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Thanksgiving 2017

11 “On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ 14 When he saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ 19 Then he said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’” ~ Luke 17:11-19 (NRSVACE)

On Thanksgiving, we celebrate the historic event of two different cultures coming together and being thankful for each other and being thankful for the growing partnership that was forged which ended up as our traditional day of thanksgiving. But, brothers and sisters I have already written that posting many times over. I would rather reflect on something more outside the box and less traditional. For this past week, I have heard this passage from Luke now in two different settings in two different church ceremonies. The first time I heard it was in a school play just prior to ending the two day week of teaching. The second time I heard it was today in Mass. In both accounts, the two different priests said two completely different things but in my heart, God was showing me how similar these two messages are. So, my brothers and sisters, if you could indulge me I would like to add to what I had heard and hopefully do justice to what God showed me in this most unconventional Thanksgiving post.

Jesus heals ten lepers, but only one came back to thank him. His gratitude was deeply genuine and heartfelt. Jesus comments to what happened to the other nine, ‘where are they?’, he inquires. This line of questioning is critical and poignant to the core of our salvation for as Christians and believers we must ask ourselves how many times have we been the recipient of great gifts but never took time to came back to the source in sincere gratitude.  Often I think God gives us gifts and our response is one of puzzlement just short of responding with, “And? Is this it? What am I supposed to do with that?”  Or perhaps if it was something you had asked for and really wanted then when you get it your so excited the words ‘Thank You!’ never seem to be stated. Our culture is one of instant gratification, ‘I want what I want and I want it now!’ Please and thank you are missing. As a teacher I have this same thing happen to me with my kids I have taught, few come back and thank me for all the hard work I did for them to prepare them for the next more difficult level. To date, just a hand full ever really reach out in true thanksgiving. I could easily ask what happened to the other thousand plus.  But even if I did ask that question in my heart I know what happened to all my other students just as Jesus knew what happened to the other nine. In this world, it’s far easier to receive than it is to give.

Now here is another thought, what if when we received those gifts from God that puzzled us or gifts we receive from people we do not particularly like and made a conscious effort to change our own mindset to one of instant thanksgiving and gratitude. What would our life be like? How would that simple act affect others? Instead of pointing fingers and looking for people to blame for our own inadequacies what would happen if we thanked God for the criticism?  But this is small potatoes to what is really possible, no my brothers and sisters lets go one step further and examine all those deep dark happenings that we couldn’t find any way to be thankful for at the time it happened. In the heat of the moment of a firing, or a bashing from a boss or coworker, or maybe even that one comment which cut to the bone and crushed our heart. What if we look at those hurts again and look for the tiniest thing to be thankful for. A good example of this in my own life happened this past summer; on the record, I was not offered a contract to return to my elementary school after ten successful years because of a lack of money. But the real reason was other teachers playing politics thinking if I was not there then they could get away with destroying my lab, taking the laptops whenever they wanted, they would not have to worry about me observing them as I was trained to do to help them become better teachers. No, they wanted the easy way out even if it cost me my job and cut me from ever seeing my students who I deeply love and who needed a professional computer teacher such as myself.

Now watch Gods actions in this moment: In this scary painful loss I have found growth and was given a better opportunity elsewhere. In looking for that tiniest of miracle perhaps the last ten years God was developing me, molding me, preparing me for the responsibilities of today. Yes, it was painful but being a Christian means I listen and do the will of God, He alone directs my path into the future. He alone knows what I need to do next and how to get it done even if I don’t see it yet; especially if all I can see is the injustice of the act itself which caused the hurt. I tell you, my brothers and sisters, there is more to be thankful for in this life than all the wonderful gifts which we had asked for and then received. I humbly ask you my brothers and sisters what about those bag of hurts you locked away and tried to forget about? How thankful can you make your heart for those?

