Traditions to Get Behind

What traditions do you celebrate on Thanksgiving?

On Thursday of this week, most working Americans in the United States will receive a paid holiday to celebrate a national Thanksgiving Day, a day of feasting, family, fun and of course thanksgiving. It is estimated that 46 million turkeys will be eaten on this day and about the same number of people will travel to get to the place where they eat this traditional meal

At Holy Hen House, many readers have participated in our Grateful to God Challenge. Though not yet a tradition, we are in the second year. The stories and reflections are poignant, heartwarming and sincere! We thank our readers for the messages of faith, family, and friends that God has moved them to share. We look forward to more as the month continues. 

As these posts have attested, the fabric of our lives can be filled with joy and gratitude, no matter what our present circumstances. After all, we have been rescued and redeemed by a risen Lord! As women of faith we sing and make music to God with the attitude of gratitude that sets the tone for every family interaction.

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A forgotten fact about American Thanksgiving is the perseverance of a woman named Sara Josepha Hale. For 17 years she crusaded to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. In support of the proposed national holiday, Hale wrote letters to five Presidents of the United States: Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln. 

Her initial letters failed to persuade, but the letter she wrote to Lincoln convinced him to support legislation establishing a national holiday of Thanksgiving in 1863. The new national holiday was considered a unifying day after the stress of the American Civil War. To this day, Thanksgiving is the second favorite holiday of Americans. Churches across the land worship and thank God for his many blessings to our nation. Families gather around tables laden with these gifts. (Wikipedia) 

Today we are grateful for people like Sarah who persevere for their beliefs and do not give up. We especially celebrate women of faith who carry on the traditions of God’s people. Traditions like worship, Bible study, and teaching their children to pray. They might not do these perfectly, but as our tagline says,

"We are imperfect women spurred on by God’s perfect grace..."

God’s faithful are thankful and have grateful hearts. They live out the gospel and share it in a dark and dying world. They are…

“…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20

Now, that’s a tradition we can all get behind.

From Holy Hen House, have a joyful and grateful Thanksgiving!

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being thankful for the mundane

If you have children, I am guessing your children's bedtime routine is similar. Get in jammies. Brush teeth. Fill water bottles with an appropriate number of ice cubes, four if you are four years old, two if you are two years old. (Wait? That's not in your routine?!) Say prayers. Read bedtime story and Bible story. Go to sleep. Breathe a sigh of relief that you have indeed made it through another day. With our four year old daughter, our prayers consist of saying the Lord's Prayer and then also praying aloud an impromptu prayer covering all the topics-- thanksgiving, forgiveness, and requests.


Since our daughter has gotten a little older, we've been including her in the thanksgiving part of the prayer. We like to specifically ask what she is thankful for from that day.

Sometimes (and this sounds terrible), this would annoy me.

But let me explain. Toddlers don't always understand everything. Okay, that's surely not news to anyone. A concept, such as being thankful for something, can be difficult to really understand completely. Of course we have been teaching her to say thank-you since she could hardly speak, but did she really understand it much more than a response you give when someone provides you with something?

So when we first started this, what was she often thankful for?

"Thank you for lamp."

"Thank you for pictures."

"Thank you for blankie."

Hmpf. This was annoying to me. Here I am, trying to explain, "No. What is something we did today that you are thankful for? What is something special you are thankful for?" Surely she still had yet to completely understanding what thanksgiving is all about! What four year old cares about a lamp or pictures hanging on the wall?

Over the past year, even with my insistence to try to change this nightly prayer, it remains. My daughter continues to be thankful for her lamp, her pictures, her blankie. But a funny thing is happening. She is starting to add more things to this. "I am thankful for all my clothes and shoes. I am thankful for all my toys. I am thankful for my bed. I am thankful for all of my books and chapter books."

But those core items remained.

However I started to realize something. She really seems to understand thanksgiving these days. She clearly does by many of the things that she says she is thankful for. So, it would seem, she is thankful for her lamp and her pictures and who knows what else lying around.

But why shouldn't she be? Why was I getting so angry that she be thankful for the seemingly mundane things in her life? Isn't this what I, as her Mom, should be teaching her? I myself was praying for somewhat "mundane" things-- thanks for our cars, thanks for our house, thanks for all the things you have blessed us with. But she can't have those same ideas?

Some people don't have lamps. Some people don't have electricity! Some people don't have pictures. Some people don't have walls! Some people don't have a blankie. Some people don't have a home!

These are very real things to be thankful for! Just because I have been fortunate enough in my life to not experience this kind of disparity certainly doesn't mean I can't and shouldn't be thankful for them. Just because God has blessed me with not needing to worry about what I will eat or what I will wear certainly doesn't mean He doesn't want me to thank Him for them!

This realization, that took far longer than it should have to come to, is a huge slap in the face. Nothing like being taught by your four year old about being thankful.

Psalm 100: 1-5, "Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

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."

As you can probably guess, I don't get mad about our prayer anymore. I use our prayers to be thankful! A reminder to be so thankful for everything God has blessed me with, whether seemingly insignificant (to me) or as amazing as salvation from our Savior Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."


Everywhere I Look

This has always been my most favorite time of the far. There's something about the angle of the sun at this time of year as it shines through the golden leaves, the brisk mornings which make my cup of coffee taste that much better, the cool nights that bring with them a coziness as I sink into the couch under my favorite blanket. And then there is the landscapes. The brilliant reds, oranges, yellows that fill the stands of trees against the vibrant blue or graying autumn skies.



It's amazing that the time of year when everything is beginning to die and decay is also one of the most beautiful. But why?

Of course there is an in depth answer to this question which involves the breakdown of chlorophyll and other leaf pigmentation. But I often find myself thinking about an answer to that question that cannot be found in a science book.

Why did God decide to clothe the trees in these glorious colors year after year as a result of a scientific process? Could He not have accomplished the same goal in a much less beautiful, less grandiose way? Of course He could have. Why did He choose to create over 20,000 different species of trees and 375,000 types of plants to cover the earth? Could He not have created a vegetation that was all of the same color lacking any fragrance, any texture, any interest whatsoever? Of course He could have.

But He didn't.


He created a world full of incredibly beautiful and complex living organisms. He filled Lily of the Valley, Roses, Jasmine and so many other blooms with heavenly scents that are unmatched by any man-made fragrance. He created daffodils so intricate, so perfect that grow from a seemingly simple bulb planted in the ground. He gave each plant its own bloomtime, resulting in landscapes that are ever-changing but always gorgeous. He caused the forest floor to be covered with patches of brilliant greens which somehow manage to grow even under extremely low light conditions. He spoke all of these plants and trees into being and then filled the earth with astounding pollinators, such as butterflies, honey bees and hummingbirds.




But why?

The answer is actually quite simple: because He loves us and He wants us to glorify Him.


And even though we deserve none of it, He wants us to be happy. God could have created a world that was 100% functional with no beauty at all, but He chose not to out of love for you and me. Even though we are worthless sinners, having earned nothing but eternal damnation, the Lord saw fit to give us a world that sparks wonder, amazement and ultimately, points us back to Him.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth. Psalm 19:1-6

The next time you take a walk, drive your car or look out a window, linger just a moment longer. Take in the sight and remind yourself that it is not there as an accident or coincidence. God created that scene just for you.

And then smile and thank Him :)