Thanksgiving: A Journey to Joy

Thanksgiving: A Countdown to Joy - Day 2 | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

It’s Thanksgiving Eve
And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even a –

Wait! That doesn’t quite work for the night before Thanksgiving, now does it?

On the night before Thanksgiving, there’s plenty a stirring going on! There’s stirring of dust as you’re frantically cleaning. There’s stirring of batter, pumpkin purée, sauces and all sorts of yummy creations for the Thanksgiving feast. There’s stirring of refrigerator space as you’re struggling to make room for just one more casserole, and there’s even a bit of stirring of your sanity as you ask yourself why you keep doing all this work every year!

Is it worth it?

I don’t know. I don’t do it! Hahahahaha!

I’m sorry. (Hehehe!) That was wrong. (Hehe!)

But the meme floating around out there is absolutely true. My family has accepted my lack of culinary skills; therefore, my contributions to Thanksgiving dinner are the rolls and the drinks. Oh, and the green bean casserole because that requires no skill whatsoever!

Don’t worry, though, my lack of contributions on the front end is fully compensated by my active participation in the aftermath. Isn’t that how it should be?

After all of these blessings:

1. A mother who lovingly prepares Thanksgiving dinner for her children and grandchildren, even if she isn’t feeling well, even when the kitchen is too hot from all the cooking, even when she’s been hinting that one of her children with more space ought to offer to host Thanksgiving next year (She has six kids. There’s no way she could be talking about me! 😉 )

2. Mom’s homemade dressing

3. and squash casserole

4. and sweet potato casserole

5. and pumpkin pie (I should probably move on from the menu items, shouldn’t I?)

6. A father who lovingly helps rearrange the furniture to accommodate “the gathering”, who always reminds his family to be thankful and who always points us to the One who is the Giver of our blessings

How could I not jump in and help with the dishes, put away leftovers and straighten up the kitchen to show my gratitude?

Yep. Thanksgiving is more than simply giving our thanks to God for the blessings He bestows. It’s also showing our gratitude to family, friends, co-workers and even strangers who bless us along our journey to Joy.

“And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Remember to show your gratitude to those around you. The joy it brings to your soul is incomparable!

Less Than

You put yourself out there; you laid it all down

But your heart, defenseless, was left on the ground.

Now you’ve resigned to believe what’s untrue –

That you aren’t enough to have someone love you.



You’ve attempted and failed – the times you can’t count.

You’ve heard “no”, been rejected. Now you have doubts

That it’s even worth all the heartache and pain

To reach for a dream you will never attain.



You’ve accepted your fate; you’ve given up hope

But before you reach the end of your rope,

Let me offer this truth you must understand:

Never let anyone make you feel less than -



Less than enough to walk by their side,

Less than enough to bring joy to this life,

Less than enough to be loved and accepted,

Less than enough to feel warm and protected.



You are a force with which no one can reckon!

Your presence is purposed; so forget imperfections.

Don’t listen to insults and shade cast your way.

Haters speak loudest when they are afraid -



Afraid of what might shine a light on their flaws

And expose their dark secrets in closets of halls

That display their accolades, trophies and bling -

Meaningless trinkets, all temporary things.



Look. Life will make you feel lost and alone.

Betrayal and heartache will call your soul home

And those you hold dearest may all disappear

But you’ll be okay and this is why, my dear:



You are not less than; you are more than enough

To rebound, to stand, to fight back, to be tough,

To shake dust from your shoes and shine like a star -

You’re enough!

You are more than!

Yes, that’s what you are!

A Letter to Humanity: Confession

I saw you the other day standing alone under a bridge.  You were watching the cars zoom past you while you were having a conversation with yourself.  No one waved to you.  No one stopped to see if you were okay – no one, including me.

I watched you at the street corner as I sat at a traffic light.  You were a new face at this busy intersection.  The sign you were holding read, “Hungry disabled veteran.”  I had three boxes full of leftovers from my birthday dinner.  I did not offer anything.

I passed you in the school parking lot yesterday morning.  Our children played together at a local play area last week, yet you walked right past me as if you did not recognize me.  You did not say, “Hello.”  You did not even acknowledge my presence.  But, I did not speak to you, either.

