Thanksgiving 2014


“The chance you had in life is the life you’ve got. You can make complaints about what people, including you, make of their lives after they have got them, and about what other people make of other people’s lives, even about your children being gone, but you mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be someone else. What you must do is, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.”” Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

My life has been full of blessings, mistakes, successes, failures, joy and hurt! But I have no complaints. I am truly full of gratitude.

Here is a partial gratitude list for this year.

On this first Thanksgiving Day without my Dad, I am thankful for God’s Amazing Grace. God’s gift of His Son Jesus to save us from our sins is still amazing to me.

I am thankful that God is our eternal home and He has prepared a place for us a home in heaven with him. When I think that God would not do eternity without us, I simply bow and rejoice. “Our bodies are like tents that we live in here on earth. But when these tents are destroyed, we know that God will give each of us a place to live. These homes will not be buildings that someone has made, but they are in heaven and will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 5:1, CEV)

I am thankful for God’s call to the ministry. God indeed does have a plan for each of us. It doesn’t just happen it involves victory and pain. It’s what taking up a cross for the joy set before is all about. “You have made many wonderful plans for us. I could never speak of them all— their number is so great!” (Psalm 40:5b, GN)

I am thankful that Becky said yes when I asked her to marry me. She is beauty, joy, love, wisdom, dignity and kindness all wrapped up together. She is fun, a leader, and when she speaks people listen. We have loved one another deeply and enjoyed our life together. I love you Becky!

I am thankful for our four children. They make us proud every single day. Our soldier is home safely and in college, our missionary architect has just got home, our third son is a Senior in college and our daughter helps us in so many ways in the ministry.

I am thankful for my daughter-in-law, whom I give God thanks for and love much. She is good wife and mother, her patience seems unending and she loves our son.

I am thankful for the two best grandsons in the whole wide world. Seriously they are.

I am thankful for parents who raised us to know and love God with all of our hearts. I am thankful that we were taught to treat others with respect and kindness. Just about a month ago, I slept in a chair beside my Dad bed in the hospital. The first night he never woke up. On the second day, he woke up and looked over at me and said, “hey fella.” I fed him cheese grits which he devoured. He always said, if you could eat grits you were getting better. Tonight he is perfected!

I am thankful that when my Dad slipped from this life into eternity he left behind a legacy of faith, hope and love in his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. It’s a bitter sweet pain. Yes, I’m feeling lonely but its a fact we will see other in heaven.

I am thankful for a mother who loved my Dad and us and kept a home that we loved to bring our friends to and our friends loved coming to our home. Her grace and faith inspire me.

I am thankful for my sisters and our joy and love our families enjoy being together. We share a deep bond of affection and laughter.

I am thankful for my brother-in-laws, who are truly great friends, and brothers. Best of all they love Christ and my sisters.

For my nephews and nieces who always greet me with such great love and respect.

I am thankful that our nephew, Vince, lived with us this last year. I loved watching him dance while he shoveled snow. He tried to teach me some moves. The operative word being tried. Its not my talent. We had so many great conversations and walks together. I miss him.

I am thankful for the leadership team at Woodland Church our pastoral team, board, small groups, departments, and all of our wonderful volunteers serve throughout the Metro Area.

I am thankful for a wonderful church that is on a lifetime journey of growing into passionate followers of Christ and persuading others of God’s love for them as well. They are generous in time, talent and treasure.

I am thankful for churches and organizations that have invited me to speak about the Gospel, leadership, the ministry, preaching and the Acts of the Holy Spirit in the Church today.

I’m thankful for happy young couples who asked me to marry them this year, for the babies I dedicated, and for the deep honor of preaching the funerals of men and women that I pastored this year.

I am thankful for friends who take time to send their love and condolences on Facebook, in emails, text messages and phone calls when my father died yesterday. Reading them tonight inspired me to write this post rather than go to bed just yet.

I am thankful for a great surgeon, a physical therapist, the pastors of our church and so many friends who helped me when I broke my ankle and fibula this year. For all the wonderful meals they brought to us. For everyone who chauffeured me to all the meetings I had.

I am thankful for two rocking chairs on our front porch where I read and meet with neighbors who just come up and sit down to visit. Maybe its because Becky offers the best sweet iced tea in Michigan to those who drop in.

I am thankful for all the good books I read this year but especially the Bible! A few of my favorites have been A) Leading at a Higher Level by Ken Blanchard, B) Left, Right and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics by Lisa Sharon Harper and D. C. Innes, C) The Chiveis Trilogy by Brian Liftin, D) My Share of the Task by Stan McChrystal, E) The Pastor by Eugene Peterson, F) Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at it’s Best by Eugene Peterson, G) Art for Art’s Sake by Phillip Graham Ryken, H) Jealousy: The Sin that No One Talks About by R.C. Kendall, I) The Millennials by Thom and Jess Rainer, J) Why Jesus by William Willimon, K) Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, L) Duty by Robert Gates, M) David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, N) Connecting Like Jesus by Mary Darling and Tony Campolo, O) He is Not Silent by Albert Mohler, P) Coolidge by Amity Shlaes, Q) The Gift Of Prophecy by Wayne Grudem, R) Strategic Vision by Zbigniew Brzezinski

I am grateful for the Downriver Community and our leaders.

I am thankful for the Metro Park’s Trails, the Detroit River, Petoskey and Traverse City and the Big Bear Lodge. Walks in the Snow watching the Eagles fish, Walks on the Forest Trails that are ablaze with color, and jogs along the trails have been a gift from God to me. Birds have flown and landed on my hand to eat seeds. Awesome!

I am grateful for the pasta, pizza, gelato, music and art that Becky and I enjoyed in Florence, Italy and Zurich Switzerland this year. Italian Coffee and Scalding Hot Milk with eggs, toast and fruit in the morning. Double Chocolate Chunk gelato from Groms in Florence, heaven in your mouth. Pizza the way it should be, fresh and cooked in wood fired ovens.

I am thankful for Georgia Football, Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers and Lions.

I am thankful for golf! Couldn’t play this year, but next year is coming.

I am thankful for chicken and cornbread dressing, giblet gravy, fried chicken, hamburgers and french fries, grilled salmon, collards, butter beans, okra and tomatoes and banana pudding without vanilla wafers and egg meringue topping, German Chocolate Cake and Starbucks Coffee.

I am thankful you took the time to read my list!


16 thoughts on “Thanksgiving 2014

  1. Love you Clantons so much. Thanks for taking time to write such a beautiful, inspiring piece. Praying for you all or is that y’all?

  2. I would like to hear you say y’all. Thanks Carlene, as always you are encouraging and bring a smile to my face. Love ya much!

  3. Loved your post! Your Father sounds like such a wonderful person. I am grateful for you and your amazing family, everyone at Woodland, God and my husband. That is just the short list. Thank you for all your prayers, love and support this year. Even with all you had going on, you and Becky were still were engaged in everyone around you. It has been a wild ride.

  4. I am grateful for Keith and you. You are inspiring examples of grace and gratitude. Thanks for your encouragment and prayers throughout the year.

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