‘Twas the Day of Thanksgiving

Blog_BlackFriday‘twas the day of Thanksgiving
and all though the towns
a heart that was grateful
could not be found

the tables were filled
and the people were stuffed
but still they complained
that it wasn’t enough

surrounded by more
than they ever could need
they prepared for Black Friday
to placate their greed

on a day meant for family and memories
they had visions of shopping malls
inside their heads

though it used to be peaceful
they now were consumed
with buying new things
for which there was no room

when they could have been talking
and laughing with friends
they scoured the papers
for sales without end

instead of enjoying
the warm firelight
they froze as they camped
in the stores’ lots all night

and once the doors opened
they pushed and they shoved
and trampled each other
hearts empty of love

they spent and they fought
from midnight ‘til day
for things that in time
they’d just throw away

all blessings forgotten—
thanksgiving erased
now that Black Friday
has taken its place

(originally posted on the Nightlight Blog)

Putting the Giving into Our Thanks

Blog_HarvestFieldThis Thanksgiving season, we’ll be putting a lot of things in our stomachs. The table will be full one moment; our mouths will be full the next. Before we know it, we’ll be more stuffed than the turkey. But before we put all that extra stuffing into our bodies, why don’t we consider what we can put into our thanks?

“Thanks” is something that’s meant to be given. Sometimes it will be easy; sometimes it won’t. It’s easy to be grateful when everything is going as we desire. But what if things aren’t happening just like we hoped they would? What if the “table” is empty of a mouthwatering feast, and filled only with bitter herbs?

In God’s word, we learn that thanksgiving will sometimes be a sacrifice: “…let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15). When we’re going through fiery trials, it can be a challenge to maintain a heart of gratitude. Giving thanks in difficult times may be the hardest thing we’re asked to do, and yet it is the very thing that will help lift the burden of a heavy heart.

When our prayers have not been answered as we expected, or in the timing we hoped for, we can always remember the words of Helen Keller: “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but we often look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” I’ve learned from experience that every closed door leads to a greater open door, and that for every unfulfilled longing a deeper need is met. Knowing this can help us to be grateful even for the closed doors in our lives.

Even if all we have has been taken from us, no one and nothing can take away a heart of gratitude. We can understand the importance of being thankful, but it’s not genuine until we actually GIVE thanks—especially when it’s difficult. This Thanksgiving and beyond, let’s celebrate by putting the giving into our thanks.

(Originally posted on the Tears of Joy blog)

Thanksgiving, Hold the Whine

Blog_NoWhiningA bad experience accidentally sampling wine as a six-year old permanently scarred my taste buds against any desire for it. The only association I now have with the drink is…yuck. But there’s something I like less: the kind of wine spelled with an “h”.

As much as I despise whining, I find myself doing an awful lot of it. Didn’t I just do the dishes? How did the laundry basket fill up so fast? Why does the alarm have to go off so early every day? Does the cat really have to cough up a hairball every morning? Do I have to whine about everything? (Yes, I even annoy my own self with my whining.)

The controversy over coffee cups devoid of holiday images stirred my awareness of just how ridiculous whining can be. Really? Complaining about a cup? Why can’t we just be grateful we have sufficient income to purchase overpriced lattes when more than half the world hopes for one good meal a day? Why can’t we focus our energies on something more productive, like helping the poor or fighting the gross injustices of our generation?

A perceptive children’s author wrote a poem about WHYning and Complaining. Most of our whining is just that. WHYning. Wondering WHY the world can’t be more conducive to our own comfort, security, needs, and desires. Otherwise known as…discontent.

I’ve decided once and for all to stop all my WHYning. After all, the sink is full of dishes because I have an amazing family who just ate a great meal together. An overflowing laundry bin means we have enough clothes to keep us warm each day of the week. That aggravating alarm goes off so early because I have a job I love, and income as a result. And the cat? Well, the kids love her.

My prayer is that I’ll live a life of gratitude—for the big things and the little things. For the annoying things. And even for the painful ones.

As my favorite holiday approaches, I want to serve up a platter of thanksgiving. Hold the whine.