The Need for Thanksgiving

Hey!

Every year, merchants rush to fill their aisles with holiday trinkets hoping to persuade us as consumers to immediately leapfrog from Halloween into Christmas.  We enter the hustle and bustle to the ring of charity bells, sale circulars cramming our mailboxes and in-boxes and the pulsing beat of a countdown signaled on signs and newspapers everywhere.  Worry lines, fret faces and stress marks steadily begin to appear on our countenance heralding the birth of the holiday season.

We need Thanksgiving.

Some have taken drastic measures to try and control the onslaught.  Out come the holiday boxes, the tree for trimming and various ephemera after the last ‘trick or treat’ has been said and before the gobble of a turkey can be heard.  Their hope is avoidance to everything that would cause a seasonal nervous breakdown and consequently, be released to enjoy the festivities more. To an outsider’s view, they appear to have adopted the phrase,”if you can’t beat them, join them.”

We need Thanksgiving.

As holidays go, Thanksgiving is simple and rather dull in comparison to the other two.  No hoopla.  Children aren’t giddy with excitement staying up all hours of the night in anticipation of getting the wishbone.  But they will remember, long after they’ve forgotten the toy they had to have or the costume they wore when they were 10, the time shared around the Thanksgiving table and the feeling of their hearts and bellies overflowing with warmth and closeness of family.  They will recall their mother’s famous pie, their aunt’s out of this world casserole or their grandfather’s stories repeated over and over again.  They will remember the tangible expression of love.

We need Thanksgiving.

We need the pause before Grace comes.  A time to prepare our hearts and to begin our advent of remembrance and worship.  We need a time for shared communion with family and friends to give an account of God’s blessings and abundance in our lives.  Leap frogging over robs us of this gift.  Perhaps, we even have considered this holiday a nuisance, an inconvenience or maybe a drudgery to have to endure another day with our difficult company or the exhaustive preparation of the meal.  Thanksgiving is not just the pie, turkey and dressing but an opportunity for us to see God’s reflection in the faces of our loved ones as we recount His goodness to us throughout the year.

We need Thanksgiving.

This passing over Thanksgiving reflects how we sometimes approach God.  Takers by nature, we expect the abundance to pour from God often forgetting to thank the One from whom they came.  We bask in His blessings and thrive on the mountaintop of His goodness yet when we come to the in between times, the quiet times, we feel God is not there.  His working for us appears to be missing.  In these moments, we can find ourselves craving the Halloween and Christmas sugar highs of God.  Our journey with Him can’t be sustained on those moments alone. God wouldn’t allow it.  He knows the quiet, in between times are when we grow and thrive. He knows our very souls need the nourishment of pausing and giving thanks.

We need Thanksgiving.

Blessings,

Mimi

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.  Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the LORD is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name;. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”  Psalm 100 NIV Bible

Guest Post from Katie@CardiganWay

Hey!

This month, the focus on my online bible study ministry site has been gratitude. I was thrilled when my friend, Katie, who blogs regularly at Cardigan Way, agreed to share some thoughts on the subject.  Her writing exposes her sweet gracious spirit and I knew I wanted to share her thoughts, here, as well.

The strange thing about blogging, I’ve never met Katie in person but I feel I know her.  I talk about her to my family like I would about any of my friends.  I feel a kinship with her perhaps it’s a southern thing, since she is from the South, but I suspect it’s a sister in Christ thing.  Please check out her blog and show her some love.

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allumeheadshots

The Grace of Gratitude. Again.

Yesterday was one of those days.  I drove to school through the fog, the trees mostly bare, that in-between time when it’s not yet winter but the vibrant hues of fall leaves are now muted, beginning to disintegrate on the ground.  The beautiful landscape of North Carolina was itself muted, a hazier version of its fogless self.

bare trees

By the time I hit the pillow, exhausted, it was as if the muted colors of the early morning drive pervaded the entire day.  I felt like the hazier version of myself…or something like that.

I found myself feeling utterly inept at my new job when decision after decision seemed to be the wrong one.

My phone died.  I was disconnected.  And while that may seem a small thing, I should tell you that I am in the thick of the adoption process, and the mere buzz of my phone sends my heart into my throat.

And that was really the main thing, the uncertainty of adoption and the weight of it.  The question mark that lies between today and the day that walk in the front door of our home with a little one in our arms.

A muted day.

ivy on the tree

You should know that this is not new, that grace has met me time and time again in the act of thankfulness, in naming a gift.  It’s happened before...  And {often} in much harder spaces than what I needed yesterday.

See, when I first read Ann’s book , I began to list my gifts.  We lost twins and I stopped.  Stopped speaking to God really, much less thanking Him.  I found myself confused and indifferent, the other side of angry.  And I believe God was okay with that, waiting patiently for my return to Him.  Actually, that’s not true.

If I say I think He waited patiently, then I picture Him – in my mind’s eye – to be something like the parent whose six year old has obstinately refused to wear anything other than the hand painted nightshirt to school.  And this makes me imagine His waiting idly by, watching from the Heavens, smiling, strong enough not to check His watch, believing that soon enough, I’d realize the error of my ways.

