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  • Patti

Fresh Thanksgiving

Gratitude. Thankfulness. Giving Thanks. Thanksgiving.

We hear a lot about these this time of year, but seldom slow the rush long enough to sit deeper in their presence and ponder their meaning.

I remember the first holiday after my Dad had gone home to be with Jesus. It had been only two months and the parting had been painful. The week before he died, my dad had just turned 55. It was way too early to say goodbye; my siblings and I were only in our 20s and some still in college.

Leading up to this Thanksgiving it was the usual rush of grocery shopping and preparations while juggling the demands of jobs, school, and travel home from college. On Thanksgiving morning, we cooked and organized and welcomed family. So many things about that day were so normal. The debate over whether stuffing should - well – really be stuffing the inside of a dead bird. The oohs and aahs over Grandma’s fresh pumpkin pies and homemade peanut brittle. The latest gourmet “foody” improv from my sister {before that was even a thing}. The “game” plans my brother had in store after we finished our post-Thanksgiving-dinner walk. And, of course, the repeated timing calculations from my mom to determine if she really had gotten the turkey into the oven on time.

Normal, however, would quickly evaporate. As we sat down for our traditional meal, we reached out for the hands next to us, to pray and give thanks. In that moment, an unexpected wave of panic washed over me and I started to blurt out “WAIT! We are missing someone!” In that split-second it was as if my dad was just in the other room and we were waiting for him to come down the hall. Truly - we were missing someone. Before I spoke… I caught myself and remained silent as the words that had wanted to erupt within me simply tumbled in echoes in my mind and escaped as secret tears. And then suddenly, the seconds ticked on… and around that table we sat and gave thanks for all that God had given us, for His blessings and abundance, and - in a way - for the beautiful hope of heaven.

In this Thanksgiving moment and the days and months that followed, I would begin to redefine grief. The missing, longing, and wishing that would surprise me from seemingly out of nowhere, gave way to an enlarged focus… on sweet memories and gratitude for having my father with me throughout so many important years of my life. Instead of the emotions being something to avoid, they offered the perfect occasion to pause and remember. It was the opportunity to pay tribute to him and his character – both humanness and hero. I became intentional about admitting to God that I was missing my dad’s enormous presence in my life and these became the sacred moments to honor the beautiful watermark that remained… and whisper “thank you”.

Always - and especially in difficult times - in the heart-wrenching… life altering seasons - it is important to be intentional about harvesting gratitude daily. Living in a posture of thankfulness honors the understanding that regardless of what comes, we have a God who walks with us… going before and behind (Psalm 139:5). By doing this, our heavy seasons become less heavy and we begin to uncover the smallest blessings that remain ours even in the midst of hardship.

You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand (Psalm 139:5-6, NLT).

Gratitude * Giving Thanks * Thankfulness * Thanksgiving:

The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness; an expression of thanks; being grateful because of something; the act of giving thanks; a prayer expressing gratitude; grateful acknowledgement or recognition of benefits or favors, expression of gratitude especially to God; a day set apart for giving thanks to God.

Little-Known Fact: Gratitude and thanksgiving have an expiration date. They are only good for the present. The gratitude you felt two days ago is already wilting. Gratitude is always best, when harvested FRESH... daily! ;-)

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever (Psalm 107:1, NIV).

May your Thanksgiving be overflowing with your thanksgiving!


This is written in honor of my family and friends who have experienced great loss this year and are leaning into God to navigate the holidays with a grace, gratitude, and joy that only He can give. {Everlasting victory - 1 Corinthians 15:53-55}

Dedication: To my mom and dad – with eternal gratitude, love, and admiration! You will always be two of my biggest heroes!

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