What a day to praise the Lord. W had a quiet party of pecan pie and ice cream and sang hymns with our long time friends, Brad and Joyce and Betty who became our friend just after I was diagnosed with cancer.
Eighty-three years ago yesterday my mother welcomed me into her heart, arms, and life. It has been an incredible life. The Lord has been faithful every moment and for this I am thankful. He accepted me into his family as his treasured possession when I was twelve years old. He introduced me to The King’s College and there I met the love of my life, Emily, who has proven to be the help meet for 61 ½ years. He has given us four children who know and love the Lord, eight grandchildren who are using their talents to serve him, and six great grandchildren who are being trained to know and love the Lord. And as an added blessing, three step grandchildren. What a legacy. I could ask for nothing more.
Yet He has given so much more in a companion who has worked along side me in every endeavor. We directed plays and musicals together, toured with choirs, madrigals, barbershop quartets together, led Christian seminars for many years together and shared special moments along the way.
So as I closed yesterday I again said thank you Lord for an incredible journey with you and with the choice of a life long partner. We look forward to the days, weeks, and months ahead as we continue to serve through our prayers for although outwardly in the flesh I grow weaker, yet day by day I am being renewed 2 Cor 4:16.
For many years it has been our family’s tradition to recite Psalm 100 before we eat our Thanksgiving meal. Now with our children grown, our grandchildren grown and establishing family traditions, we are thrilled to hear that they also have adopted for the fourth generation, the reciting of this Psalm.
This morning our phone rang. We knew who it was. He is always the first one to call. And when we reminded him to read Psalm 100 today, he said “Already have.”
Whatever your family traditions are, my prayer today is that you will make it something that your children and grandchildren can pass down and in this small way keep the memory of this close thread of family tradition continuing.
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness:
come before His presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord He is God;
It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise;
Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting;
and His truth endureth to all generations.
From the physical standpoint, this week has been rather difficult. Twice in the emergency room and then admitted to the hospital. But God has bestowed on me great joy as I have had not only my wife beside me but my daughter and son with me. They didn’t come because I needed them right now. Their plans for several weeks were to be here this week to visit. We were going to do a lot of things together. The Scripture reminds us that “I know the plans I have for you.” My plans involved playing games, having a home movie night, taking them to a special restaurant. God’s plans were to have them here for encouragement and for help for Emily. The Scripture reminds me that “In his heart man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Instead we have had some wonderful times to talk, to be with each other, to pray together, and to reminisce. Lots of treasured memories!
And I remember Exodus 15:26, “I am the Lord who heals you.”
What a great God we serve!
As I was getting my chemo treatment recently, I asked my infusion nurse how she was going to celebrate Thanksgiving.
She immediately replied, “We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving Day, for we believe every day is a day for giving thanks.” I thought about what she said and I agreed with her.
Yet I think it’s beneficial for our family and as a nation to celebrate a special day to give thanks. Our country has so much. Two thirds of the world lives on $2.00 a day, the price of a coke for us Americans. Noel Piper comments in Treasuring God in our Traditions, “God is the reason we have anything to celebrate. He is the ultimate source of any of our celebrations.” p 65.
It’s a perfect time to take inventory of God’s abundant goodness to us. As the family gathers around the table loaded with all kinds of goodies (I love candied sweet potatoes and pecan pie) and as we feast and then gather around TVs for football, we need reminders of our origin and our purpose for living. And the blessings we review ought to be full of spiritual ones, such as an answer to prayer about a person who gossiped about you and you put into practice Matt 18. And God reconciled you.
As we prepare to thank the Lord for the bountiful feast before us, our family custom is to read Psalm 100 together (Psalm 95;1-7 is good, too), and during dinner, we share with one another God’s goodness to us through the year. An Asian family that had just moved to our city knew little or no English and no family to celebrate with. So we invited them to spend Thanksgiving Day with us and our two families transcended the language barrier as we laughed and talked, with the father of the family translating. It was a joyous occasion and after many years, we still keep in touch.
This Thanksgiving Day join us as we say in our hearts and on our lips, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4).
As my wife was struggling for an appropriate title for an essay she had written about her mother on the subject “Gratitude for Someone Who Has Touched Your life,” I suggested “An Unsung Mother Theresa.”
“My mother began making a ‘home away from home’ for mothers’ sons when we lived in the D.C. area. Servicemen sitting alone at the Hot Shoppe restaurant were invited to our home for pie and Swedish coffee. Many made return visits and stayed in touch with my Mom for several years. People down on their luck were given a place to stay until they could afford an apartment. We never had a large home, but there was always room for another “bed” in the living room, on the long enclosed porch, and sometimes in the dining room.
“Mom began to take her three daughters to Walter Reed Army Hospital on Sunday afternoons. We visited with servicemen who had no family in the area. Usually we went to the amputee or the hepatitis wards because most people didn’t want to visit those. We girls sang, talked with them about their families, and wrote letters for them. Emily became their ‘Mother’ away from home, and they called her Ma Person. When they were well enough to have an overnight or weekend pass, they were invited to our home.”
These are just a few examples of her Mother’s benevolent kindness to so many people.
How about if we start using our free time to become a Mother Theresa to someone as my wife’s mother did? Locate children and teenagers needing a foster home, such as in Nana’s House. Care for unwanted babies needing Christian families until adoptive agencies can place them. Serve day workers and the homeless who need bag lunches. Visit nursing homes and assisted living facilities to show them real love as Apostle James suggests in James 1:27, “Look after orphans and widows in their distress.”
When these “good works” become a lifestyle for us, then we’ll be living examples of “Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18).
As there were no strangers to my wife’s mother, may there be no strangers to us.