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Norman Rockwell Freedom from Want


In our home, we would always go around the table with the same question:

“What are you thankful for this year that you could not have been thankful for last year?”

The answers could be simple, or deeper, delving into spiritual growth or insights.

But it was always a rich sweet time, and as children grew into adults, it could last hours.

Some of you will be in situations where giving thanks is not the custom.

This Norman Rockwell painting always makes me smile.

Norman Rockwell Giving Thanks

But whether or not you are blessed to have a rich time of

sharing on Thanksgiving Day, we can have one on this

blog. We can help one other see!

Our Town by Thorton Wilde

In Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, Emily is allowed to come down from heaven and visit earth invisibly for a day. She sees everybody hurrying — not really seeing, not really engaging with one another. (Personal note: Don’t let Black Friday rob you of fully embracing Thanksgiving Day!) Emily’s words upon leaving earth are forever etched on my heart:

Take me back — up the hill — to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by Grover’s Corners…Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking…and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you. …Do human beings ever realize life while they live it? — Every, every minute?

The stage manager answers: “No.” (Pause) “The saints and the poets – they do maybe, some.”

Here is where we as “saints” (the New Testament word for believers) can play a part in cooperating with the Spirit who is at work within us.

As we grow in the practice of thankfulness, in a mysterious way, more of our heart of flesh is unbound from its encasing stones. Gratitude produces life, joy, and healing.

Each year in my Christmas letter I choose “my book of the year.” This year it will be

One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voscamp. (Many of you love it too.) She tells of how she

came to realize the power of giving thanks, of “realizing life” while she was living it.

She was reading the account of the ten lepers whom Jesus healed. Always before she

thought the moral was simply to be thankful, but this time, when she read the account,

a verse she hadn’t noticed jumped out at her. When the lone leper returns to give

thanks, Jesus said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Wait. I trace back. Hadn’t Jesus already completely healed him? Exactly like the other

nine who were cured who hadn’t bothered to return and thank Him. So what does

Jesus mean, “Your faith has made you well”? Had I underinterpreted this passage,

missed some hidden mystery? I slow down and dig…


Ann’s epiphany was that the continuing miracle of

being made whole, of being, indeed, saved from our

prisons, is related to gratitude. She began to make her

famous list of one thousand gifts – of swaying

sunflowers, of jam spread on heels of homemade

bread, of freckled noses… And one day, months later,

in a friend’s kitchen, she hears:

“You’ve changed.” She turns to me, and I turn to catch the words.

“I have?”

…I don’t say it, but I am thinking she may be right and I had felt it for

months, the maturing, the swelling, the something different that had

begun to happen. But I had thought the re-creation was still embryonic, a

bud of hope. I hadn’t thought it had fully bloomed. I hadn’t thought that

anyone could see the light in the eyes.

“It’s that list you’ve been writing, isn’t it?” She clatters down bowls.

I want to keep this week simple, for I know it is a busy one. But minimally, could we

each come on frequently giving thanks for “gifts?” For seeing things simple and profound.

Do this, if nothing else, for homework.


For those of you who have more time, I’d love you to reflect on the words to a wonderful

Thanksgiving Hymn that is full of images of the harvest, and then, if possible, listen to

message by Tim Keller on one of the harvest parables mentioned in the hymn.


We also are going to meet Kim Taylor this week — so jump on any time and affirm Kim!


Next week we begin Advent! Please invite friends to join us for the season.










  • Worred? Let your requests be made known with thanksgiving (See Philippians 4:6)
  • Confess sins and give thanks both for His conviction and His tender mercies (Psalm 32)
  • Remember times of great mercy when your mouth was filled with laughter (Psalm 126:1-2)
  • For any harmony in relationships (Psalm 133)
  • For the power of the Word (Psalm 119)
  • For all His benefits (Psalm 103)
  • For the beauty of the heavens and the earth (Psalm 19)
  • When I have trouble sleeping at night, I go through the alphabet listing names or attributes of Jesus (You are Alpha — I’m so thankful You are the beginning and the end, and all things are held together in you; You are Beautiful beyond description — and yet You love me…)
  • Share your helps for thanksgiving with us!

4. If you read One Thousand Gifts, share one part you loved and why.


Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.







I knew Kim when living in Nebraska and loved her spirit. On a personal note, I remember one time when I was in a group and was seeing things quite differently from everyone else and feeling isolated. She suddenly spoke up and defended my point of view. (I may have been completely wrong — but I appreciated her brave support!) I also have heard, since leaving Nebraska, what a wonderful difference she makes in the children’s Bible club that accompanies a Bible study network that I began with a few other women thirty plus years ago. There are so many kids in that Bible club, and my dear friend told me how wonderful and dedicated Kim is in this ministry.

