Tag: thanksgiving (page 1 of 2)

What Does a “Sacrifice of Praise” Look Like on Thanksgiving?

It’s Thanksgiving morning and I have much to be grateful for. We are surrounded by extended family and daughter Katy from D.C. showed up to surprise us yesterday.

But part of a verse has been running through my head this Thanksgiving week.

“offer a sacrifice of praise”

Like I’m watching an unsteady toddler, tipsy and bumping an ottoman then lurching into a chair, I feel like I want to catch this verse and make it safer.

Last night as we sang worship hymns I thought of friends and family for whom praise may be difficult. If I read this verse in other circumstances I would be decidedly ticked off at God.

I think of…

Friends in a rocky marriage

Those mourning loss of loved ones

A dear one with ALS

I would be like, “SACRIFICE?? MORE SACRIFICE??”

How are they praising God this Thanksgiving? I don’t believe “a sacrifice of praise” means inauthenticity. Not a “fake it til you make it” deal. So what is the genuine response of “a sacrifice of praise”

Here’s the context.

For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.

Hebrews 13:14-16

Although “fake it til you make it” doesn’t seem Jesus-y, it does seem there’s a call to move past our gut emotional response to circumstances, and instead choose the discipline of “in spite of”.

  • In spite of these circumstances I praise God because I can look forward to eternity with Him. (it is through Jesus we can do this)
  • In spite of these circumstances I praise God for His past faithfulness.
  • In spite of these circumstances I praise God for His character daily – He will never leave me. He redeems my sin. He loves me no matter what.

Here’s the thing, though… It’s not just my friends in challenging situations who may struggle with a “sacrifice of praise.” Maybe it’s you or me, in a season when things are pretty hunky dory.

One definition of sacrifice is: an act of offering to a deity something precious.

One thing that is precious to us is our sense of self-sufficiency, our autonomy. It’s the root of our sin, right? Like the lurching toddler above, we want to declare “I do it myself!”

Especially when things are going well, for some of us, “a sacrifice of praise” may be laying aside our pride and admitting “All that I am and all that I have come from You Lord. I praise You because You alone are worthy.” 

In the service last night we sang the hymn that has become our family’s. I pictured many friends and family as I sang the last stanza:

Pardon for sin, and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide’

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, 

Blessings all mine with ten-thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! 

Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed thy had hath provided –

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Three Questions to Prep You for a Dysfunctional Family Gathering

John likes to say he grew up in the Simpson family and I grew up in the Cleaver family.  For those of you born before this century that’s the Leave-it-to-Beaver-all-american-solve-the-oh-so-dramatic-problem-of-someone-telling-a-white-lie-in-30-minutes-and-live-happily-ever-after-TV-family-of-the-1960’s.DSC00619

I share that only because we’re coming up on Thanksgiving and Christmas and every holiday that involves families gathering together.

Some of us have dreams that look like this:

 

But reality can often look like this:

And as wonderful as my family is, and as much as I’d like to think they’re perfect, I’m resigned to face the truth that there is no such thing as a fully functional family.  We live in a broken world and we’re a broken people – dysfunctional in some way, every one of us.

It’s a little comforting to know we have some not-so-stellar company in Bible families.

  • Lot got drunk and slept with his daughter.
  • Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery.
  • David refused to deal with his son, Absolom’s sin.
  • Abraham slept with his wife’s servant.

Not exactly “Minnesota nice.”

“How is this encouraging?” you say!

Well, in spite of their sin, God forgave, redeemed and used them.  There is hope for all of us.

For those looking forward to Norman Rockwell gatherings this week, praise God.  But for those who are going into the crazy zone that is your family, what are some things you can do to prepare?

Think of the person or people you will see who brings out the worst in you. The person who tries your patience, or shames you, or prompts you to act like your two-year-old self.

Consider these insights from Henry Cloud:

“You can’t control outcomes. You can only control your behavior. Focus on that and you will get better outcomes.” 

