Tag Archives: gratitude

A Month of Thanksgiving – Week 4

tgiving 013Thanksgiving as we know it in the US not did not originate with the pilgrims nor did it originate in the US. Today Thanksgiving is celebrated in other countries and known by other names.

The earliest recording* of a festival of thanks is found in the Pentateuch. The Sukkot or Feast of Tabernacles is a harvest festival which commemorates God’s provision and protection during the 40 years in the wilderness (Leviticus 23).

Here are some other countries that celebrate Thanksgiving or harvest festivals:

Canada: Thanksgiving takes place the second Monday in October. It celebrates the harvest and a time to thank God for blessings throughout the year. The festival originates from the 1578 voyage of Martin Frobisher in search of the Northwest Passage.

Liberia: Thanksgiving takes place the first Thursday in November. Liberia was founded in the 1800s by freed slaves from the US. They brought with them many traditions including Thanksgiving.

Norfolk Island: Thanksgiving takes place the last Wednesday in November and is based on US traditions.

Grenada: Thanksgiving takes place October 25 to commemorate the US invasion which resulted in the restoration of Grenada’s constitutional government.

Germany: Oktoberfest is a 16-day festival that takes place in September and October. This harvest festival is part of Bavarian culture and has been commemorated for more than 200 years. It originated from the festivals around the marriage of Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese in 1810.

United Kingdom: Lammas Day is a harvest festival based in Anglo-Saxon England which takes place August 1. It is celebrated by Christians and neo-pagans worldwide.

These are only a few examples of society coming together to enjoy the fruits of their labor and give thanks to God for their good fortune. For a more extensive list, check out this article on harvest festivals.


tgiving 019My Thanks for this week

November 24 – Ashley, she always brings me cheer

November 25 – Bobby B., for his continued support, advice and almost always having the answer to my obscure questions.

November 26 – Even more projects

November 27 – My dear friends back home, I sure miss you guys: Kim, Margie, Melanie, Heather and Princess.

November 28 – Pizza, our new Thanksgiving tradition

November 29 – We had a delicious day after Thanksgiving dinner but no room for pumpkin pie. That will have to wait until tomorrow

November 30 – There is not enough time to tell of all God has blessed me with, I am so thankful for all he has done.

Let’s continue the spirit of Thanksgiving gratitude all year long.

*If anyone knows of an older recording of a similar festival please leave a comment.

Enter with thanksgiving

warsaw gardens 8.7.13 340The very quality of your life, whether you love it or hate it, is based upon how thankful you are toward God. It is one’s attitude that determines whether life unfolds into a place of blessedness or wretchedness. Indeed, looking at the same rose bush, some people complain that the roses have thorns while others rejoice that some thorns come with roses. It all depends on your perspective.

This is the only life you will have before you enter eternity. If you want to find joy, you must first find thankfulness. Indeed, the one who is thankful for even a little enjoys much. But the unappreciative soul is always miserable, always complaining. He lives outside the shelter of the Most High God.

warsaw gardens 8.7.13 320The moment we become grateful, we actually begin to ascend spiritually into the presence of God. The psalmist wrote,

“Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. . . . Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His loving kindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100:2, 4-5).

It does not matter what your circumstances are; the instant you begin to thank God, even though your situation has not changed, you begin to change. The key that unlocks the gates of heaven is a thankful heart. Entrance into the courts of God comes as you simply begin to praise the Lord.

~  ~  By Francis Frangipane  ~  ~

A Month of Thanksgiving – Week 3


Millbrook Village, Delaware Water Gap NRA, NJ

Millbrook Village, Delaware Water Gap NRA, NJ

Most of us have traditions particular to our own families. Here I will offer some of the traditional Thanksgiving practices followed by some of ours. If you have some interesting or meaningful or fun Thanksgiving traditions I would love to hear about it.


I took this bird out of the oven in just time to put the photo in this post. Smells good.

I took this bird out of the oven in just time to put the photo in this post. Smells good.

Thanksgiving traditions center around two primary activities which are common to most celebrations – family/friends and food. This is the day many look forward to with anticipation of travel or receiving visitors.  Most of us have turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes of some kind, corn, and squashes all topped off with pumpkin pie.

While this is a celebration of thanks and the joy of family, for some it’s a time of stress from either perfectionist expectations or miserable family connections. For more than 20 years I was saddened by friends who dreaded the holidays because their family situations often made them miserable. I remember one friend comparing her Thanksgiving to a Jerry Springer show. This broke my heart.

