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Posts Tagged ‘thanksgiving’

imagesCAYQ3DZ0Any idea how Black Friday got it’s name?  Actually, it was first called Black Friday in 1966 by police because of the chaos, traffic jams and acts of violence associated with the day. It has become a very profitable day for retailers and certainly, a profitable day for bargain shoppers if you are willing to get up early, stand in line, fight the crowds and push and shove your way to the best buys of the day.

Are you a Black Friday shopper?  Then I’d like to bring to your mind a little scripture in Mark’s gospel (8:36) that goes like this, “For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”  The message Bible puts it this way, “What good would it do to get everything you want and lose the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?”

In the me-version paraphrase, “Is that piece of electronic equipment or that great buy on name brand boots worth compromising your entire Christian list of principles?”

I heard on the news today that the Greater Sacramento Chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation is set to unveil 55 billboards touting atheism this Christmas season.  Frightening!

But even more frightening, the billboard Christian shoppers will be displaying on Black Friday if we fall into the trap of losing who we really are to the lure of being first, gaining a material advantage over displaying Christ, and worst of all – setting a poor, long lasting example for our children, friends and whoever else might be observing our actions.

Here are my Black Friday tips to assure that your billboard flashes a message of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness and self control. (Gal 5:22-23)

  1. Don’t leave the house on Black Friday if you think you won’t be able to display the Christ you want others to see.
  2. If you do go, at some point in the day, let someone go ahead of you in line and wish them a Merry Christmas (not a Happy Holiday or Seasons Greetings). This will shock some, bless some and make you feel great.
  3. Smile at everyone.  Smile at the young mother with few funds and a deep desire to make her children’s Christmas special. Smile at the elderly gentleman who can’t move as fast as everyone else. Smile at the husband who doesn’t have a clue and is just going where his wife points. Smile especially at the retail clerk who has answered the same question sixteen thousand times without gritting his teeth. Yes, even smile at the cranky woman who wants to argue and complain to everyone around her.
  4. Hold a door, give up a parking place, pick up a dropped package, do something nice at least once every half hour to remind yourself who you are and what you are trying to convey.
  5. Hum along with the Christmas music blaring throughout the mall.  You will be surprised how it will lift your spirit and take your mind off the inconvenience of the crowds.
  6. Look like Jesus to the weary, hungry crowd. People aren’t always looking for bargains. They are all too often looking for kindness, compassion, gentleness and hope. God’s gift is that with his empowerment you can be all of those things even on Black Friday!
  7. Arm yourself with the full armor. You will need it on this day more than you’ve ever needed it before.  Remember them?  Truth (when the harried clerk gives too much change back),  righteousness (the first shall be last kind of mentality in the midst of the shoving), the Gospel of peace (when everything around you is chaos),  faith (that God has a better plan when you miss out on the big deal of the day that you got up early and stood in line for), salvation (nothing is worth losing your salvation over) and the sword of the Spirit (the one you wield when you’ve been stabbed in the back, stomped into a corner, shoved out of the way and shoutedat).

And when you get home, pour yourself a hot cup of tea or chocolate. Sit down by the fire. Close our eyes and thank God that with His hand in yours you navigated Black Friday in a manner He would be proud of.

God bless you all this Thanksgiving week!

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’  Matthew 25:21

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Thanksgiving rolls around again bringing with it the scent of pumpkin pie, the sound of family interacting, the feel of damp late fall days, the sight of autumn on the grass and snow on the hilltops, and the taste of turkey smothered in rich gravy.  Of all our holidays, this one stirs the five senses like no other.

Oh that it would stir our hearts into a frothy mound as high as the whipped cream we pile on our desserts.

We are such a people of plaintive nature, freely expressing our complaints about everything and anything.  I’m up to here, especially after the exposure of an elections year, with negativity. I want my heart to feast this Thanksgiving day, not my stomach.

I want to look around the room at my precious family and swell with the melted butter glory of God’s goodness. I am not alone and I am ever grateful. Many are and my heart breaks for them.

