The Greatest Gift

The Greatest Gift

Well by now most of us have taken our Christmas tree down, and have packed up the decorations preparing for the new year ahead of us. As I pondered the Holidays, have you ever noticed that, there are 2 kinds of gift givers? One type, will give you what you want. They pay attention to what you talk about, they notice comments you might say throughout the year, just passing statements about what you like, or would like to have,  perhaps even some you forget about almost as soon as you say them. Other gift givers give you what they think you need. They aren’t concerned with what you want, and more often than not, they ignore any comments you might say even sometimes ignoring specific requests because they think they know better.

 

I think it goes without saying that the joy of receiving a gift from the gift giver who considers what the receiver wants is much higher than receiving a gift from the one who gives  you what you think you need.

 

I will never forget,  it was probably our oldest son’s third or fourth birthday. We didn’t have much money and were  doing everything we could to pull together a party for him at a famous pizza place for kids, when I suddenly remembered we didn’t have any way to video his party. My heart sank, as I had videoed every birthday party of his life up to that point,  but because our recorder was broken, there was no way that was going to happen. Somehow I felt like I wasn’t being a good parent if I didn’t record it. Deeply saddened , I proceeded on with the plans the weeks prior to the day, hoping to make my child’s day the best it could be, never telling anyone of my disappointment. After all, at Lee’s young age he wasn’t going to care about having a video of his birthday party, I told myself, he would still have a good party with or without the video recording. I knew the recording was more for me,  but telling myself this, didn’t seem to help my disappointment any.

 

It was the morning of the party,  as I was rushing around preparing the final details,  the phone rang, it was one of our guests, who called to ask if it was okay as part of Lee’s a gift, that they would video the party for us. My heart leaped with joy! The memory still brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it, because it wasn’t about the video anymore when that call came, it was about a God who heard my cry and answered my  prayer. I hadn’t said anything to anyone, and to be honest, I hadn’t even prayed about it. But my heavenly father, who knows my heart, knew my desire and put it on this family’s heart to do this for us.

 

You know as much as I love my child and wanted to give him the best party possible to show my love for him,  I have a heavenly father who cares for me, in fact we all do. The bible saysIf you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11

 

The Psalms also tells us Lord, you have seen what is in my heart. You know all about me”

 

Aren’t you thankful that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and knows us,  I know for me I sure am. What a blessing it is to know we have someone who is watching over us and cares for us more than we could ever hope or imagine. The best part of our Heavenly Father, is that He isn’t just like any Father, He knows our beginning and He knows our end. He can see the future,, so He knows how to detour our paths,  ensuring we make it safely to where we need to be spiritually and physically.

 

I wonder today if someone reading this isn’t disappointed about something? Perhaps you had hopes and dreams of something happening and well, you have just given up that it will ever happen. I want to assure you that whatever the outcome of your situation is, that you can trust your Heavenly Father to guide you in the direction you need to go. You can trust Him to bring to you what you need and provide when nothing seems to be working out. Because the bible says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

 

So, there are a couple of stipulations to that promise, it says, “those who love him” and “called according to his purpose”. So I have to ask, do you meet those requirements? I think,  for the most part, I can safely say you probably would claim to love God. So the next question is, is your life an example of that? Because that is kind of what the whole “called according to His purpose” means. We are all called to fulfill His purpose on this earth,  and the first requirement is to follow what His word says, and if you aren’t going to church and growing in His word how can you fulfill that purpose?

 

So, whether you are following Christ or no, it  is never too late to start. Yes, you may have to pay the consequences of your past choices,  but there is a opportunity for a new beginning, all you have to do is talk to Jesus, like you would talk to me,  and tell Him you want a new life in Him, that you are sorry for your past mistakes, and from this day forward you want to walk with Him.

 

There is nothing better than starting off the new year  new in Christ Jesus. Find a good bible believing church home that you can grow in His word in,  then you really will see the Heavenly Father that I know, who knows how to give good gifts, and works all things together for our good.

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Standing on the Promises

Standing on the Promises

This past weekend was the Cotton Bowl football game, and if you know anything about my family you know we were all perched in front of the television watching it,  because Alabama was playing in the play offs to go to the National Championship Game. Now, as I have said , before, with this new empty nesting that has happened at our home, it is now my responsibility to watch all the football games with Jeff and although Chad was home for this game, I have come too far in this season with this team to turn back now,  and not watch them all the way to the end, so Amy and I sat with the boys and watched.

