Monthly Archives: November 2015

The First Thanksgiving Parade

WIKIPEDIA:

The American tradition of Thanksgiving

Saying grace at Thanksgiving dinner. In some American Christian families, either the head of the household or an honored guest often recites or improvises a special grace on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, while the others observe a moment of silence. In some households it is customary for all at the table to hold hands during the grace. 

 

At our home, we go around the table and each person tells what they are most thankful for that year. Sometimes it’s a new baby, a new job, a new love. I’m always truly thankful just to have them around the table. It’s my definition of love and evokes special memories of family. As I thought about offering grace as a thanksgiving to the Lord, I was reminded of Scripture that declares our God is a God of grace. It’s not just something we offer up to Him at mealtime–it is a divine attribute He uses to describe Himself–He is full of grace.

 

As Moses huddled in the cleft of the rock, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Holy One, God placed His hand over the opening to protect Moses from the impact of His holiness. I’ve played this scene over and over in my mind asking God to show me Himself in new ways. Somehow through all these years I overlooked the fact as God passed by that He spoke audibly, “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” (Exodus 34:6 KJV)

 

Here we see a record of the first parade–a Holy parade–the Holy One passed by as Moses strained to get a glimpse, and he heard the declaration of God graciousness, mercy, longsuffering and abundant goodness and truth. In the presence of such greatness, Moses’ response was to fall on His face and worship–He gave thanks–grace.

 

So as you and your family watch the parade on TV this year, let your mind also think of that first parade–a parade of His goodness to us. And may you and yours join Moses in worshipping and thanking Him for His goodness and grace as you gather around your table. My prayer is that He will pass by your home with a declaration of His grace, compassion and great mercy toward you and yours.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING~“The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.  The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all His works.”  (Psalms 145:8-9 KJV)

 

 

I HATE GOOD-BYES

goodbye-705165_1920Hank and I are moving back to Tennessee, our home. We are excited about the new home we are building, reuniting with loved ones, being near family and old friends, making new friends, etc. God’s been leading and opening doors and this is the right move at the right time for us. But moves, especially across the country, are overwhelming physically. This particular move has proved that statement. We are not as young as we were when we moved here 26 years ago, so the work of preparing a home for sale, dealing with the open houses, overseeing items on the inspection list, sorting, cleaning, packing, shipping, etc. has overtaken our lives.

Today I came face to face with the one thing I’ve tried to avoid with all this busyness–the emotional part of our move–saying good-bye to our friends, the familiar and the history we have here. It took me totally by surprise. I knew it was going to come. . . some day; just not today. I would postpone that pain for later. Then the girls in my Bible study group surprised me with a little going away gift. The tears fell as I thought about not meeting with these precious sisters in Christ again until we meet on heaven’s shore. My heart broke because I love each of them and I love studying the Word with them.

Afterwards I bustled off to pick up some Panera soup to take to a former coworker who recently had a hip replacement. She lives in our old neighborhood. Somehow I missed her street and ended up right in front of the house we lived in so many years ago. The side porch drew my attention as it needed some repair. Suddenly my mind took a step back in time. I could see my mom helping my dad down those stairs–walking down that street hand in hand. I had sat on that porch as my second son left for college–all the way across the United States to El Paso, Texas. Would I see him again, would he ever return home again? My heart rejoiced for him and broke all at the same time. I placed my head in my lap and cried — much like the day I took him to kindergarten and then sat in my car crying my eyes out.

I circled the cul de sac and pulled up front where my son had gotten out of an airport limo so many years ago. I had run to meet him, and hug his sweet neck. Oh how good it felt to hold him again and to know he was safe. It had been so hard to let him go so far away–but he was growing up–way too fast. We stood right there in the yard and had a discussion about the ownership of his dog I’d been caring for over the past several months and he said, “I might have known you’d fall in love with that dog.” He knew I would never be able to say good-bye, even to the dog. That dog lays at my feet, snoring away–reminding me of my sweet son.

As I turned the corner I pulled next to the house and stopped. It was here my daughter was parked the night after her wedding. It had been a beautiful ceremony and reception, but she had not finished packing. Her new husband had gone on to the hotel as we sorted through things appropriate for her honeymoon. After loading her suitcases into the car, we had stood right there next to her car hugging and crying, knowing things would change from this night forward. She wouldn’t be coming home any more–she would have a new home with a wonderful man.

It was out that front door my son had left for overseas. As I looked at that front door I was so grateful for the memory of his surprise return home that Thanksgiving–my sweetest Thanksgiving memory ever.

It was in that upstairs room that my dad told me he felt sure he was experiencing the early stages of dementia and I had reassured him that we would always remember love. This conversation was the beginning of a long journey filled with goodbyes for both of us.

Those were precious days, tender memories of good-byes and reunions. Somehow I pulled myself back to the present, wiped my tears and arrived safely at my friend’s door. I knew she had physical therapy today so I was just going to drop the soup off and run. Maybe she wouldn’t notice my tear-stained eyes. She insisted I come in–she had a little going away gift for me. Even though she’s been through three months of physical trauma with two hip replacements, she had a gift for me. . .ME! How had she pulled that off? With all that is on her plate, she thought of me. Oh how I’ll miss my friend. She promises to come visit soon.

When I arrived home, I checked my emails. The girls from my S. S. class sent me an email about a little gift for me and Hank. I’ve taught this class for many, many years–at least a decade. They are all in their late 80’s/early 90’s. I love these gals so much–saying goodbye to them breaks my heart because I know I won’t see them until we are finally home.

