153 Years Ago Today: Thanksgiving Became National Holiday

On October 20, 1864, President Lincoln signed a proclamation declaring the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.  As I read the proclamation I was surprised at what it said.   I was sad racism is still a part of our country, and God is not–at least on the governmental level.

But then I realized we, as a people can and should look to our past, to the overarching themes of President Lincoln’s intent in his Thanksgiving proclamation.  I love the turkey and pumpkin pie as much as the next person, but I want to pause this year and remember to thank God for every blessing He gives and humble myself to ask for peace, unity, and blessing over our land for generations to come.  


Thanksgiving 2017

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

As we approach the 153rd annual Thanksgiving Day let us thank Almighty God for prolonging our nation for another year. He has defended us from our enemies and from ourselves. He has shown us favor and health in our homes and to our soldiers and sailors abroad. He has given us freedom and opened up opportunities for wealth and has abundantly blessed us. He has also encouraged us to fortitude and courage, bringing us to a place of hope for deliverance from our dangers and afflictions.

Let us remember as did our forefathers this last Thursday in November as a day when all citizens pause to thank and praise the Almighty God, our Creator, and Ruler of the Universe. On this day reverently humble yourself in the dust and offer up prayers of repentance and fervently pray and ask God’s blessings of peace, unity, and harmony throughout this land which God has given us as a dwelling place for ourselves and our future generations.

What three words describe you?

Grab a pen and paper, set the timer for ten minutes and write down everything you can think of to describe you. There is no wrong answer; the key is to keep writing for the full ten minutes. When the timer rings, stop and look back over what you wrote. What three adjectives stand out to you?

I recently attended a workshop on podcasting. The instructor described himself in three words. Witty, Gay, Entertaining. He didn’t say he was a podcaster (even though he has a following of 35k), he didn’t say professor or writer either (even though he was both of those too).  Podcaster, writer, professor —those are things he does. Not who he is. By being crystal clear about who he is, it carries over into every area of his life. The workshop on podcasting was witty, gay and entertaining as I’m sure are his podcast and book.

When I did the above exercise, I kept coming up with nouns. Teacher, reader, writer, scholar.  I needed adjectives which tell what motivates me –why I do, not what I do. My husband showed me an easy way to identify the difference between a noun and an adjective. If you need ‘a’ after I am, it’s a noun.  With an adjective, there is no ‘a’.  It should read, I am happy; not I am a teacher.

I am a ______________ (noun)
I am ________________ (adjective)

My three words – Curious, Passionate, and Inspiring.

Curious.  My earliest memory is standing outside our front screen door, holding up three fingers and exclaiming to my mom that I was three years old and in two more fingers I would be a whole hand. I remember looking at my hand and being amazed that discovery. That insatiable desire for knowledge and discovery has led me to a life of studying, researching and reading.

Passionate. There is a fire in my bones that can’t be quenched. I tend to dream big and don’t quit easily. One boss affectionately referred to me as a bull dog.

Inspiring.  When I get to the end of my life, I want to be a woman who loved lavishly and extended grace upon grace.  I often find myself coming up short, but that is my goal. I love to encourage people and am driven by the desire to live a life that inspires people to be the best version of themselves. Life is a beautiful and precious gift –I don’t want to waste it.

It took me a long time to settle on these words. They extend back to my earliest memories, yet they also encompass what I want my remaining days to be. They are what motivates me, fulfills me and are the core of me –no matter what I am doing.

Another exercise is to email five friends and ask them to describe you in three words. It’s interesting to see how others see you and it helped me clarify my choices.

I’d love to know if you do the exercises and what your three words are. You can leave me a comment here or find me on facebook and twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

When I don’t trust God

A few years, as a homeschool mom, I convinced myself I should teach not one but two history curriculums in one year. I was afraid if we only used one there would be gaps in my kids’ education. As I was puzzling over my options, a wiser, more experienced homeschool mom assured me that one history curriculum was more than enough for a year.

Fast forward to their junior year in high school. We enrolled both kids in our local high school where they took all their classes at the local college and graduated top of their class.  The other night as my husband and I were boxing up the books to sell, we agreed if we had it to do all over again we would relax more and laugh more. Everything worked out just fine.

But, as I sit here in the new season of our lives, I find a new set of things to be anxious about. Which colleges are the best? What degree should they get? Are their choices leading to the best life possible? Because that’s what a good Mama does, right?

I bustle around as if my child’s success is dependent on my choices, actions, and endless worrying. Why? If I’m honest, it’s because I don’t trust them or God to handle things. Ouch. The green pride oozing out of that last sentence burns.

If I’m honest, it’s because I don’t trust them or God to handle things

 

God —their Creator loves them more than I. He knows their thoughts and hearts, while I only know what they share with me. God, is not defined by time, knowing all their yesterdays and all their tomorrows. And yet I sit afraid to trust because everything might not work out “right.” According to Nancy.

Surrender

I’ve fought surrender for many years. The fear of not being in control felt like a prison sentence. But I wonder, is surrender the greatest gift we are given? You might say salvation is the greatest gift, and I agree. But, aren’t we talking about the same thing? God who draws us to himself at salvation is willing to guide and direct us through life.

Surrender is letting God lead by not needing controlling the outcome. It comes from a place of love and trust, not fear.  I recently heard that rest is a form of worship because while we sleep we are trusting God to handle life.

I am humbled and awed that God, the one who made the universe, is working all things for good. Why do I fight that? Why do I work hard for God’s or man’s approval instead of resting in God’s purposes and plans?

