Monday, November 20, 2017

For Whom Are You Thankful?

            If you live in the United States, you know Thanksgiving is this Thursday. A national holiday where we gather with family and friends and sit down to a HUGE meal to talk, reminisce, take a post-turkey meal nap and maybe watch the brain-numbing lineup of televised football games. Some people may break away to go to the mall to make their first Christmas purchases of the season.
            Oh, and did I say anything about it being a day of expressing thanks? That actually should have been the first thing on the list, but it seems to have taken a backseat to the other items I named. Many people just consider Thanksgiving to be the kick-off day to Christmas (like a one-day advent celebration) and post-season college and professional football playoffs. Or it’s just a day to get off work, overeat, and sleep in.

Passing the acorn
            On Thanksgiving it is our family’s tradition to pass a little acorn (or some other seasonal, commemorative item) around the table and say one thing they’re thankful for. (It seems to help if they have something in their hands they can hold onto when thinking and talking.) But I’m going to change it up this year. (My prerogative since I’m the manager of the home and the official event planner.)

Tweaking the thankfulness focus
            This year, instead of having everyone proclaim what they’re thankful for—good health, family, friends, good grades, opportunities, etc.—I’m going to ask that they name a person in their life they are grateful for. (So as not to box the kids into choosing me or the engineer or a grandparent who is present at the table, I’ll have them pick out someone we might not know, like an instructor, mentor or special friend.) I’m going to ask them: For whom are you thankful? I’ll give them the heads up time to think about it, first, before the table’s set. Coming up with one special person may not be as easy as it seems.

            Who would you name?
            Better yet, who would name you?
            Ahh, now there’s a tense question. Who might name you as someone they’re thankful for, and why?


Give them something they'll really remember

            This might sound really arrogant, but I keep a box of all of the notes or letters someone has sent to me, thanking me for something special I’ve done for them. I mean really thanking me. Not just the usual “Thanks for the gift” or “Thanks for Your Thoughtfulness” notes. I mean the really special ones where the sender spent time penning in a special note just to me, naming what they were so grateful for. How I affected their life for the better. How they’ll never forget what I said or did for them.
            Like the beautiful, lengthy poem the psychiatric patient wrote to me on the fly while he eavesdropped on a spiritual conversation I had with another patient. It walloped my heart so hard after I left the barred and locked hospital unit and read it that I slumped against the wall and bawled my eyes out, overcome by how God had chosen to use me as a vessel to give hope to this hurting man. When I touched the fragile line between genius and mental breakdown. One of the most humbling experiences of my life.

            Like the card a friend sent me saying how much she loved and appreciated me because I allowed her to be, well, her. That I could listen non-judgmentally and in empathy. How she could trust me with her heart and painful secrets.

            Or the thank you note from a friend telling me how much she appreciates that we make her feel like a member of our family and include her in our family events. Not hard for me to do since she has a heart that never stops loving and giving, and she’s like a sister to me. (But she recently moved back to Georgia so this Thanksgiving I’m mourning my big loss.)

            And the card sent to me by a young mother (who was my age at the time), thanking me for orchestrating a time of fasting and prayer for her brain cancer-ridden toddler that resulted in a medical miracle. Actually, all I did was respond to the Lord’s leading to do that, and He answered magnificently. (Another humbling experience.)

            Those are the kind of letters I save in my special box. The ones that let me know that I made a difference in someone’s life; that I led them to the Lord. That I offered them His grace.
            That I did what I’m supposed to do as a Christian down here on this little planet, for the meager amount of time I’m here.

            So this Thanksgiving I encourage you: instead of making a list of what, make a list of whom. And then if you have time, write them a note to tell them why.

            It may be the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to them, and they may never throw it away.

            How’s that for a Thanksgiving treat and early Christmas present!


            For those of you who would like to continue our focus on peace for this Thanksgiving, you’ll want to read (or get a refresher with) my 2016 post: “Want Peace? Give a Peace Offering.” You’ll find it at this link:

And next week we’ll be into the Christmas season and Advent, so the month of December will focus on that. Hint: it will include peace! J

May you prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers (3 John 2).

Photos courtesy of Google Images           

Monday, November 13, 2017

Want Peace? Make a Gratitudinal Change (AKA: Everyday Thankfulness)

            Since we’re into our Thanksgiving month here in the U.S., I wanted to take us down the path of gratitude today. And that should be helpful, since gratitude helps you experience peace.

            To help us prepare our hearts for Thanksgiving, and for the Christmas season, I’ve included this link to a great article by respected Bible teacher, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

            She offers you a challenge.

