Thankfulness might not be coming easily this Thanksgiving holiday, but God’s grace and mercy can be found in any situation. 4word founder Diane Paddison writes about what 2020 has taught her about thankfulness and shares some of the incredible blessings to come out of this tumultuous year.
“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”esther 4:14
A global pandemic, the awareness of continued racial injustice, the worst forest fires in the history of my home state and the west coast: the year 2020 has been a year filled with heaviness brought by troubles. However, like Paul, who faced so many troubles (imprisonment, being shipwrecked, coming before King Agrippa), many blessings came in the midst of these troubles.
I thought I would share with you a summary of my last eight months. My husband, Chris, and I were headed to South Africa (a continent we had never been to) with a flight connection in London on March 11. When the airplane landed at Heathrow Airport, Chris turned on his phone and said, “The President has shut U.S. borders to Europeans, the NBA and NHL cancelled the rest of the season, and the NCAA Basketball finals have been cancelled.” My immediate reaction was truly decisiveness from the Holy Spirit. I said to Chris, “My priority of my life on earth is my family. We need to get on the first airplane we can and go back home to Dallas. I don’t want to be somewhere where we can’t get back home.”
That was the beginning of what was a six-week lockdown in Dallas, TX, and we were in quarantine for two weeks, having just gotten off an airplane from London. I experienced a long three months of only FaceTime with my 13-month-old granddaughter, Opal, and my daughter, Annie, who has a health condition and we couldn’t take the chance of her getting the coronavirus. These two “girls” are the loves of my life and I missed them tremendously.
Not being able to see and hug my two girls at this time brought on one night of anger. Thankfully, my son and daughter-in-law forgave me for my behavior the next day. Three months later, I was reunited face to face with Annie and Opal. I will never forget June 19th.
So what were the blessings that I was thankful for during “ . . . such time as this?”
Many of you know I start my day in prayer, read my YouVersion Bible Study, summarize it for my family while working out, and then begin my day of work with 4word. Being grounded in God’s Word each morning was manna at this time and meant more to me than it ever did before. I couldn’t imagine going through these last eight months without standing and having faith in the promises from God.
“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.”Nahum 1:7
God’s beauty and my husband
There had never been a time in my marriage with Chris (almost twenty years now) that we had been blessed to be together for more than two weeks in a row as we both had careers that required travel each week. With COVID-19, Chris, a very successful management consultant, was grounded. We have had eight wonderful months together, a blessing I will forever be grateful to God for during this time.
We both love to hike, so once the lockdown ended, we started hiking every weekend. Hiking and being in God’s beauty kept me mentally healthy, and we have seen so much of God’s beauty that we had never seen before over the past four months. Being in God’s beauty for a day each week forced me to take a Sabbath away from work.
We started a family Zoom call each night for fifteen minutes to check on the mental health of our four adult children. We asked their highs and lows so we knew what to praise God for and pray for each day. It wasn’t required, just if it helped. After the lockdown ended, we moved to two nights a week, and we have just moved to a weekly Zoom call as a family. What we ended up with was a family closer than we had ever been. We learned how to celebrate birthdays, hold a wedding shower for Annie, and participate in Rose’s graduation from her masters program, all over Zoom.
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”Colossians 3:14
The women of 4word – My tribe
Lastly, you, the women of 4word, kept coming to our blogs and listening to our podcasts. We were blessed to be able to add Mandarin-translated blogs in addition to our Spanish-translated blogs, which will help us grow our global community of Christian women in the workplace even more.
4word needed to pivot from our Local Groups meeting face-to-face to virtual Community Groups and the attendance increased by 60%, thanks to our 4word Community Group leadership globally and locally. This change brought a forever blessing, as we now have a new model for Community Groups. During this time of isolation, Community Groups are so important to the women of 4word.
The 4word Mentor Program continued virtually, as it always has been. The stories from the 2020 classes were life-changing. One story from mentee, Brooke, to mentor, Lauren, follows:
“Dear Lauren, thank you for being such a wonderful mentor to me this summer. I now understand how divine providence facilitated our pairing. I cannot put into words the extent to which your thoughtfulness, guidance, and wisdom will play an important role in my life in this coming year. I am determined to take action in more ways than one and truly feel in my spirit that God was working through you with me. – Brooke”
Our 3rd Annual 4word C-Level Forum for Christian women met at the end of September. Forty-eight women met face-to-face in Dallas, TX. The Forum was SOLD OUT. God blessed the weekend with women being encouraged by being together. Those in leadership needed refreshment as they felt the weight of leading large teams through times of trouble. They went home with an attitude of HOPE IN JESUS. One of the C-Level attendees said, “The C-Level Forum is unlike anything else in the business world, the church world, or the women world.”
So I encourage all of you, “for such a time as this” to take the opportunity to be Christ’s light in our homes, workplaces, churches, and communities. An attitude of gratitude, while honestly sharing your burdens and the burdens of others, is required of us as leaders today.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”Philippians 4:13