As I write this Happy Thanksgiving wish to you all, Mary Ann is in the kitchen, preparing the turkey, and wishing her family a great one on the phone. The girls are playing together in their play area, and the fire is crackling and the worship music is playing. The cows are fed, the coffee and hot chocolate has been had, the sun is out, the frost is melting, and we are looking forward to fellowship this afternoon with a wonderful couple we have grown closer to over the year.
The best part of the morning so far has been the opening of our Praise Jar. Some years back, in an effort to put God at the center of our holidays, we came up with the idea for this jar. (You can see it in the picture of Mary Ann and the girls by the fire—and its lid in the picture of Abigail and I that Bethany took this morning.) Basically, I took an old pickle jar and I made a wooden circle and cross which I then fastened to the lid of the jar.
The ideal is that each night at dinner we bring over the old cigar box (now painted gold and covered in "jewels") that you see the Praise Jar sitting on in the picture. Inside it is a pen and a pad of small sheets of paper. Then, we record any praises from the day—times or instances we have specifically felt or seen God's hand in our family's life that day—and put them back in the box. At the end of the week we read the week's praises to remind ourselves of God's hand and goodness in our life, and then we put the week's praises in the Praise Jar. On Thanksgiving, we spend the day opening it and reading the past year's praises. It is an amazing time of remembrance and joy and praise as so many things we thought we'd never forget, and did forget, are brought back to us.
For us, in many ways, doing this is our "New Years." I say this because we spend the day looking back over the year remembering God's hand in it, and then we empty the jar and start filling it again the day after Thanksgiving. So, in a sense, the year we keep record of goes from Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving.
My hope is to, one day, make copies of all the praises, year by year, and bind them in a book for each of the girls to take to their own homes. This is, after all, the testimony of God's hand in our lives—in their family—and it is the heritage and legacy they carry forward. Biblically, the preservation of the testimony is very important, and Biblical history shows that any time the testimony of God is lost the people fall away. The testimony of God and His hand in His people's lives, beginning with the first pages of the Bible and continuing in to our lives today, is critical to preserve. It is our heritage. It is our inheritance in the family of God. It builds faith and thankfulness, and carries with it power to reproduce. If you think about it, we are all living in the period of the Bible between the last epistle and the book of Revelation. We are, in that sense, still "writing" the work and hand of God—filling in the blank pages until He comes again or takes us home.
So, now I head back to the family and the fire. I wish you a wonderful, blessed, praise-filled day in which God is glorified in your hearts. May His love and goodness break through any barriers in your life or heart, and may the joy of the Lord be your strength today. If you ever want, or need, to talk just drop me a note in a comment. No one will see it if you ask me not to publish it. Let me know how I can help, or get in touch with you, and we can talk. Even if we can't share a cup of coffee and fellowship in person, in this day and age we certainly can share together over the phone.