 

Now, I have to say,  as I have grown to love this game and the Alabama team, I still don’t know that much about the game. Oh! Sure! I know that the object of the game is your team needs to get the ball and run to the end of the field with it and get across that last little line called  the end zone. (or at least I think that is what it is called) and I also know if your team doesn’t have the ball, you want to stop the guy on the other team that does, so he doesn’t make it across that line, but pretty much past that, I am clueless.

 

So needless to say,  when my Oklahoma friends began to start saying things about the Alabama football team on Social Media I had to respond. Now mind you this is not the first time I have defended my team, but I have to be honest, I always hesitate before I start typing anything,  because I don’t really know that much about football and I doubt my knowledge, but then I remember Alabama has 17 National Championships, more than anyone else in this modern era of football, and they have more SEC Championships than any other team in SEC History at 28.

 

So yes, I hesitate, but then I remember what they have done. What the record  books say about them, and I type! Typically all I have to say is, “Tell me again, How many National Championships does our team have?” and whoever is talking about how awesome their team is, verses Alabama, quickly quiets down.

 

All that got me thinking….. Isn’t that a lot like our walk with Christ. We often feel, unworthy to follow Christ or tell others about Him, because maybe we feel we aren’t that knowledgeable about the Bible. But,  if we will just remember what the record says, remember what He has done for us already. We can go to the back of the book and God’s word says that we win. We don’t have to be scared to stand up for what we know is right and we don’t have to listen  when Satan tell us we aren’t good enough.

 

God’s record speaks for itself. Just like Alabama’s record. Just like I walk in confidence of that, we can walk in confidence of what God can do and has done. We don’t have to walk in fear, we don’t have to hesitate,  we can stand on the promises in God’s Word.

 

So,  as we start this new year, let’s do just that,  stand on what God promises, remember what His word says,  don’t hesitate in standing up for Him.

Philippians 4:6-7: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done,  then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

What Jeff and God have in Common!

What Jeff and God have in Common!

Jeff Miller says he and God have something in common, it is that they both first loved me. Jeff Miller picked me out of stack of pictures on his father’s desk long before we ever met. You see my father was a minister and his father was the deacon in charge of the resumes for the opening for a Pastor his home church had. One day Jeff decided that the ripe old age of 16 that, he didn’t want to die a bachelor so he set out to find a wife and what better girl to have as a Pastor’s wife one day then a Pastors daughter.

 

He says he took the pictures that came with the resumes, of the families that had daughters and began to narrow down his favorites, first the top 10, then the top 5, then the top 3 and then number one, and Jeff claims it was me.

 

As God saw fit, my dad did become the Pastor of Jeff’s home church and that only gave Jeff more confidence that God had a plan for us together, and it just enriched his love for me. The problem was, I was just 13 years old at the time and really wasn’t interested in dating yet, after all I was still playing with barbies!

 

I have to be honest with you, I wasn’t impressed with Jeff at first, I didn’t care for his cowboy boots, or cowboy hat and he seemed to be everywhere I was, but that didn’t detour Jeff, my dad even overheard a conversation between Jeff and a few of the other teenage boys in the church. Where Jeff under no uncertain terms told them, that I was his so there was no need from them to pursue me, and we hadn’t even started dating yet!

 

Then there was the note Jeff gave me, sharing his undying love to me. Which still did nothing to convince me to like him. It didn’t even matter that he showed up when I was sick as a dog, and looked horrible. Jeff was right there asking if I needed anything, ready to help in anyway he could.

 

But the topper was when he went and talked with my father, I don’t know what happened in that conversation on the fateful day, but I do know that when my dad came home from the office, to my dismay Daddy informed me, that Jeff would be coming over to visit a few nights a week after he got off work.

 

I think back now, and feel my father, saw something in Jeff that I didn’t and he felt as soon as I spent time with him, I would see it too, and he was right.  

 

Isn’t that a lot like our relationship with God, He loved us before we loved Him and He pursued us before we even cared about Him and He refuses to give up on us. He has chosen us, because He loves us, not because of anything we have done. Then God sent His word to us as a love letter to prove that.

