Give Thanks

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Psalm 95:2

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The Thanksgiving Proclamation

In 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, President
Abraham Lincoln established the holiday we know as
Thanksgiving. Lincoln was a man who lived through
great trials and had learned just how important it is
to take time to thank God for all things. Yes, even
the great, heart-wrenching trials that come into
each of our lives for a season, and leave us stronger.

"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties
of heaven; we have been preserved these many years
in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers,
wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.
But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the
gracious hand which preserved us in peace and
multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we
have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our
hearts, that all these blessings were produced by
some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become
too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming
and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God
that made us. It has seemed to me fit and proper
that (the gifts of God) should be solemnly,
reverently, and gratefully acknowledged with one
heart and one voice by the whole American people.
I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens . . . to
set apart and observe the last Thursday of November
next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our
beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."

~ Abraham Lincoln ~

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"And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in
your hearts. For as members of one body you are
called to live in peace. And always be thankful."

Colossians 3:15

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We Thank Thee

For flowers that bloom about our feet,
Father, we thank Thee.
For tender grass so fresh, so sweet,
Father, we thank Thee.
For the song of bird and hum of bee,
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

For blue of stream and blue of sky,
Father, we thank Thee.
For pleasant shade of branches high,
Father, we thank Thee.
For fragrant air and cooling breeze,
For beauty of the blooming trees,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

For this new morning with its light,
Father, we thank Thee.
For rest and shelter of the night,
Father, we thank Thee.
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

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"Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts
with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His name."

Psalm 100:4

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Thanksgiving Special

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as
she pushed against a November gust and the florist
shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze.

Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a
minor automobile accident stole her ease. During this
Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She
grieved over her loss. As if that weren't enough her
husband's company threatened a transfer. Then her
sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying
she could not come. What's worse, Sandra's friend
infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given
path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with
others who suffer. "Had she lost a child? -No--she has
no idea what I'm feeling," Sandra shuddered.

Thanksgiving? "Thankful for what?" she wondered. For
a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when
he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life
but took that of her child?

"Good afternoon, can I help you?" The flower shop
clerk's approach startled her. "Sorry," said Jenny,
"I just didn't want you to think I was ignoring you."
"I....I need an arrangement." "For Thanksgiving?"
Sandra nodded. "Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or
would you like to challenge the day with a customer
favorite I call the Thanksgiving Special?"

Jenny saw Sandra's curiosity and continued. "I'm
convinced that flowers tell stories; that each arrangement
insinuates a particular feeling. Are you looking for
something that conveys gratitude this Thanksgiving?"

"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted. "Sorry, but in the last
five months, everything that could go wrong has." Sandra
regretted her outburst but was surprised when Jenny said,
"I have the perfect arrangement for you."

The door's small bell suddenly rang. "Barbara, hi!" Jenny
said. She politely excused herself from Sandra and walked
toward a small workroom. She quickly reappeared carrying
a massive arrangement of greenery, bows, and long-stemmed
thorny roses. Only,the ends of the rose stems were neatly
snipped, no flowers. "Want this in a box?" Jenny asked.

Sandra watched for Barbara's response. Was this a joke?
Who would want rose stems and no flowers! She waited for
laughter, for someone to notice the absence of flowers
atop the thorny stems, but neither woman did.

"Yes, please. It's exquisite," said Barbara. "You'd think
after three years of getting the special, I'd not be so
moved by its significance, but it's happening again. My
family will love this one. Thanks." Sandra stared.
"Why so normal a conversation about so strange an
arrangement? she wondered.

"Ah, said Sandra, pointing."That lady just left with,
ah....." "Yes?" "Well, she had no flowers!" "Right, I
cut off the flowers." "Off?" "Off. Yep. That's the Special.
I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet."

"But, why do people pay for that?" In spite of herself she
chuckled." "Do you really want to know?" "I couldn't leave
this shop without knowing. I'd think about nothing else!"

"That might be good," said Jenny. "Well," she continued,
"Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling very
much like you feel today. She thought she had very little
to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer,
the family business was failing, her son was into drugs,
and she faced major surgery."

"Ouch!" said Sandra. "That same year, I lost my husband.
I assumed complete responsibility for the shop and for
the first time, spent the holidays alone. I had no children,
no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to
allow any travel."

