The older you get, the more great memories you have that center around the marvelous American traditions of Thanksgiving. It’s one of my favorite times of the year!
My memories include going to West Texas and passing by lots of turkey farms where the gangly birds could be seen by the hundreds. They were so cute when little, but the bigger the bird, the more the ‘strut’. Turkeys strut, just like some people I’ve known.
When the leaves begin to fall and the wind begins to whistle through the pines, I think of my folk’s lake home on Cedar Creek in East Texas. We’d gather there for Thanksgiving and laugh ourselves silly. I can still smell my mother’s huge kitchen awash in aromas of goodies.
Being a history nut, I’m keenly aware of the 400 year “First Thanksgiving” anniversary coming up in 2020. Imagine. Four hundred years since the Mayflower sailed from England full of saints and sailors searching for a new life. There were 102 men, women and children on that rickety, smelly cargo hole where they were stashed for 66 days. They got a late start from the old country and disembarked at Plymouth Rock too late to plant a thing. But they were grateful to be alive and held a prayer service before beginning the arduous task of building hasty shelters. Half of them starved the first winter. But God sent help, in the form of an English speaking Indian named Squanto. The Pilgrims, and their new Indian friends celebrated their first Thanksgiving with a three-day feast in the fall of 1621. They were thankful to the God of heaven for the bountiful food, for the Indians’ help and most of all, for the Almighty’s faithfulness. It reminds me of a song of thanks I’ve taught my grandchildren:
Psalm 92:1-2. “It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your name, Most High! To declare Your kindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night…and Your faithfulness by night.”
Many Americans in 2019 seem ambivalent to the bountiful blessings that Almighty God has heaped on us. To some, Thanksgiving is about football and food…in that order. But as we cram more and more mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie into our mouths, perhaps we need to pause and reflect. We would do well to remember how He saved our wretched lives from Hell and gave us new redeemed ones. I for one, am shocked how good He has been to give me family and friends by the boatload with undeserved and unmerited favor to boot!
The older I get, the more I realize it’s about our marvelous Savior and God’s infinite mercy in giving us beautiful people to decorate our lives. How dull life would be without them. His people surround us like so many turkeys on a farm. Sometimes they are cute and fuzzy like the baby turkeys. Other times they drive us crazy when they “strut their stuff.” All precious, but each one just a tad different than the other.
This Thanksgiving, agree with me to love and hug more, fuss and fume less. As you gather with loved ones, go around the table and remember the goodness of our Father. Good food, yes, but good memories, more.
Reflection is good for the soul. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
BIO: Bettye Petree served Magazine and Newspaper Editor for Southland Life, Texas Director and National Prayer Lead for National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, four terms as School Board Trustee for Lovejoy ISD, and Texas Life Award, PTA of Texas. She is a graduate of Christ for the Nations and an ordained minister. Her awards include Communicator of the Year - International Association of Business Communicators and Woman of the Year Matrix Award - Women in Communications. She is married with three grown children and six grandchildren.
Published on Sunday, November 3, 2019 @ 9:13 PM CDT
It all began during a recent trip when my husband, Jim, and I stopped for lunch in a small-town. I excused myself to the ladies’ room. With no appropriate area to set my purse, I carefully placed it in the clean, stainless steel sink. Since it was raining when we arrived, I thought nothing of a few drops of water falling off my purse when I lifted it. Once we were seated, I reached inside my damp purse, apparently sprinkled by an automatic motion facet. You guessed it. Sadly, my phone inside was wet and unresponsive.
We visited an AT&T store at our destination where a handsome young man, Jose, met us at the door and asked, “May I help you?”
Jose and another worker checked the phone and said, “It is dead.”
With genuine regret I turned to Jim and told him, “I am so sorry about this. Please forgive me.” He responded with such grace, “That’s okay, it was an accident. You need a phone, so I’ll buy one now for your birthday.”
I answered a few questions. Then, while iCloud loaded information from my old phone into a new one, we visited with Jose and learned he was a college freshman studying business.
Jim shared with him a tract written by our son, Steve, two months before he went to Heaven. “So What Happens Next?”
