An Airport Thanksgiving 

airport2Carlos was worried.  He looked at his wife Nita and could see that she was unhappy.  Holly and Joquin were miserable.  Why shouldn’t they be, the family was supposed to be in New York for Thanksgiving.  They had an amazing view of the Thanksgiving parade thanks to Carlos’ Mom’s apartment.  Instead, they were stuck in a small airport outside of Toronto, snowed in.

It could have been a recipe for disaster, had it not been for a single sound, Holly heard a sneeze.  She looked over to see a young boy crying.  Holly, thirteen and afraid of nothing, went over to see what was wrong.  Neil’s Aunt Paula explained.  “His Dad is coming back from a tour overseas.  This is going to be their first holiday together in four years.  Now it looks like we may miss Thanksgiving.”

That was when everything changed.  Holly looked at her Mom, Nita looked at Joquin, and they all looked at Carlos.  He wasn’t sure what they were asking, but he instinctively agreed.  Holly whispered something to Paula, who wrote something down and handed it to her.  Holly promised she would be back, and made her way to the small restaurant in the airport.

Nita went with her, and in a few minutes, they gave Carlos and Joquin their instructions.  For an hour, they made their way to every store and person in the airport.  Everyone agreed to help and soon, Neil could hear music coming from the far end of the airport.  Before he knew it, he was watching a make shift Thanksgiving Parade filled with security guards, home made costumes, and one man who was handing toys out from the gift shop.

The music came from assorted smart phones, portable speakers, and a few singing travelers.  Everyone knows that the last float in a Thanksgiving parade is Santa Claus, so naturally Neil looked for a make shift sleigh.  What he saw was more than he could have expected.  It wasn’t a sleigh, there were no reindeer.  It was a small cart with a tablet computer, and on the screen wasn’t Santa Claus.

“Hi sport, I told you we’d be together on Thanksgiving.”  Neil and John wiped the tears away as they talked.  “I just wish it was in the same room.”  “It will be, but don’t worry.  Grandma is keeping the dinner warm, we’ve taped the parade, we’ll still celebrate Thanksgiving together.”  “But I won’t get there until tomorrow.”

John smiled.  “Son, it doesn’t matter what time you get here.  I’m so thankful to be with you, and I intend to give you all the love in the world.  Do you know what that means?”  “What?”  “That Thanksgiving isn’t about a day, a parade, or a dinner, it’s about being thankful for the people that God has placed into our lives.”

The two talked for almost an hour, and then all the stranded passengers were guests of a make shift Thanksgiving dinner.  The little restaurant was a hamburger place, so the closest thing to Thanksgiving was an apple pie milkshake.  It didn’t matter, one little girl had rescued everyone’s Thanksgiving.

The next day the snow let up, and soon everyone was on their way.  No one felt cheated, or sad, it wasn’t the Thanksgiving anyone planned, but it was what they needed.  For years to come everyone that spent Thanksgiving in that airport would cherish both it, and every Thanksgiving that followed.

They were reminded, Thanksgiving isn’t a commercial holiday, it isn’t about the turkey.  It’s the people, not the side dishes that matter.  The day isn’t measured by how big the floats are, or how well dressed Santa is.  Instead, our Thanksgiving is a success when we review the parade of blessings that God has placed in our lives.

Human Events

  

 “When in the course of human events…”, it’s the way our Declaration Of Independence starts. I woke with those first seven words on my mind. It seemed ironic that, in this day and time, our founding fathers would pick that phrase. We truly have arrived where we are because of human events.

The next words are “it becomes necessary…”. Every Christian I know, believes that we are in the last days. With signs in Heaven and on Earth, from Israel to Washington, Europe to Asia, clues abound. Two thousand years ago, Christ became what was necessary to secure mankind’s salvation against this age.

He knew man was on a collision course with eternity, that time would run out. Jesus wanted us all to have something to hold to when this day came. He said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” God was giving us a new pathway, truth to sustain us, and His life to redeem us.

As we go towards our country’s celebration of freedom, I would like to encourage you. If you know Jesus, then you are truly free, no matter what we face. What He is doing in you, is greater than the chaos that’s happening around you.