 

Like with Jeff, I had done nothing to do earn Jeff’s love on that day when he found my picture in his dad’s office, yet he loved me anyway. And I have to tell you, like Jeff when I have been at my worst, God loved me anyway,

 

That is just like our Heavenly Father, who sent His son, to this earth so he could suffer, and go through all that we have been through. He knows every temptation you feel, Christ felt it all when He was here. God sent His son, because He loved us so much.

 

It didn’t matter if we reject Him God does not give up on us. He loves us so much He sent His son to die for our sins, so we could have eternal life with Him forever, and all He asks from us is to choose to worship and trust Him. But He loved us before we even loved Him.

 

If we could all simply realize the depth of the love God has for us. What would we do differently? Would we freak out less when things don’t go as we planned because we know, God will take care of us. Would be more responsible with what we have because we know He gave it all to us? Would we love others with that same unconditional love that God has showed us? Would we live a life in attitude of gratitude and grace, because we know we don’t deserve such unconditional love?

 

We will all be starting a new year in just a few days. It is the time of new year’s resolutions, so how about we resolve to live like that?

 

1 John 3:1 NIV reminds us “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! …..

 

I live differently because I know Jeff Miller loves me, and he loves me more that I have words to explain it or ways to show it.  I am not deserving of this love nor have I earned it, but yet Jeff Miller loves me, and so does Christ.

 

We are all loved more than we can even hope or imagine or have words that could ever explain it. But God loved us so much He sent His son to be born to a virgin, born in a manger know he would ultimately give His life for us. So in all the hussle and bussle of this season. Let us know forget the most important gift, the gift of Christ which is the greatest example of God’s love for us.

The Unexpected Christmas

The Unexpected Christmas

The Christmas Season is usually a super hectic time of year at our house, besides the traditional stress that we feel during this season. I usually choose to add additional levels of stress by hosting an open house. I love hosting people in my home, and Jeff and I feel,it is a gift of love we can give to all our friends. For probably 25 years or more we have,, more than likely, had an Open House in our home, now mind you not every year, but a lot of them. Having a Open House during the holidays is not easy task.

 

I begin working about 60-45 days out. We shop most of the year for it. The house has to be cleaned from top to bottom for what I like to call, Model Home status,  which if you don’t know what that is, it means the house needs to look like no one lives in it. So needless to say it’s a lot of work and a near possible task, that often puts a lot of stress on the whole family.  

 

But this year, we are taking the year off. There will be no open house.  In fact, there is even talk about just having a low key Christmas day and driving over to Wichita, eating Chinese food and going to the movie theater for the day to catch several movies we have been wanting to watch.. So we can just chill out with our kids and focus on spending time together while we honor what the real meaning of Christmas is. Either that, or we are going to spend the day in our PJ’s just relaxing with the kids and watching Christmas movies on the TV.

 

Everyone handles the stress of Christmas differently. The problem comes when we forget what the day is really all about. We can get so focused on, trying to get the best gift, or not having enough money to afford the Christmas you would like,  or maybe it’s just missing that loved one that isn’t going to be at Christmas this year.

 

I remember one specific Christmas, times were really tough for our family, Amy was probably 6 or 7 years old. We had to struggle to get what little we could for the kids,  and at the last minute Amy decided she wanted a Baby Alive, but there was no money left for such a gift, and as much as I tried to explain to her, that Santa had already done all his Christmas shopping,  so it might have to be next year before it happened, she refused to listen to such an idea and was determined that it would come.

 

Christmas morning came and all of our presents were unwrapped, and as Amy looked around, realizing that all the presents under the tree had been opened, she stood up, and with both hands on her hips,  she calls out with an attitude that told you under no uncertain terms that she was not satisfied with the results of her Christmas. “I know there is another gift around here somewhere”she begin to look all over for her Baby Alive that she was certain Santa would bring , but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

 

Maybe you were expecting something this Christmas and it isn’t going to be either. Maybe, there is no way you thought you would be where you are today,  but you are. Perhaps the stress level is so high at your house, you’re not for sure you even want to celebrate Christmas this year. Let me encourage you to look to the reason for the season.

