Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’


What if we started this day with the one intent to be grateful, thankful for everything that we have in our lives?

For me the thanks would start before I step out of bed, for as I inhaled the breath of a new day, fresh with so many possibilities.

The coffee brews hot, while I take our fun-loving, ever-present WonderDog out to the little piece of grassy soil, that is ours.

The soil on which our home sits … our home is warm and cozy, spacious and compact. Our home, where we live, have life and breath

Our home, where our two youngest still live … each day that we are still together is a gift, not to be taken for granted.

Our home, where we two live, together in committed, real-life love relationship … each moment a sacrifice to and for the other … love received, because it was first given.

Our home, where we will host others tomorrow … our third child, and others who we adore, who we get to sit around a table and feast, and pray and be thankful. This is abundance.

This home, from which we exit each day into lives of work, using what the good Lord gave us, to work, to earn and to be empowered by Him working through us.

Through the windows of our home we see others, neighbours, from different homes, cultural backgrounds, lives. We are better for how our lives intersect with others who are not just like us.

Those in our lives who are with us through the thick and thin, the ones who stay when others disappear, reminders of what real friends are and can be.

For God the creator, the saviour, thanks for redeemed life, through the one who teaches us how sacrificial love is the one that gives life.

We live our lives in a constant cycle of work and play, both giving joy and learning and purpose to every day.

At the end of the day, so much to be thankful for as my head rests on it’s pillow.

If we could just be intentionally grateful, thankful for everything that we have in our days, I think we might see a change in how we view life. It is not about what we do not yet have, but grateful for what is already our reality.

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough”
Ann Voskamp



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Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 6.54.35 AM.pngIn Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving this coming weekend.

It is my most favourite holiday of the year, for it is always good to be reminded to give thanks … and there is always something to be thankful for.

Over the past number of weeks I have encountered, in a handful of places and ways, St. Ignatius’ prayer of Examen, and I find it to be a good outline for sincerely thankful prayer.

Ignatius of Loyola was born, in Spain, in the late fourteen hundreds and lived into the mid fifteen hundreds. He was a Catholic Priest who founded the Jesuits. The Prayer of Examen is from his book The Spiritual Exercises.

The Prayer of Examen is not rote but is reflective and personal/intimate.

The steps and order of prayer are as follows (from http://www.ignatianspirituality.com):

1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.

Basically one starts out seeking God’s presence. Really this is more about us entering consciously, into his presence, then it is he entering into ours, for he is always with us … we simply are not always aware of this fact.

Then you look over your day, noticing all in it that you are thankful for.

Though we Christians do not normally put much stock into our emotions, and many would even say to not trust them. Yet God can speak to us in our feelings of joy, sorrow, melancholy, fear and anger. He may even awaken us, through the noting of our emotions of the day, to act in some way.

Then, choose one specific part of the day, it will come to you, to specifically pray about. Perhaps it will prompt to make an apology, a confession, a dinner for a friend in need.

Finally, pray for the day to come. For strength, for courage, for wisdom.

(click here for more details on how to pray the Examen).

Basically such reflective, personal prayer can not only be relevant when praying, but throughout the day, as our reflections begin to make us aware of God’s presence in all of our days. We can become sensitive to God’s presence in our life, in our days, not just when our head is bowed, or hands lifted in praise but when we are paying the bills, running kids to soccer and dance, standing in line at the grocery store.

It can convert us to followers of God who are intimately aware of his presence in every part of our day,  not just the times we bow our heads.

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The celebration of Thanksgiving, in many countries, around the world, share the origin of giving thanks for the harvest, after the growing season.

The past few days I have been thinking of how thankful I am for one of my grandmothers. The mother of my father, but not a blood grandmother, for I am a child adopted into her family.

She taught me two important things, for which I am so thankful.

The first is something she told me, the second is something she showed me.

Once, when I was facing a new and challenging experience, I called her. She had the uncanny ability to read into how I was feeling without me sharing all of the details. After I mentioned the upcoming experience, she replied, “just be yourself.”
just be

Her words have returned to my memory frequently.

Then there is what she showed me … every day of her life. Though this lesson wasn’t one she shared verbally, she shared it with every action, every fibre of her being.

As a child adopted into her family, she adopted me fully. I cannot fathom feeling more loved by a grandmother by blood.

My memory of her is that she would do anything for those she loved. She baked bread, and pies, and meals. She invited people over, she went to their homes. She bought gifts, made phone calls and attended every concert her grandkids performed.

