Happy Thanksgiving Holiday to one and all!
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalm 100:4 (NIV)
Happy Thanksgiving Holiday to one and all!
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalm 100:4 (NIV)
One of the first new terms I learned here in the Northwest was “stove up”. I soon realized folks weren’t talking about heat or cooking. They referred to feeling puny or broken.
Like me much of last winter for example. God kept me safe from hurt and harm this fall. But by this time last year I’d injured my right arm chopping wood. Soon I’d fallen and broken my tail bone and many mornings I woke with my bones aching over the exceptionally long, remarkably cold, and unusually wet winter. A few times I’d felt beyond stove up, I felt ’bout stove in.
As I light the first fire of the year in the wood stove I reflect on the past year fondly. I thank God for my rustic life (a dream come true), for my dear Brother Cole and friends and all I’ve learned from them. Celebrating this life, reciting the lessons from the past year helps ease the longing for hugs, humor and hanging out with Seagh, my offspring, my darling Opal and my long-distance siblings.
What do you celebrate this week?
“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.”
Phil 4:19, 20 (NLT)
Header, fire and candle images courtesy of Pixabay.com
This morning started out amazing.
First, I slept. Yay! Then I woke up feeling exceptionally happy for no apparent reason.
With my next heartbeat I felt extraordinary gratitude. Rather than bolting out of the bed to check the wood stove, I pulled the goose down comforter over my shoulders. Annnd that familiar pain shot through my arms.
I didn’t care. I snuggled in and had a long talk with God.
I started by thanking Him, beginning with the obvious blessings in my life: good health, comfortable bed, a warm home, firewood, a variety of food…
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name.” *
Soon I asked for specific blessings for my family, friends and essentially everyone I know. Before long I was back to telling God how great I think He is, how good it is to know Him.
I gotta tell all y’alls, this scenario is rare. I typically begin my days with prayer and thanksgiving for my life – from my desk or armchair with a Bible, a freshly brewed latte or mug of tea, a good fire crackling in the stove…
Me lingering in bed rarely happens. During this exceptionally harsh winter my morning dialogues have started with “Thank You, Jesus. Now, please help me,” just to get out of bed – and then I hit the floor running. Today without thinking or planning I changed things up a little.
What’s more, I think I’m better for… Wow. Sunshine!
And good just keeps on coming.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38 (NLT)
*Psalm 100:4 (NLT)
This week I asked God to show me things and events I take for granted or overlooked, things for which I’m thankful.
All y’alls probably don’t forget the epic moments in your lives that turned the tide for you. This morning I awoke with one such memory – that ended a friendship.
Typically I prefer to avoid dwelling on the dark times of my early past, but this week memories blessed me with a clearer perception of God’s infinite grace, the day I didn’t pull the trigger.
My family of origin is rich – with extremes. Some of those include violence. When I was young I witnessed such from a distance and was sometimes at the receiving end. While I not only survived but overcame them, they affected me. Not always in positive ways.
I left my marriage not solely to remove my sons and myself from physical harm but because of infidelity on many levels. We all got over it, but soon after the separation I recognized violent roots in me.
A good friend surprised the boys and me with a visit to our new home. She’d told me weeks before her new husband had shoved and grabbed her hard enough to bruise her. I wasn’t as happy to see him with her.
After chatting in the kitchen I started walking them through the house to show her the changes we’d made. Soon didn’t come fast enough for him. Entering the second room he grabbed her arm forcefully, insisting they leave immediately. I perceived violence.
I aimed the barrel at her husband’s brow saying, “Let go of her, and leave.” My eldest son later said my strange, icy tone gave him chills from the other room and the pitch of my friend’s voice confirmed her terror as she warned her husband, “She will shoot. Don’t test her.”
The husband realized his life depended upon his next move. He slowly let go of her, raising his hands above his head. From the doorway, thirteen-year-old Iain stepped beside him, and taking his elbow urged him toward the back door saying, “Good choice.”
As the husband backed away with Iain, he cautiously said “Honey, if you’re ready I’ll be in the car.”
