Friday, November 28, 2014

going forward....through Thanksgiving

So here it is, the evening of "Black Friday".  And what I am feeling right now is an odd mixture of tired, glad that the holiday is over, with a bit of thankfulness thrown in.  This was a very different and extremely tough holiday for our family.  It was not one of those unexpected "waves" that I've been talking about.  No, it was an EXPECTED hard event that could not be avoided or just forgotten.  As a family, we did what we have been doing..... we put one foot in front of the other and walked through Thanksgiving.  As difficult as it was for me, I really can't imagine what Susie and Doug were experiencing.  For the last few years, Gwen and Tim and the kids have been staying overnight at our house a couple of nights.   Gwen and Tim have run a 5K race early on Thanksgiving morning a couple of years now, so it has worked out that we can watch the kids while they run the race.  Gwen and I have been "Black Friday" shopping together for at least 13 years (we aren't sure exactly when my mom stopped visiting us at Thanksgiving, which is when Gwen started shopping with me).  For Gwen's family this yearly shopping trip is an important money saving event.  The purchases always include birthday gifts for each of the kids for the next year, as well as a supply of "random birthday gifts" for all of those invitations that arrive home from school for friend's birthdays.  There really are many great money saving deals on this day.  So we proceeded with our "normal" plans.  The kids really look forward to having a "sleepover" at Grandma Lyn and Grandpa's house.  And I admit it is a very special time for me also.  In spite of the bitter cold (like single digits!) Gwen and Tim ran the 5K.  And the kids and I stayed in the nice warm house and did this....
Really, is there anything better than Play Do Therapy?  We had a great time.  I even let the kids mix the colors!  Who cares when you have 8 cans of stuff that only cost $2.00?  (Thanks 5 Below).  When Gwen and Tim got home from the race, the planning began for our big shopping trip.
Don't you just love that Anna was giving her mommy and daddy some help reading the ads?  Gwen is calling out the items to put on the list, and Tim is dutifully typing them into the computer.  Yes, we are VERY organized.  We take this shopping event seriously.  I know that there is a LOT of controversy about shopping on Thanksgiving, but for Gwen and I, it is really a Godsend.  It is so much easier to leave the house at 3:30 in the afternoon, hit 5 or 6 stores and be home by 9:30pm.  That way we can easily get up at 5:30am to begin "Black Friday" shopping at the remaining 3 or 4 stores.  Let me tell you that going out at 11:30pm when the stores opened at Midnight was HARD!  And even worse was getting up at 3:30am or 4:00am  when the stores were opening in the middle of the night.  The current set up is just so much better.  Thankfully, Gwen and I made good choices on the order of the stores and we were able to purchase almost all of the items on her list.  We made the choice to stand in a line (outside, in the cold and it was snowing!) at Toys R Us for about an hour before they opened.  But this strategy allowed us to be in the first group of shoppers in the door.  We got EVERYTHING on Gwen's long list, and were checked out and in the car heading to our next stop in 15 minutes.  Yes... 15 minutes!  For the most part, people were friendly, helpful and kind. This morning, at our first stop we actually stayed in the car until the doors were open.  And we STILL got everything on our lists.  The only negative to this stop was the lack of a shopping cart!  It is really amazing how much stuff you can carry if you have to!   We were home by 9:30 this morning with our shopping complete.

To complete our "normal" Thanksgiving, we all went to Doug and Susie's house for our turkey dinner.  Usually Doug and Susie do the bulk of the cooking with Doug smoking the turkey.  This year, Doug still wanted to make the turkey (inside) but we brought the rest of the meal.  I am sure this was still quite difficult for Doug and Susie, but as I said, we are all moving forward.  It was good to sit around their table and share this wonderful meal.  I think we all needed this time together.  It was important to all of us to pray together our family mealtime grace....

"Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed, Amen"

If there was ever a time that we all needed Jesus to be there with us, it was today as we were so missing precious Lucas.  We also needed to express - out loud - that we have been given so many gifts that are a blessing to us.  Usually we talk about all that we are thankful for during this meal.  But this year it was enough that we were sitting together, in a warm house, eating good food.  I know that Jesus was sitting with us at that table.  I could feel His presence so clearly.  After we finished eating, we all went back to the family room to let our food settle a bit before desert.  Anna had been fussy all day and had not slept well at all.  Gwen discovered the reason.....her first tooth had popped through! Susie picked up Anna and to distract her, gave her a set of keys that were on the table.  Anna just relaxed in Susie's arms and laid back to look up at Doug, who was sitting next to Susie.  Within a few moments, Anna was peacefully sleeping.  Anna rarely will sleep in someone's arms.  She just doesn't do this.  I was sitting next to Susie on the couch and realized that I was holding my breath.  Only Jesus could have arranged this sequence of events.  I can't imagine who difficult this was for Susie and Doug.  But Anna is their niece, and they love her dearly. And in that moment, I felt the peace of the presence of Jesus again so clearly.  This time was a gift.  And we were so blessed.

Jesus, thank you for your presence with us that is so healing.  Thank you for helping us walk on through difficult times. Thank you for guidance and direction in all things, even shopping.  Holy Spirit, help us all to welcome Jesus into every part of our daily life.  Thank you for pouring out your blessings on us.  Please continue to comfort Susie and Doug, and help us all to know your presence
with us. Thank you for your great love.  Amen

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