Jose repeated the title, and said, “I’ve always wondered about that. May I read it now?” After a few quiet moments of reading he asked, “What advice would you give a young man my age?” It was a wonderful opportunity to share verses like—"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3: 5-6 NIV).
Jim shared a testimony and I asked Jose, “Do you have a Bible?” Jose was delighted when Jim helped him download a Bible app on his phone. We left the store feeling we had a divine appointment. When I asked Jose if I could pray for him, he gave me his name and phone number. A few days later I sent a text, “Thanks for helping us! I hope you have trusted Jesus as your Savior.” He wrote back “I sure did!” and expressed gratitude for our time together.
I am overwhelmed by grace—the forgiving grace of my husband, God’s grace in providing our salvation, and the joy of Jose’s receiving God’s saving grace through Christ. To God be the glory.
BIO: Fran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist and a core group leader for Community Bible Study. She is the author of See You Later, Jeffrey and Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faith and co-author of others. Jim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven, a beautiful married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren.Visit Fran at her website: www.fransandin.com
Published on Sunday, September 29, 2019 @ 7:48 PM CDT
Grief became personal when I lost my loved one two years ago.
As a professional counselor, I've served others for many years by leading grief support groups. I consider it a privilege to walk with others during their time of loss.
Now, however, after my own loss, I have a new image of grief. It's a trap door that opens underneath you. You feel like you are falling and falling and cannot stop. You cannot catch your breath. It seems to never end....
That is grief.
But, as Corrie Ten Boom states in her book, The Hiding Place, “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.” In my professional grief counseling groups, I always share Psalm 139 where God tells us that He knows the number of our days before one is ever lived. This passage has brought me great comfort during my own time of grief to know that God is never shocked or derailed by grief.
The recovery is slippery, and can be overwhelming. However, God will be present with you in every breath you take.
Although it been incredibly hard, I am learning how to grieve the loss of my loved one while still living my life. I don't know how to do this yet with confidence. Some days it seems like I'm just muddling through.... But I know God loves me and I can trust Him.
My advice to everyone is: MAKE MEMORIES!!!!!
It's the wonderful memories of the love you shared that will brighten the dark journey that grief brings.
This week I challenge you to choose a time to talk with your family/friends about making memories. Plan a picnic/play day with your family; or go ice skating; or pick a place you have never visited before and plan a visit; or just try a new restaurant. The possibilities are limitless. Whatever you choose, take along the camera, and make sure that you are included in at least some of the pictures.
He will swallow up death forever: The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove His people's disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. — Isaiah 25:8
BIO: Janie Stubblefield is a Licensed Professional Counselor - Supervisor in Texas, a Registered Play Therapist - Supervisor, a Nationally Certified Counselor, and trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). As a native to Dallas, TX, she has professionally served individuals, families, youth, and children for almost two decades through her private practice and local community service programs. Janie presently serves on the Board of Professional Counselors for the State of Texas, the Presidents Assembly Steering Committee for the National Association for Women Business Owners, and as the Chairperson for the Adolescent Symposium of Texas. Janie founded Mobile Counseling, PLLC in 2011 as an avenue to serve clients where they are most comfortable - in our office, at their home, or online. She is an alumni of UT-Dallas and Dallas Theological Seminary with degrees in Counseling and Biblical Studies. Janie’s Vision is "to work with individuals and their families to foster and improve relationships, and to positively impact their life."
Published on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 @ 12:00 PM CDT
"I never knew you were a single mom," a woman told me as we walked across the church parking lot. I considered her statement a compliment. Her words implied to me that our family appeared normal. I believed in my mind and in my heart that everyone knew our struggles just by looking at us.
As a divorced single parent, I felt inadequate. I worried that my shortcomings would glare like a flashing neon sign, "This mom is a screw-up." I was afraid that my mistakes would forever damage my children.
While struggling to parent my two young daughters I pleaded with God to help me. Over and over I relied on his promise to be father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). The fact that this woman had known me for a couple of years and did not know I was a single parent suggested to me that God was keeping his promise.
