Writing about Thanksgiving and Food

Photo/Jordan

If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes … (Matthew 6:25 MSG).

Food, food, food! Why does everyone make such a big fuss about food during the holidays? I’m always focused on food! Either I’m overeating, dieting, or trying to feed someone else. I can’t remember one day of my life that I didn’t focus on food at some point.

So, how can my worries about food help my spiritual focus? Over the years, I’ve discovered that my hyperfocus on food is often a warning sign for a much deeper problem than just trying to meet my physical needs.

Needs. While we were seminary students, I first learned how my own worry about food could actually motivate me to seek deeper spiritual insights.

At seminary, we lived on a much lower income than most of our family and friends. Often we didn’t have enough money for the food we needed for our family.

Miracles. God used that problem to capture my attention, and I saw Him provide in miraculous ways for some of my friends. Groceries would be left on their doorsteps. Money for food would arrive in the mail. Or they would discover some random source of free food, like day-old bread or vegetables discarded from the grocery’s produce department.

Tips. Intrigued by my friends’ stories, I began to ask to God to help me find ways to deal with our food needs. And I discovered many tips for stretching my food budget with recipe ideas and coupons. My friends and I found that we could all stretch our food budgets by sharing our resources. When we gathered together for a meal, each family would bring their menu contributions.

Manna and quail. In Exodus 16:4, “God said to Moses, ‘I’m going to rain bread down from the skies for you. The people will go out and gather each day’s ration. I’m going to test them to see if they’ll live according to my Teaching or not’” (MSG).

I joked about identifying with the Israelites in the wilderness as God provided manna and quail for them to eat. But as I experienced God providing for my own family, like He did for His children in the Old Testament, I searched for more answers to my everyday problems in the Bible.

Traditions. Before my seminary days, I never thought about asking God to provide for my family’s needs, especially our food. Yes, we taught our children to express their thanks before our meals. But my prayer of thanks usually came after I had purchased groceries and prepared our meals.

So, I examined our mealtime prayers and Thanksgiving blessings. Could they simply be a family or religious tradition? Had I ever offered my mealtime prayers with a heartfelt gratitude for God’s blessings?

Diets. I still struggle with worry and my spiritual focus on food from time to time. Even now, as I try to eat a healthier diet, I realize that I must stop and ask God for direction every day–sometimes moment-by-moment–as I seek answers to my problems and needs.

As I prepare to enter into this season of Thanksgiving once again, I pray that I will remember this promise from God’s Word.

… The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:5-7 NIV)

What stories about food come to mind as you prepare for this Thanksgiving season? Have you recorded them?

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An Attitude of Thanksgiving

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1 Thessalonians 15: 16 – 18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

We’ve all had those days, weeks, months where we are tempted to challenge the words of this verse. How can we give thanks when the washer breaks down and we’re surrounded by piles of dirty clothes? How can we give thanks when the paycheck wasn’t quite what we thought it would be, or our spouse is being unreasonable?

We can. And we should, as stated in the verse above. Did you know the term “give thanks” appears in the Bible over thirty times? That’s one verse for every day of the month with a few to spare. Apparently God had a reason for reminding us to be thankful. But why?

To focus on what we DO have.

Rather than worrying about the things we lack, we should thank God for what we do have—a roof over our head, our health, family and friends, a car to get to the job He provided for us, and food on the table. When we count our blessings, the list is endless in comparison to what we lack.

To keep bitterness at bay.

Did you know it’s impossible to be thankful and bitter at the same time? Although it’s challenging at times, any darkness we feel can be driven away with one small act. By thanking God for His love, grace, and provision, our foul attitude is soon replaced with His eternal joy.

To produce Godly character.

The key to remember here is that we know the end of the story. We are being groomed for an eternal life with Jesus Christ. Yes, it’s hard to stay positive when life assaults us from every direction, and He knows that. God understands our humanness. He created us and provided grace and mercy to cover our imperfections, but He also gives us clear direction in His word on how to stay positive and focused on Him.

Instead of celebrating Thanksgiving annually, let’s start a daily tradition. Let the thanksgiving spirit we share as part of our annual holiday become part of your everyday life. Then sit back and see what God can do in you.

Choosing Thanksgiving

Photo/KarenJordanAs the autumn leaves began to fall this year, I had to admit to myself that I didn’t feel very thankful. So, I asked God to change my viewpoint as I focused on this Thanksgiving season.

In the past, I struggled with similar emotions, like love, forgiveness, and hope.

