The Thanksgiving Tree

The Thanksgiving Tree

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


It was freezing today.  Snowflakes mixed with rain fell from cloud covered skies.  It was gloomy.  So was my heart.  There was a war zone going on.  I washed the little outfit that Will wore when he was dedicated as a baby.  Thomas wears it now.  I've washed it several times, but today I just looked at it until I could no longer see through my watery eyes.  Seven years have passed since my baby first wore this.  SEVEN.

I struggle with the day to day difficulty in mothering.  I fight my fleshly desire to retreat... to long for the day to end... to idolize "me" time... alone time... to disengage with my family.  My flesh feeds on lies that vacation makes things better, being close to family makes life easier, having a husband that doesn't work often is the answer.  I selfishly pine for days when I can sit in on days like these and watch Little Women in silence.  All lies.  All lies, because this is not what I truly want.  Because those lies are not grounded in reality.  We only have today.  Today matters.  We can't change our past.  Our future is full of dreams that may or may not occur.  But Today, Today is what counts.  Today is happening.  I want to live in the now.  Stay engaged.  I desire only a pause from the chaos, really.  Just enough to catch my breath.  In frustration,  I dare ask, "Is that too much to ask, Lord?"

I went running.

As I prayed, I realized, that I have my Pause.  I have my Rest amidst the chaos.  I need to learn to rest in Jesus in today.  He is here.  There is good around me.  There is good in the disciplining of children.  There is good in the labor for contentment.  There is much good in the longing for Heaven... in the realizing that nothing here will ever satisfy like Jesus.  No money, No time, No perfect body, No perfect child, no perfect job, no perfect house, No perfect yard, no perfect party, no perfect pet, no perfect furniture... NOTHING.  All will leave us empty and dry.. except for Christ.

I looked out the window of my gym.  The rain was still coming down.  Images of water brought to mind scripture references of living water, fountains, river of life.

If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:37-38)

I remembered the words of a song I penned a few months ago.  They ministered to me more today.  Our rest is waiting for us.  There IS a fountain.  We must come and drink.  We must come and rest.  We must come and take our contentment He promises to give.  Oh, JOY!  There IS joy here in this place.

Come to the Fountain, my beloved
it's okay to be weak
my water strengthens, renews, replenishes
come to the Fountain, come and drink

Come to the Fountain, my beloved
wounded heart, do not fear
my river deepens faith that has weakened
come to the fountain, I AM here

I AM the Lifter of you head
I AM the Lover of your soul
I AM healing your broken
I AM the One making you whole

Come to the Fountain, my beloved
leave your dirty, thirsty shore
my shower cleanses, my drink, it quenches
come to the Fountain, thirst no more

I AM lifting up your head
I AM loving your soul
I AM healing your broken
I AM making you whole

Come to the Fountain, my beloved
here your TRUE salvation lies
come and wade in, oh come and bathe in
come to the Fountain, come and find

beloved, you are mine

There are days we feel so empty.  We may feel we have lost a little of our faith.  But I believe, it is in THESE moments, that Christ is in the process of digging for us deeper wells in which He will pour MORE of Himself into.  The more the empty, the more room He has to inhabit.  The fact is, He is not just the Lifter of our head and Lover of our soul once in a while.  In all things, He is loving our souls.  I believe this.  It has taken me years to believe this, but I know it now.  The water He gives us is meant for our good.  Always.  Today, it just happens to be in the form of a freezing rain.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

..but it was all worth it to them....

"Mommy, why is everyone getting ready for Christmas?  It's Thanksgiving.  Are they just skipping over Thanksgiving?"  my oldest questioned while observing the lighted snowflakes lining the street.  "That's so sad.  Thanksgiving is so important.  All those pilgrims traveled all this way.  They died.  They got sick.  But it was all worth it to them... so they could worship the one true God."

