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—For Parenting and Grandparenting

If you’re looking for help in your parenting or grandparenting role, you’ve come to the right place today. Last month I started a new blog series—posts on the first Tuesday of each month that will feature sentence prayers inviting God’s power into a variety of important areas of our lives. 

Today we’ll focus on parenting and grandparenting. Chances are a majority of us fall into one or both of those categories. Both roles are awesome privileges and offer untold blessings, but they often hold multiple challenges as well.

The most important thing we can do as we fulfill these important roles is to call on God and invite his power into all of our parenting and grandparenting efforts. Here are 7 sentence prayers that can help you do just that. May they bless you—and your children and grandchildren—today!

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—For Parenting and Grandparenting

  1. Father, give me the wisdom, the selflessness, and the discipline to be as present as possible in the lives of my kids and grandkids, giving them my undivided attention at the moments they need it. (Romans 12:10)
  2. Lord, since battles are fought and won in prayer, keep me ever on my knees for the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of my children and grandchildren. (James 5:16)
  3. Father, help me to faithfully teach my children and grandchildren to love and obey you and your Word so their lives will be built on the solid, unshakable Rock that is you. (Deuteronomy 11:18-20, Matthew 7:24-25)
  4. Lord, help me to be the person you want me to be, modeling for my children and grandchildren a way to live that glorifies you and loves others. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
  5. Father, when problems with my kids and grandkids come, remind me to immediately turn to you for wisdom and direction and to also seek out wise counsel to find courses of action that have helped others. (Psalm 121:1-2; Proverbs 3:5-6; Proverbs 13:10)
  6. Lord, help me be a great encourager for my children and grandchildren, helping them reach for their dreams and fulfill God’s plan for their lives. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  7. Father, at each stage of letting go, give me wisdom and strength to do it with grace, trusting my precious kids and grandkids to your loving and able care. (Psalm 55:22, Philippians 4:6-7, Psalm 62:8)

May we always look to the Lord as we love and guide the children he has placed in your lives!

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Psalm 127:3-5

*Which of these prayers do you most need to pray right now?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. 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 check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by will_i_be, Creative Commons License

Summer Photo Fun 2015 Kick-Off: Our Grandbabies!

11401028_10153332219873232_7315631794514911161_nIt’s time for Summer Photo Fun here on the blog once again, and I’m doing what any self-respecting new grandma would do—feature her grandbabies, right?!

After all, Isaiah and James are the big news of the year for us so it seems only fitting to kick off this year’s Summer Photo Fun with a sample of their off-the-charts cuteness. Hey, I’m their grandma—I can’t help it if I think they’re the cutest babies around!

For those of you who may not know, each year during July and early August, I feature some fun photo posts rather than my usual inspirational/devotional style posts. Since photos can really brighten our days at times and since I’ll also be including a verse from the Bible, my hope is that you’ll still leave here feeling refreshed or nourished in some way.

So dear friends, may my sweet grandsons brighten your day today—they certainly brighten mine!

“…we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8b

IMG_5277Here and above, Isaiah is on the left and James on the right. How I love them!

IMG_1878 - CopyIsaiah makes lots of great facial expressions and is very excitable. He loves to be tickled and loves to laugh. Such a sweetheart.

imagejpeg_0James is our laid back little guy. He locks eyes with you and can charm the socks off of you. Such a cutie-pie.

10830566_10153241357913232_3400181745976821087_oOkay, be honest. Have you ever seen anything cuter than this?! :)

IMG_5261Oh my goodness, how I love spending time with these two precious little blessings!

11351276_10153332220013232_2895065622805406774_nBrothers forever. I think they’re going to be the best of friends. Our family is so blessed!

*Which shot is your favorite? To me, they’re all favorites! :)

*Photos by me and my daughters Kristin and Kelli

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out the first of August. Sign up is free and to the right!

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