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GIVE THANKS

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“Thou great I AM,” the Puritans wrote in “The Valley of Vision,” “I acknowledge and confess that all things come of Thee — life, breath, happiness, advancement, sight, touch, hearing, goodness, truth, beauty — all that makes existence amiable.”

Thou truly are a great and gracious God who has been truly good to me.

Thank you, Lord, for the pleasures of life, for work and sleep, for irritants that refine my rough edges, for hard times that make me tough and good times that make me smile.

Thank you for grace and mercy — for mercy, Lord! For mercy and a bottomless well of forgiveness that is a continual source of blessing to my sin-tainted soul.

Thank you, Lord, for your constant care and your consistent faithfulness, for butternut squash soup and tomato sandwiches. Thank you for smart phones and infant great-nieces, the soft subtle beauty of the color gray, for crisp Honey-crisp apples, Bearcats and Bearcaves, for goofy 9-year-old granddaughters and honorable war veterans now bowed with age.

Thank you for making the world for us to enjoy — for the ability to smell jasmine, lemon oil and cinnamon; for the taste of gingerbread and maple, sweet corn, sweet tea, savory garlic knots and tart communion wine.

Thank you for the comforting coziness of a fleece blanket or a smushy feather pillow, a fluffy, furry cat or the hand of a friend. Thank you for the music of ocean waves, of violins and oboes, mandolins, French horns, acoustic guitars and my daughters’ voices on the phone.

Thank you for letting me see daily the works of your hands: the stars and planets at night, and in the morning the sunrise over the lake and the pastel apricot, mauve and golden amber sky. It takes my breath away and all I can say is, “My Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be your name!”

Lord, every year at this time I stop and confess that I am prone to wander from you. It’s my default mode. Yet even so, even in my wandering, I plead to you, “Don’t let me go!”

Thank you, Lord, that you never have and never will. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

As the psalmist said, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” You are everywhere, which both comforts and terrifies me. But it’s your abundant mercy that keeps drawing me back. It’s your patience and kindness that eases my fear.

“I need faith,” I cry out with the Puritans. “Work it in me now that I may never doubt Thee… May I love Thee with a passion that can never cool, believe in Thee with a confidence that never staggers, hope in Thee with an expectation that can never be dim, delight in Thee with a rejoicing that cannot be stifled, glorify Thee with the highest of my powers.”

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of faith!

Thank you for the wind, which reminds me that the wind of your Spirit blows in and through the lives of those you love (and those I love) — winds of healing and restoration.

Thank you for the rain that falls, reminding me that you’re faithful to wash me clean.

Thank you for sunshine and thunder, for curiosity and wonder, for creativity and awe, pizza and oranges, fresh-from-the-chicken eggs and my $5 wok from IKEA.

Thank you for wise teachers, gentle mentors, for faithful pastors and for Harry and Charlotte who sit behind me at church.

In this world of upside-down madness, of fighting and factions, of poverty and disparity, where evil and unrest seem to be winning, you are still God. You are still the Rock, still the Refuge, still the Redeemer and Restorer, the Seeker and Saver, the Savior and Friend of all who run to you.

Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Giver of life and life itself: I stand amazed in your presence, humbly grateful that you stoop to call me your own.

To the God who welcomes sinners, loves losers, heals the broken-hearted, gives hope to the hopeless and fills life with meaning and delight, with a heart filled with gratitude, today and every day I give you thanks. Amen.

Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at (352) 564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.