If you don’t know Him yet, I would tell you that there is still time. I know you’ve heard it before, but suppose for just a moment that I’m right. If there is any chance that I am, you owe it to yourself to consider the possibility.

If I’m right, then man is infected and afflicted by sin. If that is so, then all of us need a Savior. If I’m right, there is only one religion with an empty tomb. If I’m right, then the question of eternity must be dealt with. 

Are you prepared to answer the question of forever and ever? Do you have a truth to hold to when that day comes? Our founding fathers believed enough to evoke God as they fought for and sought their freedom. “We are endowed by Our Creator with certain unalienable rights…”

Because of human events, Christ star shone in the east. Because of human events, He arrived to bleed, die, and rise again so that we would have a truth to hold on to. Finally, because of human events, eternity is calling. 

We don’t have to face it unprepared, we have a Declaration of Independence from sin. Our country was blessed with this self evident truth, and as Christians, we are blessed with the evidence of His love. If you know Jesus, you have something to celebrate! If you don’t, He’s penned the path to your Liberty!

Dads

  Andy and Opie Taylor, some of my favorite Mayberry moments were between Father and son. I’ve often thought my Dad reminded me of Andy Griffith. He was funny most of the time, noble always, and serious when he had to be.

Isn’t that the perfect description of a Father? Someone that rides asteroids with you, protects you from the monsters under your bed, and from the very real things you face as you grow older. Isn’t that what our Heavenly Father does for us?

He gives us dreams, and the ability to achieve them. He walks with us on the journey, ready to catch us when we fall. He went ahead and dealt with the things that could destroy us before we ever faced them.

Some of the things I watched my Father do as a child, held an importance I couldn’t appreciate until I became a man. Budgets, bills, and balancing work and family didn’t seem like anything at eight. At thirty eight, I sometimes wonder how he did it.  

He proved it could be done, before I knew I would need it modeled. He was training me for my future, just by living, and loving us daily. Fathers in that way, really are Superman, Jedi, and (insert favorite childhood character here).

Today we honor those special men who get up each morning and do whatever is ask of them. They simply, and quietly, go about the business of being a Dad. It isn’t glamorous, but is one of the greatest gifts a child could have. Thank you Dad for caring, modeling, and walking ahead of me to show me the way. Happy Father’s Day to Fathers everywhere!

The Roses Of Our Republic

  Today we honor those brave soldiers whose convictions empowered them to give their lives from Valley Forge to Mosul and Kabul. They cared enough to do whatever it took to keep us a free people. Americans of all races and backgrounds came together to make a statement. That statement was simply this, the American Dream is worth defending.

Like our soldiers, all across this country, good men and women, feel the need to impact our nation. We may not all be able to fight in uniform, but we can all make a difference. In honor of our soldiers, let us start today to better our country, in whatever way we can.

Whether it’s the voting booth, running for local office, or giving time to our community let us accept the call. Falling in step with the men and women of history who improved this country. We can leave our nation better than we found her.

It is fitting that our Lady Liberty is made of copper. Her skin was once brown, but age gave her that now famous green patina. Over time we can change the face of our nation, if we make a start.

What do you believe our country needs that you can help to make happen? I believe in the three great documents of our country, and what they stand for. The Declaration Of Independence, the Constitution, and Bill of Rights.  

I believe in the right to worship, free speech, and the freedom of the press. Which by the way, is the order listed in the first amendment itself. If we believe it, then we must contribute to its preservation.

Look for a place to serve, a gap no one is filling. Whether it’s through prayer, political office, or local charity work, we can beautify our corner of America. It can be as simple as placing flowers on a warrior’s grave.

Historically one of the early days chosen for Memorial Day was selected because the flowers were in bloom. The hope of a better life still grows on that shining city on the hill. The roses our republic were planted by America’s defenders, and must be cultivated by it’s citizens.  It’s our job to maintain what our brave soldiers planted, and to cause it to flourish.

Mother’s Day(s)

  Happy Mother’s Day… Yes that’s today, but any Mother will tell you, it’s more than once a year. When a child, small or grown, is successful in behavior or achievement, that is also a Mother’s Day. 

