“Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the father of heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows,” (James 1:17).

I am on a homeward bound flight from Los Angeles as I try to corral my Thanksgiving thoughts for this November issue. Having just spent a week with my daughter Betsy and her 8-month-old ray of sunshine, Marilyn Wilton Bailey, naming my blessings is quite easy at the moment. I can hardly believe how quickly this year has flown. It was a little more than a year ago we cut into a mystery cake at Jason and Betsy’s “Reveal” party to discover pink icing. It wasn’t long after that we began referring to this yet-to-be-born baby girl as Mari Wilton, so, she was very much an individual to all of us even before she made her appearance on February 14.

We have had quite a week together strolling around in the California sunshine, playing silly games that cause giggles and squeals as she makes each new discovery, whether it is watching a bird pick at the crumbs she drops while eating on the patio, or studying her image in the full-length mirror and patting it with great delight because she thinks she has a playmate just her size. Studying her perfect little fingers, nose, and the numerous folds in her chubby legs does make my heart melt with love, gratitude, and awe for our Creator God. In a world where there is much amiss, there is still much joy to be found in God’s gifts to us. As David said in the Twenty-Third Psalm, “My cup runneth over.”

There is plenty of Thanksgiving inspiration here. Our cover story on Joey Fail Garner will introduce you to a multi-talented and very warm lady, who loves her heavenly Father and who approaches every day with a keen and intentional attitude of gratitude. She is also the most humble person I have ever met. I had to call friends, family, and co-workers to get the scoop on her. She is a generous lady who does not tout her accomplishments.

One of my favorite things about this issue is that all of our stories are not Pollyanna-style fairytales. There are undoubtedly opportunities to know God in more intimate ways in the middle of our toughest struggles. Several of our contributors have shared such stories. If you have ever found yourself confronting a situation that elicits fear over circumstances beyond your control, do read Courtney Gray Layson’s “This is my Story.” It seems the “C” word (cancer) is one of the big faith testers many of us have grappled with. She has found God’s grace sufficient in the middle of the anxiety that rears its head with every routine scan, and she counts the blessings that have come with the territory. Tricia Raymond’s “Living my Call” tells the story of a brave soldier, and I warn you to have your Kleenex handy. It is a story that reminds us of the selfless heroism of those in harm’s way who count it a blessing to serve their country.

One of the greatest blessings of the redeemed heart is the certain faith that nothing touches us that a loving God has not allowed, and that there is no hard thing He puts before us intending that we walk the road alone. Even as we cope with the interruptions of our best laid plans, big and small disappointments, and the losses that come our way in this uncertain world, He offers up more than just platitudes or empty promises. He is Emmanuel, God with us. That is a good thing to remember at Thanksgiving and every day God gives us breath.