Love. After 40-plus years of marriage, I know that love must be a choice in every relationship. Our emotions and feelings ebb and flow with time. But as we invite God to intervene, He helps us navigate through the seasons of life.

Forgiveness. How can we release our anger and bitterness when we can’t forget the offenses? Impossible! That kind of forgiveness requires a divine source. But the Bible encourages us to offer ourselves and others the same forgiveness that Christ provides for us. And as we choose to remember what He’s done for us, He enables us to forgive ourselves and others.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13 NIV).

Hope. In the past, I’ve been guilt-ridden when shame covered me like a dark, heavy cloak. I lost hope and succumbed to despair and depression. But when I choose to seek God and embrace His Truth, I experience His hope and peace. Hebrews 10:23 says to embrace hope, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Thanksgiving. Today, I choose to give thanks. Often holiday seasons bring painful memories and cloud my vision of God’s blessings. But as I confess my ingratitude and ask God to change my focus, He always offers His promises.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, notice four powerful strategies that can help us when our circumstances and emotions distract our focus on God’s blessings: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

  1. “Rejoice always …” (16). First, this passage reminds us to rejoice, even if that choice seems impossible. In Mark 10:27, we observe the disciples struggling with a seemingly impossible teaching. But “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God’” (NIV).This message is repeated in Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
  2. “… pray continually …” (17). The Bible also teaches us to pray all the time, in every situation. Philippians 4:5-6 reminds us, “The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
  3. “ … give thanks in all circumstances …” (18). Notice my emphasis of the words “with thanksgiving” in the previous passage. Again, the scripture tells us to give thanks in every situation.
  4. “ … for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (18). Why rejoice? Why pray? Why give thanks? This verse answers these questions for me. Philippians 4: 7 offers this promise, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Today, I choose to give thanks, even if my circumstances never change. And I plan to begin by focusing on my blessings.

YouTube/LoveOneAnother2011 (Laura Story “Blessings”)
Photo/KarenJordan

What strategies help you as you enter into this season of thanksgiving and celebration of God’s blessings?

Thankfulness

Have you all recovered from eating too much turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pie? Or are you still stuffing your face with the leftovers? I am going to go with the latter and use the excuse that I am eating for two. 🙂

This year I have a lot to be thankful for. I know Thanksgiving Day is over, and you have probably offered up your thankfulness list as a part of your Facebook posts these past few weeks, but I wanted to share with you a few things that I am thankful for because it is important to continue to reflect on all of the good that God has given us (and even some of the not so good).

1. Our WordServe Authors Seriously, you all make my job wonderful. I love hearing from you, seeing what God is doing in your lives, celebrating your successes, and mourning with you in your losses. God is so good to bring us all together for this season in our lives, and I love being able to share and grow with you. Thank you for all that you do and all that you are!

2. My Amazing Family Right now, I have a wonderful husband, and soon, I will have a beautiful baby boy to hold in my arms and love on and teach. I am excited to read to him, and as he gets older, I hope that he falls in love with words just as much as I have.

3. The Weather in Colorado Normally, I struggle a bit in the winter because it is dark so much of the time (usually when I get up and definitely well before I start making dinner). The weather here has been quite lovely recently, and even though I thoroughly enjoy snow, I am thankful that I have been able to take a lot of walks outside these past few days. God is good!

Side note: When it does snow, this is what I plan on doing with my husband (can anyone name this movie?) “First we’ll make snow angels for two hours, then we’ll go ice skating, then we’ll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse cookie dough as fast as we can, and then, to finish, we’ll snuggle.”

4. The WordServe Team Greg, Alice, Jason, Ingrid–you all are wonderful, and I am so thankful that God has brought you into my life. 🙂

5. My Fantastic Church I love being able to hear truth preached and feel loved on every Sunday, and I really appreciate being able to give back to everyone in our church. I feel so close with all of you, and I am grateful that God has given us the ability to get to know each other and grow with each other through the hard stuff as well as through the fun times. You all make me a better person and make me want to keep on learning about my identity in Christ. Thank you!

I Thessalonians 5:18 “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (NASB)

As we move forward into what can be a stressful holiday season, keep a list in your mind of things that you can thank Jesus for. Even if you don’t want to, have at least three things (or more!) in your life that you can focus on that are good gifts from God. Think about those things when you are doing your last minute shopping, or cleaning up your house for out-of-town guests, or sewing a dress for your daughter’s wedding while having pink eye (love you, Mom!)

So, what are you thankful for?