I’m not really sure where this month’s blog post will go. A part of me would like to cancel August in its entirety. The past few days have kind of dug into my negative perspective of August. However, when I do that I am dissing some of the happiest moments in my life – my wedding day, first meetings with family, first celebrations with my new family, an amazing trip to Moscow and Norway, and more recent visits with beloved family and friends from Vermont and Michigan to Colorado.

Memories are a choice

I am beginning to realize that what and how I remember are all choices. If I wanted, I can give a negative spin to anything – even my wedding day! But I don’t want to. As I thought about this, I realized that I can do the same thing with the most terrible of memories – Rich’s death. I can focus on all the hard and sad parts, or I can count my blessings – not because he died – but because when I look back, I am also reminded of God’s wonderful carrying presence every minute of every day.

In fact, months like August, you may laugh, but you know what I am thankful for? Can you guess? Don’t laugh. I’m thankful for Facebook! You see this crazy and controversial social media platform has a feature that I have learned to love, its called, Memories. I can scroll through all of my old posts from the year I joined Facebook, for that particular day. I particularly treasure the mundane posts from 2007 through to July 2010 where I was eager to count my blessings – and my complaints.

And the winner is…

So which memory is best? As I’ve allowed myself to reread even the most painful memories, I realize that they are all winners. I have been reminded of God’s love, His graciousness, His mercies that are new every morning, and of the wonderful people who have become part of my life in one or another. I am reminded of my stepkids, my grandchildren, friends and family throughout America and in other nations, and more.

We take counting our blessings for granted

I think this is worth repeating, my friend. We DO take counting our blessings for granted. I particularly realized this as I sat down to write. You see, I’m recovering from yet another minor surgery, which wan’t so minor this time. Yes, everything will be OK, but recovery is taking longer than it did for the same procedure 6 years ago, and my body is responding differently. But little things that have happened along the way remind me that God is in this surgery, another one coming up in September (on my left hand), and different things going on with my back and knees.

Truthfully, I wasn’t really being thankful. I was just depressed. But some friends came to visit me last night, and as we talked, I began to recount all the different things that happened that have led up to this moment and I realized, wow, God is so clearly in charge! Suddenly the depression fled and I was rejoicing in the Lord, giving thanks in all circumstances.

Sometimes thankfulness is hard work

I could get into the physiology of it. There IS research that shows that a joyful spirit is healthy. Hmmm… I think that sounds Biblical, doesn’t it? But to be honest, the hard part is just doing it. Knowing God is good and that we should be thankful is not the same as being thankful. And sometimes, quite honestly, thankfulness is hard work.

For me, it means putting my phone down, to stop looking at mind numbing games or pointless movies, or reading endless books and just stopping. It means pushing past my physical discomfort, and the fog that falls over me when I feel depressed. It means forcing my lips to say something positive. It means forcing myself to think outside of myself and to think of others. To make that phone call to a dying friend – even though I know I will cry when I hang up the phone. It means being thankful for the memories we still have time to yet create.

When my thoughts are drawn to Rich, it means being thankful for the time we had, not the time we didn’t have. Being thankful for the family he created for me, and knowing that God is still working in all of our lives.

Thanks in the storm

I do not know your situation right now. However, I do know that, in general, the world is going crazy. Our lives have been disrupted by a pandemic, some people are recovering from COVID-19, others are battling to stay afloat financially. Politics and political correctness are tearing apart families, friends, and nations. If ever we needed a GOOD and GRACIOUS God, it is now.

And for this we can give thanks, for in Jesus Christ – Yeshua the Messiah – our Lord and God – each one of us can have a refuge. We can be thankful that although we are surrounded by a storm of sin-depraved powers and principalities that hate and despite us – we are safe in the ark of God’s love, grace, mercy, and peace – all ours because of the precious blood of Jesus.

Sometimes we forget that Jesus purchased for us a full and complete restoration with God. I forget that there are still good things to be enjoyed – despite the turmoil around us. Things we CAN be thankful for.

I remember the night Rich died, he was more alert than he had been for a while. I was able to sing some of his favorite songs to him, and we were able to communicate through music and a shared loved for our Lord and Savior Jesus. How can I not be thankful for that? Yes, that precious moment was followed by weeping, but scripture says that “joy comes in the morning” and indeed, that our bright and morning star is nearer now than He ever was.

Look up – your redemption draws near

So yes, my dear friend, whatever our situation and circumstance, if we belong to Jesus, we have so much to be thankful for – no matter what happens. I wish I could tell you that your situation will get better, and that your loved one will not die of some dread disease. I wish I could tell you that there will be political peace and sanity, and that COVID-19 will be miraculously eradicated, and that the earthquakes, forest fires, hurricanes, and other disasters will not come near you.

I can’t. But what I can remind you of are the comforting words of our Savior:

Now when these things begin to happen, stand straight and lift up your heads, because your salvation is near!”

Luke 21:28

13 Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so with Him God will also bring those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we tell you, by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall in no way precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself shall come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the blast of God’s trumpet, and the dead in Messiah shall rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left behind, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air—and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Until that moment, let’s give thanks to our wonderful savior and friend who is with us every step of the way. We really do have so much to be thankful for, and the best truly is yet to come.

Oh, and I think I’ll keep August—and be thankful!

Verses for further reading

The simplicity of accepting Jesus

For if you confess with your mouth that Yeshua is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9

Thankfulness Changes More than Us!

But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a great earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. Immediately all the doors were unlocked, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Acts 16:25-26