Twenty Years of Thanksgiving Changes – the First Nine

By Nancy Virden (c)2021

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…”

What? Jesus’ half-brother, James, intentionally focused and determined to speak the hard truth, made this declaration in his New Testament book, James. One of three Jameses with close proximity to Jesus, he did not believe his older brother was the Son of God until Jesus rose from the dead. His writings still challenge readers to act opposite of human nature.

The past twenty Thanksgivings have included trials of many kinds. The first nine holidays are represented in today’s post with the rest on Thanksgiving Day this week. You will experience through my story how finding reasons for gratitude and joy became a habit!

Thanksgiving Day 2001 was, of course, two months after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the U.S.A. Probably each of us in this country experienced some fear and uncertainty. On the day of gratitude, I thanked God for our current safety and his promises. My mother hosted what we suspected might be her last Thanksgiving dinner. As with America, my family was never the same.

My mother and mother-in-law passed away months before Thanksgiving Day 2002. Moving in with my mom the last two weeks of her life may be the most fearful time I have known. It grew into five weeks and a rushed sale as her landlord insisted I empty his property of her estate. My pre-teen and adolescent sons grew desperately homesick. High stress ruled those spring days; there was no room for grief.

Enter Aunt Jeannette! She made us laugh and dance and act silly. I gained a deeper appreciation for her gift of humor and still insist she saved us from emotional breakdowns.

Because my mother was not here to host, Aunt Jeannette was not around for Thanksgiving possibly for the first time in my 41 years. Neither were my cousins or brother. Because my mother-in-law was also gone, that gathering changed too. I thanked God for helping us each to survive the year emotionally.

Gratitude was hard-pressed on Thanksgiving Day 2004. I did thank God for my children and for getting us through the emergencies, nursing home fiascos, and finally the death of my husband’s father. Clearing out his estate took most of the summer during which I felt God strengthening me for the task. By fall, chronic difficulties in my marriage had escalated to an unbearable level. Pain ran deep. Self-injury was an escape and soon I was hospitalized for psychiatric reasons for the first time. While I recall no joy, God did stay with me through these months and I knew it.

Thanksgiving Day 2009: Five years later, Thanksgiving immediately followed my college graduation at age 48. Immobilizing surgery the week of the holiday necessitated that my young adult sons pitch in and make Thanksgiving dinner which made me proud. Our family also received news on Thanksgiving Eve that my husband had found a job in Philadelphia. He and I had four weeks to find a place to live and move eight hours away. Our sons chose to stay in Ohio. I thanked God for the successes of the year and asked for courage to leave everything and everyone behind.

Return to this blog on Thanksgiving Day to witness for yourself how an upturned life and the end of false hope proved the powerful reality of, “Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds.” -COMMENTS WELCOME

Today’s Helpful Word

James 1: 5,6

 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt

How the Difference Maker Lifts You Above Depressive Thoughts (c)2020

Stay at Home and Thrive! (c)2020

If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!

Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair. NOTE: Nancy is not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speaks only from personal experience and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.


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