We have so much it’s hard to know what to be thankful for. The two feasts, one at home with Sherry, one at Cannon Beach with Cyndee, the visit from David, Sam, Nicole and Joy, continuing improvement for Elizabeth, the party with the elders and staff from Grace Community Church last night with an Italian feast followed by desert, Christmas traditions and carols and much more.

I was really touched by the Living Hope Church service Saturday afternoon. John Bishop is one of “my guys,” an incredible evangelist who preaches with unusual vulnerability, telling us of Michele’s illness: E-Coli in her blood, anemia and such will Water in Bongprobably have her in the hospital Monday. He preached from a stage full of trash. The series is “Christmas Clutter: Finding What Really Matters.” The message was seeing Jesus in the middle of all the clutter. The challenge was to write some worry point on a card and dump it in the clutter, take communion, do “cheers” with a class of cider and come pray with a pastor. The highpoint of the day was hearing that a Mommy and her Daughter who’d been coming to the church for a while prayed to accept Jesus. John’s call after the three Saturday services (and four more to come on Sunday plus campuses all over the area) allowed us to share the power of friendship and partnership in Jesus.

Anna, one of my students, will head off to southern Sudan with Kay Bruce and four others to do worskops to equip the church in Lietnohm for dealing with the terrible suffering they face. Her personal project along with the teaching is to involve the students from Portland Christian Schools in providing for a well in Bong, a neighboring village.  The picture is their current water source.  This picture haunts me in the face of the richness of our part of the world. As a boy on the farm in Missouri, I used a bucket to draw water from a well. The water was clean. We soon got a well with a pump and I’ve had running water all my life. I am very thankful for that. But this picture makes me all the more thankful.

I’m in three marriage crises right now. All three are wrenching agonies with pain and hurt everywhere. It moves me to much prayer. As Sherry and I approach 40 years of good marriage, I’m so thankful. These situations make me all the more grateful.

We hung with our long time friends, Joel and Renata Burnell. As we laughed in their home, playing with Daniel (almost 15 now!), Erik (12?) and Amelia (almost 4), it was great to think of the power of friendship. One of my greatest needs is the need for a deep friend with whom I can process without editing, pray without hesitation, be silent as the feelings surpass words, sharing childlike wonder. If that friend were not in contact the sadness would be overwhelming.

Gratitude is a surpassing Christian virtue because of His grace.

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