Tag Archive | life challenges

Thanksgiving Memories

As I think of my most memorable Thanksgiving, my mind quickly travels to a tiny apartment in Tampa, Florida. My new husband and I have been married just five months and although we are quite happy, we are also very broke. He is an Airman, Second Class, and together we are bringing in a little over 200 dollars a month.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we plan to go to the base to eat the reasonably priced holiday meal that the Air Force offers to servicemen and their families. I do not recall the exact price of that meal, but I believe it was around three dollars—definitely not big bucks.

The day before Thanksgiving we receive a notice that we are overdrawn at the bank and it takes every penny we have to cover that overdraft; to ignore it would not set well with the military brass.

Thanksgiving Day arrives and we will not be eating out and we do not have funds to buy more groceries. We will not be having turkey in our tiny apartment. We are over 3,000 miles from home and will not be with other family members. I am suddenly seized with agonizingly brutal homesickness. I recall the many Thanksgiving feasts at my grandparents’ house with aunts and uncles and cousins. I think of holidays with Mom, Dad, my siblings and their families—my adorable little niece and nephew. I miss them dreadfully. I think of all the scrumptious food that will be piled on their table. I am not thankful.

We attend Thanksgiving service at our church and the pastor gets up and talks about how we will all be going to big feasts with our loved ones. His sermon makes me even more homesick. I am not thankful.

We return to our apartment where I pull hamburger out of the fridge and make a meat loaf for our Thanksgiving dinner. My husband thanks God for our food, but I am not thankful. Do I think of the millions of starving people who would welcome our meat loaf and slim trimmings as a feast? Nope! That thought never enters my mind. My focus is not on what I have, but on what I don’t have. I am homesick, eating meatloaf for Thanksgiving dinner, and I am not thankful.

Decades later, I look back and am very grateful for that memorable day and the lessons learned. I gained a deep appreciation for my family of origin. I had always taken their love, their provision, and their sacrifices for granted. I developed a deep compassion for people who are alone and broke during the holidays. It’s a sad and difficult place to be. I also learned that if I focus on what is lacking in my life, I lose sight of the many blessings God has given. When looking only at what I don’t have, depression and self-pity quickly suck away all chances of happiness.

As Thanksgiving 2013 approaches I am thankful that family will gather at our home and thankful that we can provide enough food that they will go away as stuffed as the turkey. I’m thankful we can welcome a few guests who are not family. I am grateful for health, for family and friends, for food and shelter. I am grateful for a God who loves and accepts me in spite of my faults and failures.

And if the day should come that I would be far away from family and friends, eating meatloaf on Thanksgiving, I believe I could, with a genuine heart, thank God for it and invite some lonely person to join me. Yes, I am thankful!


Lessons from a Garbage Can

I was pleased when yard-waste recycling first came to our area. Along with the service came a huge, cube-shaped yard waste container on wheels. I eagerly anticipate wheeling the big container around the yard while cleaning up the mess of pine cones and pine needles that grace our yard every autumn.

After my first hour of raking, I wheel that awesome container to one of my many piles. I pick up the first pile and begin pushing it to the second. Suddenly without warning, I am slammed to the ground, face down inside that container—a most undignified position. I am face down inside a garbage can and it hurts!

I pick myself and my not-so-wonderful garbage can on wheels up and gather the next pile of yard debris.

As I proceed across the yard, that garbage can attacks me a second time. Once again I am slammed to the ground, face down inside the garbage can. Now I am mad. I’m in pain and I’ve decided this dastardly contraption is dangerous.

I pick up yet another pile of yard debris, and very, very cautiously begin to move toward the next. Again that evil garbage can attacks, and I am thrown to the ground face first inside the reprehensible container a third time.

I am beyond mad. I am livid! I am going to call the garbage company and give them an ear full. What if this happened to one of my parents? Would someone end up with a broken hip? This contraption could seriously injure someone. Why would anyone design such a demonic piece of dangerous equipment?

Infuriated, I slam the lid of that evil garbage can shut, only to discover the following message in large letters: “Caution: Close lid before moving!”

What had landed me face down inside the garbage can? I had stepped on the bottom lip of the open lid as I pushed the container. I hadn’t read the instructions! I had ignored them.

As I painfully make my way to the house, I think of how often we find ourselves face down emotionally or spiritually in the garbage can of life. God’s Word is our instruction guide. Ignoring His instructions will lead to tremendous amounts of unnecessary pain. We repeat the same mistakes with the same painful results.

When we choose to follow the guidance of His Word, we are better equipped to handle the issues and temptations that would throw us into life’s garbage can. Read and follow the instructions! It can equip you to break the cycle of failure and its resulting pain and frustration.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV