November 08, 2023
In preparation for the celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday, David and Karen Mains share some of the things in their lives for which they are thankful. For listeners, they suggest: “During November, it is fitting as American Christians to practice giving thanks to the Lord.”
During November it is fitting as American Christians to practice giving thanks to the Lord.
David: In the Greater Chicagoland area where we live, November and December are rude awakening months.
Karen: The beauty of September and October has faded into memory, and the harsh change to winter is becoming our new reality. This year a little sooner than usual.
David: Now the fireplace in our living room is doing its best to remind us that winter also has its charms.
Karen: So, pull a picture dear listener, won’t you? And don’t mind if the cat jumps on your lap. Her name is Gypsy.
Intro: Welcome to the Before We Go Podcast featuring Dr. David Mains and his wife, noted author Karen Mains. Here’s David and Karen Mains.
David: Here where we live not only are the last two months of the year bitter cold, they can also be incredibly busy.
Karen: And why is that?
David: Well, it’s obvious to everyone you got three major holidays coming up. They all have their beauties, but they also have their huge amount of work involved. We’re talking about first Thanksgiving, obviously Christmas, and then the opportunity to be involved in a whole new year of our lives. So, we’re trying to help people get ready so the essence of those special days is not missed just in the activity of all that is going on.
Karen: And what’s so good about this is it’s preparing us to do it as well as our listeners. So, we’ve been thinking about Thanksgiving and researching it a little bit and thinking about Thanksgiving’s past. And what we can do this year and recommend that other people do that will make it truly a holiday of Thanksgiving. Not just one in name, only with a little bit of time when you go around the table and say “These are the things we’re thankful for.” But how can we make it deep and rich?
David: We started by saying let’s make a list just in our minds, not a busy work, but of people who have influenced us in a positive way. And I’ve found that to be very beneficial in my life. In fact, I didn’t just do it for the week, I’m continuing to do it. And I now have almost 40, just under 40 names of people who have played significant roles in our lives.
Karen: And you’re grateful for those people in the world they’ve played. But it’s easy to forget those, isn’t it, David? And that kind of exercise, you’ve discovered I think, that there were many people who helped you on your path in ministry. And while you were in ministry, they came and stood beside you. It’s wonderful.
David: It’s been very humbling for me and just a great spirit of thanksgiving, which is what we want to have.
Karen: Did you include my name?
David: Of course, I included you.
Karen: Oh, good, I just wanted to make sure.
David: I think if I didn’t make sure, it’s going to be on there now. I don’t want to take you ever for granted. You’re wonderful.
Karen: Thank you, you’re a wonderful husband.
David: Where we’re changing now is we’re still back into that list making. And we’re moving away from names of people, although you can still add to the list that you began last week. And we’re talking about this big word of blessing. Blessings in our lives, for which we are deeply grateful. And I have started on that list, and I now have 15 that I’ve written down and I’ve found it to be very meaningful. For example, number one on my list, I was born in the USA. And in spite of its flaws, this is an incredible country. And I am glad to have been born in America. I don’t apologize for that. I don’t say it’s any better than any other country, but I am grateful for the country in which I was born. I have never lived in a war zone. I’ve just lived in peace. And that’s a wonderful thing to be able to say. Very similar to that Karen, I have never gone hungry. I can’t remember a time when somebody said “We have nothing to serve.”
Karen: No food and no money.
David: All across the world.
Karen: In some places are experiencing supply change failures. The things that normally provide food are not able to get through war zones or into those places where they’re needed, such as what we’re hearing about Gaza right now.
David: I’m so excited all of a sudden because I’m looking at my list and I said, loving family, wife, children. I actually wrote it down. Oh, fabulous. I’ve put down that I’m grateful. This is not egotistical thing. I’m just very grateful that I was able to have a college education. I’m incredibly thankful that I got this surprise honorary doctorate that I don’t know if I’m deserving. I never ever thought about it. In fact, when I went off to speak to the college, I had no idea that they were going to give me a doctorate. Good health Karen. I was at the doctor several weeks ago and he said, “What pills do you take?” And I said, “I don’t take any pills.” “You’re 87 years old. You don’t take any pills.” I said, “No.” “What kind of pills did you take in the past?” I said, “Well, then I said I did have rapid heart.”
