

    Thanksgiving…..a time of giving thanks! I have so many things to be thankful for. Many times we often let the things that we are fighting, get us down. I can only rely on God’s promises to pick us up.
    In the last year, my dad passed away, after a 15 year battle with breast cancer. It was one of the hardest days of my life…and it happen to fall on my birthday. I thought about my mom and dad and how this day of my birth, 45 years ago, was a memory in the making. Now, as I share the day with my fathers passing….how do you think of it in a postive way. I think of the goodness and promise that he now is living a pain free life. I am so thankful of that…and yet, the day is challenging to get through. This is just one of the many struggles that have happened over this year… but in it all, I will hold my head high and proclaim the love of Jesus….through and through.

  • susan

    I am thankful for being alive and healthy and being able to be working. I do family child care in my home and I know how hard it is for everyone these days especially working parents. Susan

  • It’s not easy packing up a family of 7 and moving to the other side of the world, but I thank God that He has allowed us the opportunity to spend almost 9 months in the Philippines as furlough replacement missionaries. Deciding what to take overseas is a stressful challenge, not to mention saving money for 7 airline tickets and our living expenses here plus keeping 5 children entertained for the long 23-hour flight.

    Now that we are here overseas in a foreign country, we have learned to survive and be happy without so many things we had in the States–things we thought we needed. We have been here just over 2 months and have learned to adapt to new people, climate, noises, food, language, and customs. We’ve seen extreme poverty, homelessness, pollution, and crazy driving (It’s worse than anything I’ve ever seen in the States–and I’ve been to New York City!)

    We have faced typhoons and seen many lose homes and lives to flooding. We had our apartment broken into and were robbed of money. Our freezer died with meat in it. (After almost 3 weeks the part needed for repair still hasn’t come.) Our children have sacrificed friends, yards, parks, woods, and cul-de-sacs to play in. They miss family, friends, youth group, and hearing English sermons in church. (It’s difficult sitting through a 2-hour service on hard wooden pews when the service is mostly a language you can’t understand.)

    Life has not been easy here, but God has provided everything we need when we need it. We know God wants us here and we are happy in His will. Thanksgiving is not celebrated here. Businesses and schools continue as usual, yet we are making a point to remember to thank God for His many blessings. After seeing how many Filipinos live, we feel so richly blessed of God!

  • Stephanie

    I am thankful this year that we know (as of today) that we will not have to move. We had a very difficult situation put on us by family two weeks ago that we may have had to move back to our little run down house over an hour away from my husband’s work up in the hills and bad roads. Today we got the mortgage approved and paid his brother, so we will not have to deal with not knowing where we will have to live. I am just thankful for God’s wonderful provision and praying for healing for my husband’s relationship with his brother.

  • Eileen

    Hello, I am thankful for my family.. My 3 grown children, one in Chicago, One in China( to be home in about 7 months) and one in Colorado. Also my husband, friend and support. I am thankful to the Lord , that He has given me the gift of believe in Him and His Son, my friend.

  • I am thankful for a God who can be counted on to do as He says.

    Long long ago I was a divorced single mom of a 3 month old son. I recall one evening praying and crying out to God to be the daddy to my son. I wondered what in the world I was going to do next. I gave my son to God that night. And God provided for both of us. Eventually I remarried a great man and had 3 more sons!

    I just returned from my oldest sons graduation from basic training at Ft Benning. I am so terribly proud of my son. The bonus is…. he has a faith that I believe will stand through all that he is going through.

    When I look back I realize that it is a God thing. People say that I was a good parent, blah blah blah. But I know without a doubt that God has been in his life. And you know what? He turned out OK.

    So, I am thankful for my husband of 15 yrs, my sons and my God.

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