Thanksgiving: A Journey to Joy

Thanksgiving: A Countdown to Joy - Day 2 |

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!


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


“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. 😉

Reason to SMILE #344 – Christmas Edition: The LIGHTS

There’s a house on my drive home from work that is decked with a huge display of Christmas lights. Glowing holiday characters and flashing trees fill the yard. And if you tune into a particular radio frequency, you can even hear Christmas music playing along with the blinking lights. This house is a bright and cheery beacon of Christmas spirit on an otherwise dark and quiet stretch of road.

The lights of Christmas are beautiful and whether it’s a simple string of white bulbs draped over the azalea bushes or a grandiose exhibit of colorful luminaries dancing wildly to Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Carol of the Bells”, you cannot deny the cheer these lights bring to a dark and dreary world. And for the few brief moments we are enjoying their brilliant display along a neighborhood street or basking in their soft glow around the family Christmas tree, we find a sense of comfort, peace and joy. We forget our worries and we find a SMILE.

Then we drive down the road or unplug the tree lights and the darkness surrounds us once again, stealing away our security and contentment.

Oh, but the respite we find while enjoying the lights of Christmas does not have to end when their gleam can no longer be seen. The darkness does not have to overrun our lives. For there is a Light that brings unwavering joy and everlasting peace. This Light reaches the darkest crevices of our lives, drives out the shadows of our hopelessness and despair and brings hope to a weary world, to a weary soul, to a weary you and to a weary me.

This True Light of Christmas is Jesus. He is the reason for our celebration, the reason for our joy. He is the reason we can SMILE in the midst of our darkest nights.

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
    and increased their joy;

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:2-3a, 6 (NIV)

A tiny baby born in Bethlehem pierced the darkness of a dying world more than two thousand years ago. Though the shadow of death followed Him, the Light of the Son of God could not be extinguished, even on the cross.

That Light still shines brightly for all to see today. Though the shadows of darkness threaten to overtake us, we’ve no need to fear. The True Light of Christmas has conquered the darkness so you and I can have life – a life filled with hope, a life filled with peace, a life filled with joy!

Supernatural Peace

Peace – oh, how we take it for granted! But when we do not have it, oh, how we realize it’s great worth!

The kicker is we don’t have to live without peace in our lives. That’s right. We don’t have to live in turmoil or in fear. Peace is readily available. No, it’s not a life without pain or troubles, not a world without war or strife but an inexplicable calm in the midst of our troubling circumstances, a steadiness that holds us when our fears overwhelm. This peace comes only from the Lord.

In John 14:27, Jesus says,

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

There it is, folks! The Lord has already given it to us. So, why are we shaken when bad news comes our way? Why do we worry when our bank accounts are drained and our livelihoods are taken from us? Why are we consumed with anger and hatred when the world turns its back?

Maybe, the problem is our focus.

Take a look at Peter. I know you’ve read the story. I know you’ve heard sermon after sermon and already know the illustration I’m about to give. But the Word of God is an eternal fountain of knowledge and truth (Proverbs 2:6, Psalm 119:130; John 17:17; Matthew 24:35). His Word provides light and understanding each time it is read so, this well-known story of Peter walking on the water to Jesus may just be worth another look.

In Matthew 14, the Bible tells us of a time when the disciples were in the midst of a lake fishing. The weather took a turn for the worse and the waves began to grow higher and higher. Suddenly, the disciples saw a figure walking on the water toward them. Someone piped up, “It’s a ghost!” And, of course, that had to be true so fear overtook the disciples. We know, however, that it wasn’t a ghost; it was Jesus coming to the disciples’ rescue. Knowing their fears, Jesus cried out,

“Don’t be afraid. It is I.”

Well, good ol’ Peter challenged, “If it is you, Lord, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus beckoned and Peter jumped out of the boat and began walking on the water toward Him. Everything was fine and dandy as long as Peter kept his eyes on his Rescuer. But the waves were crashing in on him and he just had to turn his head. As soon as he did, Peter began to sink.