The only family I had was my two daughters and a sister I rarely saw. I would have loved to enjoy the day around a big table with a couple dozen of my closest family and friends, to hear the voices of little ones playing in the background. But it was not meant to be…all of my family was dead. But then there was God. During my journey I found my dad’s family, they weren’t dead. The next year I found my father’s family that I barely knew existed and didn’t know where. I may not be sharing thanksgiving with them this year as they live too far away, but I know they are there and I am not alone.

Santa's first appearance, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Santa’s first appearance, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Thanksgiving Day is often spent giving thanks, day long feasting, watching or attending parades such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. This famous parade ushers in the “official” Christmas season with the first appearance of Santa Claus. I wish retailers would remember that. It seems now the Christmas season precedes Halloween. Afternoons and evenings are filled with sounds of football games and Thanksgiving TV specials such as A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

Now there’s a new trend…Black (Thursday) Friday. Before you know it retailers will up this tradition to Halloween. Starting so early is just too much. Before Christmas even gets here you’re thoroughly sick of it. I don’t want to think about another holiday until I finish the current one. My daughters tried the early Black Friday last Thanksgiving evening…they vowed to never do it again! No sale is worth the hell you go through.

I will talk about my childhood Thanksgivings next week in a post about my most memorable Thanksgivings but here I’ll tell you what my family and I do now. First we do have most of what’s on the food list but no squashes or mashed potatoes. A few of our favorites include cheesy green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs and my grandmothers recipe for mashed candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. We used to include various cookies, candies, pies like pecan or apple, and appetizers but this year we’re cutting back and trying to stay close to our low carb diet as our taste buds will let us including a sugar free pumpkin pie. NO SUGAR!!!

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

The Mayflower Voyagers: This Is America, Charlie Brown

The Mayflower Voyagers: This Is America, Charlie Brown

We start the morning with monkey bread and eggnog to prepare ourselves for the preparation of the feast. We don’t watch football and haven’t watched Thanksgiving specials since my girls were little; however, this year we will definitely watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving now that Kai is old enough. We watch movies until the evening then go the cinema to watch a fun movie. This tradition, though, has been put on hold until Kai is old enough to sit quietly for 90 plus minutes. I don’t see that happening for a few years. The rest of the holiday weekend is spent unpacking Christmas ornaments and decorations as we usher in our official Christmas season. I think we enjoy this as much as Thanksgiving Day as we eat leftovers and tell our crazy stories of holidays past.

With all these goings on does anyone have time to be grateful? It seems in my home we are too busy cooking, eating and playing. We only briefly take time to thank God for our wonderful life. I hope this year will be different – we do have so much to be thankful for.

My thanks for the week:

November 17 – the Jubilee Journey, having the opportunity to live a dream, a two-year road trip with Jesus
November 18 – My Dad’s family I was restored with
November 19 – Reconciliation with my father’s family that I didn’t even know existed but always hoped for
November 20 – My daughter Amber for doing my shopping; I hate shopping. She is such a blessing
November 21 – Kai’s “I love you”’s. Even though he doesn’t know the meaning of love yet, I love hearing it
November 22 – Extra work projects and the extra income
November 23 – Another day of silence and solitude; ah, the peace of quiet

Next week: The final edition, I’ll write about some similar thanksgiving celebrations and harvest festivals worldwide as well as share my final thanks and new Thanksgiving memories.

Don’t forget to share your Thanksgiving traditions!

Macy’s Parade and Peanuts taken from TV screen, I do not claim rights to these.

Attitude of Gratitude

warsaw gardens 8.7.13 231

An attitude of gratitude is when
you’re the robbee and not the robber

when you’re thankful for what you have
and not want what someone else has

when you can laugh at yourself
and not feel ashamed

when you can say I’m sorry
even though it wasn’t your fault

when you can ignore an annoyance
no matter the circumstance

when you can see only the good
and not dwell on the bad

when you can make each today
the beginning of the rest of your life!

When you’re thankful where you’re at
And Jesus is Lord of your life
God will move you to new heights!

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God,
and His righteousness; and all these things
shall be added unto you.”
(Matthew 6:33KJV)

~  ~  H Lena Jones  ~  ~

Month of Thanksgiving – Week 2

Replica of the Mayflower, Plymouth, Mass

Replica of the Mayflower, Plymouth, Mass

We don’t know how good we really have it.