The other nine lepers Jesus had healed ran away in joyous thanksgiving never to be seen or heard from again. Rather it is that one leper who came back to the source and received the complete and total healing from Christ; that Samaritan, that foreigner is who we remember. I tell you my brothers and sisters lets mimic the one and be thankful for everything we are given in this life, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the expected and unexpected treating all of them in kind, with love and deep heartfelt gratitude. Keeping in your memory the blessing of leprosy is what led all ten to God, but it was God’s love and compassion which brought back the one.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

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Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 

 

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Listening Faithfully Blog 2014 Post

18 “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

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In past posts I have talked about Thanksgiving in the historical sense, explored the religious meaning, and I have delved into both sides of the human drama, (that being of the Native Americans and the English Pilgrims),  from a moral view.  But this year I wanted to write about what it means in a more detailed manner from the general view of family.

The very word, “Family”,  is the root that brought about the fight for freedom both here on Earth and in Heaven. In a broad sense God uses “family” as the template of every social group known to man. In every way we learn and grow from the bounty of our families. But this interaction is not exclusive to humanity rather almost every other bioligal life form that we know of on this planet thrives through lessons learned which both develop and mold such things as character, morality, compassion, survival, and even the idea of justice at some basic level. In the animal kingdom there is social order and hierarchical structures that are put in place to teach and which promotes the survival of the group or family. So in this broad sense family is the root of survival. But what does this hypothesis have to do with Thanksgiving, a man made tradition turned Federal Holiday? Well for this I share a deep secret found throughout the Christian Bible.

God is called the father! What is a father? In olden days a father was the head of the house, the disciplinarian, provider, protector, leader, mentor, teacher, and general supporter of all family activities. The same is true for Priests who are also called father for the same reasons but within a religious context.  Thus, it is from the father our families find a foundation and in this we see God as the head of every family both secular and religious. This structure within our families is from the divine and is pre-programmed into us from the start. In our celebration of family we are celebrating our very nature which we share with the animal kingdom under God. Because we are all related we are told by God to give thanks for the many blessings we receive from the father that which is in heaven from which everything is given. So Thanksgiving is the celebration of both blessings we receive throughout the year and is a celebration of  our families; the survival they provide on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis independent of our religious beliefs.

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In examining Thanksgiving from this perspective I asked my fourth grade students to write seven sentences about what they are thankful for and it is not surprising to me that they overwhelmingly wrote about their families. Few of them wrote about God though I teach in a Private Catholic School. Still fewer mentioned their teachers and the support we give them. Rather the majority was focused on their families love, kindness, sacrifice, and the many things they receive daily from their families. Many of those things are the necessities of life in general. Their paragraphs became evident to me of how we are all programmed by God to need the same things from birth till death. At the core of this need is the family unit!

So this Thanksgiving I celebrate the family in all of its forms be it biological, religious, social, political, economic, traditional and non traditional, friendships, and in a global community of beings sharing the same Earth, the same resources, and sharing the same needs. For it is within God the father’s plan that we celebrate our shared blessings, our shared needs, as well as our differences. Thus, I say to you in Jesus’s name are we to love one another and to jointly celebrate the role our many different types of families provide as it is granted first from God the father who art in heaven.

Thanksgiving-to-God

Have a joyous Thanksgiving and remember to celebrate all things which are good that God has made.

I also ask that you keep the family and friends of our beloved sister Theresa Marie Mehan, born June 18, 1922 and who went to meet the Our Lord this past November 18, 2014 in your prayers this holiday season. 

If you liked, “True Meaning of Thanksgiving” I invite you to stay in contact with me via the following ways:

Amen

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10 “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 whowere born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” ~ John 1:10-13

