Tending Hearts in Single Motherhood

http://www.christinelindsay.org/2017/02/tending-hearts-in-single-motherhood-by.html

Shared from http://www.ChristineLindsay.org

TENDING HEARTS IN SINGLE MOTHERHOOD–by Guest Author Karen Jurgens

Guest Author Karen Jurgens
with her daughters after her divorce

Let’s be honest—going through a divorce isn’t easy. But no matter how difficult, don’t forget that your children may be suffering. To minister as the parental caregiver, it’s crucial to remember to first care for yourself. Just as on a flight where adults secure their oxygen masks before helping children, it’s the same after divorce.

Here are some points to help you along that journey.

Step One: Tend your spiritual life.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4, NASB).
Guest Author Karen Jurgens
When I catapulted into a new life of singlehood, a personal relationship with Jesus became my lifeline. He was more than my Redeemer and Friend—He became my spiritual husband. My car was a prayer chapel to and from work where I discussed everything with Him, just as though He were sitting next to me. When I fell into bed exhausted at the end of a long day, He talked to me out of His Word, speaking from passages wherever my bible fell open. I meditated on those scriptures and memorized them. He filled me with His strength, giving me hope for tomorrow. Each day brightened a shade, and I began to climb out of my deep well of grief.

Step Two: Surround yourself with adults who can offer support.

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10, NASB).
Karen’s daughters with Nana.
When my stay-at-home status changed overnight, I dusted off my teaching certificate after a nine-year absence. Securing a support system at home so I could handle a new job was a key ingredient, while keeping my children stable in their world. Fortunately, my parents lived nearby, so I was blessed to recruit them. I am forever grateful for their provision of stability and love for the girls, in addition to my peace of mind.

Step Three: Begin a new life.

A joyful heart is good medicine… (Proverbs 17:22a).
  • Playing school with Papa, Karen Jurgens’s
    father.
    Looking back, I can see how having a job was a blessing in disguise. Although I felt overwhelmed at the time, God used it as part of my healing process. Teaching, grading papers, and learning computer software programs kept my mind busy from the moment I awoke until I fell asleep. Little time was left over to feel sorry for myself—no time left to attend pity parties at the Broken Hearts Club.
  • Making a new set of friends also provided comfort. Singles groups in my church supplied opportunities for meeting new people and attending social activities. Laughter and pleasant adult company helped heal my heart.
  • But what about the kids? In a single family, ministering to them is worth every bit of effort it takes. Providing a feeling of security and love is of paramount importance.

Step Four: Communication.

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6, NASB).
  • Karen Jurgens’s daughters at church.
    Regular church attendance and bedtime prayers were the most important routines I established. Every night we would gather on my bed to read the bible. We prayed aloud for each other and memorized scriptures together. These activities formed the foundation of the girls’ relationship and walk with Jesus. Any time one of them started to wander during their teenage years, their training in the Word always brought them back on the path of righteousness.
  • Keep communication lines open by helping with homework, attending school and community activities, or playing a board or card game your child enjoys. Regular dinner time around the table is also a great opportunity for sharing about everyone’s day to celebrate the good things as well as to console any hurts.

Step Five:  Create a safe and secure environment.

My dad’s favorite saying: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
  • Karen Jurgens’s daughters in 2017
    Encourage positive words for little ears.No criticizing the other parent! Just pleasant, wholesome words that will nurture love for both parents.
  • Create a safe bridge of custodial visitation your child can cross in both directions. It’s not easy to live in two homes with two different sets of rules and expectations. Reassure children by continuing familiar routines with comforting belongings at both places, thus minimizing confusion and upset.
  • Pet adoption is a good way to bring comfort to a child’s heart. Loving and caring for our poodle Babette filled our hearts with love, comforting our entire family, and it taught the girls responsibility.
A road with fresh adventures and new relationships await you with every sunrise.May you and your children be blessed on this journey with good health, peace, and the joy of the Lord.
 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

ABOUT AUTHOR KAREN JURGENS

Karen Jurgens, a Cincinnati native, has been a Texan transplant for thirty years and counting. Since retiring from teaching, she has begun a new career as an author, blogger, and speaker within the context of Christian ministry. She blogs about scriptural answers to life’s trials at Touched by Him Ministries.

LINKS FOR KAREN JURGENS:

Blogs:
Touched by Him Ministries
Writing Prompts blog
Heartwings Blog
Twitter
Facebook Author page
Amazon Author page
Desire’s Promise Link to Purchase

Remembering God’s Love for Valentine’s Day

First published on Heart”wings” Blog

gods-love-by-karen-jurgens

Who is the author of love?