You were struggling with your baby and all her baby things.  As you were leaving the restaurant, I heard something hit the ground.  I turned to see a baby bottle lying beside my seat.  The gentleman at the next table offered help while I continued my lunch conversation.

I wonder how many times I have passed you by without a glance, without a thought.  How many times have you crossed my path without my recognition?  How many times have I accused you of self-centeredness when I was the one who neglected to reach out to you?  Can I count the times?  Can you?

Have I become so selfish that I no longer recognize your face?  Am I so blind that I no longer see your need and so deaf that I no longer hear your cries?  Yes!  I am engrossed in my own desires, my own life and my own world to such a degree that I see nothing but what is mine.  And still I wonder where you are when I am in need.  Surely, you are thoughtful enough to remember me!

I was not intended to live life this way; I was not meant to close my eyes to the world around me, to live in seclusion and to seek my own satisfaction no matter the cost to others.  I was created to share, to fellowship, to touch, to help, to heal, to love.  Still, when I saw you hungry and thirsty, I did not feed you.  When I saw you homeless and shivering, I did not shelter you.  When I saw you sick and in prison, I did not help you.  Very little effort was required – a smile, a wave, a hug, a word – but I could not be bothered.  I failed you and I failed the One who sent me to you.

I saw you standing along the roadside.  You were having a conversation but this time, you were not alone.  A man was holding your hands in his as he said a prayer for you….

That should have been me.

What If

I wonder how our world would look if we all believed the best in each other.

What if we looked past the rough edges and saw the potential waiting to burst forth.

What if we embraced the awkwardness and peculiarities and allowed them to broaden our horizons and enlighten our perceptions.

What if we ignored the drama and discovered an infectious spirit of energy and attraction.

What if we overlooked the gruff and callous demeanor and the offensive words and actions and focused on the hurting soul in need of love.

What if we forgave the faults we see in others, the same faults we long for others to forgive in us, and see each other as imperfect brothers and sisters doing our best in an imperfect world.

What if we stopped discarding people and embraced each other as a masterpiece of the the Great Creator, a child of God worthy to be loved, pursued, forgiven and accepted.

What if…

Reason to SMILE #194: IMPERFECTIONS

Not perfect?

Well, you’re in good company because none of us are!

The good thing is God loves us anyway.

So give yourself a break today and go ahead and SMILE.


The Other Serenity Prayer

By Eleanor Brown

God, grand me the serenity to stop beating myself up for not doing things perfectly,
the courage to forgive myself because I am working on doing better, and the wisdom to know that you already love me just the way I am.

Reason to SMILE #185 – The Good Fight

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“Our cruel and unrelenting Enemy leaves us no choice but a brave resistance, or the most abject submission; this is all we can expect – We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die: Our own Country’s Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions – The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the Tyranny meditated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and shew the whole world, that a Freeman contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.”

– George Washington

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“Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.”

– John Adams

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“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”

– Thomas Paine

“A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.”

– Samuel Adams

Some things are worth the fight.

I’m thankful for all those who have gone before me that believed this to be true. I’m equally as grateful that many more are still continuing the Good Fight today!

The Wait

Their Lord was dead. Crucified.

Their promised King entombed.

He was the One, or so they thought,

While in the upper room.

 

Questions swirled within their minds.

Were we all mistaken?

Did He not say He’d save us all,

That we’d not be forsaken?

 

We felt His pow’r as He spoke.

We saw each miracle.

Because of Him, our hearts believed

All things were possible.

 

But here we are – abandoned,

Confused, afraid and grieved.

Oh, God! Oh, God! Be with us now!

This is our time of need.

 

Their Lord was dead. Still, they prayed.

They prayed for three long days.

Then Sunday morn, their answer came –

Their Lord had conquered the grave!

 

Before there eyes, Jesus stood.

His victory proclaimed

What seemed an end to all their hopes

Was just a little wait!

 

Do you feel like you’ve reached the end? Like there’s no more hope? Or that nothing good can come of your current situation? I’m certain that’s how Jesus’ disciples felt when the stone was rolled in front of the tomb where their Lord’s body lay. I’m sure they believed their dreams were crushed, that the promises of a new life, a new kingdom, would never be fulfilled. I’m sure they believed it was the end.

Oh, but it wasn’t the end, now was it? The disciples were only in a time of waiting – waiting for the work of redemption to be accomplished, waiting for the building of God’s Kingdom to begin.

We tend to think like the disciples. We know the promises of God but when things get rough and our circumstances don’t seem to be lining up as we think they should, we begin to question God’s promises.  We begin to doubt our faith.  We believe it’s all over for us. We give up.

DON’T GIVE UP! IT’S NOT OVER! God isn’t finished and He will keep His promises. Sometimes, we simply have to wait.

Your time of waiting may be three days or it may be three years. Whatever the length, just know that God’s timing is perfect. And while you wait, keep trusting. Keeping hoping. Keep praying.

Remember, what seems an end to all your hopes is just a little wait!

Happiness in Uncertainty

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“I know one thing for sure,” my husband declared as he walked through our bedroom door with a tall glass of sweet tea in his hand. The statement came out of nowhere but was made as if the two of us had finished a long debate on some deep subject about which neither of us were able to come to any conclusion and the only way to end such a debate was to state a matter of certainty. It’s highly possible, though, that my husband had debated the matter all in his head prior to entering our room and felt the need to sum it up for me with his enlightened statement of truth.

No matter, I was curious and eagerly inquired of his certainty. “What’s that?” I asked.

He paused for a brief moment at the foot of our bed as if searching for the perfect words to express his great truth. Finally he replied, “Give me a minute. I’m trying to remember what I was going to tell you.” Then he lifted his glass and took a long drink of sweet tea as I laughed at his forgetfulness.

And I did laugh – not because I was mocking him (well, maybe just a little – okay! A lot!) but because that brief conversation with my husband pretty much sums up my life. When I think I have it all figured out, life always takes a surprising turn and everything I thought I knew for certain gets thrown out the window. I find myself stumped and perplexed around every bend and when called upon to take action or make a decision or simply respond, I hear myself saying, “Uhm. Give me a minute.”

Ah, but maybe that’s the certainty: Life is uncertain. And maybe that’s what makes life worth living. If I had all the answers, if I knew every situation I would face, what kind of life would that be? Sure, if I knew what problems await me tomorrow, I could take steps to avoid them. But what if by avoiding a problem, I miss a valuable lesson that could help me in the future or make me a better me? And wouldn’t knowing all the good that was coming my way take some of the joy out of the blessing?

I don’t know.

I do know that in my moments of uncertainty, I can always look to the One who knows it all. He holds my every moment in His hands and He is working them all for my good. That doesn’t mean I won’t face any problems or that I won’t have those times when all I want to do is run and hide because I don’t have any answers and can’t seem to figure anything out. But it does mean that I don’t have to face any of my moments of uncertainty alone.

Yes, yes, life is uncertain. But there is one thing I know for sure…

You’ll have to give me a minute, though. I’m trying to remember what it is. 😉

Because We All Need It

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Don’t let today pass you by.
Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.
Send a text, an email, a tweet, a shoutout on Facebook.
Give a hug, a fist bump or a pat on the back.
Say a kind word; give a compliment; share a laugh!
Or simply share a smile.
I say it over and over but it is often the smallest actions that make the biggest impact in our lives.
Who will you encourage TODAY?

Reason to SMILE #19: MUSIC

When you're sad and feeling blue,
 When life just gets you down,
 Turn on a song to cheer you up
 And wipe away your frown.
  
 When you're glad and filled with joy,
 When laughter is your friend,
 Crank up the beat to find your groove
 Then dance and jump and spin.
  
 A song can feed your sorrows
 If that's what you desire.
 A song can spark your anger when
 The situation's dire.
  
 Or a song can give you strength
 If that is what you need.
 A song can boost athletic pride
 And spirit for your team.
  
 Music is so powerful
 It must be used with care
 For it can grow the seeds of love
 You never knew were there!
  
 The weary soul is lifted;
 The broken heart is soothed;
 The sinner's even brought to faith
 By hearing the right tunes.
  
 So, if you are discouraged
 And drowning in despair
 Pop in your fav'rite song and sing
 Like you don't give a care!!
  
 Thank God for MUSIC!