November 28, 2010

Spirit of Thanksgiving, Day 2

Today, as I continue my Thanksgiving posts leading up to Christmas, I am thankful for the long Thanksgiving weekend, which began on Wednesday. The extra time off provided me the time to do things I rarely have the opportunity to do around the house - things like pulling the sofas out to vacuum underneath. It provided me time to visit with family not only on Thanksgiving, but on Friday, as well. It provided me 3 out of 5 days when I did not have to set my alarm. 
It provided me time to visit stores and go online to search for the gift my brother, sister, and I will give to our mother for Christmas. It provided me with a quiet Sunday afternoon to stop by the office and prepare for the upcoming week, which is always a particularly hectic one, as it follows such a short work week. It provided the time to organize the project I actually began for my niece 35 years ago, and hope to finish for her daughter before Christmas. 
Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. ;-)

Until next time,

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ I Thessalonians 5:16-18

November 27, 2010

The Spirit of Thanksgiving

All week, I intended to write a Thanksgiving post based on a post written by Matt at The Church of No People last Monday. It's taken until Saturday, but I'm finally getting around to it.

In his post, Matt talked about how we spend Thursday focused on being thankful for all we have, only to hit the stores at the crack of long before dawn on Friday because we want more. People are only too anxious to leave Thanksgiving in the dust as they camp out in parking lots waiting for Black Friday sales to begin. The irony is that as Thanksgiving ends and we turn our attention towards Christmas, we celebrate the gift of Christ by becoming so consumer-minded that, too often, we lose our gratitude for the greatest gift ever.

Source: Background Fairy
My comment on Matt's post was about how so many bloggers had used the first 25 days in November to write daily posts about things that fill them with gratitude. Those posts were all wonderful to read, and humbling as they reminded me of so many things I have for which to be grateful. I suggested that to keep that spirit of gratitude through the Christmas season, maybe the posts should begin with Thanksgiving and lead up to Christmas.

So that's what I plan to do for the next few weeks. I'm not promising a daily post, because keeping a tight blogging schedule is not one of my gifts. But we'll see.

Today I am grateful for the time spent with family on Thanksgiving. Thursday was spent with cousins we only see once or twice a year. Their grandmother and my grandmother were twin sisters, and growing up, our families often spent Thanksgiving together. As the twins got older and each lost their husbands, the custom fell by the wayside. My cousins recently decided to revive the tradition, and I'm grateful for that. Of the twins' children, only my mother and one son on their side of the family (and his wife) are left. It's wonderful to see them together on Thanksgiving, as they were on so many other Thanksgivings, long before the rest of us came along.

What about you? What were you grateful for this Thanksgiving? How do you maintain that spirit of gratitude through the holidays?

Until next time,

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. ~ Psalm 100:4-5

November 16, 2010

Royal Wedding!

Source: Google Images
I'm a sucker for a royal wedding. I was in the 9th grade when I got up in the middle of the night to watch Princess Anne's wedding to Capt. Mark Phillips. (Goodness, I had to think awhile before I could pull that name out of the deep recesses of my mind.) It was a beautful wedding, but the marriage didn't turn out so well.

Eight years later, I got up in the middle of the night to watch Lady Diana Spencer marry Prince Charles. The wedding didn't disappoint. Diana's dress was truly fit for a princess, and the scale of the event was beyond any fairytale that I ever read. But as everyone knows, that marriage didn't turn out so well, either.

Source: Google Images

Five years after that, I got up in the middle of the night to watch the wedding of Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew. Yeah, well...

Prince Edward is still married, isnt' he? I feel sure that I got in the middle of the night for that wedding, too, but I really don't remember for sure. You see, by the time Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones, I didn't have much hope for royal marriages...certainly not for the marriages of Queen Elizabeth's children.

I have much more hope for William and Kate. They're mature enough to know themselves, and they've certainly dated long enough to know one another. I was initially a little creeped out by William's choice of a ring - the same sapphire ring that we first saw on Diana's finger nearly 30 years ago, but I love his sentimental reason for choosing it. "It was my way of making sure my mother didn't miss out on today and the excitement, and the fact that we're going to spend the rest of our lives together." William says that their relationship began as a friendship, providing a strong foundation for them.

We were already rooting for them just from the pictures we had seen, but they were terribly endearing in their engagement interview. Their excitement is obvious, as is their love for one another. While Diana was clearly infatuated with Charles, I'm not sure she ever loved him, and he certainly didn't seem to love her. Remember Charles' comment in their engagement interview? As I recall, when asked if they loved one another, Charles' response was something like, "Whatever love is." Ouch.

NBC News
Despite the mean tone of the nickname given to Kate by the press, Waity Katie, perhaps she was willing to wait so long because she learned something from her future father-in-law's life. Charles, too, had a difficult time committing to a young woman he dated, and she eventually tired of waiting and married someone else. While Charles and Camilla married many years later - after a failed first marriage for each - I can't help but wonder how much heartache could have been avoided if Camilla had shown Kate's patience when she was younger. But then if Camilla had been a patient woman, there wouldn't have been a William for Kate to marry, would there?

I hope that despite the ups and downs that Kate and William will undoubtedly face in their life together, that their marriage will survive, and they will look back and feel as though they each received the fairy-tale ending that so eluded all those other royal couples...

Until next time,

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ~ I Corinthians 13:4-7

November 12, 2010

More Than We Can Imagine

To tell you the truth, up until this week, fall around here was looking like a dud. It has been fairly warm and terribly dry, with less than half our normal rainfall since the first of September. Leaves were falling in my yard without any fanfare - just brown leaves making a mess. To say that I was disappointed in our fall foliage would be an understatement and I found having to rake the dull leaves just added insult to injury.

