When the Differences are Opportunities

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day— a day usually inseparable from tradition, family and abundance for many people. For me this year, it is a day when life’s changes will be evident. For my family, the past couple of years have brought with them loss of loved ones through death, an empty nest, family separated by distance, traditions altered by changing living situations and choices. A lot of the changes have been wonderful blessings and full of joy, despite the fact that they inevitably alter long-standing routines and holiday traditions.

I’m wondering how many of you out there are arriving at this holiday season acutely aware of all the change in your life. Which of those changes are happily embraced, and which tear at your heart daily?

This morning, as I pondered how tomorrow and those that follow will be different, I gave these changes up to God and invited His involvement in what they bring. I realized that with every difference and change in my life, He brings opportunity.The nature of His steadfastness means He is always working, both around and through the changes. 

I don’t know what differences your tomorrow holds, or even what is the same for you.  I do pray that you be aware of God’s presence in every moment.  I pray that you be open to His stretching and growing your heart and His purpose in you as you

*sit at home alone in private thanksgiving

*spend time with cantankerous family members (Lord, Help us to remember their souls are really hurting.)

*wait your ‘turn’ with your children and mourn the irrevocable wounds of your broken marriage

*grieve the loss of your spouse, child, or friend

*miss your college-aged children

*hang out, just you and your best friend

*snuggle on the couch with your helpmeet and the dogs

*laugh around a table with new family and friends

Whatever your day is like tomorrow, I pray it be blessed and that you see those blessings and acknowledge the Giver.

Know that the Lord is God.
    It is He who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

 Enter His gates with thanksgiving
    and His courts with praise;
    give thanks to Him and praise His name.
 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100:3-5

Just so you know, this is what I really prayed this morning…

Holy Father,

Good Morning! Every morning is a more than good morning in You. In You I have the assurance of salvation in these morning minutes, just as I did in those that closed yesterday. Your unchangeableness is my rock, my foundation of joy. I praise You for your power, wonder and love! I am so very grateful that you stay–that your Presence is permanent and not changed by the blur of events and tumbling of days. The outline of your character is firm and able to be counted upon.

Father, I pray this morning in joy that You are here with me now. Thank you for this time with you that is quiet, and focused-undisturbed by a to-do list, errands, and the cramming of curriculum.

I pray that the beauty and truth of Your words cover my heart and find root therein . I pray that my heart will be soft soil and bear fruit.

Father, I pray over tomorrow, a different kind of Thanksgiving Day. You know what’s different: Dad and Nate and his dad are gone. Sue and Barb are traveling. Eric is half a continent away with wonderful friends. Caroline is with her new family addition, being loved and included. You know I chose not to try to create “same” this year—lazy cooking morning, turkey and sides with family in afternoon. There’s comfort and grounding in traditions that stay constant year after year, but this year the differences dampened my spirit. Yet they also provided opportunity.

So Father, this morning before a day usually tethered to tradition, I pray for Your hand to hold mine tomorrow, and that of my family.

I pray for Your Presence to be evident and your power to be acknowledged. In the first time ever taking Mum out to Thanksgiving breakfast with Tyler and Scott, I pray to be an encouragement to her and those that will serve us. I pray she will be at peace having dinner with others at her new senior living apartment because dinner with us at church would overwhelm her.

I pray that those of us who meet in at the church building will be blessed. (How can we not be, when You are there?!)  I pray that in the busyness of readying the meal and serving and eating and cleaning, we will pause and really listen to each other’s hearts. I pray that you will help us be open to move beyond frivolity and speak Your words of truth, kindness, love, forgiveness, empathy, and patience. I pray we will seek and seize opportunities to point each other away from ourselves and our ‘organization’, and toward You and the face of your Son.

Father, be with us as we laugh together. Help us to stand on the common ground, which is You and being Yours, and firmly grasp the hands of each other to stay rooted there.

In our afternoon, Lord, as we play and laugh with our dear friends over leftovers and pie, help us to be always positive. To speak You to each other. To cast away criticism and replace it with passionate hope and inspiration. I pray for the veil of frustration and discouragement be cast aside and left for good.

In all of this, I pray that You be glorified. I pray that my husband and son, and each one of us, will be drawn to You and see value and need for connection to You.

In Your glorious Name and Son I pray, resting in the assurance that you hear me.

I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter is courts with praise.

I will say this is the day that the Lord has made,

I will rejoice for He has made me glad.

He has made me glad. He has made me glad.

I will rejoice for He has made me glad!

He has made me glad.  He has made me glad.

I will rejoice for He has made me glad!

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About An Earthen Vessel--Terri Apgar

Wife of one, mother of three, so grateful for God's grace--that's me. I'm just tucked into my bay window, opening my heart to God and trying to be brave about letting Him use all that He has crafted inside me to His glory.
This entry was posted in Counting Joy, Deflecting the Weapon of Discouragement, Gratitude, The Walk, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to When the Differences are Opportunities

  1. parklinscomb says:

    Thanks, Terry. Your thoughts really lifted me up this morning. Changes are never easy but they seem to be inevitable. Seeing them differently and embracing the opportunity in them for the better is such an important but difficult thing to learn.

  2. Suz says:

    Yes, thanks Terry! It’s especially difficult to be away from mom and dad this year. Dad’s illness has caused me to long to be in their physical presence all the more. And so, I pray this prayer with you. I also ask God to fill my heart with peace knowing that for every minute I long for my family here on earth, there is an eternity to be spent with them in heaven! Love you sister!

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