Thanksgiving is Different

This is the last in a weekly series leading up to Thanksgiving. Join the conversation at #3WeeksofThanks.

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Last week my 9 year old declared this to be the worst year ever! She’s turning 10 in just a few months. With big plans for her first double-digit birthday, she’s worried that it won’t be all she is imagining, thanks to the pandemic. We don’t know what things will look like a few months from now but if the past seven months are any indication, I’m thinking we’ll have to be creative!

In the past few weeks, when these kinds of tough moments have come up, we’ve sat together and cried over the things that have changed and the things we have lost. And then I gently remind them that 2020 is the year of doing things differently, and that different can be refreshing!

I’ve even taken them to the history books to give them a little bit of perspective. According to historians from Harvard, the year 536 was the worst year ever. After a volcanic eruption in Iceland plunged the world into darkness and famine for 2 years, the bubonic plague began to spread.

Yikes. 

And yet, even though the world has been through awful things in generations past, we still feel the losses 2020 has brought and held out hope that things would turn around before the holiday season.

This weekend is showing us that we’re still in the thick of things.

I know several families who will not be gathering this weekend, breaking decades of tradition. For some, this may be the last holiday they would have spent with loved ones who are battling terminal illnesses. Others want to hold new babies and bless new parents with encouragement and amazing food. Others would have travelled to spend time together, and instead find themselves at home, away from children and grandchildren. Still others are relieved that they don’t have to go to an awkward family gathering but are missing a great meal with friends.

For others, Thanksgiving has always meant being alone.

If you’re greeting this weekend with a heavy heart, I’m praying that God’s presence will bring you comfort and that you would find that even in seasons of disappointment, He truly is enough! This year, we are finding space in our tight schedules for something different – something refreshing. Something that we would never otherwise have had the opportunity to do. Something that shifts us away from the perfect turkey and sharpens our focus on the Giver of Life.

I love the invitation from Hebrews 13:15-16 (NIV) — 

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

It’s amazing to me that a sacrifice of praise isn’t only words – it’s actions too. Who can you do good for and share with? Who is God bringing into your life right now that you can bless?

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I’m thankful that God is good – all the time.

Thanks for joining me this year for #3WT!

A Full Moon

This is the second in a weekly series leading up to Thanksgiving. Join the conversation at #3WeeksofThanks.

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The most remarkable thing happened this week.

The full moon rose in a clear sky.

Most months I don’t really pay attention to the phases of the moon, but the first full moon in fall is my favourite. Paired with the brilliance of rose-gold sunrises and brilliant coral-red sunsets, a harvest moon on a clear, warm night is just one of the most incredible beauties of the year.

We got the kids out of bed the other night and took them to the backyard to catch a glimpse.

“Whoa, that’s huge!” they marvelled.

We stood for a few minutes in the chill of the evening, barefoot on the grass, soaking in the beauty of the night sky. Then it was back to bed.

As I was tucking them in for the second time, one whispered, “Thanks for showing us that cool full moon, Mom.”

My heart swelled. “You’re welcome, sweetheart.”

This morning I peeked out the window to see the moon was full and pale, on its way to bed, with Mars for its sidekick. “Hey kids, come check this out!” I said.

At first they couldn’t see it, but then their eyes filled with disbelief. “That’s Mars?!”

We pulled out an iPad app that confirmed our suspicions and they rushed off to tell their dad what they had seen.

It was remarkable to see the gorgeous harvest moon and Mars in the morning light, but it was even more remarkable that these created things point our family to the One who made everything and holds it all together.

Especially this week, when the grief of loss and disappointment grips us at different times in different ways. We’re rolling along through our new and very different routine when all of the sudden we remember that this pandemic life isn’t what we signed up for but here we are and what do we do with all these big feelings?

Creation serves to remind us that this life is not some random collection of pointless events that end the hollow emptiness of death. There is order and design delicately woven together with intricate, breathtaking beauty. Isn’t it a gift that we’ve had to spend so much time outside in the past six months?

Yesterday after another amazing ruby-red sunset, my 9 year old daughter teased me, “Mom, I know your favourite season is fall. Every time we drive anywhere you’re always like, ‘look at the beautiful colours! Or look at that awesome sunset’! Like, we get it! You love fall!”

I laughed, but I just know that one day the kids will remember their how cheesy mom loved to show them things in nature. And I hope that in 20 years when they see an ordinary hillside suddenly ablaze with fall colours or sit under a giant harvest moon, or look up to notice even a tiny star winking in the darkness, they’ll remember these little moments when heaven touches earth and makes the ordinary extraordinary. I am praying that this collection of memories, paired with the things we’ve taught them and the experiences they’ve had will remind them that there is more to this life than our difficult circumstances.

In the words of my wise mother, “This too shall pass”. For millennia, the world has turned on its axis and revolved around the sun. And every generation has faced its challenges, some much more devastating that our current experiences. And yet, stories of hope and resilience shine through. Why is that? Because God did not make the world and abandon it. He is here, He is working. He always has been and always will be.

Colossians 1:15-17 (NIV) spoke to my heart this week: 

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

In Him, all things hold together. Think about that for a moment. If He is the key, even now, even in this moment in history, we have nothing to fear.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

Harvest Moon, October 1, 2020 – from my backyard.