Month: November 2016

stories

As the real meaning of Christmas gets buried under piles of cookies and gifts, the joy of Thanksgiving is preserved through storytelling. These stories have been told and retold and have grown larger than life. Just like wine and cheese, our stories get better with age! As I gaze around the table, I am thankful for the storytellers and for the mischievous ones who star in them. These stories remind me to whisper a simple ‘thank you’. For me, Thanksgiving is not running to the mall but lingering around the table sharing stories.

My father-in-law tells great stories and can weave a tale. If you listen carefully, you may hear some bits of truth. Our classic Thanksgiving stories are mostly about hunting and football since both are in season in late November. A must-tell is the ‘Shootout at the OK Corral’ story; a deer hunting story where the number of dead deer outnumbers the hunters. (I never said these stories involved legal activities.) It is always a crowd pleaser and signals Thanksgiving has officially arrived. Another favorite is the ‘Forearm Shiver’ football story involving a car’s broken windshield. Funny stuff.

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Over the years,  we have expanded our repertoire to include stories about fire. Who doesn’t enjoy stories about setting things on fire and then panicking to put them out? Let’s keep telling these belly busters! Let’s keep passing them down!  Storytelling strengthens our family bonds. Storytelling is life preservation.

I love hearing these same stories, year after year. Why? Their familiarity comforts me deep in my soul.  I am thankful to be part of these crazy family stories. They say I have a place; I belong. Not everyone can say that. Yes, I am thankful. I know the endings to all the stories, but I still love hearing them. Tell me again!

As I read God’s Word, year after year, the familiar stories give me comfort and peace. The more I drink from the pages, the deeper I thirst. Daniel’s steadfastness still amazes me. Esther’s and Ruth’s bravery still inspires me. Stephen’s stoning still gives me goosebumps. Paul’s transformation still gives me hope. Tell me again!

If you are blessed to be surrounded by loved ones tomorrow, pause between bites of turkey to tell a story. Someone needs to hear it.

Have a very thankful Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

knowing

What do you wish you would have heard your parents say? That question on a Christian radio station got my attention. As adults looking back, what do we wish we would have heard our parents say? 

Some of the deep and heart-tugging responses shared by the call-in listeners were: I wish my parents would have said they loved me. I wish my parents would have told me they were proud of me. I wish my parents would have apologized for making me be the parent at times. 

I considered this question on my drive and later broached the topic with my husband. I wasn’t ready for his response. We dated 6 years before getting married 33 years ago and this man continually surprises me. In certain areas, he felt he could not live up to his parents’ high expectations. I never knew he carried those feelings. 

Admittedly,  I wish my parents would have said they loved me. Over the years, I have justified not hearing those 3 magical words as a generational shortcoming or a result of their strict upbringing. Whatever the reason, feelings weren’t shared or discussed. But I told my husband, I knew they loved me. Without any doubt, I knew it. Their unspoken love was exhibited in many, many ways.

I knew they loved me by how hard they worked and by the sacrifices they made to provide for our family of 6. I knew they loved me when we gathered around the supper table and we had plenty to eat. I knew they loved me when we piled in the car on Sunday mornings to head to church. And when we piled back into the car for a Sunday afternoon drive and ended up at Baskin Robbins for an ice cream cone. I knew they loved me.img_0230

I knew they loved me when they knelt beside my bed holding a bowl and catching the remnants of too many pieces of apple pie. I knew it when they painstakingly helped me through homework battles. I knew they loved me when they steadied the back of the bicycle after removing the training wheels and when they bandaged  my skinned knees when the ride went awry. I knew it when I was tucked in my bed safe at night. Yes, my parents loved me without saying the words.

Walking on the road to Jesus, we come upon the stumbling block of not being able to hear or see Him. We decide to sit and question. Why can’t I hear or see God?  How do I know He really loves me? So we stay longer.  Satan, the prowling lion, encircles and whispers lies and doubts as we rest upon that block. Will we get up and take the next baby step of faith? Our Heavenly Father awaits with open arms and big love but it takes faith to move forward. It takes believing without seeing or hearing. It takes embracing His unconditional love without hearing audible words.

I know God loves me.  Without any doubts, I know. When I prayed a sinner’s prayer on a college dorm room floor, I found His love. When I held my newborn children for the first time, I experienced His love. When I look out my windows and see the tree line ablaze with reds, yellows, and oranges, I witness His love.  When I cry out for forgiveness, I feel His love. When I open up His Word and read His love story written to me, I drink-in His love. With a broad brush stroke, God paints His love for all to see from Creation to the Cross to Eternity.

This is how much God loves me: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. John 3:16 (MSG)

Yes, God loves me, big time! His unspoken love is revealed in many, many ways. He shows it, displays it; the mountaintops and ocean waves thunder His love message loud and clear. His love is ultimate and complete without saying a word.

Parents, children, and others will occasionally disappoint and hurt us with their spoken and unspoken words. But I know I am loved deeply and extravagantly by my Creator and Savior.

I know my parents loved me because they took me to Sunday School where I learned this song:

Jesus loves me this I know

For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong
Yes, Jesus loves me
Oh, yes Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so