And on my list, I wrote down thankful for doctors who solved that problem of the heart beating fast. That was a humiliating thing for me because in a speaking role, I never knew when I would get up to speak when the heart was going to.
Karen: It made you lightheaded. That was called supraventricular tachycardia. How about that?
David: I don’t even have to worry about it anymore because the problems resolved.
Karen: They did a procedure and you have not any problems with that.
David: I won’t read the whole list, but I’m grateful that Jesus called me into his ministry. That’s a wonderful thing. You know, while he was here on earth, there are certain people who followed and were enamored by who he was and excited about his vision for the world. And they were convinced that he was literally the son of God, but they wanted to follow and be a part of the team. They went around and he didn’t open himself.
Karen: He sent them back to their own neighborhoods.
David: The demoniac. He was running around naked in the graveyards and screaming, and Jesus healed him. And then he wanted to become part of the traveling entourage. And Jesus said, “Don’t. Go back and you tell the people in your area the good things that God has done for you. But he did call certain people, like fishermen. And like me, I have this conviction that Jesus said, “I want you, David, to be a part of the team. They go out and talk about me.”
Karen: Devote your whole life to ministers. I’m so grateful.
Karen: And the beautiful thing about that is that you have been able to do that. We have been donor dependent or offering dependent all our ministry lives and the Lord has always provided. There were times when things were tight, but it happens so frequently that we developed a faith pattern. The Lord is taking care of us. He will always take care of us. We’re not going to get anxious. We will just look to him and believe in faith that he will provide, and he always has.
David: I’m almost going through my whole list. Travel to so many countries of the world. I think we’re up to like 45 or 50 countries.
Karen: It’s 55 countries that between the two of us we’ve traveled to. Most of that time we were together, but sometimes we were separate. There wasn’t much touristy travel.
David: Oh, there was some. We went on several cruises.
Karen: Yeah, we did. But most of it was inviting us to come and either see or for me to write about as a journalist through all those immigration camps and refugee resettlement zones around the world. I mean, I have pictures of being there and brought it all back to mind. We were invited to attend board meetings overseas. I served in overseas relief and development boards. So it was that kind of travel, but that’s the best kind of travel. Tourist travel, you sort of see the surface of things. But when you’re invited by people who are locals who live there, who know the country, who know the land, and love their country, you see it through different eyes. And I recommend that when people travel, if they’re going to travel overseas, that they try and hook up with an organization or whatever of people who love their country because you see it totally different than just as a tourist.
David: And this is what I’ve been doing. I’m just continuing to add to the list of blessings if I use that word. And you are doing what? Because you are very independent.
Karen: My prayer journal is that I work in every day. I always have a section on Thanksgiving. I usually begin with, I praise you God because you are, and then some way he’s provided in my life. And then I go right into a list of things I’m grateful for. So, I do this almost every day.
David: So, there’s a difference between praise and thanks.
David: Praise is almost saying, “I’m paying you this compliment Lord. Thanks, says, this is what you have done, and I am grateful.”
Karen: We have listener support in many ways. Jeannie Bader put together for me seven pages I think Bible verses on gratitude. And I could go to a concordance and find them and write them all off. She did all the work.
David: There are so many special beautiful people.
Karen: Beautiful people. So, this has become sort of a template for our Thanksgiving this year. And I’ll read just a few of the scriptures. It just comes up all the time in scripture.
David: So, I have this straight in my head. What you’re doing this week to get ready for Thanksgiving is you’re going through the scriptures, and you have help from another individual.
Karen: I do. Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances. For this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ, 1 Thessalonians.
David: That’s great. I love that.
Karen: Let me read one more. “Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation by prayer and petition with Thanksgiving, present your request to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guide your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.” That’s Philippians.
And we can go. I mean you can see this is like seven pages of scriptures.
