Thanksgiving–Speaking Gratitude to God and Others

I’m the kind of person who feels deeply. And I love words. But I don’t always express my gratitude to God and others.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend in small group posed a question.

“What if all we had tomorrow was what we’d thanked God for today?”

Whoa.

My heart stretched uncomfortably.

I fidgeted in my chair and glanced around the room and wondered if everyone else felt the same way I did.

Sometimes I let problems overshadow my gratitude. I doubt God’s goodness. His faithfulness. 

I focus on the physical world and forget the supernatural world. I forget we have a God who is Lord over all, and He knows best. 

I withhold gratitude. 

The next morning, I filled pages in my prayer journal. I had a lot of catching up to do. I thanked Him for my coffee, my Bible, my reading glasses, 56 years of life.

I thanked Him for “blog readers who’ve become my friends.” It’s miraculous when God brings people into divine relationships, isn’t it?

I thought about how my husband Rick and I’ve been married for almost 38 years.

Later that day, I made a list for Thanksgiving. Could I praise God with our table decorations? I wanted something rustic and woodsy. I found an idea on Pinterest. It’s here.

Last Saturday, I asked Rick if he had time to make it.

He stopped what he was doing, and we headed for the woods.

“First, we need a log,” he said and pointed out three possibilities. “Which one do you like best?” 

I picked out my favorite, and he chopped off the ends.

He cut holes for tea candles–just the right size.

We gathered pine cones. I already had pumpkins and plenty of leaves.

After I decorated around the log, Rick lit the candles.

I stood back, fresh gratitude rising, and spoke the words I was thinking.

“I can’t believe you made this. It’s beautiful. You didn’t even read the directions.”

He nodded.

“Really,” I said. “Thank you. You did it just for me.”

“Anytime.”

I reached for him spontaneously and he held me.

A prayer formed.

Thank You, Lord.

I love You.

You’re always here for me. 

You listen and You love me. 

Then it hit me.

Sometimes expressing gratitude to others ignites fresh gratitude to God. Click to tweet. 

I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart… Psalm 9:1 Click to tweet.

Does the question my friend asked stir fresh gratitude? 

“What if all we had tomorrow was what we’d thanked God for today?” 

So much love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

A Thanksgiving Miracle–Inside My Heart and Fridge!

Even though I’m a recovering perfectionist, this past Sunday, everything had to go according to schedule. I’m talking, split-second timing.

Our daughter Katie invited us for Thanksgiving. She married in February. Sunday would be a time of celebration! New marriage. New house. New family.

Early in the week, I posted my list on the fridge.

I even bought a thermal container for my strawberry Jell-o salad–

The yummy kind with a crust made of pretzels.

Sunday Morning Agenda:

1. Go to early church.

2. Son Thomas (24) puts dressing in oven while we’re gone.

3. Hurry home.

4. Pack food.

5. Leave!

Before heading to church, I took the dressing out of the fridge and stuck a note on it for Thomas.

350 x 30 minutes!

When we got home at 11:15, I didn’t smell that wonderful scent of dressing baking in the oven.

A bit of the Old Panic Button Julie rose up.

That terrible uh-oh feeling. 

Wool scarf-tightness around my throat. 

But Thomas’s standing in the kitchen. The oven’s set for 350.

“You put the dressing in at 10:30, right?”

He nodded.

I pulled this out of the oven.

“Thomas, what is it…lasagna? No! It’s the Jell-o salad!”

“It was sitting on the counter with a note on it.”

“You’re right! My fault. Ahhhhh!”

I crammed the Jell-o mess back in the fridge. Kicked the oven up to 400. Threw in the dressing. Made a spinach salad.

“Quick! Pack the cooler!”

The dressing didn’t have time to finish cooking. Mush-mush on one side.

“Hurry! We gotta go!”  

We arrived 25 minutes late. Green bean juice had sloshed all over my new carrier. I opened the cooler.

“Where’s the ice?”

“Ice?” my husband said. “I thought you needed the cooler for storage.” 

“Who takes a cooler for storage?”

Right then, something wild and free broke loose inside of me and I started laughing.

About everything. 

Hysterical laughter! 🙂

Turns out, the pumpkin pie and spinach salad didn’t need ice. We ate around the gooey parts in the dressing.

Back at home that night, I peeked at the Jell-o salad.

Something miraculous happened while we were gone. You’ll never believe it! 

The Jell-o did its thing again. The pretzels bloomed into delicious salty-tasting gummy worms. 🙂  

Life becomes a celebration when you learn to laugh at yourself.  