I HATE GOOD-BYES!

Even as a little girl I hated good-byes and would cry when our missionaries or guest speakers would leave and it was even worse if it was a relative or dear friend. It was so hard when dad took a new pastorate and we had to leave those who had become like family. My mom always explained to everyone that “Carol has a hard time with good-byes.” Maybe that’s why God worked it out so I could say good-bye to her in a most special way. We had to have her funeral on a Sunday. In Tennessee it is not legal to bury anyone on Sunday, so the burial was scheduled for Monday morning. My sister and our out-of-town guests all had to leave Sunday evening after the funeral to return to their homes and jobs. I asked my husband to allow me to bury my mom alone. Since I was to be the only attendee, I told the funeral director a tent was not necessary. As I drove into the cemetery, her blue metal casket was sitting up on the hill. Suddenly the sun glinted off the metal and spread light shards across the sky. It was breathtaking. I knew my mom was telling me all was well. Though this goodbye may be tender it wasn’t forever–she had just stepped over onto heaven’s shore. Mom is buried next to my daughter–there are no words to explain the pain of that good-bye.

I thank God one day there will be no more good-byes. Just an eternity to spend at the greatest family reunion ever. There will be food, family, fun, music, dancing and rejoicing. . .lots of love and an eternity of stories to hear of each one’s journey home. The Holy Spirit reminded me there had been a a couple of most difficult good-byes in heaven.

  • Heaven must have groaned when Lucifer defied God and left with his followers.
  • It had no doubt broken the heart of the Father and the Son as Jesus prepared to leave glory to come to earth to make salvation possible for you and me. They knew the road that lay ahead, which no doubt made this parting even more difficult.

Somehow knowing He understands and knows all about difficult good-byes is a comfort. I know He’ll go before us and will lead us. Most of all, I’m glad I know He is going with me and we don’t have to say good-bye. And someday He’ll take me home where there will be no more good-byes. Praise God!

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TEARS

woman-1006102__180What turns you from your normal sunny self into standing in a puddle of tears?

We’ve been studying the life of Joseph in my Bible study group using Max Lucado’s You’ll Get Through This. Joseph’s story has been one of my favorites through the years–probably because my mom made a coat of many colors for a church play and I got to wear it. So many times I’ve felt God called my attention to this particular story because He is working similarly in my life. Certainly I’ve found encouragement for my times of pit dwelling.

This week, we found Joseph in tears. I’d never thought much about it, but there was no recording that he cried when his brother’s sold him. Nothing that says he wept when cast into a pit or prison. No tears when he was forgotten or betrayed. Oh, but suddenly he heard the sound of the dialect of his home country–familiar voices. He was busy ruling Egypt and no doubt had only enough time for the passing thought about his family–the brothers who sold him into slavery. Then there they were–face to face with him. He recognized them but they didn’t recognize him. As this part of the story unfolds, drama drips from each sentence. Joseph’s heart is wrenched in two. On several occasions, he has to slip away because he has tears in his eyes. One moment he was a powerful ruler–yet in the blink of an eye he became a blubbering brother.

What moves you to tears? A sad story? A hurt feeling? Like Joseph, I find it is my family that has my heart. If I’m moved to tears, it most likely has something to do with my family. Having lost our first child, I cried for the first five years after discovering she had a terminal illness. Smiles were hard to come by. If one of my children was hurt, sick or struggling in any way, concern was the order of the day and their trials became the source of my tears ad sleepless nights. If there is any disagreement between siblings or us as their parents–just pass the tissues, please. Family means love. Family means commitment. Family means caring. Family means leaving your tender spots wide open–vulnerability. Oh how gentle we need to be with family. Yet like in Jacob’s family the enemy was prowling about causing tension and jealousy–seeking to destroy them as a unit and as individuals.

Jacob doesn’t hold the record for the most dysfunctional family. As we look at families in the Bible, most were quite dysfunctional–they are made up of human beings. Even in the first family, Cain slew his brother Abel. It was interesting to see God get involved in this family’s story. While they thought they’d gotten rid of Joseph, God wanted a united family and He brought them face to face despite the distance. The back stories of Judah and Jacob were almost as interesting as Joseph’s story. God wasn’t slack during all the ensuing years between the time they sold their brother and their arrival in Egypt.  He had been changing hearts and changing men. God was bringing about reconciliation. God is interested in families.  There was testing. There was humbling. There was forgiveness. I found it interesting that the brothers had not forgotten their mistreatment of Joseph and carried a condemnation with them all those years. Wasted years; wasted tears. How sad.

God wasn’t only interested in the family’s story. He was interested in the men. When we tell this story, we recount God’s leading in Joseph’s life. But He was also interested in the brothers. If I had to name the despicable men in the Bible, Joseph’s brothers would jump to mind. Did you ever think about the fact that these brothers were the men whom God chose to be the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel? REALLY? Why them? They sold their brother. They were hard-hearted, selfish liars. They deserved to be obliterated from the face of the earth. But God. . .God is in the business of reconciliation. He is interested in redemption. He takes the unusable and turns them into patriarchs–Kingdom giants. God moves–He is not slack. He calls. He leads. He forgives. He cleans. He restores. He reconciles. He redeems. And praise God He uses.

God is working in your family. He is interested in unity. He is interested in reconciliation. He is redeeming the wayward. He is changing hearts. He is calling us all to love. He is preparing us for usefulness. Don’t let the enemy get a stronghold in your family. Rise up and answer God’s call to reconciliation. Or  . . .get ready for a trip to Egypt.

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