Thankfulness

A Day at the Beach

In our cynical time when it’s fashionable to bash the establishment whether it’s the church or state, I found this 2011 interview refreshing. In it, Scott Simon talks with Alexendra Pelosi about her documentary chronicling the lives of new citizens. It’s called Citizen USA: A 50 State Road Trip.

Nearly a million people become US citizens each year and for many of them, it’s the path to a better life. But surprisingly a better life often is defined by the little things– walking down safe streets, available, inexpensive food, and the ability to work hard to build a better future for your family. The very things we take for granted. Here are a couple quotes:

For me, it’s, you know, I can take my family around the block for a walk with a stroller and I don’t have to be worried about being hijacked. Sometimes you forget that every day’s a blessing. You wake up and it’s a gift.

I love it because you just dial the number [911] and then they come right away for your rescue.

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In Sickness and in Health

I’m slowly emerging from what we in polite society call a head cold from the place of eternal perdition. It’s been 7-10 days of full-out and complete battle against invisible forces, armed in one hand with a box of kleenex and in the other with a fistful of vitamin C—and goodness knows what I took in the middle of the night in my congestion-induced haze.

It’s been rough.

Apparently we’ve been passing it around as a family for several weeks now (this is the third Sunday I’ve been home with little ones) and, while at first it contented itself with drippy noses and whiny coughs, it finally conspired into one massive onslaught. Fever, congestion, watery eyes, coughing—the works.

As you can imagine, when mama’s been transformed into a walking ball of germs, it can take a toll on family life. And while I know we ate last week, I have only vague memories of chicken curry and pasta. What form or shape they took, well…your guess is as good as mine. My mind’s been cluttered too, and the normally lucid conversations with my husband have been reduced to grunts and a universal absence of antecedents.

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Culture Shock or Bathing in Self-Pity

by Jason Stover

It’s the little things on a foreign field that begin to eat away at your psyche. In our area of Poland, all meat is bought and sold over the counter from the butcher, so grabbing a package from the freezer section is out of the question. Therefore, every two or three days, my wife and I are reminded of our status in the language as we struggle to communicate what stover_fuel.jpgkind of meat we would like and how much we want.

Simple trips to the gas station feel like that long walk to the principal’s office—you know, back when principals were feared for the massive paddle hanging on their wall. Most of the time, I rely on a mix of low guttural sounds and complex hand signals to explain what kind of gas and how much to the person filling my tank. When that hurdle is crossed, I walk into the station only to begin the entire process over again, hoping to point out which pump is mine.

We drop our kids off at school each day and choke through a few Polish words with their teacher, but if we’re honest we have no idea what’s going on at their school. The other day each of our boys came home from school with a brand-new toy tractor, and we had no idea why. Did they win a contest we didn’t know about? Did they find buried treasure? Worse, did they knock off a local convenience store?

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Recognizing the Grace of God in Others

by Michael Osborne

One Thursday night last April, I slipped into the back pew of Temple Baptist Church in Omaha’s Benson area, having arrived as soon as I could after work, meaning late. It was the Nebraska Association of Regular Baptist Churches’ (NARBC) spring Bible conference. John Greening, national representative for the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches osborne_thank_you.jpg(GARBC), was the speaker for the evening. Before launching into his message, he took a moment to sort of hold us all at arms’ length and exclaim over what God was doing in the NARBC. He praised God for us all, praised God for the labors going on in each congregation, praised God that we were in attendance and ready to hear the Word, praised God for our commitment. One might even say John Greening delighted in us for a moment.

There’s a cynical side of me that could criticize Greening for effusive sentimentality. C’mon, Dr. Greening! Don’t you know what we’re really like? How do you know that we’re all so godly and so motivated by love for the Lord? How do you know that we want to be here and that we’re actually paying attention?

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Eternal Rewards

A few years ago, I gave sewing lessons to two different teenage girls. The first girl was eager to learn, and she was a joy to teach. When her first sewing project was finished, she presented me with a $20 gift card to a fabric store. The second girl did not like sewing very much and was always trying to weasel me into ironing her project or finishing the edges for her. While she sewed, we would talk about her struggles at home and school. I was not sure she was learning very much about sewing, but I knew that the time I was spending with her was making a difference in her life.

One day during sewing lessons, my second student decided to cut out a pattern on top of my bed. While cutting out the fabric, she cut a big slash through my comforter. When I saw the destruction, I quickly left the room. Tears were flooding my eyes, and I did not want my emotions to show through to my student. I found refuge in the bathroom and allowed myself to have a good cry. A battle began to rage in my spirit. On one hand, I kept telling myself, It’s just a comforter. It’s only a thing. And on the other hand, I kept reminding myself of how much money the comforter had cost and how it had been just the right one in the store. So the tears kept rolling out. My self-pity continued as I began to entertain bitter thoughts toward my second student: I spend all this time teaching her, and I get no thanks—only a ruined comforter. My first student was so nice—she got me a gift card.

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Now Thank We All Our God

To All Ye Pilgrims: Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now, I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.

It’s been 383 years since Governor William Bradford called the Pilgrims to the first Thanksgiving celebration in the New World. One 156 years later, after a long, hard war for independence, our first President, George Washington, called the United States of America to a day of thanksgiving:

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