Thanksgiving 2015

  Today is Thanksgiving, and for some reason that strikes me as odd that one day out of the year could be called Thanksgiving Day, as if there is nothing to be thankful for on the other 364 days, or as if I could possible store up all the grace, all the blessings and then sit down with family on this one day and give thanks for them all. The table would break under the weight of all that grace!

  Every day ought to be Thanksgiving Day. A grateful heart is good medicine for the soul; in fact it is the key to a healthy soul. It took me over 50 years to realize this and it took me that long to realize that every day is so full of His grace that even when I try and capture it all I fail utterly and completely. Some days I fail in even attempting to capture the blessings.

 A few years ago, God used a little book and a wonderful lady from Washington State, to teach me about gratitude, or at least to start me on the journey of learning about gratitude. Times were hard then, it had been a long dark night of the soul with no end in sight. My little family had sent a loved one to war twice, had spent near two years holding our breath and trying to be normal while a dear one fought in faraway lands. We were also dealing with a dark and painful mental illness here at home, one we did not understand and often could not make sense of. One that took a heavy toll from me, and from both my sons. Then my husband’s company closed their doors and money became extremely tight forcing him to seek work out of state.  For two long years we lived apart, seeing each other one weekend out of the month and talking on the phone each evening.  Then at last the war was over for us, the husband found work here, and it seemed that things were looking up. But the dark mental illness continued and to add to it, the son we had held our breath for was now trying to deal with the aftermath of war and loss. Then we had the first suicide, my beautiful daughter in law who had struggled so hard against the darkness of mental illness. Her death hit like a wrecking ball, a wave of pain so intense, so awful that it just cannot be described.  I had just a few weeks to try and breathe try and make some sense of that which cannot be made sense of, try and keep my son alive and then came the second suicide, my handsome nephew, husband and father of two.  A few weeks after flying home from that funeral, a little book arrived in my mailbox, sent by a kind lady in Washington who had ministered to my daughter in law.

 “One Thousand Gifts, A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are”, by Ann Voskamp. It was almost an affront to receive such a thing at such a time. After all, what did I have to be thankful for?  And yet in reading it I began to see, I began to notice, I began to count the blessings. There were days when all I could come up with were the little things, “thank You Lord for coffee, thank You Lord for dogs” but as I practiced daily this art of counting the gifts I began to notice how blind I had been, and how wonderful it was to finally be able to see. To really see the beauty of life, the beauty of creation, the beauty of souls. My situation was still the same, nothing had changed about it, family members were still struggling hard in absolute darkness, and there were many times when we feared we would lose them to the darkness, feared yet another funeral, and yet something within me had changed.

 Giving thanks changes you, and the more you practice it the more you will be changed. There are ALWAYS the gifts He gives. There is beauty in the hard places, but we so often miss it completely because our lack of gratitude blinds our eyes to all the grace being poured out.

  So today, this Thanksgiving 2015, I give thanks to God most high, for the love, the intense and beautiful love that holds on no matter what, the love that just will not let go, the love that saves and redeems.  I give thanks for family, a family that looks out for each other, sacrifices for each other, and a family that has known pain and become all the stronger from it. I give thanks for beauty, the beauty of creation and the beauty of the human soul in all its suffering and in all its joy. I give thanks for sacrifice, for in sacrificing for others true love becomes known and understood. Love is pouring out your all for others. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, love hurts, your fur gets rubbed off, you get a bit ragged and worn, but oh how worth it is to truly love!  And last, but by no means least, I give thanks for the grace, grace poured out without measure, grace that falls like rain, grace that has sustained me and the ones I so love, grace that has saved and redeemed, grace that has blessed, marvelous outrageous grace.

  My prayer for us all is that the Lord most high would open our eyes to the gifts He gives, that we might always be a people of Thanksgiving, and that He would open our hearts that we might love with a measure of His love, and that we would be people of grace, giving it out to each other, as He gives it out to us.