Here’s Kim’s testimony, followed by a picture of Kim and her husband, two sons, and daughter-in-law (who has also participated on this blog).

I am happily married with two grown sons and a lovely daughter in law. I am blessed to be a homemaker and seasonal business owner. I grew up in a Christian family with two brothers and one sister. I find joy in volunteering at my church and mentoring young women. My passion besides homemaking is decorating and re-purposing used things.

I remember like it was yesterday the email from Dee inviting me to join the Stonecutter study. I wanted to ignore it but God had other plans. I was far too religious to say audibly to God what I was thinking, that if I participated it had better be the answer once and
for all. By this time I had tried so many false answers that my heart had turned concrete. Proverbs 13:12a says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” My heart was so sick that when we sang “Victory in Jesus” in church, I felt anger rise up in me for I saw few living in victory over sin.

I joined the study and  although I bowed before all the idols listed, I determined to crush the biggest first-my comfort idol (food). Food comforted me when I was afraid, made me feel momentarily happy when I was sad and filled up time when I was bored. It was the sedative I took to ease the pain of life but the more I consumed, the more I needed to use, to cover the consequences my food overuse caused.

Proverbs 13:12 says: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

God answered my prayers and used this study to fulfill all my longings and heal my heart. He has now become my comfort and happiness. I once believed I must behave myself to get to enter heaven. I now know I have nothing to offer Him. He paid the price in full. I am humbled at His sacrifice and great love for me.


7. How can you affirm Kim?



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  1. I am trying to think of a verse to memorize regarding co-dependancy or addiction.. my assignment for this week from my acountability partner is to get a verse that will help me when i am being too dependant on someone or having an unhealthy relationship.. My mind is drawing a blank can someone help me?

    1. Meg,
      My mind is drawing a blank right now about a specific verse, but after listening to the free Keller sermon on worship, and thinking about all we’ve studied here on looking for the deep idol behind our “near sins”, would it help you to think about what is the idol – is it comfort, security – that you are trying to get that need met when you are being too dependent on your friend? Have you listened to the Keller sermon yet? (the free one on worship) I would encourage you to talk these things over with God; I know you have already, but continue to come to Him each time you feel those dependency feelings and say to Him, here they are again, but I choose to come to You for comfort, for security, for approval….
      Maybe you could share what you’ve been learning here with your accountability partner as that is a big part of overcoming this in your life. I’ll be praying for you, Meg!

      1. THanks Susan!

    2. Meg, here is an idea for you to consider-I will memorize it too, as I need to remember as well!

      Psalm 86: 11-13 (Or you can just memorize verse 11)

      (it is in the NIV version-other versions use ‘unite’ instead of undivided. I like both renderings.)

      11 Teach me your way, LORD,
      that I may rely on your faithfulness;
      give me an undivided heart,
      that I may fear your name.
      12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
      I will glorify your name forever.
      13 For great is your love toward me;
      you have delivered me from the depths,
      from the realm of the dead.

      1. Thanks Rebecca!! I have already memorized verse 11 but will do 12 and 13 too!:)

        1. Meg, you are further along than I! Great job! 🙂

  2. 7. How can you affirm Kim?


    Well, there is usually always more than one thing! 🙂 I think the Hymn spoke volumes to me-and Keller’s sermon….O.K. I have finally narrowed it down to what God is showing me:

    Keller: “A Christian is someone who grows more content with God as years go by. The moral counterfeit person is content with God and health, God and prosperity-then when it is taken away they find God is not enough. A believer is someone who says like in Job, where is God my maker who giveth me songs in the night. As time goes on finds out No matter how dark the night is, I have something to sing about-Even if nothing is there, as time goes on he becomes more content with God.”

    I think this also ties in with a thankful heart-I see how important having a thankful heart is-IN ALL THINGS. The purpose isn’t to make our pain go away-the purpose is for growth-as we become more content with God growth happens-like Job. Like when Paul said he has learned to be content in whatever the circumstances. OH MY! PHILIPPIANS CAME TO MIND!!!! He uses whether rich or poor in Philippians 4-but we also see how He sang praise songs in prison while in chains– Paul is a great example of rejoicing in the Lord through all circumstances. Thankfulness brings on contentment and growth, but Paul says he has ‘learned’-I think Paul learned through his mistakes too-it is a process, THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS LIKE FARMING.

