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We Gather Together – Thanksgiving and Fellowship

After years of tremendous division, we need Thanksgiving more than ever & the simple words of the hymn We Gather Together remind us why it's important.

After another 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.

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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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Thanksgiving Attitude – More than a Day

Do you have a Thanksgiving attitude just on the fourth Thursday in November or should thanksgiving be an attitude we have for more than just one day?

Do you have a Thanksgiving attitude just on the fourth Thursday in November or should thanksgiving be an attitude we have for more than just one day?

In 2015, Thanksgiving was a contradiction in our home. While most of the country celebrated with large meals and loud boisterous gatherings, our table was be quiet.

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It was just another day without daddy in a long month of long daddy-less days.

But instead of sadness and bitterness over his responsibility to the army, I was able to react and adjust. How different was THAT response from previous responses dissolving into anger?!

Today, I read this post with great joy that I was able to see the blessings in a derailed holiday that year which reminded me to have a Thanksgiving attitude everyday.

—-Back to our story —-

This morning I crawled out of bed at 5 a.m. to hug and kiss him one more time before he went out the door. He won’t sleep tonight. And I’ll worry until he drags himself home tomorrow, 26 hours later.

But we’re so terribly grateful.

He is on U.S. soil, healthy and alive. Our extended family may be separated by too much distance, but everyone is happy and healthy even if we can’t share the same table.

We celebrated Thanksgiving last night with a veritable feast. Candlelight danced in my daughter’s eyes as we pried her fork out of the sweet potato casserole and tried to get her to eat a vegetable, even one covered in creamy mushroom soup and crispy onions.

Our table was beautiful and warm, heavy laden with more food than we can eat in a week, although we are going to do our best.

Do you have a Thanksgiving attitude just on the fourth Thursday in November or should thanksgiving be an attitude we have for more than just one day?

As of today (2015), we’ve spent six Thanksgiving holidays together, and six apart. In some ways, I’m sad because there is something special about being able to share a meal with my husband on Thanksgiving, the actual day, because we’ve missed so many.

But a Thanksgiving attitude really is more than a day on the calendar.

It is an attitude of giving thanks in everything, always, something this year has really taught me.

Thanksgiving is an attitude of giving thanks, always in everything. Eph 5:20 Click To Tweet

I’ve learned:

  • to see the the positives despite tough situations.
  • to Be Still and let God instruct me when I want to throw in the towel.
  • I can be more self-sufficient than I thought
  • having perspective to truly be thankful for my husband.

Ephesians 5:20 ESV “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

Giving thanks in everything is about God’s perspective over our own. If you’re His, that is enough to flood you with thanksgiving because you know to Whom you belong.

So God helps me have perspective, we have a warm house, a child we longed for (I love that National Adoption month is the same as Thanksgiving), too many pets to love and cherish, a full pantry and stuffed tummy, a stronger marriage.

We are beyond blessed on our worst days.

Cleaning up the kitchen last night, we were joking around. I sprayed him with the sprayer over the shoulder while washing dishes. Our daughter bounced around the house high on salted caramel and ginger ale, playing mommy to her baby doll. I was floored with my blessings.

I watched her softness and kindness with her doll knowing she is learning how to be a mom from me. Hearing her reflect the best of what I hope I am to her, made us both pause and just watch her for a moment.

My husband teased me and we laughed together, enjoying being able to wink and play and kiss over a steamy sink.

Thanks to the wondrous work God has done in my heart, home, and family this year, today isn’t my thanksgiving  .  .  .

My LIFE is, every single day.

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Salted Caramel Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole

Salted Caramel Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole -Starting a new tradition or want a new recipe for an old one? This sweet potato casserole is magical. It will have your mouth (and kids) giggling!

Holidays are all about the magic of traditions and memories. One of our favorite traditions is of course the food, and a magical sweet potato casserole is one of our Thanksgiving dinner must haves!

This year my daughter is finally old enough to understand the traditions I’m building around our home. She helped me set the table and fold the napkins, fussing over every fold, even for just us three.

We celebrated early this year because – ARMY, sigh. And my tiny chef helped me make our salted caramel sweet potato casserole. We like a plain sweet potato, but adding salted caramel and pecans make this casserole SING.  

Salted Caramel Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

I’m not much for measuring. I just eyeball everything, but I used this recipe myself today and our casserole was perfection!

This recipe will fill an 8×11 baking dish or a medium casserole dish. I tend to use a shallow baking dish so the topping to sweet potato ratio is balanced, but you can decide for yourself. I like to use a pan that will go from fridge to oven to microwave multiple times for leftovers!

This Salted Caramel Pecan Sweet Potato casserole is magical and will make your Thanksgiving! Click To Tweet

Recipe –

Approximately 6-8 cups fresh sweet potatoes cubed and boiled until fork tender or two 40 oz. cans of yams, drained completely.

Use potato masher to smash to a rough texture. Potatoes can be whipped smooth if you prefer.

If you use fresh, add 1/4-1/2 cup light brown sugar to taste. Prefer it sweeter? add more, but the topping is so sweet, I limit brown sugar in the potatoes.

If you use the canned potatoes, they are in syrup so don’t need any additional sweetening.

If you want to measure, start with small amounts and taste often so you know how much to use next time.

Liberally sprinkle cinnamon over yams, add pumpkin pie spices 1/4-1/2 tsp of each: cloves, allspice, nutmeg. Then a liberal dash of salt (probably a tablespoon or two).

Stir to incorporate and spoon into your casserole dish.

Salted Caramel Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole -Starting a new tradition or want a new recipe for an old one? This sweet potato casserole is magical. It will have your mouth (and kids) giggling!

For caramel –

1 stick of butter melted in sauce pan with 1/4 cup light Karo syrup, 1 cup brown sugar. Add salt to taste. I used a liberal teaspoon of popcorn salt because it is finer and dissolves nicely.

Melt until sugar dissolves, then add pecans (about 1 1/2-2 cups)

Then salt to taste. I like mine pretty salty. Spread over top of potatoes. Bake 30-40 min. At 350 degrees. Covered for 30 and uncovered 5-10 minutes.

Looking for a special recipe to wow your family, try this Salted Caramel Pecan Sweet Potato dish! Click To Tweet

Watching my daughter really understand Thanksgiving this year, her eyes light up at the feast and just be overjoyed that we were together was pretty special. But my favorite part of cooking for our family is watching her first bite.

If something is sweet and delicious, her eyes get wide, and then she laughs.  One bite of these sweet potatoes and she dissolved into hysteria. She giggled through our entire meal. It was pretty perfect.

We did give her time to run off all the sugar before dessert .  .  .

I hope your family enjoys this sweet potato recipe as much as mine did.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

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