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Thanksgiving, Eternity, and Eight Fathers

horn of plentyNovember 24, 2016 – Thanksgiving

As you sit down to your Turkey Dinner with all the fixings, the hot dinner rolls, mashed potatoes, corn or green bean casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, are you thinking about the sumptuous banquet you are about to take part in, are you thinking about the good times with family, and are you truly thinking about what you are truly thankful for. How many things do you take for granted that you should be giving thanks for?

There are people in the Middle East that are thankful to just be alive for one more day. There are hungry children on the street that are thankful for the scraps they find in the garbage from someones Thanksgiving feast. The little old lady down the street is thankful her battery didn’t die when she accidentally left her lights on for four hours the other day.

There’s and old man in a nursing home who is thankful that his grand-kids remembered him and came to visit. There is a parent sitting next to a sick child in the hospital, thankful for one more day to hold that child in their arms, and there are people in homeless shelters that are thankful for the warm blanket they’ve just been handed with the community dinner they are having.

The history of Thanksgiving is usually passed down as a story of the first meal the Pilgrims shared with the Indians after their first harvest in a new land. But actually Thanksgiving is celebrated in almost every country, on different days with different names. God designated two times a year that the people were to gather together to give thanks, Shavuot (the Feast of Pentecost) and Sukkot ( the Feast of Tabernacles), but all through the bible we are instructed to always give thanks to God for everything we have.

It has been my goal since the first of the year to try and post something to be thankful for each day instead of playing the 24 days of thanksgiving that my friends do on Social Media. My thought was that there is something to be thankful for each day that that we should share that with others, maybe to inspire them to look for the blessings that God gives them every day, even the small ones that they may take for granted.

Over the course of these last eleven months, my eyes have been opened to just how much God blesses me, just how much I took for granted. Before I set this goal for myself there were many blessings that I had taken for granted, like running water, heat in the house during the winter and fans and air conditioning in the summer, a car that keeps running, friends, family and loved ones close by and waking up each day in fairly good health. Today I am thankful the Lord has helped realized just how much he blesses me,

heavensNovember 25, 2016 – Eternity

Eternity is forever, it never ends, it goes on and on and on. When we tell someone we love them for eternity, we usually mean we will love them for as long as they and/or we are alive. When we describe something as taking an eternity to happen, we are misusing the word, using it to mean just a long time.

Our life on earth is limited. While reading my bible, I noticed that man used to live a very long time, sometimes over 800 hundred years, but as man kept sinning and turning his back on God, his life span became shortened. It went from 800 years to about 300 years to around 100 years. Back in the earlier centuries, around the times of Robin Hood even up to the days of the old west, people didn’t live much past 50 or 60.

Today people are taking better care of themselves, and many are starting to live well past 90. some past 100. That still isn’t eternity. It’s a long time, given how short our life span was in the earlier centuries, due to illness, crime, wars, and the ways we had to live. Those who lived out in the open, working hard on farms and ranches seemed to age faster than those who lived in the comfort of the cities, unless a plague or severe illness attacked that city.

We can have eternal life though, it is a free gift from God, if we accept his son as our Risen Savior and Lord. If we serve him, believe in him, follow his teachings, we are guaranteed eternal life with him when we shake off these earthly bonds. We will be with him in the Millennium when he comes to earth and rules for 1000 years, and if we remain faithful, we will then live eternally in heaven with him and the father.

You have heard it said so many times “it is never too late to change”, but in truth there are limitations. We know not the hour, nor the second when Jesus returns, and if you haven’t accepted him, then you are out in the cold (or should I say hot, as in Hell?) Today I am thankful that I know I will have eternal life when I leave this dusty, immoral, violent and sinful planet.

Hands holding the worldNovember 26, 2016 – Eight Fathers

Not many of us can say we have had more than one father, but in truth I have had eight fathers. I have learned something different from each one of them. From my second father, by blood father, I learned to listen, to be patient, and to be quiet. I don’t remember much about him except that he put too much salt in the oatmeal, read to us each day from the bible, and took us down to the newspaper building to get scratch paper to draw on. I can still see him sitting in his wheelchair in front of the basement apartment in Chicago. He took his own life when I was five.

From my third father, my first foster father, a strict Pentecostal, I learned discipline. The gun belt that hung on his closet door very quickly became a fearsome sight for if it was taken down, you knew you were in trouble and would be dealt with accordingly. From my fourth father, my second foster father, I learned laughter and humor. Old enough to be my grandfather, he often did silly things just to make me laugh. Unfortunately our stay with him was short because he became ill.

From my fifth father, my third foster father, I learned silence. He never spoke to us, he never had anything do with us. He would play with his sons, do activities with them, but acted like we didn’t exist in the same household. He left everything that had to do with us up to his wife. From my fifth father, my fourth foster father, I learned family values. He was the rock that held the family together. Although a lot of the household problems were left to my foster mother, he was the maker of the rules and the deliver of punishment if needed. He taught us how to be respectful, to be honest, to be obedient and he did it all with love.

From my first stepfather, I learned about disappearing. He was never around that much and when he was, all he wanted to do was go to the bedroom with my mother. I don’t remember him ever speaking a word to us at all. Mom made all the rules and handled all the problems. He was around only when he decided he wanted to be. Maybe it was a good thing that he cheated on my mother, because I just can’t picture what it would have been like growing up around him.

From my second step-father, I learned how to use people. I could see early on how he manipulated my mother. He wanted control of everything. Mom wasn’t allowed to decide any of our punishments, and he made all the rules in the house. I do believe now that she was frightened of him. After all they met in a psychiatric hospital. He was later diagnosed with depression and Bi-Polar disorder and that may have had something to do with the way he acted.

From each of these seven fathers I learned something. Not always something good, but all the same they each showed me different aspects about people that I would notice and recognize in others during my lifetime. But my first father, God, has taught me so much more than all of these together. He has taught me trust, honesty, mercy, kindness, forgiveness and most importantly Love. Today I am thankful for what I’ve learned from all my fathers, especially my #1 Father, God.

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