We Gather Together – Thanksgiving 2016

After a year of tremendous division, we need Thanksgiving more than ever & the simple words of the hymn We Gather Together create such a beautiful picture.

After a year of tremendous division and fear in our country, we need Thanksgiving more than ever. As I thought about giving thanks today, I couldn’t stop singing the classic hymn We Gather Together.

The lyrics seem extra poignant. Maybe, I’ve never really paid attention to them before, but they drew me in today.

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing;
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Not only is gathering important as friends and family, but especially as Christians for fellowship. Living separate from the world but in it, can be lonely. We gather together to encourage and be encouraged, reminded that we need not fear because we belong to the Lord.

Hebrews 10:25 (NASB) 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
We gather together for fellowship and encouragement, remembering to Whom we belong. #Thankful Click To Tweet

I love how the hymn discusses a body of believers gathering to seek His blessing, His chastening.

Chastening is God’s correction of the sin in our lives. And it is a blessing, He corrects our steps, sets us right. I’m not always grateful for the correction in the moment, but I’m learning to see it correctly.

God promises us He reproves whom He loves.

Discipline isn’t punishment, it’s guidance. When I punish my daughter, it’s never vindictive. I want her to learn, grow, mature so that she’ll be prepared for obstacles to come.

God chastens & reproves those He loves. It is part of His blessings for us. Click To Tweet
Revelation 3:19 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

In the hard times, I’ve learned to seek His face. When I hit a wall in a friendship, my marriage, or parenting, I’ve learned to search out God’s will, even if it means I must change.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

After a year of tremendous division, we need Thanksgiving more than ever & the simple words of the hymn We Gather Together create such a beautiful picture.

I think about all the small ways God ordained my every step this year. The devotionals I read that challenged and convicted me at just the right moment, the lessons I learned at exactly the time I needed them.

I’ve faced some heartbreaking moments this year. But God orchestrated my paths to and through them. He stood by my side through it all. His picture is an eternal one.
I am especially grateful for the way His word is always relevant for me, everyday.
Today’s daily passage was Revelation 3 which reflects the hymn I had already been singing and writing about.
Revelation 3:10 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be;
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

We lift up His name in praises today, seeing His leadership and dominion, asking for Him to defend us against the tribulations of the world.

What tremendous safety we have in Him.

And much like the company that shared our feast today, God promises His great desire for communion with us.

Revelation 3:20 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

I imagined the Lord sharing my table today, seeing Him through the blessings of friends who joined our celebration because of providential happenings, and know God is present in our thanksgiving as we gather together.

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Why I won’t buy a Tiffany Lamp

As a young woman, I used to imagine what my future home would look like once I could afford to move out of the cramped, college apartment lifestyle. I would picture a delicious reading nook with a cozy chair and the warm ambiance of a Tiffany lamp surrounded by rich mahogany.

Then I made my first budget, looked at the price of a Tiffany lamp, and put it firmly out of my mind. Even so, often I come back to that idealistic image. Last night catching up with my DVR, I flipped through one of the plethora of holiday catalogs that have already started filling my mailbox. The most beautiful Tiffany lamp caught my eye. I quickly scanned to see the price, $349. *Sigh* large__4470694244

I quickly calculated, imagined squirreling away $5 here, $20 there, anticipating purchasing this lamp. I pictured right where I would put it, how it would glow against my red accent wall. I stared at the picture, daydreaming of hot tea, cozy pajamas, and my lamp whisking me away into the perfect bliss of quiet reading time. Ahem, as if I ever actually FIND time in which to quietly read, but I digress.

Then I imagined military movers with my Tiffany lamp and shuddered. Then I thought about how my beautiful, imaginary lamp would really make me feel. I wouldn’t want anyone to touch it. Letting the kids dust it would give me palpitations. In my mind, watching the dogs chase the cat under the table that houses my imaginary lamp made my stomach knot. I imagined how I might act protecting my lamp. I could almost hear the shrill, sharp tone I would use if anyone played too roughly near my lamp. If it were broken someday, how would I feel about having wasted $349 when we’re living paycheck to paycheck?

I’ve been making a concerted effort to serve God intentionally in my home, with my home, choosing God’s focus in ways that encourage my family to enjoy our things instead of simply not breaking them. My house is supposed to give us a place to rest and fellowship, be a place to live.

Would a fragile lamp be worth the cost, much less the price tag?

One of the biggest changes my husband can see in my life has been relaxing who I am in our home, by what standard am I measuring my success. That standard should always be Jesus, Jesus who taught us to love each other, to love others more than ourselves, and that people who value wealth rarely find Him.

I look around at the now mussed, lived-in look of my house and celebrate the growth in my heart. I’ve spent years afraid to live with stuff that doesn’t magically get put away the second we are done with it, living without understanding the people in the home are more important than the things that might get broken. In the past, I’ve cried over broken ceramics, but ignored the hurts my careless actions caused my family.

But today, a toy broom lays at my feet because I was playing with my daughter after lunch. Her elaborate “picnic” sits carefully constructed in the middle of the living room, waiting patiently for her daddy to come home to play. Toy friends lie carelessly strewn right in the middle of the hallway waiting to create an entire imaginary world for her, causing her to stop to play instead of rush to beg for television or kindle time.

Saving up money and waiting patiently for something that we want is a good lesson to teach children, but right now, that is the only good lesson I can think of regarding this lamp.

Looking at the price tag, I can spend $350 on a lot of things: a plane ticket for one of my stepsons to visit, a vet bill for one of our beloved pets, Christmas gifts for our extended family, or a carload of groceries for the neighbors who haven’t had fresh vegetables in a month.

I have chosen to put serving God above everything else, and God always asks, “What can you be doing for me?” and I can’t see how I could serve Him with this lamp, either in my home or in my community.

No matter how beautiful a lamp might be, it cannot be allowed to overshadow God’s light in me. So, no, I won’t buy a Tiffany lamp. My house is supposed to serve my family, not my family serve my house. My home can be a safe place for my husband, kids, and pets or a Tiffany lamp.

photo credit: rthakrar via photopin cc