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Thanksgiving Language

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We had an near-embarrassing amount of food for twenty-three people at our Thanksgiving meal :

  • 1 1/2 turkey
  • dressing
  • mashed potatoes and gravy
  • 3 dozen rolls and homemade jams
  • squash soup
  • corn casserole
  • sweet potatoes
  • green bean casserole
  • baked beans
  • cottage cheese
  • cranberry sauce
  • fruit salad
  • freezer coleslaw
  • 4 pumpkin pies
  • chocolate cake
  • sandwich cookies cheesecake
  • apple crisp
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                Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell 1943

My husband’s family traditionally encourages the youngest to offer the prayer before the meal at our large gatherings, and so our five-year-old grandson prompted us to hold hands, and then he led us in a version of the prayer that many learned as children:

God is great. God is good, and we thank Him for our food.

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(Saying grace before carving the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner in the home of Earle Landis in Neffsville, Pennsylvania 1942)

Putting the leftovers away in the refrigerator was like solving a 3-D puzzle. I balanced the pumpkin pie on the leftover turkey container. Our spatial relationship thinking was challenged as we sought the right size containers for potatoes and gravy. Cars became make-shift  refrigerators for casseroles that wouldn’t fit in the kitchen refrigerator.

We feasted at our Thanksgiving meal, and such abundance is a metaphor for the spiritual feast God has set before us. Our cup isn’t just full; it overflows (Psalm 23). Whether we go through seasons of ease and physical abundance or times of grief and trial, God’s character has not changed. He is still a good, kind, and loving Father.

For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we really are God’s children.   Romans 8:16  TLB

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!   1 John 3:1   NIV

God speaks to us in the language of love, for He is love (1 John 4:8). Christine Laennec, a fellow blogger, writes of a plaque on a park bench in Glasgow that reads “Express Love Clearly.” Our heavenly Father speaks love to us clearly, in ways that we will understand.

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  Luke 6:45   NIV

As a writer I especially appreciate the imagery of a written banner over the guest of honor at a banquet.

He brought me to the banqueting house,
    and his banner over me was love. SoS 2:4   RSV

*           *           *          *          *

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How then do we respond to the feast of food, a feast of love?

We thank God for our physical blessings, yes, but health comes and goes. Our loved ones may not be with us next November. No job is guaranteed. No house is indestructible. No car is unbreakable. No peace in this world is permanent.

We thank God for the imperishable, incorruptible, and immutable. God’s character doesn’t change.

God is great. God is good, and we thank Him . . .

The special variety of God’s language that we speak (which is derived from His original Love Language) is giving thanks. We recognize who God is,  and we are grateful.

Thanksgiving is our dialect.   Ephesians 5:4   MSG

 

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*           *           *          *          *

I found this version of our mealtime blessing to be sung to the tune of  “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”:

God is great and God is good.
And we thank him for our food.

By his hands we all are fed.
Thank you, Lord, for our daily bread.
God is great and God is good,
And we thank him for our food.

Amen, which means “so be it.”

The Stuff of Miracles

I am grateful for small things today:

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  • diminutive crab apples, food for hungry birds

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  • fine curlicues on a yucca plant

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  • delicate veins of a husk cherry

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  • seed head of a stunted purple coneflower

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  • gossamer “wings” of milkweed seed.
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The sun sets so early now that I didn’t think I’d have time for a walk outside before the light failed, but I decided a short stroll was better than none.

If I hadn’t gone, I might not have discovered the silky filaments of the milkweed.

If I’d believed the lie that a small amount of time was worthless, I would have missed a comical robin hopping branches, gobbling crab apples.

I wouldn’t have seen the setting sun ignite a translucent oak leaf.

The wooly bear caterpillar would have inched away unobserved, miniature pumpkins would have remained hidden under frost-withered leaves, and the year’s last violet might have been mowed instead of celebrated.

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If I hadn’t I hadn’t taken advantage of the few minutes available, I might have missed these small gifts of grace and lost the opportunity to give thanks.

And I would have missed the miracle of joy that came with a grateful heart.

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Small things, the stuff of miracles . . . do you remember this story?

a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish  John 6:9

and then

Jesus . . . took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.  John 6:11

Gratitude peels away the veil of the mundane, whether it’s fishes or flowers, and reveals the miraculous. Gratitude opens a way to experience a joy that satisfies. The people in the crowd were seated (they stopped); they heard or watched Jesus give thanks (gratitude); and they ate as much as they wanted (joy and contentment).