 May your Thanksgiving Day be blessed. Remember our imperfections as you go about your day. No matter how hard you try, it will not be perfect. So give grace to the loved one that drinks a little more than they should, and grace to the one who arrives late to the table, and grace to the one that is loud and brash and ungrateful, and grace to the one who weeps and disrupts attempts to be happy, and grace to all the other disruptions and mistakes that might somehow mar your attempts for the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving. For it is by grace that we are saved, and He has poured it out on us, so let us pour it out today on each other.

 Remember those with an empty chair at the Thanksgiving table, whether it be those deployed in harm's way, or those deployed to heaven.



The Thanksgiving Turkey that Wasn't

We hosted Thanksgiving in our home this year and all in all it was a fabulous time of fellowship. The family here in Albuquerque gathered together and enjoyed each other’s company, we laughed, we hugged, we remembered times past, we gave thanks and we feasted.

But behind the scenes is the untold story, of the turkey that wasn't.

You see a few months ago, my beloved husband killed his first wild turkey, we were so excited, his cousin showed him how to pull the skin off the turkey, and he cleaned it, packed it in a plastic bag and brought it home. I took it out of the bag, washed it real good and put it in the freezer.


Now our plan for Thanksgiving was to serve two turkeys, one nice fat store bought butterball, done the traditional way, soaked in brine for 24 hours and baked in the oven, and the wild turkey, it being smaller I searched the internet for methods of preparing it, and found a wonderful crockpot recipe which we decided to try.

So on Thanksgiving morning, I took the defrosted wild turkey from the bag, rinsed it off good and placed it breast down in the crock pot. I added cream of mushroom soup, a packet of dry onion soup mix, some water, some fresh mushrooms and baby carrots and half a white onion.......and turned it on low for the day......boy did it smell good!

Later on that day, as my husband was carving up the Butterball, (that is his job) and family had all gathered and brought in their various dishes to add to the feast, I decided to assist my husband and get started on carving up the wild turkey. I had a nice dish to lay it out on, and my plan was to slice it up nice and serve it with the mushrooms and carrots and gravy poured over it in the dish.

So I removed it from the pot and began carving. Beautiful slices of white meat, moist and delicious looking, and I arranged them nicely on the platter, as things begin to get a little more difficult to cut and as I got closer and closer to the bone, all of a sudden i cut into something black...........and to my horror (thankfully I did not scream or freak out) there were BUGS coming out of this turkey!

Keeping my calm, not wishing to alarm our guests nor gross anyone out, I quietly pulled my husband over to show him my findings. Well I guess turkeys have some kind of little compartment in their somewhere, where food goes when they first eat it, it’s not their stomach because my husband yanked all that stuff out when he cleaned it, and it’s a little pouch somewhere higher up in the throat or breast area. And this little turkey had been feasting on some big giant termites when he met his demise. And falling out of my beautiful wild turkey creation....were nicely sautéed termites...perhaps in some part of the world people would have rejoiced at this surprise, but not in this house.

So the wild turkey was quietly putaway, the meat I had cut from it placed in a bag, and the guests were simply told that the wild turkey would not be served, and that they really did not want to know why just yet.

So we ate, we feasted, we stuffed ourselves silly on turkey, yams, glazed honey carrots, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, asparagus, pork roast, cranberries, red chili, green chili, potato salad, green bean casserole, green chili meatballs, white dinner rolls, wheat dinner rolls, cherry pie and pumpkin pie..........and afterwards, we informed our guests of the problems encountered while carving up the wild turkey.

The canines rejoiced in our house Thanksgiving evening, for they feasted on the choice cuts of turkey, cuts normally denied them, they feasted and they feasted and they declared with happy faces and wagging tails and deep coma like sleep.....that it was good.



So should you have the good fortune to shoot yourself a nice plump wild turkey……look deep……look good…cause there just might be a little pouch of surprises in there.

