Plans, Preparations and Prayer — It’s that time of year again. We start planning Thanksgiving dinner—who’s bringing what to my sister’s house. I always cook the turkey, and along with that, make the stuffing and gravy. It’s tradition, and in our family we are really BIG on tradition! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of year, right after Christmas. Not because of the meal, and certainly not for the parades or football games. I don’t really relish spending the whole morning in the kitchen. The gathering of the family is always wonderful, of course, but even more than that, I really take to heart the part about giving thanks.
I try always, every day, to have an attitude of gratitude for all that God has done and is doing in our lives, and to be thankful for not only what He does, but for Who He is. I don’t really need a special day of the year to remind me to count my blessings and be grateful. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older and more introspective and reflective, or because I’m walking closer to the Lord, or that the last ten years have been so hard and yet so good and we have seen the hand of God sustaining us through it all—whatever the reason, I thank Him every day.
I think something that opened my eyes to how rich we are was visiting Ecuador for the first time eleven years ago. I had the privilege of returning last year and celebrating Thanksgiving there. Once again I was struck with how much we have physically and how blessed we are compared to most of the rest of this world. Being truly grateful was especially brought home to me when I spoke to a group of ladies about the spiritual riches we have as daughters of the King, regardless of our economic situation, citizenship, class, or race. Thanksgiving last year was probably the most meaningful of my life.
This year I have been putting together shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. I have to turn them in at church tonight. I loved shopping for them and then trying to squeeze everything into the boxes. With every little gift I bought, I wondered about the child who would receive it. Where did he or she live? Would the shirts I bought fit them? Would the older girl like a little stuffed poodle or would she think it was too babyish? Which ball would the boy like better? Too bad a soccer ball won’t fit in the shoebox! Do they really want a toothbrush and toothpaste, wash cloth and soap for Christmas? Not my idea of a great gift, but apparently those things are precious to them. Into the shoebox they go, and with them the thought once more that things we take so for granted are of great value to those who cannot get them. It is hard to imagine that while our children and grandchildren have so much, these kids barely have the basics in life; that the yo-yo or harmonica or markers or jump rope in that shoebox will bring the same happiness to a poor child that a Wii or a IPod would bring to one of our kids.
I have bathed each of those shoeboxes in prayer, that the child who receives it will know Jesus as his or her Savior and feel the love and watchcare of Christ throughout his/her life and follow Him faithfully. With each box, too, I have breathed a prayer of thanksgiving for the privilege of sharing with that child and for all that God has done in my own life.
II Corinthians 9:7-13 reminds us to share with the poor for we are abundantly rich and have much for which to thank God. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men.” Our giving brings thanksgiving to God both from the one who receives, and also from us, and glorifies God.

Pain – My mother is back in the hospital this week with terrible pain in her back. No one is sure what is causing it, for it is not in the usual places where you would think of back pain and seems to move around. Mom is a pretty stoic person. You seldom hear her mention when she is hurting or if she is sick, so when she does finally say something, you know it is pretty serious. When I called her Thursday morning and heard the almost panicky, excruciating pain in her voice, I knew it must be bad. She went to the emergency room that day, but they couldn’t find anything and sent her home with some pain pills. Later, after phone calls to several doctors, they decided to admit her, but for almost two days she waited for a hospital bed to open up.

It is difficult to watch your mother, or any loved one, suffering. I had never heard such pain in my mother’s voice before. My sisters Cheree and Corinne had to watch her suffer, for they are the ones who could be with her and take her to the hospital. (Bob was in Michigan and I had to be home with Robbie.) The pain pills helped some, but it wasn’t until they got her in the hospital with painkillers delivered by IV that she got some real relief. We are praying that the doctors will get to the bottom of this and be able to fix whatever is wrong.
As long as we are in our earthly bodies there will be pain and suffering, disease and injuries, and the inevitable aging. How wonderful for the believer to know, though, that these sufferings are but for a little while and we will have new, perfect bodies someday! No more pain, no suffering, no diets or contact lenses or hearing aids! Romans 8 says in verses 18-26, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
I hate seeing my mother in pain, but I am so thankful that we can trust the Great Physician and know that He has His purposes in suffering, and her life in His hands. One thing is certain—we surely won’t take our new bodies for granted after all we have suffered through with these old carnal ones!

Pink, Pink, Pink! – I started crocheting a tiny baby sweater this week. I will also make a matching bonnet and blanket to go with the sweater. I love the yarn. It is so soft and a beautiful shade of lustrous pink. Just looking at that color makes me happy! I crocheted a “coming-home-from-the-hospital” sweater set for each of my grandbabies and it makes me happy to be doing this one now.
Everything I have sent for the new baby so far has been pink, pink, pink! If little Amanda turns out to be little Michael instead, he is going to look mighty funny coming home from the hospital in all that pink! We certainly enjoyed having a boy, Matthew, the last time after his four big sisters, but it will be fun to have a precious little girl again, too.
I don’t think you’ll find “Thank Heaven for little girls!” anywhere in the Bible. It’s not exactly Scripture, but I’ll still quote it and believe it! What is Scripture, though, is, “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD…” (Psalm 127:3) and “Children’s children are the crown of old men [and old women!]” (Proverbs 17:6.) The first time in my life that I truly felt I was leaving a heritage behind me was the day my first grandchild was born. It made me want to be a better person, a more faithful follower of Christ so that my grandchildren would have a godly example to follow. And every grandparent can tell you that there is no better reward or crown in this life than to have grandchildren!
Thank you, Lord, for pink—and blue!


Thank you, God. Simple words. Easy for us to say, right? I know you, like I, sincerely say those words every day from hearts overflowing with gratitude to the Lord for all His blessings in our lives. We know that we have much more than we need or even deserve. We know that we have more than most of the world. We know that it all comes from Him. Thanksgiving Day is coming up, but I am ever-mindful of God’s blessings upon our lives and try to live as if every day was Thanksgiving Day! This year I know my eyes will be open even more to how truly blessed I am for I will be celebrating Thanksgiving in a third-world country.
I will be in Ecuador by this time next week. Excitement doesn’t even begin to describe how I am feeling right now! I finished the last book I was writing, most of the shopping is done, and I’ve actually started the packing. One by one, many of the things on my lists are being crossed off. There is still one thing on my lists, though, with which I am struggling.
While I am in Ecuador, I will be speaking to the ladies at Laurie’s church. I have been giving some thought to that for weeks now, and asking the Lord to give me the right words to say. Two things have been going through my mind to bring to them. One is that we are sisters in the Lord, and that I, as well as the women in my church and family who have been praying for their church, truly love them as sisters because of the fellowship we have in Jesus. The second thing is to speak about giving thanks to God, referring to our American holiday of Thanksgiving. Somehow, I want to intertwine the two into a message that will be relevant and a blessing to each of them.
The thing I am struggling with is something that is common to all American missionaries, I am sure, who are trying to reach beyond the cultural and economic divisions to speak to the heart of people who are so different, so much poorer and who often have no hope of anything better in this life. How do I speak about being thankful for the homes God has given us, for example, when many of them live in nothing more than a tiny shack and wash their clothes in the river? How do I speak about being thankful for the way God provides for us when I (obviously) have too much to eat, and they are lucky to live on rice and beans and little else day after day and year after year? How do I speak about being thankful for family when many of them live with husbands who beat them, or who have no husband because he walked out on them and their children many years before, leaving them destitute and struggling? How do I speak about being thankful for religious freedom when for centuries they have lived under the oppression of a church who has ruled with an iron fist of fear and persecution for those who stray from her shadow, and who even now see their government, as well, slowly but surely turning towards communism and the eventual persecution of Christians?
Are not God’s promises as true for them as they are for me? Of course, they are. He promises to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory. (Philippians 4:19) He promises that just as He cares for the flowers of the fields and birds of the air, He will care for us. (Matthew 6:25-31) He promises that the vary hairs on our heads are numbered (12:7); that He knows us each by name better than we know ourselves. (Psalm 139:17) The differences in how the Lord provides for us as Americans compared to most of the rest of the world is vast, and in some ways is a mystery to me when I know that His promises are the same to all believers regardless of where or when they live.
All I can think is that we are blessed in earthly abundance far beyond what our actual needs are. Perhaps it is because of the way this nation was founded on the premise that we would follow after God and His principles. Perhaps it is because this nation always has blessed Israel and He promises to bless those who bless Israel. Whatever the reasons for God’s outpouring of earthly blessings upon us, when so many of his children in other countries suffer, we know that He is just and loving and we simply need to trust that He is in control and knows what is best for each of us. And who is to say if all our earthly abundance is the best thing in the long run? Are we as strong spiritually as we would be if we had to suffer for our faith as many do around the world? Are we more, or less dependent on Him alone in our abundance here in America?
You can see my dilemma, I think. I almost feel I will be ashamed to stand before them and speak on giving thanks when I have so much more than they when it comes to earthly blessings. Praise God, though, He has blessed us all with far more than these temporal things! Here is just a partial list of all the things for which we can thank the Lord:
That before the world began He had a plan for me – II Timothy 1:9 – Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
He loved me enough to die for me even though I was a sinner – Romans 5:8 –
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
That I am a daughter of the King – Psam 45:13
The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.
God’s righteousness and holiness – Psalm 7:17
I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.
All God’s marvelous works – Psalm 9:1
I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.
My body – Psalm 139:14-16
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
God’s guidance and instruction to me – Psalm 16:7a
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel…
The hope God has given me – Psalm 16:9
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
Salvation – Psalm 16:11Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
God is great and worthy of praise – Psalm 48:1
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.
When I was in trouble, God heard my cries for help – Psalm 18:6
In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
Deliverance – Psalm 54:7aFor he hath delivered me out of all trouble…
Mercy and kindness – Psalm 100:5For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
For not staying angry
with us and not giving up on us – Psalm 30:5For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
God’s blessings and benefits – Psalm 68:19
Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.
God’s power – Psalm 21:13
Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power.
His faithfulness – Lamentations
3:22-23 – It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
For the strength and confidence God gives me – Psalm 56:4
In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
For listening to my prayers
Psalm 28:6Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.
God’s Word
– Psalm 119:105 – Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
For being truthful – Psalm 117:2
For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.
For filling the earth with His love and goodness
Psalm 33:5He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.
He is always thinking of me – Psalm 139:17-18
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
God’s spiritual blessings far outweigh His earthly ones, don’t they, and they are eternal! Those women in Cuenca, Ecuador are just as much the daughters of the King as I am and every bit as rich in spiritual blessings! My earthly blessings could disappear in an instant, but these far greater spiritual riches are the true things for which we should be praising God this Thanksgiving. They are not all about us – my provisions, my protection, my health, my needs –- but many of them are all about who and what HE is!
And one of the special spiritual blessings for which I will be praising and thanking God this year is the fellowship we have within the body of Christ as one family, brothers and sisters in the Lord for all eternity. I am looking forward to worshipping with my Ecuadorian sisters in the next couple weeks. Can you imagine the joy when we are gathered from every tribe on earth into His presence to worship the Lamb who was slain for our salvation – together as one family for all eternity?
That is the message I want to bring to my sisters in the Lord. Thank you, Father, for making me your child, a joint heir to all the riches of heaven through Jesus Christ, and a part of Your family for all eternity! You can’t get any richer than that! Gracias a Dios!