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!

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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!

The Parsonage (not my home)

The Parsonage (not my home)

I have lived in a parsonage most of my life, My daddy being a pastor and now my husband being one, has sealed my destiny in this. You may be saying “What is a Parsonage?, That is a strange word.”  Well, Webster defines it as “the house provided by a church for its’ pastor” Living in a parsonage is a peculiar position to be in, you aren’t renting but you don’t own either. The home isn’t yours,  but it is yours to live in for the season you pastor there.

It typically isn’t painted or decorated to your preferences, you simply have to take what you get. (and you don’t throw a fit)  Some parsonages have been poorly maintained and look like they haven’t seen any attention to detail or style since the 60’s, while others are immaculately cared for.  As new pastors to a community, you never know if the church is going to require the pastor and his family to get permission before you do anything to the home, like paint or hang things on the wall or will they be comfortable just to let you decorate and maintain it yourself. On the other hand, I am sure some congregations feel the same way and are wondering “How much does the pastor expect of us?”

I remember as a little girl, one week while our family was gone on a vacation, the church people,  trying to be helpful, came inside the parsonage without my parents knowledge and painted the whole interior.  To my mother’s horror she was not expecting people in her home without notice so it was in no way ready for any guests, after all when a family leaves for a vacation, they aren’t typically deep cleaning before they go. So, needless to say, it wasnt ready for furniture to be move out to be painted behind. But the worst part was,  they painted every room in the house without asking my mother what color she would like. The color turned out to be a green that my mother despised, well before those sweet dear members decided to help her out, and perhaps that is why we had nothing in the house that remotely matched it.

Some churches think it is important to keep their pastors humble,  so they assure you live in a home much less than any of the parishioners would choose to live in, while others honor their pastors and assure they have a home at least as equal or much better than any of their parishioners. (parishioners is another churchy word for people that go to the church)  Living in a parsonage can be a tricky thing. It can be uncomfortable for a pastor to have to make the board aware of broken appliances, especially when he knows that the churches finances might be tight and can’t really afford to replace it. But, at the same time, a home needs a stove or refrigerator and usually if the churches budget is tight, so is the pastor’s,  so it’s not like he or she can afford to replace it.

So you can see how living in a parsonage can feel like you are really living at the mercy of a group of people who hold your personal space and job in their hands. It can be very awkward.  while at the same time, you are very grateful for their generosity. But the bottom line is, it is not your home. and for me, it has never felt like my home. No matter where I have lived, and I have lived in at least 11 parsonages, that I can think of just off the top of my head.  Because for me , there is always that shadow, of “What will the board think if I do this?”, “What will the neighbors think of our church if the kids leave their bikes in the yard or the scrubs are trimmed imperfectly?” I don’t know if the congregations feels this way but, I am always wondering when they come into the house, “Are they judging how well I have kept it up for them?” It’s kind of like seeing your hairdresser out on the street when you are having a bad hair day.  

But the maintenance and style isn’t the only thing that is not our own in a parsonage. Your privacy,  many times, is given up because at anytime, by your sheer profession you can be called upon or dropped in on.

I remember one specific evening, when I was a little girl, my family was having some special time when an unexpected knock came at the door. It was a young teenage girl and her boyfriend that attended our church. She was crying and I was immediately asked to go to my room. Well, me being the inquisitive child I have always been, went down the hall toward my bedroom but just happened to stop at the rocking chair at the end and sat hiding behind it as I listened  to these young people tell my parents she was pregnant and they didn’t know what to do.

I have learned a lot behind these parsonage walls, and this one defining moment that taught me that I never wanted to be put in that predicament as a teenager,  and is probably what kept me a virgin till my wedding day.

But all of my family doesn’t carry the baggage I do of living behind the parsonage walls, they don’t understand that this is not our own home and we can’t be just leaving our underwear and socks around everywhere, because at some point and time,  because of our profession, someone might walk into our home unexpectedly with a issue or need, or maybe just want to paint the inside of our house.

All this got me thinking, the parsonage is not much different than our life in Christ, once we give our life to God. It is not our own either, it is His and we shouldn’t be just leaving the junk of this world laying around in it. We should always be aware that this world isn’t our home we are just passing through. The truth is we are living for another just like you do in a parsonage,  and that other is Christ. You don’t always get what you want because our flesh often wants things that are not good for us.