The Lord thy God has done some miraculous things but the one singular accomplishment was the creation of the world through the light of Jesus Christ. In many ways we can correlate our American Holiday of Thanksgiving and other nations Thanksgiving celebrations within the creation story itself. The link between scripture and literal history falls upon each  pilgrim and the reasons they chose to make this long hard arduous journey. The beliefs which they carried within their hearts with much faith and determination as they crossed the Atlantic fighting disease, risking starvation all with the hope of a new beginning. Jesus was in the world with those first sailors from Europe just as he was with the Jews. Like those Jew in Jesus’s day who meet our Lord face-to-face and who did not believe or accepted Him, so too not all the people aboard those first few ships believed in Christ but rather  prized a possible reward for their troubles through the efforts of man, not of God. But so to was it in Jesus’s day many accepted Him, believed in the light of Jesus Christ, and it was also these people, the first true christians aboard the most weather beaten hulks of lumber who made it far enough to see land once more who too also believed not of the blood, or of the flesh, or of man, but rather of the perfect will of God.  Through their great strife and sacrifice in their many hardships we look back at these two separate ages and can the see the hand of God molding our hearts and as he builds great nations of believers and from a few chose children of God. Much like all the apostles Jesus through the Holy Spirit made all things new, accomplishing His glorious task over and over throughout history always  through much pain and heartache, towel and trouble. Jesus succeed in creating the world a new, He succeed in planting the seeds of love, compassion, and forgiveness. It is in that spirit do we find the pilgrims  the american indians, the grand banquet of celebration and unity for the benefit of all.

“Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who treat you badly.” ~ Lost Gospel Q , Q14.

The miracle of Thanksgiving is not found in all the food, and the cake, not the fact the pilgrims embraced the indians or the indians embraced the pilgrims, but in the heart of each man and women who put aside all the hardship each group put the other through prior to the sitting down to celebrate.  It was the willingness to love each other enough to allow the others survival through the basic principal Jesus uttered two thousand years before ; “LOVE YOUR ENEMIES.”  Without this one common thread running through history it is easy to see there most certainly, most likely would not be this great body of people who can claim their heritage to the body of God.  We see there most likely would not have been the many great nations on this earth, there most likely would not have been America, Canada, and all the newest nations to join in on the ongoing banquet of Thanksgiving. How different would our world would have been if everyone of the pilgrims had a hardened heart? What kind of slaughter would have occurred had the indians not wanted peace and if they had not taken pity upon the few remain christians. It was but from a hand full of settlers that through this love and forgiveness and willingness to accept others into their heart and obeying the words of our savior, “DO GOOD TO THOSE WHO HATE YOU.”, many of us would not be here, our nation might not have survived. We celebrate each kernel of corn planted upon sandy beaches, each pig and deer hunted and killed, we celebrate each berry plucked from the vine, to each fowl plucked clean and cooked for this momentous occasion. For within each one of these things sacrificed and grown then shared was the words of Christ also upheld, “BLESS THOSE WHO CURSE YOU.” From these small miracles can we extrapolate the message of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, it was among a handful of believers who where able to come together and dismiss the look, smell, lifestyle, dislike, distrust, and fear,  and before taking a bit did they all make this joyous bounty that had been laid-out before  sanctified in the Holy Spirit and in name of God where they then allowed to unit in prayer and celebration as they again obeyed Christ Jesus by the very act of prayer, “PRAY FOR THOSE WHO TRAT YOU BADLY.”

“Give, and there will be gifts for you. A full measure of grain, pressed down, shaken, together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.” ~Lost Gospel Q , Q18.

In the days of Jesus many people saw Him, witnessed His many sermons and could testify to His miracles, but none of them could contemplate the foundations which He had laid. Thanksgiving can thus find roots in our Lord Jesus Christ just as the foundations of the world is rooted in His love for all mankind. Our God has not been petty with us, He has not withheld anything. But we in our sin and transgressions have at times been petty with God, with each other, and with ourselves. The foundations of the teachings of our God can be best summed up with His commandment to give freely with one-another, hold nothing back, as the rewards awaiting you are measured out with the rod you used upon others, and with God. The miracle of the Last Supper, was in the actions of jesus as he held nothing back, much like the supper upon that first Thanksgiving where the indians and pilgrims brought equal food and drink to share freely with their fellow man. The astounding thing has to be that the indians would be facing a people that would not always meet them on such terms, and in some regard they knew this and still took pity and was in many ways greater christians for having done so, acting as christian in the words of our Lord even though the word, “Christian” was not yet within their vocabulary. In many ways the natives measure of grain in heaven is larger than ours today because of their mercy, forgiveness, act of love, and ability to bless their enemies with life.