We Won't Stop

 "We won’t stop confessing He is good and we won’t stop thanking Him for grace and we won’t stop holding out our hands — and taking His hand. We won’t stop believing that God is good is not some trite quip for the good days but a radical defiant cry for the terrible days."  Ann Voskamp

  When I first read the above words, they struck me straight to my soul and I embraced them. I have made them my Thanksgiving 2013 rally call.

 "WE WON'T STOP!"........."GOD IS GOOD! "........we will CONFESS it.......we will THANK Him......we will HOLD OUT OUR HANDS expecting good to come from Him.........we will BELIEVE He is good and that He will bring about good......WE WON'T STOP!

 2013 has not been the best of years for us, in fact at present it has been the worst of years. Don't get me wrong or think me ungrateful,we do have a lot to be thankful for and we are thankful.

  We have a roof over our head, we have food in the cupboard, we have jobs, we have each other. Adam came home from Afghanistan, we have breathe in our lungs, we have blood coursing through our veins, and we are blessed.

  But even so, 2013 has been the worst of years.

 We lost precious things in 2013. Things that cannot be replaced this side of heaven.  We lost Melanie, and we lost Allen, we lost innocence, and for a time we lost hope, we lost direction, and we lost has been a year of loss. But in that year of loss we found grace. Abundant grace. Poured out upon us. Grace that drove us to God, drove us to our knees, drove us to His word, grace that opened our eyes, opened our clenched tight fists and split open our hearts.
   And grace, if received, counters all loss. Grace if received brings back hope, finds joy. In this year of 2013 we learned that ALL IS GRACE. It was a hard lesson, and one we are still working through, still processing, but one we believe and embrace. ALL IS GRACE, even the hard things, even the things that you don't want, the things you want to cast aside and run from.
  In all this soul searching brought about this year, I have not yet found the answer to the question most asked. I am asked it often by others, and I have asked it often myself....that single two word question......that question that I am willing to bet every single living human being has asked......."Why God?". I have found many responses to this question, many that make sense and may very well be right, but no concrete answer, and each time I sought the answer to this question I was driven to know more of God. Who is He, what is He. Who does He say that He is.

 He says that He created everything that exists. And that it was good.
 He calls himself the "I AM."
 He says that He saves His people.
 He says we who call upon His name are to call Him our Father
 He says that He alone is God and there is no other.
 He says that He is good.
 He says that He is faithful.
 He says that He loved us enough to die for us.
 He says  "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
 He says No one has ever seen Him. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known.

 The list could go on and on and on His word and see for yourself what He declares.

So although I have not found the answer to the question we ask when we are hurting, when things seem to be all wrong and twisted and upside down, this WHY GOD that we cry out, perhaps it is not meant to be found this side of heaven, I have found enough to put the question to rest in my soul. I do not even ask it anymore. When I feel it starting to bubble up inside me, when the urge to cry it out to the heavens begins......I pause and say "I don't understand Lord, but I trust You.....I my unbelief."

   By His declaration and by past experience, I have found that God is good. He has plans for us, plans for good and not for disaster, to give us a future and a hope. Plans to cause all things to work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Personally I think the biggest problem for most of us who call upon the name of the Lord, is that we continue to look for that future and that hope right here on earth, and when bad things happen we are left wondering why. This life here is not what God is preparing for us. Here there will be good times and bad, here we will find precious things and we will lose them. Here we will experience great happiness and great sorrow.....but it is there that we must set our eyes on. When we set our eyes on there, everything here begins to make more sense, begins to be bearable.

 So this Thursday we will host the Thanksgiving dinner in our home and we will gather, with family around the table, where we will feast, we will fellowship, we will laugh and we will love, and we will believe that our God is good, and that all He is doing is good and all that He has allowed is good and that one day we will see this clearly. We will believe the things He has promised. We will trust in the only One who is trustworthy. We will rejoice in His presence. We will remember the ones who have left us, and we will feel sorrow in their absence, but as we mourn we will also remember the one who visited our dreams, and her words......"its gonna be okay Ma, its gonna be more than okay."

