Breaking the Turkey Day rut!

Thanksgiving is upon us. Officially.

So rushed and pushed we are, scrambling to fit everyone, everything in. Family, friends… spouses, in-laws and outlaws. Life is crammed to the brim, a day of celebration and gratitude can quickly shrink into a drag.

Dreading the stressful stretch of uncomfortable almost-family moments, some of us are simply yawning our way through, hopeful it will all end in time to get back to what we ‘really’ want to do. For many, this Holiday forces unwarranted obligations to do and be something other than who we really are. Cure girl at the dinner table during Thanksgiving day.

This year let’s be straight up. You/We can’t do everything… be everywhere and appreciate everyone in 2 days. But we can decide who we should be with, where we should spend our Holiday’s and how we can truly look for ways to love and affirm and rejoice with each other! Making space to consider all of God’s goodness.

Thanksgiving can slip into an ‘almost memorable moment‘ status in the shadow of its dark cousin, ‘Black Friday‘ if we’re not careful. Take a moment now to plan ahead for your holiday schedule.

Be practical, be pragmatic and be honest. Make sure your children have a chance to be and do things that bring life to them. Monitor your heart, when you feel the burden of hosting or sharing growing so heavy your chest tightens and your teeth grind… it’s time for an audible. family at fall pic - HRes

GO to a great movie, leave for ice-cream or the zoo or a hike. Break out of the proper and traditional, and stagnate, for something that breathes, lives, and inspires.

Share your spontaneity with your closest friends and visiting family. Leave the leather couch behind, avoid the mania at the mall… go and do something truly spectacular with your Holiday.

Get out, go see the world with fresh and simplified eyes… these wonderful moments are more than picture-perfect -pressure -cookers, they are opportunities to savor.

Happy Thanksgiving !

Pastor B.

 

Thanksgiving “Thursdays”

It’s on the calendar horizon. Thanksgiving is coming, that great and glorious day of family, food, and football!

It’s such a wonderful place for my memories to return to… warm and drowsy moments gathered by the fire, half asleep with my intentional tryptophan poisoning, totally safe and content to do ‘nothing’ but rest and enjoy being with my family. pooh_piglet_thansgiving

An iconic day, steeped in the historical foundation of our nations first breath. A time for mankind to pause… reflect… and remember the blessings we share. It’s a time for us to re-focus on the family, to ponder how remarkable the gift of life really is and to celebrate it with one another.

I can’t help but think of how millions of families make an annual pilgrimage, often for hundreds if not thousands of miles… to simply be ‘together’ for a day or two. THAT’S ACTUALLY PRETTY AWESOME! 

This year, I’m asking myself to really put some extra time into recognizing the beautiful and marvelous in my life. To pay more attention to those God has surrounded us with. Looking with eyes of gratitude and not critique at their unique and irreplaceable personalities, gifts and contributions to my life… to the community of faith I help pastor, to my own children.

HOW WONDERFUL it is to notice all of the good things in our lives, to let the joy crowd out the cynical and sad!

Thanksgiving once each year is not enough… I want to encourage us to keep our ‘posture’ of gratitude alive all year long. SO my idea is to make each “Thursday”  a “Thanksgiving Thursday for us to remember to keep looking for all the ways God is reaching out to bless, and love, and restore.

What can you see in your life to be Thankful for…. ? (no cheating here parents, saying your kids or spouse isn’t going deep enough :)) Dig a bit, look under the emotional surface of your life, what can you sense or see in your present circumstances that are really good (not necessarily easy) and true, things that you know God has allowed to shape or bless you.

Ask your kids, friends and co-workers to join with you… “Thanksgiving Thursdays“could become your families meal discussion topic once a week, a fun way to teach our kids and remind ourselves to live with a heart full of gratitude. A habit that can help us all move past the pessimistic and find new ways to celebrate the ‘goodness of God’ in our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone !

Pastor B.

Great Fullness = Gratefulness

Thanksgiving is officially upon us.

Some of us are scrambling to get last second bags packed to sprint our way to Mom and Dad’s house, or pushing through Kroger to grab the last list of essential foods & snacks that Rachel Ray suggested were ideal for hosting a modern-day T-day feast.

beniceorleavethanks.com

beniceorleavethanks.com

Some of us are just struggling to get out of bed and restore some kind of order to our out-of-school-but bored to tedium- kid ravaged homes. While we wander dazed from our lack of a scheduled life, we dodge kids and clothes and towering piles of dishes. At some point we gnaw on our lower lip, realizing that somewhere in between cooking and cleaning and keeping up… have to shift gears and move all of the Turkey decorations and orange themed candle displays into the hall closet and pull down the Christmas stash in time to not be the last family to get the lights out in the neighborhood.

