As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, we reflect on giving and gratitude. Barbara Leafblad writes about her own thank-you list, and Sarah Lundgren writes about packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

By Barbara Leafblad

At our Thanksgiving meal this year, we will go around the table and say what we are thankful for. This always throws me off, because my list is long. I will look at the faces of my spirited grandchildren, at the hearts of my two stepchildren who showed such generosity and grace to me as children when they let me into their lives, to our two sons and the 1,000 small rewards of being a mother to them all. I will see the open faces of my daughters-in-law and son-in-law who have loved my children well and have been so kind to me. I will see Dan, who will be teary-eyed as ever as he says his thanks and prayers. All of these are God’s grace to me…precious gifts, and I am thankful. I am thankful for our church and the kind and faithful friends who are God’s answer to my prayer for a spiritual community. I am thankful for our home, for health, for meaningful work, for a lifetime of adventures, and for the simple pleasure of reading a really good book. The list gets longer. But, there is another kind of Gratitude.  It often wells up in me and I am filled with a sense of awe and humility, especially when I think about my own journey of so much wandering and pain. It is a gratitude that brings tears to my eyes, that sometimes makes me bow down and sometimes seems to lift me up out of my self.  I say Glory to you, God…thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU for redeeming my life.

So, once again this year, when my turn comes at the table, I will say “I am thankful for Jesus” the greatest of all gifts.  Happy Thanksgiving, Church of the Redeemer. I am grateful for you.

Barbara Leafblad is on the altar guild at Church of the Redeemer.



shoeboxes ready to be shipped.

By Sarah Lundgren

Earlier this month, our Kids of the Redeemer packed 42 boxes of love, joy and hope.  What makes Operation Christmas Child so beautiful is that we can send Christmas presents all over the world.  Shoeboxes are delivered by snowmobile, gondola, truck, train, horse and trailer, etc., to bring the hope and love of Jesus to children who have very little.  Each year now our kids of the Redeemer pack gifts in shoeboxes.  Families together think about what would be useful and what would be fun for a child to receive.  We lay out our loot.  And we strategize how to pack every cubic inch with toys, hygiene items, school supplies, and of course, Jolly Ranchers.  We talk about sharing God’s blessings.  We wish we could see the face of the child opening the box.  We hope one day we might hear back from a child.  But we know and we trust that someone will be blessed by our offerings.  We do not give to be thanked, but we give because Jesus asks us to give.  And through all of this giving and sharing, we are filled with joy.  And we pray that this joy and love and hope that we hold to in Jesus is shared with our friends around the world.

Sarah Lundgren is the director of children’s ministry at Church of the Redeemer.