Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving memories...

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandmother’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandmother's house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for 'tis Thanksgiving Day.

This poem was written by Lydia Maria Wilder and published in 1844, about the joy of her visits to her Grandfather's house for Thanksgiving. The words and (many more verses) were placed to music, along with changing the word "Grandfather" to become "Grandmother".  I guess someone along the way figured "Grandmother" was doing all the cooking, so she needed a song to her credit. :-)

I think of this song usually around this time of the year, because believe it or not , it reminds me of the times when my husband, son and I would drive south for the Thanksgiving holidays!  We did travel over a few rivers and saw a few woods along the highway, but I loved our times spent on the road going south. Cups of coffee in hand, we were on our way in the wee hours of the cold November morning to "Grandma's house. We had the best conversations in that car, you name it!  My husband said it was the caffeine, but to me it was just a good time to get away from work and pressures. We didn't make it down home nearly as much as I wanted to, but those times that we did make the trip, will forever remain in my heart as such precious memories.

I remember making the call to let my parents know that we were coming. My Mom would take the call (my Dad didn't talk much on the phone) but she would repeat everything to him as I was telling her about our upcoming visit. It was a wonderful feeling to anticipate going back home to see them, and I knew they were happy that we were coming; now that I'm older I understand that more. I knew that my son, as a toddler was going to get spoiled beyond measure...he knew it too and couldn't wait to see his grandparents. For him, my son, it meant playing baseball with my dad in the backyard and my Mom letting him lick the cake batter off the mixing bowl, spoons and beaters!

Oh the food! Turkey, cornbread dressing, candied yams, Collard greens, Macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce, Glazed Ham, Butter beans, Potato salad, Hot Rolls, etc. and plenty of desserts!  My Mom was an excellent cook, we always said that she would have been a very successful chef/restaurant owner, because her food was so good!  She would always say "It's in the seasoning" and so it was!  One of her cabinets was overflowing with containers of different seasonings.

The weather is mild in the south where I come from and usually on Thanksgiving it is warm day in the 60's. So after dinner it was time to go visiting family and friends that lived close by. I miss those times...a full stomach of my Momma's food and then visiting loved ones in their similar cozy homes to catch up on our lives...priceless.

I miss my Mom's cozy kitchen, of sitting at the table while she whipped up a Sour Cream Pound Cake. I never understood and still marvel  how she could make such a delicious , moist cake all while talking and laughing with me. She could mix the ingredients, pour it in the pan, slide it in the oven and sit down to continue the conversation like it was nothing! LOL

I miss my talks with my Dad, while Ma finished her cooking, I would go into the den where he would be in his favorite chair dozing with the TV on. My father was a quiet man, a voice of reason. I still can remember some of the conversations we had, things he said in his own quiet way, but have positively influenced me and imparted wisdom to my life. He loved my Mom's cooking too, said she was the best!

Growing up in a home where we all sat around the table for dinner has had a great affect on my life and created a solid foundation.  Back then there were no cell phones, the TV was in the living room not the kitchen, my father sat at the head of the table and we shared about what went on in our days. My siblings and I had our disagreements and sometimes they got physical, but not at the table! Being at the dinner table was a time of coming together and, of being thankful for and sharing in God's bounty. My parents showed us how to be grateful for having food on our table and that we should never take it for granted and we were reminded of this when we said grace at each meal.  My parents worked hard to give us a better life than they had experienced and for that I am forever grateful. They left us a legacy of being thankful.

I will never experience my Momma's warm, cozy kitchen again, with all its luscious smells, or my talks with my Da in the den as Thanksgiving dinner was being prepared...but I have such lovely memories that will always be with me.

My Mom telling my husband that she was fixing his favorite Squash Casserole, my Da opening the back yard gate so that we can pull the car around, our first hugs before we go into the house,  and oh such warmth and love was in there as we entered!  All wonderful memories of our Thanksgivings together!  My parents and my husband have gone on to be with the Lord now, but these precious memories will live on forever in my heart and to my grandchildren as I share with them.

This Thanksgiving as we come together, may it be a time of peace, love and encouraging one another.  Enjoy and see it for the blessing that it is, this time that we have with each other on earth. Our differences and disagreements seem so petty in the realization that we have so much to be thankful for.

I am so thankful for my sweet memories, so very thankful that though we did not spend much time together, the times that we did are unforgettable!

Enjoy the food, fun and fellowship and most of all BE THANKFUL!

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.  Psalms 100

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Spiritual Maintenance...a responsibilty?

