Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

The month of November inspires many of us to become aware of the many blessings we experience every day.  The following is my Thanksgiving diary:

Day 1:  I thank God for my Dad whose birthday it is today.  Born in 1914, he went to Heaven in 1979.  He and I butted heads for most of my life, and I have to admit that my mother was right; we were just too much alike.  I wish I’d been nicer to him, but he knew I loved him and I knew he loved me.  We shared a passion for the Lord, the Church, and the Word.

Carl and I think of him so often.  He taught us to drive defensively, to always be aware of “the bailout,” when driving country roads.  He modeled for me the determination to find the solution to every problem, to figure out how things worked, to observe and to reason.

 Day 2: I’m thankful for the way my neighbor’s yard light lets me see the night creatures, like the deer, sometimes a fox, cats, and even an occasional skunk, at which time I’m thankful that I saw him before I took the dogs out.

On day 3, I again thank God that my husband and I are still together. Yesterday we had a bit of a scare and spent much of the day in the ER. He’s still in the hospital with an abdominal aortic aneurysm. It is small enough to not require surgery, and I’ll have him home later today. One of these days one of us will go to Heaven, but as long as I’m here, I’m thankful that he is, too.

Day 4: So very thankful on this Sunday morning for our wonderful church, Bethel Church of the Assemblies of God. Solid Biblical preaching, worship music that lifts our hearts toward Heaven, and a lively, joyful body of Believers. Looking around our congregation one can see the Body of Christ in all its diversity: Old, young, rich, poor, fat, skinny, every ethnicity, beautiful and desperately ordinary–all are precious in His sight.

 Day 5:  Today I am thankful for the internet. Yes, yes, I know what a mess it can be, and I know that it’s not listed in the Bible as a blessing. But all good things come from God, don’t they? And because of the internet, including Facebook, people from all seasons of my life indicate that they still remember me and pray for me as they did during Carl’s recent hospitalization.

Day 6: Today I am thankful, that as woman, I have the right to vote. I am thankful for life and liberty, freedom to worship God and to speak the truth. “He has shown you, o man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

Day 7 of Thanksgiving: Today I am thankful for the lovely fragrance of Fabuloso and for my lovely young friend Amy Smith who spread that perfume throughout the house by means of her clean floor ministry.

Day 8: I’m thankful for the old hymns and a mother who sang them as she worked around the house. Yesterday we were encouraged by being reminded that our “hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.” On a day when I feel irrelevant I remind myself that “I am a Child of the King.” Some days I know I’ve messed up and feel ashamed to go to prayer so I sing all the verses of “Just as I Am” as my introduction. And when I have to say goodbye to someone I recognize how “Blessed Be the Tie that Binds.” Thank you that I know “I Am Thine, O Lord.”

Day 9: Today I am thankful for this beautiful morning in this season of my life. I have the luxury of sitting here in my study, with the sun shining through the wide windows, and spending as much time as I want, praying, reading the Bible, reading email and Facebook, reading A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and doing whatever I want to do. Meanwhile, my servants, Mr. and Mrs. Maytag are cycling through Mt. Washmore with my occasional attention. Some other day, perhaps, I’ll make a list of what I miss about my younger, active life, but for today, I thank The Lord for this day.

Day 10: Today I thank God for Josephine Delia Soerens who was born 102 years ago today. She went to Heaven ten years ago, but she lives in my heart forever. We often mention the things she said. One of them was “Just wait until you’re my age, you’ll understand.” Well, I am the age she was when she said it, and believe me, I DO understand.

She was very intelligent, witty and hard-working. She loved me and was a mother to me, but most of all, she was the mother of Carl Soerens, the best husband and dad in the world.

Day 11:  Today I am thankful for those who serve our country in the military. We live very near FortHood, and wherever we go–post office, Subway, WalMart–we see these men and women in uniform.

I especially want to thank my brother, Daryl Heusinkveld, who served in Viet Nam, and my nephew Mark Heusinkveld, active duty. Both in the USAF.

Day 12: Today I am thankful that there’s a spot in the middle of my home where I can stand and see the sunny outdoors from windows on all four sides of the house. It was cold this morning, but the sun was shining!

Was it John Denver who sang something like, “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy?” Well, sunshine through my windows makes me happy, even if it does point out that they need the ministry of Windex and paper towels

 Day 13 of thanks, afternoon edition: I am thankful that the thoracic surgeon says the aneurysm on my husband’s aorta is no cause for alarm. It may have been there a long time, and is not going to be a problem.