On Valentine’s Day, the world may claim it’s Cupid. But as Christians, we know who is the real author is—the Lord God.

What are the characteristics of love? cupid

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things  1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NASB.

With Valentine’s Day literally around the corner, most of us have someone special on our minds. Tomorrow lends a unique opportunity to express our appreciation in a way that demonstrates value to our loved ones.

What about exchanging valentines with God?

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God sent us His valentine when He sent Jesus into the world.

16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him John 3:16-17 NASB.

Jesus signed his valentine in red from the Cross.

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8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us Romans 5:8 NASB.

How much does He love us?

15 Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. 16 Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands  Isaiah 49:15-16 NASB.

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On Valentine’s Day as we celebrate, let’s also remember celebrate God’s love for us. Tell Him you love Him. Do something special for Jesus. Thank Him for His overwhelming, perfect love.

With Jesus, every day is Valentine’s Day. Let’s remember to always rejoice in His love.

gods-love-2-by-karen-jurgens

 

Be Shrewd as Serpents and Innocent as Doves

Be shrewd as serpents and innocent s doves by Karen Jurgens

We live in a day of great deception sweeping the earth. Jesus warned the disciples, Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves’ (Matthew 10:15, NASB). Prophecy tells us that great deception will sweep the earth in these last days, and unless those days were shortened, even the very elect would be led astray.

May I tell you a true story? Let’s travel back to the early eighties. At the time, I was a young, single teacher in a small town out West.

One Sunday, as I was sitting in my singles’ class, a stranger joined us. This man claimed he was driving through town when the Lord had told him to stop at our church. Not only was he from out-of-town, but also from a different state.

Afterward, he joined us for the church service. At the end of the sermon, he went down to the altar where he collapsed, sobbing. The ministers laid hands on his shoulders and prayed with him a long time. We all wondered what was wrong, and a few days later, we heard his story through the grapevine.

Just a few months earlier, his wife and two young children had been on their way to church for a Wednesday evening service. As their car crested to the top of a hill,  a tractor-trailer met them. The head-on collision was unavoidable, killing all three passengers in the car. Ever since, this father and husband had suffered from bereavement, unable to face life without his precious family.

That catalyst set his wanderings in motion. He had traveled through several states, seeking the Lord’s will for his inconsolable grief. Certain that he had heard God’s voice, he obeyed and stopped at our small-town church. Not knowing why, he decided to simply be obedient and throw himself into the arms of the congregation. Perhaps here he could find solace and begin a new life.

As good Christians, the congregation opened their hearts to this poor man. No one could fathom the pain he must have suffered from such a cruel turn of fate. As he had no job or place to live, Good Samaritans opened their spare bedrooms and kitchens, feeling dutiful to heap compassion on him.

Sunday after Sunday, he cried at the altar, but on weekdays he offered free roofing skills. He aimed his labor of love at elderly women and widows, volunteering to check their roofs for damage. Sure enough, every lady seemed to own a house in need of major repairs, so he did the job. Without pay.

However, those sweet Christian ladies wouldn’t hear of his refusing payment. Not only did they feed him three meals a day, but they paid at least three times what the job was worth. With tears in their eyes, they forced him to take their money. Although he initially balked, he always gave in, humbly pocketing the cash as he wiped away his own tears. After a hug and a peck on the cheek, he moved on to the next widow’s house.

Time passed. One weekend, he joined our group for a weekend trip of snow-skiing. That evening, we went to dinner at a local restaurant where we waited to be seated. I happened to stand next to him, so we struck up a conversation for the first time.

My spiritual senses were keen, like a bloodhound, and I sensed something amiss about this man. What was it? I asked him questions about his wife and kids, careful to be sensitive. With a blank stare in his eyes, he answered everything with a lifeless tone.

After several minutes of probing, I summed up my opinion about details of his story that made no sense to me.  “Either you’re still in so much shock that your emotions are numbed, or else” … I laughed as though I couldn’t believe it myself … “this story just isn’t true.”

My words had captured his full attention. His eyes widened, but he said nothing. No reaction except for that odd stare. He moved far away from me, and we never conversed again.

The next day on our way home, our group stopped at a mountain resort for brunch—a pricey buffet. When the check came, we prepared to pay individually, but he stopped us.

“No, put your money away. This is my treat.”

