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Thanksgiving – Greg Mattson

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“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise, give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the            Lord is good and his love endures forever, his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

                                                                                                                         Psalms 100: 4-5

 Sometimes when it’s my time to write the pastoral pondering, I experience a writer’s block.  I’m tasked with writing something that the Lord has put on my heart which should be easy but in the busyness of daily living my mind is occupied with superficial things like what’s for dinner?  I think I have late onset ADD.

 We are entering another Holiday season.  The last couple of years have been tough.  The pandemic hit and we still continue to be affected by it almost 2 years later with ongoing mandates, masking, vaccine boosters etc.  The political divide is bigger than ever, inflation is at a 30-year high and the world looks to be more unstable than anytime that I can remember.  It would be easy to focus on the things of this world and feel hopeless but as Christ followers we are told to trust God and be thankful.

 I would think for most of us Holiday season is a time we get to surround ourselves with family and friends and to give thanks for them.  I know Cory and I are always thankful to God for our 3 children and 3 grandchildren.  Our story is very different than many of you when it comes to God’s provisions for a family.  Cory and I are high school sweethearts.  We always expected that, after marriage, we’d have our own children but God had different plans.  While I was applying to get into medical school, we found out we were going to be parents.  As parents know, when that pregnancy test comes back positive, you start bonding with your child.  Unfortunately, within a week we had a miscarriage.  This was heartbreaking to us.  It seemed everyone around us was having babies but, for some reason unknown to us, God had other plans.  A few years later we had another pregnancy but this time it was a tubal pregnancy requiring surgery.  Later, after more testing, were told that we would not be able to have children.  I was devastated, but Cory, upon waking up in the recovery room was told by the Lord, “don’t worry, you will adopt children.”  To this day I am jealous He didn’t speak to me in that moment because I was mourning a life without a family.

 People would ask me when we were planning on having a family since we’d been married 10 years by that time and still were childless.  One day I was working in a clinic and the phone rang at my work station.  It was my friend who was working in a neonatal unit and he asked me “would you like a daughter?”.   Julie, our daughter, was born prematurely at 2lbs 8oz but the biologic mother was giving her up for adoption.  Cory and I rushed to the big hospital where a year earlier I had worked in the same unit Julie was born, and my favorite nurse I had worked with was in charge of taking care of our new daughter.  After about a month Julie had gained enough weight to go home with us.  This was the beginning of our family.

 Our second child Daniel happened in a similar way.  I was working and a teenage girl came to our office to see my partner and wanted to give her child up for adoption.  Lastly, Eric our third is the biologic brother of Julie.  I came home from work and Cory told me that the lawyer of Julie had called and told her the mother of Julie was pregnant again by the same dad and was wondering if we would adopt him.   

 We didn’t hesitate to say yes but I started to wonder how big of a vehicle we were going to need if this kept up?

 I tell you this story because in the midst of the heartache of infertility, miscarriages, and a tubal pregnancy, God is good and his love endures forever.

 We eventually moved to Osceola so I could be a small-town doc where I was treating people in the ER and doing OB.  Over the years, I was blessed to be in the position of caring for people going through infertility and miscarriages.  I know God used my heartache of personally experiencing the crushing loss of an unborn loved one to minister to others going through the exact same situation.  God had paved the way for me through life experiences to be available to offer council to people in need. 

 Now, looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing yet would love to have seen what one of our biological children would have looked like and what kind of personalities they would have.   However, God had other wonderful plans and for that I remain forever grateful and will give praise and thanks for the family he has given us.  We now have 3 grandchildren as well who have brought great joy.

 I write all this because I want to encourage people to remain thankful and to praise his name even in the midst of loss, heartache, and stressful situations when there appears to be no hope because we know that HIS love and faithfulness endure forever.

                                                                                Happy thanksgiving, Greg