 

Christ came,  born in a manger, not some palace like the people of that day expected. He was born to a mother and His step dad, not the expected family of that day either. His parents, had to run for their life because people were after Him. He came to die for a group of people that  couldn’t even appreciate the sacrifice He made by coming to earth. But yet that sacrifice is the greatest gift we could receive.

 

Nothing went like the people expected that Christmas night, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  is the question asked even years later, John 1:46 but yet it turned out to be the best thing that any of us could ask for, because without it, there is no eternal life for those who trust in and rely on Christ.

 

Nazareth was just a small town of probably about 150 people,  according to my research, with a majority of a Jewish population, the same Jewish population that rejected Him as the Christ. Imagine everywhere you go, being rejected? Christ doesn’t have to because it happened to Him. In fact the bible says, that He has been tempted and felt every pain we have.

 

So, don’t get discouraged and frustrated if things are not going as planned this season. Remember it happened that way on the very first Christmas as well. There was no room in the Inn for Jesus to be born,  and Mary had to ride a donkey for who knows how many miles.

 

The bible tells us, that we need to have a “Whatsoever” attitude when we begin to get frustrated. You know, you have heard kids say “Whatever” when they are disgusted with someone’s attitude or comment. Well, I believe God wants us to have a Whatsoever attitude,  He tells us that in Philippians 4:8 whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—think on these things,  it tells us this is the only way to have peace, and not to be anxious is by bringing your requests to God and thinking on these whatsoever list of things. The good, the praiseworthy, the lovely and so on. I am sure that night Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph could have focused on the terrible surroundings the Christ child was born, they could have focused on what bad parents they were for the King of kings to be born in such a place, they might have even thought what did we get ourselves into, but I don’t’ believe they did. I think they had a “Whatsoever” attitude and choose to focus on the glory of the Christ child before them.

 

So this season, don’t get discouraged because you aren’t getting the present you wanted under the tree or everything isn’t just how you imagined it. In fact, don’t even focus on the ones who are not with us this Christmas. But focus on the one who told us in Rev 1:8 NIV “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty. Remember, that the first Christmas all kinds of unexpected things happened,  including the greatest gift of all Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

24/365

24/365

Since my boys have moved away it is now my responsibility to watch football with Jeff. Football is Jeff’s favorite sport, and I am pretty sure it is the only sport he really likes. Of course for Jeff being born and raised in Alabama, there is only one team and you guest it, it is Alabama. What once was a time that I made snacks and went shopping while the boys watched the game. Is now my responsibility to sit with Jeff and watch the game and all sports related news because after all, he looks so lonely watching the game by himself, and he has since given in to watching Hallmark movies with me, since Amy has moved away, so you can see this empty nest thing has changed everything in our lives.  

In the process of learning to love this sport, I have watch a lot of documentaries of just how Alabama works because that is what I like, I like knowing about the administrative part of it. One thing I was surprised to learn was that the Alabama football players don’t just train during the school season. No! They school and train year round. Once you make the team, you are Saban’s and you do what he tells you to do. I was really kind of shocked to hear this because for some reason I just thought September through January is all the time they spent on football. But that is not the case.

If you have been locked in a cave somewhere, then you may not know that the Southeastern Conference National Championship game was this past Saturday. Where Alabama played Georgia and won 28-35. But it was not an easy task, Georgia was ahead all but just a little over a minute of the game. (the last minute at that)  Something that hasn’t happened to Bama at all this year. Up to this last game I believe the longest Alabama had been behind in a game this season was about 70 seconds.

It looks as if Alabama is on its way to winning it’s 17th National Championship and just won it’s 27 Southeastern Conference Championship. Unless you were raised around this kind of excellence you really can’t comprehend what Alabama football means to it’s fans.

But it really isn’t that different than being a follower of Christ. There is an standard of excellence that is expected from God from His creation and we as His followers are expected to train and follow Him 24/365. We can’t just expect that, showing up for church once a week thinking this is gonna get us to the level of relationship with God that we need to be, so we can tackle this day to day life we live.  

Alabama is known as a 2nd quarter team mainly for their endurance, not because they often come from behind in the last half, but because they don’t give up when they are ahead. They don’t quit. They play up to their potential all 90 minutes of the game, not their opponents abilities, but none of that would be possible if they didn’t train 24/365.

