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.

Something in the Air

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

Perhaps it’s the cool winds after the three months of blistering, sweltering heat. Or the beauty and richness of gold, maroon, and marigold colored leaves.

Or perhaps it’s the memories of yesteryear…of a new school year…of homecoming dances…football games…band practice…

 Or maybe it’s the beginning of holiday season…a season of festivities…of dressing up for Halloween…of pumpkins…pumpkin spiced lattes…and pumpkin pie.

Or maybe it’s Thanksgiving itself…buttery corn on the cob…sweet, candied potato casserole, succulent juicy turkey, and yes, more pumpkin pie.

Or maybe it’s the prelude to Christmas…the smell of fresh pine needles in the house…candles laced in sweet cinnamon and vanilla scents…colorful trees decorated in memories of Christmas past.

 There is something undoubtedly magical about this time of year, isn’t it?

 Growing up, it was the spring that I always longed for…or summer…but now as an adult, it’s the Fall…the months of October through December that somehow bring a smile to my lips and a warmth to my heart. There is a festivity and an excitement in the air…of things to come and of memories past.

 Tomorrow as you sit around the table with your family, I hope that you, too, feel the beauty and wonder of this season.

 This season is our modern day harvest. A time where we can sit around and enjoy the fruits of our labor and the bountiful blessings of our merciful, generous God. So tomorrow…Eat. Drink. Enjoy. Give thanks.

 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. 2 Corinthians 9:10

Thank you, Lord, for your blessings are indeed great!

Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

Champagne Problems

By JMathis

It’s that time of year where I’m blowing the dust off of my holiday cookbooks, putting on my army fatigues and war-paint, and getting ready for the Thanksgiving week cook-a-thon.

Do I want to go funky or traditional this year? Challenge my diners, or, give into their plebian whims? Maple-glazed sweet potatoes with tender chunks of pineapple and apricots?  Or, the classic casserole option that everyone loves to eat, but brings tears to my eyes from a culinary perspective: sweet potato mush meets indiscernible coating of marshmallow fluff and caramelized brown sugar?

What dilemmas.

As my husband tells me all of the time: “You and your champagne problems…”

Me and my champagne problems.

Sadly, those champagne problems threaten to plague me throughout this week, until I collapse into my bed on Thanksgiving night.

Meanwhile, my friend is hours away from filing divorce; another friend just miscarried her baby; and yet another friend lost her job last week.

Ugh. Yes, it has been one of those weeks. One of those weeks where it appears that the enemy has won.

So what I am to do with my champagne problems in light of the realities and hardships that swirl around me? Quit cooking? Keep cooking and act oblivious?

While the Bible doesn’t give me clear directive over whether I should quit preparing my feast, Ephesians 1:16 helps me to put my champagne problems into perspective this week:

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”

This is a verse I have glossed over a million times, always thinking of it as one of those Christian platitudes that have very little meaning. For some reason, though, it gives me instruction today on what I should be doing this week–whether on my lunch break, while driving in my car, or even while making sweet potatoes.

Leigh: I want you to know that I thank God for you. I thank God for the way you make me laugh, the way you put me in my place, the way you always know how to center me. I pray that in the midst of your divorce, I will be the friend that you have always been to me. I pray healing for your heart, restoration for your soul, and for God’s warm embrace to shield you from pain.

Melanie: I thank God for bringing you into my life. Seeing your smile makes me joyful and always puts an extra spring into my step. I’m so grateful for the joy you have given me over the years, and I pray that it be returned to you a hundred-fold, even a thousand-fold. I pray that you experience strength in knowing that your baby is lovingly being cared for by her Heavenly Father.  

Danielle: Thank You, God, for my friend who always checks in on me. Rain or shine, you are a faithful friend who is loyal to the end. Lord, I haven’t always returned the favor, and so I ask You that You teach me to be a friend like Danielle. Teach me to reach out to her, while she is going through this difficult time. Build up her confidence and her faith, Lord, and help her to rise up from this setback even stronger, braver and wiser.

Ladies, take the time to really thank God for your friends this week. Encourage them, share with them, express your gratitude to them.  

Lift them up in prayer when you get overwhelmed with your champagne problems. Intercede for them and with them, so that their burdens are removed and cast far into the sea of God’s forgetfulness.

Today, may your champagne problems fall off like scales from your eyes, with true perspective and meaning in this week of Thanksgiving.

A Psalm of Thanksgiving

By Bindu Adai

This morning I wanted to share one of my favorite psalms with you: Psalm 100

1Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!

2Worship the Lord with gladness.

Come before him, singing with joy.

3Acknowledge that the Lord is God!

He made us, and we are his.a

We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4Enter his gates with thanksgiving;

go into his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him and praise his name.

5For the Lord is good.

His unfailing love continues forever,

and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

 Let us enter into Thanksgiving week with praise in our hearts. We have SO much to be thankful for! And let us resolve to start each day in the new year with gratitude.

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.