This whole week I have been an emotional mess. Tuesday was a very emotional day, spent in heartfelt prayer for many people dear to my heart who are grieving this holiday season. I spent most of the day in tears, crying out in prayer for comfort and peace to surround those I love so much who are hurting. I found myself crying out, giving thanks through tears, and just completely overwhelmed with God’s presence. It is a powerful feeling to be in a place where God meets you in the midst of your tears.
Wednesday morning, those tears continue to fall. As I logged in to Facebook, I saw a status update from my mom about baking Apple Pie, and suddenly my own memories flooded back, and the tears that fell were for myself, not for others as had been the case yesterday. I was reminded that I too carry a burden of grief as we enter the Holiday season. As I prayed, I was swept away on a sea of memories, back to my childhood. Thanksgiving at Grandma’s was always a big celebration. The smell of pies baking, turkey in the oven, Mashed potatoes, Gravy…..my mom and Aunts and Grandma working in the kitchen, while us kids ran through the house, laughing, playing Hide N seek. Grandpa and my uncles and dad watching Football, and discussing Farm life, work, and other assorted things. Us kids collapsing in the back room to watch football with Grandpa, and to tussle and play, Grandma hollering that food was ready, and grandpa replying that it was almost half time. My Uncle and I having our own bowl of Mashed potatoes, and another bowl for everyone else ( this was grandma’s way of assuring that EVERYONE got some taters) When we would all gather in the kitchen, to start fixing plates, before anyone could touch the food, Grandpa would say a Prayer of thanksgiving for Family and friends, for the food we were about to eat, for God’s abundant blessings and love. I found myself longing for a simpler time, and yet, giving thanks for all the amazing happy memories I have been blessed with and cherish.
Thanksgiving Day was a bittersweet day. We Got through the day without a single meltdown from my son ( a major accomplishment in and of itself). I felt the tears that had been falling all week well up again when my kids noticed there was one empty chair at the table. One of the guests who had planned on attending was unable to make it, but for me, the empty chair sent my mind straight to family members and loved ones who have left this world. My husband’s step-brother who we lost a year ago, my friend David who God called home this summer, both of my grandfathers, my husband’s grandpa, my Godfather. That empty chair. Then my mind went to the one person who has never left my side, who was with me in the darkest moments of my life, who has been with me through all the grieving and tears this summer, who is with me EVERY day, in good and in bad, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I stood there looking at that empty chair, and for me, it was not empty, no it was filled. I felt a peace wash over me, and I knew that even through the midst of the emotions I have been fighting all this week, God was with me, He hears my cries, and He knows my pain.
Today is known as “Black Friday”. Most people spend this day racing from one store to the next in search of the next deal, some get in fights over things. I have never gone shopping on Black Friday, though I admit there is a part of me that longs to. I found myself thankful today for leftover turkey, and for the fact that the Iron Bowl Game, THE Game if you live in Alabama, was on today. It provided a distraction, and we had a good day.
I can’t seem to find the off switch for my tears this week, and yet in the midst of the tears, I give thanks. Thanks for the blessing of being born into a family whose faith is strong, who know the value of living by example, the value of a smile, the value of a hug, the value of the simple things in life. I may live miles away from them now that I am grown and have a family of my own, and this time of year oh boy do I get homesick…..but God is faithful, and He gives me the grace I need to get through the ache in my heart, and to find the joy.
I have been blessed with a loving Husband, and three amazing children. I have been blessed with a church family that accepts all three of my children, doesn’t see Disability, who show us a glimpse of God’s unconditional love. I have been blessed with an extended Family who knows I am not perfect, and yet has accepted me into their family in spite of my faults. I used to look at my life and wish for all the things I don’t have, long for things beyond my reach. I have learned, however, that things don’t bring happiness, and money can’t buy the kind of riches that God has blessed me with. As I sat watching the Auburn/ Alabama game and listening to my children and Husband laughing around me, I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, I am rich, I am blessed, and God WILL provide my every NEED, just like He always Has.
I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that you remember the simpler things in life.
“Be joyful always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thesselonians 5:16-18