November 23, 2015

I am going to guess that today does not seem like a normal Monday. Most of us have a short work week and so it makes Monday seem a little more like maybe Wednesday? And then you get a couple of extra days thrown in to party. What a great week. What a great day that the Lord has given us!
It is indeed Thanksgiving week and a week of celebration. I'm a firm believer in celebrations and traditions when it comes to family events. We will be in Oklahoma at my in-laws where we have typically spent Thanksgiving almost every year of our married life. Except that one year where the boys and I had Pizza Hut. We won't talk about that today. But one of the things this time of year can do is to cause unusual stress. Thanksgiving is only a few days away and Christmas is only 32 days away. Statistics talk about the rise in stress during this time of year and even many who choose to take their own life out of depression. Sometimes it's just the pressure of trying to reach for something that is unrealistic. Maybe it's the perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas that you saw in some movie or trying to recreate something from your childhood. Maybe it's a lack of finances and feeling guilty. There are many reasons for the holidays to be less than the celebration they were meant to be. Often it is just being around family that can cause the most grief. As odd as that sounds, when you put 10 or 15 or 20 or more family members together in a small place for an extended period of time it can cause stress. As you prepare for this week and those times when you may be thrown into situations with family just remember Ephesians 4:2, "Be patient, bearing with one another in love." What a great time to put that verse into practice. When you run into that crazy Uncle (every family has one), be kind and patient, bearing with him in love. I know I will be reminding myself of this verse a lot this week. May God get the victory in your family and mine. And may your Thanksgiving be truly a time of celebration!
What a great night last night! I was privileged to attend 2 different events. The first was our annual church Thanksgiving meal and celebration. We had a great crowd and some amazing food. I told everyone (repeatedly) that all I need is turkey and pie. We had plenty of both and lots of other great food. We also shared some ways that God has blessed us in very real and tangible ways. I want to say thanks today for a wonderful church family. We love you more every passing day and we continue to give thanks to God for each and every one of you!
The other event we attended last night was the gathering called "Live Thankfully." This has become an annual event which seeks to collect food and turkey dinners to feed those in need. This is the project of Dr. John Kelley and his lovely wife, Allison. Dr. Kelley is a local orthodontist who also happens to be my wife's boss. It has been a joy for us to help on this special night even though we get there a little late. If you follow me on Facebook you saw the picture of all the groceries assembled together. Over 2000 bags of food were collected. Most of those bags had 15-20 items of food in them. I know over 600 turkey dinners were in the mix as well (not shown in the picture). It's just a massive undertaking with countless volunteers, of which we were only two. At one point when I was in the semi-truck passing bag after bag back along one of the assembly lines, some lady asked me if my back was OK. I said I was fine. In just a few minutes she came up and took over. I wasn't sure if I wasn't going fast enough or she felt sorry for the "senior adult man" but I had to kind of laugh (and quote Ephesians 4:2 to myself). At another point I was teasing this boy across from me (doing the same tough job of passing these heavy bags along another line) because he kept calling for his buddy. He said "it's boring in here. I need someone to talk to." I was reminded that I was still on mission and here was another opportunity for "100 Happy People." So I started talking to him though I don't think he really wanted "me" to talk with. I found out he was only 10 and I told him that was pretty amazing and it was. I did my best to encourage him but I think he was just tolerating me . . . but I gave it my best shot. What a great night of service that left my back a little sore (Jennifer more so than me) but which was a small thing to show the love of Christ to over 600 families. Thanks again John and Allison!! And Praise to God for His provision!
I pray you have a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!!