  • What is it in you that needs to change?  What can you control?

“No one can manipulate you unless you need something from them….figure out what you need and you will discover the source of their power.”

  • What are you looking for from someone else that only God can perfectly give you?  Approval?  Forgiveness?  Love?
  • What can you authentically affirm in each of your family members?  A kind word can diffuse a lot of tension.

Most importantly, though, maybe prepare by praying.  Hands open.

Lord, I bow before You, marred, and messed up, just like the rest of my family.  Help me to see myself and Yourself more clearly.  Give me grace to cover the offenses of others.  Give me humility to ask forgiveness where I have offended.  Give me courage to speak the truth and pursue healthy boundaries.

So as you anticipate being with family sometime during the holidays, is it with excitement or  a knot in your stomach?  Are you going in prepared and prayed up?

5 Questions for a Happier Holiday Season

Note: this is a repost from last year. It’s hard to look at this picture, but as I read it over, it strikes me that in this season of loss, these questions may be more important than ever for us. Maybe for you too.

It’s three days before Thanksgiving and Christmas is just a ho-ho-ho away.  For most of us that means more family interaction during a season when we’re often physically, emotionally, and spiritually stretched thin.

DSC00629For people who are trying not to gain weight, they say the most important thing is to go into food intense situations with a plan.

As I look back on our early days of marriage, there are things we could have done to set ourselves up better for success.   We could have used a plan!

Yesterday I shared the following with a young married couples community I shepherd at our church, but these  guidelines for a holiday plan apply whether you’re married or single… Continue reading

The Soundtrack of Your Life

If you know our family at all you know that “Great is Thy Faithfulness” is the sound track of our life together.  We have sung it at every marking moment – at our wedding, at the dedication of our kids, when we have moved, and recently at the 25th anniversary of our time serving at the church in Minneapolis. We were tempted to go a tad overboard and sing it when the Bears won the Super Bowl in ’86.  Clearly it’s a thing.

We have sung this hymn with tears of joy during good times and we have sung it through tears of desperation, declaring it as a reality when it was hard to feel the truth of the words.  But it expresses the truths of Scripture and that’s where we’ve chosen to stand.

This week we’ve been down in the suburbs of Chicago, celebrating Thanksgiving with family (a delightful, large extended family!).  Wednesday night we went to a worship service and again we sang the words we love so much – Great is Thy Faithfulness.

After we sat down, a remarkable father of 5 shared about his faith journey with his wife who was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago.  It was both authentic and God-honoring.  He shared the good – she is currently cancer-free; the bad – their house is built on the rock of faith in Jesus, but right now the windows are broken, the paint is chipping and the shutters hang from the emotional and physical toll of the past two years; and the certain – through it all they have sung the soundtrack of their life together – It is Well With My Soul.   Continue reading

More than Enough

Monday I wrote about being “enough” and it’s continued to be on my mind this week.  One of the reasons I think people love Thanksgiving is that it’s all about focusing on the “enough” before the holiday season when we’re prone to be stressed about not enough.  Not enough time, sleep, or money, and too much food, noise, and activity.

Maybe one of the reminders we need to carry with us into December is that God is always enough – enough grace for our sin, enough strength for our weakness, enough patience for our striving.

But more than that, maybe we need to be reminded that we are always enough and never too much for God to love.  He’s crazy about us “as is”.  Our picture is in His wallet, our number is on his “favorites” list.  He grieves with us in our despair, and happy dances with us in our joy.

I came across this song that I thought might be encouraging as we head into the weekend.  Enjoy!

Where are you tempted to think you’re not enough?

 

Who is Disadvantaged at Thanksgiving?

I got home from Zambia Friday afternoon, so happy to be back in my cozy home with a soft bed.

When I left, the trees were painted glorious and Halloween was immanent.  When I returned the trees were sad and bare, the sky gray, and Thanksgiving almost upon us. Continue reading

What to do when School Starts

As I write this it’s almost Labor day, and I’ve been thinking a lot about you Moms with kids of every age starting back to school – thinking about transitions and All Of The Feelings.

