Tag Archives: food

Thanksgiving Memories – All Good Gifts

2006 -- Nov -- Thanksgiving table

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17

[Adapted from the Archives]

For most of 20 years, we lived in North Africa where a Thanksgiving holiday was a foreign concept. “Eid el Shukr” (“Feast of Thanks” in Arabic) was understood but not a day set aside. We, along with other expat Americans, brought Thanksgiving with us and invited our local friends into the experience. On the surface, American Thanksgiving has pretty much three constant components – food, family, and football.

Back in the States, the old traditions are changing and yet stay sweetly familiar. My Mom, who always laid out an incredible Southern-style feast on the kitchen counter at home in Georgia, is no longer with us. As with some of you, I’m sure, I miss her still every day and how she lavished love on us through these family times together. Our children are grown now and establishing their own traditions with more families and friends added into the mix. Each year, we find ourselves re-working our own traditions as well.

Thanksgiving is again, for us, all about food, family, and football…but there’s also another element…faith… I am grateful every day for the kindnesses of God and those he’s placed in our lives. Celebrating Thanksgiving allows us to put an exclamation point on being grateful. It’s not just about a table full of food, although food is clearly a focal point. Thanksgiving, even as a national holiday and not a religious one, focuses our sight beyond ourselves. There is an object in Thanksgiving beyond ourselves.

Over 30 years ago, a funky little Broadway musical was turned into a film – Godspell. It was an adaptation of the life of Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew. At that time, I was in the season of life that young people pass through of searching out what exactly I believed. It wasn’t going well at that time. Praise God, He did not forget me during those days when I had all but forgotten Him. Watching the film Godspell was one of the occasions God used to wake me up. There’s a wonder and delight in the young followers of Jesus in the musical. It reminded me of what I had once with God…and what could be again.

All the songs in the musical Godspell are lovely. Composer and Lyricist, Stephen Schwartz, beautifully captured some of Jesus’ teaching and the depth of love and rightness between Him, His followers, and creation, in general. All Good Gifts, adapted from an old hymn, is one such song and is a pure and proper doxology of praise for Thanksgiving.

Worship with me.  [Here’s the YouTube video from Godspell to give you the melody.]

All Good Gifts*
We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land..
But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand..
He sends us snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain…
The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain…

All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above
Then thank the Lord, thank the Lord for all his love…

We thank thee then, O Father, for all things bright and good,
The seedtime and the harvest, our life our health our food,
No gifts have we to offer for all thy love imparts
But that which thou desirest, our humble thankful hearts!

All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above..
Then thank the Lord, thank the Lord for all his love..

I really wanna thank you Lord!
All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above..
Then thank the Lord, oh thank the Lord for all his love..

2011 November Thanksgiving Visits 010Food – Family Favorites in Mom’s Kitchen2011 November Thanksgiving Visits 012 a (2)

Football – on T.V. or out on the street with cousins and friends2010 November Thanksgiving in Georgia 204

Family – Time together…savoring every minute2011 November Thanksgiving Visits 015

Happy Thanksgiving…

Oh…just in case Thanksgiving is a struggle…and it isn’t all happy family fun…I pray you take courage and rein in your heart to remember that God sees and loves you. We can be a Thanksgiving blessing to each other…if you’ve read this far…you are a blessing to me. Wish you were at our table…maybe one day you will be. You are definitely welcome at God’s table.

YouTube Video – Take Courage – Kristene DiMarco

*Lyrics and Story Behind the Song – All Good Gifts (Godspell)

YouTube Video – All Good Gifts (Godspell 1990)

YouTube Video Clip – All Good Gifts (Godspell original cast 1973)

Wikipedia article on original hymn/lyric – We Plough the Fields and Scatter (1862)

5 Friday Faves – Stuff I Like to Do – Had to Think About It

Happy Friday!

A friend asked me yesterday about what I like to do around Richmond….this small city big on events, restaurants, and natural beauty. I had trouble coming up with things. Not because I never get out…but just don’t think in terms of stuff I like to do. It made me realize that my life these days is more reactive/responsive than intentional and proactive. Really got me thinking…

Here are 5 favorite things I like to do…not bound to location…

1) Team/Family Activities – As much of my life is spent in solitary endeavors, creating, serving, and playing as a team energizes me. I love to learn from others and the momentum and synergy of a group work inspire me to push through. This isn’t just doing sometime collectively as a group of people…not really invested in each other. This is working together as a team! It’s serving a great purpose…together, not just alongside other people.  Love that process. Also in play, game nights are special fun for the chatter and laughter around the table as much as for the adventure of the gaming itself.

