Thanksgiving 2020

Just as most of this year, Thanksgiving was not typical for us. Ruby got her wisdom teeth removed Wednesday, so we stayed home. We invited a couple of people who didn’t have family to go to, so that was a blessing.

After Thanksgiving lunch was over, we pretty quickly shifted into Christmas gear.

Thankful to God for this family of mine. Thankful God keeps His promise to be with us through all that life brings to and takes from us. He is good. I am grateful.

Christ The Lord is with us

Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of Christmas decorations. I definitely don’t decorate before Thanksgiving. And when I do decorate, I like it for a few weeks, but it has to get taken down and put away immediately after Christmas Day, usually. And not to be confused with a Scrooge, I do love Christmas and all that it represents and the extra family time; I just don’t get carried away with the decorating part or transforming my home into a Winter Wonderland. And I don’t have a problem with people who do. I am just not one of those people.

{Maybe this stems from me being the middle child. Thanksgiving can get overlooked, and we middle children have a special place in our hearts for anyone and anything that gets overlooked. }

However, this year my heart is longing for the reminder, the focus, the truth of IMMANUEL. God is with us. As this absolutely unexpected year comes to a close, I need to be reminded that God has not left us to our own. (Who would blame Him?) I need to dwell on the truth that Jesus left heaven to come and rescue us! I need to be reminded that Jesus “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature and upholds all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). Christmas shouts to all of us IMMANUEL, GOD IS WITH US!!!! We always need this truth, but I am just saying that this year it feels like I need to sit with this truth a little longer to fully prepare my heart to celebrate Christmas. I need some extra time to turn away from distractions and worries of this world and focus on Jesus. He loved us so much that He came to this broken earth to save us from our sins and from the wrath of a holy God. There is no political candidate this year or in any previous year in all of history that can “heal our land” or “restore the soul of America.” Healing and restoration come from God. 

I find such peace in Christ The Lord being with me. I hope you do, too. I read in Luke 1:28 that the angel of the Lord greeted Mary, the mother of Jesus, and included these words: “The Lord is with you.”  And as I kept reading, I read these words referring to John the Baptist, “For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him.”

Isaiah 7:14, many years before Jesus actually was born, prophesied, “Behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name, Immanuel, God with us.”

Let’s all spend time turning away from the world and sitting with Jesus. Thank God for sending Him to earth to be with us. Thank God that He continues to be with us through the Holy Spirit. He has not left us. God is with us and that is always enough, no matter what circumstance you find yourself in. 

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I AM WITH YOU; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

*******sneak peek at a new Christmas decoration for our yard that Josh and I worked on last week that we hope will remind our neighbors and ourselves of the truth that Christmas is for celebrating JESUS, God with us:

meme rhodes

I was lying in bed late last night and could hear the sounds of frogs and crickets outside. It took me back immediately to Ware Road in the back guest room where I would share a bed with my older sister on the fun ocassion we got to spend the night with my Meme Rhodes. The only bad part of these nights was the chance that the cat, Kitty Blue, would jump up on the end of the bed and stare us down. It was then that I would hope the cat wouldn’t suck my breath and cause me to die while I slept. I heard that this could happen to babies, and I imagined it could happen to me as well. Thankfully, Kitty Blue never came closer than the end of the bed. 

Marcy and I always shared the back bedroom. Cacy always got to sleep with Meme—I suppose since she was the baby. 

My thoughts just kept on going last night as I thought about how we were always happy to get to stay with Meme Rhodes. We might have vegetable soup for dinner; it was usually piping hot so she would let us put a piece of ice in it to cool it down. I always sat in Daddy Zeb’s chair at the table.  At this point he was probably dead for five or more years, and over the course of my life I had heard stories about how I always liked to sit with him in his chair, how he had loved me lots. And somehow in my mind that translated to me being his favorite, so I declared his chair as my chair and that was that. 

In MeMe’s kitchen area a wall was filled with photos of the faces she loved the most. Each family had their photo up on the wall. Austin, the oldest and dearest grandchild to Meme, would have probably unabashedly had the most photos on the wall, except MeMe would at least try to appear to love us all equally; the rest of us knew the truth and loved her still.  

In the morning we were guaranteed Rice Krispies cereal with as many spoonfuls of sugar as we could sneak into the bowl. And maybe we would get to hear songs she had written flow out of the tape recorder she would sing into on occassion. We may have had to put her furniture back in place because the night before we would have most definitely rearranged her living room furniture before settling down to watch Hee-Haw and suck on Hershey kisses until they disappeared in our mouths. 

MeMe had green carpet. And a floor heater that we would jump over on our way to the bathroom in our sock feet…because MeMe never let us roam around her house without socks on our feet for fear we would catch a cold.

She taught us what “french baths” were. She always had Archie comics and Reader’s Digest in her bathroom for your convenience. And there was a room sort of like a storage room filled with Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys novel sets…maybe both, I can’t remember. 

These were simple times that I love to remenince about. No worries (if you don’t count Kitty Blue’s nighttime appearance), no cares, no troubles on those spend the nights at MeMe’s house. 

A sweet memory for me quickly turns to pain though when I think about the fact that my kids don’t have either of their grandmothers anymore. A grandmother’s love is special and such security can be found there. They think you are the best. Always. They defend you and protect you (from even your parents!) and give you another layer of your history and what makes you, you! A fabulous memory of MeMe tinged with sadness at the loss for my own kids. But that’s ok…and that’s how it is with most of life…a mix of joy and sadness. I pray one day I can be a grandmother that hosts spend the nights and is a place of unending love and acceptance. One day.

waiting peacefully?

