Wednesday, November 21, 2012

If Thanksgivings Seem Fragmented

peeling apples, Thanksgiving 2011

My Thanksgiving this year feels very fragmented.

I want to be focusing more on gratitude when things are hard rather than when things are easy.

I hear of other hard thanksgivings and broken people giving praises from broken places and I wonder:

Is it supposed to be hard?

Why is it hard in the first place?

Does God treasure our hard-praises more than our easy-praises?

I find my head is spinning. This year has been such a roller coaster of health problems and emotional problems and an emotional teenager and a growing tween girl and changing toddler-to-schoolchild boy. This year has been a yearning-for-Mom year, more than any other year. This year has been one of great growth in faith and giant steps back in faith.

I feel dizzy.

Simulating the back-and-forth way I've been feeling, the kids' mom kept changing visitation times and so we didn't know whether we'd have the kids for the holiday or not until the literal last minute.

14 yr old Miss A and Husband and I will be going to my father and stepmother's house for Thanksgiving. That is fine, but it does feel strange to have half our family but not the whole.

To be honest, I've not felt part of a whole family in a while. Things have been so stressful. Things have been so fragmented.

Days are chaotic and days are traumatic. Days are hysterically funny and days are tearfully upsetting. Often we have all four things in the same day.

Do you have that, too?

Do you know which way you are going? Do you feel like your head is about to fall off from the back-and-forthing you've been doing, trying to keep up with the pace of your crazy life?

Sometimes I think God does treasure our hard-praises a little more than our easy-praises because it's in the hard times, when our faces are forced to look heavenward and our legs, forced by circumstance, end up kneeling at last. 

I don't think God wants us to suffer, but we humans are a stubborn lot. Well, I know I am. I also know that, as a parent, myself, children often need to be taught a lesson the hard way. It's the only way we seem to listen.

Trust me, God told the Israelietes. Trust me, He told them again. And again. And again. Then 40 years in the wilderness with nothing but what-is-it-manna and Trust me, God told them. And then men were made kings and statues were made into gods and idols and the Trust me became harder and harder for them to hear. As a parent who gets shamefully upset when my child continuously ignores me, I can only imagine how God felt when His children not only ignored him, but openly disrespected Him.

So I think God loves when we trust Him when it is hard for us to do so. He takes great pride in us when we do. God does not like that it's taken us to this level of bottoming out to finally realize what we have...but He is always waiting for us. Waiting for our realization of our need for Him.

I normally do something Thanksgiving-ish during this time, whether it is decorating the house or helping cook something (with my limited skill). So far I've done nothing.

I feel ashamed.

I am merely going to my father's house to partake in food with half of my immediate family coming with me and before I've filled my belly with food, I already feel full of leftover resentment, bitterness, and anger this year has doled out.

I feel full of ick. I have trouble remembering the good times of this year. I have trouble feeling grateful.

I sat in the parking lot of the grocery store while Husband went in to get one last ingredient for the stuffing we will bring with us. I sat in silence and prayed to God and thanked Him for so much of what I take for granted. I felt I needed to seek forgiveness for something, yet I wasn't sure what it was.

Writing this eve-before-Thanksgiving blog, I recognize it now:

Lord, I confess my sin of indifference.

I'm tired of the chaos and the crumbling. I'm tired of the uncertainty of what crisis will happen each day and, moreso, I'm tired of the certainty that some crisis will happen each day. At this point, I'm actually expecting it.

Lord, I confess my sin of complaining. 

Because that is what I am doing: complaining like the Israelites did as they were being perfectly provided for by their Lord. I'm complaining about the chaos of my family yet everyone is healthy and we live in safety and we have so much others do not and I have to be knocked on my face to see it.

So. Enough of the fragmented praise.

Yes, God is used to it - we all do it: praying when it is hard and praising when we are saved from the hard and land on soft ground.

I give my all-in praise: praise when things are chaotic and crumbling, tough and trying. Uncertain and scary.

Because God is everything those things aren't.

God is not chaotic and crumbling.
"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer, my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." ~ Psalm 18:2

God is not tough or trying.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." ~ Matthew 11:28

This year's Thanksgiving is not going to be fragmented, but rather intentional. 

I am going to intentionally pray. I am going to intentionally praise. 

I am going to intentionally look around me. I am going to intentionally rejoice, ignore any lies that haunt my mind, and I am intentionally placing  my focus on God. 

"The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy." ~ Isaiah 35:1-2a

2008 Thanksgiving table

Read that verse again. The wildnerness will rejoice and blossom. In the Bible, the wilderness was a place and it also represented everything we humans find scary and uncertain. It is in the wilderness that we feel the most lost and disconnected. It is in this wilderness that we give the power over to the enemy and believe the lies. It is in the wilderness when we can barely breathe the air is so stale from dust. And here...

the wilderness is rejoicing

The wilderness is blossoming

Flowers in the desert? Really?

I sound like a child who just found out she can receive that favorite toy even though she might have misbehaved last week. 

I sound like a believer in God who must remember how to believe anew each and every day.

It sounds like grace to me. 

Thank God His mercies are new each morning. 

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. 

I hope you can join me in praising when it is hard. 

And whether you are alone this holiday or surrounded by family, know that God sits at your table, unfailing in His love and faithfulness. 

"Great is his faithfulness. his mercies being afresh each morning." ~ Lamentations 3:23

"Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever!" ~ Psalm 106:1

heart biscuit
And because it is What I Know Now Thursday tomorrow and I will not be home to blog, I offer today's eve-before-Thanksgiving epiphany up to God and to Sarah Mae's link-up. 

What I know now is that I have to praise when my face is low with sadness and praise when my face is high in joy. I must praise when it is stormy out as well as when the sun floods through. 

I desire to live 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."


and yet I don't seem to remember the lessons. I was reminded of this blog post from June:
What I know now is that God keeps saying, "Trust me" and I keep walking and listening to the world's cacophony. I will listen to You, Lord. I will listen. 


  1. I love the way you bore your heart today, in this beautifully written, honest, blog post.



Thank you for commenting on my blog post. Whether we agree or disagree, I hope to create a "table" where we can come together no matter who we are and be the people we were created to be. Let us comment with respect and love for each other. Thank you so much for taking the time to connect with me. Bless you!