Thanksgiving

There’s nothing new in the title for this time of year I suppose but I was thinking, “what’s different about this Thanksgiving from those in the past?”  I’ve been reading some blogs from some of my friends and random people that I follow on twitter.  I think it is pretty common that most of us focus on what we are thankful for.  We are thankful for our health and the health of our family.  We’re thankful to have a job and a roof over our head.  We are thankful that our children have grown up to be successful and Godly men and women.  The list goes on and on: food, clothing, the ability to see, hear and speak, talents, etc.  If you have never struggled either physically or financially, it’s easy to take these things for granted. So, I suppose we should all be thankful that there is a Thanksgiving holiday to remind us to be thankful.  One of the first Thanksgiving celebration’s was held in 1621 when the colonist and the Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast.  But it took over 200 years for the Thanksgiving holiday to become an American event when during the Civil War President Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving to be held during November.  The traditions of having turkey and corn came from the harvest feast dating back to the 1600’s.  And reflecting on being thankful I believe is what Lincoln had in mind in trying to bring the Country together as one nation during a time of war.  But, this year I chose to focus on the later part of Thanksgiving and that is the “giving” part.  We tend to lose sight of that maybe because Christmas is just around the corner and that is what most American’s focus on during the Christmas season.  The giving of gifts symbolizes the gifts that were brought to Christ at his birth.  But at Thanksgiving I choose to take time to look for ways to give of myself so that someone else may have something to be thankful for.  Maybe there is a child in a hospital and their parents and doctors have little hope for their survival.  Can I volunteer to read a book to that child to bring a smile on their face?  Maybe there is a single mother who needs someone to repair a broken window so the cold air doesn’t come into the house.  Maybe there is a widow who is lonely and needs a visit from someone who cares.  This is giving and can be a great way to use the talents and blessings that you are so thankful for!  The price can be high.  It involves time.  Time away from your busy schedule to help someone else.  But it can be the best time you spend this year.  Think about it.  And spread a little thankfulness around this year!

Puzzled

Wow! Christmas is just around the corner. Can you believe it? It seems like it comes quicker every year. I love this time of year: the music, the lights, the food, and the excitement of the children. If you have children, grandchildren, or even great grandchildren you understand what I mean. My husband and I have a large crew of children and grandchildren so Christmas can be a little chaotic at times but it always ends up being lots of fun, and we have some great memory builders. Last year, the boys requested the latest and greatest that was on the market. They wanted “Pyscho Cycle” and “Snake Bite”. And you know when your kids or grand kids are small, the bigger the gift the better. Well, they were a hit but they were so big that the parents didn’t want them to open them until they got home because they would transport easier. Of course, that was a let down for them but because they got a few other gifts they played with some of the smaller things. This year my course of action is to once again try to get whatever their biggest desire is but to also get something that they can immediately play with and, something that they all can play together. So, the thought occurred to me that maybe I could get them a puzzle. But what kind? And what size should the pieces be? Should it be educational or just something fun? Oh, I’m getting so confused!

Dah, isn’t that what puzzled means: confused? When you are puzzled you feel confused, discombobulated, out of sorts, etc. My mother used to love to put puzzles together. The one’s that had lots of small pieces and many different colors and shapes. My sisters and I would sit for hours putting them together with her and we’d finally give up but she would be patient and figure it out. That was the key, “being patient”; and not letting the crazy thing get the best of you. She taught us that you look at the outside first and put the outside together before you can begin to really see the inside. And that it’s what’s on the inside that brings it all together. I can remember one year after my mother had her stroke, I was taking my daughter and her only son at the time to see my mom in the nursing home. He was about three years old. We were on the plane making our decent and he was looking out of the window when he turned to me and said, “Who made the puzzles?” I said, “God made the puzzles.” He had been looking out of the plane and was seeing the grids of the terrain below and it looked like a puzzle to him. Fortunately, it was all put together!!! Sometimes our lives are like puzzles. We become confused, out of sorts, worried. And, this manifests itself in our outward appearance. But if we will rely on God he will put us back together to become a thing of beauty. It’s not about what’s on the outside. But, what’s on the inside that matters.

I Corinthians 14:33 says, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace . . .” May God bring you peace this Christmas season and take your confusion away. You are a thing of beauty to him and he knows every piece of your being. If you are worried, rely on him to take your worries and confusion away. May you be patient as he puts your puzzle back together!