We are all the result of a Mother’s days, even the tough ones . Those times when her hair wasn’t perfect, her clothes were a mess, and everything was chaotic, except her.  I’m sure she had less than perfect days, but the important thing wasn’t perfection, it was consistency.

The most important factor in my life is the people that share it with me. The good days are great, but it’s the arms that support you in the bad ones that you’ll never forget.  If I have someone who loves me in my corner, no matter how beat up, I can keep fighting.

That perseverance is one of my favorite things that my Mother has taught me.  I’ve seen her with her back to the wall, but she always found a way.  The only thing that wasn’t an option was giving up.  People don’t know how to fight someone who doesn’t quit, they give long before you do. 

I learned that from Mom, along with a passion for God, how to cook, and how to eat an elephant. A rim shot plays in your head as you think of the punchline, but it’s true. Any project that is bigger than I am, she taught me how to figure out how to accomplish it. One bite, or step at a time, even if the elephant is lifting a piece of furniture by myself.  

Tenacity, perseverance, and consistency make up my best days, all of which are gifts modeled by my Mom.  We are the benefactors of their everyday, most of which went uncelebrated.  They weren’t filled with thank you’s, even though they should have been.

Today, we can fill their day with love.   Let your Mother, and the world know, that you are here today because of her sacrifices.  Spend a little time showing how thankful you are, for all the days she helped you through. After all, today is Mother’s Day.

Enoch 365 New Year Post

Public Domain Image
Public Domain Image

Genesis 5:23-24
23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him
.

He walked with God through every season of His life, 365 years of them to be exact. We all recognize the number, especially on January first. Today is day one, it’s the beginning of something new.

If you’re walking with God, you’re beginning a new year together. If you’re not, today is a great day for a beginning, or to begin again. Maybe you’re walking, but your struggling in a battle. Look at today as a new phase in that battle, yesterday’s mistakes do not decide today’s response.

Perhaps you’ve got dreams for this year, new projects you want to pursue. We want to see you succeed in each of them, but to do this, start by walking, not running. Pace yourself, don’t burn out in January what you want to complete in December.

Leaps are important, they can be great, but first, take the steps to prepare for those leaps. Before the tight rope walker walked across Niagara Falls, he made sure that the rope was installed properly. He didn’t just check the one side, he inspected the post on the other side as well. Before you leap, check your landing space.

To do this, takes time. You’ve been given a new year, don’t try to finish everything in a month. Set smaller goals that can be completed periodically, but make them part of a bigger vision. Don’t make a resolution, resolve to live differently.

First, spend some time in Prayer, find out what His plans for you this year are. Then, align your goals accordingly. A righteous man’s steps are not only ordered by The Lord, a righteous man steps in pace with The Lord.

Naturally all this year holds won’t be revealed to us, but the direction can be. We can chart our course through prayer and God’s Word. Some things, like a closer relationship with Him, are always on God’s list.

Another on His list is improving the relationships that matter, including family, friends, and those we seek to reach this year. Our commitment to these precious people must be maintained and enhanced over time. We do this, not to benefit ourselves, but to make their lives better.

Much like a plant needs water, light, and attention, relationships, and goals need nurturing in order to grow. That is really what Enoch spent his 365 doing, getting closer to God, and ministering to those around him. I pray at the end of 2015’s 365, you and I will be able to say the same.

Enoch’s 365

Public Domain Image
Public Domain Image

Genesis 5:23-24
23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him
.

He walked with God through every season of His life, 365 years of them to be exact. We all recognize the number, especially on January first. Today is day one, it’s the beginning of something new.

If you’re walking with God, you’re beginning a new year together. If you’re not, today is a great day for a beginning, or to begin again. Maybe you’re walking, but your struggling in a battle. Look at today as a new phase in that battle, yesterday’s mistakes do not decide today’s response.

Perhaps you’ve got dreams for this year, new projects you want to pursue. We want to see you succeed in each of them, but to do this, start by walking, not running. Pace yourself, don’t burn out in January what you want to complete in December.

