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Instant bad mood. I search around for my screaming phone on the floor under my bed. The damn alarm clock continues to scream at the top of its lungs. Slowly gaining control of my sleeping body, I step out of bed, pick up my phone and turn off the alarm. The pain of waking up. In heaven, I will roll over and enjoy the waking up process just as much as snuggling into bed and drifting off to sleep. (That is if we sleep in heaven.)
My world runs about me in fast forward. Honking impatiently at the slow moving car, spending what we don’t have for the newest item that hits the shelves, driving around our children to some place other than home. Why do I join the insanity of the crowd? I do believe in busying oneself with hard work, but that is not what is happening here. We are all consumed with what does not matter.
Now. What we want is now. The admiring stares of those we don’t know. Now. The praise of what drives us around. Now. Winners of the race. Packed pantries to overflowing. Fashonable jewelry on our bodies and extra in the closet. Fancy modern restaurants. Everything that our neighbors have. Our neighbors that we want to be like, not the ones outside of our neighborhood.
But all we think about is now and we laugh at anyone that suggests otherwise.
Ted Turner is famous for a lot of things, one of them is stating what is on his mind. Hey, I can respect that. He likes to chose his words so that other people listen. He doesn’t just fit into the crowd. I respect that also. But I wish that someone would tell him, and a whole lot of the rest of the world, that they are on the wrong train. When Turner quoted, “I’d rather go to hell. Heaven has got to be boring.” I wish someone would have asked him, “What do you want most in life?”….”It will be in heaven.”
Heaven is better than being a billionaire. There is money to spare, Hey, let’s pave these streets with gold. Heaven is better than pornography! THERE WILL BE PERFECT BODIES WALKING AROUND NAKED! And it will be a good thing! No one will be embarrassed! (There will be no sin in heaven. Pornography is a destructive, cruel sin. The point is, naked bodies will be good….and everywhere.) Heaven is better than Hawaii. All the food will be paid in full! Heaven is better than Christmas! That baby Jesus, he will be with us! It doesn’t sound boring to me!
And what will not be in heaven? Babies without mommies. Wheelchairs won’t be needed in heaven, or medicine, or hospitals. There will not be divorce, no one’s heart will be broken. What have you been through? What hurts? What tugs at your heart and makes you cry out, “That is not right!” God will end it. He will make all the wrongs undone and he will wipe away that tear.
“Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we want is coming.” Tim Keller.
So, look at this world. Read the Bible. Take a look at what is good in this world. LORD, FIX MY PRIORITIES! SET MY MIND ON THINGS ETERNAL! Get ready. It is going to be the best party of all of eternity. Don’t throw away your invitation.
The plans are made, there is no stopping it now. Christmas has arrived, like the Polar Express, it is speeding into town.
There will be a Christmas performance tomorrow night. Keep your eyes on the cute little blonde. She’s been practicing her lines and counting down the days.
Presents are already wrapped and under the tree. There is a secret message to mark the favorite present for our girl. Clues are written on the tags that don’t give anything away. Shake shake anticipate.
My brother is coming to town. He is bringing his girl. Just a little part of my family makes a crowd of 16 that will be pouring into our house and out voicing the Christmas music and fighting for a space in front of the fire. The meal is planned and a Christmas craft will make for keepsakes of a fun Christmas night.
Here in the south, it is a special occasion to have a temporary ice rink. We have already visited once. My girl is a natural. We will be back this weekend and then back some more. We’re going to break the bank, but as many times as we go, it still won’t be enough.
Tucker cooperates with his Christmas sweater. He has decided it is warm and comfy. He knows the presents under the tree that are his. He waddles (yes, he is a dog that waddles) over before bedtime to give it a last sniff. Visions of doggie treats dance in his head.
It’s Jesus’s birthday! The biggest party of the year. We sing, we give, we party, we skate, we dream. Gather round and join in the merriment of the Christmas bop. Merry Merry Christmas to you and your’s.
“Hangry.” New words have to be invented to explain the feeling of hunger. Ever worked in the food business? You will see people at their worst: hungry. Due to Addison’s Disease, my body is extra sensitive. It is better for me to stay on top of a healthy day, instead of trying to fix it after I have messed up. Example: If I wait to long to eat, or don’t eat the right stuff, my blood sugar will drop and I get this feeling: Hungry. Hangry. Craving. Intensity. Meanness. Stay out of my way. There is one thing my body needs and only one thing will satisfy. Food.
However, I’ve never been starving. Even in our newlywed poorness, I never worried that I wouldn’t have food to eat. With the price of food in America skyrocketing, I still have never thought, “Today, we can’t buy milk.” I have only heard and read about people that die of starvation. One book stands out in my education of the poor, “Kisses From Katie,” the story of a young girl that travels to Uganda and lives among hungry people. I mean starving people. I mean people that do lie down and die because they do not have enough to eat. I have never known that. I have never gone an entire day without food, absolutely never gone two days without eating, and I have no idea what it would be like to go a week with no food. It passes hungry. It is beyond blood sugar dropping. It is an intensity I’ve only read about.
Despite the physical, my soul has been in that state. Daily, hourly, my soul is hungry and my loving father feeds me: I have the security of waking in a warm bed. I know the joy of a seven year old playing with her beloved stuffies. Almost daily, I have time to sit and enjoy a back rub from my husband. I do not lack the love of family. Be that as it may, I have seen the other side. I have been starving in my soul. I have cried out when only one thing can fill my craving.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.” John 6:35
He wasn’t talking about sourdough or whole wheat. He wasn’t talking about turkey and broccoli and corn. There is something deeper. There is a starving when more than our bodies are in need. It is the spiritual, the eternal, it is our souls. Our souls that long for how things are supposed to be. Our souls that ache for the perfection they were designed for. Our souls that are so sick and tired of all the hurt and sin in this screwed up world.