    Being thankful can come in small and big things. Last night was small for me-but a huge change in my attitude I must say. My oldest son had his friend over for a sleep-over so I had lots of boys in my home! :~0
    I knew it was going to be a loud night. I do go to bed early and I didn’t want to have to get up and remind them to settle down and go to bed, yet as their time approached, midnight, I went to tell them to go to bed now. It quieted down, but a half hour later I heard laughing-they weren’t getting wild or wrestling or anything-just talking and laughing. I was tempted to go downstairs and tell them to stop-I was tempted to get frustrated inside and the thought crossed my mind- I won’t do this again! Yet as I heard their laughing I rejoiced with God and was thankful they were having so much fun, enjoying one another. I harkened back to when I was their age and how I loved to laugh at night with my girlfriend past midnight. 🙂

  3. Lord Jesus, thank you that you are the planter-that you cultivate my soil-that you are the giver of ALL THINGS-Thank you Lord that YOU give me a song in the night-yet I know I know I need to grow. I want to constantly be looking for you-pursuing You in dark times and in good times. Lord help me to grow in being content with you in all situations, all circumstances-and when I can’t sense your presence, remind me Lord that is evidence of your presence-help my eyes to be EVER fixed on you. Thank you Lord for how you have once again opened my eyes to your presence-to the truth of growth and contentment in you that comes out of the practice of thanksgiving -I confess that I haven’t had a thankful heart-that I have allowed sin to blind me from the reality of your presence! Oh Lord please when I am wandering stop me-turn my face toward you-guide me with your rod Lord even if you have to break my legs! I want to be ever closer to you Lord-I want to feel your presence wash over me like a tidal wave more often. I don’t want to wallow with my eyes focused on my circumstances-prepare my heart as time goes on so that when the darkest times comes I ask, ‘where is my God who gives me songs in the night.’

    1. 7. Kim, I didn’t forget!! I have been thinking about you all week and am elated at how you are so vulnerable to God-again a play dough heart he is giving you and to hear your praise of Him as He presses you closer in to Him. I am also excited to hear how you serve others in the body and am encouraged at how God is going to spread the Kingdom through you-it is so much bigger than ourselves-the impact all around-I love that God has chosen you! You are quite the encourager too and that is huge! Your growth encourages me and the beauty I am seeing glorifies Him.

    2. I LOVE, love this prayer Rebecca–“I want to constantly be looking for you-pursuing You in dark times and in good times. Lord help me to grow in being content with you in all situations, all circumstances-and when I can’t sense your presence, remind me Lord that is evidence of your presence-help my eyes to be EVER fixed on you.”–so rich, I just prayed it for myself!

  4. Listened to the Keller sermon on Worship. After listening, I realized I didn’t really understand the meaning of worship; in fact, I am woefully ignorant. I’ve heard sermons on worship, most talk about not making worship about yourself, or what you get out of it, but making it about God. Not being selfish regarding the music or worship style, but thinking of all the people there. Wow. I never knew it was so multi-faceted before I listened to this, or how I haven’t really been worshipping in this way.

    A few points from my notes:

    If worship doesn’t change the way you live, your life patterns, it’s not really worship.
    Worship is an act of assigning ultimate value to God. The psalmist is taking an inventory of the excellencies of God, reflecting on them until there’s an explosion in his life.

    Loved the example of the brooch, and how many of us don’t fully realize the value of what we have in God.

    So good the way Keller brought in idolatry in this sermon, how the psalm tells us why we should worship (because we’re already worshipping something). We are already ascribing ultimate value to something; our life is already controlled and oriented towards something to which we have ascribed ultimate value.
    The process of true worship is to recognize where your worship already is and transfer it to God.

    The example Keller gave from the Harry Potter book about the “Mirror of Erised” was powerful; “erised” is “desire” spelled backwards. The mirror shows you the deepest and most desperate desire of your heart. Everybody will see something in the mirror. Harry’s mentor says they must get rid of the mirror, because the trouble with it is people waste away before it. What a powerful word picture that evokes. I had to and have to ask myself, what do I see in that mirror, what do I desperately long for? How my life can be wasted away if I long for the wrong things. There is something in all of our lives that our relationship to that thing is one of worship.

    Every act of worship is pulling your heart off of those things which control you onto the one thing (God) that will not distort your life. So that mirror example means worshipping, longing for anything other than God will distort, mar my image.
    Interesting, Keller then says, as a Christian, if we look into the mirror of Erised properly, we would see ourselves perfectly enjoying God. Now that is a good metaphor.