Our mouths dropped. How could he possibly afford to pay for the entire group? The amount was well over one hundred dollars back then, and we all protested at his generosity. Instead, he whipped out a credit card and sent the bill off with a server. All we could do was thank him over and over.

Be shrewd as serpents but innocent as doves.Be shrewd as serpents and innocent s doves by Karen Jurgens

In the eyes of the church leadership and members, this man could do no wrong. Everyone bent over backward to help him every way possible.

Except me. I remembered his odd reaction at the restaurant and still had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right, so I followed my instincts and observed from a distance. I had confided my doubts to several friends, but they disagreed with me, seeing no good reason to doubt his story.

Then, one day, our visitor suddenly disappeared, and everyone in the church was surprised and concerned. Why, he hadn’t even said goodbye. No one could understand it. Where had he gone?

A couple days later, I heard that one of the guys in our group had also become suspicious about this stranger’s excessive spending on different credit cards and had checked him out. Good thing he did.

Turned out our visitor was a criminal wanted in several states for fraud, bounced checks, and stolen credit cards. He traveled from state-to-state, stopping at small churches in sleepy towns where he bet on the people being gullible.

And the story about losing his family? All phony. He was divorced from his wife, and all three were alive and well, residing in a different state.

And the roofs he had fixed? He had done little to no repairs, just sat on top of the houses, occasionally banging a hammer enough times to sound like he was working. Those poor elderly women on a fixed income had been robbed by a con man.

Deception means being tricked into believing a lie. That is Satan’s purpose, which explains why Jesus calls him the father of lies. Remember Eve? She has her own story in Genesis, and we’re still living under the consequences of it today.

How easy it is to be deceived. We may be sincere … but sincerely wrong. The only way to be sure we’re not deceived is to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, who lives inside every Christian believer. He will nudge our hearts and show us truth as we pray. He speaks through God’s word and sometimes through dreams, teaching us how to discern wisdom and truth.

Be shrewd as serpents and innocent s doves by Karen Jurgens

I may have escaped falling into deception that round, but other tests were soon to come down my road of life. How I wish I could say I have never been deceived—but that would be a lie. Haven’t we all been, at one time or another?

Be shrewd as serpents but innocent as doves.

In Matthew 7:15, Jesus warns us toBeware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves’ (NASB).

Think about it—could there be a person in your life right now who might be deceiving you?

Be shrewd as serpents and innocent s doves by Karen Jurgens

 

Welcome to the Best Year Yet: 2017

Can you believe it’s already New Year’s Day? If you’re like me, the events of 2016 seem to have flown by at a record rate of speed.

I recall when I used to dread January the most—all the bitter cold weather, the snow and ice, the dark days with little sunlight—and worst of all, it lasted for an eternal thirty-one days. But last year, I noticed how quickly it passed for the first time. Perhaps the blustery winter winds will also hurry the days along to February, one of my favorite months.

How are you going to begin this New Year? I have participated in fasting and prayer for many years, and my 2017 will begin the same way. I like to do a Daniel Fast for the first twenty-one days. This year I’m adding a juice fast for part of the time, making it more challenging. An article on fasting in Charisma Magazine is helpful because it describes the different kinds of fasts and what you eat for different lengths of time.

And the benefits? Not only is your physical body cleansed, but your spirit is also renewed. God can speak to you through prayer, His word, dreams, and visions. God renews your relationship with Him and will set your feet on a new path for 2017.  As you seek God’s will, fasting and prayer will lead you to find those answers.

I also want to thank you so much for following my blog. I plan to share what the Lord shows me this year, which I hope will be a blessing to your life.

Wishing you all the most blessed and happiest of New Years! May 2017 be the best yet!

wishing-you-the-happiest-of-new-years-by-karen-jurgens

 

Christmas: The Birth of Hope

christmas-the-birth-of-hope-by-karen-jurgens

Do you think Mary dreamed God-given dreams? Perhaps even becoming the Mother of God? From their study of the scriptures, every girl knew of the promise that Messiah would one day be born of a virgin. So, can you imagine her shock when Gabriel appeared, unfolding God’s purpose for her life? Chosen above every other woman, Mary listened as the angel told her she would carry the Promised One, Messiah, in her womb. She even discussed with this heavenly messenger the biological technicality of how this pregnancy were possible, seeing as how she was a virgin. All she had to do was trust God and the Holy Spirit would deposit this immaculate conception inside her—a marvelous mystery of scripture fulfilled.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel ~ Isaiah 7:14 NASB.

