Thanks for waiting for this Thanksgiving post for so long! One day I will actually blog as things happen, not weeks later.
We spent Thanksgiving with my side of the family, and it was special to have both Collin and Kelsey home at the same time and be able to see them for a few days. Our friends Cheryl and Megan also joined us, which only felt natural since they are practically family. We enjoyed cooking together and playing games (anyone heard of Pit or Masterpiece?!), and even attempted an Armbruster family picture.
My mom made 2 Turkey breasts, and they were amazing! Less bones to cut around, very tender and juicy meat... I highly recommend this to everyone reading. It tasted as good as it looks here in the oven!
Mom has to take charge if she wants to get everyone in one picture together - as you can see, we are all goofing off and wasting precious daylight. Places! Someone sit on this stool now!
The winning picture... complete with holiday wreath around my brother's neck.
A picture with Aunt Megan - we love her!! (Isn't she so pretty!?)
As I was thinking about what I am thankful for this year, obviously the family and friends we are blessed to have came to mind first. I meditated on what it means to live out the Christian life in community with others (friends and family), and how thankful I am for these 'others' who share the journey with me / us. And I realized that I am not only thankful for each person, but for who God has made them to be and the ways He is continually shaping and growing each of them, and the ways that deeply affects me. I thought about what my life would be like if even just one of my family members or friends were not a major part of our lives, and I realized that I am so richly blessed by the people who surround me.
Let me lay it out for you.
Rob is my companion and best friend, and he is quick to love me the way God made me. He is slow to take up offense, and does not measure how much he is 'getting' vs. how much he gives. He provides stability to our family in many ways, consistently serving and being present. He seeks God with his whole heart, and is clearly the leader within our family. He is wise, discerning, humble, and faithful. His appetite for Godliness has increased my own.
Robbie, although young, has a joyful heart and sweet disposition that I pray one day translates to a heart for Christ. He is so very forgiving of his imperfect mommy, quick to share smiles and hugs, and just loves life. He brings more joy to our lives than we knew one little guy could.
My mom models sacrificial love and generosity, and always has. If she were not my mom, I might not understand what it looks like to be selfless, and how focusing on others' needs is often more important than meeting your own. She is an example of the kind of mother I dream of being to Robbie. She is a respectful, loyal, wife to my dad and has believed in him and trusted him throughout their marriage.
My dad shows leadership in our family, but also outside the home in our community, in his business, and in the church. He lives in answer of God's call to make disciples, and is passionate about caring for those who are less fortunate or overlooked. He is full of compassion, and quick to give. He gives glory back to God when blessings come, and holds on to his faith in times of testing and heartache.
My brother desires to live with honor, which is demonstrated by his commitment to his job and his work ethic. He does his best and is quick to lend a hand to others. He has compassion for those he works with who struggle or have a hard time 'getting ahead' at work because of their economic status or ethnicity, and desires justice and equality. He is considerate towards his family and enjoys freely sharing his talents and giftedness (often technologically!) with us. His sense of humor keeps us all laughing.
My sister is marked by sensitivity and humility. Nothing less than encouragement comes out of her mouth, which is a clear reflection of her purity of heart. She makes an effort to be positive, and some mistake this for being 'just a naturally optimistic personality'. No, she sees the whole picture - she just chooses faith, joy, hope, and love. She is intelligent but humble, and values relationships above the things we all tend to get distracted by. She is persistent and loyal, and brings out the best in us.
My friend Cheryl lives with integrity. She chooses to follow God in big and small ways, fully aware of the cost. She has perspective that can only be obtained by digging into God's Word and seeking Him wholeheartedly. She has suffered but counts it joy; experienced loss but counts her many blessings; chooses to walk down a more difficult road for the sake of Christ because she can't live with herself if she takes the easy way out. She is passionate and honest, true to who God has made her to be, and unashamed. She encourages and strengthens us spiritually just by sharing her life with us.
My friend Megan consistently demonstrates forgiveness in her friendships, and models loyalty and provides companionship to us. She is the best listener I know, suspends judgement, looks for the best and is just easy to enjoy being around. She is generous and appreciative, always thinking about those around her. She too makes difficult decisions for Christ and encourages us in our journey. She has strength of character that is hard to find, and is quick to love.
I only wrote out my thoughts about those we spent Thanksgiving dinner with, but I could go on! Not only would life be very different without one of these family members or friends, but if the good and Christ-likeness that they represent were absent from their lives, I too would be different. I am so thankful for their hearts, for what God is doing in their lives, and for their place in mine.
One other way of thinking about Thanksgiving this year that is new for me was presented on another blog (Bring the Rain). I believe she removed the posting, because she was unsure of the theological accuracy of what she had written and didn't want to mislead anyone. But the concept was important to me - being thankful for the things in our lives that might not be pleasant or exactly what we asked for. And maybe not exactly being thankful for the event or situation, but having a thankful heart towards God that he promises to use everything in our lives for his glory and our ultimate good, if we love him. This is hard to do - especially if we haven't seen His purpose or any redemption in the situation yet.
I hope your Thanksgiving was meaningful, and that it brought you time to reflect on who God is and what He has done for all of us, especially through His Son, Jesus.