The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. — Ecclesiastes 7:8 NIV
I want to completely declutter the basement before Thanksgiving,” my wife, Pat, said while we were out for a walk.
“I have a lot of stuff going on…. Why do we need to do that now?” I questioned. Pat and I had decided to downsize to a smaller home. Earlier that afternoon we had signed the final drawings for a new house. Construction wasn’t scheduled to start for another six weeks, and Thanksgiving was less than a month away. “So, when do you want to start decluttering?” Pat asked. “In the winter — maybe after New Year’s. We won’t even be moving until late spring,” I replied. “But the time will go really fast,” she said.
A few days later my friend Jim asked me how everything was going. I shared that I thought Pat was moving too fast with decluttering. “Just get out of the way and let her run with it,” he said. Jim’s words cycled through my mind. The next morning, I suggested to Pat that we pick a week, clear our schedules, and dedicate the time to totally declutter the basement. We agreed, selected a week, worked together, and got it done. Weeks before Thanksgiving, the basement was practically empty.
Finishing the decluttering freed us to handle all the unexpected things that popped up along the way. And when the builder sent a text saying the house would be ready a month early, our timeline dramatically accelerated — selling our current house, packing for the move, handling both closings. It was good Pat had a plan. What I had resisted at the start became a blessing.
Dear God, thank You for friends who help us see when we are the roadblock to something that needs to be done! — John Dilworth
Digging Deeper: Matthew 5:41; Philippians 2:3-4
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. — Proverbs 31:17 NIV
My wife, Pat, and I were spending Thanksgiving week at our son’s home. Soon after we arrived, we talked about where we would go for Thanksgiving dinner. Johnny said, “What I would really like is for Mom to cook the things we’ve always had on Thanksgiving and eat here at my place.” Pat said she would, and it sounded great to me.
Johnny had recently moved into his first house and eats most meals out. His kitchen was not equipped for cooking a big meal. But Pat gamely planned the meal and we all looked forward to spending Thanksgiving together in Johnny’s new home. The day arrived, and Pat was busy in the kitchen; the many wonderful aromas heightened our appetites throughout the afternoon.
Shortly before time to eat, we talked about how we would spend the next day. Each of us wanted to spend Friday differently, which led to some noticeable disappointment and family tension. Before the meal, as we joined hands to give thanks, Pat said, “Hey, let’s just have fun this evening — I cooked this whole dinner with only a teaspoon!” We all laughed and the tension in the room melted away.
Wow… with only a teaspoon — words that added just the needed humor to recenter us. Words that also made me realize I had taken for granted what Pat had done to make our family’s favorite Thanksgiving meal in a kitchen equipped to prepare snacks.
Dear Lord, help us cherish the efforts made in love by family and friends that create the beautiful moments in our lives. And guide us to rise above trivial annoyances that get in the way. Amen. — John Dilworth
Digging Deeper: Proverbs 31:10-31; 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
STRUGGLING TO PRAY: Recognizing Answered Prayer
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. — Luke 2:52 ESV
As a lifelong cook, I’ve always loved Thanksgiving. At twelve, I proudly took over from my dad the cooking of our traditional meal: turkey with bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, cranberry-orange-apple-walnut relish, a gratin of little onions, the weird marshmallow yams, rolls, and pies.
My Thanksgiving prayer is one I pray all year — that my girls will grow up to love others and God.
Cooking bored the girls as kids, but when they turned twelve I assigned each a task: Charlotte the stuffing and Lulu the cranberry relish. As they got older, they took charge of the pies, first just deciding what kinds but eventually weaving dough lattices and making leaf-shaped decorations gritty with sugar sparkles. Last Thanksgiving, we bought six-inch pans so they could make six different pies without any going to waste.
This year only Lulu came home, though. Charlotte had gotten a puppy and immediately became its mom. She arranged her days around Milo’s nap times and meals and toted everywhere a bag holding kibble, bowls, toys, treats, and poop bags. Mid-November she texted she couldn’t leave Milo, so she wasn’t coming home.
Thanksgiving with just Lulu was enjoyable but not the same. Lulu made her cranberry relish — opting for less sugar, a good move — but I made everything else.
This is how it’ll be now, I lamented. The girls off somewhere, working, raising kids, cooking their own Thanksgiving meals.
Then I realized that, too, would answer my Thanksgiving prayer: my girls grown up, nurturing others.
Thank You, Father, for making us in Your image, so we can grow, love, and become more like You. — Patty Kirk
Digging Deeper: Hebrews 5:12-14
Let us come before Him with thanksgiving…. — Psalm 95:2 NIV
It was our first Thanksgiving, and the first time all our children — Chuck’s and mine — were assembled under our roof for a family meal. Wanting everything to be perfect, I had scoured magazines and Pinterest for ideas and decorations. The house was adorned with fall colors, the pumpkin spice candles were lit, and the guest bathroom had Thanksgiving-themed towels.
The dining room chairs were festooned with gold fabric that tied in the back, accented with a sprig of fall leaves. Coordinating napkins complemented each place setting. The festive centerpiece was a colorful ceramic turkey accompanied by candles and pilgrim salt and pepper shakers.
I’d chosen a variety of foods, hoping everyone would find them tasty. As I rushed back and forth to get everything prepared on time, our family began arriving. I barely had time to acknowledge them because I was so focused on preparations.
Soon, the meal was ready, and we began carrying dishes to the table. Although my table was large enough to seat everyone, it was difficult to find enough room for the food. As I was carrying in the turkey platter, my stepdaughter reached to remove the centerpiece from the table to make room. I gasped, and everyone looked at me. Then my daughter-in-law seized the awkward moment by saying, “Step away from the turkey!”
Everyone burst out laughing, and I realized how foolish I was to be so preoccupied with perfection that there wasn’t enough room for the food. As I looked around at the smiling faces, I saw the whole reason for the celebration — to be thankful, not just for food, but for people to enjoy it with.
Thank You, Lord, for blessing us in so many ways. Help us to appreciate each other. — Marilyn Turk
Digging Deeper: Luke 10:41
Excerpted with permission from Daily Guideposts 2021: A Spirit-Lifting Devotional, copyright Guideposts.
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It’s the season of gratitude and thanksgiving! We have countless things to be thankful for despite the many hardships life has thrown at us. What is you Thanksgiving prayer this year? Maybe it’s the same every year. Come share with us on our blog!