Oh my heart skipped a beat.  I, too, had forgotten.  I, too, was already thinking of pulling my Christmas stuff out to be ready to decorate our tree over the weekend.  I, too, had forgotten the meaning of Thanksgiving.  I kept replaying his words... those words from an innocent, honest, child: but it was all worth it to they could worship the ONE TRUE GOD.

Where in my life do I walk through suffering and see that it is WORTH every bit.  Where do I risk my life... my reputation... what people will think of me... and boldly walk forward in obedience.  I don't have to journey across an ocean to make such sacrifices for Christ.  My sacrifice can come in kindness toward my husband.  In patience with my children.  In selfless giving and even CONTENTMENT in where He has me right now.  When HE is worth more than saying biting words....than proving I'm "right." 

Oh, Father, have mercy on ME sinner that I am!   You ARE worth it.. no matter the lies.  No matter the immediate gratification my flesh craves.  There is justice and there is reward in following HARD after YOU.  May I live in such a way that never compromises my faith....that never settles for less than YOU are asking of me.

Happy Thanksgiving!  May you spend this week thankful of those who found HIM to be worth every mile of suffering and pain... may you join them in their journey..

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Highlights and Deep Thoughts from our Disney Vacation

This post is mostly for myself.  As I have been forced to jump back into "life", I want to NEVER forget some favorite moments and quotes from our Disney vacation.  So here goes my quick recap.  We had one of the most blessed times.  It literally was as if our Heavenly Father was smiling on us in delight as we awaited the next gift He knew was coming.  I am TRULY thankful for all of these blessings... TRULY all good gifts come from above.

1.  After we surprised our "big three" with the trip, we started walking to the car to leave for the airport, Josh turned back and gave me a big hug.  "Thank you so much Mommy.  This is the best day.  I've always wanted to fly in an airplane and go to Disney World again.  Mommy, will we go to church on Sunday in Disney World?  Because I want to thank God, too."

2.  We board the plane and Josh says, "This is the best Friday through Tuesday of my entire life!"

3.  We taxi up to our spot in Orlando and Josh looks out the window, "What?  Oh man, we are right back where we started!"

4.  As we walk off the plane into the Orlando airport, Emma Faye says (so loudly making those around us laugh)  "Well, Disney World, sure was fun."  (thinking our adventure WAS the plane right...)

5.  On the ride over to our hotel the moon was a large orange.  Breathtaking.  Gift from the Lord.

6.  There was a mix up with our hotel room, therefore Chris said the manager said, "Dr. Pruitt, I think we've solved our little puzzle with your room.  We have up-graded you to our club-level.  I think you will find your stay here to be very magical."  (blessing.  this included our own private lobby stocked full of snacks, catering, and our private concierge)

7.  Amazing weather.  Low crowds at Magic Kingdom.  No waits.  (blessing)

8.  Stopping as we entered Magic Kingdom to look at a squirrel Emma Faye spotted.  I love how she is fascinated by the simple things in life.  And if I hadn't stopped her, I really believe that squirrel would have let her touch him.  The thing wouldn't move.. which made Emma Faye say,"Mommy, it's like how Belle talks to animals, the animals aren't scared of people."  :)

9.  Riding Carousel with Emma Faye and her saying, "Mommy, I'm pretending this is a horsey race."

10.  Riding Space Mountain with my boys and hearing them scream in utter delight.

11.  Kissing my husband every morning and saying "thank you for working so hard for us so we could take this vacation."  (the one day I forgot, was the one day things got a little difficult)  ;)

12.  Slow to anger hearts and quick to forgive hearts from everyone.  Blessing.  (no, everyday wasn't perfect.. but every day was redeemed.)

13.  Watching fireworks over castle from awesome spot.

14.  Chris buying Emma Faye her treasured Tinkerbell balloon.  (sweet moment)

15.  Dinning at Cinderella's castle.

16.  Laughing so hard with my husband at some extremely absurd moments... laughing at ourselves.

17.  Front row seating at parades.  Electrical parade was amazing.

18.  Spending time with Emma Faye while the guys road all the rides and really NOT minding.  Enjoyed hearing her heart and listening to her imagination.

