Thanksgiving 101 to Prevent a Thanksgiving 911

It’s Monday before Thanksgiving. Some of us are wrapping up work, preparing to travel to our loved/loathed ones (Circle correct word).

Some of have already made it to their family and friends. Some are scurrying around getting ready to host a crew. (Lord help you!) Others are already camped out for Black Friday (and that is a whole other blog.)

I’m not judging. Believe me. I’ve been the cause of some family fiascos over my young life (emphasis on young). I’m sure the day is coming when the nieces and nephews will ban all recording devices (to reduce the risk of public embarrassment) and bolt down the furniture (hence the banning of recording devices) before Crazy Aunt Laurie, I mean Uncle Mark, comes to town.

The “to do” lists are long and tension builds as Thanksgiving gets closer. So I thought I’d share a little more Thanksgiving 101 in order to prevent a Thanksgiving 911.

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Thanksgiving is a day we all come together but if we’re not careful, it’s a day that can divide us into teams…

Pumpkin pie vs. pecan pie.

Deep-fried turkey vs. roasted turkey (or even ham!)

Dressed to impress vs. game-day garb.

Here’s a biggie…

Busy-bees (not to be confused with busy-bodies) vs. slackers (not to be confused with couch-potatoes in front of football).

Here’s the thing – there is no right or wrong way to do Thanksgiving. To some it’s about the food. To others it’s about the game. To some it’s about being together. To others it’s about having some time off.

But…there is a principle that I believe that can bring the two teams together.

Remember that it’s ThanksGIVING – not ThanksRECEIVING.

When we focus on giving thanks instead of receiving thanks it helps us take our eyes off of ourselves. Life is too short to let a personal preference to kill a relationship.

Make both pies.

Try a new meat.

If you’re a football widow – take you’re hubby a drink as he watches the game. If you’re hoarding the TV, take various breaks to join the Marthas in the kitchen.

Don’t forget to praise the cooks for the food.

Don’t bring your gadgets to the table. Live fully in the moment. You never know when it will be your last together.

Most important – be thankful and give thanks freely.

I Thessalonians 5:18 says it best.

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

Okay my friends – I’m officially going on Thanksgiving break and will check back in next week. I pray your week is filled with joy, love and a grateful heart.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and don’t forget to thank God for His generous blessings!

What helps you have a thankful heart?

Do you have any Thanksgiving 101 tips to share with us?






Seven Tips to Surviving the Holidays With Your Family

The holiday season is upon us. I love this time of year but with it comes the possibility of two very opposite outcomes. It can be a time of good food, family and fun or it can be a time of food poisoning, family feuds and fiascos.

It’s the Friday before Thanksgiving (I’m sure retail marketers have a name for it to lure us into the mall). Many will hit the road or air this weekend to begin their journey to visit their loved ones (or loathed ones).

So I figured I’d share some tips with you that I’ve learned from experience, ahem, I mean that I heard others share about (I’m safe saying this since my family doesn’t ever read my blog. This is actually a test to see if I can get any of them to share a comment.)

blog photo - surviving the holidays

  1.  Be Unsocial on Social Media – I know it’s tempting to send your bestie a pic of Aunt Bertha’s “outfit”. However, looking into your phone instead of the eyes of the person next to you on the couch puts insecurity into those around you. Focus on them, not your gadgets.
  2. Limit the Wine – I enjoy a glass of wine as much as the next. Even though it’s tempting to go for another (and another) to help make Crazy Uncle Bubba’s “stories” funny, it also can lower your filter and we all know what happens.
  3. Limit the Whine – We’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t whine but shine.” It can be annoying to hear this in stressful situations but it does make a stressful situation, uh, less stressful.
  4. Get Sleep – I’m not saying sleep-in while Big Mama cooks breakfast for you. Make an effort to get to bed at a decent time instead of watching YouTube videos (Hello – reread #1).
  5. Get Off Your Butt – As tensions get tense (How’s that for wordsmithing?) a 30-minute walk can do wonders.
  6. Retreat – Extroverts may flourish in crowds but many of us are introverts. Be aware if you need to go MIA for a few. You may miss out on a few of Crazy Uncle Bubba’s stories but your sanity is worth it.
  7. Work for Peace – Peace is not something that happens passively – we must work for it. Matthew 5:9 tells us, “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.”

