Friday, November 26, 2010

SWEET!…and I don’t mean the Pie

 

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“What shall I return to the LORD
   for all his goodness to me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation
   and call on the name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
   in the presence of all his people.”

~Psalms 116:12-14

Can I just tell you right now??!!

God is Good…ALL THE TIME!

and IS alive and IS at work…

in this crazy mixed up world,

He chooses to use broken us.

He IS bringing new life and it’s all Him…

I know it’s not me

and in this I glory!

(read on if you want…but I pray most, be encouraged at His amazing work in YOUR life as His beloved…oh and may you please, with me, desire only more of Him…)

I am writing this at the end of Thanksgiving Day. stephanie and thanksgiving 290

Leading up to this holiday which does many things to me, both from grief over my mother’s passing away and the missing of the so many to whom I have always belonged and am so far away from…it’s an ironic time.  When I ‘should’ be thankful, instead I am filled with a messy, hurting heart.

This year was probably the worst so far.  Circumstances made me feel alone and without home or place to be and it was very painful and nothing was what I would have picked.

And yet, in the Goodness that is God Alone it turned out to probably be the best Thanksgiving for so many reasons.

Here’s why:

In His amazing guiding way, I’ve been practicing the discipline of Thanksgiving with this Gratitude Community of which many who read this are a part.

Through this, I have been thinking of thanks in the hard stuff much more readily than before I began this practice.

In the midst of feeling raw and tears just below, well,…everything I gave this mess I didn’t understand to Jesus…man of sorrows…acquainted with grief…Who promises to carry it all…

And He gave me a plan.stephanie and thanksgiving 293

I knew I was to open my home to someone this year who had no where to be, no invitation…and offer myself, my family, my home as an offering of Thanksgiving.

I thought of a young man from church (amazing life journey…beautiful…without true family), and I shared this with my husband. 

A part of me was still holding out hope that God would give me what I wanted—some friend/family to invite us into their home.  Or even just someone to cook/prepare with to give me a sense of camaraderie when I felt none…but, another door was closed in this direction and I hurt some more.

But, this also confirmed the answer I was asking for…I needed to walk in this plan He gave me.

So, the next day, my husband was at our church and saw this young man and, yes, he did not have a place for Thanksgiving and he would come!

Instantly, my heart felt such a great joy…I could share God’s big heart, through loving food preparations and welcome to our home, with at least one other outside of my own family…this is at the heart of the practice of Thanksgiving—the sharing as the Pilgrims and the Indians thanked a God who had showered blessings on them all after a dark time.

As the day unfolded, this young man still coming, in the midst of preparing all of the dishes…turkey, stuffing, and a few others;) we discover that our neighbors are home.  They are from Morocco and Muslim and we just love them.

I ask my husband to invite them again, we had already, but I don’t know if they knew WE REALLY WANTED THEM!

He did, but believed that if I went over to them and talked with the wife then they would really know they are welcome.

I am resisting it and then remember this and this and another piece I have boldly written about God bringing new life in my tears, and think, “Oh Abby, you better NOT write another word, if you are NOT going to be following the testimony of it!!” I could smell the stench of hypocrisy overpowering those pleasant Turkey Day smells I was creating…

I also hear a piece of a song on the radio JUST THEN that is saying ‘if you show Jesus to them they will come to know him’ (this is the gist) and I am laughing because it is so clear!

So I go and invite and say ‘please, please come…we want you to be with us!’

And they come.  And I don’t worry about skin-filled potatoes or lumpy gravy or that I had burnt/smoked;) the sweet potatoes when I steamed them (reminding me of this piece) and say that the smoky flavor is kind of cool and so what that dinner will be 1 hour or more late than I had said.

And so we all partake of a meal {I } prepared, but it was really all of us.  I cooked the actual food, my husband sacrificed and blessed just being with our kids and our friends provided their presence and thankfulness at the invitation and our Good, Gracious God sang over all of it!

stephanie and thanksgiving 300We got our son’s Little People Mayflower and Thanksgiving set and read the story of the First Thanksgiving and shared in it together and talked about how our hearts need to be thankful…how much we miss if we aren’t…and oh, how much I would have missed if I hadn’t thanked…

My home, BECAME a hallowed cathedral of love, worship, and thanks brought about by the goodness stephanie and thanksgiving 303 and patience of God  and His heart for this world…

I have never come close to feeling as worshipful or blessed or FULL on a Thanksgiving Day…not with turkey and pie, but with Life and Love and Joy and Peace and Grace and Hope and All that He is…

stephanie and thanksgiving 304 It was all I could do not to break out in full blown praise…but I spared those who this might have slightly accosted;) and took that heart posture and offered some more of myself…and turkey and stuffing too:):)

 

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
   his love endures forever.”

~Psalms 118:1

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AWA 11/26/2010

Thank You, Oh Thank You Lord… (#336-360)

-for surprises

-for a wonderful Thanksgiving Day

-for this Gratitude Community

-for Jesus, Man of Sorrows

-for bringing beauty from ashes

-for encouraging me when I need it most

-for joy in following You

-for smoked sweet potatoes

-for skin-in mashed potatoes

-for lumpy gravy

-for late meals

-for Little People sets

-for a young man all the more a part of our family

-for our dear neighbors

-for that First Thanksgiving

-for my husband…every day, all the time—THANK YOU FOR HIM!!!

-for your endless patience with me

-for opportunities to GROW UP

-for the sheer pleasure of being Yours

-for the confidence I have in You about future Thanksgivings that, hopefully, will be far, far away from home

-for mama in Heaven who smiles at all of this

-for provision for this food

-for a mama who taught me how to cook

-for a mother-in-love that I feel closer to, when I cook her recipes, and the 1000 miles’ gap is narrowed

-for being given the name ‘source of Joy’ that You bring to Life because You are You and make me, me!!!!

I’m adding these this Monday Morning! (#361-375)

-for sweet fellowship that marked most of Thanksgiving week

-for sisters with whom I shared the good news with Hungarian teenagers and lived and laughed and love in a year overseas

-for sweet ‘sister’ and ‘auntie’ who brought so much love, laughter and life to my family

-for a kindred heart that is pursuing He who is Worthy and encourages me so!

-for chances to labor together in prayer with her

-for the gift of presence…the sweet peace of just ‘being together’

-for a cousin who is an unbelievably special young man

-for a God who redeems it all

-for the Gospel that is changing Him and he is giving it all away

-for carrying mama’s heart who loved him so and singing over this life he now leads

-for all that the Enemy CANNOT take away…the victory IS NOT his!!!

-for the chance to be family and sister when he is understandably feeling as ‘the orphan’

-for his hugest of hearts that you can jump into and swim around

-for the speaking of Gospel to one another

-for sealing it all with loving intercession for one another!

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