Archives

As we come to the table

Just a few days left before we celebrate Thanksgiving in all of our varied and crazy ways. Relatives and friends of all shapes and sizes will gather with food dishes that range from vintage recipes to gluten-free concoctions.

101_1203 I’ve been making my efforts at having a thankful heart during the month. I’ve tried to be disciplined to write three things that brought me joy at the end of each day. At least I’ve tried.

I started my annual Joy List this morning, counting God’s graces one by one on paper. There are so many, I could write forever. I had to stop for breakfast with the promise of “to be continued.” Tomorrow my prayer partner of many years will call on the phone, and we will look back at the prayers prayed and how God answered them this year. Our voices will be full of “thank you’s.”

From Old to New Testaments, we read instructions to remember how God has been  faithful. It’s easy to forget sometimes when we are in the throes of difficulty, tragedy, or grief. And honestly, sometimes it can be simple neglect or a lack of contentment.

Just as our menus will be different, not everyone will do Thanksgiving the same way. I read one blogger who thought making a daily count of grace was too regimented, and she was definitely not putting kernels of corn beside each place settings for a round robin of being grateful. She preferred more spontaneity and daily mindfulness. She did her thankfulness in a different way.

There isn’t a prescription for how to have a grateful heart, but we are told to practice it regularly. And in the same way God’s commands are good for us, being thankful brings joy to our lives.

The method is not as important as the message. It’s the heart of the matter that matters. Be thankful in your own sweet way, dear friends.

This year has brought much loss to my friends and family. I feel it in my own heart, the tears flowing unexpectedly this morning. At many holiday tables this year, there will be an empty place.

Life can be hard during the holidays. Especially during the holidays.

And yet God is good even in this present circumstance. His grace is still sufficient. He remains the God of all comfort who gives us comfort in all our troubles. His presence in our days continues as a promise.  He still walks with us in the valley of the shadow of death. And we are never, ever alone.

If there is nothing else today or this year, there is Jesus who is God’s love demonstrated in tangible, relatable, identifiable form. He wrapped himself in skin and bone and showed us the glory.

Give thanks with a grateful heart. And have a blessed Thanksgiving.

101_0583thanksgiving-prayer-norman-rockwell-saturday-evening-post

 

 

Advertisements

It’s November!

Yesterday morning, after two cups of strong coffee and an hour of quiet time and Bible study, I greeted Sweet William with enthusiasm. “It’s November!” I said. I was fully caffeinated and ready to face the day and the month.

As the cold temperatures become the norm, I admit unashamed that I don’t miss the garden work at all. Not. At All. Oh, there’s plenty I could do, things left on my outdoor to-do-list. But November gives me permission to stay indoors in fuzzy socks and flannel shirts while I think about projects that were laid aside when summer called to me.

This month of November, I want to focus on November and not stress about December coming close on its heals. One of my piano students told me yesterday, “Christmas is only 54 days away!” Please, I’m not ready to think about that.

November is the first pumpkin pie of the season, hot cocoa, fireplaces glowing (even if it is gas logs), shorter days that naturally cause our bodies to long for cacooning. I say, “Let’s do that.” Could we actually slow our pace in November instead of speed it up?

The anticipation of Thanksgiving will encourage me be more grateful for God’s bountiful grace and mercy. He is over and above the best gift giver. A sign over one of our doorways says, “Count Your Blessings.” Thinking about my blessings throughout the day and recording them in my Joy Journal each night will help keep me accountable to having a thankful heart, especially this month.

101_1808

I want to sit at the table with family and friends and enjoy those precious occasions. Eat slowly. Talk much. Listen well. Laugh often. Treasure friendships. Appreciate family. Marvel how the children are growing. Wonder where the time goes. This is the stuff of life. I don’t want to miss it.

101_1803

November is my time to leisurely shop for Christmas gifts, thus leaving December less stressful. Shopping on-line is the preferred method, avoiding the traffic, crowds, and advertising glitz that entice me to buy something I really don’t need. I’d rather be thoughtful about gifts and not just add to someone’s clutter and over-abundance of stuff.

I will consider how I might give to ministries I endorse: World Vision, A Woman’s Choice, Voice of the Martyrs, Christian Library International. These are the organizations that are doing something positive in our world. I’d like to be part of that by planning how I can fit it into the budget.

November calls me to celebrate in its own way. I will make an effort to stay focused on this month and what it offers, not allowing myself to feel pressured as December approaches, sapping the joys I could be experiencing today.

Part of my happy perspective in a season that has found me stressed in years past is due to a podcast I heard recently. Kendra at The Lazy Genius Collective talks about Opening and Closing Ceremonies on her podcast, making the most of each holiday. She has wise counsel to offer me.

If you are interested in getting a boost of happy as you move into these last two months, then give a listen.

November is Thanksgiving, Family and Friends, Snuggling with Hot Cocoa, Turkey and Dressing, All Things Pumpkin.

Let’s slow down and enjoy it.

 

 

101_1770

 

 

 

Traditions

The traditions begin.

At 6:30 am, I talked with my prayer partner, Julie.  It was our annual day to remember all the answered prayers through the year.  I looked back over a year’s worth of pages in my prayer journal and saw how God had done great things.  We prayed prayers of thanks to One who hears and answers our prayers.

I’ve started feeding the birds since harvest is over and cold weather has descended upon us.  I call them in the morning, “Come on birdies,” and they are beginning to recognize that I am friend, not foe.  It is something I do in the fall and winter months.  Feeding them provides so much enjoyment, plus it reminds me how a faithful God cares for me.

The cooking frenzy has begun.  The cranberry relish is prepared and waiting in the fridge.  It is one item on my list of Thanksgiving food to prepare.  It gets better as it sits and marinates in the juices of orange and sugar.

Butter is getting soft on the counter in preparation for Sour Cream Cake, one of my mother’s recipes.  It continues to be a family favorite.  I have to pull out my big mixer for this cake, the only one that can handle the thick batter with ease.  I will wash and dry the perfect-size plate that fits the cake.  It was a wedding gift to my parents in 1942.  The gold edging is almost gone but it is priceless to me.

100_0287

I started my yearly Joy List this morning.  I will add to it throughout the day and tomorrow morning, perhaps even through the weekend.   The list gets longer every year, and why not?  God gives so many gifts that I  cannot count them all, though this week I try.

Sweet William and I make calls today and tomorrow, wishing friends and loved ones a blessed day.  It is good to chat for just a few minutes in the flurry of activity.  I sent texts message to sweet friends who have enriched my life in so many sweet ways.  People are the best gifts of all.

Tomorrow we will gather with my cousins and their children and grandchildren.  The house will be full, loud, festive.  We will quiet long enough to pray and give thanks to our great God who gives us so many, many blessings.  We will eat the best food in the whole wide world (my family are good cooks!), and we will talk and laugh and catch up with one another as families do.  This only child is grateful for extended family.

100_2694

I will remember those not with us at the table this year, my dear dad who is at home with Jesus now and my family-too-far-away.   I will remember others who are missing family members this year, trying to learn how to do life without them.  And I will say a prayer for them because I know what loss feels like.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for so many reasons.   It is the beginning of the end of the year when stress can rise and suck the very life out of us.  But on this day, I will still my heart.  I will look at the faces around the table and enjoy the moments.

And I will give thanks.