 14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 Forthe law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” ~ John 1:14-18

Thanksgiving in many respects is a day the world celebrates as Jesus came into this world, shined His light upon us all so that we could come from the darkness of sin. The Lord God in heaven also made it possible for the many wars to come to a pause in order to observe Holy days of obligation and in our present times this day of Thanksgiving holds a truth among it that carries greatness in our ability to keep it for over two hundred years. It the testimony of this nation, of all nations who put aside their grievances with their fellow man and hold hands in the presences and might our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Amen

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving 2012 and may the Lord lift your spirit whether you are with your family or are celebrating alone. May you all go in peace in the word and promises of our Lord.

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“22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?'” ~ Luke 12:22-26

Jesus Christ told His disciples not to worry, but instead trust in God for all their needs. This message in reflection is a simple idea, but is so hard to do daily. The people of that age had nothing in comparison to what we have in our modern day lives and yet they found it hard to have such trust in God as we suffer the same difficulties today. God blesses us with so much wealth and good things in our lives and yet few of us really thank Him for it. I have written on this blog in the past of the difficulties of our lives and the temptations which we face with every waking breath. I have given example after example of the hardship of following this simple directive from Jesus. So in this post I want to begin sharing examples in my own life of the smallest of blessings God grants daily which prove God loves us and provides for us in the most unexpected ways.

The Oak Tree

I loved going to grandma’s house as a boy. My grandma would always have cookies ready for my two sisters and I piping hot right out of the stove when we got there. The house always smelled of joy and of happiness which filled the heart with love as soon as you walked through the front door. Grandma was so loving and kind, she always had a smile on her face, she always had something witty to say and she was filled with such energy it made it hard to leave her when it was time to go home. In short no one held a candle to my grandma, and in truth I miss her greatly every single day of my life since her passing. But on this day she told me that to get a cookie I would have to help clean the back yard. There was some tree limbs which had fallen that she wanted me to move to the brush pile so grandpa could burn them. So I did what she had asked me, but once I had finished I saw a twig laying on the ground. It was a long twig, one reminiscent of the twigs I would get swatted with by my dad on those long outings on the road when my sisters and I would fight in the back seat and cause a terrible commotion and had truly deserved the swats. At-any-rate I heard this voice in my head that told me to pick it up and skin it, play with it then it will grow. So I did exactly that, I skinned it, played with it all day, beat it against the tree drunk, concrete stairs, I even chased the poor dog around the back yard a bit with it, (never hitting the dog), and then I was told to place the twig into the flower bed my grandma had just off the back porch. Again I complied and thought nothing of it at the time, then I went in and claimed my cookies for a job well done. When it was time to go home I told grandma to water the twig. In retrospect it looked very lonely amongst the beautiful flowers of the flowerbed, and in truth I didn’t think my grandma would comply with my request. But then seven days later my grandma called the house excited. She had asked my mother to bring me to her house because she had something to show me. So my mother and father packed all of us kids in the car and we drove to grandma’s house. The car ride was filled with thoughts about why grandma had wanted us to visit as excitement began to claim a hold over everyone as grandma had been quite vague about her request. When the car stopped in the driveway of grandma’s house I burst from the car and ran all the way into her house. Grandma smiled with excitement and said to me, “Come Brian! Come and see your twig!” She took me by the hand and off we went at quite a pace to the back door with the rest of the family in tow.  We cleared the back door with anticipation building with each pound of my heart until we got to the flowerbed. I did not know what I would find, but there amongst the beautiful flowers was there the twig with one little branch that had grown from a top of it and at the end of the tiny branch was the smallest little leaf I think I have ever seen. Grandma smiled and said, “Today is green thumb day at the Stark house!” I looked at grandma in amazement and just stood there, in shock. Then I remembered I had done exactly as I had been told to do by that little voice in my head. So I looked at grandma not wanting her to be saddened by my revelation, but I had to tell the truth. So I sheepishly looked up at her and said, “Grandma I don’t want you to be mad at me but God told me to do the things I did to this twig, so its not me who has the green thumb.” She smiled and said, “Well you listened and thats all I need to know. Tomorrow I am going to need your help planting more flowers in the other flowerbeds around the yard. Do you think you can help me with that?” I smiled and said, “Yes grandma, I can help.” I got to spend that night, and I fell asleep seeing the hand of God in action, taking care of the smallest most insignificant life in our world. God loves everything and upon that day I was convinced in God and in His power. The twig grew and grew until it was to large for the flowerbed. It became so large my dad dug it up and then replanted it in the front yard of our house in Oak Grove, Missouri. To my knowledge it became the largest tree in the neighborhood and is still there to this day.

