Thanks Giving: for this day and you

It’s Thanksgiving Day — that day I’ve looked forward to this entire month of November.  A day set aside to reflect upon the many blessings we’ve been given and yes, even the difficult circumstances we endure and express how thankful we are for them.

For our family, our faith is what guides and sustains us and we will pause around the Thanksgiving table today with some but not all of our family to give thanks to the One who gives us life.

May you be blessed this day as you offer up your own thanks giving.  Please watch the following video and consider it my Thanksgiving greeting to you, my readers, for whom I am most grateful.

“Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”  ~Edward Sandford Martin

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Thanks Giving: for family

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My 30 days of thanks giving are winding down and the countdown to Christmas will begin soon.  If you’re a steady reader of Mama’s Empty Nest, you know that family means the world to me as I do write about my loved ones often.  

I consider myself ultimately blessed to have a close-knit, loving family – don’t get me wrong, we’re certainly not perfect and we have our squabbles but we love each other enough to work things out and forgive one another.  I realize many folks can’t say the same.  For those who struggle with family situations, my hope for you is that you find caring, supportive folks who will love you within the family of God.

Not all of our immediate family is able to venture home for Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. Many miles separate us but love binds us together and I pray it always stays that way as our family grows and increases.

I’m grateful for the loved ones who will be around our dining room table tomorrow, including one of son-in-law’s buddies who can’t be with his own family clear across the country.  And I’m so thankful all of my family will congregate to celebrate Christmas together before oldest daughter and son-in-law leave on their grand adventure to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.  (They are top left in the photo above taken two years ago; middle daughter & son-in-law who are expecting our first grandchild are top right; son and daughter-in-law are bottom left, and of course, the two who started it all – Mama and Papa – are bottom right.)

And for now, I’m thankful for a house full of people I love and the opportunity, God willing, to all be together again for Christmas. 

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”  ~ Desmond Tutu

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Thanks Giving: for divided highways

blog103It was in the wee hours of the morning and still dark outside.  We’d been traveling non-stop for over 18 hours except to refuel with gas because we were young and impatient and could manage to stay up all night driving.

Papa was a young soldier man and we were stationed at a military base in Oklahoma.  I don’t remember when exactly it was, but definitely before we had our children so probably around 1979 or ’80.  Traveling by car, we had spent vacation time visiting with our families in Pennsylvania and were heading back to Oklahoma on the long, 20-some hour drive.

Really it was foolish, driving straight through the way we often did but we wanted to spend every moment we could with our families.  His family lived a good four-hour drive away from my folks, so we tried to divide our time equally with everyone.  We were tired and weary of being in the car, but still we pushed on because hubby leave ended the next day.  No time to check into a motel for the night.  So on we continued.

Hubby was driving on that divided highway somewhere in between Tulsa and Oklahoma City around 3 a.m.  Car rides make me sleepy even when I’m not exhausted so I had already fallen asleep, my head tilted against a pillow smashed against the passenger side car window.

I groggily awakened to a strange sound – a steady, almost rhythmic whooosh, whooosh kind of sound. And when I opened my eyes, we were driving down the grassy medial strip on the highway instead of on the smooth pavement at a high rate of speed.  Hubby had also dozed off and the swishy noise of the tall prairie grass rustling underneath our car had awakened and warned me that something wasn’t right.

My cry of alarm jolted him awake and he quickly righted the steering wheel easing us back onto the roadway.  I was wide awake now and fearful that it would happen again.  We counted the miles to the next exit or rest area and when we finally spotted one, we wisely pulled over and changed drivers.

I’ve often thought about what could have happened that time so long ago.  The highway wasn’t heavy with traffic, yet there were lots of tractor trailer trucks traveling in both directions.  What if we had completely crossed the highway and hit one head-on?  What if that medial strip hadn’t been prairie grass but had been cement jersey barriers instead?  What if I hadn’t awakened in time? 

I believe that God protected us on that early morning drive and it was He who caused me to hear the grass and awaken just in time.  So today, more than 30 years later, I’m thankful for His guiding hand and I’m also thankful for divided highways.

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanks Giving: sharing blessings

A new home in Honduras

A new home in Honduras

On this Sunday in my 30 days of thanks giving, I’m grateful still for that verse in Scripture, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”  because it has impacted my life in so many ways.  And I’m also thankful that those words spur me on to do what I can to help others whose circumstances are way worse than my own.

Very soon my daughter and son-in-law will climb Mount Kilimanjaro, which is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.  They have decided to use their 42-mile week-long trek as an opportunity to raise money for a faith-based organization called The Honduras Project which works to help those in need in that country.  

Why Honduras?  Because it holds a special place in their hearts; they take yearly mission trips there and they actually met while working with The Honduras Project six years ago.  They hope to raise $1500, approximately the cost to construct one house for poverty-stricken families in various communities in Honduras, and 100% of the funds will go directly to the project.  