19.  Will getting to ride Mission Space at Epcot after hearing him talk about how he really wanted to do that!

20.  Aerosmith roller coaster at Hollywood Studios.  Awesomeness.

21.  Josh wanting to ride Tower of Terror.. me scared out of my mind.. and listening to him belly laugh during it's duration.

22.  Friends' prayers for our trip.  We felt them!

23.  Josh saying to me, "Mommy, is Pluto real, or a person dressed up?  Because when I went to hug him, I felt a zipper."  :)

24.  Watching my boys fight Darth Vader.  Video coming soon.. hillarious!

25.  Emma Faye riding Dumbo... and then getting to ride it again.  Her laugh is contagious.

26.  Mama and Papa staying in Birmingham and keeping Thomas for us. Next time little man.... your day is coming.  :)

And my ALL time favorite thing:

27.  Watching Chris lead us...He had a plan everyday.  It wasn't hectic or drill sargent-ish.  He was flexible.  He made decisions...revised plans.  He came up with GENIOUS solutions.  Like when we had trouble sleeping because of hotel noises.. he looked up "sounds" on his computer and found a "white" noise sound and we just ran that at night.  (isn't that genius?)  He figured out the matrix of fastpass times and when to see what.  He organized from Touring Plans each night our path for the next day.  He orchestrated strollers and who was to ride in them.  He maintained order with the kids.  He didn't allow the fact that we were on vacation meant the kids would walk all over us.  He disciplined with grace... and the children responded.  He was patient with me and ALL of my weaknesses.  He truly set the pace of our days.  Even when one day he urged for me and Emma Faye to leave a park to take a nap.  I didn't want to, but surrendered.. and SO thankful I did.  Had a GREAT evening with the family.  (He knew his girls were exhausted).  He walked us through airport security and lead us to the gate.  He even had forethought to grab a fastpass for me when I returned to park, since I had not be able to ride anything.  Got to ride a roller coaster by myself.  I was hesitant how we were going to do a buffet for one of our dinners, but he stated we were all going through it together and he made himself a plate and two other plates.. while I did mine and another.  (genius)  He was a hero.  I know not by a lot of people's standards, but it was so relaxing to have someone plan for us.  I simply followed and helped the children follow.  They knew Daddy was always in front and Mommy was in the back.  It was a great system.  I watched my boys begin to model the leadership they witnessed from their father.. grabbing bags, reaching for Emma Faye's hand...helping me on a ride... opening doors... and holding open exit gates.  Beautiful.

I am sure I will remember more as the days pass and as I begin looking over our pictures.  It really was Magical.  Not necessarily because it was Disney (although, I am always amazed when I am there)... but just how the Lord showered simple blessings on us every day.  We had an amazing time.  We made amazing memories.  And no, we were not perfect.  Our family had our moments.  We had our disputes.  But EVERY DAY was redeemed.  There was no wasted time.  Even as Emma Faye melted down on the floor in The Land at Epcot screaming that she just wanted to go to Heardmont Park (which is a small park right down the road from us), I found the humor in that.  I decided a long time ago that this trip was going to be about the kids.  I was going to use the phrase, "hurry up" as least as possible.  This proved to be wise.  They were able to enjoy their vacation at their OWN pace.  I discovered that children don't need to be impressed and wowed.  They long for the simpler things.  It was enough to walk around and look at the beautiful flowers at the hotel as long as we were walking together and talking about them.  Perhaps this is why Jesus asks us to come as little children.  We, as adults, think we need to be impressed.  We want to see God move in amazing ways, when really, it's amazing enough that the leaves can change from green to bright red as Will always mentions in amazement almost every other morning as we drive to school.  "I just love red trees, Mommy.  How does God do that?" 

