How To Satisfy Our Deepest Cravings

 

We are entering the holiday season. Thanksgiving is just two weeks away! I’m trying to prepare myself because I know it can bring out the best and the worst of us. I’m always hoping and praying to find the best in others and in myself. But, the truth is, for all it’s festivity, food and frolic, this time of year can leave us empty. 

Unrealistic expectations create a cornucopia of emotions; we sit at the table with our bellies full and our hearts hungry for more.

Then comes Black Friday. A day that can be a fun tradition for some folks and not so fun for others who try to bulldoze their way to bargains at any cost. The term “Black Friday” was originally said to be one that police used to describe the heavy traffic jams associated with the busiest shopping day of the year. It now has a darker connotation for those who remember one of the most violent episodes in recent history.

You probably heard about it. It was 2008. A couple thousand people gathered outside a Walmart in New York anxiously awaiting the 5am opening.  The doors opened. The now unruly mob busted in trampling a 34-year old employee to death. The shoppers, who one employee referred to as “savages”, did nothing to help the victim but instead continued on their quest for the unholy grail. Saving a few bucks on a brand new…whatever.

How can so many people put saving dollars over saving a life? 

And sometimes our self-motivated agendas and insensitivity to others cause us to trample those closest to us. The wounds we inflict might be unseen but they leave a lasting scar so it is important that we learn the art of gentleness. Thankfully, we can learn from the Master!

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Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:29, Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  

And, apparently sowing the seeds of gentleness will result in a bountiful harvest of blessing because He promises in Matthew 5:5 that “The meek (another word for gentle) will inherit the earth.”

I have found that it is very difficult to be gentle with others, or with yourself for that matter, when you are filled with turmoil. Peace evaporates when all we’re breathing is the dark, thick air of anxiety.

Like me. Yesterday morning.

I woke with this heavy blanket of worry covering me, thinking more about the bad than the good. Suddenly, I’m embarrassed to admit, I spewed anger. It came out of nowhere, or so I thought, and I was instantly appalled at my outburst. I mean, here I was, normally peace-loving me, barking like a wild animal! And I’ve heard that hungry howl before. It gets loudest when we’re feeling lost, hurt, scared. We are like starving predators on the prowl, hunting for something to fill us up. Something to satisfy those deep soul cravings.

I quickly apologized to my unsuspecting husband, witness to all of my shortcomings, and he showed me grace. Later, when I read this scripture, it hit home.

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7

Here’s what I am continually learning: God has control of all things. Not me. I must lay my burdens at His feet. And thanksgiving must be a part of my every day and not just a one-day-a-year celebration.

I must feast, not on worry, but on the Word so that I can receive what I’m really craving… the peace of God.  

I hope your holiday season leaves you satisfied, full of God’s blessings. And if you are already feeling overwhelmed, maybe you would like to join me in this prayer?

Lord, I do not want to invite anxiety into my life. Please help me, instead, to cultivate a gentle spirit by reaching out to you, inviting you to into every situation, knowing you can protect my mind and heart and cover me in perfect peace. Amen.

Who To Thank For Thanksgiving

Have you ever heard the name Sarah Josepha Hale? Well, she was a writer, a poet, a magazine editor, a widow and mother of five and she was a woman on a mission.

That mission was to have an annual day of Thanksgiving to be recognized as a national holiday. For years, she wrote editorials and personal letters to lawmakers making persuasive arguments for her cause. She was so driven to see her dream become reality, she wrote this letter to President Lincoln.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

I’m so inspired by Sarah’s story, the guts of this single mother. A woman who gave God what she had –  her pen, her words and her passion – and he blessed her efforts.

Sarah is a glowing example of how someone can make a difference by allowing the spark of a noble passion to burn bright enough for others to see. And we who have seen are beneficiaries of her vision to unify us in one common purpose:

“THANKSGIVING DAY is the national pledge of Christian faith in God, acknowledging him as the dispenser of blessings.” (S.J.Hale, 1852)

This Thanksgiving, let us accept the gracious invitation of President Lincoln to gather together and offer up grateful praises to our God for all the blessings he has given us. And we might also remember to thank our Creator for the legacy of a woman named Sarah who never gave up and whose hard work and determination paid off. A great lesson to all of us who would dare to dream.

Click Here to watch a lovely little video on the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

“I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, 1863

Thanksgiving in Review

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone and, even though I’ve been back home for a few days, I’m just now getting back to blogging. I had to catch up on some other things but I’m ready to share some of the highlights of our trip to see my sister, brother-in-law and the nephews.

So, here are a few photos. I couldn’t resist showing off the little ones.

The table pre-feast!

Youngest nephew with his turkey (or, in his words, chicken) cookie!

Nice weather for playing outside!

A trip to see Santa who told the boys to pick out a coloring book. Fun!

A sleigh ride is a great way to kick off the Christmas season!

I hope you all enjoyed your holiday. Mine got me thinking about the things that are truly important in life, reflecting on holidays past and how to make the ones to come more meaningful. In the next few weeks, I am looking forward to exploring these and other topics related to Christmas. I hope you will join me.

Blessings!

A Reason To Be Thankful

And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O LORD, have given me. Then you shall set it before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God. So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the LORD your God has given to you and your house…Deut. 26:10-11

Like many of you, I am reflecting this week on my many blessings and what it means to live a life of gratitude.

I feel like some sort of cyber explorer, using computer keys to sail the seas of history. I step onto rocky shores and begin digging deeper to uncover the roots of my thankfulness in the stories of the thankful ones who came before me.

I try to understand how it must have felt to suffer the kind of hardship those brave souls did, those freedom-seeking dreamers settling into a new world. How hard it must have been to hold on to hope.

But, after that long, arduous voyage. After surviving churning waves and stomachs, a bitter winter plagued by sickness, the death of loved ones and the prospect of continuing loss and heartbreak, they managed to do something amazing.

They gathered to give thanks to God.

And this is where our stories converge. This week I will join in the collective gathering of thankful people, past and present, who recognize the importance of pausing to praise the One from whom all blessings flow.

I will bow my head over a table of plenty and remember those who celebrated their first harvest. Remember the fertile soil that birthed food to sustain life and the life of dreams.

And, I will remember to offer up firstfruits to God who brings hope to the hopeless, who makes full the empty and who gives us all a reason to be thankful.

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I will be on a short blogging break this week so I will take this time to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. I will join you again next week after the holiday. Be blessed!

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens his will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,
Sing praises to his name: He forgets not his own.
(This is an excerpt from the Traditional Thanksgiving Hymn, We Gather Together – translation by Theodore Baker: 1851-1934)