Pack Away Thanksgiving?

“Let’s pack up Thanksgiving; so we can get on with Christmas!”

REALLY?

Kids can be so honest, and the deeper truth behind what they say is telling.

It’s time for lights and Christmas trees.

That means it is time for the fall decorations to be stored away. I think that something else might have been packed away, buried under bright colored leaves in those rubbermaid tubs.

Did we really pack away Thanksgiving?

Already I feel a hint of Christmas greed knocking at our door. Commercials for toys, diamonds, clothing, cars, appliances… over-hearing conversations of “what do you want for Christmas this year?”… and a few minutes ago I sat down here at the computer to order an item on-line only to find it is already sold-out at Amazon… and it isn’t even December yet!

The shock and disappointment sent me on a hunt all over the internet for “the best deal”, and in the pursuit of “finding”, I could feel I was loosing something… a quiet and contented heart.

Our family has a fall and spring tradition of counting down the days until Thanksgiving and Easter.

30 attributes of God for 30 days

We made up a tune to sing our way through the list, and every day we discuss a quality of God’s character and why we are thankful for that aspect of our Lord.

Holy,
Good,
Gracious,
Loving,
Long-suffering,
Merciful,
Truthful,
Wrathful,
Wise,
Righteous,
Faithful,
Forgiving,
Jealous,
Just…

It is so easy to rattle these off.
And, It is so easy to become distracted and forget.

I am content when I’m listing my blessings and remembering the Giver. It is natural to be thankful when I’m thinking about God and the privilege of knowing Him. It is not hard to be still and filled with peace when I remember who He is.

“He knows everything.
He is everywhere…
He’s completely in control.”

I didn’t go shopping this weekend. I saw the ads and thought, “We don’t NEED anything.”
What has changed?

We really do have everything we really want.
… peace with God
… a home filled with laughter
… family
… friends

I have a husband that loves me
and children that honor and obey their parents.

I have all these things, and none of them can be bought in a store.

Giving gifts is more about a generous spirit and expressing love than the actual contents of a package or its price-tag.

So why the sense of urgency this morning?
I didn’t feel the Christmas rush all weekend.
Is it because Thanksgiving was packed away and I’ve moved on to Christmas?

This morning I am unpacking THANKSGIVING… not the decorations, the THANKFUL HEART.

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30

Maybe in addition to advent this year, I need to countdown to Christmas… hmmm.

Our Countdown Calendar of Attributes:

Our Attributes Song:

I wish you Happiness and Thankfulness in your GIVING!
Merry Christmas!

Longing for Heaven and Home

It is wonderful to sit around the table together as a family.
I am so blessed…

The day after Thanksgiving.

So many people are busy today, and I am quite.
My heart has not moved on from the theme of yesterday.

(my dad’s dad)

So much to be thankful for…

So many memories…

Such a rich heritage.

For countless years, the patriarchs of my family have gathered their families together to thank God for His blessings…

(my mom’s dad)

Generations have enjoyed the precious gift of family and home.

Yet, my heart aches a little when I think back to yesterday.

I miss my grandparents.

(my dad’s mom)

I have been loved and prayed for all my life… before I was even born.

Too many in this century have never known the blessing of a family legacy like mine.

What has been passed down to me is priceless!

(my mom’s mom)

I have a history of character.

I come from a line of mothers with hearts at home and men who loved and provided for their wives and children.

I have a heritage of faith.

I stand on a foundation that was established long before I was conceived and has proven to be sure and steadfast. The ground I walk is solid. It steadies me.

(great grandparents)

I know where I come from.

I have a name.

I know who I am.

And, I am more than just this lifetime. My life is about more than just me. I am part of something bigger than myself. I am part of a family.

I am passing something on to my children and grandchildren that is much bigger than me.

(great-great grandparents)

I woke-up in the middle of the night last night from a dream I can’t remember except for one sentence, “I miss my daddy.”

It wasn’t my voice that spoke the words. A godly patriarch longing for a father who had already arrived in heaven said what my heart was crying.

From a sound sleep, I was suddenly awake and missing those who have gone ahead:
the ones I’ve known, who held me here on earth…
those that I vaguely remember…
and I even miss the one’s I’ve only heard about…

my mom’s Aunt May,
my grandma’s Uncle Al,
my daddy’s Uncle Paul…
my own Uncle Dennis.

