Truly Thankful

Last week, we celebrated Thanksgiving here in the United States. I was blessed to host all of my immediate family as well as some extended family members. As is our tradition, before we taste the turkey, scoop a generous helping of mashed potatoes on our plates, or give thanks to the Lord for our mouth-watering meal, each of us takes a turn sharing what we are most thankful for. Immediately, the stress of meal preparation and getting the toddlers corralled for the feast evaporates like the steam rising from freshly baked rolls. Why? Because, with appreciative hearts, we are pausing to note many of the daily benefits the Lord loads upon us (Psalm 68:19).  
As believers, we know that gratefulness is something we should be practicing 24/7, not just the fourth Thursday of November each year. As you read the following verses, my prayer is that you will pause for a moment to offer praise for our Lord’s unfailing love and faithfulness to us.
But what about the times when being thankful is just plain difficult. What if you’re heartbroken, or just plain broken, and you don’t feel thankful. That’s when “in everything give thanks” is put to the test. That’s when you need to verbalize gratitude the most.  That’s when God’s love and grace surround you in the deepest way. To illustrate this, I’d like to share a very personal story.
Dear Christian friends of ours are going through a heart-breaking situation right now.  On Thanksgiving Day, their one-year-old granddaughter fell and hit her head and neck and immediately went unconscious. Though she was revived with CPR, she didn’t regain consciousness. It wasn’t until two days later that they could muster enough composure to post on social media to ask for prayer--for a miracle for their precious little Oakley.
The next day, still unconscious and on a ventilator, Oakley had her first MRI since the accident. We waited and prayed for the results. Though she had been stable since admitted to the hospital, the MRI showed that she had had a stroke with the traumatic brain injury she sustained. Prayers for improvement in this fragile situation were again requested. Another day went by with no change for this sweet baby girl--still unconscious and unable to breathe on her own. It was that day, Sunday, that the most unusual post--humanly speaking--was written by Oakley’s aunt:
“While we are feeling devastated and terrified, we are also feeling overwhelmed with thankfulness and love for our community of friends and family. Thank you for your generous prayers and for your selfless gifts to support my sister and brother and their little girl.”
This kind of gratitude is indeed supernatural and comes only from a heart that fully trusts in the grace and wisdom of God. Yesterday marked one week since Oakley’s fall. She had another MRI Wednesday which showed no improvement--no change, but no improvement either. Though we do not know what the future holds for this little one and her family (or for ourselves, for that matter), we do know Who holds the future. And for that, dear believer, we can be truly thankful.

Update on baby Oakley:

December 6, 2021, from Oakley's grandmother:
"Our sweet little Oakley went to be with Jesus yesterday afternoon. We got to have her here on earth for 383 days. She was sweet, a little sassy, and quite adventurous for her age and size. She is and will be so loved and so missed for the rest of our lives, but we know she is not suffering any longer, and she is in a perfect body now and happy with Jesus. Though we grieve, we have hope because one day we'll get to be with her again. Please continue to pray especially for her mom and dad and brother as they learn to live without little Oakley. We thank you for all of the love, support, and prayers from all of you. Keep hugging your babies, even if they are grown, because you don't know what a day will bring."
Holly Varnum, Director of Curriculum Development at Reasons for Hope* joined us September 2021 to launch curricular materials to support many of our media resources. With degrees in education, curriculum and instruction, and educational administration, she comes with over three decades of experience in working with teens and adults in camp ministry, teaching and administration, and curriculum writing (A Beka Book, Focus on the Family, and Answers in Genesis to name a few). God has provided her with a well-rounded educational perspective through service in Christian schools, charter schools, public schools, Christian camps, and local church ministry. She has been a classroom teacher, instructional coach, administrator, camp counselor, Sunday School teacher, ladies’ Bible Study teacher, and conference speaker and looks forward to using her passion for God’s truth within the context of RforH*. 

Her hobbies include cooking and baking, hiking, camping, travel, and working on do-it-yourself projects. Holly and her husband, Paul, (RforH*’s new Director of Media Content) also enjoy any time they can spend with their three grown daughters, two sons-in-law, and two grandchildren (so far!). They live in the beautiful state of Maine, and yes, eat lobster (properly pronounced “lobstah”) whenever they get a chance!

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