For small things, the stuff of miracles, I’m grateful.

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Revisiting a post from 2013

Thankful 30: Day 30–1952 Truck

I have joined Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful. — Emily

Day 30:  I’m thankful for a 1952 pickup truck.

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My father bought the blue International in 1953 and owned it until the year before he died.  In 1959 he drove the pickup a thousand miles, over mountain roads in the winter to move our family back to his hometown.  We squeezed into the cab–my parents, me (a preschooler), and my brother (barely a year old)–and packed all our belongings in the back of the truck.  My father had built a carrier/bed that attached above the seat by the back window of the cab, where my brother could sleep.  (This was before the days of seat belts or car seats for children.)

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I asked my father why they moved back to his hometown.  He said that they thought the schools would be better here in the Midwest.  Parents will do a lot, sacrifice a lot for their children.

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The International continued to be a work horse over the years.  Dad loaded bags of livestock feed,  carried carpentry tools, and hauled lumber in the bed of the truck.  It survived ice storms and hail, mud roads, and a collision with a steer.  One summer the back was enclosed and became a “camper” for overnight fishing trips.

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Many people in our small Midwest town recognized Dad’s blue truck, even if they didn’t know my father.  When he retired, he continued working as a carpenter and handyman around town.  The passenger seat and floor were mounded with tools, and the truck bed rattled with lumber and saw horses.  People would tell me, “I see your dad’s working on Mrs. Smith’s house–saw the truck there.”

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My father drove the truck less and less as he took fewer carpentry jobs, but he delighted in washing and decorating the International for 4th of July parades.

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When driving was no longer a safe option for my father, the truck was parked one last time.  He gave the truck to my brother the year before he died.

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Last night we loaded (pushed, pulled, and pleaded) the blue International onto a car trailer.  My brother, the baby who rode 1000 miles in the cab of the truck (and is now married and the father of teenagers) will take the truck one final 500 mile trip to his home, where it will be stored and repaired.

My father was happiest when he was working, building or repairing. The International was his companion for the many decades of his working life.  Dad would be pleased to know the truck will be restored.

Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.   Hebrews 13:16   The Message.

I imagine the next verse refers to relationships rather than carpentry, but I think that Jesus might have a tender heart toward carpenters who keep things in repair.

And that’s about it, friends. Be cheerful. Keep things in good repair. Keep your spirits up. Think in harmony. Be agreeable. Do all that, and the God of love and peace will be with you for sure.   2 Corinthians 13:11,12   The Message

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See Thankful 30 page for every day’s entry.

* name changed

linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee

Thankful 30: Day 29–Readers

I have joined Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful. — Emily

Day 29:  I’m thankful for you readers who visit this blog.

I appreciate your kind and encouraging words.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

I Thessalonians 5:11

For those of you who have enjoyed and commented on the photos of sunrise and sunset, this is how the morning and evening sky was painted today.

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Skies are blazing with his splendor,
his praises sounding through the earth,   Habakkuk 3:3

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See Thankful 30 page for every day’s entry.

* name changed

Thankful 30: Day 28–Family

I have joined Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful. — Emily

Day 28:  I’m thankful for family.

Tie up, slip on, and velcro-fastened,

black and white, lavender, little blue heels,

long feet, narrow ones, tiny toddler toes

This Thanksgiving day my house is blessed with family

and their beautiful feet that brought them to my door.

How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!   Isaiah 52:7

I am grateful for people to love and people who love me–family.

See Thankful 30 page for every day’s entry.

* name changed

Thankful 30: Day 27–Sunset

I have joined Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful. — Emily

Day 27:  I’m grateful for sunsets.

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The rosy glow of the setting sun painted the dining room, as phantom chair and lamp shadows glided up the walls.

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The pastels shades of the evening light invited me outside to watch the sky being transformed by sunset.

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The delicate colors in the sky were backdrop to milkweed and common grasses.

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As the shadows deepened, the colors intensified.

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
light! sunbursts of light!

Isaiah 9:2   The Message

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The horizon began to burn with gold and rose-tinted fire.

God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.  I Timothy 6:15,16   NIV

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All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.   2 Corinthians 4:5,6   The Message

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An explosion of color, of glory!

Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.

John 1:3-5   The Message

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See Thankful 30 page for every day’s entry.

* name changed

Thankful 30: Day 26–Clenched Fists or Open Hands?

I have joined Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful. — Emily

Day 26:  I’m thankful for my friend, Julie, and her artistry.

The photos below are of a triptych done in pastel.

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“Attitudes of the Heart: 1 Closed” by Julie Saugstad

For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.   Matthew 13:15   NIV

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“Attitudes of the Heart: 2 Reviving” by Julie Saugstad

For this is what the high and exalted One says—
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

Isaiah 57:13   NIV

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“Attitudes of the Heart: 3 Alive” by Julie Saugstad

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“Attitudes of the Heart: 3 Alive” by Julie Saugstad

What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.  Romans 6:8-11   The Message

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“Attitudes of the Heart: 1 Closed, 2 Reviving, 3 Alive” by Julie Saugstad

He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ.  Ephesians 2:5   The Message

See Thankful 30 page for every day’s entry.

* name changed

Thankful 30: Day 25–Cranberries and Snakes

If you received or read an “in process” version of today’s post,  please, accept my apologies.  I accidentally posted a rough draft.

*                                  *                                *                                   *                                 *

I have joined Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful. — Emily

Day 25:  I’m thankful for cranberries.

Thanksgiving dinner will be at my house, Thursday at noon, and  I’m expecting about a dozen people, my daughter among them.

She asked if we would have the cranberry sauce that she likes.  Of course!  What mom wouldn’t be happy to fulfill such a request, especially one that’s so easy.

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Here’s the recipe:

  • Bring 1 cup orange juice and 1 cup sugar to a boil
  • Add 12 oz. fresh cranberries and return to a boil
  • Boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Pour into a bowl, let cool at room temperature, then refrigerate.

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I am happy to prepare this cranberry sauce, just as the heavenly Father is pleased to give us good things when we ask.  My daughter is very allergic to peanuts, so I would never serve those to her.  Who would want a stone when you were hungry or a poisonous snake when you were expecting a roast fish?

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!       Matthew 7:7-11  NIV

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See Thankful 30 page for every day’s entry.

* name changed

Thankful 30: Day 24–Praying

I have joined Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful. — Emily

Day 24

I am grateful for the women in my prayer group.  These are their hands.

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A few years ago, that still, small voice whispered, “You need to pray,”  first to one woman in our church, then another, and another–so a small group of women began to meet during the Sunday School hour for prayer.  I can’t tell you why the others joined, but I could echo the disciples’ desire in Luke 11:1–“Lord, teach us to pray.”

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Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth.   Psalm 54:2   NIV

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I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.   Psalm 17:6   NIV

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Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.   Romans 12:12   NIV

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God is teaching me more about prayer, and  I am blessed to be in the loving company of these women as I learn.

Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it.   I Peter 4:7,8  The Message

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See Thankful 30 page for every day’s entry.

* name changed

Thankful 30: Day 23–Needle and Thread

I have joined Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful. — Emily

Day 23

I am thankful that I have a sewing machine.  I only have to sew by hand if and when I want to.

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I can’t imagine the endless hours my great grandmother spent in this sewing rocker, sewing with a needle and thread, because there was no other choice.

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Did she sing?  Did she pray as she sewed away the days,

making dresses and shirts,

curtains and quilts?

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I imagine her sitting by a window

until the shadows grew long

and the light too dim

for the needle and the tiny, measured stitches.

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Did her family appreciate her sewing? Did they thank her?  I hope so.

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Sewing by hand with a needle and thread reminds me of another seamstress from the past–this woman lived in New Testament times in the city of Joppa.  Her name was Tabitha  (“Dorcas” in Greek), and she was a disciple of Jesus Christ.   When she became sick and died, distraught believers brought Peter to their town to pray for her.

Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.

Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up.  Acts 9:39,40  NIV

There’s a woman whose sewing was appreciated!  What an impression she must have made on her community of believers, that they would dare ask for Peter to pray for her to come back from the dead.   This is how Dorcas was described:

she was always doing good and helping the poor.  Acts 9:36

Whether we sew by hand, as my great grandmother did, or with a sewing machine as I do, we can all follow Dorcas’ example of kindness and generosity.

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See Thankful 30 page for every day’s entry.

* name changed

linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee

Deep Roots At Home

 

 

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