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” ~Luke 12:27-31

The Sparrow

When I was thirteen I had a BB gun and I would go to grandmas farm and shoot at the sparrows. One day I hit one by accident and then I heard a voice in my head that told me to take the bird and slap the ground next to it and call it back to me. So out of horror of what I had done, I took its lifeless body to the concrete patio behind the house  and laid it down carefully. I looked up at the sky and cried out to God, begging Him to restore it to life. I then beat the ground next to the dead sparrow three times and it began to flutter with life. I placed my hand upon it and could feel its tiny heart beating. I then removed the BB from its throat and suddenly it sprang up from the patio and took flight. I ran after it in disbelief but also in relief as I saw it land in the tree by the front drive way. It chirped at me  from its vantage point then took flight again to where I do not know. It was in that moment I believed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and in all the miracles he had performed while here on Earth. If God cared enough to give life to a sparrow then He loves me even more to give me ever lasting life in heaven with Him.

“8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’ 10 Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” ~ John 6:8-13

No Food To Eat

Thanksgiving 2007 I was standing in the line at the supermarket with my daughter licking her chops at the selection of food we were getting ready to purchase for our Thanksgiving dinner. One big turkey, ham, potatoes, salad, raisin bread, and a pumpkin pie. This is what my daughter did not know about the food we where buying; I had run out of money several days before paying bills, and had nothing left over for the special dinner upon her visitation that day. I didn’t want to burden her or her mother by telling them I had no money for the dinner. I sat in my house pining away thinking of ways I could get something nice or make something non-traditional when I looked in the paper. I saw a coupon for a free Thanksgiving meal and in disbelief I cut it out. I called the store which was offering the coupon and asked if this was true, was it really free. The lady on the other end of the phone laughed at my disbelief and said yes; she also told me that I would need to bring in the coupon with a photo id. I remember asking why this dinner was being offered, and the lady said because it is our way of giving back to the community on such a wonderful holiday as Thanksgiving. Kiddingly I asked her if they where going to do it again for Christmas and with that I was politely told not to push my luck. So that day with no food to eat I picked my daughter up and we went to the store. We collected all the things the coupon covered and made our way to the register. Truth be told my heart was in my mouth and I prayed all the way to the line as I did not want to be embarrassed  in front of my daughter on Thanksgiving. But much to my delight the register totaled zero after the coupon was scanned. My daughter thought it was funny they asked for an id, but I told her they always do, thats when she was young and impressionable.  Upon getting home we took the turkey and it needed to be cleaned, something I had never done, and so I called my mom who gave me blow by blow instructions of how to do it. So instead of me putting my hand up the rear-end of the turkey I had my daughter do it, and to this day she never has forgiven me for having her to do that but her facial expression was funny. Together we cooked the turkey and ate like Kings and before we took a bight we thanked God for His kindness. In my silent prayer I thanked God for showing me the coupon, for feeding me and my daughter when we had no foods to eat.

