THE NEW EWE
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
November 21, 2007
1 Thessalonians 5:18 reads, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
It's easy to give thanks when everything is going well, but when we are faced with uncertainties or difficulties we sometimes forget to do so. We become distracted and so focused on our problem, that we lose sight of our blessings.
My family usually tries to get together on Thanksgiving; at least those of us who can. In the past, we would always go to Daddy's house and spend the day with him and my stepmother. With Daddy passing away this past September, we are feeling a little displaced this year. June, my stepmother, is experiencing health problems and doesn't feel up to having more than a few visitors at a time. My two oldest sisters have plans with their kids and grandkids, and Jon and I have invited my other two sisters and their families to our home for Thanksgiving this year. It would be easy for us to all give in to our feelings of loss during the upcoming holiday season, but we choose to give thanks.
That doesn't mean that we don't feel the loss of having our dad here with us, but it means that we will rejoice in the blessings that God has given our family. We are not going to focus on our loss, but we are going to focus on being together as a family and enjoy our time with one another. We will remember the things that God has done for each of us.
If you have experienced the loss of a family member this past year, I encourage you to spend time during this season to remember the blessings that God has bestowed upon you. If you are healthy, you can thank God. If your needs are met and are not experiencing lack, you can thank God for provision. There are numerous things that God does for us each day. If you stop and really consider the past year, you will begin to see all the things that God has done in and for you.
A few years ago, I had the worst Thanksgiving of my whole life. I was still single at that time and living alone. It just happened that all of my sisters spent the holiday with their husband's families that year. I had invited a young lady, who was also going to be alone, to spend the day with me. I cooked a small version of the traditional Thanksgiving meal, and had rented some movies for us to watch. I had everything ready, and the noon hour came and went, and she hadn't shown up yet. It was about an hour drive from where she lived to my house. As time passed by, I became worried that she had gotten lost and couldn't find where I lived. I knew that she had been having problems with her car, and so then I started worrying that perhaps she had had car trouble and was stuck beside the road somewhere. I called her home, and she didn't answer. By that time, lunch was cold and ruined. My cousin and his wife called to see if I wanted to go see the lights at Silver Dollar City with them, but I didn't want to leave in case this young woman showed up or tried to call. I didn't know whether to try to go look for her, or stay put. Finally, I got in touch with my nephew, who was friends with this girl (actually they were engaged), to see if he had heard from her. Later that evening, he got in touch with her and found out that she had decided to spend Thanksgiving with some of her friends, whom she had originally thought was going to be out of town for the day.
I was so angry at her for not calling to let me know that she wasn't coming. My whole day had been ruined unnecessarily. That night, after I found out where she had been, I spend the evening crying and feeling sorry for myself. A few days later, when my nephew got back home, he made her call and apologize to me. He and his brothers all gave her a hard time about it for quite some time. To be honest, I knew that they were making her feel bad, and it made me feel a little vindicated that she was having to suffer a little. It took me a long time to forgive her, but I knew that I had to make the choice to love her and move passed my hurt feelings.
Now she is married to my nephew and they have two adorable children. I've spent time with their family and I love them all with all my heart.
Sometimes people can do things to hurt our feelings, and it's easy to carry a grudge. If we're not careful, we will let those emotions grow and fester until there is a huge division between us. There can come a point where no matter what they do, we will find fault and nothing they do will please us. We know hate is a sin, so we justify our feelings by saying, “I don't hate them, I just strongly dislike them.”
There are many scriptures that talk about loving others; not only those who are nice to us, or love us back, or are easy to love. At times, just as forgiving is a choice, so is love. We choose to forgive the offense of others, and we choose to love them and move forward. If we look for something good in them, more than likely we will find it. As you thank God for their life, you will begin to love them and all those hurts will be healed.
There is an old hymn that says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done.” During this Thanksgiving season, take time to count your blessings.
If you have health, family, a home, furnishings in your home, a car, your bills are paid, you have a good church home, and the list could go on and on...then you are blessed. Even though everything in your life may not be perfect, and all your prayers may not yet be answered, you can still count your blessings.