But that’s not true.  I believe {know} He hoped with us.  And then, I believe He grieved with us.  Deeply.  Like the parent whose child cannot understand her mother and father’s love for her.

leaves on the drive

It happened again.  We lost two more babies and the next day, all I knew to do was to pull up Lamentations 3, that touchstone of God’s faithfulness, whether or not I was able to claim it quite yet.

But I took a baby step.  And made a deliberate choice to…at least…call His grace to mind.

And I began to count again.  Slowly, deliberately, not always easily.

I counted and I shared them.

And last summer, in a little under a year, I made it to No. 1000.  But it wasn’t without the choice to keep counting…and counting…

For I can look back and find in my list gift No. 365…I counted the gifts of new life in my womb.

And then for No. 390, a train ticket of grace {when the babies didn’t make it}.

Then I counted No. 674, which was the text that changed our lives.

And then No. 747: He gives peace.  That was the day the adoption fell through.

And I counted and counted…and when No. 1000 rolled around, I was stunned by grace, by the quote that so perfectly described the journey of my counting.

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace, only that it meets us where we are, but does not leave us where it found us.”  — Anne Lamott in Traveling Mercies

I was in a very different place when I counted No. 1 than where I was when I reached No. 1000.  And it was Grace.

I’m still counting.

And you’d think I’d remember these miracles, wouldn’t you?  That I’d easily call to mind the amazing grace I’d already known in counting gifts and further, that it would dawn on me in the much less significant, daily little missteps.

Tiny {by comparison} frustrations.

Small, mindless annoyances.

And — okay.  The slightly larger ones of unknowns and questions.

But yesterday, I didn’t remember it {or at least I chose not to}.  So this morning, I flipped my brain back to No. 1000 and Anne Lamott and then decided to count those very things – the frustrations, annoyances, and questions – as gifts.  Because hard eucharisteo is never without grace.  And these things were really… hardly…medium-sized.

I felt inept in my job yesterday. 

So I counted. No. 1426: getting to serve teachers for a living.

My phone died right when I needed it.

 I counted No. 1427: forced quiet.

I ached to be on the other side of our adoption.

Again I counted. No. 1428: we are adopting again.

leaves on the ground

 So I think, my dear friends, that we should keep at it, to deliberately recall the waves of grace found within naming the gifts, including the winds, the small rains, and the storms.  It may be a baby step, tentative, doubtful, and feel like the most you can possibly do.  But count.  And then, bask in the grace that He brings.

What are you grateful for today?

Guest Post Today

Good Morning!

Today, a very talented, wonderful friend of mine, Cammy Tidwell, is sharing some thoughts about gratitude with us.  She is a regular blogger and bible study teacher at Words of  Worth , click here to learn more about her ministry.

Hey!

I’m glad you’re here and I’m glad to be here!  When Mimi asked me to guest post, I started thinking about how long she and I have been friends.  To be honest, I can’t remember – but I can tell you, we bonded over two definitive areas of the southern way of life:  Bible study and going to lunch!  We’ve sat side by side at the Lord’s table and quite a few restaurant tables through the years.

Something else I’ve done through the years is move!  If I counted correctly, over the past 26 years of marriage to my “honey-do”, we have lived in 2 duplexes, 2 apartments, one rental house, and 6 other houses – two of which we built and one that we renovated.  Whew!  Recently, we relocated back to our beloved South from our seven years spent above the Mason Dixon line in Pennsylvania.  Here’s what I’ve noticed about how we get settled into a new place once we move — We do it in stops and starts like a child’s growth spurts.

On our recent move, we arranged the furniture and then… nothing.  No wall art or decoration, just functional living.  Another day, I organized my kitchen and then… nothing.  A couple of weeks ago, in a mad burst of energy, I, finally, put bedding in the master bedroom and then… nothing.  One recent Monday morning, with tool bag in hand, the man of the house said, “Where do you want all this stuff to hang?”  Right after that, we rearranged the guest bedroom and re-boxed some items that didn’t make the cut and then… nothing.   (That’s where we are now.)

And it hit me.  My “attitude of gratitude” is just like my activity around the house.  Stops and starts, bits and pieces, one day wildly productive and the next, a grumbling mess.  Of course, God was getting my heart ready for His word because then, I read this:

“Therefore since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us…”

If you don’t know the answer, what would your guess be?   Let us do what?”

Answer:  “Let us show gratitude…”  (Hebrews 12:28 NASB)

Gratitude!  For a kingdom that cannot be shaken!  That seems too easy – but is it?  Someone gives me something and I am grateful.  But, I am often grateful in direct proportion to the gift.  I, also, don’t usually keep thanking them for it.

What kind of gratitude should be shown for  “a kingdom that cannot be shaken”?  The ongoing kind that is “acceptable service” and is accompanied by reverence and awe.

Being grateful is my job for God.  It’s how I serve Him.  Unlike how I settle into a new house on this earth (which can and will be shaken), I need to show Him honor and reverence by being thankful all the time, not in spurts here and there.

This prompted me to begin keeping a “grateful list” again.  Here are a few of mine from the last couple of weeks:

* Blue jeans that fit my preteen daughter

* Wedding dress shopping with my future daughter in law

* Confession that leads to forgiveness

* Lavish answers to prayer

* Safe travels

* New growth

* Laughter

Everyday now, I write down one thing I am aware of that only God can give and I stop for a moment because then… I am grateful.

Cammy

http://www.wordsofworth.com