“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.” Psalm 100:4
As our nation celebrates Thanksgiving, I encourage each of you to pause for a few moments today to reflect on the many blessings God has bestowed upon you in the past year. Certainly, 2021 has more than its share of challenges. It would be easy to focus on the interruptions in our lives caused by covid and rising prices for food and gas. However, we all still have much for which to be thankful.
The Bible is replete with the command to thank God for His goodness, as we read in Psalm 95: 1- 7:
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, And the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land.
God is our creator. He made us, and He is worth of our praise and our outpourings of thanksgiving. “Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3
Today and every day, we need to express our gratitude to God for giving us life, for providing a beautiful home for us to reside in this life, and for sending His Son to redeem us and make provision for us to live eternally with God in heaven.
May your heart overflow with gratitude for our wonderful Lord.
My life was made much easier during the past year and a half by those who did not have the option of working from home and social distancing. Grocery clerks, postal workers, delivery people, truck drivers, and many other were out in the public every day so that the rest of us had access to the things we needed. Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to thank those who sacrificed for the rest of us.
Here’s some ideas to show appreciation: 1) Hand-written note. Do you know that is takes only about 3 minutes to write a thoughtful, sincere thank you note? Set aside time each week between now and Thanksgiving to write a couple of thank you notes to those who have most impacted your life during covid. If you will mail your cards, allow extra time as postal deliveries are taking longer than in the past.
2)Gift cards. Consider purchasing gift cards for those who provide services to you regularly. Gift cards can be included with thank you notes, or you can write a quick “thank you for your service” message on the card. Of course, budget for the gift cards and stick to your budget. A sincere thank you is more important than the amount of the card.
3)Holiday tipping. Many of us tip those who provide service to us more at Christmas than at other times. This year, consider giving tips at Thanksgiving instead of, or in addition to, your Christmas tip.
As you take time this Thanksgiving to meditate on God’s blessings, ask Him to bring to your mind those who have made your covid-experience more comfortable. He will guide you to remember those who will be truly blessed by your heartfelt and sincere message that you have been blessed by their hard work and sacrifice.
We are a few weeks into fall, and the holidays are just around the corner. The holiday season will not be back to “normal” this year, as covid-19 continues to wreck havoc with schedules and supply chains. It’s always a good idea to start early and have a plan. This year, planning ahead is more important than ever. Here’s some steps to help you have a blessed holiday season. 1) Savor time spent with family. Many of us will feel a bit more comfortable traveling this fall and having guests in our homes than we did last year. Make up for lost time. Invite family and friends for simple meals, fellowship, and games. Spend less energy planning the “perfect” event and more time enjoying being together with those you care about most. 2) Focus on the real reason for the holidays. Take time to reflect on how God has blessed your family during the past year. Even in challenging times, we are a blessed nation. Thank God for the blessings He has bestowed on you and for the gift of His Son, whose birth brought hope to a darkened world. 3) Avoid revenge spending. Many people have put their spending into high gear this year to make up for fewer opportunities to indulge in 2020. Economists have dubbed this phenomenon “revenge spending.” This is not a good idea. Spending more will not make your holidays merrier, and it might eat into savings accumulated last year. 4) Budget. In the next few months, you will be shopping for food, candy, gifts, and decorations for fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Plan now for spending, in accordance with your budgets. 5) Set aside time. Plan to take a few days off from work or set aside some Saturdays to begin shopping, planning menus, and start decorating. 6)Delegate. Share duties with your spouse, children, and family and friends with whom you will celebrate. They may come up with great, new traditions to include in your celebrations for many years to come, and you will save a lot of time. 7)Plan ahead and be flexible. The past year and half have taught us that we don’t know what the future holds from day to day. Covid-19 has presented us with new challenges and obstacles. Celebrations had to altered last year and that may be true again. 8)Start early. Covid-19 has played havoc with the supply chain. We experienced shortages last year, and we will again this year. Transportation of goods is taking longer. If there are items that are “must-haves” on your list, order early and be prepared to accept substitutes.
This is reprinted from my new quarterly blog which focuses on helping you manage your money in ways that reduce stress and honor God. Click here to subscribe to my quarterly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/hG1VjT
I would love to hear about how you plan to celebrate the holidays this year. What will you differently to make this year special for your loved one?
In 1 Timothy 2: 1- 4, Paul wrote, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
As Christian we often use this passage to encourage one another to pray for our President and elected officials. And if ever there was a time that our President and elected officials need our prayers, it is now. Supplications and intercessions go pretty much hand-in-hand with prayers. I am quite happy, and usually diligent, to pray, intercede, and supplicate for our leaders.