    I really liked the example of C.S. Lewis and his intimate friends, how when one died, he thought he’s have “more of Ronald”, but ended up with less of him, because “no one individual can draw out the entire personality”. I once told my son, who’s a really good student, that I like to go to parent-teacher conferences even though there’s no problems to talk about (he asked me why do I bother to go), because his teachers will tell me something about his personality, how he interacts in their class, and I feel like I’m getting a glimpse of a side of him I don’t know. This explains that to me. It’s always exciting for me to watch my kids when they interact with other adults outside of our family, if I get the opportunity to observe them, and I marvel at “who they are” becoming.
    Keller made the point that it is only in community that we can see all the facets of God, which shows the deficiency of the lone-ranger Christian mentality.

    Liked the part about the Spirit making us aware of the reality of God’s presence. I’ve experienced that only a very few times, once in a group of about 5 people praying where the leader asked the Holy Spirit to come, and I know I felt His presence. It was palpable and very real. I sure would like to have more of that kind of experience.

    Bringing the Gospel into worship and the idea of entering into God’s rest – that keeps us from making worship just another burden, something we’d better do so God will bless us.
    Also how the psalmist, even in the midst of great troubles, calms himself, not with petitions, but with worship. I’ve never thought of that before.

  5. Kim, I wanted to add something more to my earlier affirmation. I remember back in the summer, when Melody was on with us. I was SO moved by your relationship with her. At first I was shocked she could be in a Bible study setting, so freely, with her mother in law. Unfortunately, I have the opposite relationship with my mother in law. But you painted a beautiful model for me. You actually gave me a vision to look forward to someday when my son (and daughter) get married. The way you made Melody feel so welcomed, accepted, showing her unconditional love.

    I look back at your picture here, and the sweet smiles of your family say so much about you. They are so blessed by your gifts-a tender, honest heart, filled with empathy and compassion for others–and I am thankful we get to share in the blessing of you as well!

  6. When I ask myself what I am most thankful for–my mind keeps coming back to 2 verses today:

    “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to SAVE the world through Him.” John 3:17

    And this:
    “ONE THING I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” Psalm 27:4

    He came to save us, to draw us into fellowship with Him, because that is HOW MUCH He LOVES and wants us! And we have ALL we need—to gaze upon Him, that is all we need.

  7. 7. How can you affirm Kim?

    Your testimony is beautiful, showing that you are as beautiful on the inside as on the outside! You have a lovely family, and I, too, remember when your daughter-in-law was posting on here and the closeness between the two of you. You have come so far from where you started and we’ve all seen your progress – now God is your comfort and your happiness, and also what a spiritual breakthrough for you, to know you are accepted not by what you do, or how you behave, but because of His love for you, and Jesus’ sacrifice for you. That is huge, and we rejoice with you in your new found freedom! I think it’s really neat that you mentor younger women in your church, too – you have much to offer to others!

  8. Thank you for the sweet encouragement sisters. I am so glad to be here with all of you. WE ARE BLESSED WOMEN!
    I will have to catch up next week with the sermon as family from out of state are still here.

    8. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE-A-WAY FOR THE WEEK? I like this from Dee, “As we grow in the practice of thankfulness, in a mysterious way, more of our heart of flesh is unbound from its encasing stones. Gratitude produces life, joy, and healing”. My heart is so full of gratitude for the Lord bringing me to this study with you dear women. Resting in the truth that He who has started this work within me will be faithful to complete it. I said the the Lord that I wish I could have done better in my eating-less at mealtimes-and He began to remind me of growth in other areas that I hadn’t even considered. He is the kindest gentlest Father! He makes me love Him more. Finally, I would say that I wouldn’t turn back to my pre-study days for anything! I love who I am becoming and look forward to continuing this journey with all of you in the months ahead. We must not get our eyes fixed on where we are now but where we are heading. There is still much work to be done.


    As we approach the Christmas season, when I review my notes on Keller’s sermon on Worship, I realize I need to apply this to Christmas. For many years I have dreaded Christmas. I have felt an inordinate pressure to measure up to others. My husband’s family have a lot more money than we do and for years I have felt that they looked down their noses on our simple gifts. I was jealous of the amount of money they spent at Christmas. After my husband’s mother died 11 years ago, his sister stopped even speaking to us. I think this is connected with the Christmas giving issue because that is the main time of the year that we would have seen each other. This has caused much pain in my whole family as she was the only sibling of my husband. Bitterness because of this even has caused me to struggle with everything about Christmas (a terrible thing for a pastor’s wife)! I even resented how other churches had better Christmas programs than we had, because they were bigger and richer than we. These thoughts have taken away much of my joy at Christmas. As a result of this study, I realize God can change me in this matter. I do not want my hurt, and bitterness to be my lord any more. Comparison is a monster!

