The Gift of Breakfast

By JMathis

On the morning my grandfather died, my husband kept it a secret from me for several hours. I had been working on a deal at the office that had me essentially sleeping there for months. Routinely working right through the weekends, I missed weddings, girls’ nights and anniversaries. All of my connections to the outside world were being compromised, and I was left feeling vulnerable, exhausted and beaten down. My heartsickness for family, friends and fellowship grew by the day, and I was continuously awash with guilt that I had traded all of the good in this life for an ephemeral, hollow vision of success.

My husband knew very well what I had been going through, as he was living this nightmare with me. No wife, no life, no peace. So, that Saturday morning, he was determined to take me out for breakfast, before I clocked in for another prolonged weekend at work.

That Saturday morning, I went ahead to our car, and right before he walked out of the house, he got the phone call from my parents. They chatted and he finally came to the car after what seemed like an endless period of waiting.

It was only later I found out that he and my parents had decided on that phone call to wait in telling me the news about my grandfather–the grandfather whom I loved and adored.

You see, even my parents had known what I was going through that season. When they found out that my husband was planning a relaxing, albeit brief, breakfast for me that Saturday morning, they selflessly put aside their desire to grieve with me, so that I could have a warm, filling and life-affirming breakfast–a breakfast devoid of stress, anxiety and grief.  

Years later, I still remember that breakfast. My husband kept me in stitches of laughter, he tenderly told me how much he loved me, and he protectively pulled me close to him–all the while, ordering a schmorgasbord that constituted every taste offering on the menu.

I allowed myself to be completely free during that breakfast, taking in the pampering and all the attendant nurturing and loveliness inherent therein. I strolled out beaming, and briefly forgot about the impending hellishness of another weekend spent at work.

We walked back to the car and it was then that he told me.

It was then that I ran to be with my parents.

It was then that I cried for an entire month straight.

At the time, I remember being so angry with them over this ridiculous notion that I should wait to hear about his passing.

Now, close to a decade later, I see that they put my joy before their pain.

My husband, my mom and my dad had put me first that morning.

They chose to breathe life into my fading husk, while death swirled all around them.

Some may see their decision as misguided grief, but I see it for what it is: an unmerited, generous gift from them that I will always carry with me and treasure. Given by them to me, at a time of great grief and sorrow.

And, for that, I am thankful.

Mom, Dad and D: I love you for what you chose to pour into me that Saturday morning. This Thanksgiving weekend, I honor, remember and cherish your gift. May I be blessed with the opportunity to sacrificially pass it forward to my own children someday.

Thanking God for Our Problems

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

Thankfulness. This Thanksgiving we will each gather around our family dining room table and give thanks for God’s blessing. We will thank Him for our family. We will thank Him for our health. We will thank Him for blessings. We will thank Him for our problems.

Say whaaat? Nope, that was not a typo. Thank him for our problems? Aren’t we supposed to detest our problems and issues? Typically that is our reaction, isn’t it?  It definitely is mine. As soon as I face an issue, I shift to the “woe is me” mentality. The victim. The persecuted.

Often I get discouraged with life because after one problem seems to be over or overcome, another problem seems to take its place. When will I get a break, Lord? Is there something wrong with me? Is life ever going to get easier?

But what if we saw our problems as not just the enemy, the very thing we rally against?  But what if we see our problems in life as the means by which we develop a closer walk with God?

Like Paul with his thorn in his flesh, we, too, have thorns in our flesh. Thorns that keep us humble. Thorns that keep us on our knees. Thorns that keep us continually in the throne room, in His presence.

Often when we see our problems in a different light…in a positive light…they often lose their power over us.  We are no longer as overwhelmed, exhausted, defeated by our problems…or their continual presence in our lives.

Instead, we have to see them as necessary. Like muscle is built with the resistance of weight, so is our faith built with the presence of our problems. Each life issue we face exercises different muscles. Sometimes it’s our patience that gets built. Sometimes it’s our forgiveness. Often times it’s our trust muscles.

Challenge: Think of a problem you are struggling with today. How is it helping you exercise your spiritual muscles? How can you view your struggle differently so that you no longer see it solely in a negative light? What “good” can you see coming out of this problem?  How has it strengthened your character and your resolve?

Remember that God promises not to test us beyond what we can endure. And He promises us that everything in our lives can be used for our good…even our problems.


The Remedy is Thankfulness

By AbbyA

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. 

Dear Lord,

There is such a thing as a time line of our lives.  There are markers of births and deaths, triumphs and failures, soaring high and crawling low.  Adventures and journeys that make us who we are.  You knew the depth of the joy and of the pain each of us would experience in this life and you still call us to be thankful in everything.

As my dear friend Mike said today, you just can’t stop in the middle of the journey.  No matter how hard or painful the walk.  You are not perfected until you reach the finish line.  Mike shares with me that he doesn’t stop because he wants to be strengthened through his pain and suffering.  He doesn’t stop because he desires to be complete in every way Jesus would have him be complete.  He surrenders his thoughts of giving up to his savior and walks for another day.  Mike is thankful.  I can tell by both the light and tears that flow from his eyes when I talk with my friend.

My dear friend Megan and I, over a year ago, sat on a bench.  Her tears fell as she reached deep to understand where God had her and why.  She took a certain amount of responsibility for the valley and pressed on.  Megan said to me just the other day, AbbyA, isn’t true that our darkest moments are really our blessings?  We agreed that it is in the blinded darkness that you know the true love of your God.  And because of that knowledge, Megan is thankful.  I can tell by both the light and tears that flow from her eyes when I talk with my friend.

My daddy, who I will miss until the day I jump into his arms in heaven, ran the race in pain and suffering for more than six years.  While he must have had many questions for his God, he wrapped his inner hope around a promise that God would never leave or forsake him.  And as I watched him walk home to heaven, I believe that his strong faith grew in leaps and bounds as he saw and tasted that His promises were true. I know my dad was thankful in his life because I could see the spiritual peace that flowed from his inner being.

Lord, I want to thank you because you knew the depth of the joy and of the pain each of us would experience in this life.  You knew that there was only one remedy for both the valleys and mountain tops.  The remedy is thankfulness.  Your remedy is not without substance.  The substance of thankfulness is your love.  Love that never ends; always grows deeper; and always gives hope.

With love,

AbbyA, Bindu and JMathis