Today, however, as I read this passage, the fourth command jumped out at me–‘giving of thanks.’ Now, that is a harder pill to swallow. I give thanks regularly for our President and other elected leaders with whom I agree and support. However, I can’t say that I give thanks for those who oppose the President and the important changes he is trying to implement to keep our country safe and prosperous.
When it comes to praying for those politicians that I believe are moving our nation away from God, I do pray for their salvation. I ask God to remove the blinders from their eyes so that they will see the truth and repent. I pray for revival for our nation, and particularly among those in position of authority and influence. But, I don’t give thanks for those with whom I disagree.
Paul tells us in this passage that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for ALL men, for kings and ALL who are in authority.” And the reason for these prayers, supplications, intercessions, and thanks is that we may live in peace in godliness and that people will be saved and come to know the truth.
So, starting today, I will give thanks for all men and women in positions of authority, whether I agree with their politics or not. And, I believe that by giving thanks, and interceding on behalf of all our politicians, that we will enable God to move in the hearts and minds of our politicians to work together so that we as Americans can live in peace in godliness and reverence.
Will you join me in supplicating, praying, interceding, and giving thanks for all in authority?
The entire ninth chapter of John is devoted to the story of Jesus healing a man who had been blind from birth. As I listened to my pastor preach from this text on Sunday, I was particularly impressed by the first few verses in which the disciples assumed that the man’s blindness was the result of sin, either by the blind man himself or his parents.
Jesus responds to their question in verse 3, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”
What a powerful statement. This was a grown man who had spent his childhood and some portion of his adult life blind, in order that Jesus could heal him on this particular day and reveal to the world that He had the power to forgive sins and to heal infirmities.
This struck a personal chord with me. When I was 5, my mother gave birth to my brother John. In the weeks after his birth, we came to realize that John could neither see nor hear. The doctors said that John’s birth defects were due to my mother having contracted German measles while pregnant. When John was 3, however, it became clear that he was born as he was in order that God might reveal Himself to our family.
My mother casually asked the wife of my father’s commanding officer to pray for John, as he was to undergo surgery in an attempt to provide him with some limited sight. The woman responding by coming over to our house immediately and sharing Jesus with my mother and encouraging her to read the Gospel of John. My mother read John that very night and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.
Over the next four years, all the members of our immediately family accepted Jesus as their Savior. Soon after my father’s salvation, God called John home to Heaven. John did not receive his sight or hearing while on Earth. He never learned to speak and never shared the Gospel with anyone, yet we know that the salvation of our family and many others is credited to his account in Heaven.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful to God for revealing Himself to our family by sending us John.
Last night, as my husband was channel surfing, he happened upon the end of the movie Shenandoah. Jimmy Stewart’s character, Charlie Anderson, has just returned home from a futile search to find his youngest son who was captured by the Union Army. On the way home, his oldest son is killed by a frightened young soldier. He arrives home bereft and learns that another son and daughter-in-law have been murdered in his absence. Mr. Anderson has staunchly maintained throughout the war, that it doesn’t concern them. Now, he has to face the reality that he can’t control many aspects of life–he can’t hide from the war and he can’t always protect his family from life.
As they sit down to breakfast the next morning, Mr. Anderson tries to say his normal ‘grace’ before they eat. In the past, he has grudgingly thanked God for food which he doesn’t feel God provided:
We cleared this land;
We plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it.
We cooked the harvest.
It wouldn’t be here—we wouldn’t be eating it—if we hadn’t done it all ourselves.
We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel
But we thank you just the same anyway, Lord, for this food we’re about to eat.
This time, he chokes on the words, as he realizes for the first time that all of his blessings have indeed come from God. Yes, he and his children have worked hard to grow their food and provide for the family, but it was God who instilled them with the strength and ability to plow the land and plant seeds, to harvest their crops, and to cook meals.
God expects us to work hard and use the talents He has endued in each of us. But, He also expects us to recognize that those talents come from Him. As we read in Deuteronomy 8:17 – 18, “You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”
These verses follow a passage in which Moses warns the Israelites against the same type of pride and arrogance that Mr. Anderson displays. He tells them to (1) remember how God brought them to this land (v. 2), revere God and obey Him (v. 6), and praise God when they have eaten and are satisfied (v. 10). He reminds them of all the terrible tragedies that did not befall them as they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. And, he concludes by reminding them that God has given them the abilities to grow food, build homes, and live comfortable lives.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, we all have much for which to give thanks. As you thank God for your family, health, home, and other materials blessings, also take a moment to reflect on the abilities God has given you to allow you to produce wealth and to be a blessing to others.