The Joy of Painting

As a young teenager I used to love to sketch. I think maybe it was my refuge. I would find something that I found interesting and would copy it. I used to love to draw Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters. I even once entered a drawing contest where you copied the “Leprechaun” and sent in your drawing for a chance to win a scholarship to an art school. Several weeks later I received a phone call that I had won the contest but that they needed to speak to one of my parents. My dad declined the offer and told me afterward that it was just a scam and that they were just trying to get us to pay them money. I was devastated. I had just received the news that I was good at drawing. Good enough to win a contest and maybe receive a scholarship, only to have my bubble burst because it was a scam. So there went my dream of becoming a famous artist one day. I did however, take art in my first year of senior high school. In the beginning the lessons focused primarily on sketching and drawing, and gradually led into painting. I had lots of fun with the sketching but when it came to painting I just couldn’t quite get the technique down. Maybe it’s because we spent more time on sketching and less time on painting. I don’t know or maybe just don’t remember. But I do know that it was a dream of mine at one time. One Christmas (probably not long after my devastation moment when I was told this was a scam) I got a “paint by number” water color set from my mom and dad. I was so excited! I couldn’t wait to open it up and create my masterpiece. So I began painting following the simple instructions of painting the colors associated with the numbers on the drawings. Now with watercolors the paint can come out a little lighter than what an acrylic or oil paint does on a canvas. Nonetheless I was painting. After I was finished, I left the painting to dry. Oh the joy I had when I finally gazed on my work of art and only saw a few lines peaking through the water colors.

So here I am in present day; sitting around a table with 6 other women with easels and pallets in front of us waiting for our art lesson. I was astonished to see that there were no sketches on the canvas that set all alone on the easel that I was staring at in front of me. The news was that we were going to be painting snow men. But I also thought that the instructor would have given us an outline at least to which to start from (an maybe some numbers). I could feel panic rising up in me as the sweat beads formed on my brow. What was I thinking? Then, my inner self spoke to me, “Oh come on. How difficult can this be?” Four long hours later I had my masterpiece in front of me! One which could be proudly displayed in the classroom, had I been in second grade! I had to laugh at myself because I was comparing my painting to those around me when I should have just been satisfied with the moment and what I had just accomplished.

Some of us are masters when it comes to painting while some of us are better at other things. My snowmen came alive and became my masterpiece because of the work of my hand pushing that paint brush around the canvas and mixing the colors at various times. But there is one that brought ME to life through the work of his hands. My father, the master potter . . .

Isaiah 64:8 – But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

Be thankful for who you are and all of the masterpieces that you create every day!!!

Why wait?

I don’t know about you, but in our family when we make big purchases my husband and I talk about it and agree on it before we actually “pull the trigger” and buy it. What constitutes a big purchase for us may be different for you, but you get the point. My husband loves the hunt. I despise it. I never was good at comparison shopping and I think it’s because it takes too long. When I want something. I want it now. My husband will say, “It’s not the first good deal that has come along, and it won’t be the last.” Over the years I’ve come to realize he is right on that point. I still don’t enjoy it though. Let’s take the last major purchase we made. I needed a car. The one I was driving had 280,000 miles on it, wasn’t in the best condition cosmetically and the air wasn’t working properly. Now you know a woman going through menopause can not be driving a car on a hot summer day without air conditioning. You women know what I’m talking about. And, men . . . it would be best for you too if you did not let that happen. You too will suffer, trust me. So, we had the task of “shopping” for a car. I had two things in mind — I wanted a certain make and model; and I wanted something with low mileage. After some discussion my husband agreed he would do the shopping for us. I’m telling you the truth. He actually wanted to shop for this car. I had no involvement until it was time to decide on the color I wanted; and when it was time to go pick up the car. I must admit that I was getting a little impatient throughout the 2 weeks it took for him to work his magic and wheel and deal with the dealerships, but it paid off. In the end I was driving the nicest car I had ever driven, and at a reasonable price. So I had to wait. Was it so bad? I finally learned something in the process of waiting . . . my husband was really good at this stuff and he liked it!!!

We are like that with God sometimes, wouldn’t you say? We ask him for something, but we want it now. We don’t want to go through the process of waiting. Psalms 27:14 says, “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, unto the Lord.” Maybe God has something to show us while we are waiting for him to answer that prayer. It may not even relate to what we have asked him for. But, the Bible tells us that whatever the lesson God has for us, He will strengthen us in the process.

Let Your Light Shine

I love where I live. I am close to the city where there are all the conveniences that you can imagine, yet my house sits in the woods and overlooks a small lake. God’s creatures awaken me with their laughter as they play and hunt for food. The rain drops on the water form circles of unending reflections of their beginnings. And the city sounds are nowhere to be heard. In the evening the only light that can be seen are from the few homes that can be seen across the lake but only as they reflect on the water. We had some guests at our home not too long ago and it was a great time of fellowship. But the evening soon came to an end and our guests had to leave. Because of the darkness I led each guest to their car by use of a flashlight so that they would not stumble from the lack of light. It was a bit of a struggle for our first guest to arrive safely at their car as the battery in the flashlight was going dead. Only the shaking of the flashlight kept the light on at times as it slowly began to grow dim. So for the next guest I grabbed another flash light, tested it for brightness and off we went. The trip was much easier and no one stumbled even once because of the brightness of the light. Proverbs 4:18 says “But the path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Today I pray that my light shines more and more. I ask God to keep my battery charged so that I continue to shine more and more each day. May this also be your prayer. Won’t you let your light shine?