I will bask in the hugs and laughter and I will treasure the memories dripping with whip cream wars, lumpy gravy, rolls that forgot to rise, pumpkin pies missing a key ingredient (sugar) and Grandma Mae’s boiled turkey that ended her career as hostess for our family dinner.

I will remember with tears the Thanksgiving my mom passed away but will smile at the grace and strength she showed in the process.

Like salt and pepper on a green bean casserole I will be blessed by the changes in the past year evidenced around the table with taller children, more seasoned marriages, talk of a new driver’s license, a High School graduation, a new job and so much more my ears will be busier than my elbow lifting the fork.

I will thank God as I look around for taking a bunch of oddly shaped potatoes and helping them to soften into a fluffy mound of family, still bearing a few lumps but for the most part, all mingled together with mouth watering love.

I will be sad for the ones who can’t be here this year, happy for the ones who can, and nostalgic for the ones who never will be again.

I’m going to try to put a lid on any simmering political discussions. I’ll sprinkle sugar on sour grapes, turn down the stove before a conversation heats up and stuff a piece of pie in the mouth of sibling rivalry.

When it’s all over and I’m slumped in my rocker by the fire, I’ll pat my way too full heart and thank God for the millionth time for what I have, for what He has done and for what is yet to come.

 Psalm 34:1  I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

P.S. You may have noticed I’ve missed a couple of Monday posts. Between trying to write a 5,000 novel in November, writing the Christmas pageant script and surviving this very busy open enrollment period at work, I’m going to have to back off the blog a little.  So I’m going to once a week for the rest of the year. 

 

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I have been complaining about the weather since the first promise of spring peeked its head around a tiny green sprout in my garden.  I’m cold most of the time so warm weather is my friend.  To me, spring is the first sign that I will soon stop shivering and huddling under a fleece blanket wherever I go.

The problem with spring is that it is only a distant hint of warmer weather.  The first tempting day of sunshine is followed by rain, wind, more wind and cool temps.  (To me cool is anything under 75 degrees.)  We start riding the motorcycle once the snow is gone and it’s a science for me to dress with enough layers.  I’m usually in an undershirt, shirt, shirt over that shirt, sweatshirt, wool sweater and leather coat.  I peel like an onion as the temperature rises.

This week we finally hit 80 degrees.  I can actually go without a sweater and I love it.  Of course, our crazy climate doesn’t settle on comfortable and stay there.  Today its 85, tomorrow is predicted for 100, Sunday 101 and Monday 104!  By Sunday I’ll be complaining again.  Too hot.

It just seems like that’s our pattern, doesn’t it?  Very few days or events or situations are perfect.  Once in a while a golden one comes along and we are content.  Most of the time it’s too stressful, too peaceful, too quiet, too loud, too short, too long, too dark, too light, too many people, too lonely – you get the message.  Contentment is not as easy to achieve as it should be.

Adam and Eve struggled with it in the Garden.  Everything was perfect except for that one little tree that was off limits.  The Israelites wrote the book on discontentment.  They rejoiced in their escape until they met their first obstacle.  They were thankful for manna until they got tired of it.  They were committed to God until tempted to worship something else.  David thought he was content until he saw Bathsheba. 

If every day were perfect, God would not have had to instruct us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:19). If every day were perfect, He would not have had to tell us not to fear or be dismayed (Is 41:10).  In fact, if everything were perfect all the time at least half the Bible could be eliminated.

Instead, God gives us a scattering of absolutely wonderful, beautiful, shimmering moments interspersed among the day to day challenges so we can recognize what a gift they are.  Sandwiched between life’s stumbling blocks they are streams in the desert, nourishment to a bruised heart, sunlight reaching through the cloud cover.  But – without the desert, the bruising and the cloud cover, we’d never recognize the gift.

I’m challenging myself to strike two expressions from my vocabulary this year.  “It’s too cold” and “It’s too hot.”  I’m doing it to remind myself to be content in all things. 

All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast. Prov 15:15

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