As we gather with family and friends today to remember with gratitude the blessings of the past year, let us remember to thank the One who made these blessings possible. Without God’s help, none of us would enjoy the blessings of good health, family, liberty, and and freedom. America was formed as a nation under God, and we need to remember to thank Him for his mercy and favor on our great nation.
I’d like to share two old hymns that I grew up singing during the Thanksgiving season. They are reminders to me that all good things come from God. Let’s offer up grateful prayers of thanksgiving to God today and everyday. Happy Thanksgiving!
Come, Ye Thankful People
Come, ye thankful people come, Raise the song of harvest home:
All is safely gathered in, Ere the winter storms begin.
God, our Maker, doth provide, For our wants to be supplied.
Come to God’s own temple, come, Raise the song of harvest home.
We Gather Together
We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing,
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing cease them from distressing.
Sing praises to His names, He forgets not His own.
Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, wast at our side,all glory be Thine!
We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader in battle,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be;
Let thy congregation escape tribulation:
Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!
For mother-love and father-care,
For brothers strong and sisters fair,
For love at home and here each day,
For guidance lest we go astray,
Father,in Heaven, we thank thee.
For this new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For ev’rything His goodness sends,
Father in Heaven, we thank Thee.
I’ve just returned from my first trip to New Orleans. I was in New Orleans for the annual conference for the Association of Small Business Development Centers. My husband accompanied me. Due to attending conference sessions, I didn’t have an abundance of time for sight-seeing, but we made the most of the time we did have.
I’m sure that everyone who visits New Orleans comes back with different favorite restaurants, night clubs, and tourist attractions. These are my top ten, not in order of favorites, as ranking them would be too hard, but rather they are in the order in which I experienced them.
1. Parasols Restaurant. We stumbled on this hidden gem quite accidentally. After settling in our hotel room, Steve, my two co-workers, and I set out to see a bit of the garden district. We caught a trolley and then a bus to reach the district. We strolled around for about 40 minutes admiring the large, well-maintained houses before deciding we needed nourishment. We headed for the first restaurant we saw. Unfortunately, it was closed. A local man advised us that we should go “one block down and two blocks to the right” and we would find a great restaurant. It doesn’t look like much, but they serve up delicious food in ample quantities. I had my first New Orleans gumbo and gravy cheese fries at Parasols.
2. Pedicabs–After dinner we returned to our hotel and decided to stroll over to RiverWalk. It was closed, but we encountered our first pedicab driver. Steve and I hitched a ride to Jackson Square. Pedicabs aren’t the cheapest way to travel in New Orleans, but they are the greenest and a great way to enjoy the city. We utilized the pedicabs several times over the next three days. Each pedicab driver was polite, friendly, and truly loved his/her job.
3) Mule-Drawn Carriages–We have occasionally taken tours on horse-drawn carriages, but this was our first experience with carriages pulled by mules. Our tour guide explained that the climate is too hot and humid for horses; mules, however, cope quite well. We thoroughly enjoyed our 30 minute tour and learned some interesting facts about New Orleans.
4) Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz PlayHouse–We spent two evenings enjoying the wonderful musicians showcased at Mayfield’s. The first evening we listened to Jason Marsalis (brother of Wynton and Ellis). Jason is an amazing drummer; his pianist and bassist were excellent. The pianist had actually composed a few of their numbers. The next night Mayfield’s own band NOJO Jam Session played, minus Irvin Mayfield, unfortunately. They were also amazing. We skipped Mayfield’s on our final night, but my co-workers went and said James Rivers was their favorite performer. They stayed through all three sets and thoroughly enjoyed their evening. The food at Mayfield’s was also quite good.
5) Oceana Grill–Located just off Bourbon Street and across from the Royal Sonesta Hotel, Oceana Grill offers great food at very reasonable prices. We shared appetizers of oysters Rockefeller and barbeque shrimp. Steve had a fried seafood platter, while I ate redfish with crawfish mushroom cream sauce. I loved every bite. Their desserts were very tempting, but we were beyond full.
