Tag Archives: thanksgiving

On the first day of Fall

Several years ago, three, I think, I posted this reflection on the fall. It really is one of my favorite seasons. It came up “on this day” on Facebook. As I reread it, I thought it is still true. Autumn reminds me that life is short. God is good and each day is gift and the fall weather reminds me that I should not take this gift for granted. I am reposting in the hopes that that reminder might be a blessing for others.

On the Autumn Equinox


Thoughts on this first day of Fall

Last year at this time I was reading an old fall issue of Midwest Living, a magazine that focuses on life in the mid-west. What struck me about this issue, was not the recipes, although I love to cook, not the trips or the festivals but the opening piece by the editor. He had asked people why they loved the fall. The responses varied, but tended toward “it’s cooler, it’s football weather, the leaves are lovely and my routine is back after the long days of summer.”I was looking for something else. I love autumn. I, too, love the cooler weather, the leaves that change colors, the opportunity to jump in a pile of just raked leaves, the mums that burst forth as the last color before winter. I love the smell of the wood fires and the sight of bright stars on a cool crisp night.

For me, autumn is my time to reassess my life. I know for our dominant culture we make “resolutions” on January 1. I, however, look over my goals, check out my calender and try to prioritize what is truly important in the fall.

Autumn drives me in a way no other season does. I feel compelled to check my pantry, to can up produce and freeze produce for the winter. I feel pushed by time as the days grow shorter and colder.

Without being maudlin, autumn reminds me that I will not live forever. My days on earth have a beginning and have an end. I am not promised forever, only the moments I am given. As the days wane, I am deeply aware that my life also wanes. In the springtime all is new and exciting and wonderful and young. I look for the tulips and the daffodils and iris to spring forth in all their glory. In the fields I can see the young calves and the lambs and the colts. I can hear the “cheep cheep” of the young birds in the nest.

Summertime is for long sun-filled days, full of energy. When the crops begin to grow green and tall and begin to produce the sought after harvest. Summer is a gathering in of family and friends and an enjoyment of time that seems to stand still.

Then suddenly, the days grow shorter, a cool breeze creeps in from the north. soon leaves begin to turn color until they are a riot of orange and coral and amber and red. The wind grows stronger and they begin to fall until the branches of the trees are barren and the grass has turned brown and the nights are much longer than the days.

Autumn is our seasonal reminder to “pay attention” if you will to the life we have been given. To say “I love you” to the people that matter the most. To, in the words of the Psalmist “to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.” There will come a time when I enter the winter of my life, when like the autumn leaves, I will have spent all that have and will lie down to rise no more.

I want to honor the days of my life that I am given. I want to love well, to truly let those people I love know how much I have loved them and appreciated their love. I want to use my gifts and abilities in a way that leaves this world a better place. And at the last, I want to say a prayer of thanks to God for the times and the seasons I have been given.

I am

Graced to Serve.


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Giving Thanks

Today I give thanks for so many things: family, friends, a job, a home I love, a chance to cook and for the people who will gather around my table tomorrow. Thanksgiving week usually tends to be a slower week at church, even though we are gearing up for Advent.

Today, once I got home, it was full swing into getting ready for company. We had kids and grandkids coming home. We finished up cleaning and making beds. For me, it was cooking and baking.

I tend to do as much preparation as I can before a big feast day. I want to enjoy the day and not spend the whole time in the kitchen. Tomorrow, three of us will participate in the ‘Say Grace’ 5K race in the morning. The money supports a ministry of the United Methodist Church and it’s fun.

So, today I made a chocolate bourbon pecan pie, caramel apple banana muffins, a cranberry tart.


I tasted the cranberry curd….oh my is it tasty! I also bought pies from the youth, so dessert is covered! We smoked a natural ham in the smoker and I I just pulled the turkey out of the oven.


My twin sister is bringing the green bean casserole and the make ahead mashed potatoes. The 7 layer jello salad will be done before the evening is out. There will be relishes, corn and dressing to finish up tomorrow.

When it is all said and done there will be ten around my table and I couldn’t be happier. Surrounded by love and laughter, that for me is the bedrock of Thanksgiving. The food is important, but the fellowship is what makes the feast.

