“The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.”- H.U. Westermayer
1) An expression of gratitude. Especially to God.
2) In North America an annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal including turkey. The holiday commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621.
My earliest memories of Thanksgiving are all surrounded by family. Big meals. Lots of laughter. Lots of dishes to wash. As a child my younger cousins and I had to do the dishes. I hated it then, but would love to be back and spend a moment with all of them now.
My first Thanksgiving away from home was when I went to college. My freshman year was extremely difficult for me anyway, and being away from my family just made me more lonely. Remember, times were different then. We had to wait in line to be able to use the phone and I had to save my quarters to be able to call home. Even five minutes on the phone was priceless.
I’ll never forget that weekend. At the college I went to-Thanksgiving was more about the prospective students that visited on that weekend. We still had classes on Fridays so that the guests could get a true picture of what the school was about. Thanksgiving was a pretty big deal. We had a big meal that was so good in later years my parents would come down to visit just to eat there. There was always a big soccer game between rival societies. It was called The Turkey Bowl. The stands would be packed and many alumni would come from all around to watch this game. In fact, for many years after we graduated it became a tradition for us to spend Thanksgiving at that school. Wonderful traditions and memories that I am able to treasure. Unfortunately, this year just isn’t going to look like either of those scenarios.
I, you, still have so much to be thankful for. It’s been a rough year. Yes. But our freedoms and joys are still too numerous to count. Let’s start at the first Thanksgiving.
Do you remember your history lessons?
In September of 1620, about 100 people left England on the Mayflower, most of them in search of religious freedom in the New World. After two months the ship landed in what is currently called Massachusetts. In December, a scouting party landed at Plymouth. We now call these people, Pilgrims.
The journey was not smooth sailing and they were plagued with storms. The trouble wasn’t only on the water, but also on board as quarrels and disagreements began before the passengers disembarked. The Pilgrims knew that they needed to do something before each person would be on their own so they wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact.
During the first winter the new colonists would live on the Mayflower as they built their new homes on shore.
MORE THAN HALF THE SETTLERS DIED DURING THAT WINTER.
Life in this new world was difficult. The winter was harsh and they didn’t have the means to eat properly.
Thankfully, Squanto, a Native American, befriended the settlers. He and his Pawtuxet tribe taught them how to plant corn and fish and hunt.
In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims shared a harvest meal with this tribe. We consider this the First Thanksgiving.
I would love to think of that celebration innocently, but I’m sure it wasn’t the picturesque painting that we see. Perhaps we can learn from the past and apply the lessons to our present and future.
1) Thanksgiving. A time of hope. The Pilgrims left England in search of a new beginning. They experienced sickness, starvation and death, but by listening to the Native Americans they were taught how to survive. God sent help.
There is a letter written by Edward Winslow that says, “God be Praised.”
2) Praise God. We should be practicing this habit daily, but especially at Thanksgiving we should stop and give praise to our Almighty Father. Yes, life isn’t always pleasant. We don’t always receive what we want. There may be times of “starvation.” Our faith should rest in the fact that our God is still on the throne. None of this is a surprise to Him. And He loves you and cares for you more than you can ever know. I keep repeating this, but if the hairs on your head are numbered how can he not be caring for you? I mean, that fact alone means He is taking care of me constantly!
3) Stop making enemies out of people who are different than you. Just like the settlers and the Pawtuxet tribe, don’t be afraid of them. Instead, embrace them and learn what we can from each other. The same holds true for believers. I find that we fight against each other more than learn from each other. In fact, the devil doesn’t have to work very hard to destroy us…we do that quite well on our own.
4) Tomorrow is a new day. There is an old song, “I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand.” God promises, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” God gave the people in the wilderness the manna they needed for that day. Cling to those promises today and know that tomorrow is coming.
I don’t know how you celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday. Chances are many of you altered your plans or maybe canceled them all together. You might feel bitterness or depression or emotions we aren’t used to feeling on a day set apart to give thanks. As we look back at our year there has been death, poverty, disagreements, loss, grief. At first thought you might think…what is there to be thankful for?
My friend, so much.
Can you add to my list?
3. A God who loves and provides a way of salvation
4. Friends and family
6. Books and history
7. and so much more.
