Thanksgiving – Future, Past and Present

My volunteers and I sit in the back pew, ready to run down to the fellowship hall and start another carafe of coffee if necessary. The organist plays “We Gather Together” and sights and sounds from my childhood invade my thoughts. The lump in my throat that remains for the rest of the service begins to build. Love Inc of Tinley has offered to provide desserts for the Tinley Park All Church Thanksgiving Service and I am overcome by the simple beauty of it all. It’s true, I come from what some call a mega-church, and I wouldn’t trade my family of believers for all the tea in China. But all of the professional singing, videography and special lighting wouldn’t have made this service any more effective. A simple table adorned with pumpkins and surrounded by food for the local food pantry is the only decoration in this small timber beamed chapel. And now the local Catholic priest begins the “Peace be with you,” ritual. I am strengthened with each hand that grasps mine.

I am reminded of days gone by, when holidays were nothing more than an event created by grown ups for me to enjoy and to celebrate. A world filled with tradition, ritual and security. My eyes now brim with tears. I am grateful for my heritage of godly parents who served in a youth mission during the Chicago race riots, with toddler me in tow. I never felt anything but safe. I long for those days when danger can be all around and mommy and daddy make everything okay.

I remember where and who I am. After all, I have a duty to fulfill, a task to perform. Brushing away tears, I smile at my new friend next to me. We have labored together she and I, talking to people who are desperate in desperate times. Praying with them, and helping them carry their burden. Blessed Be the Ties that Bind. Though storms rage everywhere we look, we have an army together facing the future with God fighting for us. It’s time to sneak out of service and put the finishing touches on the table.

Happy cheerful faces, coffee mug in hand, chat about community events. The room becomes a kaleidescope from those pesky tears again. I am grateful to serve. To sow. Grateful to have hands that can make homemade buttercream. Thankful to have all of the ingredients at home. Amazed at the opportunity that the present presents. Heart to God, hand to man.

I drive to my own church building to pick up my kids. Familiar feels good. I want to hug everyone. Son puts away camera, daughter gathers things and I glance at the table of coats for our Love INC Tinley coat drive. It’s full to overflowing, as is my heart. The future is good when it includes those with whom I walk the walk. He is present in my future, past and present.

What Every Mother Wants to Find in Her Teenaged Son’s Pocket

The mornings are frosty now, and I’ve decided to do the dreaded change of seasonal clothes. Juggling household duties with working part-time (haha!) has prompted procrastination.

But the chill has run straight through marrow and I can not put it off any longer. In the midst of our coat drive at work, I marvel at my own family’s abundance. Each person has two coats, and I wonder how that even happened. Most were not purchased, and my mind plays a slide show of the faces who have passed them along to us, whispering a prayer of thanks for each contributor.

Usually, I empty pockets in spring when I pack these testimony lined coats away for the season, but I must have missed one. My son’s pockets are packed to the brim, a museum collection, a time capsule of sorts. First I pull out a pay stub from his full time position at the church where he uses his creativity and gifts for the glory of God. Suddenly I am overwhelmed knowing that so many young people are unemployed after college, and here he is, employed in his field, while still attending college. Then I pull out a pack of his favorite gum, hardened with age. I realize that my care for him in this way is on borrowed time, and someday it will be his responsibility, or the responsibility of a wife ready to be named later. I pause a moment to pray for her, whomever she is.

But then I find something that takes my breath away. My chest tightens and I feel the wind knocked out of me. For I have found something that every Christian mother wants to find in her teenaged son’s pocket. I know this because as the mother of three I have found other things in pockets. Things that left me breathless for different not-so-happy reasons. I fall to my knees in gratitude, for I have found a pocket full of Gospel tracks. This shy, quiet, behind-the-scenes young man pushes through himself in order to love God and others. His life teaches me so much. Some people are secretive about doing wrong…I continually find that he secretly does right. I never discover this from his own lips, always from the lips of others or in this case what he has left in his pockets. And it’s not about whether a tract is an effective tool for the lost, it’s about whether it’s an effective tool for this young man. A tool whereby he proves to himself and his world that he belongs to Him, and that this isn’t a game we are playing but it is in fact more real than what we call reality. In a world where we escape into the unreal lives of others and call it a “reality” tv show, my son, the one who loves to play video games for hours has remembered what is really real.