Take time during this Thanksgiving to stop and give thanks to God.
When the Israelites had fled Egypt, they were hungry. God provided a food for them. I can't tell for sure how long this went on, but they got tired of it and started complaining. They had everything they needed. And it was obvious that God was giving it to them. And yet, instead of being thankful, they started complaining that it wasn't tasty enough.
If they had trouble giving thanks for food they couldn't possibly take credit for, it's no wonder that we sometimes forget to give God thanks for the food we paid for and cooked or for the house we work to pay the rent on. Sure, we have to work for it more than the Israelites did. But God still makes it all possible. He makes it possible for us to get jobs and He makes the wheat grow and so on. We still owe Him thanks.
Double Layer Pumpkin Pie
4 oz. (½ of 8-oz. pkg.) Cream Cheese, softened
1 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip, thawed, divided
1 graham cracker pie crust
1 cup milk
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
2 pkg. (4-serving size) vanilla instant pudding
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cloves
Mix cream cheese, 1 Tbsp. milk, and the sugar in large bowl with a wire whisk until well blended. Gently stir in half of the whipped topping. Spread onto pie crust as the bottom layer.
Pour 1 cup milk into large bowl. Add pumpkin, dry pudding mixes and spices. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes or until well blended (mixture will be thick). Spread over cream cheese layer.
Refrigerate 4 hours or until set. Top with remaining Cool Whip just before serving.
Some families may prefer more formal, fancy Thanksgiving dinners, but my family goes by the K.I.S.S. method: “Keep it Simple Sister”. Here are a few ideas that makes it less work and more enjoyable for all the women, which means the burden isn't left on any one person. Plus we don't have to spend the whole day in the kitchen and can relax and visit.
We have everyone cook and bring food. Even those years when one or more of my sisters lived away, they would buy groceries and cook either at my dad's or one of my other sister's house. Or they would buy bottles of pop or get the paper plates and cups. Each of us make a contribution.
We use plastic forks and spoons, paper plates and cups so we only have minimum dishes to wash after the meal. That gets us out of the kitchen quicker following the meal.
Use a marker and have everyone write their name on their plastic cup so you can keep track of whose cup belongs to who, then they can use the same cup all day. We try to make sure we have plenty of ice, tea, pop, or kool-aid for the day because everyone usually ends up drinking a lot as they watch the football game, sit and visit, play games, etc.
Whatever your family tradition is, enjoy your day! Don't be so set on everything being perfect that you end up stressed or so tired that you can't relax. If something gets forgotten or something goes wrong, it's not the end of the world.
For example, our family likes their desserts! Of all things, last year we ended up with no one bringing desserts. Usually, we have more than we need. One of my sisters had made pumpkin rolls, then forgot them at her home (which was a 3 hour drive from my dad's), another sister was supposed to make a dessert then had forgotten to buy one of the ingredients or something like that, another sister was supposed to make pies but then ran out of time and didn't get a chance to make them. I hadn't brought anything because I thought we were going to have plenty. We were all like, “I can't believe we don't have any desserts...that stinks!” But it didn't ruin our Thanksgiving. From now on, we'll just all bring something to make sure we have plenty.
When my nephew, Jared, was small he really enjoyed eating sweets...actually, he still does. Several years ago, while visiting his Aunt Joyce, he found that she had a box of fudge ice cream bars in her freezer. After he left to go back home, Joyce found ice cream sticks in one of the bedroom closets. While Jared, his parents and siblings were visiting, he had sneaked several of the fudge bars into the bedroom and eaten them, then hid the empty sticks in the closet.
Another time when they were at Joyce's house, she found empty tootsie roll wrappers behind the couch after he left. Jared was once again the culprit!
Need a fast pick-me-up? Begin counting your blessings!
May your Thanksgiving be filled with blessing. We pray that each of you have a wonderful day.
We give thanks to God for each of our readers, and pray that you are blessed by our newsletter each week.
Loretta & Jon