Well, today is Thanksgiving in Canada. I love this day. Not only do you get yummy food, but you get to openly thank God and others for all the good gifts we have in our lives that have been given to us by God, who is the best Dad in the world. I haven’t been here for this holiday in Canada for many years, nor have I been here for this amazing season of Autumn colours in ages… it’s been spectacular, really. I feel like I have “tourist” or “visitors” eyes, gawking and reveling in the majestic array of colours, splashed across the treed landscape of Muskoka. God’s certainly stolen the show this year, as the master Artist in residence! He doesn’t seem to have a problem with taking bragging rights for His creation!
I just wanted to take a few minutes to write a blog and make it official: I’m thankful.
I have so much to thank God for this year. This felt-gratitude in my heart has been a long time coming, as I’ve gone through the fire to come to this place of genuine thankfulness to God for what He has done to get me HERE right now. If some of you tune out as I write about what I’m thankful for, that’s fine. If anything, this post is more for me. Building an altar, a landmark, just to give thanks to my God, for His goodness to me.
I am thankful for the 6 years I had in New Zealand, ministering alongside some of the most amazing people the world has ever seen. I am thankful for the rich, rich inheritance I received from the people, from the land, and from the experiences I was given there, and around the globe over the past 7 years. New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places on earth. My eyes have been delighted and fascinated by the glory of God in His creation over that little nation. God spoiled me rotten there. Blessed my socks off there. Showed me His goodness there, and I will miss that place immensely.
I am thankful for one of my mentors (and a dear friend), Georgina Bennett Williams. Right now, she is in New Zealand, dying (gracefully and courageously) of cancer, after having JUST reached her 5 year mark of remission, and was about to head off on a new venture with her husband. She went into the hospital about 6 weeks ago and they found the cancer had returned with a vengeance with no chance to treat it. We are praying for a miracle, but Georgina has peace to meet Jesus face to face and is ready to go be by His side. She is one of those people that literally glows with the radiant love and joy of Jesus. I am thankful for her friendship, her example, and her continual challenge to me to reflect Jesus in all I do and say, and to obey Him no matter the cost, and no matter how weak I think I am. She has inspired thousands of young people and I count myself blessed to know her, to love her.
I am thankful that today, I got my OHIP coverage back in Ontario! Since I have been out of the country for so long, I didn’t have healthcare coverage here. It’s just one more thing that God is using to say to me with open arms, “Welcome, home, Alison. Welcome home.” I have been here exactly 3 months, and so I’m really back here. It’s taken almost this whole time to finally feel a sense of homecoming and peace and rest in being here. I AM SO THANKFUL FOR THIS. God knows it’s been tough to reach this place in my heart.
I am thankful that I have a lovely home to live in up here in Bracebridge at my aunt and uncle’s place. I have my own room, and opportunities to get creative and help renovate and paint and decorate and cook up a storm — things I love to do! I have been welcomed here, and I have peace here. It’s so unexpected, how I ended up north here in “cottage country”. I shake my head at how God has divinely orchestrated it all, when it all just seemed like a series of unplanned circumstances that got me up here. I thought I’d have no life up here, and it would be me and Jesus, just tucked away in solitude, with not many opportunities to do stuff up here. How wrong I was! God has been blessing me, left right and centre, and I am getting really excited for what lies ahead! I’m so thankful for this. God is full of surprises. I’m learning that it can be good to not plan out too much of your life. Don’t have too many plans. Leave some empty spaces, so you leave room for the amazing surprises of God!
I am thankful for the support, encouragement, many prayers, phone calls and emails from friends and family who have really opened up their arms to me, so I could lean on them, as I made this huge transition back to Canada (and cried and flailed my arms)! So many of you know how unexpected a shift it was for me to accept the change in my life plans this year, how I walked through a lot of pain and confusion over the God-interruptions and changes. But it is, without a doubt, so obvious to me now that God really has led me back here. I have a certain tangible grounding of peace in my heart that is giving me a foundation for this new season. I am so thankful for this peace. The peace of God bears fruit in joy and holy playfulness; it’s one of the best gifts in the world!!! Thank you God!
I am thankful for the pain I’ve gone through. It was a good and necessary wake-up call, and an invitation into a holy re-calibration, a re-alignment, and a re-awakening to the reality of wholeness of heart, and the goodness of God.
I am thankful for having this Autumn in Muskoka. I know I mentioned it earlier, but I had to say it again. The colours have been out of this world!!!!!!!!! I love the palette of colours on the trees right now. It’s magnificent… and fleeting. So I embrace it while we have it right now.
I am thankful for a group of financial supporters who have believed in me, and blown me away with their generosity in this sabbatical season. All I can say is “Wow. God is good and generous and kind.” Thank you. You know who you are.
I am thankful for the podcasts and teachings of Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton, and the Fatherheart crew in Taupo, New Zealand. (James and Denise Jordan, etc). They’re becoming like friends to me, in a sense, where I curl up with my iPod in a cafe and learn from these wise men and women. Kris Vallotton’s teaching on wholeness and being tri-dimensional beings, is simply awesome. I love Bill Johnson’s stuff on sonship, and the dreams and hopes that come alive in sons and daughters, compared to the survival mentality of orphans. Man, it’s good stuff! The Fatherheart crew and their teachings on the father heart and mother heart of God, God as our Real Father, and coming out of the bondage of orphan-spirited Christianity. Wowzers. Life-changing stuff.
I am thankful for the counsel and wisdom of mentors here in Canada and other parts of the world. We all need fathers and mothers, those older and wiser than us, to help guide us along the way. God has been excessively kind and generous to me in giving me these mamas and papas, people to help navigate me through life. I humbly and gladly take my place as a daughter, to learn and grow. Thank you, God, for providing some new ones here in Ontario to help me walk this season out well. Hand-picked helpers.
I am thankful for the desire to get creative again. I’ve had a bit of a drought, when it comes to my art and design and music. I feel the little inklings within me starting to stir, to get out some ink and paint and start to do some creative projects. I also want to get my hands dirty and do some home decoration, green thumb garden stuff, and some other projects around the house, or just helping others out with things they need to get done. I am thankful for the time in this season I have to do these things, with a flexible schedule.
I am thankful (so thankful) that God is who He says He is. He is a good Dad. He gives good gifts. He has good plans. He has good purposes. And He is unchanging. He is trustworthy and true to His word. He is kind and caring. He is generous and patient. He is beautiful. Sometimes we just need to take a time-out from this world, with all its troubles, just to sit back and fix our eyes on His face, His beautiful face. I am so thankful that He has taken the time to love me well. He has gone out of His way this year, especially, to make sure I GET IT. Reallllly get it. He loves me, and He will interrupt my entire world just to make me understand that He is good and wants good things for me. He cares! He cares!
So, there are a million more things I could say, but that is all I’ll say for now. It’s time to get back to preparing Thanksgiving dinner and beautify the table settings, and enjoy the company of my relatives and some visiting friends from Germany! And I want to go for a nice walk to take in the lovely colours and the falling leaves. I can’t wait to rake the leaves into a big pile and jump and play in them, like a little kid! We all need a little silliness in our lives :)
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! Take the time today or this week to tell God what you are thankful for, and tell the special people in your life that you love them, and why you love them.