Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving Thanks

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17

I stopped today to remember the many things in my life that I am thankful for. God has blessed me abundantly. He caused my life to be open wide and then poured in all these things, and really, I do not deserve anything. Although I have to admit that I do not always take the time to thank God, still I am thankful that He takes time to notice me. I'm surely not worthy of any good gift, much less any perfect gift which I have received. I am thankful.

I remember as a child the wonderful gatherings that took place at the home of my grandparents, when all of my relatives would gather in for a wonderful time of fellowship and feasting. I miss those days a lot. The men folk would gather in the living room and the kids would be in the floor or off in another room playing. The women would be in the kitchen helping to prepare the meal, and, oh the aroma of the turkey sitting on the table ready to be eaten! The green beans and corn cooking on the stove. The pumpkin pie cooling off on the dessert table. The sweet smell of homemade bread coming from the oven. I remember the great anticipation that would sweep over me as I waited for someone to say, COME AND GET IT! I can vividly recall the joy, the laughter and all of the million other precious moments that was always present inside that home at 601 Hopkins Street. Now that some of the relatives are gone, I realize just how precious those times were. I know now that it really was more about the fellowship than the food. Gosh, did I just type that? I have to stop here and admit that I have always had a really nice, beautiful obsession with DUMPLINGS! Legend has it when I was 2-years-old, there was a huge feast at the radio station. While waiting for everyone to arrive, I went AWOL. They found me in Studio B, where a long table sat holding this tremendous feast. I was sitting there, all alone, in front of a big bowl of DUMPLINGS! with a spoon in one hand and a fork in the other. Allegedly, I repeated that same ritual at many other family gatherings, and I am often reminded of those early days as a child when my one and only purpose for showing up at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners was for the DUMPLINGS! Ah, who am I kidding....I'm still that way. I still can be found at the table, before anyone else sits down, with a spoon in one hand and a fork in another. Okay, maybe not really, but what a nice thought! Just typing this makes me crave them.

The Thanksgiving Day tradition that I remember growing up ended when my grandparents passed away. Whenever I pass by the old homeplace, it always causes me to reflect back on those family gatherings. I would love to be able to go back there just one more time to see their faces, to laugh with them once again and to hug them all. I come from a Christian family, and someone always gave thanks before every meal, and on Thanksgiving Day, we were ever mindful of to give thanks to the good Lord for all that he had given us. We always knew what Thanksgiving was about. But today, as I look around at everything going on in our nation, I can't help but wonder if the true meaning of Thanksgiving has gotten lost. The first Thanksgiving was the Pilgrims giving thanks to God for the blessing of a successful harvest, and then sharing their blessing with others; a symbol of gratitude, generosity, fellowship and more. Where have we gotten to today? Is Thanksgiving Day just a day off from work, or a time to eat? Is it more about an After Thanksgiving Day Sale rather than spending time with loved ones? All of us have so much to be thankful for, if for nothing but the gift of life. On January 1, 1795, President George Washington proclaimed in his famed National Thanksgiving Proclamation that, "…our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God, and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experienced…"

I am thankful....
1) that I am a Christian;
2) that only by God's grace, I am an American;
3) to belong to a Church that isn't afraid to preach the truth;
4) for my beautiful children and unconditional love;
5) for parents who made sure I was in Church every time the doors were open;
6) for my mom, whom I owe a debt that I will never be able to repay
7) for a roof over my head and food (DUMPLINGS! - HINT!) to eat;
8) for a military that protects me, my rights and my freedom;
9) to God for allowing me to enjoy my children a little longer;
10) to God for watching over my children when the are away from me.

I want to be a vessel of hope for others. That is what I would like for God to allow me to be. After suffering heart failure a few years ago, I found myself unable to work, and thus, not being able financially to do things for my children. While I was knee-deep in self-pity, God laid it on my heart to help others. And, that is what I did. God had already given me the medium (radio), and then he helped me to see the need. And, then he brought together a network of local people who likewise have a desire to help others. Last year, Cristmas at Home distributed food to over 400 families and new toys to over 200 children. Occasionally I get to hear from someone on the receiving end of the program, like a recent e-mail from a mother who requested help for her daughter because her husband has been ill and unable to provide for the family. Making sure that little girl has a merry Christmas is worth every extra minute of time that's put into this project beyond normal work hours. It's what Christmas is really about.

What our Father does is well
May the thought within us dwell
Though nor milk nor honey flow
In our barren Canaan now
God can save us in our need
God can bless us
God can feed

The other day I ran across a beautiful old song by the late Red Foley, released August 8, 1958 on Decca. It is called, "If I Can Help Somebody," written in 1945 by Alma Bazel Androzzo. The words are beautiful and it describes how I want to live, and how I want to be remembered. I hope you will click on the link below to see and hear Foley singing this magnificent song.

Red Foley - If I Can Help Somebody

This Thanksgiving Day holiday, we will be gathered around my mom, who is facing serious surgery this week. Please pray for her and her family.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Randy for the wonderful writing. It really encouraged me to be thankful in those ways as well. I do trust you had a great Thanksgiving. I do hope your Mom is doing better. See ya Sunday.

    Bro. Bob


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