Day 14 of giving thanks. Today, the day after a huge load was lifted, I am thankful for small things, like our two foolish little dogs. I’m tempted to say “useless” little dogs, but they are great company and make us laugh. They greet us like celebrities every time we show up, even if we’ve only been gone a few minutes. groomed 11-26-12

 Day 15 of giving thanks: Today I am thankful for the fitness center here in town. I feel so much better after the one-hour class.

When first urged to join the aquatic exercise group, I objected: “It’s all old ladies,” I said. I joined anyway.

The demographic remains unchanged. Sigh…

Day 16 of giving thanks: I am thankful for my health. This afternoon my doctor confirmed that I’m in very good shape for the shape I’m in. No problems with cholesterol or any of the other issues, based on blood tests this week. Of course, that was a FASTING blood draw. Now THAT was not easy! El Tapatio was an excellent place to break my fast.

Day 17 of being thankful:

Today I am thankful for friends. Younger friends who meet me for coffee on a Saturday morning, (you know who you are, Robbie Sparkman) and old ones who understand me (there must be at least one,) and especially friendly sisters in law who laugh at my jokes. Thank you for that, Karen Heusinkveld.

Day 18 of giving thanks: I know I’ve said it before, on day 4, actually, but I am very thankful to be part of a healthy, growing church. This morning I was remembering “the good old days,” our prayer meetings and the precious fellowship we experienced, and I believe the Lord is saying, don’t look back. As Pastor Sam Peterson said so often, “the best is yet to come.

Day 19 of giving thanks: Good morning! I am thankful for the freshness of a new day. Each new day is a fresh, new page. What will be written on my page today? Will I experience sorrow today? Will there be happy surprises? I intend to receive this day in gratitude, for I know that the One who separated light from darkness and called it the first day loves me and has a plan for me.

Day 20 of giving thanks. Thankful today for the security of knowing the Lord, and knowing, based on 73 years of history, that He loves me and is always faithful.

In my experience, it’s not the tough times that test faith, but the between times, when nothing much is going on. Waiting is frustrating. That’s when I remind myself, my anchor holds. Here we go with another old hymn: (the last line of the chorus is especially fun to sing)

1. Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain?◦

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.

2. It is safely moored, ’twill the storm withstand,
For ’tis well secured by the Savior’s hand;
And the cables passed from His heart to mine,
Can defy the blast, through strength divine.

3. It will firmly hold in the straits of fear,
When the breakers have told the reef is near;
Though the tempest rave and the wild winds blow,
Not an angry wave shall our bark o’erflow.

4. It will surely hold in the floods of death,
When the waters cold chill our latest breath;
On the rising tide it can never fail,
While our hopes abide within the veil.

Day 21 of giving thanks: Today I am thankful for traditions.

For me, a true traditional Thanksgiving feast would mean a long table surrounded by generations of family and a few people who volunteered to be family for the day. This year we will only have memories of those events.

We will, however, have a few of the required menu items. For me, the meal must include turkey, stuffing and gravy. It’s a bread stuffing, seasoned with sage. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Sweet potatoes. Green bean casserole. Scalloped corn. Cranberry salad. And pies. Lots and lots of pies.

Back in my obsessive hostess days, I baked 14 pies one year. Of course we were joining a large group. Having gotten over myself at last, this year there’s just one pumpkin pie for the two of us. With whipped cream, of course.

This poem is what I like to call “enhanced fiction.” Any resemblance to persons living or dead is probably inevitable, but intended without malice.


All the young cousins have ants in their pants
Looking forward to visits by uncles and aunts
Mom is preparing to roast a real winner
of a turkey for the annual Thanksgiving dinner.

First to show up is Uncle Dan Fraser

who needs to meet up with some soap and a razor.

His beard collects cranberries, butter and corn,

and yet there are stains on each shirt he has worn.
His wife is with him, dear Jessie—so brave—
who’s not at all able to make him behave.
May I introduce you to Gert, my great aunt,
whom I really should love but quite simply can’t.
The woman has always complained of poor health
and yet brags about it as if it’s her wealth.
Here comes Uncle Ray, whose political views
are plumb wacko. His rantings have ceased to amuse.
Brother Tom, bless his heart, insists that we meet
the guys he’s brought with him—bums off the street.
Dear Grace brings her usual zucchini bread
I know I should eat some–I’d rather be dead.
Though no one likes it, our admiring comments
inspire her to bring it to family events.
There’s the uncle who wheezes and the aunt who hums
and old cousin Doris who always comes
to remind us each year of the reason we gather:
to give thanks for all the blessings that matter.
We’re a raggedy bunch, there’s no doubt about it.
Let’s all join hands and joyfully shout it:
One, two, three, yell: HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
We’re here, and we are all glad to be living
in a land where we’re free to give thanks to the One
Who showed Himself to us and joins in our fun.
Everyone’s welcome here, old saints and young sinners
to the mother of all Thanksgiving dinners.