In my history the behavior and attitude the husband initially exhibited typically led to me bleeding. One of the last such instances, my friend was in the house during some of the brutality I had survived. In the present all I could think of was protecting my sons and perhaps my friend.
Iain guided the husband outside. After closing the door I lowered my weapon. My friend shocked me by shaming me for doing what I considered the best response to the situation. She cried saying she couldn’t understand me. I was dumbfounded.
Months before Erin came to take me to the hospital. I’d been hit so hard I didn’t get up. After I came to I determined it was the last time I was going down defenseless. The friend I presently stared at, mouth agape in disbelief, had witnessed the attack and called Erin.
As the couple drove away I checked the pistol and then put it back on the shelf. I gathered my sons and assured them everything was okay and then encouraged them to talk about what had just happened. Soon I asked Iain why he went to the husband. He answered, “I saw you hadn’t pulled the hammer back, but he didn’t.” Then shrugging his shoulders he quoted his uncle, “Neutralize the threat.” There were no other questions.
Iain has always astounded me – often in good ways. He never forgot Grandpa, a WWII vet, vigilantly teaching the family of huntsmen, “You hear that sound [a firearm cocking], drop wherever you are.” Iain had’t heard that distictive sound that day.
Minutes later we all returned to what we’d been doing before the guests arrived as though it was any other day.
In almost 25 years, I did not recall that event. After many changes in my life and my heart the memory came to me, tormenting me for days. At the time of that incident I was remarkably spontaneous, especially proactive regarding any perceived threat. A practiced shootist then, I gladly remember now that I never cocked the gun that day. It was the last time I’d pulled a firearm for over two decades.
Whenever I just breathe deeply enough to feel the familiar old scars where my ribs and scull cracked beneath my beloved’s boots, I am thankful. Today I’m thankful to be home safe and sound. I’m not proud, but I’m thankful for the times I stood against physical violence with equal force. And I thank God especially that one particular stand could have gone horribly wrong, but didn’t.
Mostly I’m thankful for my sons. Against the odds they are peacekeepers today.
“When I think of all this I fall to my knees and pray to the Father… Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:14, 20 (NLT)
Images courtesy of Pixabay
With all due diligence honor the sacrifices of those we remember today.
“You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” 2 Timothy 2:2 (NLT)
Images courtesy, Memorial Day 2016 and Nathan Lambert/E.V.A. Lambert
An experience this week brought to mind one of my favorite movie quotes from Miss Congeniality, “That’s right; wear the crown. Envision the crown. Be the crown…” I wish I could use the video clip to depict the intensity and the human frailty in the scene… but let’s move on. The crown in my family looks quite different anyway.
I grew up within a religious system that’s renown for submission through guilt. If that wasn’t enough to give me an exceptionally tender conscious, I also face Post Traumatic Stress Disorder issues that sometimes test my balance.
Recently I had overwhelming guilt for an incident that, maybe in some section of the universe could have been avoided, but in ours it falls under the category, stuff happens – deal with it. I suspect only I would actually shoulder any blame.
While we were all either on line or lounging upstairs, no where near the kitchen, we heard something fall downstairs. We all heard the sound, and asked about it, but only I investigated. A cup from my Sister’s matching dish set fell over and the handle broke off into pieces. Being especially fond of tableware in general, my kind of sparkly, I felt the loss like a stubbed toe.
Though it’s not fine china, it was the first piece of her set to break. What’s more, unable to find where I’d left my travel cup that morning, I had used the cup – that’s right, heap on the guilt. I hand washed it and set it on counter-top rack to dry. Not really paying attention, in my somewhat obsessive way I assumed I had placed it securely. In our older, rather run-down townhouse, vibrations occur and items simply and otherwise inexplicably fall, especially in the ramshackle kitchen. There’s no mystery there.
A collector of antique, fine china and porcelain, I’m not a huge fan of Sister’s squared dishes. But one of the few items she saved from her marriage, she is very fond of the set. It may as well have been cast iron for the weight I felt.