She didn’t wait to be loved, before she gave love, before she showed love.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests
but each of you to the interests of the
Philippians 2:3-4

It didn’t matter if her family no longer visited as in the past, or if we called her as often. For her, love was in the selfless giving, not because it was deserved, but because she  choose to always communicate love. 

Today, technology has allowed for the growing season, and harvest, year round in heated greenhouses in even the coldest temperatures. As such we should give thanks year round as well.

When I look at the legacy that my grandmother left, her building of confidence to be oneself and the gift of modelling selfless love, I hope that I can continue planting seeds as  she did. I hope that they will reap an amazing harvest too.




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Sometimes thankfulness is big, and loud and proud. It might be accompanied by cards, flowers and public proclamation. It might make our chests expand with pride, and our cheeks redden with humble acceptance.

Then, there are the other times when it’s barely a whisper, said under an autumn sky, with  only the company of leaves blowing from the trees and across the grass.

The later was my experience of giving thanks this past Thanksgiving Monday.

At almost 3:00 in the afternoon, I was still wearing my pyjamas, but the scent of the turkey in my oven was beginning to waft out and into the house. The table was set for seven. Vegetables were ready to be cooked, appys were ready to be heated and the house was cleaned.

All that was left to do was … plant the bulbs that had been sitting in a container on my counter for about two months (who does this in the midst of preparing a turkey dinner?).

So outside I went (in my pjs), sat down on the steps, and proceeded to plant the bulbs in an awaiting planter.

Then I looked up.

And the cloudless, indigo sky took my breath away.

And the sun was shining on my face.

And the leaves were floating through the air.

And the wind lightly caressed my face.


I gave thanks.

No announcements, no microphone, no eloquent words, or poetic reference,

I. just. gave. thanks.

From, not just the bottom, but the entirety of my heart.

The beauty of the Creator, reflected in the beauty of his creation.

The blessing of my senses, intended to draw my focus back to him.

The simplest, most mundane and undervalued of life, took the breath of life from my lungs momentarily, only to refill them with the freshest, most life-giving, soul-feeding inhalation.

just. give. thanks.

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


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Some days it takes intentional effort to find the joy in the day.

Some days the best part is that first cup of coffee, or that hot and steamy shower, or that toast with jam.

When I saw the image, above, I was at the end of ‘one of those days,’ and it reminded me of something, God sometimes blesses through the everyday, mundane, never noticed but always utilized …


Why, just today, some of the things I often forget that I am so thankful for :

  • a rain jacket
  • a borrowed umbrella
  • a fork to eat my dinner with
  • books … beautifully written books
  • a white board (my favorite teaching tool)
  • a table and chair
  • a photocopier
  • a drivers license
  • a wooden spoon
  • a clean facecloth
  • a sharpened pencil … and eraser
  • 50% off sticker
  • a radio in the van
  • toilet paper
  • a lock on the bathroom door (so very thankful for that

Many years ago I read a devotional about a little girl and her grandfather. The pair had heads bowed to pray a blessing on the food they were about to eat. The grandfather’s prayer was one of thanks, not just for the meal, but for the sunshine, the lazy dog at their feet, the granddaughter across the table, the sick neighbor across the street, even for the plates the food would be eaten from. Once the amen was spoken, the granddaughter sat quietly, not touching her food.

“Sweetie, are you not feeling well?” asked the grandfather.

“Shhh,” she replied, “I’m praying grandfather.”

Soon, her head popped up, a satisfied smile across her face.

“What did you pray for?” the fascinated man said.

“I thanked God for doorknobs,” she said, beaming from ear to ear.

The grandfather was puzzled. “And why are you thankful for doorknobs?”

“Because, Grandpa, when I turned yours, you were on the other side of the door.”

Ya, and I am thankful for doorknobs too.

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Labor Day weekend (in Canada), is a time when University and College aged students start to migrate to places of higher learning, driving in cars with little back window visibility, due to the over-packing for the school year away from home.

This year, Labor Day weekend I felt constantly aware of the need to pray for someone I do now know, yet whose life, thoughts, faith and passions are shared daily through her blog posts.

Through her posts at A Holy Experience , Ann Voskamp has indicated that her eldest son was readying to fly from her nest, into his new adventure also known as his university education and experience.


And this Labor Day weekend, while my own third-year university-experiencing daughter was talking textbooks and tuition, schedules and psychology, my heart was heavy for a woman I do not know, who would be experiencing it all for the first time. The difference between she and me? My daughter has not flown away … and my face is not on the back of a New York Times bestseller.