Our life of following Christ is a 24/365 choice. We don’t get to just pick and choose when to be nice to our neighbor because God already said “Do unto others as you would have other do to you” and  We can’t just tell God, I don’t have time for you right now, or when we get scared we run to anything but Him. Because He already told us that” we should have not other God’s before Him!”

Most Christians don’t know what God’s word says, that is why we are so easily deceived into doing things that aren’t true and we sure don’t either, know or believe the promises He made us like “All things work together for good to those that love Him”. because if we did, we wouldn’t get discouraged so easily.

The Alabama football team, was able to endure to the end of the game this past week because they train 24/365 and in the last minute of the game won. In fact it was sort of a restoration story as our 1st string quarterback, Tua,  got hurt and was pulled out and was replaced with the 2nd string quarterback, Hurts, who took us to the victory.

The funny thing is, almost a year ago the exact opposite happened. Last year Tua, who is our first string quarterback this year was our 2nd string quarterback, and a similar situation happened then in a championship game. These 2 quarterbacks have worked as a team this past year. They aren’t in a competition their goal is for the good of the teamWhen many people thought last year’s first string quarterback  Hurts, should leave Alabama football when he wasn’t put back in as 1st string this year. But Hurts endured and knew Saban had a plan and he trusted the process he was going through. Doing so, he was able to restore his name and now he is admired more than he ever was before because of the character it showed. Hurts is a better player by being on the second string this year, because he was able to work on the things he needed to improve on. Then, when the test came, he put that new ability to use and won the game for his team.

I wonder if any of you have ever felt like you were discarded to 2nd string in this life? Have you ever felt like you failed and there was no coming back? God wants you to know, that He is working on you and we are all just in the process of life. You may not feel like you are on the 1st string team right now, or maybe you don’t even feel like you are on the team at all.

But that is why we train everyday as Christs follower 24/365. We need to read our bible, pray, listen to God, follow what His word says, work out with His team (at church on Sundays)  Then when we play in this game called life, we are prepared, we know God’s word, we know who we are because of God’s word and because we know His promises. We endure to the end when we trust the process.

God took what Hurts thought might be the end of his career in college football and turned it around to a winning championship. Because over this last year, Hurts has been faithful to train, practice, and he didn’t quit.

I don’t know what you are going through today, but don’t quit, don’t give up! Trust the process. Just like the story of Joseph in the bible. He could of given up and turned his back on God when he was sold to slavery and the later, put in prison. But all the while God was using it for His good and God has good plans for you too – Just trust the process.

Thanksgiving

Well, the Thanksgiving season is upon us, many will soon be gathered around the table with their loved ones and friends reflecting on the blessings we have received this year. If your house is like mine, there will be a moment before we indulge in the food before us that we will pause and go around the table, allowing each one to say what they are thankful for.

Now in a house like ours some might choose to move this process along by simply saying all they are thankful for is God assuming He covers everything,  just to hurry up and pro take of the feast that sits before them. So, you may be surprised to find, at our house, it is made clear before this process begins that we know, God is responsible for all that we have been given and so, we want to hear what specific things that God has given you this year that you are thankful for.

Another tradition in our house at this time of the year, is I try to prepare all the foods my kids want. It’s a favorite dishes kind of meal. I ask everyone what they want to eat and since there is 9 of us and at least a couple of choices by each person, the amount of food can add up quickly and that isn’t limited to just the side dishes or desserts, but also includes what kind of turkeys we have, which can range from fried, roasted or smoked, there is usually at least 2 turkeys, (smaller ones) cooked different ways for us to enjoy!

Now although my kids are active in the meal preparation these days there’s still some dishes I make that they demand only from me and I in turn have favorites that only they can make. I have been working hard for many years to teach my kids how to cook, so that I know when I die they won’t starve. Essentially I want to work myself out of job of cooking on the holidays but I am no quite there yet but I believe the plan is on track..

You may have heard of people who do food prep and make all the food they are going to eat for the week in one day, then cook it throughout the week?  Well that is kind of what Thanksgiving is like for us, except we cook enough food for a week all on Thanksgiving day and then graze on it for the next 3 days while the kids are here. I like doing this because, I am not stuck in the kitchen the whole time the family is here and I can take pleasure in just enjoying my family.