A few years later I had a similar experience. A new colleague was surprised to hear that I had suffered the death of a child, escaped an abusive marriage, and had two daughters who had been diagnosed with chronic neurological conditions as teenagers. He said to me, “No one would ever know what you’ve been through. You walk around here with a smile on your face, even on the bad days.” His words brought back a memory from scripture I read during one of my daughter’s lengthy hospital stays. The story is in Daniel, chapter three.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had been thrown into the furnace for refusing to worship an idol. The fire was so hot that it killed the men who threw them in. These young men believed God could save them from the fire; yet they were obedient without knowing the outcome.
The story continues with the image of a fourth man seen in the fire. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego escaped unharmed. The king knew that it was God who rescued them. The part of this story that sticks out to me is the verse that says "...there was no smell of fire on them." (Daniel 3:27, NIV)
There are some terribly painful, unfair, fiery trials that we go through. Some involve family relationships; others are health related. God doesn't promise an easy, trouble-free life, but He does promise to never leave us or forsake us. When we are in the furnace, He is there. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we have a fourth One in the fire with us. We can come out with our faith stronger and our joy deeper. We can walk out of that furnace with no smell of fire.
BIO: Michelle Ruddell
Michelle Ruddell is a high-school math teacher in Robinson, Texas. Now an empty-nester, she is working on sharing the stories of God’s faithfulness through the death of her son, her escape from an abusive marriage, and single-parenting her two daughters. Michelle teaches a single-adult Bible-study class and volunteers with Light in the Gap, a ministry to women just released from prison. Read more at http://michelleruddell.com/
Contact Michelle on Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published on Wednesday, July 31, 2019 @ 1:35 PM CDT
“Do you solemnly swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? “
Hmmm.... Do I? Do you?
In a court of law, witnesses are required to give an oath swearing they will tell the whole truth. They provide a testimony of what they have seen and heard. Some witnesses may choose to take “the fifth” (stay silent) rather than give an account of what happened.
God calls us to testify what we have seen him do in our lives. Everyone who has a personal relationship with Jesus can share times where God has comforted, guided, or blessed them.
We Christians miss opportunities to testify. For example, while in the grocery store, I notice that one of the clerks has a pained expression on her face. I choose to take “the fifth” instead of engaging. I should ask how her day is going and if there is anything I can pray for her about. But I’ve got things to do and places to be. Besides, what if she gets upset and rejects me? So I move through the checkout line then head out the door to my car. I’ve remained silent instead of proclaiming the truth.
Later I think, Lord, no one’s future is guaranteed. What if that was the last opportunity she’d have to hear about you?
God will provide opportunities to testify. Recently I shared my testimony with a friend about a time in my life when I was angry with God. I went through a crisis of faith after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I gave up going to church, but one night my husband insisted that I attend with him. At the conclusion of the service, I went forward for prayer. God’s presence overwhelmed me and I was reminded of Jeremiah 31:3 where God says, “I love you with an everlasting love.”
That was a turning point in my life because I knew that whatever happened, God loved me and would be with me. As a result of the strength God provided, I was able to teach and research as a university professor for fifteen years after my diagnosis. He gave me the will and the ability to continue.
I told my friend, “God loves me and daily gives me strength, but God also loves you.”
That is my testimony of what I've seen God do in my life. I share my struggle, how I turned to God, and the results afterwards.
We need to be bold like the apostles Peter and John and take advantage of opportunities to share Jesus. Even when the apostles were threatened with jail they said:
“As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20 NIV)
God, help us to tell the whole truth and roar our faith instead of being silent witnesses.
BIO: Dr. Sherry Ryan is a blogger, writer and speaker. She retired in 2013 from the University of North Texas as an Associate Professor of Information Technology and Decision Sciences. Prior to earning her doctorate, she worked for IBM, teaching courses and speaking at national conferences.
Check out Sherry's blog SeatedExpectations.com It provides "Inspiration and Information for Overcoming Life's Challenges."
Published on Friday, June 28, 2019 @ 12:41 AM CDT
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