It’s the end of August and I’m “up north”.  This is my view.

IMG_8037

Don’t hate me, but I can breathe deep and enjoy this lake air (and the mocha John just brought me, thank you very much) without being interrupted by an 8 year old who wants to play UNO. or a 12 year old who wants me to take them on a jet-ski, or a toddler who can’t find his Thomas the Tank pez dispenser (and all the drama that comes with).

I love this season of life and the freedom it gives me, don’t get me wrong.  But this – this time of transition from Summer to Fall is also a time of grieving for me.  I miss the back-to-school shopping and the exciting beginning of all of the THINGS for the new year.  I miss “bouquets of newly-sharpened pencils”, the season of hands-on parenting with all the family traditions and night time prayers and snuggled up in jammies story reading.  I miss our first day of school chicken pot pie dinner, and I miss the annual measuring of our girls.

photo-159

Moms I know you.  I’ve been you.  Most of you are a little schizophrenic at this point.  You tackled summer with gusto, doing the strawberry picking and the zoo visits and fishing pole baiting memory-making, but you’re just so over summer now.  You’re ready to take a break from your role as Camp Director of all the Fun Outings in the Universe. Continue reading

Three Ways to Choose Woohoo’s

I shared last week that my One Word for 2014 is LIFE (as in “Choose Life!”).  

I think LIFE is a really great One Word. (Woohoo for me!) I think it’s at the root of following Jesus.  I’m not saying my One Word is better than yours!  Noooooo!  That would be soooo foolish.  Like watching a Bachelorette marathon and eating a bag of Oreos foolish.

I love all the One Word’s you’ve shared here that you are prayerfully living into this year.  (If you want in on the fun look here or here and add your Word in the comments!).  But I also think that a case can be made that whatever word you’ve chosen, it’s about choosing life – the capital “L” life that God made us for.

Ok, I know some of you are reading this in California, or Bali, or Singapore.  The palm trees are swaying and you call a day of sweet warm sun and tropical flowers “Tuesday”.  Your Word may seem easy and your burden light.  You may have a hard time relating to a picture like the one below, but it exists.  Trust me.  I know it too well. Continue reading

Voices

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and if you are reading this, chances are you’ve resisted the urge to rise before dawn and scrape and claw through Walmart for the “best deals of the season”. (#walmartfights is trending on Twitter.)

You’ve said “no” to Black Friday, or perhaps you’re still just in a turkey coma and are calling it “contemplation”.  You’re reflecting on yesterday, or you still may be with family navigating dysfunctional dynamics feeling as tense as Jack Bauer defusing a bomb with 3 seconds left.

You may be with family members whose voices can strengthen you, reminding you of your inestimable value (like my mom, and basically everyone I’m related to does), or stab you in the back like the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones.

DSC00629

Last week I wrote about the power of words and the Word as we move into the holidays when there’s more emotion, more stress, more people, more…family.  So today, on Fearless Friday I thought I’d just post this video that’s a reminder of Whose voice is the most important to hear from.

OneWord2013_Fearless

The Simpsons, the Cleavers, the Holidays, and the Bible

John likes to say he grew up in the Simpson family and I grew up in the Cleaver family.  For those of you born before this century that’s the Leave-it-to-Beaver-all-american-solve-the-oh-so-dramatic-problem-of-someone-telling-a-white-lie-in-30-minutes-and-live-happily-ever-after-TV-family-of-the-1960’s.DSC00619

I share that only because we’re coming up on Thanksgiving and Christmas and every holiday that involves families gathering together.

Some of us have dreams that look like this:

Unknown

But reality can often look like this:

Unknown-1

And as wonderful as my family is, and as much as I’d like to think they’re perfect, I’m resigned to face the truth that there is no such thing as a fully functional family.  We live in a broken world and we’re a broken people – dysfunctional in some way, every one of us.

Continue reading

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