23 November 2009

By the Goodness of God

"By the Goodness of God we are far from want."

With these words, Pilgrim Edward Winslow ended his description of the first Thanksgiving festival.

I admit I forgot the reason for Thanksgiving.

Sure, I've lamented over the crazy focus of Black Friday over Turkey Thursday and the mad rush to Christmas before the potatoes have been mashed or the pies baked. But when Asher pulled a picture of a pilgrim and a sewn boat with Indians out of his backpack I remembered Thanksgiving is about even more than family and an attitude of thankfulness.

Its about the history of our country.
A celebration by surviviors who made it through a year in the wilderness of America.

They arrived at Plymouth Rock with little provisions at a time of year when they would quickly discover the harsh winters of the Northeast. Many did die during the first months in their land of freedom, but those who lived found new friends and discovered how to provide for themselves.

And when they made it through, they celebrated with a three day feast.

I don't presume to be able to offer a full history lesson on Thanksgiving here, but I encourage you to take a few minutes to do a little research about our past leaders who have celebrated.

The first to officially declare Thanksgiving as an annual national holiday held on the last Thursday of November was Abraham Lincoln. He encouraged our nation towards thankfulness shortly after he became a Christian in his Proclamation of Thanksgiving.

Even in the middle of the Civil War, when neighbors and brothers fought against each other, Lincoln found innumerable reasons for the country to stop and thank God for the blessings of "fruitful fields and healthful skies."

He encouraged fellow Americans in that day to see past the many troubles in the country and recognize the good things directly from the hand of God.

"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."

And even now almost 150 years later, despite the rough economic times and daily stresses of life, I can absolutely proclaim that only by God's goodness, I am far from want.

17 November 2009

The Eighth Day

"I will be nice to my sister on the 8th day!"

When Asher took the "No Babies" sign off the front porch in September, we thought the switch in his brain had permanently switched to being sweet to Amelie.

But then she started to screech.
And now she crawls.
She even dares to look at Asher's toys as if she might possibly be interested in them.

And so now the unkind Big Brother Asher has returned. Whenever I correct his mean behavior he calmly tells me not to worry because he plans to be nice to Amelie again on the 8th day.

I know about what happened on Days 1-7 of Creation but I never thought about what might happen on the 8th day.

Every morning last week I tried proclaiming, "Today is the 8th day!"

For two days I received the reply that "No it's not the 8th day yet." Finally we reached the 8th day on Friday but Saturday sent us right back to Days 6 or 7. On one of those days he even resorted to putting the "No Babies" sign back on the porch.

Just when I think he's making progress, he'll slip in a little poke to his sister, or yet another reminder to her that "YOU SHOULD NOT SCREECH! IF I HAVE TO TELL YOU ONE MORE TIME NOT TO SCREECH I WILL BE VERY ANGRY." (And yes I did just mean to scream at you just as Asher screams at us.)

Probably our son isn't the only one in the family who progresses and regresses on a daily basis. Despite my good intentions as I start each morning, I often find myself lapsing back into negative selfish, prideful patterns I thought I already conquered.

I might make good progress towards becoming the loving mom, wife, and friend, I want to be and finally arrive on the 8th day, but too often the 9th day comes back around and I easily fall back into interacting with others without the grace I have been shown.

But its a new day again and I declare today to be the 8th day!

12 November 2009

Creating Thankfulness

Can you believe Thanksgiving is only TWO weeks away?

Thanksgiving for us means hiding away from the shopping madness with Walter's family in a Missouri cabin. We can hardly wait to sit around the campfire, hike down to the river, and of course play (or cheer for) the annual Reedy-Walling-Fry football classic.

Amelie will get to try her first turkey.
Asher will (hopefully) walk on his own down the hill to the river.
I will take knitting lessons from Laura.
Walter will try not to dominate in Poker and promises to hold his tongue as some of the family plays the less strategic game of Dominoes.

Beyond the traditions and excitement of Thanksgiving, I hope it will ignite gratitude that lasts through the Christmas season.

Today my ideas to create thankfulness are posted on the Hearts at Home website. I invite you to check it out!

09 November 2009

Hilarious Giving

Paul didn't ask us to toss coins into an offering plate laughing hysterically or cracking jokes to our pew mate, but he did challenge Christ followers to be hilarious givers. I don't know exactly what it means, but giving hilariously must go beyond writing a check with a smile on my face.

For my 3 year old who knows nothing of what it means to really need something I want to teach a lifestyle of hilarious giving that goes beyond duty or going through the motions because its what we should do.

He doesn't know anything about little boys and girls who don't get snacks or even healthy food when they wake up from their naps.

He lasts less than five minutes raking leaves in the yard with mommy and daddy before running off to ride his bike so the concept of forced labor is completely foreign.

Even knowing that some kids go to sleep at night without even one bedtime story or goodnight kiss is out of his realm of understanding.

So how do I teach him to hilariously fill up a shoebox for a child who has only a tiny fraction of the material things we have?

For the little boy who still daily questions my choice to go to the bathroom sitting down instead of standing up, I must start with myself.

Give creatively. Give regularly. Give cheerfully.

03 November 2009

Treasure hunting

If you've seen us with our faces hidden in a tree, please don't think we're crazy!
We might have seemed a little strange hanging around a port-a-potty when we ran into friends from our small group on their evening walk.

Tennis players may have wondered what we were doing at the back corner of the tennis court pushing a stroller and explaining to a 3 year old the intricacies of trees and sap.
And best of all Grams and Grandpa might have mysteriously returned to Kansas covered in poison ivy because they spent a visit with their grandchildren bushwacking through Illinois woods.

With a three year old and baby, we aren't exactly the most inconspicuous geocachers.
But we use them as our decoys and admit our addiction.
I wrote a column that ran in our newspaper, The Pantagraph, this weekend describing the fun times found in geocaching, and I realized I've never shared of this new found obsession on my blog.
Since we started looking for treasures, we've visited parks we never knew existed in this town. Asher's had a fun time discovering new playgrounds and we found a beautiful diamond ring for Amelie.

I enjoy knowing the secret about what is under a light post in one of the parking lots of a fast food restaurant on our town's main drag. I also look at those trees by my regular grocery store with a new found appreciation for what they contain.

So I write this post to notify friends that if you see us poking around town in odd places, don't be surprised. We're just searching for treasures and would love for you to join us!

Check out the fun at http://www.geocaching.com/