From Last Place to First on My Fave Holiday List

I’ll confess: I wasn’t that big on Thanksgiving as a kid.

There were two main reasons. One, I was pretty spoiled and there were no gifts, making it a boring holiday for me.

Two, I was a very picky eater and Thanksgivings were filled with decadent dishes that made my stomach turn. A small slice of white turkey meat and a spoonful of macaroni and cheese (as long as it was made partially by Kraft) and I was done.

I think I’ve just solved the mystery of how I stayed under 100 lbs for over 20 years and now can’t seem to get the needle to stop climbing. I thought the scale was defective. Now I’m sure I’m just making up for decades of lost Thanksgiving meals.

Who knew that sweet potato casserole had that perfect blend of sweet and savory? You know, when I said that in my head I heard Ryan Gosling’s voice from Crazy, Stupid, Love. You might have a problem when you apply a love line from your favorite rom-com to a food item!

Or green bean casserole! There’s a reason everyone shows up with that dish! “Who brought the green bean casserole?”

The list goes on and on…stuffing, cranberries, yeast rolls, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, pies…the food is amazing!

As an empty-nester, preparing a Thanksgiving meal fills that maternal need I’ve missed all year. Even if, as is the case this year, I’m serving adults who have nowhere else to go, I’m still taking care of people. I miss that sometimes. Being needed. I pour my heart and soul into Thanksgiving.

I started preparations extra-early this year. I’ve ordered invitations; I’ve bought all of my dry, non-perishables. I’m doing trial runs. In fact, tonight I’m making a homemade cranberry sauce for the first time. If it goes the way my new cookie recipes did yesterday, I’ll have one more thing to cross off the menu. At least we will still have turkey and dressing!

But the main reason Thanksgiving moved from last place to first on my favorite holiday list is that I now truly understand thankfulness. It took me many years but I see God’s hand in my entire world. From the home he allowed us to build to being married to my best friend. For healthy and happy kids and grandkids to still having my parents in my life. I talk to them every day! Talk about gratitude…He not only restored those relationships, He’s helped me nurture them to a place I’d never dreamed possible.

I find delight in the mundane. Where I once thrived in the chaos, He made me a new creature. One who is so at peace with life that I know it is only by His hand.

I absolutely love my life.  I’m so thankful for everyone and everything in it.

And I get an entire holiday to celebrate that!

 

You’re Gonna Make It After All…

Does anyone remember the Mary Tyler Moore Show?

My mom loved this show. I don’t remember much about it, maybe Mary in her short dresses and Mary Jane’s walking across the newsroom. I definitely couldn’t tell you a single plot line. I was, after all, only 8 or 9 years old.

But music has a way of getting deep inside a person and the Mary Tyler Moore theme song was no exception.

At least the refrain: You’re Gonna Make It After All…

I don’t know why that stayed with me but it did.

And over 40 years later, it just hopped right to the forefront of my mind.

I’d gone home to visit my parents for a week and went with my mom to her choir practice. Now this is the church I grew up in, the one I’d been baptized in, the one I went to GA’s in.

And this Senior Adult group was filled with my old choir teachers, VBS leaders, and Sunday School directors. They saw me when I sang the lead in the 5th grade Noah’s Ark musical and when I won 1st place in Bible drills.

They ALSO saw me when I turned into a sulky, moody teen who rebelled against everything, God included.

Some had not seen me since.

So as I walked in with Mom, they were delighted to see me. They asked questions, I filled them in with updates on my writing and ministry.

One lady, in that way only older ladies can get away with without sounding offensive, looked me up and down and said “Well, it looks like you made it after all…”

I was momentarily stunned.

I’ve been okay for over 20 years, was my first thought.

Wow, she remembers me well, was my second!

The devil tried to get me to take offense. But how could I? She wasn’t being catty or rude. She was genuinely happy for me.

Then the Mary Tyler Moore song popped in my head. “Looks like you made it after all….”

At the end of the choir practice, I shared a word of encouragement with them.

“Never doubt the prayers of a praying grandparent. There’s no doubt in my mind that my grandparents’ prayers saw me through my times of rebellion and led me back to the Lord. There’s always hope.”

I shared my memories of some of the Senior Adults who had an impact on me when I was going through my teenage years at church. They never acted differently towards me even though I was changing rapidly. They never stopped smiling and encouraging me.

Sometimes it seems pointless but even in my mess, that had a lasting impact.

It takes a special person to continue to encourage someone who’s trying to push the world away.

I have someone in my life right now doing the same. Right now, he couldn’t care less if I speak to him, much less encourage him. He’s angry at God, mad at the world.

I was there at his age.

But I had people who didn’t turn their backs on me and always welcomed me with a smile. I didn’t appreciate it at the time but later I realized how much it had mattered.

So I am determined to do the same. Even if I want to walk away, I won’t.

I have to pay it forward.

I want him to remember that someone truly cares.

And one day I want someone to say to him, “It looks like you made it after all…”

 

GEAR UP: PRAYER

It’s Sunday night! Time to gear up for a new week. As always, the best way to do that is to PUT ON THE ARMOR OF GOD (Ephesians 6:10-18) but we also will focus on ONE area to strengthen our walk with the Lord. Just one focus to help us grow a faith that cannot fade with the demands of life and the pressures of this world. This week we will focus on PRAYER!

Do you pray regularly? I mean, apart from before meals and when things are going wrong? Prayer is a conversation between you and God. Conversations imply both parties are participating but we often act like God is the stuffed animal on our childhood bed. There to listen to all our troubles and comfort us with their presence even though they can’t actually say anything.

But God CAN!

And He does. We just have to be willing to listen to Him.

He wants to listen to us.

And He wants to TALK to us.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me…John 10:27