 


God, I see now that my desire to make everything work out perfectly comes from a place of fear –fear of disappointing others or you. I need your drawing and enabling power to increase and abound my love. I recognize I am powerless to do this and I believe you can. Would you work in me what is pleasing in your sight? Thank you that I am your child and that you put a desire in me to trust and live from a place of love, not fear. To God be all glory forever. Amen.


How about you? Do you have a hard time trusting others? God? Is there an area of your life you need to stop trying to control the outcome?

King Rifki’s Worst Enemy – Flash Fiction for Microcosms

Microcosms runs a flash fiction contests every Friday.  They give you the character, setting, and genre.  You have 300 words and 24 hours to write a story.  300 words isn’t a lot. I am learning to “kill my darlings” -a quote Steven King uses meaning to cut all the extra words that we as writers are proud of but don’t make the story tight, strong and the best it can be.  

I was excited to find out I had won last week’s contest.  The character/ setting/genre were elf/castle/memoir.  The prompt was to write a fairy tale. Fairy tales date back thousands of years ago and include fantasy characters, magic, and language that disguised the rebellious subtext of the stories.  Here’s my story.


King Rifki’s Worst Enemy

So, here’s the truth. I’m not actually an invisible elf. I’m just a regular elf. Gramma Leojym has a magic concoction that she rubs on me each morning. I don’t know how she makes it. All I can tell you is that she goes in the cellar and comes back up with a jar of goop that smells tart like rotten spaghetti.

Anyway, I’m so excited to serve in the Legion of Loyalty. Ask no questions, tell no lies. That’s our motto. Our job is to protect the king. Each day after Gramma rubs invisible oil all over me, I slip into the palace when the shutters are unlocked.

My job is to stand still as a board and study King Rifki’s face. I have learned to recognize the look. As soon as I see the greedy look in his eyes, I scan the room for the red-headed woman. There is always a red-headed woman. As the king starts towards her, I shoot my bow and arrow

at any part of his body as long as it is above his chest. He hardly notices. It’s a tiny arrow, really – especially compared to how big he is.

Barbu notices though. She always notices and gently guides the King away from the distraction and back to his work. The white dust having done its job – making him forget about the red-head.

I overheard Mama talking the other night. She said if not for us, the people would know who the king really was. Mama says we protect the king from no one but himself. I heard her call him a philanderer, whatever that is. All I know is I get an extra scoop of apple pie when I get home from the castle. And I like apple pie.

5 affirmations that changed my day

Recently, my husband accidentally stumbled across some affirmations I had written in my journal months before we left for our family vacation. He shared his surprise that I had begun to mentally prepare for the trip long before we left.

We were planning to spend 12 days visiting his family in Germany and then taking a mini 8 day trip to Italy and Greece with our children. That trip was rigorous visiting a total of four cities and a new Airbnb every couple of nights.

I had read that we tend to remember events based on the emotions we attach to them.  When you come home from a vacation all you have left is memories, right?  Knowing I am not a born traveler and tend toward safe comfortable places where both my feet are on the ground, my journal affirmations came from a place of knowing the trip would challenge and stretch me.

Affirmations

I first read about affirmations in Hal Elrod’s book, The Miracle Morning.  My initial reaction was one of feeling like they were silly. I felt like it was the philosophy that everyone is a winner – everyone gets a trophy for trying – you know, positive thinking mumbo-jumbo.

But when I began to pay attention to my thoughts I began to realize how much negative chatter went on in my head.   I realized I would never talk to another person the way I talked to myself. (You are so stupid, I can’t believe you said that. Or, you know this plane is going to crash, right?)

An affirmation is a statement that declares something to be true.

Ephesians 2:22-24 encourages us to replace stinky thoughts with truth. One of the definitions of the name Satan is accuser.  (Rev. 12:10-11). He is also called the Father of lies (John 8:44). We don’t have to believe the worry, anxiety and fear that loops through our heads. Jesus came to set us free from the power of the enemy.   Freedom is found by replacing the lies of accusation, shame, and insecurity with words of truth, light and hope.

While reading the book of 1 John I noticed that in the middle the book, John summarizes the purpose of the letter he was writing. He also specifically mentions each age group, clarifying that no one was exempt from the truths. As I looked at the verses I realized they were affirmations.  John is assuring us of the truths that we need to tell ourselves.

5 Affirmations from 1 John

  1. Your sins are forgiven through Jesus
  2. You know God who has been from the beginning
  3. You are strong
  4. The Word of God lives in you
  5. You have overcome the evil one

These are some strong statements. Statements that I want my soul to believe. I wrote these on my mirror in the bathroom so I can remember who I am. I’m finding that focusing my mind on truth isn’t a one time experience. Left to its default my mind is soon swimming in a pool of what-ifs and if-onlys.  Especially when I am in a HALT moment (hungry, angry, lonely, tired).   It’s a daily, sometimes hourly, sometimes moment-by-moment choice to think on what is true.  (Phil. 4:6-8)

As for the family trip? It was fun and it was stressful.  There were long lines, lots of people and tight spaces.  We loved well, laughed often and cried together (or maybe it was just me who cried. What happens in Rome stays in Rome.  Just sayin’. )  We made great memories. And, I found new freedom by doing the hard and uncomfortable thing and standing up to my fears and coming out the other side alive.


 

How about you? Have you tried affirmations? Have you found them helpful?

1 John 2:12-14

I am writing to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
14 I write to you, dear children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.


Father in heaven,
I thank you that you are the same unchanging God from the beginning of time to now. I thank you for your loving kindness and limitless love. I thank you that Jesus stands in my place, that I am forgiven for my sins. I am strong. I choose to replace negative thoughts with the truth of your Word. I thank you for giving me truth and life and bring defeat to the accusations and lies the enemy tried to defeat me with. Amen.