The story continues with Jesus pointing out Peter’s lack of faith, pulling him out of the water and returning him to the boat. In the end, Jesus stepped into the boat, the storm subsided and the disciples once again smacked their foreheads and said, “Wow! This really is God’s Son.” (Oh, how we are so much like Jesus’ disciples! No matter how many times Jesus reveals His sovereignty, love and faithfulness, we are surprised at each revelation as if we doubted His promises were ever true. But that is a subject for another time…)

Peace – it’s all about our focus. Peter was fine when he kept his eyes on Jesus. The waves were still crashing in around him. The storm was still brewing but Peter remained steady. The problem arose when his focus was diverted. Peter forfeited his peace when he turned his attention toward his circumstances. How often we do the same. We survey our situation and conclude there is no hope. We surrender to the fear, to the helplessness, to the unknowing and we begin to sink. In fact, we begin to drown. Fortunately, our Rescuer knows our weakness and reaches out His hand to save us.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:7

Peace – Supernatural Peace – that surpasses all of our understanding and transcends any circumstances can be yours. Your situation may remain the same, the problems may still exist but your life can be filled with peace if you’ll turn your focus from the waves crashing around you and fix your eyes on the only One who can steady your heart and mind.

In a song of praise to God found in Isaiah 26:3, we find the words,

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”

These words remind me of another song I sang as a child that says,

“I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart,

Down in my heart,

Down in my heart.

I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart,

Down in my heart to stay.” ¹

Don’t you want that lasting peace?

Take your eyes off the storm and focus on Jesus.

¹Lyrics by George W. Cooke

Look Up!

Have you ever been to the dentist? What a traumatic experience it can be! You’re lying back in the dentist’s chair with mouth open wide. You have no where to go. You can’t speak and your discomfort is certainly not being eased by the dentist’s off-key rendition of Broadway show tunes. You could close your eyes and imagine a gentle brook babbling in the midst of a lush green field but the thought of sharp metallic instruments prodding your teeth and gums encourages an alertness like you’ve never experienced. You have nothing to do but look up.

There are many times in life when we find ourselves in the dentist’s chair – vulnerable and helpless while being prodded by the antics of the world. We search for escape but the realities of the situation seem to hold us hostage with no where to go and no where to look … but up. 

What better direction to look! 

Look up to the One who already knows our troubles and needs.

Look up to the One who can give us comfort and relieve our pain in times of distress. 

Look up to the One who holds tomorrow and all of life in the palm of His hand. He is our answer. He is our help.

So when you find yourself in the dentist’s chair of life, 

Don’t stress.


Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Psalm 33:20 – We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.

Psalm 46:1 – God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

John 16:33 – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – Jesus

The Case Against Worry

The Case Against Worry - Why there just isn’t need for it |
There is no where I go that God is not there. In my home, at my job, on the streets, in my car – He is there. No matter my situation, He is there. When I am enjoying life’s mountaintop, my God is there. When I am grieving in life’s valley, He is there. When I choose to walk away, He is there. I cannot outrun Him. I cannot hide from Him. I am never and will never be alone.

He knows my thoughts. He knows my words even before I speak. He knows my dreams. He knows my fears. He knows my prayers before I pray. He made me. He carefully and skillfully crafted together all that makes me, me. He knows me better than I know myself. I cannot fool God.

I am wonderfully made by the Master of all Creation. I am His masterpiece! I am constantly in the thoughts of the Lord of all the Universe. I am His treasured love! I am held by the hands of the Mighty Protector and Defender. I am His precious child!

I have no need to worry!

Psalm 139:1-18

When I Trust Him

When I Trust Him - If you’re ready for your life to change, you have to change where you place your trust. |

When I trust Him,

My steps become a little lighter;

My breathing becomes a bit easier;

My thinking becomes a bit clearer.


When I trust Him,

I can let go of my burdens;

I can find peace in the midst of my storms;

I can meet uncertainty with courage.


When I trust Him,

I learn to face my fears with boldness;

I learn to rely on His strength to sustain me;

I learn to believe in the impossible.


When I trust Him,

I don’t have to live in shame;

I don’t have to be bound by my failures and regrets;

I don’t have to be constrained by the expectations of others.


When I trust Him,

I begin to love myself;

I begin to see beauty in my weaknesses;

I begin to find acceptance and self-worth.


When I trust Him,

I know that I am never alone;

I know that I always have someone to depend on;

I know that I always have arms to run to for shelter, rest, comfort, encouragement.


When I trust Him,

My sins are forgiven;

My hope is restored;

My life is forever changed.


When I trust Him…


Yes, I trust Him…


Lord, give me strength to trust you…


I don’t want to be the same.