Thanksgiving blessings…

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Just like that, another Thanksgiving is upon us.  (Does anyone else feel like this year flew by?) For those who have experienced loss, this can be such a bittersweet time of counting our blessings, yet feeling that ache of missing those no longer with us that churns in our hearts a little stronger around holidays.  We are definitely feeling it, but there is still so much to be grateful for, and I always want to try to let gratitude be our focus.  It’s becoming a tradition that I pick 5 random things I’m thankful for to share here on the blog, so here goes for this year:

  1. Friends who have my back.  There are these very special people, and you know who you are, who continue to come alongside our family and serve and love us so well – verbally reminding us that you are there for the long haul.   You ask how I really am, you often know what I need before I know myself, and you let me just be real and honest in sharing how difficult this journey I’m on really is some days.  You remind me that my Heavenly Father hasn’t forgotten us and show us His love in such sweet tangible ways. For all of this I’m so so grateful.
  2. Air conditioning. One recent night of going without it in the southern heat reminded us that we really do take this blessing for granted so often.  I don’t know what I would do without AC, but I wouldn’t be really enjoyable to be around, between my sweat and probable grumpiness.  And yet, to some it’s a rarity that they may never be able to afford.  So yes, I’m very grateful.
  3. My kids. I know I’m biased, but I truly believe I have some of the bravest and kindest kids on the planet… and it’s not because of anything I’ve done.  Instead, they are the ones reminding me to be brave and kind by the way they treat me.  They are a lot of work to parent, but boy, are they a joy.  God is so good to give me these three amazing gifts to cherish each day and give me the honor of being their mom.
  4. The gift of words. Whether sung in a sweet song, read in a good book, written in a thick and personal journal, or heard in a good movie… I love words so much. And I think I keep loving them more and more these days, judging from the stack of books that’s always awaiting my attention.  Words inspire me to be a better person and to keep learning and growing.  Through them I express myself to my Savior and He shares His heart with me.   I know that words have the power to build up or break down, and they cut pretty deep when they wound – but there is so much incredible good that can be done through them too.  What a gift words continue to be to me.
  5. Jesus.  Of course it’s obvious, and yet, as I get older, I feel like there are more and more layers to my relationship with Him that He continues to deepen and allow me to enter.  I’m seeing Him more and more as my true best friend, through His laying down His life so that I have the awareness of perfect love.  I’m so thankful that He accepts me how I am and that  I never have to fix myself up to be near and honest before Him.   All that makes me incredibly thankful.

 

The list could go on and on, but these are the five I’m picking for today.  I hope you’ll join me in using this coming Thanksgiving week to slow down a little and take the time to reflect on our numerous blessings that are truly immeasurable.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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When the carving brings hope…

A few weeks ago, we sat down like so many other American families this time of year, to invest a night in the activity of carving pumpkins.  Now, you must understand that I make this incorrect assumption every year when we buy pumpkins and plan our carving night… that is, I tell myself that my kids are old enough to do the carving now.  I know.  Faulty.  But to justify my thoughts, my kids do tell me that they want to carve their pumpkins on their own, and that they’ve got this.  And I’m more than happy to oblige.

So we start by scooping out seeds.  We scrape and scrape until the pumpkin is nice and hollow inside, and then it’s time to start working our magic on a beautiful carving that they’ve planned out.  You know the drill. This year, the boys wanted Sonic the Hedgehog.  To the point of begging.  Insisting that they would be able to do most of the work.  I questioned the difficulty level but decided to roll with it.  And they proved to be right.  They could do the carving!  For the first 5 minutes of the task, that is.

Yes, in the end, it was another year of me doing most of the work.  And whew! If you don’t already know this – Carving. Gets. Tiring.  I know it doesn’t look like it from all of the happy photos everyone posts on Facebook, but I will be the first to admit that it’s a cumbersome task.  About halfway in, I end up feeling like my kids do – enjoying the first little bit and then growing tired and weary and just wanting it finished.  Sonic’s a tricky template too, with this shaved part that doesn’t cut all the way through the pumpkin.  Who thought of that, I wonder? But I did it!  I finished it.  And I wearily, but contentedly, sat back and admired my… I mean our… creation.

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Isn’t it the same way with life sometimes?  You just feel like the poking and the pruning and the reshaping never seems to end.  You get through one trial only to feel stuck in another one.  You ask God for relief from one challenge only to discover another challenge is coming your way.  Carving hurts.  It scrapes away the bad in order to expose the beauty, and it’s usually a long process.  I’ve felt it all too often lately. And also all too often, I let myself get way too focused on the process and not on the end result.

I’ve been going through this amazing Bible study book on hope, and I’m being reminded that a lot of our perspective on life comes from where our hope is placed.  As has been seen all too clearly lately with the election hubbub, getting hung up on difficulties and current dark days results in a total lack of hope.  It even can result in intense fear over the future.  But keeping an eternal perspective shifts our focus to one that can’t help but be filled with hope.  Because that’s what Heaven, our ultimate eternal hope because of Jesus, is all about.

Heaven… The place where we receive our inheritance as sons and daughters of Jesus, the Author and Finisher or our faith.  (1 Peter 1:4) Where we receive the complete fulfillment of adoption and redemption of our bodies.  (Romans 8:23) Where there will be no weeping, no pain, no death, and no sorrow.  (Rev. 21:3-4)  Where our Savior will personally wipe away our tears with His nail-scarred hands and tell us that we are home where our souls belong.

And so, for now, we endure the chipping and the scraping away, even when it hurts and is exhausting and we just want a break from all the hard.  Because it really does have a purpose.  We are being refined and recreated into beautiful creations.

Every time I walked by that finished pumpkin, it gave me the reminder…

It’s all worth it. 

Press on. 

Something beautiful is coming. 

 

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