I cry out for mercy for this son, this God-child, that he would continue on this path, and never be distracted by the cares of this world, his peers, but would always hold his hunger for God-things at the core of his being. Because I’ve learned from my own life that even the ability to endure to the end is not my own, but is given by Him. Humbled I realize how busy with my own life I have become. I don’t pray for my children enough. I never could there’s so much to pray for! I get all busy and wrapped up with today, and if I do pray for them, I usually pray about what I’m worried about rather than what I am thankful for.

But this package stuffed in coat pocket has reminded me of all that I can be grateful for. Concrete basement floor has become holy ground, because I have built an altar of thanksgiving right where I am. I am resolved to pray not only for the prodigal, but also for the faithful, because I remember that Satan is just as hard after those trying to do the right thing as he is those who are doing their own thing. Maybe even more.

Hugging the coat the way I used to hold this man of God when he was little, I weep and give thanks.

Death By Beauty – A Thanksgiving Community Poem

Welcome to our Thanksgiving play place! We are taking on a challenge as a community to write poetry together. Each day I will provide a picture and a line of poetry. Your job is to leave a line of your own in the comment section. I will provide a new prompt and picture and a poem created by all of us the following day! Will you take time for a little wordplay?  (P.S. tomorrow I will be over at Amy’s place talking about my favorite charity…can you guess which one it will be?)

Golden jewels in cornflower blue sky;

a parasol of leaves,

filtering light overhead

and I wonder, will I sparkle with one last burst of beauty before I die?



Rest For the Weary

by Journey Towards Epiphany Community

'autumn leaf' photo (c) 2004, tracy ducasse - license:

I let go of summer’s bounty to join the fallen,

the broken fragments blown together

by the exhale of cares,

fettered by fools for the feat of forgiveness.

Leather worn leaf settles to rest for winter’s sleep

…and so do I.

Old man winter makes fragile remnant shiver

falling, twirling, spiraling down to rest among

piles of others.

Sifting with a sigh into the earth,
I leave behind the exuberance
of seasons past,
choosing the soothing quiet
of snowdrifts.

Leathered hopes sigh in the letting go

rest under the cover of grace

wait for the spring of new life.

The days shorten,

the leaves fall,
Life closes in as the cold air comes.

But this is not an end,

just a pause.

All waits, beneath snow of purest white

For that one December day,

When life and His love are reaffirmed.

Then all gather strength,

As the days grow long and warm,

And life bursts forth, everywhere,

Stronger for the rest, and for

His love.

Even though I often long for the days to match my mood or schedule,

to know that in charge I am not;

this is far more of a blessing than any kind of weather,

no matter what this world holds

I am held by the Creator.

Leaves, like hands wave

to their Maker

and in a final hurrah

they shine brilliant

against October sky.

November comes

and life is over

floating down from pinnacle of praise.

There is beauty in life


I have arrived.

Like weathered leaf

At last I achieved

the deep creases of life experienced.

Some joy, some angry,

but most are deep,

full lines of joy and laughter.

Rest For The Weary – A Community Thanksgiving Poem Project

Welcome to our Thanksgiving play place! We are taking on a challenge as a community to write poetry together. Each day I will provide a picture and a line of poetry. Your job is to leave a line of your own in the comment section. I will provide a new prompt and picture and a poem created by all of us the following day! Will you take time for a little wordplay?

'autumn leaf' photo (c) 2004, tracy ducasse - license:

Leather worn leaf settles to rest for winter’s sleep…and so do I.

I am so proud of our first work together!! Your word pictures were beautiful…thank you for sharing your heart!

Margus Saluste

Frost Dawn

by the Journey Towards Epiphany Community

Moon sliver slices sky silver
and star dust settles
on shoulders and hair
reminding me that I am dust.
And slithering down, down,
deep into Spirit breath
that holds it all together
Inhaling scent of pumpkin spice,
autumn leaves,
the candles crackle
casting characters on the wall…
loving all things autumn.

The dappled drops of light
play silently on my face,
casting me as the lonely spirit
that I am,
a character also on the wall.
Cup of warmth in hand I step outside
where icy, white horse in pasture
glistens in moonlight glow.
She snorts and prances
bold and fearless
dancing praise to her Creator.

Sun shoots neon pink
painting treetop tips
the new day has begun
and I am here to witness.
But trunks and ground
stay colorless
unstained by morning rays.
These shades of brown and gray
seat so deeply into heart
– the branches empty and wanting –
o be still my heart and listen
for His whisper of
hope and new life.

