After a brief moment of disbelief, I slid slowly down the wall and sobbed silently. It was a short phone call; there was little hope.
My Aunt and Uncle, more like grandparents to us, were a source of joy and stability in my brother’s and my sometimes chaotic world. We are grateful for our memories of summers spent swaying on the porch swing, fishing in their well-stocked pond, and picking fresh vegetables from a home-grown garden for the delicious meal we anticipated with watering mouths and growling bellies. We were most grateful for being part of the whole process from dirt to the dinner table.
When I had my own family, the tradition continued, but we transitioned to Thanksgiving visits. Their home always emitted a fragrance of togetherness my brother and I craved, and now my girls would experience its love and laughter.
Life was not perfect or easy for them, but they discovered the secret of making seeming orphans feel at home- they beautifully cultivated heaping helpings of charity and gratitude.
My Aunt and Uncle unearthed these tender treasures from time spent with One who welcomes all orphans to His table.
Wherever Jesus went, His charity caused aching and anxious hearts to burst with gratitude…
A wedding feast
A tax collector’s table
A woman’s well
A blind man’s street corner
A dead brother’s graveside
Jesus’ ability to turn attitude to gratitude was the stuff of miracles. He bolstered belief and gratefulness, gutting envy- not just for the moment, the month or the interim, but forever.
Only a Savior can do this: open our eyes to the joy in loving those around us through our gifts and calling- the bounty of dirt and dinner tables, lap snuggles with an uncle who never forgot how to laugh, sage words shared on back porch swings and stories meant to spark something inside us, not just entertain.
My Aunt and Uncle’s charity was mostly caught, not taught in well-rehearsed speeches or elegantly written rules, yet it cultivated a gratefulness in my family’s lives embedded within the memories shared around tables and on porch swings.
Her death was sudden and swift. I was humbled to be asked to speak at my Aunt’s funeral and receive her Bible as a keepsake. Thumbing through its well-turned pages, searching for soul signs, the moment felt sacred. I landed on one of the few underlined verses, which immediately felt divine in direction.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Jas.1:17
This verse marked their lives and postured their hands. They kept them open, so the good gifts given them easily slipped through their fingers onto those around them. It was in the giving they received, and in their gratitude they found the joy in which they lived, having walked with Jesus right into their Heavenly home.
Friend, is joy elusive and aloof this year? Do you feel defeated, disappointed, despairing of hope?
This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to grab a pen and paper and write down 3 specific things for which you are grateful. Practice this persistently and you will begin to see life outside of your circumstances.
It’s not easy, but the power of charity and gratefulness is far-reaching– into our pits, problems and perplexing circumstances.
Keep coming back to Him who turned water to wine, dark eyes to the sun, tombs to triumph, and well-chasing women into worshippers.”
HAPPY THANKSGIVING FRIENDS!
“It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich!” Dietrich Bonhoeffer