"What did you do?" "I learned to be thankful for thorns."
Sandra's eyebrows lifted. "Thorns?" "I'm a Christian, Sandra.
I've always thanked God for good things in life and I never
thought to ask Him why good things happened to me? But,
when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time to learn
that dark times are important.

I always enjoyed the 'flowers' of life but it took thorns
to show me the beauty of God's comfort. You know, the Bible
says that God comforts us when we're afflicted and from His
consolation we learn to comfort others."

Sandra gasped. "A friend read that passage to me and I was
furious! I guess the truth is I don't want comfort. I've
lost a baby and I'm angry with God." She started to ask Jenny
to "go on" when the door's bell diverted their attention.
"Hey, Phil!" shouted Jenny as a balding, rotund man entered
the shop. She softly touched Sandra's arm and moved to
welcome him. He tucked her under his side for a warm hug.

"I'm here for twelve thorny long-stemmed stems!" Phil
laughed heartily. "I figured as much," said Jenny. "I've
got them ready." She lifted a tissue-wrapped arrangement
from the refrigerated cabinet. "Beautiful," said Phil.
"My wife will love them."

Sandra could not resist asking. "These are for your wife?"
Phil saw that Sandra's curiosity matched his when he first
heard of a Thorn Bouquet. "Do you mind me asking, "Why
thorns?" "In fact, I'm glad you asked," he said. "Four
years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty
years, we were in a real mess, but we slogged through,
problem by rotten problem.

We rescued our marriage - our love, really. Last year
at Thanksgiving I stopped in here for flowers. I must
have mentioned surviving a tough process because Jenny
told me that for a long time she kept a vase of rose
stems - stems! - as a reminder of what she learned
from "thorny" times.

That was good enough for me. I took home stems. My wife
and I decided to label each one for a specific thorny
situation and give thanks for what the problem taught us.
I'm pretty sure this stem review is becoming a tradition."

Phil paid Jenny, thanked her again and as he left, said to
Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special!" "I don't know
if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life." Sandra
said to Jenny. "Well, my experience says that thorns make
roses more precious. We treasure God's providential care
more during trouble than at any other time.

Remember, Sandra, Jesus wore a crown of thorns so that we
might know His love. Do not resent thorns." Tears rolled
down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time since the accident
she loosened her grip on resentment. "I'll take twelve
long-stemmed thorns, please."

"I hoped you would," Jenny said. "I'll have them ready in
a minute. Then, every time you see them, remember to
appreciate both good and hard times. We grow through both."

"Thank you. What do I owe you?" "Nothing. Nothing but a
pledge to work toward healing your heart. The first year's
arrangement is always on me." Jenny handed a card to Sandra.
"I'll attach a card like this to your arrangement but maybe
you'd like to read it first. Go ahead, read it."

" My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn! I have
thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but never once
for my thorn. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear,
teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have
climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my
tears have made my rainbow. -- George Matheson"

Jenny said, "Happy Thanksgiving, Sandra," handing her the
Special." "I look forward to our knowing each other better."
Sandra smiled. She turned, opened the door. . .
and walked toward hope.

~ Author Unknown ~

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"Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter
what happens, always be thankful, for this is
God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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For What Thou Hast Not Given

For all thy blessings given,
We pause to thank thee, Lord,
But for the gifts withholden,
I fain would add a word.

For the good things I desired
That barred me from the best,
The peace at the price of honor,
The sloth of a shameful rest.

The poisonous sweets I longed for
To my hungering heart denied,
The staff that broke and failed me
When I walked in the way of pride.

The tinsel joys withheld
So that peace might still be mine,
The help refused that might have made
Me loose my hand from thine.

The light withdrawn that I might not see
The dangers of my way;
For what thou hast not given,
I thank thee, Lord, today.

~ Annie Johnson Flint ~

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"You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive
glory and honor and power. For you created
everything, and it is for your pleasure
that they exist and were created."

Revelation 4:11

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"How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin
and death through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

1 Corinthians 15:57

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Graphics by Peg

"I Thank You Lord" by Elton Smith and Larry Holder
is available at Songs of Praise.

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