 

Whew. That’s a LOT to keep up with. That’s a full plate as they say… 🙂

Exactly.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and remember carve a little “me” time out of that Thanksgiving Turkey schedule this year. Enjoy, love and embrace the messy world of a full life and family, knowing that the FULLNESS is a good thing.

Freedom From Want - Norman Rockwell 1943

Freedom From Want – Norman Rockwell 1943

Great FULLNESS (Gratefulness) is contagious. It’s not a useless ideal or a single moment in time when everything and everyone in our world is just like Norman Rockwell painted it be.

Instead… Great FULLNESS is an understanding that all we have and do and are together is beautiful and unique and extra-ordinarily amazing. Even if the bird bakes a bit too long or the gravy never quite thickens, and you can’t find your youngest child’s matching sock.

Hang in there moms and dads and enjoy the wonder of surviving the holidays, knowing that in the crazy and wild world of family… lies a beauty and purpose that transcends it all. We are truly blessed.

Love you all, Pastor B.

Our Crazy Black Friday Beachday

Hope everyone had a great Turkey day with their families…I sure did. I must confess a crazy impulse overtook me during my thanksgiving post-tryptophan haze. Our family kid gang is all mostly grown-up now…late High School and College aged… and as you might expect…”broke”.

Black Friday was looming and the girls were exciting chattering about the sales, while anxiously counting their limited cash. I had an epiphany somewhere between the second and third helping of Chocolate creme pie and cranberry salad. The BEACH!

RoadTrip Destination Reached!

My kids hadn’t seen a beach in over a year and the opportunity was right in front of us… Thanksgiving was at my brother’s house this year and he was only 2.5 hours from the Atlantic ocean. I grabbed my super-duper smart phone and checked the weather forecast. Sunshine and 65 F for the coastline…. PERFECT!

I had a seven passenger SUV and a tank full of gas. Black Friday wouldn’t strangle me this year…no long lines at the local Best Buy or Target for this uncle… we’re going for sea-foam and sunshine and some heavy iPod playlists to keep the party rolling.

Ft. Fisher, NC beach

Six am hits and we’re on the road, sucking down java and cranking out the “Black Keys”. All six of us crammed into a vehicle at 70 mph and empty roads to the southeast….Drowsy but stoked to be rocking along on our spontaneous roadtrip to Wilmington NC and the beaches nearby.

I have to confess… we had a blast.

The sun showed up right on time and we walked the pier, jumped the surfline and cruised the empty beaches for the better part of four hours. Blue sky’s above and thundering Atlantic surf below… we had found something better than a killer deal on a new watch or sweater, we were running, jumping, seashell collecting fools.

After rushing our way to the beach we slowed our pace and truly enjoyed the day. Munching on Gyro’s and fries at the college diner we refilled our tanks and then discovered the southern charm of the port city of Wilmington was exactly what we needed. Kilwens  in the heart of the downtown district was SUPERB!!! The sweet treat’s and homemade ice-creams proved to be worth the wait and walking the historic cities cobblestone river front streets was educational and amazing to see as we soaked up the sights and sounds of an active harbor full of history and beauty and sunshine fun.

Walking the Black Friday beach

Late November sun does start to fade early and so did we. Climbing back into our vehicle we hoofed it back to Raleigh to catch up with the “old-folks” back home. Exhausted, but satisfied with our adventure.  We had ducked the “normal” for something extra-ordinary today and everyone agreed, it was worth the drive!

RoadTrips are amazing. They break the monotony of life completely to little-bits and open us up to brand new ideas, experiences and dreams…. stuff gets downloaded directly into our hearts and heads.

This Thanksgiving was extra special, I got to hang with my twin nieces and my own almost grown up- kids. We didn’t have much extra cash this year, but we did have a brief moment of precious family time to share and we made the most of it!

Love you guys ! Peace out,

Uncle Brad.

Blessed above and beyond…

Thanksgiving week is upon us again. Hard to come up with a new and exciting way to highlight the holiday of gratitude. So I won’t try. Instead I’m just quietly reflecting on all that is, and has been, and I urge you to do the same.

How has my life changed in the past year? 

How much have I received and did I steward it well?

Have I truly been blessed by God or am I just scrambling to “think positive” thoughts?