Colored leaves
dancing through the crisp air
sweep me off my feet
into the glory of God,
spirit soaring,
and then love taking the final bow.
The buoyancy of the breeze
beckons boldly
while my breath
ingests it’s intoxicating essence…
Then I fly into my imagination
and I’m happily in heaven.

Though light pierces through
eastern sky,
sobbing clouds mist tears overhead.
The cold that aches my fingers
reminds me
I don’t have to sleep on a street;
The drizzle stinging my face,
reminds me
my home is safe and dry;
The dreary grey sky,
now blazing with fire color
reminds me
that my family is safe and happy;
And all of this?
reminds me
Of His love for all less fortunate than I.
We are poor,
and we are rich
– it is the search
that determines which.
Day drives on
His presence near
And because of traffic snarls,
I get gift of sunrise,
and sunset;
all in one day.
Search over
I am rich.

Frost Dawn – A Community Thanksgiving Poem

Welcome!!! Here is the poetry prompt for our first day creating our community Thanksgiving Poem!! I’m excited to see what we come up with!! Leave a line of poetry in the comment section and I’ll put it all together for you tomorrow morning along with another prompt!!

Margus Saluste

Moon sliver slices sky silver and star dust settles on shoulders and hair


Having fun at Emily’s!


Thanksgiving Community Poetry Project

'Thanksgiving Postcards 3' photo (c) 2010, Minnesota Historical Society - license:

Will you join me in giving thanks?
Each day this November I will construct one line of thanks.
I will try to remember my English class teaching notes about poetry being a jumble of picture words pushed through a trash compactor…highly concentrated and infused with emotion.
I would love for you to include a line of thanks in the comment section.
At the end of the day, I will rearrange our lines into a group poetry.

Will you sit at the Thanksgiving table of grace with me?
Let’s create something beautiful together
A community of gratitude,
A working of His Spirit,
A re-telling of the many graces which make us

A Thanksgiving Note To You

Today…and always, I am thankful for you friend…

Your belief in me pushes me to go on

…even when I didn’t think I could.

Your love for me fills my heart

…even when I thought it was empty.

and your patience with me causes me to have compassion

…for others who are also His masterpiece

and under construction.

Thank you.

May thanksgiving become thanksliving for us as a community this year.


This Thanksgiving, can I invite you to join me in counting the gifts in your life?  Read Ann Voskamp’s book 1000 Gifts, or check out her website, A Holy Experience, here. 


Linking with the amazingly talented Emily at:

Father’s Day Without My Father – A Year of “Firsts”

A year ago, my father suddenly passed away.  He went for a walk that Saturday morning.  No one knew it would be his last walk. I saw him the day before.  He drove me to the bus station, assuring me that he was just fine.  He wasn’t.

As I reflect on the past year, it was filled with firsts.  The first Thanksgiving without my dad.  The first turkey, not carved by him.  The first Thanksgiving prayer without his cough.  He always coughed during his lengthy prayers.  I used to think it was kind of annoying.  Now, I think it was charming.

The first Christmas without Daddy.  Gifts were rather sparse, as his income was the largest contributor to our family’s gifts.  He always made a handmade card.  There was always a misspelled word.

My first birthday without my father.  No Colonial Fannie May’s.  No Mom and Dad coming for a day or two.

His first birthday without himself…:).

Today, June 17th, is my parent’s 44th wedding anniversary.  He wasn’t here to celebrate.  He never really celebrated anyway, except for a another beautiful handmade card with another misspelled word in it.

There are days when I am sure that there must be a special telephone I can use in order to talk to him.  I’d like to ask him what it was like.  To die.  What Heaven is like.  I wanted to ask his advice for my son and what college he should attend.  I still want to ask his advice about my Prodigal.

He was a holy man.  A quiet man.  If you woke up early enough, you’d find him reading his Bible every morning.  He and my mother prayed together. Every. morning.  A man of discipline.  A man of wisdom.

This Father’s Day will be the second without him, as he died the night before Father’s Day last year. I miss him much more today than I did last Father’s Day.  Last Father’s Day, I was dreaming a horrible nightmare.  Now, I’m awake.  I hear the birds again and I’m allowed to cry.

Joining the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Tuesday linky.