2) Being Able to Support and/or Encourage Our Adult Children – There’s a strange tension in this. We are glad for our children to launch as adults and they are glad to be on their own and pursuing their own careers and interests. Still, after so many years of being under the same roof and intimately in each others’ lives, I’m glad for touch-points. Praying for them always (my privilege and special responsibility). Babysitting for a grandchild. Listening to their hopes and dreams. Offering counsel on a struggle (when asked…and sometimes not even). Supporting financially within healthy and honoring bounds. You hear a lot about Nathan in here. I long to be able to support him in his musical career…but didn’t really know how. Just this week, he made that easier by affiliating with Patreon. Now we’re a part of his small but growing community of patrons.

3) Travel and the People We Travel To and With – I’m not an experience or destination collector, so travel to tick off a bucket list isn’t a motivation. However, it’s possible that’s because we have had the great fortune of travel as a normal part of our lives over the years. We have lived in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco. Dave and I spent our 25th wedding anniversary in Paris, France. As a family, we’ve shared incredible destinations…from the Red Sea to the Sahara Desert, from trips in Europe and to Africa. My international travel has been curbed a bit, but there is still tremendous joy in trips to Laurel, Delaware and Hoschton, Georgia (to see family) and to such places as Midland, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee to see friends. Etc., etc., etc. It’s less the destination…as what the travel brings in times together.

4) Food Events – It’s my birthday today, and there will definitely be food events. Food itself is a delight, of course. The sweet side-benefit of food events is that person sitting across from me. Or the children and adults gathered close around the long family table. Or the folks cozied on couches around the room. Or even (gasp) the long-legged obstacle course of men filling the floor space in front of a televised football game. What food does to draw out conversation or bond people together is a marvelous thing. I have favorite restaurants, like you…but it’s the event itself that blesses the heart (less the work of it, more the people of it).

5) Divine Appointments – Okay…these are not within our control, really…so they can’t be scheduled into one’s happy life. Or, maybe they can. We can definitely grease the tracks to experience them. How? I know my whole day can be altered – both in awareness and experience – if studying Scripture and praying is part of my early morning routine. “Bible before breakfast” was a routine, growing up, of a friend of mine. Not in any kind of legalistic or ritualistic sense… as much as spiritual habit that can change a person’s thinking, choices, and engagement with God and others. That early morning time with God sets the tone for my day. His activity in my life and that of others around me becomes more obvious. God is a good and active agent in His creation and among his people. All we have to do is tune our minds to see Him…and He is there. Even when my early morning quiet time is on the lean side…or neglected altogether, it’s still possible to reset our sights on Him through the day and experience wonders. I just hate to miss Him from early on…because I’ve chosen other lesser activities…like even sitting down and writing…

There are my five favorites… They didn’t include writing…which is sort of a given (as in this blog). They didn’t include photography – also a given (in my desire to document everything). They didn’t include movie and popcorn nights which I actually LOVE as well….that will definitely happen on my birthday. Thanks, Friend, for stirring my thinking yesterday. Being more proactive in pursuing these five is now on my list! Do you have a list of favorite things you fill your life with? Please comment below. If you live in Richmond, maybe you could also share your favorites about this city. It’s possible I need to get out more.

Happy a safe and restful weekend!

Independence Day Montage – Family, Food, Fireworks, and the American Flag

Blog - Fireworks - John WilliamsPhoto Credit: John Williams

Last year, I wrote about July 4 here.

Just want to wish you all a happy and safe celebration of our Independence Day, you Americans out there.

On this rainy morning, we will still push through with preparations for a family cook-out later in the afternoon. 2015 July 4 Family Weekend 0212013 July 4 2013 006

Lee Greenwood’s renditions of “God Bless the USA” will be viewed on YouTube and sung at parades and baseball games around our country. [The one in the YouTube below shows Greenwood singing at the World Series at Yankee Stadium just weeks after the WTC bombings of 9/11.]

Patriotism is a costly thing. Freedom, even costlier. We, like many other nations around the world, have lost many of our young men and women in wars…fought for all sorts of reasons.

Today, we will see our flag displayed more than any other time of the year. Hopefully, today, it won’t be at half-mast. So many losses in recent years that have kept us from flying her at full-mast.Blog - 4th of July - American Flag - Jason MillerPhoto Credit: Jason Miller

Whatever our politics or our passports, today is a day to be grateful for all the sacrifices that went into making this nation…and hopefully we will strive to protect the freedoms fought for by so many others. My hope also is that we can still strive to be a nation that does good, not just inside its own borders but around the world.

