2020 has been a challenging year, to say the least. A year filled with anxiety, unknown viruses, murder hornets, hurricanes, racial tension . . . all on top of the day-to-day challenges of living in a fallen world. And yet in the midst of all this, I have surprisingly found myself more thankful than ever before. Now let me be clear . . . I am no Pollyanna saint. I tend to be quite the spoiled daughter always wishing and hoping for more. But here lately I have found my heart turning more to gratitude than gripes . . . only God can change a heart like that.
On the very first day of the Covid shutdown I was driving to church to prepare 200 lunches for our kids in Hilltown. My heart was overwhelmed as to how we were going to meet these needs when store shelves were so sparse. My heart was also flooded with fear of myself or loved ones getting sick by a virus we knew so little about . . . the weight of trying to share God’s provision while keeping everyone socially distant and safe, yet still being able to communicate warmth and love. But as I turned onto Legendary Drive that morning, Michael W. Smith’s song “Surrounded” began to play.
“In the spirit of heaviness, put on a garment of praise.
This is how we fight our battles.”
In that moment, I felt a strengthening and joy come over me in such a powerful way—I claimed the truth that no matter the circumstances that surround us, we are ALWAYS completely surrounded by God. So each day I looked with anticipation of how God was going to strengthen and encourage my heart (which He was so faithful to do each and every day through praise and worship songs and His Word.)
For over 35 weeks, I have watched God provide in ways I never imagined. So here are just some of the things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving:
- Thankful that we have a God who is bigger than any fear or struggle we face
- Thankful for God moving in the hearts of our church family to provide food at our weekly food drive every Monday. AND toilet paper! I still stand in the parking lot of our church and squeal with excitement when folks pull up with big packs of toilet paper! (Who saw that coming?)
- Thankful for the 3,520 bags of groceries that have been delivered to elderly and disabled residents of Park Manor in South Dallas and 4,072 weekend food bags for kids in Little Elm . . . all because of a simple little Monday food drive
- Thankful that He has given us His Spirit and that we are NEVER alone
- Thankful that we live in a day and age where we have the gift of technology so that we can stay in touch with each other when we can’t gather physically (and of course for friends who can teach me how to use some of this technology!)
- Thankful for the 14,400 meals for the homeless in South Dallas our church has helped provide
- Thankful that God allowed us to provide over 26,000 lunches made, packed, and delivered to kids in Hilltown
- Thankful that 800 kids in our community received backpacks filled with school supplies
- Thankful for all the treats and gifts of encouragement we have been able to provide for our ministry and school partners who are on the frontlines through all the craziness of this year
- Thankful for all the ladies in our church who made hundreds of masks for our volunteers and community
- Thankful for all the hundreds of cards and letters we have shared with the homeless and nursing home residents and the way it encouraged them and helped them not feel so alone
- Thankful for how we watched God use us and partners in the community to provide 27,000 little shampoo containers for the homeless and 46,000 eggs . . . not to mention all the hand sanitizer and thousands of bags of goldfish crackers
- Thankful for the faithful prayers of our church family for our team and ministry partners
- Thankful for my friends and family who have provided prayers and words of encouragement . . . always right when I needed it
- Thankful for the way God has brought together stores and restaurants and organizations together in unity to care for our neighbors
- I am more thankful than ever for my dear brother and role model in ministry, Pastor Chris Simmons of Cornerstone Baptist Church. When I think of my dear friend, I think of Micah 6:8 which tells us “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” He lives that verse out and radiates a thankful heart perhaps more than anyone I have ever known. I don’t think I have ever seen him, had a phone call, text, or email where the words thank you have not come gushing out like a firehose. Pastor Chris is constantly thanking God and others . . . it just overflows in all he says and does and has set an example and challenge for me to truly have a heart of gratitude for all God has done. So I am thankful that God would bless me with such a treasured friend and ministry partner. This friendship and being part of the Cornerstone family has challenged and changed how I see the needs of others (in all kinds of circumstances) and shown me the privilege of getting to step in and carry the hope of Christ to a hurting world as we stand together bound in the unity and bond of love of Jesus. To God be the glory!
These are just a few of the many things I am thankful for this year. So as I enter this Thanksgiving holiday that is in the midst of a crazy hard year, I hear the words of my sweet grandmother who would begin all her prayers with “Kind Father, accept our thanks.”