giving thanks

Setting the Table

Preparing for the holidays thrills my soul.  The weather is cooler, well, it's supposed to be cooler.  We've had a few warm days, here in Texas.  I look forward to pulling out my boots and sweaters, and I think about decorating for the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas, in my world, mean lots of people. They mean tons of stories, games and laughter, music, great food and holiday decor.

One of my most-loved holiday customs is setting the table.  Preparing the table for Thanksgiving is no small thing in our home. It's a tradition that's been a part of our family for as long as I can remember.  Pulling out the china, cloth napkins and glassware is something I look forward to every year.  Once all the food is cooked and plated, everyone is seated around the table and ready to indulge in the much anticipated feast.  Then it begins; catching up with nieces and nephews, the retelling of hilarious events (often to someone's ultimate embarrassment), the loud belly laughs and the love that is not spoken of, but definitely felt.

As much as I appreciate a beautifully thought-out holiday table setting, creating atmosphere is of much higher value.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love the  dishes and decor this time of year brings. I do my share of decorating, but it's the spirit of the season that's most important to me.  Creating a culture of giving thanks is not only what this season is about, but also what life is about.  There's so much to be thankful.

Here are a few things I'm most thankful for:

  1. Family and friends. I have the most amazing and interesting individuals in my life. They're a variety of people who fill my life with laughter, challenge, hope, and even stress.  A little stress in our lives helps us appreciate the good times, right?
  2. Faith.  Bottom line:  This is my life-stabilizer.
  3. Future.  As important as it is to live in the moment, I believe we should plan for tomorrow.  I just met with my financial planner, Robby Shimanek ,and am more secure about my financial future today than I was yesterday.  Michael Hyatt has a great tool called Creating Your Personal Life Plan, a 5-step process to help you get from where you are now to where you want to be.  Everyone should take the time to plan for the future.

What are you thankful for?

A Stuffed Heart

It's that time of the year again - - -a time we set aside on the calendar for "giving thanks for our blessings" and "stuffing the turkey."  It's a time when, no matter what kind of trials we have gone through during the year, we find so many reasons to count our blessings and give thanks.  As for stuffing the big bird, we pull out our recipes and head to the grocery store to buy the necessary items needed for stuffing it. When Thanksgiving Day arrives, families gather together, have a time of thanks, and then carve the stuffed turkey waiting on the platter.  For just a brief moment in time, most Americans capture the true meaning of  "giving thanks unto the Lord in all things."

I have to be honest and say that the day after Thanksgiving, I usually come face to face with myself as I reflect on my heart of thanks.  "Will I stay in this attitude of thanks every day of the year, or will I stuff my heart with other things that rob me of an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ?"

And so I ask you, "if you could actually put your heart on platter like the stuffed turkey, what would you see stuffed inside that might rob you of that intimate relationship?"

Would you see some of the following:

  1. Complaining AttitudeThere is a big difference between a complaint born out of a real need verses a complaining attitude.  Chronic complainers play a game called "Ain't it Awful what has happened to me."  Complaining traps us into seeing ourselves as a perpetual victim, leaving no room in our hearts for thanks.
  2. Low self-esteem:  Low self-esteem says:  I messed up, I failed, I'll never amount to anything, I feel so inadequate, my future is hopeless. I have nothing to be thankful for.
  3. Busy, Busy, BusyBecoming busy with the mundane things of life can crowd out our quiet time of prayer and studying God's Word.  Without prayer and the reading of God's Word, thankfulness falls by the wayside.
  4. Past HurtsSome people keep a tally of all the things that have ever been said or done to them.  It's like they have reserved a room in their hearts with a sign on the door that says:  "Hurts - come on in."  Holding onto hurts and always thinking of self robs our heart of being thankful.
  5. Unforgiveness:  Resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness can grow deep into our spirit, and become like an infectious disease that spreads to others.  For example, you may say you love your children, but if you have bitterness and unforgivenss in your heart for someone, you are loving your children with a contaiminated heart. Unforgiveness and thankfulness cannot reside in the same heart.

So, this Thanskgiving season, I challenge myself first, and then you, to judge our hearts.  Perhaps we need to change our recipe for what we have "stuffed into our hearts" and replace it with a recipe for a heart of thanksgiving all year long.

"Happy Thanksgiving."