Today Americans celebrate our Thanksgiving holiday by watching American football, getting together with family and friends, and eating more food than any nation should reasonably consume. Tomorrow is the official opening of the Christmas shopping season. Already mayhem has broken out as crowds eager for the latest video game systems have pushed, shoved and fought over the limited supply. And you wonder why we say, "God bless America!" We need it.
In keeping with the true spirit of the holiday, however, let me say that I have much to be thankful for this year. Here are some of the more outstanding reasons that come to mind:
1. My wife's life was spared last April when she was visiting her sister and her sister's home burned down! The fire inspector who came later said that usually someone doesn't escape from a fire like that. Not only did all escape, but the house is rebuilt and they are back in it.
2. I was walking through New York yesterday, on my way back to my daughter's apartment after a profiling session. I walked through Grand Central Train Station, where I used to catch trains as a teenager going back to prep school in Connecticut. As I did, I started to cry. I was so grateful to be doing what I'm doing and where I'm doing it. I just had to stop in the midst of the scurrying crowd to say, "Thank you, Jesus! I could be working in some obscure job. Instead you have me working with and on purpose."
3. I am grateful for my purpose-driven children, John and Deborah. John now lives in Albuquerque and Deborah lives in New York City. They are happy, love the Lord and pursuing their purpose. We saw them numerous times this year, even though we live quite a distance from one another, and John spent two months with me in Africa this year.
4. With all my travels, I am thankful for my health and protection. I have often said that I will never know all that God protected me from in this life until I enter the next life. In faith, however, I thank God for His watchful care, for I know that He has guided pestilence and danger away from my doorstep. I have never felt better, had more energy or been so excited about the future.
5. Mother Stanko turned 90 this year and my mother-in-law turned 80. While our fathers are gone, I am grateful that we have had our mothers around for so long. I have seen in the last 10 years since my father died that I am truly my mother's son. There is no one who had greater influence in my life and it is a joy to see her still enjoying life at her age.
6. I am thankful for my sister, Janet, who has cared for my mother for many years. While my mother lives on her own, it falls to my sister to take her places, since my mother doesn't drive. Janet has done this with great grace, for my mother can be quite demanding when she shops and makes the rounds to her doctors. Janet got email savvy this year and we have communicated more than ever before. I am grateful for that as well.
7. This year I had the privilege of training under The Pacific Institute in Seattle. Their program has changed my life. Finally, I have found a program by which people can initiate meaningful inner change that enables them to affect outer change. I am more positive, patient and determined because of my TPI training and I am glad I have a chance coming up this year to facilitate my first TPI seminar in Zimbabwe.
8. I am grateful for good friends and associates. What a privilege it is to work with people like Bill Hobbs and his team at Urban Youth Impact, Ted and Tami Miller in Temecula, James and Georgia Longmate in Arkansas, Yvonne and Melvin Brooks in England, Kentice Tikolo in Kenya, Dale Sparks, Steve Pappajohn, Steve Murray, Pastors Tom and Bonnie Deuschle, all my friends in Zimbabwe at Celebration Church, all my other friends in Zimbabwe, my publisher Brian Banashak, Karla Byrd at CUBM, Nikki Heckman in Pittsburgh, John Mogk in Dallas, Bill and Evie von Husen in New Jersey, my friends at Celebration Church London and Johannesburg, Carol White in Zambia, my sister-in-law and editor Diana Scimone, my webmaster Justin Agoglia, and KK and May Lim in Singapore. If I've forgotten anyone, and I'm sure I have, forgive me. With friends and helpers like these, it's no wonder that I am a happy man.
So there you have my Thanksgiving post. I hope that you will spend some time giving thanks in the next day or two, no matter where you live. And to all my American friends, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving holiday.