I wondered if Ann would be given the space (really a gift of grace) by those around she and her son, as he met his roommate, unloaded a years worth of necessities into his half of a room, as the tours were taken, as the cheques were written, as the mingling was happening … as the memories    were    flooding … as the tears   were   welling. Space to just be … mom.

“No, no, I’m not ready for now to be over, for the kid who wore a tool belt strapped around him everywhere to leave, the boy who can drive a tractor and wrestle hogs and reads Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” just for fun — just to go. He drove me crazy. He drove me to God. He drove me to love. I don’t care what anyone says — You can cut umbilical cords but you can’t cut heart strings.” Ann Voskamp

I wondered if her face

familiar to her son as strength and grace

frailty and forgiveness,

familiar to those whose faces were unfamiliar to her,

I wondered if her face might draw the unfamiliar to her space,

her mother space.

And I wondered if the unfamiliar to her saw her only as the face on the back of her bestselling book,

as a celebrity in their midst.

I doubt that Ann sees herself as celebrity.

I doubt her son sees her as celebrity …

He sees … mom.

And while he was preparing for adventures, she was reliving

his life …

his whole,


conception to the now,


“You don’t become a parent by bearing a child. You become a parent by bearing witness to his life.” Ann Voskamp

And I prayed that those who saw her in the midst of the crowds, were able to see her, with eyes of grace, as just another purple-hearted mom, and not a selfish opportunity to enter her space with her child-man. That would have given her a million things to be thankful for!

“Parents wear Purple Hearts: the brave who are wounded and die a bit more everyday – and only get braver.” Ann Voskamp


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“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

When I read the above quote by Friedrich Nietzsche I was certain that it was an example of Luke 19:40, “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”


Nietzsche, a brilliantly knowledgeable man who lived in Europe in the mid to late 1800’s, did not believe in absolute truth. Although born to parents who sought a life of faith with Christ (his father a Lutheran pastor), Friedrich believed that, “Christianity was from the beginning, essentially and fundamentally, life’s nausea and disgust with life, merely concealed behind, masked by, dressed up as, faith in “another” or “better” life (Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy). An atheist most of his life, Nietzsche is probably most known for the phrase, “God is dead,” which is included in a couple of his books.

The passage from Luke 19 is the story of Jesus entering into the city of Jerusalem on a donkey (much as his mother who rode into Bethlehem on one, carrying Him in her womb). The people thought that He would fulfill the hope that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once (v. 11).

As He came close to the city people were shouting”

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (v.38)

It is then that the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

They did not get it. Although, like Nietzsche ,they were probably very well educated, knowledgeable men, probably even men who were raised with the law, and the stories of generations past, they did not believe that Jesus was indeed who He said He was. They thought that the crowd, no doubt a large and loud crowd, were claiming Jesus as the royalty that the Pharisees did not believe was king.

They saw Jesus as a man, they did not see him as their Savior.

It reminds me of when the ark was being brought into Jerusalem. David, like this crowd hundreds of years later, could not contain his excitement that the ark of the covenant was coming into his holy city, it was coming … home. As David removed his royal robes, Michal (Saul’s daughter) was disgusted by David’s ‘unkingly’ public behavior.


like the priests,

like Nietzsche

could not see how worth celebrating

the God of the promise,

the God of redemption,

the God of Creation.

Why David danced as the ark entered Jerusalem, and the crowds of people sang as Jesus entered the same was





May the beautiful and great art of our singing and dancing always be with thanksgiving!


the rocks will cry out!

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

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How do I introduce a guest post whose writer’s words have so fed my soul, filled my heart, made me weep and taught me that I’m still a newborn in learning to be thankful? As I lay across my bed, with dark shadows of fatigue and stress from choosing to carry the weight of the world all by myself, there are also lines of mascara from the leaking from my tear ducts just minutes ago, as I was gently massaged with words like ointment on my scarred heart.aholyexperience-logo

Let me introduce you to a woman who knows about
Eucharisteo (Thanksgiving)!

I was introduced to the (Canadian) New York Times bestselling author of “One Thousand Gifts,” Ann Voskamp by two co-workers who said that I NEEDED to read it. I am cheap and thought that signing up for her blog would do just fine, thank-you … I was right … and wrong.

