I’m Thankful for Thanksgiving

I have a confession to make. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s a beautiful time, when families gather together. We live on a small court and like us, many of our neighbors have lived here a long time. As the holiday approaches, extra cars are parked in their driveways. Their children have arrived.
I remember those days, when we packed up the car and left on Tuesday night, or Wednesday evening, to drive the seven hours to Mom and Dad’s. It was a special time filled with hikes in the woods, roasting marshmallows over a fire, and of course, the main event: Thanksgiving Dinner. Mom spent days preparing and finally, dinner is spread on the table and we sit down. 
Yes, it was over in minutes. But we lingered around the table, laughing and talking. Clean up meant time spent on my own with Mom as we put the food away and washed the dishes. We put away all the special things she only used on holidays. We reminisced about past Thanksgivings, and loved ones now gone. Our sleep was sweet, maybe because of all the turkey we ate, but also because we were tired from all the activity. 
If you ventured out on Thanksgiving evening, stores were closed. Restaurants were closed. Ghost town. And I liked that feeling. Families gathered together to celebrate. They weren’t working. They weren’t shopping. I was reminded of my childhood, when Sundays meant darkened store windows. Even the grocery stores closed on Sunday, the traditional day of rest.
Those days slipped away and now you can buy groceries on Sunday. And if you forgot cranberry sauce, you can buy it on Thanksgiving. I guess it’s convenient and the stores make more money, but it makes me sad to see these old traditions slip away. And now, Christmas has encroached on Thanksgiving. 
Yes, in a way, Christmas has always out-shined Thanksgiving. When I was little, I was happy to see the back of Thanksgiving, because I knew Christmas was close behind it. Now, I want the days to linger longer. I want to enjoy Thanksgiving and then turn my attention to Christmas. But I realize it’s a personal choice. Christmas lovers all around me already have their houses decorated. And there’s really nothing wrong with that. 
Their emphasis is still on celebrating families, and that’s what Thanksgiving is all about. Taking time to be thankful for the year’s bounty. I’m thankful for all that God has given this year. Like so many others, we’ve been through some things. But in the midst of all that, I can be thankful for God’s provision throughout our time of need. He’s brought our family together in a positive way and helped us overcome our difficulties. 
When we sit down to Thanksgiving Dinner this year, we’ll have so much to be thankful for, beyond the food that is set before us. Each individual sitting at our table is a part of something so much greater. When all the pieces come together, we are whole, and we are blessed. 
I hope your Thanksgiving is a time of celebration. Thanks for stopping by!

photo credit: cafemama via photopin cc

Who Cares What Anyone Thinks?

In all honesty, most of us do care what others think of us. Even when we say we don’t. I do try to convince myself. My lips are moving, I hear the words. I want to believe me. Rats. I do care.

It still hurts when someone finds fault with me or something I’ve done.

Looks like they’ve got “being yourself” covered.

If I can pass anything along to my grandchildren, it would be this: Be yourself. Love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, you can’t truly love others. And this too: It really doesn’t matter what others think of you. Really.

Too thin, too fat, too slow, too fast, too pimply, lips too fat, nose too big. Talk too much, don’t talk enough, too smart, too dumb, wrong skin color, wrong clothes. I suffered anxiety over all these things in my adolescence. I just knew I was ugly and dumb and fat. I said those things to my reflection in the mirror. My older brother confirmed it. I was convinced that everyone saw what I saw.

It wasn’t true.

I look at the pictures of my younger self and I’m amazed. Why could I not enjoy those years? There was nothing wrong with the way I looked. Everyone looked like that. We were all in the throes of adolescence. Sure, some endured it better than others. One of my friends seemed completely infatuated with himself and he had a lot of others convinced too. I thought he was handsome, but I wasn’t so fond of his ego.

We all know, because we’ve seen it happen––beauty fades. Hair turns gray or falls out. Skin sags and wrinkles. The pounds pile on and refuse to budge. It happens to almost everyone. All of those beautiful young people are now entering their sixties, right alongside me. It doesn’t seem to matter as much what we look like. We laugh it off and deep inside, we’re just happy to be around to kid each other about it.

And as we grow older, we learn the truth. What others say, what they think of you, doesn’t matter. The one thing that really matters, is what you think of yourself. Who you are is important. What you’ve done with your life is important. What you’re doing now is important, along with where you’re headed. Whether your ten or sixty, you need a goal, a destination. That’s important, too. And if all these things are in place, you can feel pretty good about yourself.

Important Note: Loving yourself shows your children that it’s possible. If you constantly criticize yourself in front of your children and grandchildren, they’re going to learn to do the same thing. If you’re overly concerned about what others think of you, your children will do the same.

So here’s another opportunity to make a difference and pass a universal truth along to the next generations. God wants us to love ourselves. Love your neighbor as well as you do yourself (Luke 10:27 TMB). How can you love your neighbor if you don’t love yourself? How can you truly love God if you don’t love what He’s created in you?

I thank God for you. Now, look in your mirror and repeat that until you believe it.

On Making the Right Choice

The story of Abram and Lot in Genesis 13 is proof that God’s blessing on your life is more important than appearance. Lot chose the beautiful land, Abram went into the desert. Most of you know the outcome.

Sometimes the best choice is not the obvious one. For Abram, the desert provided an oasis. Because God’s blessing followed him wherever he went. As a father-figure in Lot’s life, he graciously allowed Lot first choice. Neither knew what the future held, and neither picked up on any “bad feelings” about the verdant Jordan River valley.

If we use this instance as a lesson in life, perhaps it will help us to know that God is in control of the outcome. You are looking at a choice between two. Do you draw straws? Throw darts at a map? If it’s an important, life-altering choice, you’ll be less likely to leave it up to chance. Prayerful consideration and research of the pros and cons will usually leave you leaning toward one. But not always. Sometimes, the choices will be so equal, your decision is rendered too difficult.

Now what do you do?

Pray. Pray with the expectation of an answer. The deadline looms and you’re no closer to an answer. You can’t make a decision. You panic. My next step in this scenario is to open the Bible and begin to read. It makes no difference where. The Word always settles me. If I thumb through and read passages from the Psalms then lift my heart in worship, I feel the fear slipping away. Once fear is out of the picture, you can usually see the answer.

I’ve made many important choices in my life, in just this way. After teetering back and forth for days, the answer would suddenly come to me. When fear was completely out of the picture.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’re enjoying the beautiful Fall weather, and if you’re reading this on November 2nd, don’t forget to change your clocks!

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