Day 22 of giving thanks:  Happy Thanksgiving! Today I am thankful for my life with all of its joys and sorrows. I am thankful for my husband, children and grandchildren.

I am thankful for memories and the people who populate them. I am thankful for those who blessed me and even for those we hurt me, because learning to forgive is a vital skill.
All that has happened and all whom I’ve known have brought me to today, and I say, with passion, “Life is good! Praise God!”

Life is But a Weaving by Corrie Ten Boom

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.

Still on Day 22, I am also thankful for my many years of experience in dealing with Thanksgiving day leftovers. Perhaps I may be of help to you younger women out there.

The best way to store leftovers, in my experience, is to have plastic containers in various sizes. Of course if the containers are all the same size and brand–say Cool Whip for example–then the dilemma of finding the right covers is solved, and they can be stacked in the refrigerator, thereby making the most of the space available.

If, however, you are faced with storing something–say a chocolate cream pie–with only an aluminum foil cover, it is best to sack said item on TOP of items with sturdier covers rather than the other way around, let the reader understand.

I hope this has been helpful.

Day 23 Today and every day I am grateful that from an early age, I knew about Jesus, and that it was in my heart to want to know Him more. Think of it! The Creator of heaven and earth and all that in them dwell, made Himself known to a little South Dakota farm kid! That’s my younger brother Daryl and me.  Image

Day 24 of giving thanks: I am thankful that my niece-the-doctor, Kari Heusinkveld Fay took time out of her day to bring her beautiful daughter, Holland Rose, to see me. Holland’s grandma & grandpa, Daryl Heusinkveld andKaren Heusinkveld visited, too. Love having family come to visit!


Day 25 of giving thanks: I’m thankful for Sundays!
Here are seven reasons to love this Sunday:
1. Going to church and visiting with interesting people.
2. Hearing a sermon that puts some git-up in my git-along.
3. Having a husband who gave me the phrase in reason #3.
4. Eating at Dynasty after church.
5. Having the freedom to read a good book.

6. No guilt for not doing anything work-related.
And finally, coming right up…
7. My Holy Sabbath Nap. Best sleep of the week.

 Day 26 of giving thanks:  This evening I had a wonderful, long chat with my sister, Gretta Weigandt. Well, all right, I did most of the chatting, but a sister is a wonderful blessing. I think I’ve said it before, but I am so thankful to have been born to a good solid family. My parents loved each other and loved us three kids, Gretta, Daryl and me.

Day 27 of giving thanks: As I crawled out of my nice warm bed this morning, I thought, I know what I’m going to give thanks for today–my nice warm bed. And then I thought of my whole, wonderful house and full pantry. And then I thought of those who don’t have a house, or a warm bed, or enough food. And then I thought about Matthew 25, the chapter that commissioned us into prison ministry, and then…

Today I pray for those who don’t have a home, or clothing or food, or who are in prison, and thank God for the privilege of meeting Jesus in all those situations.

 Day 28  Today I am thankful for our grandchildren, Hanna De GraafKatie SoerensStephen SoerensLucy SoerensGarret Soerens, and the three pre-Facebook girls, Denise Soerens, Evangeline Soerens, and Abigail Soerens. Objectively speaking, they are each way above average and there’s not an ugly one in the bunch! Mami is proud and grateful.

 Day 29 of giving thanks: Today I am thankful for our three children, Susan Soerens De GraafThomas Soerens and Andrew Soerens. Thankful and proud. As children they were a lot of fun–wonderful, wonderful memories–and they have become remarkable people, doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with God. They are all Christians, married Christians and have raised their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. “I’ll love you forever and like you for always, and as long as I’m living, my babies you’ll be.”

Day 30, of 30 days of giving thanks:

Today, as always, I’m thankful for answered prayer. In the spring of 1959, I prayed and asked God to send me the man of his choosing. After all, I was almost 20 and it was time to settle down. Shortly thereafter, Carl Soerens asked me to the spring formal. I’ve been giving thanks for him ever since.

“May I have this dance for the rest of my life?”

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I Thessalonians 5:18


One thought on “Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

  1. I’ve enjoyed following your days of thanksgiving. It’s funny, isn’t it, how a thankful heart changes one’s perspective and adds to one’s joy. You are a blessing to me, Elaine. Keep on writing!


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