I have been there. There have been times in my life when I had a home, I had a fridge full of food, I had a family that loved me, and it wasn’t enough. There was something deeper. There was a point when I realized I wasn’t in control, a point when I realized there was more to life, a point when I discovered who held the key to my achy heart: Jesus. And he called me to his table and I saw the feast that was set before me and I tasted and it was so delicious and he satisfied my soul like nothing else could.
Messing up is the name of my game. Idealist at heart, I see my mistakes as I am making them and then I have a hard time letting them go. I say “no” to visiting with a friend when I should say “yes,” I am not patient with my daughter when I am the one running late, I am selfish instead of serving my husband. Again and again, I chose me instead of looking around and being so overwhelmed with thanksgiving with having every single desire that I have ever wished upon met in my here and now. I am living the dream. As a little girl, when I sat with my chin resting on my palm, staring out the window and thinking what I wanted in my wildest dreams, it is this! It is my husband and my daughter and this life that I live. I am ashamed that so many days, I stress about cleaning my home instead of playing “Littlest PetShop” with Madison, I am ashamed that I snap at my husband. But not today.
Today, I look at them and I will spend my whole entire day thanking God for them! Today, I will squeeze Madison tight and kiss her cheek over and over until she wiggles free to go play with her cousins. Today, I will just sit on the couch with James’s arm around me. Today, I am immensely thankful for my almost 8,000 new friends that I am sharing life with through Beautiful Life with Cancer. Today, I am thankful for my in-laws that I miss that I can’t be with today. Today I will join hands with my humongous extended family as we pray and thank our Savior for living a life of suffering and dying a tortured death so that I can live my life of blessing and partake in the hope and joy of a future in heaven, today I will feast and I will be thankful. Today, I give thanks.
This is the third and last post in a Thanksgiving series. I do not often quote other writers on this site but the facts in this post are taken from “Thanksgiving, A Time to Remember” by Barbara Rainey.
“By October 1621 the corn planted that spring was ready for harvest. The fields yielded a large crop that would keep the colony from starvation in the coming winter. Their hearts were full of gratitude for their renewed health, for the abundant harvest, and for the peace they enjoyed with the Indians.
William Bradford, who at thirty three years of age had been elected leader of the colony after the death of John Carver that summer, was thankful for the harvest. As the new governor, he declared that Plymouth should hold a thanksgiving festival and invite the settlement’s Indian friends as special guests. A date was set, and an invitation delivered to Chief Massasoit.
When Massasoit arrived with ninety hungry braves, the Pilgrims became worried. How could they feed that many people? And if they used too much of their precious stockpiled corn, would they have adequate food supply to survive the winter?
When Massasoit and his men arrived at Plymouth, they too went to the woods and seashore to gather food. The Pilgrims breathed a sigh of relief and began preparing the meal.
When it was time to eat, the menu was impressive: venison, goose, lobster, eel, oysters, clam chowder, parsnips, turnips, cucumbers, onions, carrots, cabbage, beets, radishes, and dried fruit that included gooseberries, strawberries, cherries, plums, and ashcakes, and popcorn (provided by the Indians.)
The feasting continued over a three-day period, during which both Indians and Pilgrims participated in games and exhibitions of shooting skill with bows and arrows and guns. The Pilgrim boys joined the races and wrestling matches of the Indians, and in turn the Indians learned how to play stoolball – a game resembling croquet.”
The Pilgrims lost 50% of those that had traveled over on the Mayflower with them. Imagine! Just think of journeying to a new land and half of your group dies!
BUT! God was not through with them yet! They absolutely could not know what America would grow to be! They could not know what they were starting: the amazing nation, the United States of America! But God had brought them to this new land. And after such a harsh winter, it was spring again. They had learned to farm. They had made friends with the Indians. They were going to survive. I don’t know about you, but when we get in a circle at Thanksgiving time and share what we are thankful for, I have never said, “I am going to survive. Thank God.” Well, that was their thanks! They looked at the remaining children, their remaining family, and said, “We have hope. We have God. Look what he has done. It looks like our dream of this new country is going to come true after all. Let’s give thanks.” So, a week early, I say to all my friends in the United States of America, and to all my friends around the world, “Let’s give thanks for what God has done.” HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
You would not think that the people that began our Thanksgiving tradition still had such hardships fresh in their minds. Hardships that I can not begin to imagine. This is the second post in a Thanksgiving series. The facts are taken from “Thanksgiving, A Time to Remember” by Barbara Rainey.
“Perhaps the Pilgrims had felt that the worst was over when they finally set foot on solid ground again. But their relief was only momentary. As the weeks went by, the weather grew worse. In the coldest stretch of winter, a disease made much of the community desperately ill. The Pilgrims began to die in alarming numbers. Near the end of March, with the weather improving and the worst of the influenza outbreak over, the surviving Pilgrims assessed their winter losses. Several entire families had perished in the epidemic; fifteen of nineteen women were dead; in only four couples had both spouses survived. The children had fared the best. Of ten girls, nine survived, and only eight of the twenty-three boys died. Nearly half of those who had arrived on the Mayflower now lay in the shallow graves dug on a windswept hill beside the sea.”
These are the men and women that established our country. These tragedies struck the very land that we inhabit today. These is our family tree.
Surely they questioned their journey. I am sure some of them wished they had stayed in England. I imagine that many of them questioned God. Surely some of them were angry. How hard! Now they were in a new land with no home, no knowledge of how to survive, and now each of them had been touched by death in a huge way. This is not the Thanksgiving story that runs through the mind of most while we prepare the turkey.