Posts tagged #thanksgiving

Jackie's Journey "Grateful and So Blessed!"

Meet my niece, Olivia celebrating God’s gift of Fall!

Meet my niece, Olivia celebrating God’s gift of Fall!

Were you wondering what we did when the doctors would not release me to return to our village?  We were desperate to return to the only “home” we knew in Panama…

BUT God had another plan

 Gratefulness is recognizing the benefits, which God and others have provided.

From the pilot risking his life to save mine to the missionary families who sacrificially opened their hearts and homes to us to see me recover, my heart overflows with inexpressible thanksgiving for their generosity toward our family during this conflicting time in our lives. 

 Gratitude is the memory of the heart! 

It is said to be the parent of all the other virtues. 

My gratitude for those members of the field

that picked up the slack and totally covered

for me is overpowering.

 Norman and Barbara Slaymaker were the “little dorm” parents at the time of my emergency flight and surgery and they took the loving responsibility of my babies for six weeks after our pilot, Scotty, and his wife, Mary, filled the gap in those first few days in Panama City.  After leaving the hospital, John and Ruth Jenkins, our very busy field leaders, “adopted us” for another six weeks (!) until the doctors would release us to return interior to our post!  What a tremendous weight we must have been…a family of 4 for months!!! 

 My memories are scattered and few.  I isolated myself into a survival mode.  I really thought I was going to die.  I had no time for tears and cannot remember even wanting to cry during those weeks, although I am sure I must have and those whose care I was under would readily attest that I did!  My heart cannot express the genuine gratitude that is flooding my eyes and consciousness as I write this!  I am mentally rehearsing the personal cost of the missionary families that encouraged me during those days and blanketed me with prayer and hands of intervention!

 Why this flood of overwhelming gratefulness?  Why now?  What is it about life that at unexpected moments God opens our awareness to the magnitude of His Sovereignty, Majesty, Grace and Mercy on our behalf?

 I am sitting here with a keen sense of:

Ø  My Unworthiness…and His Holiness!  

Ø  My Pretense of thinking I have any kind of control in this life (other than to choose to walk with Him)…and His complete and encompassing Rule and Protection!

Ø  My Powerlessness…and His Omnipotent Presence, faithfully accomplishing His purpose with my blindness to His silent footsteps all around me!

Ø  My Desperate Need to express my gratefulness and indebtedness to God and others! 

 Do you make it a habit of thanking God and others

for the many things in life that others take for granted?

 I would like to express my gratitude to you for joining me each Monday morning and for your encouraging words.  I am like Olivia…so blessed!

 Will you take time today to reflect glory back to Him

for His faithfulness to you…

the Author of every blessing? 

 Let’s take today’s opportunity to acknowledge those

who have and are benefiting our lives!


~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America.  Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California.  My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights. 

How to Not Stress Out This Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is behind us . . .  Let the craziness begin!!!

Do you feel it?  The stress and the rush of this time of year just arrived.   It started this morning (or last night) with Black Friday.   It will continue on until December 25th.  You will add decorating the whole house (inside and out), lots of activities and parties (all fun!), shopping, wrapping, baking . . . . you know the drill!  All added to your regular schedule.  Ah, have I stressed you out?

I have spent many years frenzied and hectic - not being able to accomplish this task of doing everything perfect at Christmas.  There is only so much time in each day and only 25 days in the month to accomplish so much!  When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, I had my surgery right before the holiday season. I was panicked I would not be able to pull off the normal Christmas for my kids.  And then at the end of those 6 weeks surgery recovery, my sweet dad died. I was in grieving mode and planning a funeral at the beginning of December. So Christmas 2011 was going to be different. It really got me thinking about the purposes in all of the traditions we did as a family and all of the busyness of the holiday. God reformed my way of thinking so that I can seize the season and experience more of Jesus!

If you go to my house right now and open any drawer or closet, you will most likely find a mess.  Some of them might be clean, but not all.  I am naturally a procrastinator.  I don’t want anyone to think I am super organized. I work best under pressure and that is how I used to approach Christmas. Because the old me would run crazy through Christmas so busy that I could barely hold my breath.  I was terribly rushed through the beauty of this lovely time of year.  My time with the Lord suffered, my relationship with my husband and kids suffered, my life was just one blurry mess.  Then it was over and I felt depressed because I never got to “enjoy” it. 

Does anyone else feel that way?  Or have you? 

First, in order to be sane in the month of December, I have to have a plan.  My plan starts in August, when I order all the Christmas cards using the family picture we took over the summer or this year in February!  I start shopping in October and planning early. Real Simple has a great list of how to start early.  I know that we are know at the end of November and you will either read them and panic or read them and say “okay I am on track”.  Start where you are today and just do it! In any case, I don’t want you to read this and feel stressed.  My goal is to help you to start with a plan, if not this year, then next. Tackle this year as best as possible. 

Second, I need to remember my priorities.  This is why I make a Christmas plan!  What are my priorities during the holiday season?  What can I forget or what event can’t we miss?  I plan ahead to know those things.  For God is a God of order and not of confusion as we find in 1st Corinthians.  He lays out his plans in Genesis and references us doing the same in Luke.  So this idea is not mine, it is God’s idea for us to be thinking ahead. I like to take everything through a grid.  There are so many events we are invited to in December.  We have a question grid that helps us figure out what to do.

            Here is what we ask:

            Is this part of tradition?

            Does it fit within our desire to serve others and the community?

            Will we grow closer to Jesus as a result of this event?

If it doesn’t fit into this grid of questions, we say “no”.  Sometimes it is hard to say no to the fun things, but it keeps me less stressed and therefore is necessary.  I have created these self-imposed rules to make my life have margin.

Why does all the planning and prioritizing matter?

Because the goal here is Jesus, not the to do list.  Giving ourselves attainable goals is to insure that we are ready and not just flying by the seat of our pants. Having a plan gives us margin, to experience and be all that God wants us to be.  It gives us time to play with our kids, help those we see in need and time to spend in Advent (resting and having a Christmas Sabbath).

We celebrate Advent here at the Young’s house.  I could never do this if I didn’t have a plan.  Every night with the kids we open a book, eat chocolate, pray for the Christmas cards we received and read some scripture.  This is why we celebrate Christmas – to be focused on the coming of our Lord.  There are lots of ways to do Advent.  I love Sarah Mae’s Christmas countdown with ideas on each day and how to bring more of Christ into the season.  In my quiet time and with the kids, I have enjoyed Ann Voscamp’s Advent books bringing to life the birth of Jesus.

Seizing the season means that I am taking back control of the things that I have control over.  Then God will be able to interrupt me will HIS plan!  Nothing is worse than for God to have an assignment for me in the BIG PLAN and I don’t have time for it!

Happy planning friends!  I can’t wait to hear what God does with your margin this year!

~Jeanna Young

When Jeanna is not writing, speaking, event planning, or homeschooling, she can be found scrapbooking her life, redecorating her home, loving on her husband, planning fun events for her kids or eating healthy to stay cancer-free!