So from my house to yours, may you experience love and laughter this Thanksgiving and may grace and gratitude bless you.


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Resting on Sunday

Today has been a typical Sunday. Church was wonderful. The youth delivered their pies, we were challenged to remember to give thanks.

This afternoon, I had plans. Thanksgiving is this week and my to do list is long for home and for church. I laid for my normal every week Sunday “sacred nap.” I woke up after about 10 minutes, but decided to stay in bed a little longer.

Two hours later, I finally drug myself out of bed. I told my husband, “maybe we could go for a walk,” but we didn’t. There was an event down at Century II I thought about attending. I just couldn’t move. I was tired, really tired.

Then this came across my facebook newsfeed from Love What Matters:


My husband said, “pay attention. You always work, it is okay to just take the afternoon off.”

So I have. I read the paper, the Sunday paper ON Sunday. I have watched a little football with my husband (don’t ask who is playing.) I have done basically nothing.

Tomorrow will be here soon enough. I will have a very long to do list, a three day week at church will require me to be at the top of my game to be ready to have a holiday. The house will have chores to be done and food to be prepared. What will get done, will get done. Today, I rest. I replenish, I refill, I refresh. I am grateful for the time to do so. It is enough.

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Thanksgiving Chores and Preparations

Recently the world has erupted in anger, chaos and violence. Mostly I have been distracted and saddened, deeply saddened by the hatred and anger simmering under the surface. In the midst of all, though, I, can not always think about these terrorist attacks and refugees and all things that are wrong and unjust.

In fact, with the Thanksgiving holiday just a week away, I am juggling work and how to get ready to have our family home. The past two days, I have begun the preparations. Certain chores I don’t mind and others are not so much fun.

Cooking gives me joy. I love all the preparation for baking and cooking. Grocery shopping makes me happy. I actually enjoy ironing the tablecloths and napkins and polishing the silver. I am not so fond of all the dusting and mopping and vacuuming.

Today, all the napkins have been ironed. I have worked on organizing the third floor where the grandchildren will be sleeping. Much more work will need to be done in order for everything to ready.


Wednesday night at the church I serve, I taught a “stress free holiday cooking” class. It was great fun and my prayer is that it was helpful. For those who want some recipes that would make Thanksgiving easier, I offer these three that are tasty, fast and make the preparations a little easier.

CranApple Sauce

5 apples (granny smith, gala, Jonathon or your favorite)

peeled and chunked

½ cup sweetened dried cranberries

1 cup concentrated cranberry apple juice

Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan and cook about 10 minutes until it becomes a chunky sauce. Can be served warm or cold


Refrigerator Mashed Potatoes (Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes)

5 pounds russet potatoes

8 ounces cream cheese

8 ounces sour cream

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon salt  and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

  1. Peel and cook potatoes.
  2. Drain well and mash until smooth.
  3. Add cream cheese, sour cream, seasonings and butter.
  4. Beat with hand mixer until smooth and fluffy.
  5. Place in lightly greased casserole dish.
  6. Dot with more butter.
  7. Refrigerate until ready to bake.
  8. Bake at 350 until heated through (about 30-45 min.)


Spicy Sweet Potato Mash

1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes

1 tablespoon butter

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 ½ tablespoons real maple syrup

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or hot smoked paprika or to taste

Wash the outside of the sweet potatoes and pierce all over with a fork and place in the microwave. Cook on high for 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are soft

Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh into a large, microwave-safe bowl. Add the butter and mix well.

Crush the thyme in with your fingers and add the pumpkin, syrup, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Using a potato masher or a large folk, mash the potatoes until smooth. Place the potato mash back into the microwave and heat for 1 minute or two.

The potatoes can be baked in the oven and the mash itself can be placed in the oven to heat. If you want to fancy it up, you could sprinkle chopped pecans over the top, or chopped spicy pecans over the top.

However you celebrate, may your preparations not be too taxing, your anticipation delicious and in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty of our world, may you gratitude be a gift of grace and love.

