Thanksgiving in Simpler Times

As I watched my kids’ eyes glaze over from too many video games one Thanksgiving years ago, I recalled my childhood Thanksgivings and realized how lucky I was. We celebrated the holiday at my grandparents’ farm in the days before video games, satellite dishes, streaming devices, computers, and iPhones. As a result, I now have priceless memories of Thanksgiving in simpler times.

Our celebration bordered on a full-blown family reunion for my dad’s side of the family. Grandma especially treasured Thanksgiving because it was her holiday. She always had the dinner at her house, and everyone knew it. It was tradition.

The excitement of Thanksgiving Day started on the drive over to Grandpa and Grandma’s. When we turned off the highway onto the country road, I knew we were almost there. The familiar words “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go” had special meaning to me because they echoed my own experience.

Each year as we reached the farmhouse lane, I wondered which cousins would be there to play with that day. We would have adventures for sure because there were always adventures to be had on the farm. With a little imagination, the lane became a dangerous road filled with wild creatures, rushing rivers, or deep gullies to cross. And cousins made it all the more exiting.

Sometimes we arrived early so my dad could go hunting with the men. He kept his bird dog Cindy on the farm, and she always went wild with excitement when she saw us. The men must have had great times on those hunts together because each time they came back talking, laughing, and poking each other with their elbows like they knew something the rest of us didn’t.

Meanwhile, we all feasted on the heavenly aromas that drifted out of Grandma’s kitchen. The smell of roast turkey, noodles cooking on the stove, and homemade rolls baking in the oven tantalized our taste buds.

When dinner was finally ready, Grandma called us to the kitchen where we gathered for the Thanksgiving blessing. Grandpa called on one of the men to pray, and what a prayer it would be. Our family had a deep Christian heritage and much to be thankful for, especially our Savior Jesus. On other days when Grandpa didn’t pass the privilege on to someone else, I loved to hear him pray. His heart was so full he almost always shed a tear or two when he gave thanks to his Lord.

Not only did our family know how to pray, we knew how to eat! Confident that all of our favorite foods would be there, we filled our plates from the vast array of delectable dishes covering the kitchen counter and stove.

Everything was made from scratch. Packaged noodles, rolls, and ready-made pie crusts were unheard of in our family. Just about every kind of pie known to man tempted us that day—and they were divine. Pumpkin pie was a certainty along with the mincemeat pie Grandma made especially for my dad, but we also got to choose from apple, cherry, lemon meringue, chocolate, coconut cream, and sometimes blackberry or peach. What a difficult decision! The adults usually tried slivers of several different kinds, but I had to have a whole piece. I didn’t like skinny pieces, and neither did the other kids.

The adults ate dinner in the dining room while we kids sat in the kitchen, but that was fine with us. We didn’t want to stick around for the boring conversation after dinner anyway. And we definitely wanted to be busy by clean-up time. We really didn’t have to worry about that, though, because the women seemed to fight for the chance to wash and dry the dishes. I didn’t understand that until I got older.

Since my grandparents didn’t have a television at that time, football didn’t dominate the afternoon. The grown-ups did lots of talking, and the kids did lots of playing and acting silly in general.

If the weather was bad, we played in the basement, which was home to a scary looking coal-eating furnace, Grandma’s washer, a bed, and shelves filled with jars of food from Grandma’s summer canning. We also had room for roughhousing and riding the little John Deere tractor Grandpa kept for us. The basement reverberated with our noise, and before long one of our parents would materialize out of nowhere and try to quiet us. Since that only seemed to work for a few minutes, everyone always hoped for good weather.

When the weather was good, we knew we could count on Grandpa to go outdoors with us. Tramping around the farm with him and listening to all his tall tales was pure heaven. Sometimes we played hide and seek in the barn or got real daring and walked the rafters. I was scared to death to do the things my country cousins dared me to do. I grew up in town and felt as if I was risking my life most of the time.

Grandpa also let us feed the chickens, help milk the cows, and chase the wild kittens that lived in abundance around the barn. He loved us and always made our visits fun.

Thanksgiving was a great day in the life of our family. I’ll be forever grateful, not only for my loved ones, but also for treasured memories of Thanksgiving in simpler times. And now? As I share these memories with my kids and grandkids, their simple country heritage will live on. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord!

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1 NIV

*What aspects of your Thanksgiving celebrations are you especially thankful for?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out early this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

Photo by Ali Gooya on Unsplash

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—Into the Lives of Your Loved Ones

Happy 2019, everyone! As I bring you the next installment of my current blog seriesjoin me, won’t you, in kicking off the new year with sentence prayers inviting God’s power into the lives of our loved ones.

Not only will praying these sentence prayers be a powerful way to impact the beginning of the year for the ones you love, but you can make them ongoing prayers that will help shape their lives for years to come.

So as you pray for your family members and dearest friends, may these petitions to the Lord make an eternal difference in their lives!

