In Everything Give Thanks

It’s a crisp, frosty Thanksgiving Day here along the ridges of the great Allegheny Mountains. I for one have secured a cozy spot next to the fire where I can relax, sip from a mug of hot chocolate, and prepare to engage in holiday traditions passed on to me from generations past. The consumption of food, the celebration of parades,  the time spent with family and friends, and yes, even the watching of football have all woven a fabric into the festivities a national holiday. But to be honest, I’m not sure I’m ready for this day to begin.

I’ve had a difficult week wrestling with the entire concept of thankfulness. You see, it is not my desire merely or whimsically to “be thankful;”  I want desperately to “BE THANKFUL!” I want to know more than the definition, I want to know the experience. I want a heart overflowing with sincere and blatant gratitude.  I want to know what it means to recklessly abandon any sense of self reliance so I may savor the results of placing my faith and trust in the One who knows my tomorrows.

This morning I am reminded that perhaps the answer to my dilemma is right in front of me. As I search the scripture, it turns out the Apostle Paul’s First Thessalonians 5:18 message to the church is a memo addressed to my personal attention: “Dear Scott, In EVERYTHING give thanks. Not just for the all the goodness you will celebrate today or even in your lifetime, but for the times of crisis, trial, challenge, and adversity.”

As I process the words of the Apostle Paul,  I think of the subtle hints God has given me over the past several days: When I stood in front of a crowd and sang the words “…I hope you win, I hope you lose, I pray you’ll realize that both are good for you…” When I ran into a friend who shared similar problems and situations from which we simply conclude “lesson learned.” When I wrote about legacies and remember my grandparents and the generations of men and women who marched on in spite of the difficult circumstances of two global conflicts and a great depression. In EVERYTHING give thanks.

On this Thanksgiving morning, I am thankful for adversity, uncertainty, challenge, and trial. Without them, I would not understand who I am, who I am not, and who He is. I would not have a deeper understanding and perspective of the journey. I would not be able to appreciate, cherish, respect, or admire had I not tasted from the bitter. I would not really know what it meant to experience a thankful heart. Today, I am thankful for EVERYTHING!

©Copyright 2012 Scott Rhoades/Ivory Hill Studios

The Final Fight For Home

United States Army Medic/Private First-Class (PFC) Thomas Greene’s knuckles turned a ghastly white as he clung to the frame of his temporary cot. A cold sweat covered his pale face as his head and neck pulsated with pain from the clinching of his jaws and his rapid heartbeat. An overwhelming sense of nausea continuously swept over him as his body tried to determine left from right and up from down. The sounds and smells emanating from his 4,412 comrades and the lower deck of the ship certainly didn’t help the situation. He tightened the closure of his eyes, laid his head back and tried to remember the pleasantries of life; his wife, daughter, and his home in the hills of west-central Pennsylvania.

It was December 1945, and Operation Magic Carpet was in full motion. The transfer of millions of military troops and equipment from the World War II fields of battle was an enormous undertaking for the United States War Shipping Administration, and was not without its risks. Battleships, aircraft carriers, attack cruisers, and floating hospitals were all re-tasked to deliver GIs from around the world safely home to their family, friends, and communities. Operation Magic Carpet commenced in October of 1945, and now, after three and a half years of service with the Medical Detachment 355th Infantry Regiment of the United States Army’s 89th Division and a two month wait, it was PFC Greene’s turn to head from home. He opened his eyes once again and looked around the deck. He wondered if they would make it and if they had made the right decision.

On the 13th of December 1945, PFC Greene reported to the ports of Southampton, England for his final assignment to Operation Magic Carpet. It was a cold, brisk morning on the English coast, but nothing could distract the thousands of men who were waiting to embark on their journey home.  The line was long, but the wait would be worth it! After processing the final paperwork, he clutched the straps of his bag and walked towards the waiting ships. His eyes widened as he looked at his paperwork and looked up again. It was the largest ship he ever laid eyes on, and in spite of her numerous battles, wounds, scars, and refitting, she was here to carry him home…the United States Navy’s own Yorktown Class Aircraft Carrier – USS Enterprise CV-6!