After guilt, and then denial, my next inclination was to shrug it off as happenstance. But no. Being hyper-sensitive about things I lost during my separation, I felt the stab of loss again. Like some places of our hearts, sharp spikes remained on the cup where the handle broke away – literally a two-edged sword.
Also being exceptionally green minded, I began to brain storm how to re-purpose the cup. I often get teased about this inclination, so I kept my ideas to myself. The uneven breaks make a better seat for gluing it, but if there were missing shards, the surfaces could require filling and polishing which is tricky. Those who have experienced any degree of PTSD can easily understand how old memories blindsided me as I searched the sink and counters for shards.
After years of expert counseling, I’m grateful for my vast experience managing such episodes. So I set the cup aside, went to my safe place (sat down there on the tile floor) and examined the facts and the memories. Eventually it all melted into a single concern:
– No matter what, the cup cannot be unbroken. As I have experienced, much like I would, Sister was going to suffer more pain over the loss.
– – The best and only thing I could do is destroy all evidence and lie about what fell or hope to be available to either console her, or take the brunt of her emotions.
Maybe I’m going through a hormonal influx. Or perhaps the loss was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had not only nicked my thumb taking a shard from the garbage disposer, but memories and emotions overwhelmed me and I melted into a tear and blood puddle. Okay, actually tears (and some blood) dampened my blouse.
Wiping mascara traces from my face, in my potentially unstable disposition I prayed for help and direction. Before I could say, “Amen” two images successively burst onto my mind’s big screen.
– The scene in Murphy’s Romance where the son confessed to his mom that he broke, and then mended a plate before she discovered it.
– The first Easter Sunday dinner with family a few weeks after I met Jesus.
After I cried myself dry, I prayed to make sense of the scenes and then get back to work. Immediately the image of the toasting glasses and the pewter goblet I purchased for that family Easter dinner came back to mind in a spotlight. That image made the most sense, so I went with it.
My first holiday dinner with family in a decade, it fell on me to not only say grace, but to make the toast. It’s a tradition we all look forward to, especially afterward; mocking, editing and re-interpreting what the toastmaster actually said. In my new birth as it was, that year was different – for me at least. I had substantial resources at the time, so I purchased fine crystal toasting glasses as a gift to everyone there, one rustic pewter goblet and a couple of nice bottles of wine.
My toast attributed how at the Last Supper Jesus drank from a common cup; the contents of which represented, among other things, each one of our wrongs, past, future and present – for all mankind. My prayer was that we all remember to drink from the cup, but to strive to not fill the cup. It was a bit over-the-top, especially for my sibilant company, and so polite ridicule and jesting flowed freely for hours.
In my new found relationship with Jesus, the meaning came from somewhere deeper in me than I knew existed. Decades later, on her deathbed, Momma recalled that toast almost verbatim. Though she never mentioned it before then, she proudly remembered it all those years. It was only then that I realized she had never joined the chiding either. It was a blessing I could never have imagined. For some reason I don’t actually grasp yet, I actually felt redeemed somehow.
Later on I opted to glue the handle back onto the cup. Wiping the dribbles of super glue from it as best I could, the inside edges of the handle has a sharp ridge where a shard is missing. It could potentially cut a finger. As I reflected on the work, brainstormed how I could polish it out with emery cloth and remove the excess glue well enough, I again remembered the toast from years before. I dearly wanted to drink from the cup, and not help fill it.
Through the years I’ve come to relate my walk with Jesus to be like crafting the crown He promises us. Mine will most likely be dinged up a bit, bent and misshapen with some stones missing, but I’m honored to own it. I look forward to tossing it across the Glassy Sea. Today I can envision the crown, “be the crown.”
Instead of proceeding with mending the cup, I chose to write this story. I’ll print it and put it into the cup – and stow it at the very back of the cupboard. I might email it to Sister so she doesn’t count on using the full dish set in the unforeseen future (redirecting more guilt – it could happen), but hopefully she’ll have read it here already.
“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.” The Apostle Paul
1 Corinthians 10:31-33 (NLT)
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