Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving: Counting My Blessings

"Eucharist [Thanksgiving] is the state of the perfect man. Eucharist is the life of paradise. Eucharist is the only full and real response of man to God's creation, redemption, and gift of heaven." -- Alexander Schmemann

Happy Thanksgiving Day Eve, friends! I hope your day is full of laughter and family and that you eat so much turkey tomorrow that you have to wear sweat pants for the rest of the weekend. Mmm. My aunt once said it's not a good Thanksgiving unless you're groaning around on the floor in agony (and .. thanks?), which we intend to do. I'm pretty nervous because we're somehow going to be making a turkey, ham, three different casseroles and two pies in our small, dinky (endearingly so) little kitchen with one oven. :) But I am thrilled to celebrate my 25th birthday on Friday with my twin by my side. We haven't been able to celebrate together on our birthdays in quite some time, and I am certainly thankful to be with my family for the big 2-5. 

We're preparing for this holiday - I have to confess - a little more frantically than I would have liked. I guess that's what happens when a day is set apart to be recognized as a holiday of thanks and giving; the stress of preparation gets in the way of what it's really all about. I feel like November has been a whirlwind and December only looks more chaotic. In the midst of sweet potato casserole recipes and beautiful Thanksgiving table decorations exploding on the Internet, I can't say I have seen too many reflections on all there is to be thankful for. It's easy to get caught up in the rush of it all, especially since Thanksgiving is late this year. Christmas music and decorations seem to be creeping in all around - and I get it. It's easy to skip to Christmas - at least for me it is. Aaron and I are blessed beyond measure to enjoy so much travel (and family!) time, but I am looking forward to some normalcy. Nevertheless, we're going to eat our hearts out and be thankful, thankful, thankful. 

What do you have to be thankful for? Lately, I am humbled on all sides because of the blessings he has lavished upon me. I'm thankful for my husband, who loves the worst and best of me, my whole family and how the Lord has given us plenty of time to be together, my job and the flexibility to scale back on hours, the wild dreams I have to pursue some literary goals (and the support from my loved ones who egg me on in my wild dreams to pursue literary goals), being in a fairly new home that we love already with a church community that we've grown to love, good health and so so much more. 

More than all of it, I am thankful for the one who gives good gifts. All of the blessings in my life do not compare to the greatness of a God who loved me so much that he sent his son to conquer death to bring me in to his family, all for his own glory. That I am known and loved by a righteous God - and that I get to be an instrument in his story of redemption  - are true gifts to be thankful for, and my heart will sing thanks and praise for eternity. When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we've no less days to sing God's praise then when we'd first begun

Yes, there is much to be thankful for. Just in the last few weeks I have been reminded of this. 

First, I am thankful for Rebekah, my sister-in-law, and her husband, Brad, and the perfectly-perfect Ezra James Shillinglaw. It was such a blessing to lay eyes on this little fella, and Aaron and I cannot wait to spoil this kid. Seriously, so much love for such a tiny, sweet thing. What a rich Thanksgiving it will be for his new mom + dad. We love them a lot.

I'm thankful to have watched the leaves change in my hometown. 
I'm thankful that I got to explore childhood again in Pinehurst with my parents and sister. I'm also thankful for nostalgic parents who think it's fun to visit all the houses you once lived in. Taking pictures of our old stomping grounds? Not creepy at all!
Like this one. We actually drove up these 10-acres of wood just to reminisce. I wrote a Thanksgiving memory post a few years back about this sweet home. You should check it out if you want to know what 11-year-old me was thankful for on Thanksgiving Day. 

Happy Thanksgiving. May you rest, eat and be merry! 

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"Pleasant words are [like] honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." Proverbs 16:24