“We love living in North Dakota. We’ve been here almost four years and love the people, their biblical values, the beauty of the midwestern prairie. We love it all, except for the winters.” That’s how my conversations usually go, and I need to stop it.

That little phrase, “except for the winters” always makes its way in. Now, please believe me, when I’m trying to get my car started in -20° weather, I’m less than appreciative for North Dakota winter weather. However, I’m talking about a general frame of mind toward something. The “well it’s all good, except…” frame of mind.

Years ago, I worked for another nonprofit and remember sitting on an overturned bucket in front of a tiny brick hut in Zambia (I later found out that the overturned bucket was only taken out and offered to honored guests). The hut was occupied by a crippled lady who had two children of her own and had taken in three more when her sister and brother-in-law died of AIDs. Our organization had replaced her thatched hut with a small bricking dwelling. Near the end of our visit, I asked the lady if she could have any three things, what would they be. She was noticeably uncomfortable at my question and there was a very long pause, leading me to doubt I would even get an answer.

She finally said, “an ox so that I don’t have to hitch my 15-year-old to the plow, a sewing machine so I can earn a little money making dresses, and a mattress”. She had so little, but was happy with what she had. There was no “except” when we talked earlier, and if anyone was entitled, she was. I never heard “Thank you for the hut, except I also need an ox, sewing machine, and mattress.”

Similarly, when I worked for a food bank and talked to people coming in for needed food, there was never an except phrase. “We really appreciate the food, except could there be more vegetables? …except it’s a long drive to get here. …except we really could use more food.” Nothing. Ever. There was just thankfulness.

Our country and state are blessed beyond imagination. We have prosperity, life, religious freedom, protection for families to thrive, and many more blessings. However, we often hear, “except this political party…, …except this person just won’t listen to reason, …except the media is so biased.” We need to stop that. They may all be true and there are certainly things that need to change, based on biblical precepts, but let’s also be thankful for what we have and fight to preserve them.

Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota does just that. We are grateful at God’s grace and provision for His people in a culture that is frankly antithetical to biblical values. However, we also fight to preserve these values. That’s why we need your help. Please consider a tax-deductible donation to our organization so that we can protect your biblical beliefs in the public arena.

After returning from my trip to Zambia, Ruth and I donated funds to help the mother get those three things. A month later, we received a picture of her smiling face, with her ox, sewing machine, and mattress in the background. I’ve kept that picture up for years, to remind me of what thankfulness truly is.

I am honestly thankful for North Dakota in so many ways, especially for all of you, but the “except for the winters” has to go. I’m working on it.

Sincerely,

Mark Jorritsma
President and Executive Director

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and officially kicks off the holiday season. It’s a time of excitement, long “to do” lists, and family gatherings. I love Thanksgiving and the fact that it is front and center as we begin our holidays.

Many years ago, my wife proposed a “thankfulness tree” for our family. Call me a grinch, but I’m not a big fan of homemade construction paper decorations adorning our walls during the holidays or frankly any time of year. Nevertheless, the thankfulness tree idea was implemented and I had to deal with it (this should provide a life lesson for all you husbands out there).

A construction paper tree was created and pinned to our kitchen wall. It was supplemented by a pile of multicolored leaves upon which each of us needed to write things for which we were thankful and then pin them to the tree. I was more concerned about all the pinholes in the wall I’d have to spackle after Thanksgiving. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for many things, but really wasn’t into the spirit of the whole thing.

Days went by and my wife and kids started populating the tree with leaves. They pinned up leaves that said “family”, “warm home”, “friends”, and many other wonderful things. I sat. I watched. I started to feel guilty.

It was a few days before Thanksgiving and I finally filled out my first leaf and pinned it to the tree. Do you know what happened next? A second leaf went up, then a third, and before I knew it, I was on a roll. Like the grinch, my heart began growing “three sizes” larger. I became happier with each new leaf and started to focus more on how blessed I and my family were. While still not a fan of construction paper art, I finally get it.

We are entering a season that focuses on thanking God for his blessings and sharing those with others. This year I have lots of ideas for leaves. I am thankful for Godly men and women who serve us in the state legislature and Congress. I am thankful for our Statesmen Academy that helps train new legislators on how to best integrate their faith and values into their political life. I am thankful for a loving wife, amazing kids, and even our less-than-useful German Shepherd. They are the best family I could ever ask for.

However, this year I’m also going to pin a leaf up there for you, our ministry partners. You are the foundation of everything we do. You represent North Dakotans who value life, family, religious liberty, and other biblical values. You are the source of the “biblical citizenship” to which we often refer.

You support Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota in many ways: voting, prayers, responding to our Action Alerts, and financial support. Right now, you have the ability to ensure we keep operating at full capacity here in North Dakota. Your tax-deductible gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $6,200 if you give by December 31. If you find our work important and want to help us continue to represent your values, please prayerfully consider giving by going to our website and donating. Thank you for all you do for us at Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota and have a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and loved ones.

Sincerely,

Mark Jorritsma
President and Executive Director