As I think of our family and friends all over, both here and abroad, may we not forget what is at stake…on this day, and every day.

For today, we who can spend the 4th together, will count both our blessings that we richly enjoy and the costs incurred that make such a day possible. We look ahead to what we bring to making this nation what it can be still.

Let freedom ring and God bless this country we lift up to Him. To God be the glory!

DebMillsWriter – Independence Day in the USA – Celebrating the 4th of July and Remembering that Freedom is Not Free

Celebrating Who We Are Becoming – Strategic Monk – Greg Richardson

YouTube Video – Top 10 American Independence Day Facts

YouTube Video – Soussa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever – “The President’s Own” Marine Corp Band

YouTube Video – The Star-Spangled Banner – lyrics, vocals & beautiful pictures

Blog - 4th of July - Cairo and Braves Baseball

Thanksgiving in America – Family/Friends, Food, Football, Falling Asleep Following Football, Forever Grateful

PopPop Stacie 2011 (2)

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.   – Albert Schweitzer

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all! If you’re in the USA, it’s a big day. Lots of food (all favorites you expect/hope to see every year) with those you love crowded around. Then football. Falling asleep from all the turkey.

Dave’s family is in Delaware and most of mine is in Georgia. We’ve had Thanksgivings with both, on sort of a rotation…but not nearly often enough, since we lived overseas for so many years. During that season of our lives, friends became family for us.Thanksgiving 04 009

The food favorites varied somewhat depending on the family. If you knew us well, you would know which family gathering was that year, just looking at the food below. What are your “must-haves” on Thanksgiving Day?2011 November Thanksgiving Visits 012 a (2)2010 November Thanksgiving in Georgia 1152014 Nov Thanksgiving Richmond & Delaware 023

Better even than the food is the time together with people we love. We can’t always be all together because of distance…but it is a good day spent together…I’m grateful for every memory we’ve made together. So thankful for family – with all its imperfections. God put us together, and I want to always honor that.2014 Nov Thanksgiving Richmond & Delaware 0582014 Nov Thanksgiving Richmond & Delaware 0542014 Nov Thanksgiving Richmond & Delaware 056

If one should give me a dish of sand and tell me there were particles of iron in it, I might look for them with my eyes, and search for them with my clumsy fingers, and be unable to detect them; but let me take a magnet and sweep through it, and how would it draw to itself the almost invisible particles by the mere power of attraction.  The unthankful heart, like my finger in the sand, discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day, and as the magnet finds iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessing, only the iron in God’s sand is gold.                                 Henry Ward Beecher2009 Nov 029

Football!2014 Nov Thanksgiving Richmond & Delaware 057Football! 2010 November Thanksgiving in Georgia 204

[Sidebar about football and the mad cleanup that follows the huge Thanksgiving meal – this commercial.]

I cherish every memory these images represent and all the other memories not documented here. Thank You, God, for all Your good gifts to us. Your kindness is beyond our imagining.

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”Romans 11:36

Look for things to be thankful for: a dear old face at an open door,

The table set for the family meal, a husband’s love that is true as steel.

A cushioned chair that you fixed yourself, your favorite books on a nearby shelf,

A green-hued twilight that sort of glows, the clean, fresh smell of a brier rose.

An old windjammer that you recall beating its way through an April squall,

Its old sides crusted with salty spray, limping in at the close of day.

The lovely odor of lemon peel; a humble man with a flaming zeal

For a worthy cause that he thinks is right; the feeling of warmth on a winter night.

Look for things to be thankful for: a braided rug on your bedroom floor,

A dormer window with curtains drawn, a bluebird singing across the lawn.

So much to be thankful for these days, so much to enjoy and love and praise. – Edna Jaques, Ideals, Vol. 57, #5

2009 Nov 006 (2)

Prayers for those of you who have said goodbye, for now, to loved ones this year – thinking especially of our dear friend, Tom Elliff, whose beloved Jeannie went ahead of him to the Lord this summer. May God’s tender presence be a sweet comfort to Tom this Thanksgiving…as he continues to bless his family and serve the Lord.Blog - Tom Elliff & Family at Thanksgiving 2015Photo Credit: Tom Elliff’s Family

Worship Wednesday – All Good Gifts – Thanksgiving Memories

Thanksgiving Poems

Ideals Magazine – Christmas Edition 2015

5 Organic Ingredients of a Grateful Heart by Steve Graves

Blog - International Student Thanksgiving Dinner 2015 2VCU International Student Thanksgiving Dinner 2015;  Photo Credit: Donna Ange Photography

10 Reasons Folks Show Up for Stuff – Something to Think About

2014 June SBC, Visit to Ga, SavetheDate pics 098

A good friend told me this weekend that I think too much. She may be right, and it set me to thinking….what else? I was reading this article by Ed Stetzer about trends in Christianity and the collapse of nominalism (i.e., being culturally Christian, or Christian “in name only”). This is not just an issue for Christianity but for many ideologies and organizations in today’s world. How we invest our time, money, influence, and social capital, in general, is very telling of who we are and what we value.