I want to sit down around a table with them and hear them tell old stories.

I want to return to my great-grandma’s porch, hear the plucking of a guitar, sing old hymns, laugh and play with cousins with no thought of time. I want what only heaven can offer.

(my dad)

When I think of heaven, I miss my dad. He’s still here, but I see how he longs for heaven and home in the same way I do, only more keenly.

Who’s to say that I won’t arrive there first? But, I don’t ever want to be without him. As long as I have him, I will be “daddy’s little girl”. Even at my age, I’m not ready to be all grown up.

(my mom)

And, my dear, beautiful mother…

What girl can get by without the help and love of her mother?

She knows everything,
and more importantly,
she understands me.

I need her.
I need her encouragement.
I want her company.

…I need my parents’ prayers.
No, I will never be ready to say “goodbye” to them.

(my husband’s grandparents)

I am part of a family, even larger than my own direct lineage. Which of these dear people will I meet some day? What stories do they have to tell?

(my in-laws)

My own sweet mother-in-law is sure to be there now.

We used her roaster to cook the turkey yesterday. All those early years of marriage, I saw it in her house, felt the warmth of her kitchen, anticipated a feast as delicious aromas built throughout the day. Yesterday it sat on my counter and heated my own home, and she is gone.

I want to know her as she really is. I have heard about her faith, and I feel like I missed out. I married her son too late and never really had the chance to hear her stories.

My turn will come.

Someday I will be the grandma,
the great-grandma,
the distant relative that is vaguely remembered,
that stories are told about.

Will my children and grandchildren feel the way I do today?

“…why should my heart feel lonely
and long for heaven and home?”

Eternity is set in my heart.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the hearts of men;
yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11

I Have Time

There is plenty of time…
24 hours a day is enough.

I have time to sing to you,
time to answer your questions,
time to play with you,
time to let you help stir and sweep.

I have time to brush your hair.
and time for you to brush mine.
I have time to read you a story… again,
to “tickle tuck” you twice,
to kiss you, your kitten, and your doll.

I have time for you.

I read today that the average child laughs once every four minutes. I wonder if the average adult laughs four times in a day? — I was curious if it was true, and I discovered that I have above average children, especially my daughter. For the time that I listened in from the other room, she giggled every minute, and often several times a minute. How much happiness I would miss if I were too busy!

When I first brought my little girl home, she did not want to be rocked to sleep or held when she was tired. She seemed to struggle and fight in my arms. But, the other day while I was praying, I heard the Lord telling me to rock her now.

I moved a chair into her room, and I am now able to do what I wanted to do for my sweet girl when she was tiny.

He gives back the years the locust have eaten in so many unexpected ways when we seek Him.

“When Jesus sent you to us
We loved you from the start
You were just a bit of sunshine
From heaven to our heart
Not just another baby
For since the world began
There’s been something very special
For you in His plan…”
– Bill and Gloria Gaither

As I hold her and sing, I pause to tell her again about the special dresses in the room:
the dress she wore when I first saw her, the dress she wore on our first mother’s day, and the dress she wore to court to finalize her adoption.
How many precious moment I would miss if I were too tired, too stressed, too busy!

Our little girl can be a handful and she needs me to be rested and ready, and with the Lord’s help, I will be. Like everyone else, I have 24 hours a day. I am going to be intentional with how I spend my time; because some things are too important to be too busy to miss.

Window to Contentment

If you’ve ever scared yourself silly in a dark hallway or basement with a run-away-imagination, then you can imagine how quickly I escaped the make-shift bamboo out-house built over a snake infested pit.Well, I never saw a snake, but in the dark of night in a remote Filipino village, all it took was a hint of a rumor of a snake for me to imagine movement in the hole beneath me.Oh, the wonder of our marvelous minds!

We see what we look for

We leisurely peruse the cut and paste sampling of Americana on the internet and begin to covet “the rich”.

Comparison is the killer of contentment.

