Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. No pressure to have the decorations just right; no worries about finding the “perfect” gift. Thanksgiving for me is about family, good food, and taking time to reflect on the blessings of the last year. Sadly, this year, many of us are feeling more than a little shortchanged by the prospects of virtual gatherings, limited menus, and time spent mostly physically apart from loved ones near and far. Others of us are facing the first of many special events without the companionship of a loved one who has recently passed away. And a few of us, or our loved ones, are a little sick, very sick, or profoundly ill.
While we cannot change our current circumstances, we are not powerless. Instead of focusing on what feels broken, lost, or altered beyond what is recognizable, we can choose a spirit of thankfulness. We see examples of this in scripture from our friend David – who himself faced profound loss and complicated realities.
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. Psalm 95:1-3
So today, regardless of our current reality, sadness or struggle, together we can choose thankfulness and offer a song of praise to our Creator, Savior and LORD.
T – God is Transcendent and not bound by space, time, or this current reality.
H – God is Holy and is incorruptible and fully separate from sin
A – God is Abba, and we can have a personal and intimate relationship with our heavenly father
N – God is Near in times of trouble, times of triumph, and every moment in between
K – God is King of Kings and Lord of Lord – and one day every knee will bow to Him
S – God is Sovereign. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, and His purpose will come to pass in His perfect time
May you experience true peace and assurance that only our Savior can provide this Thanksgiving, and may your heart find reasons to make a joyful noise to the Rock of our Salvation.
Don’t miss the beauty and wonder of this moment. There are SEVEN weeks left of this beautiful fall season, so here are SEVEN fun things you can do on your own or with the people you love.
Go APPLE Crazy…Embrace the favorite fruit of fall! Make homemade candy apples – Apple crisp, apple chips, apple sauce, apple cider, or apple slices with caramel sauce. Yum Yum!
Pumpkins for everyone…Paint them, carve them, or cook them up. With pumpkins, your only limit is your imagination. From roasted pumpkin seeds to pumpkin bars, pumpkin soup, or even pumpkin ice cream – there are endless possibilities for eating, decorating, and enjoying this fantastic gourd.
Roast s’mores…Chocolate, Marshmallows, and gram crackers make smiles instantly appear. Whether you enjoy your marshmallows slightly roasted or fully charred, these fall treats can be made in the back yard, with a tabletop s’more maker, or over the stove.
Friday Night Football with a twist…We may not be able to enjoy a friendly game of high school or college football in person this fall, but on Friday night, there is still room for family football fun. Pop up some popcorn, grab a warm blank and help the kids snuggle in and enjoy these positive, family-friendly classics: The Blind Side (PG-13), Rudy (PG), and Remember the Titans (PG).
Leaf Peepers Quad Cities style…Watching the leaves change this time of year is as easy as grabbing your comfy car clothes and a tank of gas. Hit the road for a few hours and check out the beautiful fall colors at one of these local state parks: Mississippi Palisades (IL), Castle Rock (IL), Maquoketa Caves (IA), or Geode State Park (IA).
Take a Hike…Lace up your walking shoes and a hoodie and get outside before the snow arrives! Walk the river, walk your ‘hood, or check out a city park near you. Now is the time to stretch your legs, enjoy nature, and experience some fresh air before we all huddle up by the fireplace for winter.
Stargaze at night…Cool, clear, and crisp fall nights reveal some of God’s most amazing nighttime wonders! So, grab a blanket, a cup of hot cocoa, and your favorite person and go check out the stars in your own back yard.
Life is moving at warp speed. Information overload is our new daily normal; “adapt and pivot” is the catch phrase of 2020. In the midst of this, the effects of “hurriedness” have been on my heart as I seek to love God and lead others well.
Recently, I was encouraged to step away from the office for a couple of days and participate in the Global Leadership Summit (GLS). At the GLS, world class authors, pastors, and Christian leaders instruct and inspire Jesus-loving women and men. It’s no surprise then, that the speaker who focused on pace – the speed in which we travel through life – resonated deeply and continues to inspire and challenge me.
Pastor Michael Todd spoke with power and transparency on The Pace of Leadership. Pastor Todd began with a simple but profound statement of truth: Jesus accomplished world changing ministry in 3 years, and Jesus was never hurried. Let that sink in for just a minute. In scripture Jesus was never rushed, never short tempered with the hurt and broken, and never shackled to the demands of a calendar. Jesus always had time: the time to pray; the time to mentor, the time to heal, the time to be present and in the moment.
Maybe you are a little bit like me. In the midst of life’s crazy demands, it can be easy to get out of step, off pace, and hurried. A hurried pace is not healthy or sustainable long-term. Eventually, a hurried pace will sap our energy, steal our joy, and negatively impact how we treat the people we love the most. It can leave us emotionally numb, missing little life moments as they happen, and blind to the mini and major miracles that happen around us every day. This is not the pace that Jesus spoke of when he said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest” in Matthew 11.
Pastor Todd reminds us all that a healthy pace allows for productive work, passionate worship, and genuine rest. A healthy pace is sustainable long-term. It includes time for work AND family, ministry AND rest, recreation AND fun. It allows for margins in our life to enjoy the life we have now, in this moment, with these people. A healthy pace lets us slow down, declutter, and unschedule. It provides the opportunity to experience moments, make new memories and witness miracles that happen every day. A healthy pace. It’s radical. It’s counterculture. It’s exactly what Jesus did. Thanks Pastor Todd – that’s just the reminder and the challenge that I need.