"Though He slay me.....yet will I trust Him."


 Quote is from the blog of Ann Voskamp. I urge you to follow her blog, it has been a great blessing to me. http://http//

First I Give Thanks.............

(He's the One who conquers giants)

My devotional reading today was on Romans, Chapter 1. A rich piece of scripture but today two things were pointed out.

Verse 8....First,I thank my God.............and Verse 21....For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him,......

 Giving thanks is important, honoring God is important. Our failure to be thankful leads to our failure to honor God and ultimately to our overall failure. Giving thanks and honoring God gives you new eyes to see. Instead of all the wrong you tend to dwell on, you see how abundantly blessed you truly are. Honoring God reminds you of who He is, of what He has promised, of what He expects of you.

So today, we give thanks for His abundant blessings and for His grace and mercy.

Thou Eternal God,

Thine is surpassing greatness, unspeakable
goodness, super-abundant grace;
I can as soon count the sands of ocean’s ‘lip’
as number Thy favors towards me;
I know but a part – but that part exceeds all praise.

I thank Thee for personal mercies,
a measure of health, preservation of body,
comforts of house and home, sufficiency of food
and clothing,
continuance of mental powers,
my family, their mutual help and support,
the delights of domestic harmony and peace,
the seats now filled that might have been vacant,
my country, church, Bible, faith.

But, Oh, how I mourn my sin, ingratitude, vileness,
the days that add to my guilt,
the scenes that witness my offending tongue;
All things in heaven, earth, around, within, without, condemn me –
the sun which sees my misdeeds,
the darkness which is light to Thee,
the cruel accuser who justly charges me,
the good angels who have been provoked to leave me,
Thy countenance which scans my secret sins,
Thy righteous law, Thy holy Word,
my sin-soiled conscience, my private and public life,
my neighbors, myself –
all write dark things against me.

I deny them not, frame no excuse, but confess,
‘Father, I have sinned’;
Yet still I live, and fly repenting to Thy outstretched arms;
Thou wilt not cast me off, for Jesus brings me near,
Thou wilt not condemn me, for He died in my stead,
Thou wilt not mark my mountains of sin,
for He leveled all,
and His beauty covers my deformities.

Oh my God, I bid farewell to sin by clinging
to His cross, hiding in His wounds, and sheltering in His side.

(Taken from ‘The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers)

You are I am!

I've been the one to shake with fear
And wonder if You're even here
I've been the one to doubt Your love
I've told myself You're not enough

I've been the one to try and say
I'll overcome by my own shame
I've been the one to fall apart
And start to question who You are

You're the one who conquers giants
You're the one who calls out kings
You shut the mouths of lions
You tell the dead to breathe
You're the one who walks through fire
You take the orphan's hand
You are the one Messiah
You are I am
You are I am

I've been the one held down in chains
Beneath the weight of all my shame
I've been the one to believe
That where I am You cannot reach

You're the one who conquers giants
You're the one who calls out kings
You shut the mouths of lions
You tell the dead to breathe
You're the one who walks through fire
You take the orphan's hand
You are the one Messiah
You are I am
You are I am

The veil is torn
And now I live with the Spirit inside
The same one, the very same one
Who brought the Son back to life

Hallelujah, He lives in me
Hallelujah, He lives in me
Hallelujah, He lives in me
Hallelujah, He lives in me

You're the one who conquers giants
You're the one who calls out kings
You shut the mouths of lions
You tell the dead to breathe
You're the one who walks through fire
You take the orphan's hand
You are the one Messiah
You are I am
You are I am

(He shuts the mouths of lions)
(He tells the dead to breathe)

(He calls out kings)

In a Rough Year, Thanksgiving Looms and the Praise Goes On

 Thanksgiving is looming upon us. This year of 2013 is quickly drawing to a close and in two short weeks I will be preparing the Thanksgiving dinner for our family. Each year it is hosted by one of my husband's sisters or myself.

