Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Moments of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that is jam-packed with family traditions.  From the turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie to the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade, family gatherings, football and even shopping for a few of those crazy people (myself included). As families combine and grow larger it seems the traditions grow larger also.  For several years now I have worked to re-create the Thanksgiving meal my husband remembers fondly from his childhood, which includes more side dishes than I usually fix in a month.  Due to the size of this meal, it's guaranteed we won't be eating it alone.  Most years it's shared with family and friends and even an occasional stranger.  Each year we discuss how we are going to downsize the menu, which we do, but never to the extent we discuss.  In the process of preparing for visitors and cooking a large meal, it's easy for me to become overwhelmed in the process and forget the reasons I have for celebration.  As my husband would lovingly describe it, our "Norman Rockwell" moments usually morph into some reality more suitable for "The Simpsons."

Yesterday I read a devotion about the importance of positive thoughts like those described in Philippians 4:8, one of my favorite verses.  Those positive thoughts can influence our words and actions.  So today, I have chosen to take time before I begin my self-imposed to-do list to ponder those many reasons for thanksgiving and fill my mind of those things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.  However, to be "gut-level" honest, even the writing of this blog post has brought a test of its' own as I type between moments of peeling oranges, making chocolate and strawberry milk, snuggling, important conversations about current and upcoming Wii games and fitting enough a reading of the Berenstain Bears, Count Their Blessings.

Off and on throughout the year I enjoy the simple devotions of Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young.  Today is one of those days.  Today it tells me that my God is pleased with me.  I don't have to perform well to be loved by God. (i.e. in my world this means I don't have to cook the perfect turkey or keep the cleanest house on the block.)  In some ways my performance focused mentality can become a form of idolatry by focusing on my good works.  It can also provide deep discouragement when my works don't measure up to the expectations I had previously set.  My God wants me to shift my focus from my performance (and that never ending to-do list) to His presence.  I need to be receptive to His unconditional love.  When I remember to thank Him for everything and to trust in Him, I will be open to His presence in my life.

Even though I failed to keep up with the daily thanksgiving posts on facebook (I'm okay with this failure), I have so much to be thankful for today and everyday.  I have a God who lives and He loves me. A God who can do more than I can think or imagine.  A God who knows me and wants to be known by me.  A God who calls me His daughter, His princess.  A God who knows my needs before I even ask.  A God who provides for those needs.  A God who wrote me a love letter to read and guide me through the good days and the bad days.  A God of hope.  A God of peace.  A God of love and joy.  A victorious God full of power and mercy.

I am truly blessed with a wonderful husband and three beautiful daughters, parents, siblings, extended family and friends across the country.  In honor of those many blessings, I will strive to revise my to-do list.  Although my list will still include a turkey and some trimmings and a few household chores.  My goal this Thanksgiving is to live in the moment and to love those in the moment.  My goal is to enjoy this special time with my family in the presence of my Heavenly Father, thankful for all he has done for me through Jesus Christ my Savior and Lord.

Happy Thanksgiving!

"When I think of the wisdom and scope of God's plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.  I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit.  And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him.  May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.  Now glory be to God!  By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we could ever dare to ask or hope.  May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen."  Ephesians 4:14-20

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