You may think, my idea is crazy but let me tell you the reasoning behind my madness.  One of the most disappointing Thanksgivings Jeff and I ever had was after we were married and had moved to Kansas, we returned to Alabama for the big day anticipating eating my mother in law’s traditional thanksgiving meal.  

We were so excited to be going back to celebrate with Jeff’s family. My mother in law is an amazing cook, this woman who made biscuits everyday for breakfast when her husband was alive and homemade cornbread for every other meal had our mouth watering as we traveled the 14 hours to visit them remembering how good Thanksgiving is around my in laws house. So needless to say we had great expectations of eating her famous dressing, and enjoying all the other dishes she is known for. But to our disappointment, when we arrived it was announced that this year, Mrs Miller was tired of cooking and had decided to have the meal catered in.

Our hearts sunk, although we understood, it did not consul our craving for her own cooking that we had missed so much, by living all those hours away and rarely getting to see them, let alone taste those famous home cooked meals she was known for.  So that is when I decided when my kids grow up, I was determined to make sure they never felt that disappointment after coming back home.

You know, if we are all honest with ourselves, there is that one dish for most of us that we remember as being our favorite from our mom or grandma, and it doesn’t matter if we follow their directions to a tee to make it, it still never tastes like it did when that person we loved made it. So, yes that is why I indulge my children when they come home. I never want my kids to walk away from my home on a holiday wishing I had cooked something,or we had done something, I want them to have that special memory of home.

Have you ever expected something, that didn’t happen the way you planned? Were you disappointed? We often have expectations. We ask God for something and believe and even have faith that He could do it,  then when the time comes and it doesn’t go the way we planned, we are disappointed, sometimes mad that we didn’t get our way.

There will be a lot of people who over this holiday season will reflect on this past year that have much bigger issues than Jeff and I did on that disappointing day. They may not have anything to eat at all, they may only be able to think about that empty chair where their loved one use to sit.

I read somewhere your tough job is an unemployed persons dream, your small home is an homeless persons dream, your annoying child is an infertile couples dream, and your smile is the dream of every depressed person. So be thankful in every situations.

Whatever the case, let us all remember that there is always someone worse off than we are. God has placed us here to bless others and you are blessed to be a blessing. Oh! You may not have as much as someone else, but is that really what God is looking for? No where in the bible have I ever read, you have to have this much money in the bank, or this much food in your house, or even your children act a certain way for God to love you.

God looks on the heart in 1 Samuel 16:7 God told the prophet Samuel … “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

How about we do that this holiday season? How about we not judge ourselves or others on anything else, but what God sees. Let’s ask God to help us see others with His eyes,  love others with His heart. But most of all love yourself the same way. Give yourself a break! So what if this year didn’t turn out how you expected it? Tomorrow is a new day and the bible says God’s mercies are new every morning. So that means, every day there an opportunity for a fresh start and nothing is lost if we learned from it. Just like that disappointing thanksgiving vacation, Jeff and I had, you also can learn from whatever you are going through and because of that today two more generations reap that blessing. Perhaps God has allowed you to go through whatever you have dealt with this year so you can make a difference in the generations that are coming behind you. One thing is for certain tomorrow is a new day and the best is yet to come. So let’s focus on that as we sit around our table this week and thank God for what He has done and will do!

Worst Thanksgiving Ever!

Worst Thanksgiving Ever!

Well, the Thanksgiving season is upon us, many will soon be gathered around the table with their loved ones and friends reflecting on the blessings we have received this year. If your house is like mine, there will be a moment before we indulge in the food before us that we will pause and go around the table, allowing each one to say what they are thankful for.

Now in a house like ours some might choose to move this process along by simply saying all they are thankful for is God assuming He covers everything,  just to hurry up and pro take of the feast that sits before them. So, you may be surprised to find, at our house, it is made clear before this process begins that we know, God is responsible for all that we have been given and so, we want to hear what specific things that God has given you this year that you are thankful for.