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Saturday six

In RevGalBlogPals each Friday there is a challenge to write on the “Friday Five.” Yesterday, I missed the post because I was taking down Thanksgiving decorations and began putting up Christmas decorations. I also re-posted a blog of my brothers from The Kansas Expatriate

So instead of a “Friday Five” I thought I would post a “Saturday Six.” This post will serve as a transition from Thanksgiving to Advent. I love the Thanksgiving season and I love the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany cycle and season as well. Here are my six things I give thanks for today as I move into the Christian New Year.

1. I am grateful for a husband who loves cheesy Christmas decorations as much as I do. He helps me decorate for all the seasons, but we go crazy at Christmas time with vintage outdoor Santas, snow men, candles and a Grinch who steals the light from our home each year.


2. I am grateful to have a home that lends itself to multiple Christmas trees and the joy I have in decorating them.



3. I am grateful for a beautiful day, where it was 70 degrees and I ate supper on the back porch. Tomorrow the temperature dips again and goes down for the rest of the week. Kansas in all its glory has very interesting weather!

4. I am grateful for the New Year that Advent brings. Once again, as Christians we come to a time where we hope for the coming of that time where there is justice, peace and joy.

5. In the midst of the darkness season of the year, and dark times as a nation and as a world, I look for the light that is promised in Emmanuel, God-with-us.

6. In the midst of violence, anger and pain, I pray for peace and look for the time when the Prince of Peace will reign forever and ever. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

With those Saturday six, I am graced to serve.

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What’s in a name: some fun creativity

Four years ago, Grace Med, a ministry of the United Methodist Church started a 5K race on Thanksgiving morning. This year there were 1600 runners/walkers. Some are serious, really serious runners, as in it was 26 degrees and they were in short running shorts and tanks. Me? I was in thermal leggings, thermal ear warmers, thermal gloves, thermal jersey….well you get the picture…or here is a picture (at the end of the race with gloves off!


Part of the fun, of course, are those who dress in costume, and those who come up with team names. I wish I had gotten some pictures of those costumes! So much creativity! Part of the joy of being there a little early was to see some of the t-shirts that the teams created.

Some of favorites:

Forced Family Fun (three generations of bright blue t-shirts with bright orange letters)

Huffin’ for the Stuffin’ (again at least three generations, long sleeve gray t-shirts)

Fifty Shades of Gravy

We Got the Runs…..

There were turkey hats, fake “tail feathers”, tutus in fall colors of course and just us normal folk, out to get some exercise before the big feast. There were families, strollers, wheelchairs, some who used walkers to do the race, plus plenty of runners and walkers doing the best the could. All were there, supporting a great cause.

I am grateful for so many things, not the least is the ability to walk a 5K we were not fast, but we finished and felt pretty good overall. I am grateful for the ministry of Grace Med and the ability to support it. I am thankful for family, friends, food and laughter. I am thankful that because of all good gifts and blessings in my life, I am graced to serve.

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Thanksgiving Eve

Yesterday I wrote about that it had been one year since my mother’s memorial service. Last year on this day my brother’s and I spend all day cooking and baking and enjoying preparing a Thanksgiving feast. Today, I prepared a much smaller feast to be shared tomorrow with my husband and his mother.

First, my husband and I will participate in a 5K run/walk for Grace Med. This ministry offers health care to the underserved in the Wichita area. They are a ministry of the United Methodist Church. Four years ago they began the “Say Grace” race.

There is much I have for which I am grateful. Yesterday, I was thankful for the memories of my mother and the celebration of her life. I was also thankful for a day bookmarked by a gorgeous sunrise and sunset. I don’t often see both but yesterday morning at the downtown YMCA, this was what I saw as we walked in preparation of tomorrow’s race:



The end of the day’s picture did not turn out quite so lovely, but the view as I left the church was just as stunning.


On this night I am thankful for the ability to walk 5K to help the medically underserved in the greater Wichita area; a plan to “skype” with grandchildren; to cook for my mother-in-law and husband; some days at home to enjoy with my husband and to begin to decorate for the upcoming Christmas holiday. I am deeply grateful for family and friends, a roof over my head, and faith to make each day a gift. On this Thanksgiving eve, I am graced to serve.

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