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—Into the Lives of Your Loved Ones

  1. Father, please bring the little ones I love to faith at an early age and give each of my loved ones a heart to live for you, to be hungry and thirsty for you and your house, your Word and your people. (Luke 18:16; Acts 20:24; Psalm 42:1-2; John 2:17; Jeremiah 15:16; Romans 1:11)
  2. Father, help them to live out your greatest commandment and love you with all their hearts, with all their souls, and with all their minds. (Matthew 22:37-38)
  3. Lord, empower them to obey your second greatest commandment and love others as they love themselves. (Matthew 22:39)
  4. Lord, be their strong support through each new day and through every stage of their lives. (Psalm 18:2; Deuteronomy 31:6)
  5. Father, please bless my loved ones with Christian mates, ones who will love you above all and love them the way you intend. (2 Corinthians 6:14; Matthew 22:37-38; Ruth 1:15; Ephesians 5:21-33)
  6. Lord, for those who are married, help them keep their eyes on you and their arms around one another. (1 Chronicles 16:11; 1 Peter 4:8)
  7. Lord, be their light, teaching them from your Word and guiding them in all their decisions. (Psalm 119:105; John 8:12)

Let’s be a life-changing force in the lives of our loved ones as we invite God’s power into their lives. Lord, be glorified in them!

“. . . we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling,” 2 Thessalonians 1:11

*Which of these prayers for your loved ones resonates most with you right now?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early February. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Mike Monaghan, Creative Commons License

Church in a Condo? You Bet!

Have you ever had church in a condo? We enjoyed just such a time a few years ago during our family vacation to beautiful Colorado.

That Sunday started off extra sweet as Kelli and Jake made cinnamon roll pancakes for us for breakfast. (And yes, they tasted every bit as good as they sound!) But what was even sweeter is what happened next. Church happened. Right in the midst of our family. Right at the dining room table.

While everyone chatted, I slipped away for a moment. When I returned with my Bible, I was pretty sure my girls knew what I was up to since they had grown up with good ole Mom trying to jumpstart some kind of family share time during holidays or vacations. During their teen years, protests or groans usually ensued but not anymore.

No, this time a slice of heaven on earth—at least to this mom’s heart—transpired. I began our share time by reading one of my favorite Bible passages and then suggested that everyone else either share their one of their favorite scriptures or tell what God had been doing in their lives lately.

Along with my husband, one by one our daughters and our sons-in-law shared scriptures and stories of how God was teaching them something or encouraging them in some way. Bottom line? We had church. What a blessing to sit back and listen to our adult kids talk about the Lord and his Word. What a blessing to see our kids walking in the truth.

Church in a condo? You bet. No greater joy . . . no greater joy.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4 NIV

*Where’s the most unusual place you’ve ever had church?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out Aug. 1st. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Hope this updated encore post from Aug. 2011 blessed you today!

*Flickr photo by ALM PortraitsCreative Commons License

Seating the Mothers and Grandparents on Wedding Day

-5264Mother of the Bride, as your bride and groom plan their ceremony, have they given any thought yet to who will seat their parents and grandparents? The Father of the Bride is an easy call—he walks the bride down the aisle and then seats himself. But who will seat the other guests of highest honor on Wedding Day?

It’s always more meaningful if other family members or special friends fill that role instead of just one of the ushers who may not have a close tie to the family. With so many details for the bride and groom to think through, MOB, don’t let this one get overlooked until the night of the rehearsal. Encourage them to plan for special memories by asking special people to seat the guests of honor.

Many times the Father of the Bride and the Father of the Groom are selected to usher in and seat their respective wives. My husband did just that (see photo above) during both our daughters’ weddings. He just had to hot-foot it back down the aisle so he’d be ready for his most important role—escorting his little-girls-turned-brides to their waiting grooms.

A variety of others can serve—an usher or groomsman who is a family member or family friend, the ring bearer if he’s old enough, or another close family member (a son, a grandson, a nephew, etc. of the particular guest of honor). Just think about who would be especially meaningful for each particular guest of honor and then ask him to serve.

So remind the bride and groom to plan ahead, MOB—and precious memories to you all!

*You might also like to read Wedding Photo Idea: Moms Light Unity Candle Together.

*Photo by Flowers Photography

Church in a Condo

3568886566_68510519a4_zHave you ever had church in a condo? We enjoyed just such a time a few weeks ago during our family vacation to beautiful Colorado. (Sorry to keep referring to our vacation, but lots of life happened during those days that I’d like to share with you! :) )

That Sunday started off extra sweet as Kelli and Jake made cinnamon roll pancakes for us for breakfast. (And yes, they tasted every bit as good as they sound!) But what was even sweeter is what happened next. Church happened. Right in the midst of our family. Right at the dining room table.

While everyone chatted, I slipped away for a moment. When I returned with my Bible, I was pretty sure my girls knew what I was up to since they had grown up with good ole Mom trying to jumpstart some kind of family share time during holidays or vacations. During their teen years, protests or groans usually ensued but not anymore. (All of you with kids at home, take heart—they do grow up, and there is hope! :) )

No, this time a slice of heaven on earth—at least to this mom’s heart—transpired. I began our share time by reading one of my favorite Bible passages and then suggested that everyone else either share their one of their favorite scriptures or tell what God had been doing in their lives lately.

Along with my husband, one by one our daughters and their hubbies shared scriptures and stories of how God was teaching them something or encouraging them in some way. Bottom line? We had church. What a blessing to sit back and listen to our adult kids talk about the Lord and His Word. What a blessing to see our kids walking in the truth.

Church in a condo? You bet. No greater joy… no greater joy.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4

*Flickr photo by ALM Portraits, Creative Commons License

*Don’t forget to enter the “Back At It” Giveaway 2! You must comment on that post by noon Aug. 28 for a chance to win.