Being thankful is an opportunity to open our eyes to God's abundant provision...regardless of our circumstances.
Would you like to learn more about developing a thankful, grateful lifestyle?
I recommend two books that have influenced my life-lenses: Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot (website) and One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp (website).
*Let's talk turkey:
Several years ago I had the great opportunity to travel to Turkey to speak at a retreat for a military chapel group. For over two weeks I spent time with lovely US military wives from the Incirlik Air Force Base in Adana, Turkey. Amy, Deb, Auline, Nili and others welcomed me and made me feel right at home. One evening Auline invited me to dinner. The meal was delicious, the fellowship was sweet and the conversation was uplifting. I complimented her for the wonderful meal and she confessed it was a true surprise because she didn’t have the ingredients for any of the recipes she wanted to prepare and the commissary was closed. Just like a resourceful military wife, Auline went door to door to ask her neighbors if they had this ingredient or that ingredient. She ended up with everything she needed and more to create a gastronomical masterpiece! If you’ve ever lived in a military community you know the spirit of generosity Auline encountered with her neighbors is the norm among military families.
As crazy as it may sound, I have thought of Auline and her generous neighbors as I approach Thanksgiving. During the first Thanksgiving the struggling Pilgrims learned that in order to survive in the new land, they had to depend upon the support of their fellow Pilgrims. They also discovered their Native American neighbors were willing to generously teach them some of the finer points of survival. As they came together for that first Thanksgiving meal they joined in thanks for the goodness of God, the bounty of the land, and support for one another. They created a tradition that has long endured in our nation. Family and friends still go to great lengths to show their gratitude to God and to one another.
I’m reflecting on my blessings during this season and have to say that being a military wife ranks toward the top. I’m wondering if it is too corny to say I learned a Thanksgiving lesson from some sister military wives in a land called Turkey?
~Submitted by Brenda Pace
A military wife for twenty-eight years, Brenda Pace is an author and speaker with a passion for bringing encouragement and hope to women. She is frequently asked to share her message with women in both local church and military chapel settings. Along with friend and co-author Carol McGlothlin, Brenda has sought to expound on that message through the publication of Medals above My Heart (B&H) and The One Year Yellow Ribbon Devotional (Tyndale House). You can find out more about Brenda and her ministry at www.brendapace.com.
*Hope while we wait:
This photo is of my grandkids, The We Serve Too! kids, at Paula's farm. Their Daddy was in Iraq at the time and this tugged at my heart after I saw how the picture turned out. It seemed to sum up what Paula and I do, for all the little ones who wait. Military life often a time of waiting, and our hope is truly in His Word.
*First week of summer:
June 23, 2013 ~ Today is a special day in our family's life, but especially mine. Today is BOTH my 53 birthday AND the 6 year anniversary of my son Joel's death while serving in the US Army. Joel was 22 years old when he was killed by a roadside bomb in Taji, Iraq. It was my 47 birthday.
I had been on a little trip with my mom and sisters to the coast for a couple of days, but I had to get back home to Lee, Maine for my birthday. Every year I looked forward to spending my birthday at our family camp on Silver Lake. Because my dad had been in the US Navy while I was growing up, I never had a "homestead" to call "home". This camp built by my grandparents in 1965 had been the closest thing to a "Home" that my younger sister and I had ever had. Our kids had spent every summer playing together there. On my 47 birthday, I was anxious to get everything else done and just go sit on my camp porch to watch the sun go down at 9:30pm, one of the longest days of the year here in Maine.
I was sitting at my kitchen table, uploading photos from my road trip, when a van pulled into the driveway. My husband, looking out the window said, "Joel's gone. Joel's dead." He knew as soon as he saw the Department of Defense license plates that they were here to tell us that Joel was dead.
The story unfolds and has been the defining element in my life these past 6 years. I imagine God in Heaven talking to His angels saying, "I am going to choose Dee House to do something that will shake her faith in Me to her very core. And although calling her youngest son home to be with Me will be the hardest thing she has had to face in a life full of hardship, I have given her grace and love and faith, family and a place she loves called 'camp'".
God has chosen me to help my husband work with veterans and their families through House in the Woods, A Military & Family Retreat. God called Paul, a Master Maine Guide, to create short-term hunting and fishing trips so that men and women who have served and sacrificed can have down time to talk with others who know and understand the challenges that military service brings. Paul and his volunteers help our military find a place of caring, rest and peace under God's Heavens. They create an extended family built on the principles of God's love. No matter where they travel to in order to gather for these retreats, they are able to create for others, the feeliing that me and my family receive from spending time at our camp on Silver Lake.
This photo was taken on June 20, 2013 at 4:35am at my family camp on Silver Lake in Lee, Maine.
I am thankful for the first week of summer when the sun rises around 4am and sets around 9:30pm. All of my senses spark. The water, at this time of day, is so tranquil. The colors are surreal--reminding me that Heaven, in all of its unimaginable splendor, is just on the other side. The loons' mournful cries linger on the pine breeze. The dark, cold days of winter become a forgotten memory.
Philippians 4:7 "Because you belong to Jesus Christ, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel."
*Giving thanks in all circumstances:
When Corrie ten Boom was imprisoned in the Ravensbruck concentration camp during WWII, she and her sister were sent to barracks infested with fleas. "How can we live in such a place?" Corrie asked. Her sister Betsie prayed to God to show them how, and then remembered the verse they had read that morning.
"That's it, Corrie! That's His answer. 'Give thanks in all circumstances!' That's what we can do..." But when Betsie even thanked God for the fleas, Corrie thought she had gone too far.
Not until later did Corrie and Betsie understand the blessing of the fleas--because of them the guards never dared enter those barracks. Corrie and Betsie had much freedom to lead worship services and give hope to many of their fellow inmates.
Is there something in your life that you have written off as beyond God's use? Give him your burdens, and thank him...in all circumstances!
Read more of the inspiring testimony of Corrie ten Boom in her book The Hiding Place.
~ Submitted by Kristi Hofman
A special thank you to our "thankful" professional photographer friends listed below.
Won't you support these military and veteran spouses?
This life...my military life
While some chase dreams, there are many merely existing
one day at a time seasons
one breath at a time moments
moving, doing, smiling
silent gasping, reaching out, hoping.
Once, I drank from that cup
that blend of silent sorrows
unique to the military family...
And when it was over
And I didn't want to go back to that place
How to sidestep the IED's of this life?
Absolutely no control of that.
No guarantees of what's on the path in which I ambulate.
The only guarantee with life...
this life...my military life...
is that there are no guarantees.
This life...my military life...
is not mine
it never was.
Walking alongside me on the journey
of this life...this military life.
He is good.
He is love.
This life...this military life...
If the moments are breath-taking again
I will courageously choose to breathe it
walking through the valley of the shadow of death
With eyes wide open
To the goodness
To the grace
poured out daily
as I breathe each breath
Blessing Him because I see it
Fighting the blasts
Dodging the shrapnel
...of this life.
I am grateful
to the Author of the gifts
the Provider of the graces.
He is my portion
and I am His.
basking in grace
Can I ask for more
with this life...this military life?
~ Benita Koeman