Okay my friends – the holidays can bring about a flood of emotions – both good and bad. Keep in mind some of those around us may be spending it alone or without a loved one for the first time. The fact that you are with others is a huge blessing for which we are to be grateful.

May your holidays be great and filled with joy. Love those around you and reach out to those who need to be loved.

Do you have other tips to help us make the holidays filled with love?


Is There a Secret to Create Like a Genius?

This is a great story…Jacob Barnett was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of two. His parents were told that he’d never talk or tie his shoe. He’s now 14 years old, working on his Master’s degree, and preparing to start a PhD program. It’s even believed that his IQ is higher than Einstein’s.

In a TEDxTeen speech, Jacob shared some incredible insight into some of the greatest minds of our time.  Something we can all apply to our lives, no matter what our IQ is or where our interest lie.


In 1665 the University of Cambridge was closed for a couple years due to the plague. Because of this Newton was forced, as Barnett put it, to “stop learning”.

But Newton didn’t use this period to catch up on the campus gossip. Instead he used it to think and then create. It was in that time off school he developed calculus, his Three Laws of Motion, and other things that my mind will never understand.

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Einstein was rejected from working in a local university during pre-Nazi Germany because he was Jewish and forced to work in a patent office doing mindless work.

During those long, boring hours at the patent office, his mind was free to “think” and before long he discovered the fallacy Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion.


Diagnosed with mild to severe autism, he would often stare into space. His teachers put him into special ed classes but he couldn’t learn in this environment. Instead he used this time to teach himself all of high school math at the age of 10. He was able to develop a system using shapes and shadows that would enable him to learn math.

Did I mention that his parents were told he’d never be able to do basic functions. (I’m not even sure I remember high school math!)


We are continually receiving information whether it is in school, the Internet, a church, books, the television, etc.

We take in content but often neglect the time needed to process the information and allow our minds to think, digest this information.

It’s much like an athlete who studies their sport but neglects actually training their body to perform the sport.

I often do the same with God. I take in information about God and the Bible but neglect the time needed to think, process and allow God to create through me. Through us.

One insight Barnett shared is each of these people took existing information and applied their unique perspective to it, taking it to the next level, allowing them to give something to the world.

We were made in the image of the Creator of the universe, meaning we all have the ability to create and be extremely creative people. Now you’ll never see me create anything in the realm of quantum physics (I’m not sure I could even define it.) But we all have an area in which can create and give the world.

Perhaps all we need is to take the time to sit, be still and allow our minds and hearts to connect with God’s Spirit. Allow Him to show us the need that we can fill and create through us.

Great things are not limited to only the geniuses of the world. They are open to those who take the time and make the effort to fulfill their purpose.

Is there a need or issue that you have been searching for answer to? Could you possibly be the person that God created to fix it?

What fuels you? What are you eager to do every day?



We All Need A Hand

An older friend once told me: “If you want to lead a life of adventure, then follow God.  He’ll lead on some crazy adventures.”

I have to agree. So many great stories come while doing ministry overseas.

One time, while living in Russia, one of my teammates, Roger, and I did a weekly presentation in a sanitarium. The guests traveled from all over the region to rest, recuperate and drink the local spring water, believed to have healing powers.

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They stayed at the sanitarium for 2 to 4 weeks…so basically, most were bored. You can only drink and bathe in water that smelled like rotten eggs for so long.

The director asked us if we’d show the Jesus Film. This was in 1994, not long after the fall of communism in the country and many were curious to learn more about God and the Bible.

The guests could only sit for an hour at a time. (I’m guessing it had to do with drinking so much rotten-egg-smelling water. It has a way of keeping you  moving.) Therefore we broke the viewing of the film into two visits.

