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Thoughts of Thanksgiving
By Diane Exner

This month I chose the theme of 'thankfulness' and 'thanksgiving' for A Woman’s World. Being a Canadian writer, I wanted to honor both God and my country, by briefly sharing a bit of history with you. Of course, with a woman's touch added for good measure.

In October, Canadians celebrate a National Holiday, called "Thanksgiving". As with all holidays, there are many possible origins and a discrepancy as to the original dates of celebration. In my quest to find out why we celebrate Thanksgiving, there have been a few constant facts, as well as a few noted influences of its origin.

Some sources say it started with the immigration of the European farmers, who brought fall celebrations of good harvest, good fortune and abundance of food. One of their practices was to fill a curved goat's horn with fruits and grain, otherwise known as the cornucopia. This horn of good plenty became the symbol used in these celebrations of thankfulness.

Another influence was from an English navigator named Martin Frobisher, who held a ceremony in 1578, in what is now Newfoundland, to give thanks for surviving his journey there. Some consider this the first Thanksgiving celebration, and as other settlers arrived, they continued this 'thankful' ceremony. For many of the early settlers of Nova Scotia around 1762, this celebration became a religious event to give thanks to God for their bountiful harvest.

American and French settlers brought their own 'thanksgiving' customs to Canada which, when combined with the many feasts of 'thanksgiving' already being celebrated, led to the birth of "Thanksgiving Day". The only thing left was to agree on the date.

The 'official' date bounced between October and November for many years, until January 31, 1957, when the Canadian Parliament proclaimed "that the 2nd Monday in October" ... "be a Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed."

Whenever I have the privilege to serve Thanksgiving dinner in my home, I invite everyone at the table, from children, to friends and family, to share something for which they are thankful from the past year. Being the woman of the house, my desire each year is to have a thankful heart, a warm atmosphere in my home and a family that honors God for all our blessings. It is especially important to me that we keep up the original tradition of thankfulness and honor to God on this special day.

In my devotions recently, God has reminded me that He not only supplies the seed for our crops, but also provides the harvest. One of the seeds that I am most thankful for, is the seed of prayer. In the last several years, I have learned that I had a praying grandmother on my dad's side. She passed on when I was 12, so I never knew her well; but I discovered that she had known the Bible from cover to cover and prayed for her family every night before going to bed.

In addition, I also now know that my mother-in-law prayed for me before I even knew their family. A woman who, upon learning that she could have a personal relationship with God, prayed for all her children's spouses in advance. Actually, it works out that Janet started praying for her future daughter-in-law (me) at about the same time that my grandmother died.

It is interesting how God's timing is so perfect when it comes to planting seeds, watering the soil and bringing in the harvest.

So what am I most thankful for this Thanksgiving season? That is easy! I’m most thankful for women who pray.

Women like the Sunday school teacher I visited on rare occasions as a child, who planted a seed of salvation in my heart.

Women like the grandmother I did not have the privilege to know and the mother-in-law who prayed for me long before she knew me, who both watered those seeds with prayer.

Women like my friend and pastor, Kelly, who dug up weeds in the hardened soil of my heart and planted flowers of hope, confidence and self-esteem.

Women that have prepared the ground for a harvest in my life – a harvest of a thankful heart, a testimony to glorify God and a ministry that I can now sow into other women's lives.

God is bringing in the harvest and, for me, it has been a crop of plenty – plenty of women to encourage, pray for and build up.

In the same way that "Thanksgiving Day" began with those seeds of 'thankful ceremonies', so too began my ministry to women with a variety of seeds. The seeds of love, kindness and compassion that were planted in my life are now producing a bountiful harvest. As these seeds have grown, my heart has continued to reach out, deeply care and pray for the women God has brought into my life. Many times, I can personally relate to their hurts, heartaches and hardships, and in some way God softens my heart to be able to love and encourage them on their journey.

Just like the uncertain beginning of 'Thanksgiving', my life was also on an uncertain path. It took many years, 29 in fact, before my eyes were opened and I saw the light that brightened my path – the light of Jesus Christ, drawing me to my heavenly Father. Even though beginnings can sometimes be uncertain and the details need to be worked out along the way, I am thankful that God always has the best plan for me and that His timing is perfect.

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 encourages us with, "Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God."

Consider this, ladies – you may have a seed of hope, prayer or even thanksgiving that God is inviting you to plant in someone's heart today. He supplies the seed as well as the harvest. Plant, pray and prosper in the harvest of plenty; God's harvest.

Even though this holiday is only celebrated in Canada and the United States, I'd like you to consider having a thanksgiving celebration in your home. Ladies, this is a call for you to adjust the thanksgiving temperature in your homes and warm the hearts of all who visit there with testimonies of God's love and friendship. Whether you celebrate in October with Canada, or November with the United States, make sure to set aside some special time for 'Thoughts of Thanksgiving.'

This month we have two stories of thanksgiving. One could have been a tragedy, but with God's protection, this family reminds us of the many things we have to be thankful for. The other is about the cure of a disease that I have also suffered from in the past. In both of these stories, the glory is given to God and these women are thankful for God's intervention. So wherever you are, Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Reading.
Diane Exner is a published freelance writer from Canada, who takes every opportunity to use her talents to glorify God and to encourage other women. You can contact Diane through her website, Creatively Yours http://www.dianeexner.com.
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