The truth is… I’ve been blessed above and beyond anything I could ever have hoped for. So have you. The challenge is reorienting our perspective far enough to see it.

moyeamedia.com – wallpaper source

Work, relational struggles, finances, health and fatigue all take a huge toll of us…but don’t let them rob you of the beauty and peace that comes from reflecting on how good God really is. Bad things do happen to us, challenges, tragedies and set backs…but it’s also true that God never walks away from our side. We’re not alone, we’re not abandoned and we’re not going to be… ever.

Hebrews 13:5-6 (ESV)  5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper;  I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Source – Biblegateway.com)

As you make the drive to journey to the designated annual Thanksgiving feasting house… use that precious time to share with your children. Tell them of God’s goodness, share simply and earnestly of God’s blessings to your family this year. Ask them to consider what “they” are most thankful for and be ready to share it on turkey day.

Be aware that this simple act will take some significant effort on your part…the car will be overpacked, the kids will be noisy, your spouse and you will have a spat, the dishes probably won’t be done and your house will be most likely still be a mess…but regardless, push it all aside and determine to lead your kids back to contentment, to a spirit of Thanksgiving.

Cultivating a spirit of gratitude  is a beautiful family roadtrip tradition waiting to be created… all it needs is you to get the spark started.

The results could be simply amazing.

Peace out RTP, with love and a grateful heart…

Pastor Brad.

Using Duct Tape to save Thanksgiving !

Sorry for the awkward title… no this isn’t a new crazy recipe or menu suggestion.

This Thanksgiving I’m choosing personally to be content. That means I’ve put some mental duct tape (my metaphorical censor) on my mind and mouth for the duration. Words that have been banned are… “Should have”, “I wish”, “Too bad” and anything sarcastic. Thoughts no longer allowed include…”any ideas that associate or dwell on guilt”, “anything that pauses to regret” and anything with “a random comparative criticism of anyone or anything”.

Con·tent·ment
(noun ) 1.the state of being contented; satisfaction; ease of mind.

Wow… so it IS true. Content is the “state” of being contented. It’s a state of mind, a place we determine to go to, not a destination we arrive at. I’ve watched and seen so many times as I’ve visited and participated over the years with various family and friends holiday events… their beautiful and precious family moments often de-evolved from the happy and joyful occasions they were designed to be…into frustrated and irritating debacles.
Why ?
Is it possible we’re looking and living too much in past memories or distracted by our future hopes? So often in doing so we miss the actual life we are supposed to be living in the present ? It’s kind of tragic… life is so short, so precious.
If you’re doing what we do… somewhere in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving or Christmas, you’ll be reading the latest Southern Living edition and planning to host the perfect meal or holiday party with Paula Deen or Martha Stewart’s most innovative and elegant advice. We always seem to start out with the greatest intention of preparing everything just as we saw in the pictures…only to fall short somewhere between the pile of laundry in the living room and the dirty guest bathroom toilet bowl.
Let’s step back a second BEFORE we get to Thursday’s special family day and give ourselves permission to fall a little short. To cut ourselves and those we love some serious slack for not being more mature, or considerate or helpful. Let’s be prepared to live in the now, the present and let’s agree to welcome the reality of today with all of its flaws. To position ourselves to enjoy what we have and not long for what we don’t.
Costco and Kroger ( i have discovered 🙂  have amazing options for last-minute thanksgiving dinner bailouts ! After all, when you slow down and think about it, our homes are meant to be safe places, lived in and loved, not pristine and beautiful testaments to our domestic prowess. Remember, we are allowed to actually Enjoy the food we prepare. We are allowed from time to time to eat too much, sleep too much, watch tv too much and simply be grateful, happy, relaxed with life as it is… A STATE OF CONTENTMENT.
Thanksgiving is about remembering what we have… not fretting about the things that always seem to elude us. We have each other, we have our life and homes and families, flawed and broken though they are. They are with us now. Don’t let them slip through your fingers in the time we’ve been given to embrace and enjoy and love those in our immediate and extended family.
Paul said it this way in Phillipians 4:11-12 (the Message) “Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am”
I’m asking you to join me in the self-censorship of the negative and instead make a determination to be hopeful. Families, this year let’s strive to seek to be “available” to those we love, to be “accessible” to those we care about and “attentive’ to the needs of more than those outside our homes. It’s easy for us to volunteer to help out with the distant downtown homeless and the occasional downtrodden stranger… but isn’t it time we do the same with our own families this Thanksgiving?
Peace out my RTP friends… HAPPY TURKEY DAY !
LOVE to you… Brad.