Leaps are important, they can be great, but first, take the steps to prepare for those leaps. Before the tight rope walker walked across Niagara Falls, he made sure that the rope was installed properly. He didn’t just check the one side, he inspected the post on the other side as well. Before you leap, check your landing space.

To do this, takes time. You’ve been given a new year, don’t try to finish everything in a month. Set smaller goals that can be completed periodically, but make them part of a bigger vision. Don’t make a resolution, resolve to live differently.

First, spend some time in Prayer, find out what His plans for you this year are. Then, align your goals accordingly. A righteous man’s steps are not only ordered by The Lord, a righteous man steps in pace with The Lord.

Naturally all this year holds won’t be revealed to us, but the direction can be. We can chart our course through prayer and God’s Word. Some things, like a closer relationship with Him, are always on God’s list.

Another on His list is improving the relationships that matter, including family, friends, and those we seek to reach this year. Our commitment to these precious people must be maintained and enhanced over time. We do this, not to benefit ourselves, but to make their lives better.

Much like a plant needs water, light, and attention, relationships, and goals need nurturing in order to grow. That is really what Enoch spent his 365 doing, getting closer to God, and ministering to those around him. I pray at the end of 2015’s 365, you and I will be able to say the same.

Anticipation

Wikimedia Commons Image
Wikimedia Commons Image

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

“I wonder what color it will be?” “Did they get the one I circled, with the special features?” Anticipation, it’s happening all across the globe this Christmas. It means to regard as probable, to expect, or predict.

It’s a word that contains so many others, faith, excitement, hope, and waiting. It’s the expectation of what we’ve been waiting for. To a child at Christmas, it might be a bicycle, to Isaiah, it was a baby.

An old man puts down his quill to day dream. He’s just, under God’s anointing, written his seventh chapter. In Isaiah’s mind, he travels to his anticipated day. He imagines meeting Christ and hoping for the real event.

David, and those before, Abraham, Moses, and Jacob longed to see Him. They anticipated, they believed, they expected. “He will be born… He will accomplish… He will fulfill!” They faced trials, battles, and all out war, but the anticipation kept them going.

We get to read about Him, Christ’s birth, His Nativity. What prophets and kings would pay to know, are passages we’ve committed to memory. In the midst of the turmoil of your season, don’t allow it to steal your anticipation. The expectancy of hope that is Christmas is more than wrapped gifts under a tree.

You may ask, what is there to anticipate for us, this side of Bethlehem? We’ve seen the Angels, read about the wise men, and watched the flight to Egypt. What is left to anticipate? The fact that, every morning not just on Christmas morning, it is real again to us. The heartbeat that filled the stable, now beats within a Christian’s heart!

Christ is born, Hallelujah, Christ is born in us! It’s the anticipation that He still is patient, still is forgiving, and still is kind. He cradles us the way Mary cradled Him. We get to expect His mercy, though not take it for granted. Oh better still, we get to expect to see Him!

It may sound old fashioned, and out of date, but it is still true. Many doubted Isaiah’s prophecy, but He was still wrapped in swaddling clothes. They mocked Christ when He said He would give His life and rise again, until He did. As surely as the manger was filled, and the tomb was emptied, The Lord Jesus is coming.

This Christmas Eve, as you anticipate tomorrow’s gifts, and the new year beyond, take some time. Anticipate what it will be like to bow at His feet, not at a manger, but a throne. Whether as a cooing child, or a loving King, all sorrows end at The Master’s feet. An until that day, we can kneel in prayer, anticipating, expecting, and finding Him there.

The Day Before

 

Wikimedia Commons Image
Wikimedia Commons Image

Today is officially the day before Thanksgiving, but don’t wait 24 hours to show someone how important they are to you. There is a person, or persons, in your life that have literally rescued you from countless things. From irrelevance to inconceivable sorrow, you and I are better because of someone else.

Today, in the midst of broken egg shells, peeling potatoes, and unthawing turkeys, take some time. In all this preparation, take five minutes to call up the loved one you’ll see tomorrow, tell them you love them. Yes it may sound sappy, or it may make their day easier.

Everyday someone is hurting, scared, or lonely, but today shouldn’t be like any other time. This day, they need to walk into their tomorrow knowing someone out there cares for them. They need to know their not only loved, but relevant.