David: Oh, my goodness. What a gift. Here’s what we’re saying in a sentence. During November it is fitting as American Christians to practice giving thanks to the Lord. During November it is fitting as American Christians to practice giving thanks to the Lord. And then what’s going to happen is that when you come to Thanksgiving Day you don’t say, “Oh my goodness I’ve been so busy with everything. I’ve never even said thank you to you God. Thanks so much.” It’s a good life you know, and you are kind of on to the activities. These are not busy work. They’re actually very helpful.
Karen: They’re very meaningful. I have a little soulish food which is the newsletter I sent out and it’s titled A New Drug for Health and Happiness. And I guess I preached this at Jericho Road Church November 18, 2012.
Let me read a little bit from Wikipedia that I gave in this sermon. A large body of recent work suggests that people who are more grateful have higher levels of well-being. Grateful people are happier, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships.
Now this is from the scientific community. Grateful people also have higher levels of control of their environments, personal growth, purpose in life, and self-acceptance. Grateful people have more positive ways of coping with the difficulties they experience in life, being less likely to try and avoid the problem. Deny there is a problem. Blame themselves or cope through substance use. Grateful people sleep better, and this seems to be because they think less negative and more positive thoughts just before going to sleep. And then I have this little aside that I think it’s very nice that the scientific studies have proved the positive impact of a lifestyle attitude of gratitude. But this is something that scripture has been teaching us for centuries. The science community has just caught up with it.
Isn’t it not great? And of course, this goes along with the whole theology of the power of positive thinking which there really is that kind of theology and scripture that can be identified. So anyway, we’ve been given a great gift as Christians to conform ourselves according to scriptures and be grateful people.
David: Okay, so you are continuing looking up scriptures? Is that what I’m hearing from you?
Karen: Well, I have them all written out and Jeanne provided me with these. I’m using them as a devotional tool. But there’s another place to look for this sort of expression. And I have a book, Poems of Gratitude.
David: It’s actually a whole book?
Karen: It’s a whole book and these are very well-known poets. This is God’s World by Edna St. Vincent Millay. She died in 1950. She was an American poet. “Oh world, I cannot hold thee close enough. Thy winds, thy wide gray skies, thy mists that roll in rise. Thy woods this autumn day that ache and sag and oboe cry with color. That gaunt crag to crush, to lift the lean of that black bluff world, world I cannot get the close enough. Long have I known a glory in it all, but never know I this. Here such a passion is as stretcheth me apart. Lord, I do fear Thou has made the world too beautiful this year. My soul is all but out of me. Let fall no burning leaf, privy let no bird call.”
Gorgeous. We need to go to the poets because they often express these realities of the human heart in ways we don’t have the ability to express but pull the meaning out for us in ways that only they can do.
David: I fear that you have made the world too beautiful this year. Is that what she says?
Karen: Thou has made the world too beautiful this year. Lord, I do fear.
David: That was true this year. It was an absolutely beautiful year nature wise.
Karen: We had a gorgeous fall.
David: And now I look out the window and the snow is on the trees.
Karen: Early, but it is on the year.
David: The year for us in the Chicago Land area. But it’s beautiful. It’s also cold.
Karen: And it’s very sunny today. It’s just very bright.
David: Well, I know it’s cold because I let the door open for Gypsy the cat to go out and see that she’s back in again.
Karen: That’s new.
David: In a simpler way, we’re just saying let your mind go back to these Thanksgiving areas time and again.
David: And that’s not just a clever idea. That’s not just something that is this part of the year traditional to do. That’s something that’s very spiritual. It is a heart that says, “God, I’m grateful.”
David: And if we can help you do that in the busyness of this season, we will have accomplished much.
Karen: I would suggest that we use this Thanksgiving season and these tools that are available to so many people. You can find books on gratitude or gratefulness. Pull them in but make it the start of a whole next year of giving Thanksgiving, perhaps on a level that you’ve never ever practiced before. Keep Thanksgiving in your hearts.
Outgo: You’ve been listening to the Before We Go podcast. And if you would like to write to us, please send us an email at the following address, firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please remember to rate, review, and share on whatever platform you listen. This podcast is copyright 2023 by Mainstay Ministries, Post Office Box 30, Wheaton, Illinois 60187.
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