Of Babies and Thanksgiving Blessings

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Here in Canada this is Thanksgiving Day, and we often meld it with a harvest celebration that spans the entire weekend. On Saturday we visited an amazing Okanagan farm where we were surrounded with many kinds of produce, both decorative and edible, plus a number of farm animals that delighted the youngsters.

There’s an old hymn that says, “Count your many blessings; name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”  Topping my list this year would be friends, family and the recent birth of our very first great grandchild. Over this four day holiday we will have attended one baby shower, a birthday celebration and not one, but three family turkey dinners! Family is precious, and we love coming together for these special occasions.

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But I can’t ignore the many other daily blessings, too, especially the faith that is continually renewed through our Saviour, who is the Living Word, the Light of the world and the source of all that we have and are.

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Counting blessings is a good thing. During difficult and not-so-celebratory times it might be easy to think we don’t have much for which to be thankful, but it’s important to acknowledge the less obvious things. Once we start counting them we discover it’s hard to stop, because blessings invade every part of our existence. Ann Voskamp encourages us to participate in counting “1,000 blessings” by keeping an ongoing numbered list — I know she’s already well beyond the first thousand as she finds joy in the surprising sweetness of even the least significant everyday things.

It’s good to be thankful, but it’s not enough to just count our blessings. The message on our illuminated church sign this weekend says it all:

“How we use our blessings is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”

What blessings would top your list this Thanksgiving? And how will/do you respond to them?

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LORD, our Lord, 
   how majestic is your name in all the earth!
   You have set your glory above the heavens. 
 Through the praise of children and infants 
   you have established a stronghold against your enemies, 
   to silence the foe and the avenger. 
 When I consider your heavens, 
   the work of your fingers, 
   the moon and the stars, 
   which you have set in place, 
 what are mere mortals that you are mindful of them, 
   human beings that you care for them?
 You have made them a little lower than the heavenly beings
   and crowned them with glory and honor. 
 You made them rulers over the works of your hands; 
   you put everything under their feet: 
 all flocks and herds, 
   and the animals of the wild, 
 the birds in the sky, 
   and the fish in the sea, 
   all that swim the paths of the seas.
  LORD, our Lord, 
   how majestic is your name in all the earth!
[Psalm 8:1-9]

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Reflections on a Mess

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Beside my favourite chair is a scrambled pile of books littering the floor. There’s the current issue of a home decorating magazine, my notebook of computer jottings (and a pen to jot down a new website password), a writing magazine, my daily journal and a second pen, a book I’m reading for review purposes, a novel I’ve just finished and one that I’m about to start. You don’t want to see the coffee table above. What a mess!

On the opposite side of my chair there are dog toys scattered on the carpet in a line leading to a bin overflowing with squeaky things, chew bones, stuffies and toss ‘n tug toys.

The kitchen counter has a loaf of bread cooling, empty coffee mugs, and a sticky note reminding us to phone a friend because today is her birthday.

The words of an old book title pop into my head: “Bless This Mess, and Other Prayers” by Jo Carr and Imogene Sorley. I’m sure it was written with my home in mind. Not every room is this messy, but in its various crannies there is always something either leftover from a previous activity or waiting for attention.

Messes like this used to frustrate me, whether they were mine or someone else’s. I remember telling my children, “When you’ve finished playing with that, put it away before you take out something else.” They didn’t often do it, and now I don’t take my own advice.

Oh, at the end of the day I’ll gather up the piles and redistribute them elsewhere. In the morning before they accumulate again, I’ll sit cradling God’s word and whispering my thankfulness for the joy that everyday messes represent. For friends, family and beloved pets, activities and the health to pursue them, for books and the time to read and write. For my life, even when it, too, feels messy.

Life is full of rules and regimentation. Home is where I live in between the structure of other pursuits. Home is where I meet the many facets of who I am, face to face, where I unwrap the kernel of me from its façade and let it out to breathe.

Bless this mess, Lord.

What are you especially grateful for today?

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Thankful for the Ordinary Everyday

Today is our Canadian Thanksgiving. It’s strange to me that we set aside one specific day of the year to show thankfulness for the things that bless us every moment of every day… the holy moments that enrich our lives. As Ann Voskamp says in her post today, “The everyday is the most important day of the year…. The way we live our everydays is the way we live our lives.”

And, to steal the title of one of my husband’s sermons, how we live our lives should reflect a perpetual Attitude of Gratitude.

I wish you many blessings on this Thanksgiving Day, and leave you with one question:

How do you express thanksgiving in the ordinary everydayness of your life?

Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.
[Psalm 105:1 – NIV]

Let’s See… Thanksgiving, Christmas or Both?

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all my American friends!

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to stop and consider the many blessings we enjoy. No matter our economic status, our health or family situation, I suspect most of us in Canada found at least one good thing on October 11th for which we were thankful. But I must say I envy my American friends for the timing of their Thanksgiving Day.

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Oh, I know the origins of the event… appreciation for a bountiful harvest, arrival of the English at the Virginia colony, celebration by the pilgrims at the Plymouth Plantation.

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The current American celebration, however, give or take a few days, also coincides with the arrival of Advent, when we begin looking ahead to Christmas and the celebration of the most wondrous occurrence of all time. The two aren’t really linked at all, and yet frequently Christmas decorations come out for this day and it becomes the official beginning of the Christmas season.

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I’m a little like my new granddaughter-in-law who, before mid-November proclaimed, “It’s official; I’m obsessed with Christmas,” and put up her tree. I find Christmas slips away faster every year so I want to start celebrating it earlier and earlier!

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May I be allowed to celebrate both Thanksgivings and thus move right on into Christmas things now, too? Pleeease?

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