    As I see my idol this year and realize that God’s love is all I need to be satisfied, to feel valued and is more powerful than my negative emotions, I am approaching the Christmas season with more hope and happiness than I have not had in many years. Please pray for me.

    1. Lord, I thank You for this HOPE you have given Diane! Oh this is joy–I pray Lord this hope and joy in You will continue to grow, to heal the hurts in her heart, that she would be a vessel of Your grace and love. Thank You for Diane Lord and this great work You are doing in her!

      1. Oh, I so agree with Elizabeth and Dee-Diane, this brought me joy-God is at work and it is losing it’s grip.


    I have to agree with Kim. This from Dee is inspiring “As we grow in the practice of thankfulness, in a mysterious way, more of our heart of flesh is unbound from its encasing stones. Gratitude produces life, joy, and healing.”

    There is something about giving thanks. It requires me to slow down, to stop, to be still. To open my eyes to what is right before me, to remember the Giver of all things, remember His Power, His Lordship. Yesterday we took a road trip to a plantation nearby and I would still be there staring at the horses and sheep if my husband and kids hadn’t pulled me away. Just sitting on the fence, staring at the beauty of these creatures. And knowing we are just like that–every inch perfectly created by a Maker who loves us to our core, who cares and nurtures, pulls our reigns to train…and herds us back in to His safe Home. His Eyes never leave us. And in Him, we have such an abundance–reasons for gratitude everywhere I turn.

    1. Elizabeth, So true! I could see you sitting there contemplating-how wonderful- What a gift of time God gave you to worship Him! If you and I went out walking I don’t think we would get home!! 🙂

    2. I love this, Elizabeth. Your awestruck staring at the horses and sheep is an awesome picture of worship. As you say, “we are just like that–every inch perfectly created by a Maker who loves us to our core, who cares and nurtures, pulls our reins to train…and herds us back in to His safe Home. His Eyes never leave us. And in Him, we have such an abundance–reasons for gratitude everywhere I turn.”

  11. I am listening to the free keller sermon again.. Thanks Susan for encouraging me to listen to it again here are my notes so far 🙂

    What is Worship? Describing ultimate value to something that engages your entire being.. Mind/ will/ emotions

    Will= submission

    emotions: Reason/thinking

    The word Worship comes from the word Worthship

    Why worship God? Cause you are already worshipping something!
    The world is already worshipping something whether it be wrongs things like money or you are worshipping the one who is worshipful

    This really stuck out to me: Recognize where your worship already is and transfer it over to Worshipping God.

    This is only half.. more to come soon 🙂

    1. Here is my second half:

      Everybody is living for something.

      We are controlled by the Lord of our life.

      How can we worship well. 4 things

      1. Community-the more diverse the better
      2. Truth Submit to truth of scripture
      3. Spirit
      4. Gospel- sabbath rest.

  12. just saw a pic of you dee on FB, you look so good! did you lose some weight???

  13. I loved Susan notes on the sermon on worship! I have been thinking a lot about how God refuse to control us, he loves us so much that he lets us be free….but He also loves us so much that the mere act of spending time with HIM and focusing on HIM (worship) changes us. As a mom this speaks volumes to my heart. If I can BE the person that loves and directs and encourages then just spending time with me will change my kids, I dont need to control their every move!
    Kim, I love your heart for marriage and have been so encouraged by you in that area of my life!

  14. Kim, just read about your sinuses, have you ever used a neti pot? I used to have horrable issues but this has really cleaned them out!

    1. Yes and I will get back to using it. Thanks for the great reminder.

  15. Kim, you are so special to me…love you, sister!

    1. Love you too, Joyce!

  16. Kim, you have been such a blessing to us and I am very grateful for all that you contribute. You are very wise. When I read Dee’s comment about you this week I have to agree with her. One of your qualities that I so appreciate is your ability to understand the thought processes of another. Sometimes I have trouble expressing my thoughts but you have a unique ability to understand where I am coming from. I love having you here.

  17. Dr. Keller’s sermon was great! When he began my eye turned inward as it always does when thinking of that parable. I think that is good because I need to examine myself. He gave some great criteria for a critical look inward. I was not in a place where I could take notes but the thing that stood out to me the most is the idea that just as the enemy is among us so also is the kingdom of heaven. That is such a positive and encouraging point. That is why we can always give thanks. We can always find evidence of the kingdom.

    We had a great Thanksgiving even though there were some missing from the table. It hurts but I know that God has done all that is possible to make sure that we celebrate with them in eternity. I believe that we will. I have not had time to read all of the comments but I trust that you have all had a wonderful holiday.

    We celebrated on Saturday and I had a wonderful study time that morning. That is when God pressed that verse in Hebrews 6 on my heart.