This week’s edition of a “Month of Thanksgiving” will cover the origins Thanksgiving traditions in the US. Most of us here in the US have at least heard of the pilgrims and the Mayflower; however, it always surprises me how little people know about these early settlers and their first thanksgivings. As a descendent of these early settlers and growing up close to where they landed and lived I was forced to learn of their story from a very early age. Unfortunately so much of our history is lost as stories aren’t told to the newest generation. We can learn a lot from those who came before us, how they lived and died, how they worshiped and what they gave thanks for.

Plymouth Rock, supposedly where the pilgrims stepped on when they left the Mayflower. Don't let the size fool you, it was chipped away at for years before being protected.

Plymouth Rock, supposedly where the pilgrims stepped on when they left the Mayflower. Don’t let the size fool you, it was chipped away at for years before being protected.

In August of 1620 two ships, the Mayflower and the Speedwell, left the United Kingdom in search of religious and social freedom in the “New World.” Not long after they embarked, the Speedwell was sabotaged. More than one hundred of the crew and passengers of both ships were combined with the remainder turning back. After more than two months at sea the ship anchored at Provincetown harbor at the tip of Cape Cod. They endured a rough winter with little food, bitter cold and skirmishes with the natives; starvation and illness took more than half the souls that reached the “New World” and in only four months. They scouted the Cape from November to December then settled at Plymouth, a recently abandoned native settlement.

Massasoit, leader of the Wampanoag, attended the first Thanksgiving.

Massasoit, leader of the Wampanoag, attended the first Thanksgiving.

Their first Thanksgiving took place a year later, at around October of 1621. This day of thanks included the settlers and the Wompanoag who had helped them. These early settlers had no such name for their solemn celebration of thanks and praise to God. The first recognized thanksgiving took place in the summer of 1623 and was still a celebration of solemn praise and prayer. Over the centuries this day has become more of a harvest festival than the original day of thanks the pilgrims experienced. These early celebrations of prayer, praise and feasting lasted three days. So what did they eat? Besides turkey their meal included other fowl, fish, lobster and deer. I wonder what they would think of how we celebrate this day and could they stomach the rich foods we eat now?

Which “first” Thanksgiving?

While the first Thanksgiving is attributed to the pilgrims at Plymouth this was not the first of its kind in the US. There is record of the Jamestown Colony in Virginia celebrating Thanksgiving as a religious celebration in 1610. It is also believed that the Spanish held a time of thanksgiving in the colonies in the 1500s.

The US Thanksgiving is often referred to as the origin of the festival; however, Thanksgiving has its roots in ancient harvest festival of ancient cultures including pagan cultures of early Europe, Egypt and the Jewish Sukkot rooted in the harvest festival and remembrance of God’s goodness and deliverance from Egypt. The idea of giving thanks to our Creator is not new; however, it has changed considerably over the past few centuries. I will touch on a few of harvest festivals in two weeks.

My week of thanks:

November 10 – I am thankful to my Mayflower ancestors; Myles & Rose Standish, John Alden & Pricilla Mullins Alden, William & Alice Mullins, and Henry Samson, without their courage and sacrifice I would not be where or who I am today.

November 11 – I am thankful for my parents, JoAnne & Wyatt, for raising me, and my mom for teaching me about Jesus

November 12 – I’m thankful for my grandparents, Phyllis “Meme” & Paul, for taking me in and caring for me in their old age. And MeMe for being my best friend.

November 13 – I’m thankful for the saints who sacrificed much for me to have a bible and religious freedom so that I may now worship God without persecution.

November 14 – I am thankful for the Atkins diet and the improved health and energy I now enjoy

November 15 – I am thankful for the internet that I can share and
learn, and for all my WordPress friends. I have truly enjoyed your comments over the past year.

November 16 – I am thankful now…this minute…that I can actually enjoy a rare moment of silence and solitude.

In next week’s post I’ll discuss some contemporary Thanksgiving traditions.

**Disclaimer…I’m not a historian and what I know is from stories, a few primary documents and information from Plimoth Plantation and Pilgrim Hall Museum. I’m not claiming this information is completely accurate, there is a lot of controversy around Thanksgiving and the lives of the early settlers. I’d check out Hankering for History for more information on the myths.

