O, give thanks!

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Grace Notes by Nancy Kennedy

(Editor’s note: This is Nancy Kennedy’s annual psalm of thanksgiving, a tradition she thinks started in 2000. She didn’t keep track.) 

Dear God,

Here I am again, with a blank page in front of me, attempting to put into 750 words or less all the ways in which I am thankful. Where do I even begin?

Thank you, Lord, that I belong to you. Thank you for the gifts of grace, repentance and faith, for forgiveness, for mercy, especially for your mercy that’s a continual source of healing for my sin-tainted soul.

Thank you for pink and purple sunrises and golden sunsets, bookends to each day that you give as a gift to those you love. Thank you for the sound of the surf, the smell of cookies fresh from the oven, for comfortable shoes, for Bearcats and “cowbirds” and sushi that’s both cheap and good.

This past year has been steady; it’s been good. No high highs, no low lows. I’d describe it as white bread and oatmeal, tapioca and the color blue, easy-listening music, gentle rolling hills, a white four-door sedan. No shouting from the rooftops, no sobbing on the floor.

No matter what kind of year I may have, all my days are in your hands. Thank you, Lord, that I am securely in your hands.

Thank you, Lord, that you never let go of your own.

Even if I wander away (which I always do), your relentless, persistent love never wanes, never wavers, even for a child like me determined to flee.

You are the mama rabbit in the “Runaway Bunny” that tells her little bunny, “If you become a bird and fly away from me, then I will become a tree that you fly home to.”

You say that too, Lord. You say it to me.

Thank you, Lord, for illustrations everywhere, for trees with sturdy limbs and strong branches that dot the landscape as well as simple children’s books on library shelves, continual reminders of your welcoming love.

Thank you, Lord, for words like “reluctant” and “doubt,” because in them there is still room for hope. Thank you for my daughters and the men who love them and for my pastors who easily and publicly admit their sin.

Thank you for apple green iPods, eyeliner the color of eggplant, cousins who band together and 92-year-old aunts.

Thank you for fish tacos and hot coffee, cardigan sweaters with three-quarter length sleeves, for patient husbands who unclog garbage disposals and for Caroline Kennedy Smith.

Thank you for the songs we sing in worship: “If you tarry ’til you’re better, you will never come at all,” “Hallelujah, he has found me, the One my soul so long has craved,” “Oh, the blood, it is my victory.”

Thank you for awe and wonder, for curiosity and contemplation — for worship.

I even thank you for times of weakness and failure, because that’s where you meet me, comfort and redeem me, enable me to run and dance with joy and confidence and strength.

You are a God who loves losers, who welcomes sinners, who heals the broken-hearted. You give grace to the humble (and you humble the proud), you pardon the guilty, give hope to the hopeless, infuse life with meaning and delight. You are Seeker and Savior, Refuge and Redeemer, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

You hold the universe in your hand. No random molecule escapes your grasp. You’re never surprised. You never say, “Oops.”

You remain faithful when I’m not. You love when I am unlovely.

You who created the mountains and the oceans, the galaxies and dragonflies, as mighty and majestic as you are, still stoop to hear my prayers.

My thanks seem puny and insignificant, but my thanks is all that I have to give.

So, with all that I have within me, with all my heart, my soul, mind and strength, I thank you, Lord.

Thank you, Lord.

Thank you!


 Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com