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Give thanks

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By Nancy Kennedy

My Father who art in heaven —
Truly, hallowed and holy is your name.
As I begin to write my yearly psalm of thanksgiving, this my 12th or 13th year, I’m wrestling with where to start, what to say, how to even approach you.
Not that I’m not thankful, because I am. But I don’t want this to be rote and same —  or worse, clever for cleverness sake. After 12 or 13 years, I struggle to be fresh. I struggle to be present, to not just phone it in.
Your holiness, your hallowedness, demands that I be real before you.
So, I will begin with your mercy, for that is what I am above all most thankful for. I once made a bracelet with alphabet letter beads that spelled out MERCY. It broke and when I restrung it, I misspelled it “MECRY.” However, once I noticed it, I realized it wasn’t all that inaccurate. I wrote about it after it happened, saying, “After all, mercy is something that ‘me’ cries for — ‘Don’t give me what I deserve, but please give me mercy instead.’”
So, thank you, Lord, that when I cry for mercy you give it in abundance.
Thank you, Lord, for your sovereignty, for the confidence in knowing that nothing happens in the entire universe, the entire galaxy, on planet Earth, in this nation, in my community, in my home — nothing happens that you have not ordained and allowed. Nothing takes you by surprise. Nothing happens that is not ultimately for my good and your glory.
For that reason, thank you for everything that has both gone my way and everything that has not. Thank you, Lord, for every time you’ve frustrated my plans, taken some things away, said no to a request. Thank you, too, for giving me what I thought I’ve wanted only to realize that nothing apart from you will ever satisfy my soul.
Thank you, Lord, for soul-leanness, which only makes me run to you. Thank you, Lord, that when I do, every time I do, my soul is filled, because it’s filled with you.
Thank you, Lord, for patience and perseverance — your patience and your promise of perseverance, what Reformed theology calls “the perseverance of the saints,” meaning  those who are yours will be kept safe and no one or nothing can or will ever snatch them (me!) away from your grasp. Because I’ve been forgiven, not even my own sin can separate me from you!
No matter where I may wander, you promise to bring me safely home to yourself. Thank you, Lord, that you persevere on my behalf.
Thank you, Lord, for the sound and rhythm of the ocean waves, for their continuity, for the sheer hugeness of the sea. They remind me of your immense love — “O the deep, deep love of Jesus! Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free,” we sing. “Rolling like a mighty ocean in its fullness over me.”
Just as I can’t comprehend the bigness of the ocean, I can’t comprehend the bigness of your love for me. I thank you for it nonetheless.
Thank you, Lord, for the bread and wine of communion, for the body and blood of your dear Son.
Thank you for hope — and for joy. Thank you, Lord, for the joy of forgiveness and the gifts of faith and repentance. I would not have faith nor would I know how to repent if you had not given these gifts to me to begin with.
Thank you, Lord, for laughter and for the power of your name to rescue and restore, to redeem, to heal, to raise up the humble and brokenhearted, to raise up leaders, to raise the dead.
Mountains melt like wax before you, kingdoms rise and fall.
It’s all in your hands.
Thank you, Lord, that you hold the universe. You hold me — and you don’t and won’t ever let go.
Thank you, Lord, that you hold me, that you know me, that you know my name and have even engraved it on the palms of your hands.
Truly your love and your mercy are great, O Lord.
Thank you for giving them to me.   
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.