Outflow of Gratitude

warsaw gardens 8.7.13 142The mind is a vicious cycle of giving thanks one minute and the next whining about some problem, “oh, poor me, things will never change”, then the next moment I’m praising God again. OK, that was a little exaggerated but the idea is the same, flip flopping between gratitude in abundance and nothing when discontent, emotions bouncing around from one circumstance to the next.

It’s only natural that we focus on what’s going poorly and struggle with what we’re grateful for. Giving thanks is easy it’s having a heart of thanksgiving that’s hard. The grateful life must be intentional. It must flow through the heart of Christ in us.

Is your life characterized by gratitude? What does the grateful life look like? It is full of confidence in Jesus and recognizes him as the source of all blessings and then quickly pass on those blessings to others.

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.  

~  ~  Hebrews 13:15 (NLV)  ~  ~

Character of Gratitude: Joseph

11072010 630 (2)The Story of Joseph

Joseph was born to be blessed but through some youthful, but wrong decisions he created a jealousy in his ten brothers which would change the course of a nation. Joseph loved God and his father. He knew he was destined for greatness and enjoyed taunting his brothers with this fact.

Joseph was only a teenager when his brothers plotted to kill him but God had other plans and instead they sold Joseph into slavery. He was taken to Egypt where he would live the rest of his life. He was later sold to an Egyptian named Potiphar. Joseph flourished in Potiphar’s home; he was promoted and given responsibility over much. Again, Joseph would be at the hand of another who wished to control and hurt him. Accused of rape by Potiphar’s wife he was put in prison.

DV_furnace creek village2-001Joseph was still being blessed by God, even in prison he excelled and was placed in charge of much. One day the pharaoh’s baker and wine taster were put in prison until it was determined which was guilty. These men both had dreams and Joseph interpreted the dreams as he was given this gift by God. The baker was found guilty and the wine taster set free just as Joseph had predicted. Joseph asked him to put in a good word for him with pharaoh but he forgot.

Sometime later pharaoh had a dream that terrified him. None of his magicians or wise men could interpret the dreams and then the wine taster remembered Joseph and told pharaoh about the man who interpreted his dream. Joseph correctly interpreted pharaoh’s dreams and was released from jail as a result.

11072010 671 (2)Joseph’s gratitude is rewarded with promotion, reconciliation and restoration

Because Joseph was faithful, because he was grateful to God and didn’t complain he was promoted in the land of Egypt. He was in charge over all of Egypt, second only to pharaoh. Just as Joyce Meyer says, “complain and remain, praise and be raised”. Joseph praised God in times of trouble and was raised above more than he could imagine. He never gave up and never blamed God.

The dream he interpreted foretold of seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Joseph was in charge of the food storage during the years of plenty and of giving out the food during famine. Among those who came for food were the brothers who sold him into slavery. God took all of Joseph’s troubles, his hardships, his damaged reputation and he turned it to good. Joseph was the instrument through which two nations, Egypt and Israel, were saved.

What is God love to do? Why the Jubilee Journey? Reconciliation and restoration. Joseph was reconciled and restored to his brothers and to his father.

Read the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50.

My Own Little World

old family pics_0112Thanksgiving is coming up soon and time to give thanks for all our blessings, but not just in words. Let us also show our gratitude by giving to others even in some small way. We don’t all have money or time to give but we can always give a smile or some small kindness. Let us all remember this month to show our gratitude by including others in our own little world.

In my own little world it hardly ever rains
I’ve never gone hungry, always felt safe
I got some money in my pocket, shoes on my feet
In my own little world
Population me

I try to stay awake through Sunday morning church
I throw a twenty in the plate but I never give ’til it hurts
and I turn off the news when I don’t like what I see
it’s easy to do when it’s
population me

What if there’s a bigger picture
what if I’m missing out
What if there’s a greater purpose
I could be living right now
outside my own little world
Stopped at the red light, looked out my window
I saw a cardboard sign said “Help this homeless widow”
Just above that sign was the face of a human
I thought to myself, “God, what have I been doing?”

