With Thanksgiving 

 
Thanksgiving has always been an incredible holiday experience in my family. Food, family, and fun have always been the norm resulting in a lifetime of memories that have helped shape my values and direct my life. This has given me a thankfulness for my past that is rooted deep in my soul.

I realize that my experience is not the same as everyone else’s. I know how blessed I am. I know that those like me who find the holidays to be refreshing and full of joy have something truly amazing to be thankful for. I try very hard on a daily basis to live in a way that does not take it for granted. This stage of life is showing me on a daily basis what I have to be thankful for right now, today, every day.

Last year Thanksgiving changed. We were at my parents’ farm where I group up. It was early in the morning. We were getting to ready to have breakfast when we got the news. My father in law had passed away early in the morning hours before dawn.We were close. He would frequently supervise me as I tackled projects way beyond my skill set—offering up his expert advice and informed opinions—all smothered in generous helpings of his winsome sarcasm. 

Over the years I had come to love and appreciate our conversations. They were packed with questions. He would quiz me on different passages of scripture and I would share my opinions. We disagreed almost as much as not and I ALWAYS came away learning something even though I was the one being asked the questions. 

His passing hit me hard. He had become a second father to me. Of course I was sad, as most people are when losing someone they care for, but I was reassured by one simple passage of scripture that I have probably heard hundreds, maybe thousands of times.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭100:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A year ago that’s exactly what he did. It was a reminder of the joy that awaits us. In an era of cultural uncertainty it has renewed in me a sense of thankfulness for the future.

From One Mom to Another: You should go on a mission trip . . .

On mission trips there are needs surrounding you at every moment. Needs of the people you are there to minister to. Needs of the missionaries, families, and staff you are in country supporting and assisting. Needs of your own team. It is a great burden and responsibility. It also a wonderful opportunity to experience incomprehensible joy. Much like motherhood.

Mom, won’t you join us for a few funny (and genuine) reasons why you should spend time in the mission field and on short term mission trips. So here we go…

5. The newborn phase already taught you how to survive without a shower.

4. You automatically count the number of your people who are on the bus/car/truck/motorcycle.

3. You don’t whine much because no one at home is listening anyway.

2. You’re used to carrying your body weight in diaper bags, toys, equipment, and children.

1. You’re an amazingly efficient packer when packing for four people, there’s no telling how efficient you could be only packing for one.

Truthfully, consider these:

5. You’re family will survive without you. They need the chance to take over some of your responsibilities.

4. You have been inherently gifted to give your heart to those around you in the way God specifically created a woman to love. You have been given little blessings on whom to perpetually practice this skill.

3. Being a mom has uniquely sharpened your ability for your heart to break without your Spirit breaking. Being resilient is a God given trait. I’m pretty sure it appears in the dictionary with mother.

2. Because of your experience, an experience resulting in a practical and powerful faith, you will be able to minister to other wives and moms in ways single ladies or men will never know.

1. We can’t JUST tell our kids that Jesus said Go into all the World and preach the Gospel……

Moms have a lot of GREAT reasons not to go. We have a great calling here in our homes and jobs, but that does not cancel our other callings. My children NEED me but they need Jesus MORE. And they also need to understand there are kids and moms around the globe who need Jesus even more than my kids need me.

In a few short days, You can invest in and make an eternal impact on families in a far away place. Then with renewed vision, strength, and perspective you fly home and continue to invest in your family.

SERIOUSLY! Prayerfully consider joining us for a trip soon. From one mom to another, I can’t wait to go again.

Love: More or Less

 
The cashier looks at us and says the words everyone hopes to hear standing in the checkout line. “I’ll take the next in line over here” as she opens a new lane.

A man and his wife cut in front of our family at the grocery store. I’m holding my six month old son, he’s crying, having exhausted all patience for this place. My oldest son is bouncing from rack to rack begging for candy. My wife has had a LONG week. Sick kids, crazy work stress, the pressures of ministry. How do we react?

Love. But it doesn’t feel very lovely. In fact I have a rare talent for opening my mouth at all of the wrong times. And this is one of those times when I absolutely want to. But I don’t. Truthfully it won’t hurt us to wait a couple of more minutes—and I don’t know what is going on with this young couple that they feel the need to rush in front of a dozen or so other people. 

Now, don’t confuse love in this situation with quiet, or passiveness. In fact, never confuse love with quiet or passiveness. Sometimes loving someone means making A LOT of noise and getting right in their face to tell them the hard thing they need to hear. 

I work with people. Most of us do. I see people, talk to people, and help people daily. If I don’t love them how can I fulfill what I believe to be my life’s purpose? Really that’s what this idea boils down to for me. 

Every day, in every situation, we have a choice to make regarding each person we interact with. We can choose to love them more, or love them less. 

Loving them more could mean extending grace, holding back judgement, and offering goodwill, but it could also mean correction or confrontation. We have to decide that. You know, like that famous Disney cricket from the 20th century said, “Let your conscience be your guide.”

What does it mean to love people less? Well, don’t we see the fruits of this on a regular basis? War and violence, disrespect and discord. 

In the absence of love there will be the presence of something. Some emotion. Some thoughts or feelings. I choose to fill my heart and thoughts with love toward others. I don’t always get it right. But I’m aiming to love more, not less.

What about you? It’s not a one time sweeping decision. It’s an every day—every interaction—kind of decision. Choose. Because you can. Choose to love more, not less.

Thanks for reading,

Nate