            “…no matter who you are, where you’ve been, or what’s happened to you along the way, you can be changed into a person who’s known and marked by gratitude. God can do it in you.
Are you ready?”

            If you think you are, or even if you want some information and maybe some time to think about it, read Nancy’s article. Be challenged.

            And give thanks!

May the rest of your day and week be blessed!

Until next week.

May you prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers (3 John 2).

Photos courtesy of Google Images

Monday, November 6, 2017

Want Peace? Put Your Childhood Into Perspective

           EVER WISH YOU COULD DO CHILDHOOD ALL OVER AGAIN? Have the wisdom you do now to apply to your youth? Especially if you grew up in a dysfunctional home, with parents who didn’t set good boundaries for themselves and constantly violated yours?

            That’s what happened to Bart Millard, the lead singer for MercyMe. He grew up with an abusive, alcoholic father. For years he suffered emotionally, thinking he was the reason for his father’s problem, his pain, his issues.

            Then one day he decided to write himself a letter. Actually, a letter to himself as a child. His “younger me.” It’s a beautiful testimony to how you can be freed from expectations, from childhood pain and doubts. From the fears that came along with being vulnerable and abused.

            Of course, it takes more than writing a song to slog your way out of some of the pain, but it’s certainly a good place to start.

            Have you ever felt like Bart Millard? If so, maybe writing a letter to yourself. Enjoy this Music Monday song!
            “Dear Younger Me”

Maybe after you listen to Millard's song several times, you might try sitting down and writing yourself a letter. Speak to the child you once were. Love her the way she should have been loved. And offer her the forgiveness she needs.

Until next week,


May you prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers (3 John 2).

Photos by Google Images

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Halloween Tree? Isn’t That an Oxymoron?

            I ALMOST COULDN’T BELIEVE IT WHEN I READ THE HEADLINE in a national newspaper about Target’s new Halloween tree. A Halloween tree? Really? You’ve got to be kidding. Who sits around and thinks up these things? (Evidently the National Tree Company marketing geniuses that make and sell it.) But how could they take a tree—a symbol of life and growth—and turn it into a tree of horror and death? Seems like an oxymoron to me.
            If you think I’m getting too melodramatic here, just read the description on Target’s website:

“This potted tree with its tangle of stringy black branches will add a hint of horror to your Halloween decorating scheme.”

            A tree that adds a “hint of horror to your Halloween decorating scheme.” Ooooh, doesn’t that sound lovely? Why do I want to add horror to any decorating scheme?
            Then they continue with a description that makes this horror tree sound appealing.

“Branches are sprinkled with sparkling glitter and strung with 25 battery operated warm white LED lights. Includes 6 hours ON/18 hours OFF lights timer. Decorative urn base is weighed for stable display. For indoor or covered outdoor use.”

            Catch the “warm” adjective? And a “decorative urn base?” They’re trying to make it sound pretty. And it must have been convincing because the 46-inch, $129.00 tree is sold out, temporarily unavailable at this writing, which is only five days ahead of Halloween.

            This shouldn’t surprise me, though. From the beginning of time, evil has masqueraded as beautiful and enticing. In this case, horrible, warm and decor-enhancing. What other way would you be attracted to it? With 8.4 BILLION hard-earned American dollars spent on Halloween in 2016, it’s clear we’re attracted to and tempted by the macabre and creepy.

            But as I do every year, I make a case for not celebrating this seemingly harmless “holiday.” So here’s the link to last year’s post that gives you all of the reasons I think you should re-consider your celebration of it.

            And if you’d like to go a different direction this year, read this blog post by my friend, author and speaker Jim Watkins. It’s in reference to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation Martin Luther inadvertently started back in Germany. It’s not what you expect, and I think you’ll find it a thoughtful analysis of Catholic versus Protestant views.

Don’t be afraid of missing out. Do something different this year. Celebrate beauty and life! And if you have to attend a Halloween costume party, dress up as one of your favorite martyrs. (You can find plenty of modern ones. Thousands of Christians are being martyred daily all around the world.) At the very least, it will trigger an interesting conversation!

And on a final note, this month I’m celebrating my 5-year anniversary of this blog! I think that’s worth a Woo Hoo! as my friend and writer extraordinaire Adam Colwell likes to say. J It has been nothing short of a miracle that I’ve been able to post every Monday for a total of 279 weeks along with a couple extra thrown in. (One I deleted in deference to it being published in an international publication).

I am grateful. Only God could have orchestrated all of this and provided any speck of inspiration I’ve been able to share.

I’ll see you back here again next week for another dose of peace!

May you prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers (3 John 2).

Photos courtesy of Google Images