Giving Thanks

On this Thanksgiving Day, we at send our heartfelt love and greetings to all of you. Thanks for making us part of your life and sharing our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Here are a few of things we’re grateful for.

Lana Mayfield says she is grateful to minister to others. “This has been a source of happiness for me over the past several years. The holidays used to be very painful to me until I learned this secret. Now I actually enjoy them when I am alone because I have found out how to get out and do things for others.

“About the third year after my divorce I was feeling keenly alone so I decided to do something about it and went to a homeless shelter. They didn’t need my efforts in preparing, serving food or cleaning up so I decided I could still serve by being a friend. I loved those days of doing this at the holidays.

“I have two brothers who have been homeless. One has passed on to our heavenly home, and no longer has to look for a place to live in the winter months. He loved being outdoors, but as his health declined, it got increasingly hard for him to be outdoors. Most of last year I couldn’t locate him and he had no phone. Then on my birthday, just before Christmas, I was passing a bus stop and saw him standing there. I screeched into a nearby parking lot, jumped out, ran over to him and threw my arms around him. My prayers were answered because now I knew where he was.

“I had worried that he would die and I wouldn’t know when or where. He has been such a source of joy and hardship to me all of my life, yet I would not trade any of it. He passed away this year and the Lord told me he would so I was prepared to help him, checking in on him regularly. When he took his last breath, the thought came very strongly that he would no longer have to worry about or look for places to live. He was finally home, no longer homeless, free of his body which had been riddled with pain much of the past ten years.

“Since it turned cold this year he has been on my mind and with me in spirit. I tell him often how he better be up there praying for me. It’s his turn. Now instead of sitting alone feeling sorry for myself about being alone, I find ways to minister to others and stand all amazed at how blessed I have been because of it.”  – Lana Mayfield

Brandon Shepherd writes: “I am grateful for my love of learning. My life has been a series of blessings that stems from my desire to learn about a wide variety of topics that are not necessary for me for school, work or other responsibilities. I have gone through many waves of learning over many decades, all driven by a deep interest to just know more. This interest did not come from the necessity of taking a test, or needing to accomplish a goal, but a deeper interest of self-betterment and love of learning.

“I have a firm belief that we need to suppress our natural desire to be sedentary and consume media that requires no effort, such as TV and social media. We can learn to replace that time with engaging media that teaches and provides inspiration for our betterment. As we become more aware of knowledge and truth of all kinds and in all formats, we will ultimately be blessed with opportunities to apply it and better our lives. Blessings of learning are like compounding interest, the more you know in one area, and add to it from another perspective, it compounds and increases your awareness of and ability to apply knowledge. I am so grateful for being given a love of learning and continued opportunities from heaven to apply the knowledge I have sought in a way that blesses my life and the lives of those around me.”

Christie Ottosen expresses gratitude for traditions. “My heart is always full this time of year as my little family gathers together. My parents and all of my siblings reside in Southern California. After 28 years, my mom still complains that I dated a boy from another state who ‘took’ me away to Washington. As I am hundreds of miles away from my extended family, I find comfort knowing that each of my sisters, and my mom are all following my Grandma Vivi’s delicious cheesecake recipe simultaneously. We all make the same stuffed chicken empanadas with gravy for Christmas. And while the actual food items are not the focus of the holiday, the way those memories stir our hearts to thoughts of family and gatherings bind us together. I love that my son-in-law now counts our traditions as his own, and I know how much he looks forward to our dinner of empanadas and cheesecake.

“My mother-in-law, Diane, provides the tradition of documenting each occasion by photographing every gathering or event. At times we might begrudgingly gather for another group photo when we have disheveled hair or we were lounging around in sweatpants while everyone else looks put together. I am grateful for Diane’s consistent effort to capture tender moments in time. Our family is blessed with a well chronicled photo diary of a lifetime.

“I am most grateful for the ancestors who came to this country before me, that afford me the comforts and freedoms of life I enjoy. I feel strength from my Grandpa Rob, whose legacy as a brave detective and survivor of war and the Great Depression, taught me to be strong, independent and frugal. I love reflecting on the history of my predecessors and enjoy the sense of connection by sharing their history with my children. I am thankful for a loving God who created the eternal gift of family.”

Leah Stimmel wrote: “I am grateful for laughter! In years past I’ve always been a BIG New Year’s Goal kind of gal. The list is typically multifaceted and it’s lofty. But last year, as 2018 was about to ring in, I felt myself a little at a loss for what to accomplish. I just wasn’t as interested or inclined to go for all the lofty stratospheric goals that I normally did. I was craving more simplicity, more happiness, and growth (not even fully sure in what direction I was trying to grow). So my goals were very different, I set a goal to read 50 books, another to finish a few online courses that I’d bought forever ago, and last but certainly not least, to laugh more.

“That last goal has been so fun to ‘work’ on. I’ve chosen comedies instead of dramas for movie night, to laugh instead of getting upset when chaos erupts, and to look for the funny in day-to-day life. I’ve even been caught laughing at something while walking the aisles all alone at the grocery store — which looks a little deranged perhaps, but then, that just makes me laugh more at what that stranger must be thinking of me. Man was created to have joy! And maybe, being more joyFULL is as simple as just starting with a goal to laugh more.”

As for me, I am grateful for people who ponder their blessings, are actively grateful for them and share that understanding with others. I’m also grateful for answers to prayers. I have no doubt that our heartfelt prayers are heard and often answered quickly, even when the answer isn’t what we think we want. There was that boyfriend the Lord inspired me to run away from; and how grateful I have always been for the man who then became my husband. There was the time my answer was that there was no settling down in my future, but I was supposed to move around with work. The result was so many wonderful, and sometimes hard, experiences, none of which I would give up. The very best answer I received to prayer happened when I was about 18, and I learned that the Lord lives and loves us, that He cares deeply about us and will always be with us.

I hope and pray that all of you can count the blessings in your lives this year and share them with others, just as the Savior would do.

Kathi Irving