How is it that we, the top 1% of the world’s wealthy, imagine ourselves “middle class”? If we zoom in on conveniently cropped lives, read their blogs and begin to feel like “have nots”, maybe we should snag that card-board toilet-paper view-finder from the waste-basket and take a look around.

extra…

toilet paper

cotton balls, Q-tips

even extra flosser-thing-a-ma-jigs

open a cabinet; I don’t even have to dig around to find wealth…

extra toothpaste
soap
medicine

glasses, contacts

We can Pinterest our if-only-I-was-rich-shopping-wish-list or view the same images and come away inspired with ideas to rearrange and creatively make the most of the things we already have to bless our family (or even come up with clever home-made gifts to give away… aaaah, gratitude with generosity).

We see what we want to see

—–

Up until the 50’s most American homes did not have complete plumbing with hot and cold water, a shower or tub, and a flush toilet, but I’m sure all those homes had curtains and a towel rack! I am deprived!

How ridiculous are the complaints of the discontent!

There was a time when my unfinished bathroom felt like a pit; yet when compared to the literal pits I used in the Philippines, my private-master-bath is anything but!

When discontentment was creeping up on me, I prayed. “Lord, I so want to hang a curtain in this bathroom. Would you help me? And, while You’re at it, could You give me a towel rack?”

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”
(and, inspiration for creativity!)

I love this window. If we ever finish this bathroom, I want to leave this “ladder / curtain-rod / towel-rack” as a symbol of divine help and creative inspiration at a moment of weakness when I was tempted to complain and nag my husband.

—–

Comparison kills contentment,
but it also can kill complaining…
it all depends on what you choose to compare.

According to the United Nations, in 2006 it was estimated that 2.6 billion people lack basic sanitation. — I am rich; all I lack is a grateful heart!

So, tonight when I wash my face and brush my teeth over the tub, I will walk over to this window, dry my face, smile, and thank the Lord for these comforts and the many luxuries He has provided!

CONTENTMENT:
as things are
right here, right now
with or without the curtain, with or without a sink,
with or without a job,
a husband, children, car, furniture, or whatever else we think we need/want…

wanting, enjoying, and being thankful for what we already have; yet not clutching and clinging on to anything with possessive and fearful greed

I want a mind that is preoccupied with gratitude for this moment and a heart that is so full of thankfulness that there is no room for jealousy or envy.

One Million Gifts?

I am thankful, and it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet!

#1 – music & how thankfulness slows me down to hear & listen – lingering in a store just a little longer after checking out to finish listening to the song that’s playing

#26 – my boys both curled up with pillow, blanket, & book… this warm wintry moment — one in Narnia, one in the Shire, and me… all here!

#135 – a phone call … and a realization that a burden has become a blessing – who would guess that what I dreaded would become a delight… not wanting to go back (or have back) the thing I “gave up” – wondering, why all the struggle & hesitation to let go? – finding freedom & blessing in the loss… discovering that holding on was yoking me to a burden from which God was freeing me … and all this revelation from one phone call.

This morning I logged #615

Who but God can truly count the gifts of God?

Some entries started as one thought and ending with mini-lists filling 2 and 3 journal pages

With 20+ lines on a page, and multiple “gifts” on a line, how many “gifts” are wrapped up in a number?

Someone’s name
I’m thankful for the blessing of their friendship,
and so many wonderful memories associated with the thought of them.

One moment
and the details that make that moment special.


a season,
a holiday,
a weekend,
a date,
a day dream,
a meal,
a surprise,
a place
… and a chain of presents tied to each gift.

Even the abstract blessings of
freedom,
peace,
hope,
grace,
faith

inspire line upon line of concrete blessings.

I ponder the math.
What number should I multiply to give an estimate count of His good gifts?

When I started this gratitude journal in January I thought I’d reach 1,000 within a few months, but with Thanksgiving only a few weeks away, I doubt I’ll have numbered 1,000 gifts by then.

“1,000” … what is a number?
Since this is a habit I intend to keep all my life,
how many volumes of journals will I have?

And what number will I reach when I write my last entry?

And how many gifts will have gone unwritten?

Only God knows…

Every heartbeat, every breath, every sunrise and sunset, …

If the average heart beat is 72 beats per minute…
72 x 60 mins x 24hrs x 365.25 days = 37,869,120 blessings every year

Gifts I’ve Been Given = ?

I have been most blessed by a most generous God.
I’ve earned none of it. I deserve none of it.

I am rich.