Like Mary’s physical womb, God fills up our spiritual wombs with godly hope and dreams. We must guard them carefully to avoid spiritual abortion. Our enemy, described as a roaring lion, is secretly lurking to devour us and steal our deepest desires.

But sometimes God may give us a dream and then call us to move. And it may seem to make absolutely no sense.

God moved Mary in the last days of her pregnancy due to a census registration in the land. Instead of staying home in her nice, warm bed surrounded by family and friends, Joseph placed her on the back of a donkey and led her to Bethlehem.

Why did God do that to her at a time so close to her delivery date?

When they arrived, Mary was in hard labor. Although imperative that Joseph find a place for her immediately, even that was tenuous. No room at the inn for a mother-to-be. But a smelly stable full of animals and straw was available. I imagine that Mary was grateful for any place she could lie and give birth to Jesus, even if it meant being surrounded by a chorus of moos, baas, and neighs of animals witnessing this great event.

The blessing of the birth taking place in Bethlehem is also a fulfillment of scripture.

‘But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth from Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity’ ~ Micah 5:2 NASB.

It’s easy to understand from a human perspective how a stable in Bethlehem would be God’s perfect plan. In Nazareth, Mary’s reputation was tarnished by this out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Which of those prejudiced townsfolk would have understood that this was the Savior of the World? This great event had to take place where Mary and Joseph were strangers, as well as apart from crowds registering for the census.

The angels appeared in the skies that night to the shepherds in the fields, who came running to witness the miracle told to them. Could that announcement have been possible in Nazareth? With all the gossip during those nine months, perhaps no one would have believed that Messiah, instead of an illigitimate baby, had been born.

God always brings glory to Himself, and that is what He did the night of Jesus’s birth. He glorified His name through the birth of His Son, who was born both fully God and fully man. The sinless One was born to die thirty-three years later for the sins of every person. The time to worship Him is now as we celebrate His divine entrance into the world.

No matter what trials you face in this life, Jesus brings ultimate hope. Like Mary, may you conceive and carry God-given dreams, and may this Christmas season birth in you the hope of heaven.

 

Locket Greedy

This blog post is written by a Heartwings sister, Danele. It touched my heart, so I reblogged it in hopes that it will also touch yours. A good lesson for us all, especially at Christmas season.

dragonflydanele

grandma-5When I was a senior in high school, my grandmother died. I loved her very much, and I was devastated. What made it even worse was that I’d begged God to let her live. I didn’t see why God had to take her away. I thought it was mean.

Later, after the funeral, the extended family went to Grandma’s house to dispose of her belongings. Several of us were in Grandma’s bedroom sorting through clothes when one of my relatives spotted a locket on the dresser. I spotted another one. We asked the rest of the family if we could have the lockets as keepsakes. They agreed.

locket-1My locket wasn’t very large, and it definitely wasn’t expensive. But I thought it was lovely. I planned on putting a picture of Grandma in it. I was going to wear it constantly to remind me of her love and kindness. I was…

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Thankful for Advent

thankful-for-advent-by-karen-jurgens

First published on http://www.HeartWingsBlog.com

The Advent of the Lord Jesus is a wonderful time when we are truly thankful. God bestowed an abundance of blessings on all people and for all generations when He created His First Family into which Jesus would be born.

I’ve often guessed what it must have been like for Mary on that day of angelic visitation. What joy to hear Gabriel announce that she would become the Holy Mother of the promised Messiah. Furthermore, he brought news about her relative Elizabeth who had conceived in her barrennes and was six months pregnant. I can imagine Mary dropping everything and running to the hill country to witness this miracle for herself.

As Mary entered the house of Zacharias in the city of Judah, Elizabeth, her round belly protruding, proved God’s Word. Thankfulness and joy abounded, and even John leapt in his mother’s womb at the sound of Mary’s greeting. Then Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and rejoiced:

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord” ~ Luke 1:42b-45, NASB.*

Mary responded with worship, praise, and thankfulness to God for His goodness in her famous Magnificat:

And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, 47And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48″For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. 49″For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. 50″And His mercy is upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him. 51″He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. 52″He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. 53″He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed. 54″He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, 55As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever” ~ Luke 1:46-56, NASB.*

Did Mary know what would really happen? Not fully, but she understood that she had been chosen to give birth to the Promised One who would bring deliverance and salvation to the Jews. The births of these two babies—one God’s only Son and the other a trumpeter of His Advent—would change the course of human history.

