I vote we make Thanksgiving more than one day of feasting. Let’s make Thanksgiving a whole season. Let’s begin this month of November by counting our blessings. What are you thankful for this morning?
Trust in The Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in The Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.
Psalm 37:3-4 – NLT
Blessing upon blessing. Grace upon grace. Layer upon layer, more and more icing on the cake. That’s how I feel today, friends, like our precious heavenly Baker has been adding layer after sweet layer of scrumptious icing onto an already fabulous cake!
The words, “exceedingly grateful,” come to mind right now. Friends I just returned from another cross-country RV adventure, and my heart is full to overflowing with a deep well of gratitude .
Our 2022 adventure season marks the fourth cross-country trip in the past five years. Some of you long-time followers will recall our first cross-country trip in 2018. On that fabulous trip, we followed the trail of Lewis and Clark along the wanderings of the Missouri River, completing our very own Core Of Discovery. We made that trip in our truck, staying in hotels along the way. It was such an Epic Adventure that it spurred our purchase of a 23 ft travel trailer in 2019. After sufficiently mastering our RV skill set, we set off in the fall of 2020 for an 8000+ mile road trip through the Great Southwest. The 2021 adventure season found us exploring the Great Northern Waterways, our route tracking the coast of Lakes Michigan and Superior along the very top of the United States. Each trip was spectacular in its own right, but this year’s trail may be the most adventuresome yet.
Here’s the stats: 10 weeks, 10,600 miles, 19 states, 9 National Parks, 2 Presidential Libraries, 8 county/state parks, 27 campgrounds, 256 hours in the truck seat!
There were so many moments along the journey that touched my heart and sent my soul soaring. What was my favorite? Was it the glassy mirror of Bear Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park? Perhaps it was leaning on the truck tailgate, my beloved son on one side, my sweet husband on the other, as we watched the sunrise light up the sawtooth peaks of the Grand Tetons. No, maybe it was reaching the precipice of Avalanche Lake Trail in Glacier National Park. We were simply awestruck as we emerged from the thick forest trail to find a glorious maze of waterfalls cascading into a shimmering crystal clear lake surrounded by mountain peaks shrouded in misty clouds. Absolutely incredible! What’s more? I hiked that five mile trail tucked into the crook of my precious son’s arm. It doesn’t get much better than that!
But wait…there was the vibrant green slopes of the Northern Cascades of Washington State and the wooded trail we hiked along the river bank. Oh, and there was the newly regenerated estuary formed by the flow of the Elwha River as it met the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean in Olympic National Park. The dam that had blocked the river’s natual path for nearly a century had been dismantled, and the result was a marvelous estuary with marsh grass glistening in the golden light of the setting sun. Magnificent! Then again, our campsite in Mesa Verde National Park was nestled on a slope encircled by forested mountains, the sun rising on the left and setting on the right. Wow!
Oh, I cannot pick just one. There were a thousand other moments that made me catch my breath in awe and wonder. I loved it all, every image, every moment nestled by my sweet husband’s side.
When we set off on our road trip in 2018, I imagined that this would be the biggest road trip we would ever take. For those of you that know my story of progressive vision loss, or perhaps have even read my book “Rough Places Smooth,” you will understand just how precious it was for me to visually experience all those amazing sights. I came home in 2018 with a heart full of gratitude for that splendid opportunity to see so much of our beautiful country. I had no idea that I would ever be able to repeat such an adventure. There was no way to know whether my vision would remain stable enough to ever go again.
But it has. To my eternal amazement, my vision has continued to allow me to enjoy the visual world, even if my view is limited and far from normal. More than 29 years after the devestating diagnosis of my retinal degenerative disease, I still retain a large ring of far peripheral vision that allows me to appreciate the mountain grandeur or a spectacular sunset over a peaceful lake. Blessing upon blessing, grace upon grace.
Not only did I get to travel the roads of our nation one time for one epic trip, but we have now added three more amazing road adventures to our repertoire, with this year’s journey taking us all the way from North Carolina to the Pacific Coast. As I sat beside my husband on a chilly October night in Arkansas, I tried to put my feelings into words. With tears of gratitude welling in my eyes, the conversation went something like this, “When we took the 2018 trip, I really thought that would be it, that we would never get the chance to do something like that again, let alone me be able to see it all again. Now, we are finishing up our fourth trip, the longest one yet, and I can still see it and enjoy it all. It’s like God keeps adding more and more icing onto an already wonderful cake.”
Friends, hard things happen in this life, but so do good things. In my humble opinion, the good things far outweigh the bad. For me, finding the abundant life has been about opening my heart to gratitude, choosing to see the blessings despite the struggles and sorrows.
What about you, my friend? How is your gratitude attitude this morning? Look around you. Stop and consider. How is God blessing you right now? Savor those good things, even as you sift through the sorrows. Savor it all. Taste the sweetness. Watch with wonder as God adds layer upon layer of rich, creamy icing onto the beautiful cake of your life.
Taste and see that The Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.
Psalm 34:8 – NIV
O Good and Gracious God,how can we ever thank you enough for all the ways you bless us each and every day. Even on the hard days, we can find Your hand of blessing. O Lord, but how You bless us on the glorious days, the mountaintop days where our joy overflows. Oh, how we thank You for those moments of sheer joy, for those precious times with our loved ones. Thank You for the beauty of Your creation, for the majesty of the mountains, the glory of the waterways, the promise of the sunrise, and the praise of the sunset. Thank You for eyes to see it all, hearts to feel it, and souls that soar with the joy that comes from knowing You.
In the Glorious Name of Jesus, we give thanks and praise,