Disney World is great and vacations are great, but our kids don't need that.  They just want our time.  It's sad that adults forget this.  We feel we have to leave to provide that uninterrupted attention.  This is what I have taken from our trip.  As we head into this Thanksgiving week, we aren't going anywhere.  I am thankful.  My heart is overflowing with gratitude.  I am going to enjoy time with my family of six.....  and it, too, can be magical.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Tree of Thanksgiving

"What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving"  (Psalm 116: 12, 17)

October blew through our house.  I can hear my children counting down, "Only one more month until Christmas!!!!!!"  

Only one more month.  November.  What about Thanksgiving?

I feel all too often our culture frolics through all the hay rides, pumpkin patch visits, planting of the mums and apple picking October has to offer. We celebrate all month long the beautiful weather, school parties, and football games all leading up to the great climax of The Fall Festival... Trick or Treating..  the giant reveal of our costumes.. or better yet.. our children's costumes.  We enjoy running through the streets at night all the while filling our bellies of deep laughs at our costumed selves and WAY too much candy.  Then what?

November is greeted about as well as the empty candy wrappers lying on our street, come November first morn.   It's welcomed and pondered maybe only a little more than the tootsie pop I cleaned out of my bushes, or the rotting pumpkin I threw away.  It's a breather.  It's a "let's get things together" break until the Christmas hype arrives.

I don't want to skip over Thanksgiving.  I want to relish in it.  I want my children to find GREAT GREAT value in the gift of giving thanks.  Yes, the gift. you I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving...

Have you ever really counted your blessings?  Other than on Thanksgiving day.  Have you sat down and daily counted them.  Try counting the blessings money cannot buy.  Do this.  Do this and then tell me Thanksgiving isn't something we as Christians should make more of.  To me, it's more than just a story about a journey.  It's about the story of MY journey.  My life as a Pilgrim... traveling through and living in this world I am not ultimately intended for.   Thanksgiving is a time of celebrating what we have been given in Christ.  As I read the 116th Psalm I can't help but worship our most awesome GOD.

I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my supplications.  Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.  The cords of death encompassed me and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow.  Then I called upon the name of the Lord: "O Lord, I beseech You, save my life!"  Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate.  The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me.  Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.  For you have rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.  I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living....  what shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?  I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.  I shall pay my vows to the Lord, oh may it be in the presence of all His You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the Lord......

Thanksgiving is realizing what we have in Christ.  Thanksgiving is preparing our hearts for Christmas.  In focusing on our gifts in Christ and the grace He has bestowed us during our journey, we are reminded of the One who took the greatest journey... the most miraculous pilgrimage. Emmanuel.  God became man. Thanksgiving is finding the joy.. the blessing.. in this broken world.  Choosing to be thankful is our offering to Him.  It is continuing our hope.  It is living out our faith.

Many days I choose not to live thankfully.  I choose to not hope in Christ.  I live as though this is the reality.  But scripture speaks otherwise.  I have been rescued from death... my eyes have been rescued from my tears.. and all that will or has caused me to stumble.. from THAT ALSO I HAVE been rescued.  Yes, a mystery, but True.

So this November I have created a Tree of Thanksgiving.  It sits on our kitchen table.  Each night we pull out a tiny leaf ornament with a scripture passage relating to praise, thankfulness, or blessings.  We read it and try to memorize it.  We talk about it and those who engage are rewarded with a piece of October candy.  (I think we have enough to last us through the month...  :) )  The kids think it's great.  Chris praised me for my creative idea and thanked me for being so thoughtful for our family.  But really... I did it for me.  I want the reminder.  I NEED the reminder.  It is my heart's cry to love my Lord if only just because He hears my voice and my supplications.  Isn't that miracle enough?  The God who created all things hears my small voice. My small insignificant voice.  Oh, yes, I have SO many things for which to be grateful.  I should spend all year dwelling on thanksgiving.. every day.. every hour.  

Baby steps.  It's difficult in trials to count the joy.  Perhaps this is why the psalmist called it a "sacrifice of thanksgiving."  But in Christ, we are promised that it is there.  The hunt begins.  The ending better than the beginning.  The view from the top, breathtaking.... I just need to begin the climb... up my Tree of rugged branch at a time.