Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Giving thanks always and continually

fall

Oh fall. If you were only with me in Haiti. Taken in Colorado in October.

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States and although today is like any other day for us in Haiti, I can’t help but reflect on the whole giving thanks thing.    All in all I have a lot to be thankful for—food to eat, a roof over my head, a loving wife, genuine community, and good health for starters.

This isn’t always true but in general I wonder if it is easier to pick out what we’re thankful for when we’re encouraged to do so on one particular day.

But what about the other 364 days of the year?

This is what I’m asking myself this morning—how am I doing with giving thanks with a grateful heart on all the non-Thanksgiving days?  And if I could add up the moments when I expressed my gratitude on these other 364 days, how many of those would have been during a moment when all is well and in order compared to the chaotic or discouraging moments?

A friend of ours recently wrote about remaining thankful despite the valleys we sometimes find ourselves in.  I found her words encouraging and relevant to the questions I’ve been asking.  She shared the following verse:

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Always.  Continually.  All circumstances.  Give thanks not just on one day and not just haphazardly either but do it well, do it often, and do it with rejoicing.

What a beautiful and hopeful calling.  I’m choosing to trust that today on Thanksgiving and on all the other days of the year, God will give me the strength and grace necessary to live out this calling through Christ Jesus.

I’m also encouraged by people here in Haiti like Manoucha.  We recently visited this young woman who has faced tough challenges yet still manages to keep moving forward.

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Manoucha shows off her beautiful smile.

We met her for the first time in the summer of 2013 after she received a goat through World Concern’s Hope to Kids program.  The program is meant to provide students with a goat—and therefore a source of income—which can help them pay for school and meet their basic needs.

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Manoucha walks from her church to her home in the seaside village of Crabier, Haiti.

Manoucha is a little old for her grade at school.  As a 20-year-old she is in the same grade as her 16-year-old sister, Dieunike, because health issues in past years have kept her out of school and at home.

“Now I am well but sometimes I still get sick which means I cannot go to school or work,” Manoucha said.

It hasn’t been an easy road however she was able to begin school this year on time, for the second year in a row, and is now only two years away from graduating high school!

“I choose to keep giving effort at school so that I can one day help my family,” she said.  “I want to study to become a nurse because I like this.  Then if someone in my family is sick I can help them.”

Manoucha is already finding ways to help her family.  Her goat has given offspring and she gave one of the kids to her sister Dieunike so she can also benefit.   The gift of one goat has a multiplying effect within this family.  It is encouraging to see Manoucha continue to persevere despite her challenges.

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Manoucha with her sisters Dieunika (middle) and Nadine (far right) outside their house.

 

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Dieunika and her goat.

The call to “rejoice always” in 1 Thessalonians is for all of us whatever season of life we find ourselves in. This is an important reminder for me today but also for tomorrow and all the other tomorrows in this next year and I hope it gives you hope as well.

Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends and family.

A Grateful Heart

Martha and I are wrapping up our cross-cultural training here at Mission Training International (MTI) in Colorado.  The past three weeks have been a huge blessing.  God has given us many new friends and has challenged us to consider how grow as we get ready to enter a new culture.  We have learned many things; however one that stands out is the importance of being thankful and having a grateful heart.  One of our assignments has been to list joys and thanksgivings at the end of each day.  What a cool exercise.  I have missed some days but all in all it has been a really refreshing experience.

There is an old prayer that says something like, “O God, you have given me so much.  I ask for one more thing: a grateful heart.”

Why is a grateful heart so important to our spiritual health?  The MTI notebook, which has guided us on our journey these three weeks, puts it this way:

“Remembering your joys, helps you cultivate a hopeful attitude; expecting God’s goodness and faithfulness to be manifest whether in the best of times or the worst of times…as well as a great coping mechanism in managing daily stress.”

An excellent reminder for all of us as we continue to pursue a healthy relationship with our Creator.  I especially want to carry on this habit of remembering my joys as we prepare to move to Haiti.  In a new culture, with a new language, and new stresses, it will be important to lean on God more and more.  This is one practical discipline that will help me to endure even when it gets hard.

It would be a shame if I did all this talking about joys and thanksgivings but did not share with you some of mine from the past three weeks!  So here are some of the things I have been thankful for recently…

  • Affirmation from other men
  • Reading in the sun
  • Reconnecting with old friends
  • The MOUNTAINS!
  • Generous partners who care just as much about Haiti as we do
  • Long conversations over morning coffee
  • Fun and laughing really hard and joy
  • Family who is behind our decision to serve in Haiti 100%
  • Time with just Martha
  • Basketball and lighted outdoor courts
  • Grace and reconciliation
  • New ‘surprise’ ministry partners
  • Opportunity to live in community for a short time
  • New friends!

I could go on and on.  Martha and I face many challenges and uncertainties during this season.  We rarely doubt our call to serve in Haiti, however the support raising process and transition to life in a new culture can be overwhelming.  It is precisely because of these difficulties that it is so important for us to remain joyful!  I am learning how to have a grateful heart.

Here are some verses from scripture that have been helpful for me to meditate on as I learn more about what it means to have a grateful heart.  I hope they serve as an encouragement to you as well.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”  Psalm 126:3

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”  Psalm 107:1

“Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” Daniel 6:10