Show them that they are more than just their recipe for sweet potato casserole, or the macaroni salad they make. Tell the people that matter in your life the things that matter. The stuff that is important to us isn’t the sage they mix into the dressing, but the wisdom they add to our lives. It’s the day before the big meal, but we should never go 24 hours without saying Thank You.

Thanksgiving In June

“I want a 25 lb turkey, do you have one?”  John McKee almost laughed in the customer’s face.  There were only two things that stopped him.  One, it was against store policy.  The second was for a much more important reason.  It was his Grandmother, Hilda Klein.  You didn’t laugh at Hilda Klein.

Instead he said something almost as dangerous.  “Grandma, you can’t afford a 25 lb turkey!”  She was five foot one, cotton white hair, blue eyes, gray glasses.  Her weight, while unknown, was pronounced.  She was dressed in her best clothing.  To anyone else, she would have failed to intimidate, but this was family.

She raised herself up to her total height, looked him straight in the eye, and quietly said.  “John Francis McKee, do not proceed to tell me what I can or cannot afford.  I will ask you once more, do you have a 25 lb turkey?”  He nodded quickly, and within three minutes time, was carrying it out to her car for her.

“I’ll expect you, your fiance, and your siblings at my house tomorrow at 2:00 in the afternoon.”  This stopped him in his tracks.  “Grandma, tomorrow’s a Tuesday, I can’t get out of work.” 

“Oh yes you can.  I spoke to your supervisor’s manager on the way in.  While he was arguing with me, he received a call from the store’s owner.  Just for his impertinence, you have three days off with pay.  You’ve worked plenty  hard, enjoy it.”

The next day, all 27 members of the Klein family, plus 18 extended members were present.  Grandpa Ezekiel looked as if he was a deer in headlights.  As amazing a woman as she was, he couldn’t believe that she had accomplished it. 

The entire family heard something in the living room.  They went in to see Grandma working the VCR remote like a pro.  You would hardly imagine she was 82.  The television’s sound was elevated louder than normal to get everyone’s attention.  Suddenly, the Macy’s Day parade was on the screen.  What made this so surprising was the calendar.  It read, not incorrectly, June 17. 

Finally, Laura, her oldest could take no more.  “Mom, what’s this all about?”  Grandma smiled.  “This past year was the toughest that our family has ever went through.  From your Michael’s surgery to John’s accident, to your brother Harry’s job, it’s been hard.”

“We needed a little something to pick up everyone’s mood.  Since it was too early for Christmas in July, I went for Thanksgiving In June.”  Sally, your six year old helped me tape it last November.  I wanted to see what I had missed by cooking.  I saved it.”

That was the memory John smiled at as he mailed the package.  It had been twenty five years now, but it had become a family tradition.  At the end of that dinner, Grandma had given the wishbone to his Uncle Harry.

She had said.  “We don’t believe in lucky charms in this family.  God has, is, and always will take care of us.  So take this, not as a good luck charm, it never did the bird any good.  Take it as a reminder that no matter how bad it is, we have hope.  We have food on our table, family beside us, and a future in front of us. Hope in God, and work happy.  Use it as a plow not a wishbone.  It’s the same shape.”

Uncle Harry did just that.  When his son Wendell was struggling in school, he carved a wishbone out of a tree, and painted it white.  That afternoon he gave it to him.  It was passed along in the family from one member to the other over the years.

John received it last August when he had his heart attack.  Now, it was going to his sister Sally.  She and her husband had just adopted a child in need of a good home.  He figured they could use the encouragement.

Grandma, who lived on a fixed income, couldn’t afford that extra Thanksgiving meal.  John found out later that she had been saving for a new living room set.  While she was far from even enough money for a love seat, they all sat down to a house filled with love.

Whether it was June or November, she knew it was always time for Thanksgiving.  Time, not for the meal she used to illustrate it, but time to be thankful.  Grandma taught them not to focus on the setbacks, but The God that set them up.  Her last two sentences on the subject that afternoon were his favorite, “Obstacles don’t stop you, outlooks do.  Hearts filled with Thanksgiving produce eyes full of possibilities!”