"Give thanks to the Lord..." is found many times in the Bible. Just to name a few:
I Chronicles 16:7&34; Psalm 105:1, 106:1, 107:1, 111:2, 118:1, 136:1; Isaiah 12:4.
Sometimes the Hebrew word is translated praise, but the basic meaning is acknowledging God, from Whom all blessings flow. Everyday I find myself overflowing with thanksgiving for the multitude of blessings God has poured upon my life.
I'm thankful for my parents who brought me into this world; for their sacrifice to clothe, bathe, feed, nurture, teach, discipline, and love me through my formative years. I am thankful for their authenticity in revealing they were by no means perfect, as well as for their devotion to God, country, and family... and for pointing all their children to these values.
I'm thankful for my siblings. We grew up in the sixties and seventies (except for Mary, who grew up in the '70's and '80's). They were crazy, turbulent times in America's history (in some ways similar to today's America). I think the Foss family created enough havoc in our small hometown in South Carolina that I find myself thankful for my neighbors and community for tolerating all our shenanigans. I grew up with five sisters, and then met a sixth sister from my father's first marriage when I was in my junior year of high school. Each sister has a special place in my heart, and for whom I would sacrifice as best I know if there ever came to a time for such. I have one older brother who I've grown to admire as I've watched him grow into a loving husband and father. I thank God for the friends my brother and I shared in our youth, as well as for the trips and experiences we shared growing up together.
I am thankful for my extended family: the aunts and uncles, cousins, and in-laws who never treated me as an outlaw and loved me through so many transitions in life. On my mother's side of the family we have a rich tradition of gathering together as often as is possible to share a meal, time together, games, songs, etc. We actually enjoy each other's company and look forward to our reunions. At Christmas, as I was growing up, my Uncle John would lead us in singing the 12 Days of Christmas with his silly conducting and impersonations of each day's emphasis, he had us all in stitches with laughter. My maternal grandparents were the best. God broke the mold when He made them. They had a great sense of humor, were devout in their faith, and loved their children and grandchildren. In fact, when we all get together, there is so much love, so much grace, and so much interest in each other's lives that we are all in a "protected love zone". No harm can come to any who enter here. We love each other.
I am thankful for my hometown. I can't say that it is the same as when I grew up, but it is still my hometown: with a main street that had two drug stores (one with a real soda fountain); there were five department stores - Belks, BC Moores, Ackerman's, Stroup's and The Men's Shop; three hardware stores - two on main street (Western Auto, managed by a Mr. Oliver, and Fort Mill Hardware, managed by Mr. Adkins; Mrs. Blair was his bookkeeper and assistant), and Mills Hardware on South White Street (J.B. Mills was the proprietor and a well known personality in town. I hope I'm remembering all these correctly); a barbershop (Mr. Howie would blow the hair off of the back of my neck as he trimmed); Kimbrell's furniture store; the Bank of Fort Mill (Mrs. Powell worked upstairs in the accounting section and would call me if my account was close to being overdrawn); a jewelry store run by a Mr. Crouch (a tall fellow with a calming influence); a pool hall; a movie cinema; and some smaller stores for appliances, miscellaneous merchandise (Chase's store); an insurance office (Bob Hill's business); the post office; and a gas station at the top of Main Street run by Mr. Osborn. We had a bowling alley that boasted pool tables, ping-pong tables, at least two lanes of bowling (you always had to bowl with a partner, as the pins had to be set up by hand - one would bowl while the other would set). The bowling alley was situated between the golf clubhouse on one side and the community swimming pool on the other. I am thankful for the church I grew-up in, First Baptist, Fort Mill - for Dr. Lattimore, Rev. Hollins, the summer youth minister, Hal Lane, and the members there who enriched my life as I grew up, especially a Mr. Arnold.
I am thankful for the schools I attended as I grew up, their administration, faculty, and staff: each contributed to who I am as a person. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Lytle, welcomed me as a newcomer to the community. Mrs. Bailey, who taught third grade, made learning so interesting. My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Godfrey, gave me my first school paddling with a new "board of correction" given to her the Christmas before by some of the girls in the class. Mrs. Thomas gave me a love for reading in the fifth grade. Mrs. Williams motivated me to excel in math in the seventh grade. I cherished Mrs. Jones smiles in the eighth grade, and her zest for life and learning. I appreciated all my high-school teachers, but especially Mrs. McCallum, who taught me the skill of typing, which I have used throughout my life more than any other skill. In college, I was privileged to meet a Dr. Robert Edgerton, who - even though I was not a music major - assisted me in getting through the expense of college with a music scholarship. He was a big influence in my pursuing music for many years of my life. I am thankful to have been exposed to the teaching of Dr. T.W. Hunt and Dr. Roy Fish at Southwestern Seminary.
I am thankful for the wonderful people I have met in churches across this country. I am thankful for their prayers, love, and even financial support through the years. I am thankful for the pastors, with whom I was privileged to share in ministry and for those who partnered with me in various ministry efforts over the years.
I am thankful for my wife, Sandra, who has been by my side for over thirty-five years and has fought to keep our marriage, and who has exhibited such a wonderful ability to nurture and challenge our children. I am thankful for our two daughters, Nicole and Natalie, who have enriched our lives with so much joy, laughter, and love. I am thankful for the women they have become.
I am thankful for so many people and so many things...
I am MOST THANKFUL for the mercy of God extended toward me through the love of Christ as shown on a cruel cross, and for the power of His resurrection that works within me to transform me to reflect more of Him in my life and less of me. I am thankful for how God is writing a story through my life, our lives, our communities, and our nation to make His name famous throughout the earth. I am thankful for a nation whose motto is: "In God we trust".
I am thankful for the hope of heaven as we live in such turbulent times.