If we are truly following after God. We have to remember that the chains of sin have been broken over us when we accept Christ. But, because of God’s amazing grace,  He has given us a choice of our will. So we must choose to pick up the junk in our lives, and avoid the temptations that so easily trips us up.

When this world seems to be crashing down around us, we can remember that this world is not our home, we are just passing through, this is only for a season and God has a home waiting for us that supersedes anything we could hope for or image.

This life is only temporary and we can’t  allow the struggles that come our way to discourage us or distract us from what we should be focused on and that is living our life pleasing to the King of Kings. Troubles will come, things happen in our life we wish didn’t , but we can trust God has a bigger and better plan if we will just follow it.  

 

Exercise, Politics and My Family

Exercise, Politics and My Family

This year my son did something extraordinary, in fact you might call him one of the bravest men alive. Our oldest son J. Lee Miller Jr. ran for political office in Oklahoma, which in our political climate could be nothing short of self manslaughter. But my brave son took on a bigger challenge than most of us are willing to do because he believes in the right of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,  you know just that little thing, called the Declaration of Independence that our forefathers set forth as our “unalienable rights”, which the Declaration says has been given to all human beings by their creator, and which governments are created to protect, I guess that is why his campaign motto was Lee for Liberty.

 

So being the supportive family we are, Jeff and I headed to Tulsa to support our kid the day of the election. I thought we would all be sitting around resting just waiting for those polls to close, because I thought all the work was done. But nope! Not my kid! We were out the door as soon as he voted heading to the major intersections of the community standing on the corners holding signs and waving, now I feel I can safely say this was my workout for the day and probably for the year , since I am so athletic. In fact, I feel I developed an effective technique to sign holding and waving on street corners.  

 

The first position for the effective sign holding technique is:

  1. You have your arm stretched all the way out waving with the wrist,
  2. Once your arm gets tired doing that you lower it to halfway at the elbow and wave with your elbow
  3. Once your arm starts hurting from that you go back to fully extended arm waving the whole arm this time from the shoulder
  4. After about 15 mins of each of those positions you switch arms and do it all over again on the other side , all while holding a sign in the other hand and smiling.
  5. Smiling might be the most important part and all of this must be done by looking engaged, at the car coming at you as if to tell the person in the car from the expression on your face “Hey, What a surprise!!  I wasn’t expecting you to be driving down the street today” and this must be done with the same excitement as you would see on your face as if you haven’t seen an old friend in a really long time!

 

I honestly don’t know how the queen does it although waving from a car at people while being driven down the road is probably easier than standing on the street corner for 6 plus hours and  I am sure you are probably wondering, “Well why didn’t you just take a lesson from the Queen and wave like she does” and I honestly tried that too but it was such a little wave, it didn’t and , couldn’t really engage the cars coming at us well enough to get their attention so that idea had to be scrapped immediately, apparently you don’t need to grab people’s attention when you are the queen but you do when you need their vote for a political party.

 

This years election got quite a few peoples attention and set a record number for voters in a non-presidential election all over the country. Many woke up the next morning unhappy and frustrated that their candidate did not get elected. You know, frustration and unhappiness can happen a lot, if we put our faith and trust in man. It is all too easy for us to look to humans for , help when the truth is our only true help come from the Lord. Does that mean if we look to Him we will get everything we want? No! But what we have to remember about any election or difficulty that come to us in life is that God is still in control.

 

The neat thing about last Wednesday morning, God didn’t wake up and say “What?? How did they get elected?”. No God appoints every authority, even the ones we don’t like. He is in control. The children of Israel in the bible didn’t like the pharaoh who had authority over them, but his hardened heart only opened the door for God to show His mighty  power to the children of Israel through the 10 plagues, , which by the way, never touched the children of Israel.

 

You may not have liked what the results of the election were but that doesn’t dismiss your responsibility of what God calls us to do and that is to pray for our newly elected officials. I didn’t say pray against them.  I said pray for them. Because the God who is in control has given you Life and the Liberty to pursue Him which will ultimately lead to the Happiness you are really looking for if we will follow God’s plan.

 

It is time we declare our Independence against fear, and worry of what the future holds and it is time to hold on to the one that holds our future in is hands and I promise you His arms never get tired.