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  • Writer's picture Bethany McMillon

FFNN - I Have Not Stopped Giving Thanks


4:42AM. For the third day in a row, the electric green numbers of the clock read well before 5:00 when I’m startled awake. I close my eyes and pull the blankets around my neck. I breathe deeply and will myself to fall back to sleep. The darkness is deep, the house is quiet, and the bed is warm. But my efforts prove futile and the minutes tick away. I decide to pass the time with a prayer.



Thank you for this day. Thank you for my hard working husband, who loves us well, as he sleeps next to me. Thank you for the chance to be a mom to the almost-grown boy upstairs. Thank you for a safe place to sleep and a job that I enjoy.


In my mind’s eye, I begin to walk down the hall of our school and pray for each teacher by name and the students in the classes that come to mind. I pray for their strength and stamina and the family needs they’ve shared with me in the last few days. Soon, I’ve drifted off again and the alarm sounds. So I begin again; for months I’ve repeated the Lord’s Prayer before I rise. Today is no different.


Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done…

The bathroom light blinds me as I flip the switch and it lights up the room. I work quietly through my morning routines - a shower, dressing for work, feeding the dog and making a cup of coffee. My boy comes down the stairs as the last drop falls into the cup; I greet him as I inhale the warm vanilla scent and snap the lid on my favorite navy blue cup. The coffee will stay warm for the first few hours of the day in this cup as I sip and work.


Thank you, Lord, for the warmth of coffee. Thank you for giving us the ability to smell, to feel the differencessof hot and cold. You are my Creator and the giver of beauty and pleasure.

Before I leave for school, I take a few minutes to read my Bible then journal my prayers. In Ephesians 1, I read:

“I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”


Thank you, Lord, for the gift of friendship, for friends who call me into a deeper relationship with you. Lord, may we know your hope and your power. May our eyes be opened to see evidence of You today. May I encourage others to seek your wisdom and revelation… I pray for family and friends as the Lord recalls them to my mind.


Moments later I am headed to school, the sun shines bright overhead and the day awaits. Out of the neighborhood, through a green light, over a bridge, around a bend in the road and I turn into our campus. It is brimming with life - students greeting each other in the parking lot, the band practicing on the field, cars streaming into the parking lot for students to begin their day.


Thank you, Lord, for this place and these people who love you and work to serve you well. Thank you for the chance to teach children, to grow relationships with families, to participate in this community.

***

For as long as I could remember, my Gram’s brown leather Bible and her “Sunday School Quarterly” could be easily found in one of two places - next to her rocking chair in the living room or on the side table by the rocking chair in the middle room (affectionately called that by everyone I knew that ever called it anything because it was in the middle of the hallway and served as a TV room, game room, sewing room, or spare bedroom depending on the need at the time). She studied her Sunday School lesson fervently each week to teach her ladies each Sunday, and would sit - hands quietly folded, eyes closed. She would rock and pray and study and read the Bible. When we received letters from her, she often signed them “I pray for you daily,” and I knew she did. Now, it’s my turn to pray for my family and friends in the same way she did - with commitment and love.

***

I set the phone down after reading the text. My eyes flood with tears as I inhale and exhale slowly. The news is not good and not at all what we’ve been praying so fervently for the Lord to do.


Lord, my heart is broken and I don’t have words to say yet. But you know, don’t you? You are already there in the uncertain future, in the decisions that need to be made. You are there with her and her family as she clings to your joy and your promises. You are here with me, with her friends and family, as we prayerfully discern how to love her best.

The thoughts tumble out of my mouth in prayer and petition. But for a moment I think I may have no more prayers to pray. I’ve poured it all out. But then, I hear the Lord whisper a reminder to me of His words through Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5: “Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.” And I resume my prayer…

Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful friend. Thank you for the gift of her friendship as we’ve walked along this motherhood path together. Thank you for her joy, her laughter, her faith. Thank you for the opportunity to love her and her family.


And, in the midst of it all, I am learning to lean into the Lord’s command to pray without ceasing - in the darkest of nights, on the brightest of mornings, prayers of desperation and prayers of thanksgiving. I pick up the phone, my eyes still blurry with tears and my hands shaking to reply, “I pray for you daily.”


If you want more content Noisy Narrative Debbie, Christy and Kelli talk about thanksgivings fun and fouls. Join them here on the podcast.

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