Blessings

Today is my first Thanksgiving without either of my parents. There are so many wonderful and warm memories that mean so much, most of which are of the simplest things. I don’t know that I’ve had a dumpling since mama made her last ones several years ago. When I was little, she let me “help” her by rolling out the dough with the rolling pin. I’d float back and forth between the kitchen and the living room where my dad would sit at the end of the couch with his Bible in his lap studying his Sunday sermon before my three sisters and their families arrived. Our house was holiday central and I loved every minute of it.

Things have changed an awful lot over the years and, looking back, I wish I’d paid more attention to all the little things that at the time seemed to be little more than exercises in the mundane. I guess we all do that to one degree or another. Life is brief and it’s unfortunate that we usually don’t consider that until we’re reminded by the passage of many years or tragedies the likes of which our community has experienced this week and, it seems, all too often over the past several months. Though we needn’t grieve without hope, we grieve still. We struggle to embrace a new normal that finds loved ones gone from this earth and relationships that once were, no longer.

My prayer today is that we will hug longer, laugh more heartily, and express our love to our family and friends more openly and passionately while they are still here with us. I firmly believe that if we examine closely all that remains, even as we mourn that which is gone, that God can and will reveal to us blessings that we may have previously overlooked. He loves us more than we can fathom. He proved it when He allowed His Son to suffer on our behalf. He is able to give us a heavenly perspective of hope that transcends the temporal things of this world. That hope exists in the person of Jesus Christ. That is something to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving.

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A God-Shaped Hole

There are many ways that people seek and find comfort, at least temporarily, during difficult times. One immutable truth I’ve discovered in my life is that when things are the most hopeless, when people can fall no deeper into despair, it is God who they cry out to for help, whether publicly or in the privacy of their own thoughts, and it is God who supernaturally does exactly what He’s promised to do for those who will simply allow Him and that is to love and give comfort beyond human comprehension. It defies logic and is beyond what any human mind could even begin to understand but it is as real as the replica of my mama’s nose that resides in the middle of my face. I have seen it in the lives of friends and family. I have experienced it in my own life more times than I can count. Tonight, I saw it in two fathers and a mother who suddenly and tragically lost their 16 year old sons only 24 short hours ago. I believe that there is, as one Christian musician sang, a God-shaped hole in all of us and when our very souls shudder with fear and burn with pain so intense we wonder if we can live through even one more breath, He fills that hole, maybe even against our will, with peace and love and mercy so great that it is beyond explanation. I don’t know how and I surely don’t know why. I just know He does and for that, I am eternally grateful. He is Jehovah-Shalom.