God helps us fix our mess-ups. 

Sunday reminded me of Surrender, Simple, and Enough.

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

Have you ever tried to make a day go according to schedule and everything fell apart? Did you learn anything? 🙂

P.S. I’ll be glad to share my baked Jell-o dessert recipe. 🙂

Love,

Julie

The Secret Ingredient to Thanksgiving Hospitality

Yesterday something sweet and tender happened. My daughter Katie texted me a picture of her four-year-old stepdaughter Rilynn. When I saw the picture, I finally figured out the secret ingredient to Thanksgiving hospitality.

It’s so simple. For years, I’d made it complicated. 

Rilynn’s holding a tea party for her dolls on the bathroom floor.

“Oh, Katie–this picture…”

“I know. Don’t you love it?”

I enlarged the photo.

“I bet she’s talking to each one of her little friends,” I said.

“She is.”

“And serving something yummy like apple pie.”

Katie laughed. “Actually, they’re having Cap’n Crunch with Crunch Berries. She put a Crunch Berry in everybody’s dish. And added water.”

We hung up, but I couldn’t forget the picture.

For years, I thought having people over for Thanksgiving meant you had to create a perfect meal and a perfect centerpiece. 

One year, I went nuts over a wrinkled tablecloth! Can you imagine? Never mind the people sitting around my table. So silly! I blogged about it here.

The secret ingredient to Thanksgiving hospitality has nothing to do with being perfect. Just the opposite. 

And Rilynn’s already figured it out.

The secret to Thanksgiving hospitality is this–

Forget about yourself, serve others, and care more about people than place mats.

There. That’s it. It’s that simple.

And something else–

Last night, I thanked God for you. For your comments. Your prayers. You’ve welcomed me into your home and your hearts. In my imagination, you came to my house–each one of you, and I made my favorite dessert from childhood.

A cherry cheesecake pie.

(Here’s the recipe from Eaglebrand.com. I used a gluten-free crust so it’s GF.)

Oh, how I wish we could share a Thanksgiving meal together!

“…Serve one another humbly with love.” Galatians 5:13 NIV 

Have you ever been welcomed into someone’s home the way Rilynn served her friends? What was it like?

Have you ever struggled with trying to be perfect? Now we know better!

Love,

Julie

 

 

Thanksgiving Bumps and Bruises

I saw one of those sweet Publix Thanksgiving commercials the other day, and the family-shaped place in my heart ached. Watching their warm, endearing expressions toward each other, I wondered if everything was really this perfect in their world.

Or were some family members missing from the table?

Were any estranged from each other?

Had some gone to Heaven?

Did they have any problems?

Or were they a little more like our family?

With a few bumps and scrapes and bruises.

(If you can’t see the video of the commercial below, click here. It’s only a minute long.)

Watching this TV family, I longed for health and healing–in every way–for all of us in my family.

No barriers.

No illnesses.

Peace and joy.

I guess I wanted the impossible.

Heaven on Earth. 

The next morning I sat in my bedroom talking to God about life, and Clyde laid down beside me as always.

I spotted a handmade bookmark on my bedside table from a Daily Guideposts reader. I’d probably skimmed it a dozen times and had never noticed how the words were spaced on separate lines.

This time I read each phrase slowly.

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I am.

Be still and know.

Be still.

Be. 

Just be still like Clyde. Still and trusting. At peace.

One day, all the bumps and scrapes and bruises in our families will be healed.

Be.

Be still.

Be still and know.

“Be still and know that He is God,” Psalms 46:10.

I’ll be giving thanks tomorrow and praying for you and yours.

Love,

Julie

 

I Give Thanks for You, Dear Readers

I process life with my heart, my gut, and my instincts. Usually not logically. Sort of like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

Take blogging, for instance. When I first started, I decided it would a good idea to write dozens of posts in advance and pre-schedule them.

But my heart wouldn’t cooperate.

I panicked.

What if my creativity dries up? Then what? I’ll be an ex-blogger? An un-blogger.

But each week an idea comes.

Just one.

A gentle thought–so tiny, yet it sparkles.

Almost like manna from heaven.

Impossible to ignore.

And along with fresh ideas, God’s provided readers.

This Thanksgiving I’m grateful to you, Dear Readers.

You’ve demonstrated God’s faithfulness to me.

Thank you for the privilege of your time.

Thank you for reading, for each comment, and most of all, for you friendship.

We connect hearts here, don’t we? 🙂

Wouldn’t it be fun to gather at my cabin? I’d fix cheesecake and plenty of coffee and sweet tea.