So I rolled down the window and I looked her in the eyespain_0040-2
Oh how many times have I just passed her by
I gave her some money then I drove on through
in my own little world there’s
Population two

Father break my heart for what breaks Yours
give me open hands and open doors
put Your light in my eyes and let me see
that my own little world is not about me

What if there’s a bigger picture
what if I’m missing out
What if there’s a greater purpose
I could be living right now

I don’t wanna miss what matters
I wanna be reachin’ out
Show me the greater purpose
So I can start livin’ right now
outside my own little world

~  ~  Matthew West  ~  ~

Check out the video My Own Little World

A Month of Thanksgiving – Week 1

It’s November and we enter our second month of this holiday season, our second of four major holidays. The first being Halloween then Thanksgiving with Christmas  and New Years and New Years yet to come. Thanksgiving is one of the biggest holidays. It is also celebrated in other countries and known by other names such as Harvest Festival which I will cover in a later post. Here I will give a brief overview of Thanksgiving, especially for my many friends abroad and then I’ll tell you what I’m thankful for.

103_2156Here in the US we celebrate Thanksgiving every fourth Thursday of November. Evidence shows it probably began in November of 1621 in Plymouth, Mass. There is much myth and theory about purpose, what they ate and who with but the general theory is that Thanksgiving began as a tribute to God for all he had done. After arriving in Provincetown, Mass in 1620 they lost a considerable percentage of the original Mayflower passengers; they suffered, toiled and starved. They had been blown off-course and were supposed to land in Virginia but instead wandered into the frigid winter of Massachusetts. They received help from the locals with food and especially learning about agriculture in the difficult Cape Cod dirt, or what we capecodders like to call sand. It is believed the Indians attended this first celebration of thanks, a harvest festival that would ensure they lived another year.

Today our celebration is much different than what the Pilgrims could have imagined; especially our Thanksgiving Day parade and Thanksgiving Day football…the TV alone would have been enough to make them say “witches, hang ‘em!”. Ok, so that comes later in history. One thing that all celebrations of thanks and harvest festivals is the food. A traditional Thanksgiving meal here in the US will include a turkey and sometimes ham accompanied by mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce and of course pumpkin pie. My family is already looking forward to our personal favorites in addition to the traditional listed above such as green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole, pecan pie with monkey bread and eggnog for breakfast. This year will be a little different since we’re all on a low-carb diet. We’ll see what I come up with. The pilgrims wouldn’t have known much of what we eat today and their meal would have included corn, turkey, fish and lobster. Now that does sound good too.

My Thanks:

It is important to give thanks, to live a life of gratitude so in honor of what God has done for me and my family I’m going to post weekly what I’ve been thankful over the past week. I would love to hear what are you grateful for this season?

November 1: The life Jesus has given me, his love, peace and salvationkai halloween 004

November 2: My grandson, he has brought so much love and laughter to our lives

November 3: My daughters, for their love and friendship, and for letting me be nanny to Kai.

November 4: My family, their love and all they have taught me

sunset & rainbows 020November 5: Rainbows. I don’t see them often and I was blessed this week to see this one arching the sky.

November 6: Sunsets, one of my favorites to photograph. I don’t get to see many through all the trees.

November 7: Trees, I love the coverage from the sun, the shade they provide and the sound of the wind rustling through the leavessunset & rainbows 022

November 8: Grimm…I absolutely love this TV show and the relationship between the characters.

November 9: I haven’t swum in a month, water is too cold. I enjoyed the afternoon today sitting in the sun, taking to a friend by the pool. And no I didn’t go in, I’m a wimp.


Next week: more on the pilgrims and the life of these early settlers at Plimoth Plantation (no, this isn’t a spelling error).

A Grateful Heart

autumn 005It’s one thing to say thank you but having a grateful attitude is another, a moment by moment heart of thanksgiving. Paul said in Philippians that he is content in any circumstance, to give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It’s not enough to be thankful for our many blessings but be thankful in hard times as these will teach us what the Lord needs to bring us to the next level. And don’t forget to be thankful for what you don’t have; something that could be bad for you.

Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and sing joyfully about his glorious acts.  Psalm 107:22 (NLT)

Complaining, murmuring, grumbling…these will stagnate your life; it will close the door to blessings and open the door to the enemy. Blaming our problems, people or circumstances keeps us from living the way God intended and keeps us in the situation longer.

Do all things without grumbling or questioning. Philippians 2:14 (ESV)

 Giving thanks gives us power. It can answer prayers, heals relationships and our hearts. Praise is good for the heart and mind. It relieves depression, bitterness, confusion and puts us in a position for God to raise us to the next level.

Live a life of gratitude, have a heart filled with praise, and see how your life and the lives of those close to you change.

I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. Psalm 34:1 (NLT)