With my highschoolers at home while the school does some extra sanitizing and gives kids a break from sharing germs (there were two unrelated Covid-19 cases that came to light last week), I am newly reminded of a story from when Ruby was probably five years old or so. We were playing with her doll house. I was the baby, so I was making the baby cry. Ruby told me not to do that. She also, as the mom of the dollhouse, told the kids they were going to daycare. I asked Ruby why the kids were going to daycare—did the mom have to go to a job? Ruby looked at me as serious as could be and said, “No, the mom doesn’t have a job, but she can’t get anything done with these kids at home.” It cracked me up because my kids were always at home with me for, oh, about 15 years!!! She confirmed my feelings all along though, so there’s that.

But with them home, I am not getting things done like I would like. I am not enjoying the quiet like I usually do….I know, I know, but they are home and with me and that is sweet and special. Yes, yes it is. I love constant kitchen use and noise. 🙂 

These are weird days, for sure. The year has been a doozey and now we wait on who will be our next President.

One day if my grandkids ask me what I was thinking and feeling during the Election of 2020, I would have to tell them it was complicated. I mean, it probably shouldn’t be as a Believer. I know Jesus is in perfect control. He is sovereign and good and has purpose far beyond what I can see or know. Like at this moment, I am typing my thoughts and feelings, listening to worship music AND listening to Fox News in the background. Probably not the greatest idea. But a picture of how it all is shaking out. God has us living in this world, on this broken planet, reeling from so much unrest, unknown and unsettledness. How does one walk in peace? I went on a walk yesterday and shared my frustrations and my worries and concerns for our country with the Lord. I have some sadness about how the direction of our country affects my kids’ future. And at the same time, I know God has purpose and plans for Ruby, Molly and Mack that are not tied up in how an election goes. I pray that God continues to draw me closer to Him and give me clear vision of Him through these days of distractions and discouragment. 

I find myself scrolling social media looking for a little bit of hope, a little bit of answers, some certainty, the latest news is sure to clear all this up….right?

We can’t get fed and satisfied by reaching out for other people’s bits of hope or thoughts. Why not go to the Word and sit with Jesus?  Sit long. Sit quiet. Sit awake to His presence. That is the only thing that will get you through anything. It may sound trite or too easy or too simple, but it really is the exact right thing to say and do. Trust the Lord!

This was my journal the other morning. Much like a child who has to write over and over what they will or will not do in order to try and get it into their head, I was writing some truth over and over in hopes my head and heart would follow what I know to be true.

I have also been listening to this song (below) over and over and louder and louder. Sometimes we draw circles and shut out the noise, taking care of our souls so that we can then go out into the world with eyes that see people like God sees people. This doesn’t happen naturally. It’s intentional work. I fail often. I can’ t see my neighbor because all I see is the political sign in their yard. This isn’t right or good or godly.

Lord, help me stand firm in Your truth and Your Word and live in Your presence, full of the Spirit in this very broken world. Help me keep You as the main thing because You are!!

two more months

I am a sucker for fresh starts. When the first day of the month starts on the first day of the week, as it did today, I usually feel a sense of expectation. I think about what new focus I need to have in my life, what habit I need to hone in on, and of course, I wonder how many pounds I could lose over the next thirty days. 

This morning I felt that sense for about five seconds and then I could almost hear myself saying, “oh what’s the point?” I mean, the election is Tuesday. I would hate to give so much energy to a fresh start only to have the world implode or maybe to have riots break out down the street or maybe we won’t be able to find toilet paper again! Who stinkin’ knows?!?! 

Can we hope at the end of the year 2020? Can we look ahead with expectancy as we continue to deal with a global pandemic? Is there any way to just numb myself to make it through the next couple of months and pray Jesus comes back or can 2021 truly promise to be nothing like 2020? 

I watched a video about how to trick yourself into doing hard things. It is narrated by the author of Atomic Habits, I believe. We mustered up some courage and all sat together in the living room for a family meeting. I shared the video with everyone and told them how all of life is hard to some degree. I remember seeing a saying about that—-Marriage is hard. Divorce is hard. Choose your hard. Being healthy is hard. Being unhealthy is hard. Choose your hard. And on and on it goes challenging how one thinks about doing hard things. Josh shared an illustration he heard many years ago. Someone may read how Mozart spent hours upon hours of his life learning and practicing and perfecting his piano skills. This was his life’s work. And someone could say, “Wow, that is so hard.” But no, what is hard is taking the stage having NOT practiced and perfected his skill and expecting to be able to play amazingly. 

Josh also gave a mini-lecture of sorts on lead measures and lag measures. It was very enlightening and helpful. He used the example for the kids of their grades. To just want to make an A in Chemistry would be a lag measure. They should choose the lead measure of studying at least fifteen minutes every night no matter if they have homework or not—reviewing concepts, re-reading notes or chapters in their book, practiicng problems, etc. THEN, they have a high chance of making an A. Another example used was a lag measure of wanting to grow closer to the Lord. This a great goal/ambition/desire, but how is this measured exactly? Josh shared that, for him, being up at 5:00, getting coffee going and being at his desk with his Bible at 5:15 would be a lead measure because this ensures he has time to read God’s Word, to pray and listen to God. The result over time will be a closer walk with the Lord.

So why am I sharing about our family powwow? Well,  I just wanted to take a minute and encourage anyone who might be considering medicating through the rest of 2020 or burying your head in the sand instead of facing the realities of daily life. It’s tempting, I know. But there is purpose in your life. There are still challenges to accept, goals to aim for, lead measures to establish. There is THANKSGIVING! And CHRISTMAS! Family and food and friends and what a year to be able to look back and see the faithfulness of God. We’ve made it through some hard stuff. We are likely stronger and more compassionate, humble and more aware of our lack of control and God’s perfect control. We can do hard things even still. Cheers to these last two months of the longest year of our lives!