(This painting hung in my home when I was growing up. I have always loved it. It reminds me of my dad, of my brother, of the countless meals around the table and the prayers my dad prayed)

 We volunteered this year. 

 So now the questions loom. How to give thanks when there are empty seats at the table? How to give thanks for the hard truths learned this year? How to give thanks for the long fight where heart and soul were poured into an all out effort to make things right and yet it turned out wrong?

 How to give thanks for the wounded hearts, the bruised and battered souls?

 How to give thanks when you have battled darkness for someone, only to have darkness seemingly win? How to give thanks when that darkness snatched yet another from us, two dear ones within a few months time? How to give thanks when that same darkness seems hellbent to consume yet a third?

 "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." He says.

 Three very key words there......"in"..........and........"everything".......

 Give thanks "in" all things. That means right there, in the thick of it, we are to lift our hands to the heavens and give thanks.

 In "everything".

for this is the "will" of God.

So we lift our hands to the heavens and we give thanks to the One who is the protector of our souls. 

We thank Him for His deliverance.

We thank Him for our trials.

We thank Him for the circumstances.

We thank Him for His promises.

We thanks Him that His promises are true, even if we do not see them now, we affirm that we will see them.

And in the act of giving these thanks we understand....

 The darkness did not win. Those we love reside apart from all darkness now. He is their light. They worship Him now in spirit and in truth, they revel in His glory, bask in His love.........darkness did not win. In truth, darkness was utterly defeated and forever dispelled.

 "My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand."

  Loved ones can be snatched from us here, leaving us to go on without them. But they were not snatched from Him. Their time in this fight is over. We have simply been left to fight on for a time. We will see them again. They were both His. Until then we should fight on, looking back on that victory that was achieved at the cross, where the Seed of the woman, once and for all bruised and crushed the head of darkness.

 Like a snake when it's head is crushed, darkness writhes and twists and does all in it's remaining power to harm......but in truth it's time is swiftly approaching, and it is dead.

 As for the darkness that still seeks to destroy.........

 If there is one thing the darkness hates, it is to see those afflicted, raise their hands to the heavens and sing praises to the King of glory! Darkness much prefers you on the floor in a heap, weeping and sobbing and bemoaning your state. Darkness seeks to defeat you, to have you cast off your faith and wallow in despair.

Darkness is the absence of light, and all that is needed to dispel it is flipping a switch. I stumble about in the darkness of my home, bumping into things like a fool when all I need do is flip the light switch. Just as I often stumble around in the trials and burdens of this life, bumping into things, crying out in despair, when all I need do is lift my hands to the heavens and praise God, and thank Him for His mercy and His grace, thank Him for salvation freely given to one who deserves it not, thanks Him for the trials and ask that He help me bring glory to Him in the midst of them......and the light pierces through the darkness and I can see again!

 So I raise my hands, I sing His praises! I believe! I am a child of the King! I rest on His promises! I give thanks!

Thanksgiving is the key.

                    The key to hope, the key to faith, the key to strength.

 Give thanks, in everything. For it is His will. Trust Him, no matter what you are experiencing, for He has made us promises, and those promises are true and amen, and whatever happens to be going on will lead to victory.

 "For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for well-being, and not for calamity, in order to give you a future and a hope. "

 So we look forward to the Thanksgiving celebration, where family will gather together. We will eat and drink and remember the many blessings He has given, He is giving and He will give. The greatest of these blessings is the forgiveness of sins, the assurance of salvation, and the hope of eternity with Him.

"“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

The photo is called "Vengeance is Mine" and depicts a victorious Christ, stepping upon the head of Satan, the sword in His hand the Sword of the Word of God, and the robes in His other hand depict His stripping all authority and power from the enemy.
The artist is Chris Higham.

His website can be found here: