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"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (I Thessalonians 5:18)

It seems that thankfulness is not something that comes naturally.  I think it is more in our nature to complain, to want more, to compare, to always come up short. Take a good look at the Israelites in the wilderness and you'll know complaining has been around for a long time.  I think that's why God had to give us a command to "give thanks".

So I love that we have a holiday that puts the spotlight on giving thanks.  I love that it's a family holiday and that the focus is just on being with each other.  This year we were with Suzanne and Theo.  Dan and Kelly had gone to Iowa to be with Kelly's family since they'll be with us for Christmas.  When we arrived last Monday, half the family was struggling with one thing or another.  Suzanne and the two little ones had had a cold for two weeks.  Tera seemed to have the flu as she had a fever and a terrible cough.  Suzanne seemed to have a sinus infection.  Hezekiah was recovering from the cold, but seemed mostly over it.  Heavenly had lice, but thankfully that was defeated before it spread!

Since nobody felt well, I put together Thanksgiving dinner, cooking as much as possible on Wednesday.  Heavenly and Tera helped me with the pies.  

Our guests brought macaroni and cheese and a chocolate pie (oh yeah!).  Suzanne decorated the table and came up with an after-dinner activity.  And John did the dishes.  We had a scrumptious dinner that we shared with friends of Suz and Theo who don't have any family in the area.

By Sunday everyone was pretty much over what ailed them and John and Suzanne even participated in a Turkey Trot.  John ran a 5 k and Suzanne did a half marathon.  Not bad for somebody who had a sinus infection earlier in the week!  John had also pulled a muscle a few weeks ago and was happy that he had recovered enough to run.

No she's not going the wrong way, just starting back on the return.

Before we get carried away with the Christmas season, I thought I'd steal an idea from my friend (thanks, Beka!) and tell you my Thanksgiving Top Ten List.

1.   Family -- I just read a book about one of the most dysfunctional families I've heard of (book review coming soon!) and I am just so, so thankful for having grown up in a balanced family with godly parents.  My siblings and I actually get along.  John's family is the same way.  I'm also thankful for our kids.  "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in truth" (3 John 1:4).  And I just LOVE the grandkids!  (We include Heavenly as a grandchild, at least for now, but I have to be cautious about her picture on social media.)

2.  God's Word -- I am not just trying to be super spiritual here.  It is God speaking through His Word that sustains me.  In so many ways, the Bible reveals to me all that He has done through His Son, Jesus.  And no matter how much I read or study the Bible, there are always new things that I've never noticed before.  There are many ways to approach a study:  focus on one word and explore it in depth; read through the Bible in a year; and study a book in depth are just a few.

3.  The doctorate is almost over! -- We leave for England on Friday and John has his defense on December 5.  We will both be glad to wrap this up and have it behind us.

4.  A nice house in a lovely location -- We are spending a lot of time on the road and it's always nice to come back to such a lovely place.  I'm so thankful for the vision the Butters had to provide furnished places for missionaries in such a serene setting.

5.  Generous supporters and friends -- We are just blown away by the generosity of those we spend time with.  We've had financial gifts given to us.  We've been taken out for dinner, often by people who don't really have a lot of extra money themselves.  We've been given some pretty nice gifts.  We even had an offer to help us financially with an extra expense.

6.  Renewing friendships and making new friends -- I'm not gonna lie.  All the traveling and constantly being with people is exhausting for me.  I need my introvert time and it's hard to get it when we're on home assignment.  But getting to know friends better and making new friends is worth all the effort.  God really blesses us through His children!

7.  Our car -- Speaking of gifts ... our car was also a gift.  It's not fancy, but it was low mileage and runs well.  We've already put 15,000 miles on it, so we're very glad for a reliable car.  We're also glad for safety on the roads.

8.  Books -- oh yes, this introvert loves books and it's so nice to be able to visit the public library and have access to more books than I normally do.  I'm also enjoying having more screen time, too. :)

9.  Good health -- Other than a bout of the flu last January that wiped me out for almost three weeks, I'm very healthy.  I know that's not to be taken for granted.

10.  Seasons and cooler weather -- I am not a fan of really cold weather, but it's a welcome break from being constantly hot.  I loved that we arrived in the summer when the weather wasn't that different from Niger.  The fall was gorgeous with all the colors.  And I'm actually looking forward to snow.  

What are you thankful for?
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