That may have been enough then, but there would be so much more to unfold in the next thirty-three years. Still, I wonder … Mary, did you know? (Click the link below to watch)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifCWN5pJGIE

*www.Bible.com

Favorite Christmas Carols

This time of year, my memory and my soul flood with the sweet French carols I taught to my students every December. One of my very favorites is called Il est né le divin enfant, which translates The Heavenly Child is Born.

I chose this particular YouTube video because it has the French words at the bottom and the French at the top. The next in queue will be a lovely solo by Lexi Walker. Both are beautifully performed, and I hope you enjoy listening. Let’s worship with song as we celebrate the advent of Jesus.

Be Thankful

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O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! ~  Psalms 34:8, NASB.

A few days ago, we celebrated our Early American holiday of pausing to give thanks to our Creator God for all His blessings.

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My preparations for its celebration began two days ahead. As I set the table and arranged flowers, I remembered the story of the Puritans. In 1621, their first Thanksgiving must have required many days of diligent work, and history tells us that they feasted for three days.

As I baked the pumpkin pie, the turkey, and the cornbread for the dressing, I was very thankful that I was born in the modern age.  The Pilgrims’ “ovens” would have been a spit over a fire where their gift of deer roasted. The Wampanoag Indians, who also attended the first Thanksgiving meal, supplied the meat. Did they have roasted fowl like we do today? No one knows for certain, but it would probably not have been turkey. [As a side note, I have gained notoriety over the years as the “Turkey Lady” due to my tender, juicy meat. My technique is baking the bird a day ahead and letting it marinate overnight, chilled, in its own natural juices.]

Throughout my busy preparations, a spirit of thanksgiving wrapped around me, a hushed reverence of deep gratitude. Be thankful whispered through my soul. I humbled myself before the Lord, offering Him thanks for all His blessings this year.

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Cait’s boyfriend, Will, joined us this year. 

The Pilgrims also bowed their hearts to God in true gratefulness for allowing them to have such abundance at their first harvest. After landing in Cape Cod in November, 1620, the survival rate that first harsh winter was only about fifty percent. Their search for a new land where they could freely worship God came at a great price, costing many lives. How disheartening it must have been for those who witnessed their family and friends buried in this New World, so far from home. If it hadn’t been for the Native Americans who taught them what to plant and how to fight the elements, they may have all died, but for the grace of God. How thankful I am to live in a country where we can still worship freely without government interference or persecution, all built upon the godly foundation laid by those brave Puritans.

Thanksgiving Day. Up early, snapping beans and crisping lettuce while enjoying the annual tradition of the Macy’s Day Parade playing in the background. Of all years, 2016 has seemed most significant, ushering in fresh hope of a bright future basted with peace and prosperity. My family, still together this year, all healthy. Be thankful. My heart bowed in reverence.

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Cait brought her traditional pie, chocolate pecan

I followed the corn pudding’s recipe from Beaumont Inn and Caesar salad dressing from Chasen’s. My great-grandmother’s directions for cornbread dressing, passed down the generations, came from my memory. The potatoes bubbled in broth next to a pot of simmering green beans. Gravy gently boiled in its skillet, ready to cradle the center of garlic mashed potatoes. All the while the National Dog Show played, another annual tradition, and I eagerly anticipated the poodles.

Again, I wondered what the Pilgrims would think if they could watch us prepare our feasts in our electric and gas kitchens? Be thankful. I counted my blessings beyond health and family—my growing ministry, writing career, and dear friends. And most of all, for Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour.

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Cait, Left, and Meg, bottom right, between Will and Nana

The time for gathering together arrived. All seated, love shining like mirrors reflected to each other on this sacred day. Like a mother hen, I reveled in having my family around my table as I offered them my finest cuisine, my labor of love. Our corporate prayer of thanks ascended to heaven.

As we progressed through three courses, we each took our turn to voice what we were most thankful for this year. I rejoiced in their shared words, so precious and sincere, and recorded them in my heart. As we passed the whipped cream for the pumpkin, cherry, and chocolate pecan pies, my soul was just as satisfied as my stomach.

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Meg, Nana, Cait, and I (L-R)

May we as individuals, families, and as one nation be truly thankful for all of God’s blessings, not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day through each year. So much good awaits us—individually and nationally—as we walk in humility and repentance. Let’s rejoice in that expectation and be thankful.

If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14, NASB.