Another tradition in our house at this time of the year, is I try to prepare all the foods my kids want. It’s a favorite dishes kind of meal. I ask everyone what they want to eat and since there is 9 of us and at least a couple of choices by each person, the amount of food can add up quickly and that isn’t limited to just the side dishes or desserts, but also includes what kind of turkeys we have, which can range from fried, roasted or smoked, there is usually at least 2 turkeys, (smaller ones) cooked different ways for us to enjoy!

Now although my kids are active in the meal preparation these days there’s still some dishes I make that they demand only from me and I in turn have favorites that only they can make. I have been working hard for many years to teach my kids how to cook, so that I know when I die they won’t starve. Essentially I want to work myself out of job of cooking on the holidays but I am no quite there yet but I believe the plan is on track..

You may have heard of people who do food prep and make all the food they are going to eat for the week in one day, then cook it throughout the week?  Well that is kind of what Thanksgiving is like for us, except we cook enough food for a week all on Thanksgiving day and then graze on it for the next 3 days while the kids are here. I like doing this because, I am not stuck in the kitchen the whole time the family is here and I can take pleasure in just enjoying my family.

You may think, my idea is crazy but let me tell you the reasoning behind my madness.  One of the most disappointing Thanksgivings Jeff and I ever had was after we were married and had moved to Kansas, we returned to Alabama for the big day anticipating eating my mother in law’s traditional thanksgiving meal.  

We were so excited to be going back to celebrate with Jeff’s family. My mother in law is an amazing cook, this woman who made biscuits everyday for breakfast when her husband was alive and homemade cornbread for every other meal had our mouth watering as we traveled the 14 hours to visit them remembering how good Thanksgiving is around my in laws house. So needless to say we had great expectations of eating her famous dressing, and enjoying all the other dishes she is known for. But to our disappointment, when we arrived it was announced that this year, Mrs Miller was tired of cooking and had decided to have the meal catered in.

Our hearts sunk, although we understood, it did not console our craving for her own cooking that we had missed so much, by living all those hours away and rarely getting to see them, let alone taste those famous home cooked meals she was known for.  So that is when I decided when my kids grow up, I was determined to make sure they never felt that disappointment after coming back home.

You know, if we are all honest with ourselves, there is that one dish for most of us that we remember as being our favorite from our mom or grandma, and it doesn’t matter if we follow their directions to a tee to make it, it still never tastes like it did when that person we loved made it. So, yes that is why I indulge my children when they come home. I never want my kids to walk away from my home on a holiday wishing I had cooked something,or we had done something, I want them to have that special memory of home.

Have you ever expected something, that didn’t happen the way you planned? Were you disappointed? We often have expectations. We ask God for something and believe and even have faith that He could do it,  then when the time comes and it doesn’t go the way we planned, we are disappointed, sometimes mad that we didn’t get our way.

There will be a lot of people who over this holiday season will reflect on this past year that have much bigger issues than Jeff and I did on that disappointing day. They may not have anything to eat at all, they may only be able to think about that empty chair where their loved one use to sit.

I read somewhere your tough job is an unemployed persons dream, your small home is an homeless persons dream, your annoying child is an infertile couples dream, and your smile is the dream of every depressed person. So be thankful in every situations.

Whatever the case, let us all remember that there is always someone worse off than we are. God has placed us here to bless others and you are blessed to be a blessing. Oh! You may not have as much as someone else, but is that really what God is looking for? No where in the bible have I ever read, you have to have this much money in the bank, or this much food in your house, or even your children act a certain way for God to love you.

God looks on the heart in 1 Samuel 16:7 God told the prophet Samuel … “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

How about we do that this holiday season? How about we not judge ourselves or others on anything else, but what God sees. Let’s ask God to help us see others with His eyes,  love others with His heart. But most of all love yourself the same way. Give yourself a break! So what if this year didn’t turn out how you expected it? Tomorrow is a new day and the bible says God’s mercies are new every morning. So that means, every day there an opportunity for a fresh start and nothing is lost if we learned from it. Just like that disappointing thanksgiving vacation, Jeff and I had, you also can learn from whatever you are going through and because of that today two more generations reap that blessing. Perhaps God has allowed you to go through whatever you have dealt with this year so you can make a difference in the generations that are coming behind you. One thing is for certain tomorrow is a new day and the best is yet to come. So let’s focus on that as we sit around our table this week and thank God for what He has done and will do!