“33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” ~ Matthew 6:33

In these examples God’s love and grace was handed down to me in the simplest most unexpected ways. He knows my needs and I open completely up to Him. God has never let me down, He has always made it possible for me to survive, and in those moments that are out side my control I give it to Him. I give the Lord the praise He is due, I give Him credit for the miracles in my life, and without God I personally would be lost. I feel these things represent every man, women, and child if only we look at the small, unexpected  miracles in our life.  God grants to us so much we take for granted, He supplies every fascist of every need we have in our life, and He alone takes care of every detail no matter how big or small. But it is my personal belief he loves doing the unexpected things like giving renewed life to a dead twig, breathing life into an injured sparrow, and in feeding His sons and daughters in their hour of need. God can be found in everything, in all areas of our life, and He makes the excuse to work a miracle to prove His love for you each and every day of your life if only you take time to look for His mark on your heart.

Amen,

I truly want to hear form all of you who read Listening Faithfully with all your stories of all the wonderful miracles God has done for you. I also want to extend a warm Thanksgiving wish and pray that you are spending this special day with all those whom you love.

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“If a woman has ten silver coins, what will she do if she loses one? She’ll light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully. When she finds it, she will call her friends and neighbors and say to them, ‘Let’s celebrate! I’ve found the coin that was lost” (The Lost Gospel Q, Q72, Pp. 107).

This morning when I awoke, I took a drive early in the morning. I saw the streets where empty and few cars on the road. It was as if everyone was still asleep and or already at their relatives houses where they were to spend this most special of days we call Thanksgiving. As I drove I remembered how I used to get up early and would make my way into the kitchen, letting my noise lead the way. Upon arriving there I would find my mother and grandma preparing the day’s feast. Their warm smiles as they looked down at me filled my heart with love. I remember being greeted with a tight, good-morning hug and wonderful smells of delicious foods. My grandmother would offer me some of her prized rolls she had just finished cooking and they were piping hot and the heat would instantly melt the butter she would spread on top of them. For most Americans Thanksgiving is about delicious foods, carefully prepared, served with love. But most of all Thanksgiving boils down to time spent with one’s family. Spending time with those whom we hold most dear. In the years following as I grew older and family either moved, or went to meet God, Thanksgiving was never really the same. As time passed I guess I have been searching for a place, a smell, and hug, even the warmth I had felt when I was a boy. In the many Thanksgivings since, I have spent many of them alone, far away from family, at first because I was serving my country in the United States Navy, then because I was married and lived to far away to be present with my parents and sisters. Then in the many years after my divorce I would spent time with my daughter and never had much money to make Thanksgiving as special for her as it had been for me. In this past year and a half of strife with my ex-wife the time with my daughter became nonexistent, which was all very unnecessary. I allow you to see my life through a window, not to gain sympathy, but rather to illustrate my search, this journey I put myself on, one which left me longing for that one most basic of human needs throughout the holidays. A search which has left me more alone than words can express. It was as if I had ten silver coins and had lost one.

Human nature drives us to look more closely at what we are missing than to be thankful for what we have. As hard as it is to admit my lonely holidays where spent searching for the love I still had, but I was more concerned about the physical celebration of that which I perceived I was missing out on. In truth I have become spiritually blind to the presents of God in my life during the holidays. I put way to much importance on this notion that the room was empty, the morning smells of food being prepared was not there anymore. My house was devoid of laughter and good cheer, when in fact God was calling my name, to which I never responded, partly out of anger for God allowing me to be so alone at such a joyous time of the year. I now can see how mistaken I was.

I write this because I know there are many people who are not going to spend the holidays with their loved ones, for a myriad of different reasons. I know your pain; I know what you are thinking and what you are feeling. Know I have been there, to that dark place of emptiness and despair. So the first part of this message is for you. God is calling you, he is reaching out to you, and it does not matter where in the world that you are, God loves you, cares for you, and wants to comfort you. Don’t make my mistake and reject his call this Thanksgiving or holiday season. Don’t allow yourself to fall into that great temptation that everyone should be together before you feel that holiday spirit. Because in truth no matter who is with you, be them friend, co-worker, or stranger, lift up your head as if you found that missing silver coin. Celebrate and rejoice in what you have, and God will fill your spirit, he will lift you up and give you that warmth you crave.

