Some people wait until the fourth Thursday of November to be thankful. Others set aside the whole month of November to express thanks. I am thankful that people express their appreciation for what they have. I try to make "Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart" a way of life, but my attempts are less than successful.
I am blessed with a terrific wife, Judy, and a wonderful daughter, Michelle. I am thankful we are homeowners and vehicle owners with no lien holders involved. I am glad that when I buy fuel for my vehicles, I know the debit payment will clear. I am really glad that my trips to Costco and Raley's are something we can afford.
I am blessed because my dad came to America over 80 years ago, and that almost 70 years ago I became an American the easy way, by being born in Maine. I am privileged to live in a great nation.
A little over three months ago I had the privilege of taking a short-term mission trip with our district director of missions, four other pastors and several spouses. In the course of our ministry, we observed some things the normal tourists do not see. We ministered in churches that were led by bivocational pastors who were continuing their theological training. Some of those churches were in the middle of poor neighborhoods that were basically under the control of drug gangs.
We went through a resident school for children who had lived on the streets with no hope for anything, yet they learn social, academic and vocational skills.
The traffic is horrible and I questioned some of the drivers' abilities. The traffic patterns made me long for the roundabouts people here in Stanislaus County rue.
Consumer goods are generally expensive and all restaurant prices are higher than at home.
I learned a huge lesson while on that trip that made me stop and reconsider my attitude about my circumstances. The Brazilians we saw were very thankful for God's blessings.
I will change into my Pentecostal preacher persona. Jeremiah wrote Lamentations about the problems he was surrounded with and 3:22-23 is the basis for the refrain of a song we sing a lot:
"Great is Thy faithfulness!
"Great is Thy faithfulness!
"Morning by morning new mercies I see
"All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
"Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!"
Most of us have more blessings than we have problems.
It is a huge temptation to focus on the negatives that come into our lives, and may even overwhelm us, but if we look at our lives realistically, we have a lot of blessings to be thankful for.
Yes, I will be thankful on the fourth Thursday of this month. It will have a lot to do with turkey, stuffing, veggies, potatoes. Of course the fact that Judy makes the best apple pie I have ever eaten may have a lot to do with my anticipation of appreciation.
Belarmino, of Turlock, works as a chaplain with the Assemblies of God Disaster Response Task Force.