happy THANKSGIVING!

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.

Giving Thanks: The Final Post in a Thanksgiving Series

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!

Hardships Beyond What I Have Ever Known: Post 2 in a Thanksgiving Series

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.

The Promise of a New Life: Post 1 in a Thanksgiving Series

A dreaded time with family that you want to avoid?  The best day where you eat and eat with no thought of calories?  Another day off work?  What is this whole “Thanksgiving thing” about anyway?  A day where we celebrate the white man taking over the red man’s home?  A Christian fiction story?  What are the facts of Thanksgiving?

Confession:  My favorite holiday is Christmas.  My second favorite holiday is the next one that is coming up.  So, right now, my second favorite holiday is:  Thanksgiving!  Seriously, I really really do love Thanksgiving!  In my teaching days, I worked at a school named Master’s Academy.  If I could insert a little commercial here, Master’s Academy held an annual Thanksgiving celebration that was out of this world!  I have absolutely no clue how they were able to pull the whole thing off.  You are going to think that I am exaggerating and I would also, if I had not experienced the day first hand.  The class would file outside to a village that was set up on school grounds.  Teachers and volunteers were dressed as Pilgrims and Indians, not like Disney Pocahontas and John Smith but the real deal.  Somehow there was always a man that had guns from this time period and he would give a demonstration, there were hard biscuits and dried meat, animal skins….it was amazing!  The closest thing to traveling back in time that I have ever experienced.  Each year, I wish that my daughter could experience that Thanksgiving celebration.  But from it, I learned a true love of Thanksgiving that I hope to pass to her and I hope will be contagious.

Years ago, I found a jewel, “Thanksgiving, A Time to Remember” by Barbara Rainey.  Most of my facts come from this book.  I can not recommend it enough!  I am going to do something here, that I do not usually do on my blog, I am going to site big portions from this book:

“The Mayflower, a small wooden ship with billowing sails, was the vessel God used to bring a group of Christian believers to an unseen land far over the Atlantic.  These Christian men and women, called Pilgrims, believed that God was leading them to establish a new community where they could worship freely…When the Mayflower finally left England, on the 6th of September, crowded on board were 102 passengers, including 33 children…The food was terrible – brine soaked beef, pork, and fish and stale, hard biscuits, which often were full of insects.  The rats living on board helped themselves to the same food supplies…The rooms for passengers were crowded and mainly below deck.  Conditions were miserable:  cramped quarters, seasick people vomiting into pails – if they were able to find one in time, no sanitary toilets; the hatches were sealed off because of constant storms, and so the passengers were unable to get fresh air.  A foul mixture of odors grew in such an environment…After 97 days at sea, the Pilgrims caught a glimpse of their destination, ‘La-a-nd, ho!'”

This series will take a quick look at some facts about Thanksgiving, with of course some followup and comments from me.  I hope you will chime in with your own views.

Freezing Cold Warmth

Bare trees and gray skies, the wind howls and sends shivers through my body.  We have hit a record low and it is here to stay.  Colder and snowier than the norm.  My girl and I try to go for a walk but we can not endure the cold for more than a few minutes.  Packing on extra layers every morning and learning again to keep up with the mittens.  The cold reaches down to your bones.

Build a fire, pour a hot drink.  Sit and cover with a throw.  Crockpot dinners are more appreciated.  The winter menu is revisited.  Chili, Pot Roast, Turkey, and ham.  Bigger and hotter, the better.  Prepare the closets for new Christmas toys, begin the shopping browsing, give in to the Christmas music a little early this year.  Call up some family that you have not seen in a while.  Our hearts were not prepared to hibernate but to endure.

It is the freezing cold that makes me so appreciate the warmth.