But over the last week, our dreary fall was rescued. Much like fireworks when you start to ask, "Is that all there is?" the trees that still bore their leaves turned glorious shades of yellow, red, and orange, and every tree seemed to be trying to outdo its neighbor.

I took pictures along my drive to work this morning. See how beautiful they are?

What a wonderful reminder that God isn't finished with us, even during those times that we think he is, and that he who started the work will be faithful to complete it in you...and in me.

Until next time,

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.~ Ephesians 3:20-21

November 11, 2010

Thankfully Alone (Redux)

Thanksgiving is just a couple of weeks away so I'm reprising a post from last year. If you're going to be alone on Thanksgiving, now's the time to start planning how you will spend your day so you can make the most of it...

You can ask anyone. I'm not a people person. I'm task-oriented, and to be honest, I thrive on alone-time. Those of you who are not task-oriented seem to think that's a character flaw. That's okay, because like everyone else who is task-oriented, I know you would be lost without people like me. We're the ones who can focus long enough to figure out the things that seem to overwhelm you. (I suddenly have an awful feeling I stole that line from The Big Bang Theory.)

If you're task-oriented and single, it's a saving grace. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I'm running across blogs about how awful it is to be alone on Thanksgiving. I get that, I know being alone on a holiday is hard for a lot of people. But the task-oriented side of me wants to scream, "FIND SOMETHING TO DO AND YOU'LL GET OVER IT!!!"

I have been alone on Thanksgiving, and while the first time was dreadful -- largely because of the full-fledged pity party I threw myself -- I had a plan in place the next year. I accepted that a whole day with no place to be and nothing I had to do a month before Christmas is nothing less than a gift from God.

You see, I love for my house to be decorated for Christmas, but it doesn't always happen because the time to get it done is so hard to come by. So I decided to use that day alone to my advantage and I began a tradition of putting my Christmas tree up on Thanksgiving Day. Granted, this only works if you have an artificial tree, because burning the house down would be grounds for more self-pity, but since I have cats (there's that whole Borderline Crazy Cat Lady thing), I find an artificial tree is the only way to go. You can also leave an artificial tree up as long as you want, which is clearly another advantage. (One year I woke up on January 8th to discover an unexpected snowstorm had hit overnight. Obviously even God was embarrassed that my tree was still up and he gave me another gift - a surprise snow day to take the thing down!)

Over the years, my Thanksgiving Day plan changed a little. One year I had single friends over for Thanksgiving dinner. A couple of years I baked my grandmother's pumpkin chiffon pie to take to another friend's house. But as soon as I could, I'd get my tree out and start decorating. That allowed me to relax and enjoy the weeks leading up to Christmas, smiling to myself each time I opened my front door.

In recent years, my family has been in town for Thanksgiving, and we have begun spending the day with the cousins we used to spend Thanksgiving with when we were kids. It's a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving that makes me want to sing "Over the River and through the Woods..." as it brings back memories of grandparents and parents who are no longer with us. I love these Thanksgivings, but I know that should I find myself alone again on Thanksgiving Day, it will be okay because I have a plan.

Maybe your plan is different. Maybe you want to stay in your pajamas all day and watch Christmas movies or sit down with that book that you've been wanting to read. If you're a people-person, you can sign up to serve food at a shelter, or if you love to cook, you can have other singles or empty-nest couples over to your house for dinner. (Don't assume you're the only one in the world who is alone for Thanksgiving. Ask around and you'll find others who will be by themselves, and while some are perfectly happy to spend the day alone, others are hoping for an invitation.) If you don't like to cook, make the meal potluck. If you like to organize people, get a group together to cook and take food to the home-bound in your neighborhood or your church. The point is to find something that suits your personality, keeps you busy, and fills you with a spirit of matter how you choose to spend the day.

Until next time,

"...give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." - I Thessalonians 5:18

November 8, 2010

Cognitive Dissonance Day

I've decided to start a new tradition at Single and Sane: Cognitive Dissonance Day. I'm not sure how often I'll do it, but once in awhile, I'm going to pay tribute to that uncomfortable feeling caused by mixing conflicting ideas.

My first entry: Sleeveless dresses with boots.

Source: Google Images

I don't know about you, but boots make my feet miserably hot, and a sleeveless dress in boot season would make my arms miserably cold. I really don't see the point of dressing to mimic menopause when diminishing hormones achieve the same effect more than adequately.

How about you? Could you wear boots with a sleeveless dress?

November 4, 2010

Healthy Things Grow...

In my last post I focused on those of us who have been around our own churches for a long time, and the memories we have of those who have played a role in our lives through the church. I told you how I have often missed the things newer members see - things like bad lighting and peeling paint - because I see beyond the walls of the church. I see the people who have played a role in my walk with Christ.

But I don't want to leave you with the wrong impression. I believe that understanding where a church has been is important. It shows you where God has been at work within that body and that knowledge serves as inspiration, much as the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. But it's not everything.

November 1, 2010

I See Dead People

A number of years ago, I was talking to a newer member of my church and he brought up the shabby appearance of our buildings. Up until that conversation, I hadn't noticed the peeling paint or the poorly lit rooms that he pointed out. He wasn't alone. Others who didn't have a history in our church had issues that seemed trivial to me, things such as the carpet in the sanctuary. While I was fully aware of the blue carpet's dated and worn appearance - carpet that was never attractive - it didn't bother me the way it seemed to bother those who didn't yet have relationships within the church..

That was when I first realized that just as new members see things that I can't see, those of us who have been around for years see things that they can't see. The difference is that - in addition to the people who we see in the flesh - we can see people who are long gone, people from our past who have impacted our lives, people who played a role in building our faith.