The Enterprise’s reputation was second to none. Affectionately known as the “Big E”, the Enterprise was the final aircraft carrier (commissioned prior to World War II) to survive the war. Assigned to major Pacific battles, such as Midway, Guadalcanal, and the Doolittle Raids, this massive ship and her crew helped turn the tide of the war. Now, after a complete restoration, she offered herself as a transport of honor. The Enterprise, her crew, and 4,413 passengers departed Southampton on her second magic carpet mission, a mission that would test the courage, stamina, and strength of a GI just one final time.

A few days into the Trans-Atlantic journey, the Enterprise encountered a fierce oceanic storm, causing Captain William Rees and his crew to change course northward to Greenland; delaying the GI’s pre-holiday arrival. Frustration and anger set in and opposition to the course direction were voiced across the massive boat. Captain Rees and his officers met to discuss the situation. After nearly four years of war, the men longed to go home, especially for the holiday. Believing they could indeed navigate the raging sea, Captain Rees gave the order: Course correction, westward! The final fight was on!

PFC Greene opened his eyes once again and caught a glimpse at the outside conditions. Walls of water enveloped and washed over the decks of the mighty Enterprise. The boat rocked forwards and backwards, left to right, and then right to left. As the men groaned from the sickness enveloping their bodies, PFC Greene pulled a pre-deployment photo of his family from his top shirt pocket and held it closely to his heart. As a tear ran down his face, he once again closed his eyes and prayed a silent prayer. After three and a half years of survival, liberating men, women, children, and fellow soldiers from the atrocities of war, he needed to survive this final fight; he needed to go home.

On Monday, December 24, 1945, the USS Enterprise pulled into the docks of Bayonne, New Jersey. Lifeboats, jeeps, tanks, planes, and other equipment secured to the flight deck of the ship were all but gone, broken away and tossed into the sea by the ominous waves and prevailing winds of the storm. In their place stood 4,412 GIs, along with PFC Greene, who waved and cheered as they reached their final destination. They endured the battle, and now they were home.

On this Veterans Day, I salute Captain William Rees and his officers for successfully carrying out their mission and thank them for their leadership and courage in bringing home these thousands of soldiers and my Grandfather, PFC Thomas Greene.

©Copyright 2011 Scott Rhoades/Ivory Hill Studios

Leftovers For A Lifetime

Scott is celebrating Thanksgiving with all his friends at SGN Scoops Magazine! Check out his latest inspirational article and much, much more!

Tis this season to be thankful,and we have a lot to be thankful for at SGNScoops Magazine. Be sure to read the highlights of the Creekside Gospel Music Convention! Rhonda gives the details of Lou Hildreth’s Celebration as well as details about this year’s Diamond Awards Show. Congratulations to all the winners. We are grateful to all those who participated in this year’s event and look forward to Creekside Gospel Music Convention 2013. We are very excited to present Canton Junction as the cover story and also highlight the ministries of Mercy’s Well, Tyler Hudson, Wes Combs, The Breakfast Club and the Littles. Celebrate 50 years in Gospel Music with the Singing Cookes and the retirement of the Melody Boys Quartet in this issue too! Don’t miss Ms. Lou’s memories, a Mathis moment with John Mathis or inspiration from Scott Rhoades. And a “must read story” is in this issue written by special guest writer, Kenna West regarding faith sharing. Check out who is releasing new music this month and see who is topping the charts! All of this and more written by a staff with more than 100 years experience in the Gospel Music Industry thus making us a trusted and reliable source of news and information. Don’t forget, our magazine is absolutely free! Please share with your friends! From the staff of SGNScoops Magazine, Happy Thanksgiving!