“Give, and there will be gifts for you. A full measure of grain, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back” (Lost Gospel Q, Q18, Pp. 51).

As I drove this morning another thought came to me, one of the history of Thanksgiving. Each year I take great joy in teaching this to the student at my school. I love showing them websites and videos that illustrate the giving spirit that allowed enemies to become vast allies. In truth, as I say to my many students, “The American Indians did not have to take pity upon the pilgrims.  They did not have to show them any kind of mercy what so ever. After all it was the pilgrims that was invading their land, there sacred space, but the natives did anyway.” I think in the back of my mind for as educated as the pilgrims thought they were they had no clue how to survive in the wild places of the Earth. They left Europe because of religious principals, but when their stomachs grew hungry, the many diseases set in, and the chill of the long winter nights began to claim lives, it was the Indians who showed more christian attributes than did the pilgrims. How strange I think for a native people who had never been thought the word of God, to be more christianly than those who fleet their own country because they felt others were not being christianly towards them. But it was through the hardship, God worked out a wonderful miracle, for as one people reached out to another a bond was formed and a nation grew out of that bond. God truly blessed it, and Thanksgiving is that great celebration we all hold dear in remembrance of that bond of charity. It is very true, what you give to others in need you will be given back a thousand fold.

If you are a follower of Listening Faithfully you know I normally don’t endorse websites, or ask for money or donations. I try very hard to stay away from that on this site. However, in the spirit of this Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday I would like everyone to simply go to a new blog I am writing, one that is very much in the spirit of giving to those who have not or less than. This new blog is called, The Gospel of Giving, and can be found @ http://gospelofgiving.wordpress.com/. This blog is dedicated to raising money for special causes and I pray that these are shared with everyone whom you know, and that if there is something extra you can give you take the time and give in remembrance of these two special sayings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I also simply ask that if you have a cause that will greatly impact the lives of children, the elderly, or any persons who are in need of relief from tyranny or abuse to please feel free to email me @ listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com. Also stay in touch with Listening Faithfully and The Gospel of Giving through Twitter @ http://twitter.com/Listeninfaith.

Happy Thanksgiving to all whom have been present in my life over the years and to my daughter to which I love and miss greatly. I want to take special note and thank those at my College whom have held my hand through all my strife and misfortune. Thank you for never giving up, never wavering, even for a moment. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the many words of encouragement and for constantly finding radical new was to support me throughout my journey through the vast world of Higher Education. I also want to thank all those whom are already giving to the private elementary school in which I have so faithfully served for over four years of my life. I think you all know that we serve through good times and bad not for the monetary reward, but for the many tiny blessings bestowed upon us each time one of our children smiles in recognition of the lessons we spend so much time in trying so desperately to teach them.  A special blessing goes out to all those teachers whom I have worked so closely with over my entire professional career in education in all three elementary schools to which I have poured out my heart for. Last but not least, to my mother, father, sisters and nieces and nephew, and to my most special new found love and her family, there is no greater joy than to see each one of you, to hear your laugh, to see your smiles, and to feel your love through each warm embrace. You all have helped to shape me into the man I am today, and I thank you for all the time it took. I also want to call attention to my closed of friends whom are within my inner most circle that which has bestowed upon me great joy, I thank you for being there through thick and thin, for making me smile when I was sad, for being taught with me when I wanted nothing more than to give up. It is these bonds which I cherish more than any of you shall ever know. I also want to thank each and every follower of this blog, I put so much time and energy into it, and hope you gain from my labor of love. We all have many things to be thankful for in this life, but mainly for having each other.

May God bless you all and keep you safe this holiday season.

Amen

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