Reflecting on Our Blessings

At this time of year when our country celebrates Thanksgiving, it’s only natural to turn our thoughts with intentionality to our blessings. This year we surveyed a sampling of soldiers and officers in the territory to find out what they’re most grateful for. May their responses encourage you to count your own blessings and give thanks not only now but in all seasons.

Our family
by Alexandria Gauthier

God has given my husband, Sam, and me so much to be thankful for. Our greatest blessings are our children. Doctors told us we might never be able to conceive. The road was long, but God has been faithful. Our son is nearly three.

In April, we were elated to find out we were expecting another baby, but only a few weeks later, I had a miscarriage. We were devastated. In our pain and sadness, we cried out to the Lord. Only one month later, God blessed us with another miracle. Our baby is due in January and is growing perfectly!

We don’t always understand why God allows things to happen. In my family, God used the trials of infertility and miscarriage to bring us closer to Him. He gave us peace when our world was shaken and comfort throughout the journey. We are so thankful today—and every day—for His timing, provision, plan and overwhelming love for us.


Our territory
by Commissioners Brad and Heidi Bailey

Gratitude is like faith; it is a muscle. The more we use it, the stronger it grows. As your territorial leaders, our gratitude is strengthened every day as we look around the Central Territory. God is speaking and challenging our territory through the new Mission Imperative, and Salvationists are listening and responding.

We are grateful for:
• an increased sensitivity to God’s call to Salvation Army officership…24 new cadets and an overflowing house at the 730 Candidates’ Weekend at the College for Officer Training
• a notable inclusiveness in ministry and worship…the Body of Christ encouraging one another through creative expressions of the gospel
• a renewed intentionality to reach outside our corps and share the message that there is always room for one more at our Salvation Army tables.

We are grateful for you today. What are you grateful for?



New ministries
by Peter Kim

As many seasons in my life have passed, there have been ups and downs, happiness and sadness, births and deaths, joys and pains both emotionally and physically. Through it all, I have learned to be grateful.

When the Lord called me into fulltime music ministry in 2006 I was hesitant. It was a big lifestyle adjustment but trust in God carried me through. Looking back, following that calling was the best decision I ever made. God has led me to places and things beyond my wildest imagination.

In 2018, God led me on another journey to become the music and gospel arts director for the Heartland Division. It was not an easy transition, but I knew it was right. It is exciting to seek and find new talents and meet people God has placed here. I believe that the music ministry in the Heartland Division will be used and utilized mightily for His glory and for His Kingdom. I know with confidence, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13, NLT)



Each new season
by Brett Tolcher

“For everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NKJV)

Looking back on the past 12 months, there have been many changes and many opportunities for which we’re grateful. As time ticks by, we see the picture God is painting and how He uses each experience to shape us.

This year, Kelly and I have had some significant changes in our lives. Within my family, I saw the passing of my grandpa, William Himes, Sr., and the birth of our nephew, William Tolcher. In July, Kelly and I were married! We have started to figure out how to do life together as husband and wife.

Between our relationship, jobs, families, friends and commitment to our corps, Norridge Citadel, we are reminded continually of the many blessings God has given us.



My calling
by Lt. Shanell Johnson

The journey leading to my calling is one full of unexpected twists and turns. If someone had asked me six years ago, I would have said that God was not calling me to be an officer, and I might have even added that He wouldn’t.

I was called long before I was ready to listen, so God slowly molded me. He gave me experiences that prepared me for tasks I didn’t know I would need to do, and He placed people in my life who would encourage, mentor and support me.

When I still struggled to fully let go, He pulled me to my feet, leaving me with no doubt. It was my burning bush moment because it gave me the courage to step out in faith that my Father would continue to be with me.

As a newly commissioned lieutenant, the journey to officership has ended, and my journey as an officer has begun. Already it has been both challenging and rewarding, and I cannot wait to see what else the Lord has planned.



God’s faithfulness
by Majors Greg and Lee Ann Thompson

The phrase “God is good” came into sharp focus for us this year. Each of the three states comprising our Western Division was affected by significant flooding in the spring. With just one day’s notice the entire division of officers, soldiers, friends, board members and volunteers came together not only to combat the floods but to respond to the needs of people whose lives had been devastated.

When we consider all that took place, we can’t help but be thankful for God’s goodness and faithfulness. He instilled a sense of mission and calling in our officers to help them work tirelessly, day and night, to feed people without a place to eat, restore people’s homes and bring Christ’s love to those who suffered most. God imparted His care into the hearts of community after community as leaders and home owners came together to care for each other. He filled the hearts of neighbors and friends with a love for others that resulted in an enormous outpouring of funds and materials that helped us in “Doing the Most Good” for the most people.

God is faithful! He comes alongside us, provides for our needs and strengthens our ability to serve others.



My life
by Major Diane Harper

How can I not give thanks and have a grateful heart? God has been so good to me. His love and my life are undeserved gifts from our Heavenly Father.

I was born to parents who had not planned for me, but at 11:57 p.m. on December 31 in 1953, I arrived, not healthy—but a fighter. For three years, I lived unnamed in the hospital.

It was a rough start, but I have been blessed with an amazing life. Even to this year, I still am not pain free, but I am blessed. I’m so thankful for the chance to live, love and serve in retirement while I await the call from my Heavenly Father, praying to find my name written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Daily I am grateful for Christ, our Savior, who gives me life and for my merciful Heavenly Father who surprises me each day with spiritual gifts. I am humbled and thankful for my family and friends who give me the gifts of their time, presence and love. I am blessed.



Joy in service
by Cadet Shannon Cabrera

This year I had the opportunity to spend a fourth summer serving on a territorial Summer Mission Team (SMT). The joy of being part of this type of ministry is that I now have friends and family in Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, Portugal, the Bahamas and throughout the Midwest.

To experience what God is doing through The Salvation Army around the world is truly a gift. From leading vacation Bible school, music camps and youth programs to giving food to the homeless, I have experienced so much joy in serving God in many different ways. I am immensely grateful to God for allowing SMT to be a part of my story and can’t wait to see how those experiences come into play while I’m at the College for Officer Training and one day as an officer.

My life has changed more every year I’ve served on SMT, as a friend, a leader and a follower of Christ. This year I am thankful for the freedom to serve and worship God, specifically through SMT and for all my former teams, leaders, hosts and lifelong friends.



God’s provision
by Majors Victor and Tina Stasiuc

We serve a gracious God. This year there have been many changes for us as we traveled from Moldova to serve at the Des Plaines, Ill., Corps, but we know we are where God wants us to be.

God has called us to serve Him in many capacities since we joined The Salvation Army when we were students at university. Since our commissioning in 2002 we have served in 10 appointments, all in different regions. In each new appointment we had to adjust to ministering in different cultures and several languages, but we were willing and God used us.

We are very grateful God has placed people here to welcome and encourage us as we get used to living in the U.S. Many American officers already have become friends, and we reconnected recently with a couple in Michigan who were our mentors years ago in Moldova. God continues to provide what we need in order to fulfill His call on our lives each day.