Housework may not be my most favorite thing to do, but I do enjoy the end results and that feeling of accomplishment. The clean floors and windows, the polished furniture and the sparkling bathrooms all make for an awareness of how blessed I am to have a home and have the physical ability to maintain and take care of it.

Whenever I hear someone talking about buying a home, I think and sometimes say to them, "It's not just about getting a home, but it's also about being able to maintain it, financially and physically."  I have seen so many times folks in their excitement to buy a house that may be out of their means, only to find in a few years the responsibility has left them frustrated. It is a responsibility that must be consistently maintained or you will find yourself in a very unpleasant situation to say the least...perhaps we sometimes do not count the cost (Luke 14:28)

In "counting the cost", the responsibility must be maintained whether you feel like it or not. As I was cleaning the bathroom this morning I looked at the walls and admired the paint job I did several years back, then I remembered that particular year I singlehanded painted 3 of the 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms!  It was winter and I was grieving and missing my husband so much, seemed like everything reminded me of him. So I decided to paint! I remember talking to my brother who lived in Vermont at the time and him warning me to make sure I had plenty of ventilation; so there I was in the middle of a cold winter with the windows opened and painting away! Now while I know that chore could have waited, to me it was necessary. It was necessary for me because it was therapy...much needed therapy as I talked to God the whole time I painted, telling Him all about my sadness, disappointment that my husband did not get better, sorrow in the actions and reactions of people and anger at myself because I thought that I was beyond those feelings. In a crazy sort of way I maintained my responsibility (home) and was being healed on the inside all at the same time.

As a child growing up I was raised to respect my elders (thanks Ma and Da) and now that I am an elder, I still believe that respect not only for elders but for others is very important. A former mentor of mine once said "Always remain teachable".  Being "teachable " for me means that I listen...I listen a lot to what people say, to what they do not say and watch their body language. No I am not weird, that's just me, and I have learned so much about people that way. Being "teachable" also means to always be willing to learn.  None of us have all the answers and we can always glean something good from people, whether we like it or not. I believe that in being teachable, you are maintaining your responsibility of becoming the individual that God wants you to be. People and situations constantly come in our lives that I believe are used to help us hone and fine tune our character. Philippians1:6 God who began a good work in us, will complete it...if we allow Him.

While we must maintain our physical bodies, maintaining our spiritual being is just as important. Saying that you are a Christian, prayed once for repentance or go to confession faithfully does not maintain your responsibility of calling yourself a follower of Christ. Take me for example, I ask the Lord over 30 years ago to come into my heart and gave my life to Him...or so I thought. But through out the years since that time, I have had to commit myself to Him many times. I had and still have to maintain my responsibility of becoming the person that He wants me to be...I have to count the cost and follow through. In my case there were layers and layers that needed to be stripped away, sometimes the process is painful but it is so worth it. Sometimes I did not feel like being taught through pain; made aware of short comings through embarrassment; or shocked by revelations, but the end results has been healing to my soul, renewed hope and restoration.

Ever watch HGTV when they restore a house? Makes me tired just looking at the process! Knocking down walls, tearing up floors, putting in new plumbing and wires...they make it look so easy. But in interviews I have read of the stars of those shows, it is WORK, but so satisfying when they look at the finished results. The finished results makes me happy too! Love you Chip and Joanna Gaines!

Maintaining a home is work, the process can be tiring, but what a joy when you see the results and can thank God for the blessing of having a home.  Maintaining our spiritual lives, is work, I'll be honest, but it is true, nothing worth having comes easy. Why? because when you have invested so much in it, you appreciate it more!  Ask the person that won millions in the lottery why it was so easy to lose it all in a couple of years, versus the person that worked for years to become a success and how they will have monetary gain to pass on to their children...

The great thing about maintaining our spiritual lives is that we don't have to do it alone.  God has promised that He will continually be at our side, helping, leading, instructing and encouraging us in all Truth. Be teachable, take time to sit in His presence, listen for His voice and trust that He is with
you. (John 14:26)

Even after more than 30 years of making a commitment to follow Christ in no way do I feel that I have "made the mark"...In fact the more I get to know Him, I realize that there is so much more to learn about Him and myself.

Ever noticed how quickly a house that is not being maintained goes to pot so quickly. There is an empty house around the corner from me and I've watched how quickly the property has gone down. The presence of life makes a difference, but it makes a bigger difference when that life appreciates the joy of having a home. Today let's appreciate the Truth that God through Jesus Christ has given us a way to our real Home and may we maintain the Road that He has prepared for us to get there.