The blog was good, no great! And so I bought the book. I bought the book in early September, and have only read three chapters in the three months, not because it is not good … Quite the contrary, it is too good to rush through! I am savoring it like aged cheese, sweet wine, dark chocolate … No! Not even those favorites can compare. More like those moments when you held your newborn baby and looked into their eyes praying that God would imprint every detail of that moment into your memory … that is what this book is like!

And so today I am offering to you a treat that I think might send you to the bookstore too! Enjoy A Holy Experience

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Good morning, and Happy Thanksgiving!

As I contemplated how and what to share, this Thanksgiving weekend, my mind kept bring me back to that which I am most thankful for on this planet, my family.

Oh, I read numerous blogs, by many other (far more gifted) writers, but none could push the thankfulness I feel for this ragtag group of individuals who I share both blood and home.

So, today, I want to introduce you to a friend, a blogger, a work colleague, a teacher, and an extremely gifted photographer.

I first met Damara Moe … hum, I cannot remember the context, but I am certain that it was at the school we both work. She has taught our three kids (and my ‘faux daughter’) french. She has coached my daughter in basketball. She is someone who is the personification of warmth, encouragement and gratitude. I simply love her!

Damara is also a very gifted photographer. It is not just her technical photographic abilities that she is gifted in, but how she creates an atmosphere of comfort, of fun and of intimacy when she is doing a photo shoot. She also tops all that giftedness off by writing a most beautiful introduction to the photo shoot on her blog.

My weird and wonderful family arranged for us to have a photo shoot with Madame Moe, last year. For two hours we all felt as though we were the most beautiful people on the planet.

When the photo disc arrived it was in a simple but beautiful gift wrapped box, that I almost didn’t want to open … except that I was so very excited to see what was inside!

So, today, in honor of Thanksgiving, I want to share those who I am most thankful for, and the gifted talents of a lady who I adore!

Introducing, Damara Moe, the miracle worker!

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Last year I was feeling the heat about planning for our Thanksgiving meal.

I was finishing a week-long course (complete with exam), I was adjusting to working full time, our family was still adjusting to the addition of two members to our household, we were in the busiest part of our son’s football season, and so on.

All I wanted was to take the family out for dinner (a rather expensive option when seven people, most of them teenagers, are involved).

At the same time I yearned for the delicious smell of a turkey roasting. The turkey itself is easy, you simply season it, pop it in the oven and it does it’s thing. I had considered simply roasting big bird, and serving it, with a fork for everyone …

I decided I HAD to do what needed to be done, so I headed out (on Saturday) to get the essential parts of a good, home cooked Thanksgiving feast.

While at Costco, I noticed they had pumpkin pies for like really cheap. I stood, I pondered, I felt like I had Rosanne Barr on one shoulder and Martha Stewart on the other, battling it out for my families meal. Finally, I flicked Martha off my shoulder, winked at Rosanne, and thought, ‘this year we are having homemade by Costco.’

I was on a roll, and Martha was in the dust of my grocery cart.

I then purchase baby carrots instead of ones that need to be peeled and sliced. I bought a package of gravy mix … mine was never that great anyway.

I bought rolls, rather than make my own … really, with such a big meal, who would miss them?

I stood in the aisle and considered using stove top … but everyone loves my stuffing, so I thought it was worth the extra effort.

A few days before, we had guests who had brought a bouquet of flowers, and that was to be the centerpiece for our feast.

So, Thanksgiving Sunday morning I seasoned Big Bird, and popped her into the oven at a very low heat … because we would not be eating until the evening. We attended church, had a small lunch, popped the stuffing (which never gets stuffed into the bird) into a big casserole dish in the warming oven, cranked the heat on our roasting beast, and went to our son’s football game.

We returned home, and my daughters set the table, I cooked the baby carrots and frozen veggies, basted the bird, and unwrapped the homemade from Costco pumpkin pie.

We used to have a household of people over to enjoy meal together. This year it was just us, and that was quite okay.

It was a delicious meal, with ridiculous conversations, oodles of laughter, and very full bellies at the end of the meal.

Our beast got her bowl full of heart, liver and whatever else is in that little prize package they shove into the cavity of the turkey, and she lay at our feet while we ate, licking her chops.

As always, the stuffing was eliminated, there were significant veggies left over, and turkey in abundance for the week to come.

I didn’t miss the ‘old’ way of doing Thanksgiving. It was certainly different without other guests, but we got to spend our meal concentrating more on the ones for whom we are most thankful for, and that was a good difference.

So, yes, you can celebrate Thanksgiving without a homemade pumpkin pie.

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