<div><p><span style="color: #231f20; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px;"> <span style="color: #2ea3f2; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-top: 0px;"><b>Advent Day 23 - Monday, December 18</b></span> <br> <br></span></p><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><div><p>I have often stopped to give thanks and praise to God for what he has done. <!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->I grew up on a farm in north central South Dakota with my parents and two younger brothers. Mom and Dad were married in 1930 and rural life was challenging, as a severe drought and dust storms prevailed. Hard work and persistent prayer helped our family during this time.<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->World War II and rains arrived in the late 1930s and early 1940s. A new hope dawned for my parents and many others trying to make a living on the farm. With sufficient rains, crops were now able to grow and mature. Cattle had ample pasture for food, and cows gave milk. Gardens were producing vegetables for eating. Life was good.<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->The elder of my two brothers had juvenile diabetes and was on a strict diet. He required fruits and vegetables, some of which had to be purchased in the grocery store. Daily insulin injections were necessary to sustain his life. It was necessary for all of us to make sacrifices so his medical and dietary needs could be met. Many days were tense in our family because of the lack of money for anything extra. I had two dresses for school and one dress for Sunday. One pair of bib overalls and a shirt served as my work clothes for outdoor chores. One closet in our three-room farm home held clothes for our family of five. We felt secure as we gave daily thanks to God.<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->With this meager lifestyle and simple surroundings, my days were often spent outdoors where I could experience the wonder of God’s creation and hear the music of the prairie provided by songs of the wind and rain and birds.<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->Mother became ill and died of breast cancer in 1952. Now what? I was trying to go to college 40 miles from home and also provide help for Dad and my brothers on the farm. Less than five years later Dad became ill and died of adrenal cancer. God prevailed and adequately supplied our needs. My brothers and I magnified God’s love in prayer as he guided and protected us.<br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->Let us give unending praise and thanks as we continue to magnify God in our uncertain world.<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->Margaret Novak<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --></p></div>