Please watch the video below and think about the aspects of life we have to be thankful for and how we can help others who aren’t so blessed. And then if you feel led to do so, consider giving to the Honduras Project by clicking here.  Or share some of your blessings with someone in need right in your own community.

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” ~W.T. Purkiser 

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanks Giving: for the library

blogIMG_4377It’s almost become a standing date.  Me, Papa, and the public library.

We’re both readers.  When I was young, my mom always knew she could find me with my ‘nose in a book.’  And my husband – definitely a bookworm when he was a kid.  He still has his classic comics stashed away to prove it.  The shelves in our home sport way more books than knickknacks and I’m pretty certain boxes of various volumes we own are stored in our basement.

We do read a lot on our Kindle but both of us would rather roam through the stacks of books in a public library in search of a good read. I like turning the actual pages of a book in my hands and checking one out knowing I have a deadline to finish it by.

Libraries have always been one of my favorite places.  I like the quietness and hushed tones and the peace you find there.  When I walk into one, I’m happy to meander up and down the aisles reading book titles, looking for my favorite authors, or totally branching out and trying a book from a writer I don’t recognize. My dream would be to start in the fiction section with the letter A and read as many volumes as I could all the way through to Z. 

So a trip to the library a couple of Saturdays a month has become a kind of date for hubby and me. 

And I’m thankful for this thing we have in common, for public libraries, and a big tote bag in which to bring home my finds.  And the best part, it’s free.

“I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card.” –Laura Bush

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Thanks Giving: for the glass

How do you see the glass?  Much has been said or written about whether your glass is half full or half empty.

I can fret about whether my glass is half full or half empty.  But today on this 20th day into my 30 days of thanks giving, I’m just going to be thankful I have a glass and fill it full of gratitude. 

“But whether we have less or more, Always thank we God therefor.”  ~Author Unknown

Please view the video below and ask yourself is your glass full of thanksgiving?

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanks Giving: when he pumps the gas

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We woke up to snow on the ground Monday morning, a little icy residue under the snow engulfing our car, and we had a long trip to make home after spending the weekend visiting our daughter and son-in-law a few states away.

And as I sat in our vehicle, nice and toasty warm with those heated seats, my husband got out into the blustery snowy weather to fill our tank with gas.

It was a day for thankfulness.  Thankfulness for safe trips to visit our loved ones.  Thankfulness for heated car seats when the weather turns arctic.  And thankfulness for hubby when he pumps the gas in all kinds of weather.

“All that we behold is full of blessings.” ~ William Wordsworth

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Thanks Giving: for words

30 days of thanks3Words.  I’m thankful for them because where would we be without them?

If there were no words, we would have no writing.  There would be no great works of literature, no poems, no letters, no dictionaries, no blogs for that matter.

If words were non-existent, we would have no speech.  We would have no names for people, places, or things.  There would be no conversations, audible or with sign language.

Words are important.  Words are powerful.  They have the ability to build up or tear down.  On average, we humans speak thousands of words per day.  Some people are more talkative than others, but even the most reticent among us use words each and every day.

Some of us are like a waterfall, words rush dramatically from us.  Some are like a river, words flowing continually.  Others are like Old Faithful, quiet for a while then suddenly words gush forth.   And still others are much like a faucet, we turn our words off and on just when they are needed.

We speak words of love and words of hate.  Words of comfort and words of anger.  Words of life and words of death.  Words of encouragement and words of destruction.  Words of blessing and words of curse.  Words can instill passion to do good or incite diabolical plans for evil.

The Bible gives us much instruction on our use of words.   Proverbs 12:17-19  reminds me to choose my words wisely and think before I speak: “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.”

I’ve been guilty of piercing my loved ones with reckless words of my own, and I have been the recipient of sharp sword-like words piercing my heart.    I’ve witnessed someone utter a careless, flippant remark which deeply wounded a friend of mine.  I felt her pain at the insensitive words the other person spoke and I could see in her eyes how those thoughtless utterances affected her.

I wish I could say that my tongue always speaks soothing words of healing, but I know that’s not the case.  Sometimes, I let my anger, or frustration, or state of feeling unwell fuel what comes out of my mouth.   And then harsh words just spew out of me.

Those critical or abrasive words I speak do nothing but cause more anger and frustration.  At times like these, I need to heed this admonition from Proverbs 15:1-3: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.”

I’ve become more conscious of my words and more cautious to consider them wisely before I spout.  It’s something I wish I learned a long time ago, putting these words also found in Proverbs into practice:  “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)

God knows me inside and out.  He knows my heart.  He knows what’s in my head.  And He knows what I’m going to say before the words roll off my tongue.

“You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” ~ Psalm 139:3-5

My hope is that I’ll be more sensitive to His urging to check my spirit and examine my words carefully before I speak because my words have power either to inflict great damage or bless another with the soothing balm of grace.

And I have the power to choose and change my words and for that opportunity I’m so very thankful.

“To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.”  ~Johannes A. Gaertner

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