We’d have a sure ‘nough PORCH PARTY, wouldn’t we!

I believe today’s message is…

If God’s calling you into a new adventure, no need to fret. He’s faithful. He’ll provide. His way. In His time.

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies…” Psalms 36:5 NIV.

Gluten-Free Cheesecake

Easy Gluten-free Cheesecake

Crust:

Midel Gluten-Free Ginger Snaps (1 1/2 cups) Just use regular graham crackers if you don’t eat gluten-free.

1/2 cup melted butter

 Filling:

3 (8-oz) packages softened cream cheese

5 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

 Topping:

1/4 cup sugar

1 (8-oz) sour cream 

 Melt butter. Pour over cracker crumbs. Press into bottom of spring form pan (or use a 9 inch Pyrex dish). I always use a spring form pan. Set aside.

Separate eggs. Beat whites separately until stiff but not dry. Set aside.

Beat cream cheese, eggs yolks, sugar, and vanilla. Fold in egg whites. Pour over crust. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Mix sour cream and sugar. Pour over cheesecake and bake for 5 minutes.

With so much love and  gratitude,

Julie

The Wizard of Oz from Flickr Commons

Help for a Spirit of Rush

Over the years, my mother’s mentioned having a “spirit of rush.” Lately, I have it too.

The day before Thanksgiving, I raced through my to-do list. I checked off the post office, the bank, and hurried to the grocery story.  After I shopped, I planned to rush home, cook supper, decorate, clean the bathrooms, and write a blog post.

What to write about?

Thinking busy thoughts, I drove down two rows searching for a parking place. A man standing on the curb caught my attention. He wore khakis, a white shirt, and a brown sweater vest. Probably thirty-something.

He began inching his way across the parking lot. He couldn’t have hurried if he’d wanted to.

Lame in one leg, each step was quite an endeavor, but he never stopped smiling.  Clutching the side of his walker, he paused and looked my way.

He had a glow about him–almost heavenly. He held a bouquet of fall flowers wrapped in clear cellophane. The afternoon sunlight glinted off the shiny paper.

Never mind the effort his single purchase must have required. Or the time. He’d bought flowers for someone he loved. Greatly loved, no doubt.

Mesmerized, I waved him on.

Meeting my eyes, he tipped his head toward me. Thank you.

No, thank you!

As I watched him walk away slowly, gratefully, time stood still.

I noticed the magnificent color in the trees–the crisp air scented with chimney smoke.

The man’s contentment had somehow sailed right into my car.

My hurried heart settled down.

He brought Thanksgiving to me–a day early.

Maybe cultivating a spirit of gratitude in all things binds a spirit of rush.

“In everything give thanks….” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJ)

(photo courtesy of all things heart and home.)

Love,

Julie

Creating a Perfectly Imperfect Thanksgiving

 

Our front door

I have a confession. It’s not pretty. Sometimes when I entertain I drive myself (and my husband) nuts.

There are leaves on the porch! What if my pecan pies aren’t done in the middle?

We’re having eighteen people for Thanksgiving. Last week I stopped by Mother’s to borrow her yellow tablecloth.

“It’s full of wrinkles,” she said. “Better take it to the cleaners. You can try putting it in the dryer with a damp towel, but just don’t use it looking like this.”

She was only trying to help.

As soon as I got home, I spread the tablecloth across my kitchen table. Mother was right. It was wrinkled.

I tried the dryer trick three times. No better.

I called my BFF. “Do you iron tablecloths?”

She laughed. “No way. I decorate over the wrinkles.”

Ignoring her simple solution, I ironed the tablecloth on top of my table. Better, but not perfect. Then I ironed it on the ironing board slowly, carefully, one section at a time. Still not quite perfect.

You don’t have to do this. Relax. This isn’t what Thanksgiving is about.

I called the cleaners. If I could get it there STAT, they could have it back by Tuesday afternoon.  I raced it to them.

Nothing else mattered but having a wrinkle-free tablecloth.

At our porch party this morning, I studied the trees and had a feeling God had a message for me.  The trees were gorgeous but some leaves had fallen too soon.

Ahhh! What am I doing critiquing the trees?

My problem wasn’t the wrinkled tablecloth. Or the trees. My problem was pride.

 

Lord, forgive me.  I’d forgotten what’s important. Make our home a place of peace, healing, and beautiful imperfection.

P.S. I’m using paper plates tomorrow. Aren’t the best parties the kind where the hostess has fun? And she cares about her guests more than her tablecloth?

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! Luke 10:41 (NLT)

Love,

Julie