This particular night, we were showing the first half of the film. We had accidentally left the cord to our projector in the car. My teammate was the techy one so I volunteered to go retrieve the cord while he continued setting up.

I hurried down the three flights of marble stairs. On my way down I passed two younger guests who obviously had gotten bored with the rotten-egg water and had moved on to vodka…lots of it.

They tried to stop me as I passed by but l kept going, not thinking much about it. Sadly, it was common at that time to see many vodka-induced men stumbling around. I figured they’d be long gone by the time I returned with the cord.

I was wrong.

They were having a hard time mastering the stairs. However, when they saw me return they quickened their step and blocked the staircase.

I tried to pass but one of them grabbed my cord and my hand. I couldn’t get away. It was unnerving.

Their words were unintelligible but their eyes told me what they were thinking. I didn’t know what to do.

Not sure why these words came out of my mouth but I told them, “Come!”

They smiled and began to follow me. But I was late and they were slow so I yelled, in one of my few Russian words, “Bystro! Fast!”

They popped to attention and began to run with me up the stairs.

We walked into the auditorium filled with World War II veterans. They looked thrown off. Roger looked shell-shocked as I walk in with two drunk men, “helping” me hold the cord. But I didn’t have time to explain.

He took the cord and my drunk friends took the front row. Oh boy!

Roger and I stood up front to introduce the film. As I spoke I heard weird kissing sounds coming from the right. I look to see one of my drunk friends puckering his lips and patting the seat next to him.

Roger looked at me as the translator spoke. What the heck?

I shrugged.

The film began and Roger took the seat next to my friend. I half expected them to leave. They stayed but left quickly afterwards.

Phew! Thank God that is over.

The next week we arrived to show the second half of the film. As we stood to introduce the film, there in the audience was my drunk friend, except this time he was sober and cleaned up!blog photo - hand reaching out

Afterwards he went straight to Roger. He bombarded him with questions about the Bible and Jesus. He was returning home so Roger gave him one of the Bibles we had with us. He was thrilled and grateful.

I was amazed at the transformation.

I made a judgment that day. I saw a drunk who was wasting away his life.

God saw a child ready to hear the truth of His love but who was masking the void in his heart with substances.

I would have passed them by; God reached out.

God knows the hearts of men; we only see the masks they wear.

Perhaps that is why Jesus would often retreat to pray. Was He asking His Father to reveal to Him who to reach out to and help?

My initial reaction that night was to scream and cry out for help. But God knew it was my friend in the stairwell who needed help so He gave me the voice to say, “Come. Quickly.”













Will You Jump Or Will You Fall?

There other night at dinner we were talking with our kids about the importance of positive thinking when our son, Noah, put it in his own words. I thought it was too good not to share.

Noah is a rock climber and he told us that focusing on the positive is a lot like doing a “dyno”.

“Uh…buddy, what’s a dyno?”


Noah explained that many times while bouldering, a climber is unable to reach his or her next hold because it is out of reach – their arms and legs are just not long enough. In order to grasp it they must jump to it, much like a frog or gecko. However, the natural response for us humans is to first look down.

“When you look down, you are more likely to fail and miss it. You have to look up and focus on where you want to go.”

What a great principle!

It reminded me of a great quote I saw the other day.

“Half the failures in life arise from pulling in the horse as he is leaping.” –   Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare

God created us with an innate desire to dream and then make those dreams come alive. But when we second-guess ourselves and pull on the reigns prematurely, we often fail or find ourselves stuck, clinging to the same rock with the same view as our body cramps up.

Jesus said He came that we may have an abundant life (John 10:10). We have to trust that He meant for us to live and to live it fully. It’s when we look up, let go and jump that we see the abundant life that He’s given us and experience the exhilaration of fully living.

It’s freeing and it’s how God meant for us to live.

Are there dreams that you are looking down on instead of living out?

What helps you to focus on the positive thinking?