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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

for Thanksgiving

And the People Were Thankful

by Valorie Quesenberry

On tumbling seas, a humble ship . . .

its destiny -- the New World.

its masters -- a swarthy crew.

its heart -- a band of "pilgrims."

The voyage was long, the storms harsh, the future unsure but the landng was made.

A great rock looming on a craggy shore, the promise of a free land, and a faith in Almighty God.

And the people were thankful.

By planted fields, a stalwart group . . .

of settlers -- survivors, purposeful.

of natives -- quick, resourceful.

of friends -- feasting, playful.

The feast was welcome, the games friendly, the spirit festive,and the hearts were joyful.

Two peoples created by the same God and coming together on this fertile land of blessing.

And the people were thankful.

At revolution's dawn, a tiny republic . . .

the leaders -- strong, visionary.

the minutemen -- determined, ready.

the people -- sacrificing, resolute.

The battles were bloody, the conditions daunting, the soldiers untrained, but independence was won.

The infant that democracy birthed rose up in the strength of Providence and set the course of freedom.

And the people were thankful.

With divided hearts, a torn country . . .

the President -- bold, resolved.

the soldiers -- proud, stubborn.

the families -- brave, grieving.

The fields were graveyards, the destruction tragic, the hatred a curse, but the great wound was closed.

The people battled out their difference, brothers again clasped hands and mended the landscape of a united country. And the people were thankful.

In Liberty's gaze, a solitary immigrant . . .

the past -- squalid, desolate.

the present -- fearful, hopeful.

the future -- bright, promising.

The journey has ended, Ellis Island awaits, a new home to be made, and opportunities abound.

It was worth the cost to stand on the soil of America, the land of refuge, the home of the oppressed.

And the people were thankful.

Under Old Glory, a nation stands . . .

for liberty -- costly, sacred.

for justice -- fair, equal.

for brotherhood -- kind, merciful.

Foes have assailed her, wickness has assaulted her, centuries have tested her, and America squared its shoulders and set its strength to the task. God blessed her and through good and bad she came smiling through. And the people were thankful.

Around laden tables, an American family . . .

the scene -- warm, loving.

the food -- savory, plentiful.

the family -- close, loving.

Harvest has come, the pantry is full, the relatives have gathered and the turkey is golden and tender. No hardship is so difficult that it will not be overcome by the ministry of this Thanksgiving Day. A blessing is breathed, hands are folded, heads are bowed, and hearts have come home. The feast begins. And the people are thankful.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

of being and doing

God uses my kids to teach me.  And sometimes He uses my relationship with Him to teach me how to be a better mom. 

I feel a compulsion to encourage and propel my kids to the top.  I don't want them just to do something, I want them to do it well . . . like, better than anyone.  You know?  Not just good grades - all As.  Not just play the piano -- challenge Beethoven. Not just make the team - score the most. 

I suppose it's noble to encourage a child to do his or her best.  There is certainly something character building about pulling out all the stops and pushing through to the top.  But there is also something to be said for enjoying the richness of life apart from goals and success.

As a firstborn, I never can see myself relaxing all of my expectations of myself or my children.  Nor do I want to. But God, the heavenly Parent, is reminding me of how He works.  While He expects me to grow and bloom in my spiritual walk and personal gifts, He also enjoys just observing my delight in living life like He planned as I am in relationship with Him.  He receives the greatest pleasure from knowing I'm His child.  He is happy when I am simply using my gifts and "abiding" in Him.  I don't have to prove anything, outdo anyone else or set a record.  After all, competition - against others or self - is a human invention.  Sure, it's great to beat one's personal best (and I like a good contest!).   But for perfectionists like me, the "better than" trap is always open and waiting. 

Maybe moms need to lose a little of the panic.  Maybe this mom justs need to relish my children's involvement and encourage more enjoyment in their activities.  Maybe it's okay if they don't make it to  Beethoven's level of virtuosity.  Maybe they can live fulfilled and successful lives without being first in everything.  Maybe they would even be happier. 

God expects us to live out fully the dimensions of His plan for each of us, but He does not push us to exceed it.  I should follow that pattern in my goals for my children.  Of course, it's a little harder for moms to know what are reasonable expectations because we can't see things from the perspective He has.  Yet, I think we do know somewhere deep inside that a mom's greatest joy comes from her children just being  - in relationship with her and in harmony with their abilities - than in doing.  After all, lives of incessant action can be eerily similar to windmills - continually beating a force against which they can never win.  I suppose the energy invested in life should be equal in measure to the joy that comes from relishing the simple pleasures readily accessible everyday, regardless of achievement or status. And the continal "doing" of Christian service should be balanced with the "being" that comes from lingering in His presence. 

Only in the context of "being" does "doing" have significance.  That's something I need to comtemplate a little more, both as a mom and as His child. 
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