6) Royal House Restaurant–On our last night, we asked our pedicab driver to recommend a restaurant and he took us to Royal House. Although everything we ate in New Orleans was delicious, the dinner at Royal House was definitely our ultimate dining experience. We started with oysters royale and sautéed crab claws. The crab claws were our favorite dish of all that we tried in New Orleans. I wished I had asked for a spoon so that I could have enjoyed every bite of the wonderful sauce. For dinner, I had the crawfish and crabmeat ravioli (recommended by our pedicab driver) and Steve had shrimp creole. Again, both dishes were fantastic. We really didn’t have room for dessert, however, the bananas foster cheesecake was calling to us. It was truly delicious, but I was too stuffed to properly enjoy it.
7) Frenchmen Street–Much quieter than Bourbon Street, Frenchmen Street has plenty of nightlife to offer. We strolled the street, listening to the music emanating from the many bars and restaurants. Most venues did not have a cover charge but do ask that you purchase drinks and tip the band. For the price of two drinks, we sat for quite a while in The Maison and were treated to the vocals of a very talented singer with a wide range accompanied by three musicians. Unfortunately I don’t remember the name of the group. We were happy to leave a generous tip for the band on our way out.
8) Street performers and artists–From Jackson Square to Bourbon Street to Frenchmen Street, we were constantly treated to street performance and performance art. On Bourbon Street, we enjoyed a troupe of street dancers. Jackson Square was filled with artists displaying their paintings, musicians performing jazz and blues, and performance artists pretending to be statues. On Frenchmen Street, we happened upon a community of artisans displaying their crafts late in the evening. One craftsman made art and jewelry from forks, knives, and spoons. Others displayed sewn or knitted items or paintings. If I had brought an extra suitcase, I would have been tempted to get a lot of my Christmas shopping done early. I did buy a few small items that I knew would fit in my crowded luggage.
9) Jackson Square–We spent a lot of time at Jackson Square. The mule-driven carriage begin their routes there and artists and musicians abound. There is also any number of great restaurants and shops. We ate at the Rivers Edge and Cafe Dumond. Both were very enjoyable. We enjoyed the shops and made a few small purchases. Additionally, there is easy access to walk along the river at Jackson Square.
10) The French Market–It is a combination flea market and farmer’s market. We enjoyed seeing the various products for sale in the market. From produce to sun glasses to art, there was a little bit of everything. I particularly enjoyed a photographer’s beautiful scenes of the French Quarter and purchased a photography of the Court of Two Sisters restaurant on Bourbon Street.
As you can tell, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to New Orleans. These are my top ten favorite places and things in the city. If you’ve been to New Orleans, what did you most enjoy?
Everyday and especially on Mother’s Day, I thank God for my mother. I have learned many lessons from Mom that have served me well throughout my fifty-two years of life.
The importance of education. When I was two, my father was stationed in Okinawa for a year. My mother moved me and my sisters, ages 4, 1, and 6 weeks, to North Carolina from California so that she could finish her college degree. I can only imagine how challenging that year must have been for her. The move itself was quite an adventure, as she flew across country with four preschoolers in tow.
The importance of family. Mom devoted herself to our family. With nine children, including one special needs child, there was always a lot of work. Yet it was a common occurrence for us to arrive home to the delicious aromas of home-baked bread or a made-from-scratch chocolate cake. She made sure we had home-cooked meals, clean clothes, and her attention when we needed it.
A love of reading. We had lots of books in our home, and mom liked to read to us. I can still remember her reading “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” and “That Quail Robert” to us when I was in elementary school. My sisters and I are avid readers, and my children have inherited the love of reading as well.
Responsibility. As the second of nine children, I was expected to help out with the younger children. I was well prepared to care for my own children when the time came.
Dependability. I can count on one hand, with fingers left over, the number of times I came home from school to find that mom was not there. On one occasion, she got held up while shopping and arrived home about two minutes after we did. On the other occasion, she was at the emergency room with a younger brother who’d been injured.
The joy of sewing. When we were small, mom sewed a lot of our clothes, as well as costumes. I still remember the Red Riding Hood cape she made Jeanne and the purple floral jumper she made me when I was in first grade. When I was in high school, she taught me to sew. I’ve made some clothes, but my real joy has been in making costumes for my own children and uniforms for girls in my Missionettes clubs.
Security. Mom came from a broken home, and she was determined that her children would have the security of parents who stuck it out through thick and thin. She and Dad don’t always see eye-to-eye, but they’re still together and in love after 55 years of marriage.
The need for a Savior. Mom accepted Jesus as her Savior when I was about 7. She instilled in each of her children the need to know Jesus. She taught us that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness, which can only come through the blood of Christ.