Today I began preparations for out-of-town family to arrive for Thanksgiving. The house will be noisy, happy and a tad chaotic. Sometimes it can be a bit stressful making room for this holiday and getting psyched up to purchase, cook and serve around all of life’s other obligations.
However, there is always that moment…
I am in the kitchen overlooking happy people and listening to happy chatter–and I feel like the richest woman in the world. I love my crazy, imperfect family. They are MY family, the one God gave me. I also love my girlfriends who are a phone call, e-mail or text away. I cherish them. And I love my neighbors, “bus stop gang,”and each of my children’s friends.
Generally, I thank God a lot. When I hear people complaining I often urgently counteract their complaining by telling God how thankful I am for all of His blessings. I guess I imagine God’s feelings being hurt and I want Him to know that while others may not be seeing His goodness, I am! I know I miss His grace one million times a day because my eyes see so little this side of heaven, but I do ponder on a regular basis that all good things are from Him.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17, NIV).
For example, last week I was leaving a QT and stumbled as I stepped off the curb. I laughed. It was a reminder that every moment I am one silly step away from a sprained ankle that would change my day. I am hilariously powerless. I am one flat tire away from not showing up for work on time (as I am tempted to pride myself on a nearly perfect decades-long attendance record). Every time anything works out, it’s God’s grace that allowed it to go well.
As I got into my car after nearly slipping and falling—still smiling—and turned the key, I thanked God that my car started. It didn’t have to. I drove to work well aware that my health, job and car were blessings from Him, and I smiled my way into my job that day once again. Since I have been the recipient of the dreaded call that a family member has died tragically, I know those types of days are bad days, not the days when my hair doesn’t turn out right and I don’t feel pretty, or when my child is cranky. Oh, the things we complain about.
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe (Philippians 2:14-15).
In an effort to make Thanksgiving about more than a great meal with family, the Macy’s parade and football (which are great fun!), I assign a child the duty of tracing hands and having people write one thing they are thankful for on each finger.
Sometimes the child turns the paper hands into little turkeys, sometimes not, but the dancing hands stay up for a while and they make me smile. After eating, we sit around the table and each person shares what they wrote on their hand. I LOVE that time of sharing each year.
This year I will be thanking God for some things that I have NEVER before uttered on Thanksgiving day. I get to say this year that I finished my book. When I turned 40, I contemplated that Jesus finishes everything He starts. He is the author and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2) and his final words on the cross were, It is finished (John 19:30). I looked back at my past and comprehended I had been a quitter. I moved so frequently that friends reported they had worn a hole in the address book where my address was recorded. My dad used to joke that I never stayed anywhere long enough for grass to grow under my feet. It was then, thirteen years ago, I comprehended that there is glory in finishing because it’s a character trait of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Because I finished–for that reason alone–I am pleased to hand my book to God.
In the movie, Rocky, the last scene shows Rocky standing in the ring all bloody and beat up, screaming for Adrian. He had lost the fight, but the crowd was wowed because Rocky–an unknown fighter–had gone the full 15 rounds with the current heavyweight champion of the world. No one had expected him to achieve such a gargantuan feat.
As the Author of my faith, God has won. He has turned me into a woman who finished something long and hard and I am so grateful I can’t speak. I am a bit beat up and yelling for God to show up and tell me what to do next, but I am standing this Thanksgiving having finished something I believe He wanted me to start.
Besides being the first Thanksgiving as an author, this is the first Thanksgiving as a participant in social media and blogging. In January of 2013 I went cold turkey (no pun intended) and exchanged my paper planner for an iPhone.
This year, I got a Twitter account, hired a web designer, and started blogging. I have no idea who reads my blog, but at this moment, it doesn’t matter. Unlike hiding my thoughts in a paper journal, my thoughts are out there for someone to possibly read and learn about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. That feels sooooo good! I don’t even have to know, and it doesn’t even have to happen. The possibility is enough for me. That possibility does not exist with my thoughts trapped in a binder in my home unless a grandchild stumbles upon it someday after I am gone and can read my writing.
In short, I am pleased about the additional room God has in my life to do something if He wants to. My cyber experience has been surprisingly pleasant. I have been encouraged by @introvertedmama and @VFShields who have served as cheerleaders for me, though none of us have met. I follow @Nabeel Qureshi (and his wife @farocelestial) after being blown away by his book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. After being influenced by Josh McDowell my entire life, it’s fun to follow @Josh_McDowell and his son @Sean_McDowell who wrote a brave book with @JBStonestreet, Same-Sex Marriage and will soon walk for his PhD. I like the chats that occur between my most favorite Bible Study teacher @BethMooreLPM and her daughters @MelissaMoore77 and @AmandaMoJo. I like keeping an eye on others proclaiming Jesus in my city like @CrawfordLoritts, @louiegiglio and @shelleygiglio. It has been fun watching new authors @MichaelMinot and @wakeupmyfaith (Kevin Adams). I listen to @TEDtalks on the way to and from work and have a better idea about what is going on in the world. I like receiving my information this way.
Kept in it’s correct place, technology has been fun for me this year. None of this replaces any part of my flesh-and-blood community, but each has truly supplemented my life in a positive way.So this ol’ gal is thankful for all of the normal stuff this year and two new things.
May your Thanksgiving table find you listing the blessings of God as well. EVERY good thing is from Him.
Linger long at the table and give Him due praise.
As for you the reader, I am grateful for you too.
© 2014 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.
I always enjoy your blogs. This one made me pause and think for awhile. I have binders full of my thoughts and what I believe are lessons God himself has been teaching me. I have thought of writing them down for the world to see but that is a very scary and intimidating thought. Your blog has inspired me to revisit that idea.
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving! I love spending time with the family, expressing our thankfulness and just being together.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving week, friend.
Laurie, I am so very thankful for you and delighted to be included among the new in your life this year. Your post has me thinking about some of the changes God has brought in my life this year and approaching Him with a heart of thanks. As always, I’m blessed by your words. Much love to you and your family this Thanksgiving!