Thanksgiving

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Today I share with you this story (http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/thanksgiving/short-stories/religious-thanksgiving.html):

Thanksgiving by Bruce Wright

What does Thanksgiving mean to you? I hear one boy say, “It means a big dinner.” I think we all agree with him. Who does not welcome and enjoy a good dinner! I hear Mary say, “Thanksgiving means a day off from school.” I guess you are right too. School is not such a charming place that girls and boys are unwilling to have an occasional holiday.

Now I am going to ask some of the older people what the day means to them. There is a young woman, a stenographer. She says, “Thanksgiving means a day away from the office. I’m at the office every day except Sunday, and I do appreciate, now and then, a day that’s really my own.”

Yonder is a traveling salesman. “What does Thanksgiving mean to you?” He says, “It means a day at home. Last year I spent one hundred and sixty-nine nights away from home. I have three children. I should like to see them every day. There are times when many days pass and I do not see them. Thanksgiving week I plan to be at home.”

There are others I could ask. Each has his or her answer. But Thanksgiving has a special meaning for us. It is the harvest time. I have here an apple. Isn’t this a beautiful apple? What color! Who mixed the paints, who handled the brush to give such color to this apple? God. He, in his infinite love and wisdom, has provided, through the unfailing laws of nature, for the growth, sweetness, coloring and beautifying of all the products of the fields. This apple is but one of many kinds of fruits.

Praise, then, is the great meaning of Thanksgiving. God, our heavenly Father, sends us every good gift. From his bountiful hand come our daily and nightly mercies. We should praise him every day. But the day for the united chorus of praise is Thanksgiving.

Psalm 150: 6: “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.”

Hymn 892 (Lutheran Service Book):

Come, ye thankful people, come; raise the song of harvest home.
All be safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God, our maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied.
Come to God’s own temple, come; raise the song of harvest home.

Terry and I pray for each of you a Blessed Thanksgiving!

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Super Blessed!

Usually at this time of year our thoughts are focused on people or things for whom or which we are thankful. Today I’m sharing with you what a foster child in Oklahoma listed when asked what she wanted in a family. Here are her answers:

Things I want in my family:

  • A clean safe house with running water and lights.
  • Mom and Dad who don’t fight or hit on me.
  • I want no drugs.
  • Don’t kill my pets.
  • Nice clean clothes and a coat.
  • No lice or bugs in the house.
  • A bed with covers.
  • Don’t sell my toys.
  • Treat me fair.
  • Don’t get drunk.
  • My own comb and soap and toothbrush.
  • I want love.

This little girl’s list touches my heart with the reminder that not everyone in our country and world experiences the blessings of God in the same measure with which my family, and most likely yours as well, have been blessed.

The mental picture of this little girl also moves me to reach out in love, care, and concern to folks who can only dream of having the necessities of life, not to mention the luxuries many of us often take for granted.

As you prepare to observe Thanksgiving Day, remember what I strive to recall every day: We have been abundantly blessed by our gracious God … for a reason … to be a blessing! That’s why when someone asks me how I’m doing, my reply is almost always: “Super blessed!”

Thanksgiving Day in 1863

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In his presidential proclamation for Thanksgiving Day in 1863, President Lincoln had this to say:

The year that is drawing towards its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. 

In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict, while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.

Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things.

They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

Terry and I extend to you our love and best wishes for a blessed Thanksgiving observance in your life and in your family. I pray you will take at least a few minutes to honor the purpose for which this special national holiday special was initiated – giving thanks to the God who loves, guides, forgives, and blesses!

Health Care Providers

Doctor VisitThat topic is on mind quite a bit these days. Here’s why:

  • My dear wife Terry, fresh on the heels of our 50th anniversary celebration last week, had hip replacement surgery earlier this week. Her caregivers were incredible!
  • Christopher English conducted the procedure with warmth, professionalism and osteopathic perfection. Nurses and other staff provided excellent post-operative care.
  • David’s Georgetown Hospital is one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. and now I know why. Folks who practice their vocational calling there do so with excellence. The same is true of many other health care professionals and hospitals around the world.
  • Our granddaughter is a student at Tarleton State University Nursing School in Stephenville, Texas. Kayla is passionate about what she’s learning and is studying like never before. She’ll be an awesome nurse!

Most likely you and your family have had experience with health care providers. I hope yours were as positive as ours. However, I’m aware that may not always be the case. Sometimes things happen beyond our circle of influence or control.

Like the rest of us, health care providers are not perfect. Neither are they always handsomely compensated. They serve in response to a very real vocational calling.

So here’s my suggestion. If you know or happen to see someone in the health care industry, take a moment to express your sincere appreciation for the time, effort and energy spent caring for people who in most cases are total strangers.

You may even want to add “God bless you for your ministry of love, care and concern.” I’m convinced that they’ll be appreciative and that you’ll appreciate their appreciation!

A New Year’s Outlook on Life

Gazing OffThere once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. “Well,” she said. “I think I’ll braid my hair today.”

So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. “Hmm,” she said. “I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today.”

So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. “Well,” she said. “Today I’m going to wear my hair in a ponytail.”

So she did, and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn’t a single hair on her head. “Yea!” she exclaimed. “I don’t have to fix my hair today!”

While some may think such responses unrealistic, especially from a person apparently undergoing serious medical treatment, our attitude toward the hand life deals us is critical.

So here are some encouragements for this New Year. Be kinder than necessary. It’s very likely that everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Pray continually.

Someone said: Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.

Life is too short to wake up with regrets.

Love the people who treat you with respect and kindness.

Pray for the ones who don’t.

Many blessings in the Year of our Lord 2015!

Some of God’s Greatest Gifts

Child 1This past week I saw a Facebook posting of a little child who was able to hear for the first time in her life. While I don’t recall all the details and tried in vain to find the posting again, what I do recall is that this little child initially cried when the hearing instrument was put in place. Soon thereafter her tears were replaced with a series of smiles at hearing her first sounds. Priceless!

Throughout my life I’ve been guilty of taking for granted the God-given senses of hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch. I’ve never experienced what life is like without them and the older I get the more aware I am of the blessings they bring. I’ve also become more keenly aware of the challenges faced by people who are either born without all of these senses or who lose one or more through illness or injury.

So if you, like I, have been blessed with all five senses and if all of them are still working, count your blessings and be sensitive to what life is like for anyone who is not so blessed. If you are without the ability to see, to hear, to smell, to taste or to touch, thank God for the senses you do have. And be assured that many of us have special respect and admiration for your determination to live life without all of these five senses, some of God’s greatest gifts.