26 11 2017

Coming off of Thanksgiving, one of America’s most celebrated holidays, I was giving Rock _nthought to what thankfulness means to this man. Of course it’s always meant a day of incredible food, being with family and then falling asleep in front of the TV watching football. But what do I truly mean when I say “I’m thankful” not just on the holiday, but in everyday life? And specifically how did I come to my position on what thankfulness looks like? Glancing at several online dictionaries, most interpret the word “thanksgiving” the same way: “an expression of thanks,” “a day set apart for giving thanks.” Then my eyes fell on this description: “a public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor or kindness.” Instantly my memory flashed to one person–enter Great Aunt Pearl.

I’ve known my share of folks that were quite content with what they had and their status in life and my beloved Pearly Mae will always be at the top. One day she was a little late getting home from work but when she finally arrived there was a big smile across her face and a bag from the Woolworth’s store in her hands. In the bag was as jigsaw puzzle she laid out a card table for us to work on and announced whenever we completed one she would buy another. She then announced the news that made her so happy; she had been given a raise and was now making a whopping $1.00 an hour! Here well over fifty years later, that doesn’t seem like any amount to get excited about (My grandkids wouldn’t let me get away paying them that low!), but in 1959 that meant she could afford to take care of the bills, buy us that puzzle and put back $5 each week, a practice she never stopped and increased the amount as time went on. Not far from the little home we rented sat an old rundown apartment house that had been vacant for years and looked like it would fall over if a strong wind hit. But Pearl loved place and was excited when it came on the market for the exact of money she could scrape together–$2,500. I wasn’t exceptionally thrilled when we moved into this overgrown dilapidated shack. We started by living in two rooms in the house, and as money became available fixed up the rest as well as cleaning up the yard and making it into a beautiful showcase of flowers. With each improvement Pearl would smile, this dear soul was living the dream. My favorite memory will always be Pearl’s story of the year she raised a large garden but didn’t have the money to purchase preservative for the canning process. After a short time in prayer she began finding money around the house and eventually ended up with enough to purchase what she needed. I still remember her telling me she sat for a time and cried for how rich God had made her with the gift of 30 cents.

It’s easy for me to remember the good things that made Pearl so thankful, but in the midst of those memories are ones that are far from being happy thoughts. For reasons I never understood, this wonderful woman married a man that could only be described as mean and cruel. How could such a saintly woman unite herself with such volatile angry person? Asking her in later years after he passed away, she told me he wasn’t always that way and delighted in telling me memories of their early days together before he changed so harshly. I then asked then why didn’t she leave him then. Pearl gave me several reasons, but the one that stuck with me the most was this, “Without him I would have never become as strong as I am today, and for that I’ll always be thankful to God.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  – Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

When the apostle Paul wrote these words, his audience was one that was being persecuted in many terrible ways. He wasn’t saying, as the song goes, “Don’t worry, be happy.” He was reassuring them that God was still there for them, that there was something better He had for them. Don’t lose hope and don’t give up! Today God is saying the same thing to us. Don’t lose heart, don’t give up and be thankful for all you’ve been blessed with. One writer put it like this; “Be thankful for what you have. Your life, no matter how bad you think it is, is someone else’s fairy tale.”

It’ll soon be 34 years since Pearly Mae finished her “Travels of the Rock Road,” but her memory, ways, love of life and words will stay with me until I’m called Home. I may not have obtained all my wants, but the dear Lady from West Virginia taught me that God will give me all that I need.

Now who couldn’t be thankful knowing that?

See ya next time.





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