What are the things you are thankful for?I can’t wait to hear about your Thanksgiving! Until next time! This is just me–talking to you–from the wings.
The past few months we have learned a lot about ourselves.
Some of us have learned that some time alone is not necessarily a bad thing while others have learned that they never really appreciated the humans in their lives.
We have learned that differences can divide us. In fact, differences can cause hate and fear and bad behavior. In some cases, though differences can bring a needed change.
We have become reacquainted with family time.
We have learned what is important and what things we can do without.
Over the past two weeks Overshadowed held a theater camp. It was a smaller camp than we usually have. We didn’t have as many costumes or as many set pieces or props. We started the first day having to recognize each other just by our eyes and realized very quickly that it is indeed possible. We social distanced. The students were very quiet and almost lack luster. The teachers were concerned that camp wouldn’t be the same experience due to the restrictions we had due to COVID.
On Saturday, we finished with a performance of Music Man, Jr to an audience of 50. They loved it.
More importantly, the students loved it.
Here are some of the things they learned:
It doesn’t matter that the audience was small. They performed because they enjoyed performing and loved the experience even more.
It didn’t matter that the audience was small. The 50 people were there and out of the house and so our cast was going to give the audience the best experience they could.
It didn’t matter about the masks or social distancing. Our campers learned. They made new friends (close friends.) They created memories.
Some said it was their best theater experience ever.
I think I feel that way. It was incredibly special to walk out on that stage and look at the faces of an audience that was thrilled to sit in a seat with anticipation of being whisked away to River City.
I might have cried a little.
In our Bible study this week these verses stood out to me.
James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” You have no idea how I went back and forth about having camp. God gave the direction. Sometimes I don’t ask soon enough. I argue and try to figure it out…It’s not that I don’t want to bother God….but I act like that is my reasoning.
“In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6. Every situation. With Thanksgiving. Ok. God….I know I haven’t been all that thankful during this COVID mess. It is a lesson I should have learned a long time ago. Thank you, God, for blessing even when I don’t trust.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” I Chronicles 16:11. God cares about you. He cares about your hobbies and your loves and your fears. For me and the audience and the families of those students, these past weeks were a gift. I will receive it humbly and thankfully.
God has been so generous to me these past weeks. I am so thankful.
Is theater a gift for you? What have you learned these past months? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment and share this blog if you think others would like it as well!
Until next time,
Overshadowed by His Love!
It has been a rough year.
My heart and brain need to remember the times of thankfulness and all that I have been thankful for past and present. Honestly, that is the biggest reason to write and journal! Join me this week as I rejoice and remember!
“Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”
– Psalm 95:2
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
– 1 Chronicles 16:34
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”
– Psalm 28:7
“Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. “
– Psalm 106:1
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.”
– Psalm 100:4
“Let our hearts overflow with thankfulness…”
– Colossians 2:7
“To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us — and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”
– Thomas Merton (Thoughts on Solitude)
“Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude.” – E.P. Powell
“That I may make the voice of thanksgiving heard and may tell of all Your wondrous works.” – Psalm 26:7
The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart.He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” – Psalm 28:2
“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” – Psalm 69:30
“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”
For days leading up to Thanksgiving I see many of my friends posting things that they are grateful for. I enjoy reading the posts and seeing the photos they share. It is a great reminder that we have so much for which to be thankful.
God’s word is filled with constant reminders to be thankful–yet I see nothing that states this thankful spirit comes during the month of November. Instead, it seems that thankfulness should be a constant state of being. “In everything give thanks.”
The snow? The loss of power? Sickness? How expensive things are? Getting passed over for that promotion? The political state of our country?
Here’s my top 5 for today.
- Thank you, God, for Medinah Baptist Church, (Jubilee Bible) who has provided such a wonderful space for Overshadowed and who has taught me much about God’s love in action.
- Thank you, God, for my family. (Both immediate and distant)
- Thank you, God, for Your artistry in creation. The snow layered on the trees is breathtakingly beautiful.
- Thank you, God, for weather, from rain to snow, from cold to heat. (I must admit, to be thankful for cold will be a struggle, but I’m going to try.)
- Thank you, God, for friends.
It is truly a wonderful life, isn’t it?
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