Stetzer points out that more and more people who may have previously considered themselves nominal in their beliefs are more straightforward in where they stand on faith. This is evident in the decline in church involvement among “nominal” Christians. This got me thinking about how we make decisions and what affects our choices in terms of “showing up for stuff”.

When we roll out of bed on a weekend morning (or any day, really), what motivates our choices? On a workday, you might be tempted to say, “Well, I have no choice.” Truth is, we choose all the time…sometimes, wisely, sometimes, not so much. What reasons most compel us?

2014 June SBC, Visit to Ga, SavetheDate pics 008

  1. Entertainment/Freebies/Perks – Adventure and travel are included in here, as well. So much to do….so little time. And the free stuff? We all know that “what’s in it for me?” voice in our heads. Nothing innately wrong with any of this, unless it becomes the driving force of our choices.
  2. Food/Fitness/Rest – Church potluck dinners are the best – like eating Sunday dinner at our grandmother’s (if she’s a great cook, that is). No food? Hmmmm…not as interesting. Same goes for sporting or other physical activities, for many of us. We thrive on stuff going on all the time. Rest can also be a draw, especially when we get to take a break from usual responsibilities (having access to a great children’s program, for instance).
  3. Good Cause/Purpose/Fulfilment/Right Thing to Do – We all show up sometimes for a good cause or because it’s the right thing to do (whether it’s working on a disaster relief team or going to see your folks at Christmas). For Christians, obedience to God’s Word comes in here.
  4. Learning, Training, Equipping – There are times, we don’t necessarily choose this (as in a job situation when we need a new skill whether it interests us or not). In a church setting, this is a draw if it’s meaningful for our particular life situation. This is also a choice out of our love for God and wanting to be equipped for His purposes.
  5. Inspired/To Be Inspired/To Be Inspiring – I love to worship God in the company of others who love to worship God. The sense of His presence and His pleasure during sincere, unified corporate worship is one of the dearest experiences of my life. Then there are the stories of God’s activity in people’s lives. This is definitely a reason that I choose to show up when the church gathers.
  6. Belonging – We all want to belong. Belonging is deeper and grander than community (although some may argue that they are one and the same). Belonging is knowing you have a place, that people receive you in with whatever quirkiness or imperfections you have. Belonging is being valued for the person you are without any frills and not needing to try to fit in. I choose belonging whenever I get the opportunity.
  7. Community – Community is a gathering of people who share similar loves or competencies or goals. Community is something we all need, as well, and we’re willing sometimes to do what we have to do to “fit in”. Community does not necessarily mean belonging in the deepest sense of that experience, but it’s a start in that direction.
  8. Desperation/Need – Sometimes we show up somewhere (church or wherever else) because we need what we hope to find there. Church should definitely be a gathering of people who are willing to be arms around the needy and kind hearts/clear heads for the sake of those in dire straits. We have all been there.
  9. Should Go/Show or Mandatory/Obligatory – Here’s a reason to show up that none of us want to acknowledge, and yet, it could be true. Can it be that there are days that the only reason we show for church is that icky feeling of “well, I guess I should go, since there’s nothing else really happening.”? Or, think of situations outside of church. Have you ever had a work retreat with “forced fun” built in? None of us really want to HAVE to choose an affiliation or activity out of guilt, shame, or obligation.
  10. Checklist/Approval/”Get Out of Hell Free” Card – and last is the grand experience of “checking it off my list”. Eat healthy – check. Pay the bills – check. Go to the gym – check. Call your grandmother – check. Some sort of religious activity? Check. Oh…there is no “Get Out of Hell Free” card, but you already knew that. Enough said here.

You hear it all the time about how short life is…if you have even read this far, you may very well forget the message by the time you next check your current social media. What I wish I could communicate better is that our lives matter – our choices matter – and where and how we show up matters.

[Joshua speaking] “If it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” So the people answered and said: “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods… We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.” – Joshua 24:15-16, 18b

Blog Pics - Tim Howard Soccer

Belonging vs. Fitting In

Amy Lee Crawford writes on belonging & the disillusionment of community

4 Trends in Christianity that Could Scare You, According to Ed Stetzer