A Turkey Full of Blessings

turkeyofthanksEmmy came home from school with a poster board with a turkey on it. She is supposed to decorate the turkey with all the things she is thankful for. It’s sitting on our dining room table, and tonight we’re going to work on the project together.

My daughter-in-law, Laura, is helping me with Thanksgiving dinner this year, and today I went shopping for the things I’m going to make. I was standing in the aisle deliberating over an item when I was overwhelmed with a sense of thankfulness for just being in the store, able to buy things for our family, let alone a nice dinner like we’re planning. It’s a blessed thing to be able to have anything with which to feed our families, isn’t it?

As important as material things are, life without friends and loved ones would be a sad thing. Our gratitude this year centers around the people in our lives who are a daily reminder of our deepest blessings. They give us hope and joy, as we hope we give them.

My son wrote this the other day, and I thought it was simple, yet profound.

“True heroism is found in small but consistent deeds of love to those closest to you. God’s view of things is often the exact opposite of our own. While we fawn over the big deeds, God is paying attention to the ones we deem insignificant. It is those “small things” that will be revealed before the throne of judgement. Above all, love is the ingredient that gives worth to all our deeds, big or little. Without love, it is so much straw that will be consumed.” ~ Sam

(Son Samuel and grandson, Max and my little grandson, Peter with his frog this summer.)

 

SamandMax
Froggy

Thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving Day! We’re thankful here at the Schlueter house for a multitude of things. Ten weeks ago, one of our sons had a catastrophic fall from a truck at work, breaking his hip and femur in 2 places. They later discovered 2 additional fractures in the hip area, complicating the healing. He was in the hospital for 2 weeks and has been in a nursing home for 8 weeks for rehabilitation. He isn’t going to be able to go back to work for six months. What we are thankful for today is that he is able to leave the nursing home to have Thanksgiving with us and that he is up and using a walker now. It’s wonderful to see his improvement.

Emily woke up this morning and her first words to me were, “Happy Thanksgiving, Mama!” Yes, happy thanks to the Lord for so many, many things. For every meal, every friend, for every hug, for every laugh, and yes, for every tear and trial he sends, we can still be thankful, as God works all things out for our good and ultimately, for His glory.

I haven’t been able to write much here at the Hope Blog lately, but will hopefully have more to add soon!

Psalms 116:17 – I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.

 

pilgrimhat

Thanksgiving Notes

I have a turkey thawing in my fridge, and now I am off to the store for a few items I still need for our feast. William has requested green bean casserole, so I will make one. Tom wants “real” mashed potatoes (as opposed to the Hungry Jack variety), and Jon wants cornbread stuffing. Lisa and Russ are bringing the pies, so we should be in good shape!

In keeping with the Thanksgiving theme in my music posts, here’s a lovely improvisation of For the Beauty of the Earth with organist John Hong.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

So Thankful

When the children were younger we often had them fill a decorative bowl with little pieces of paper at Thanksgiving. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving they would write what they were thankful for on the slips of paper. At Thanksgiving, we would read out what they had written.

This year especially there is much to be thankful for in our family.

God willing, Tom and I are going to be grandparents as Samuel and his wife are expecting a baby in June! (I am waiting eagerly to be a grandma…)

God has taken us through some very difficult circumstances this year and continues to provide for us in unexpected and amazing ways. The love of true friends and family has encouraged and blessed us beyond words.

Will’s music continues to amaze us as he develops into a musician. He played for a worship service last night, his first, and although nervous, he managed the hymns and liturgy very well on short notice as a fill-in at  a local church.

Emmy continues to grow and change, and her speech is coming alive. I love her matter-of-fact pronouncements. “Gettin’ dark, Mama,” she always tells me each evening. In the morning, no matter what kind of weather it is, she says, “Nice day out there, Mama.” (She’s always hoping for a trip to the park.) Like most little girls, she adores her daddy. She has her own song invented that goes, “I love daddy, I love daddy, I love daddy…” Great lyrics. She’s a sweet-tempered child. Yesterday she patiently sat in her car-seat for a total of 5 separate trips and just sang and talked the whole time.

I am thankful in a special way for my husband Tom who has taken care of our family and all the challenges of this year with his usual faithfulness. Whether it is giving advice to an adult son, helping William with his music, playing with his little daughter, listening to me, managing the maintenance on our home and yard, practicing his own music and working many, many hours a week, he just gets on with it without a complaint. The whining “occupiers” of America could learn much by watching my husband.

It will be a wonderful Thanksgiving. Russ, Lisa and the cousins are coming over, so it will be a bustling household. The ‘love light’ will be on. Thank you, Lord.

Here’s another Thanksgiving medley for you.

O Give Thanks – Psalm 136

The music of the East sounds strange to Western ears. I enjoy listening to the music of the Eastern church because it is, of course, closer to what the original music of the early church sounded like. Our Western scale is very different than the ancient Byzantine scale.

In keeping with my Thanksgiving music theme here at the Hope Blog, here is a portion of Psalm 136 (the Orthodox Church uses a different translation of the Old Testament – from the Septuagint -than Protestants and Catholics – the number I gave it for our reference is 136, they have it numbered as 135) chanted in Greek,  as it is still done today in the Orthodox Church. It is sung without instrumentation. This is only a portion of the Psalm as it would take nearly an hour to chant the entire passage. Little wonder that Eastern Orthodox worship services can be three hours long. In the ancient church, there were no pews to sit in either.

“O give thanks to the LORD, Alleluia. For His mercy endureth forever, Alleluia.” 

Thanksgiving Music at the Hope Blog

There are two weeks left until Thanksgiving Day. Leading up to that time when we especially show our gratitude to Almighty God for His mercies, I will be posting some songs and hymns that are filled with thankfulness.

Here is the story behind the timeless hymn written by a pastor, Martin Rinkart, Now Thank We All Our God.

“Martin Rinkart was called to be the pastor of the Lutheran church in his hometown of Eilenberg, Germany. He arrived there just as the terrible bloodshed of the Thirty Years War was beginning. The city of Eilenberg was a walled city and it became the refuge for political and military fugitives. This, however, caused serious overcrowding, and deadly pestilence and famine swept through the city. Armies overran it three times, leaving death and destruction in their wake. The population of Germany went from 16 million to 6 million during this time.

The Rinkart home was a refuge for the victims, even though he was often hard-pressed to provide for his own family. In the year 1637 the plague was particularly severe. At its peak, Rinkart was the only pastor remaining in Eilenberg, conducting as many as 50 funerals in a day. He performed more than 4000 funerals in that year alone, including that of his beloved wife.

Yet in the midst of this, Rinkart was a prolific hymn writer. The exact date of “Now Thank We All Our God” is in question, but it is known that it was widely sung by the time the Treaty of Westphalia was signed in 1648. It was commonly sung as a grace following meals. Since then it has become a Te Deum for Germany, sung on occasions of national thanksgiving.” (From the Center For Church Music website.)

Here is the hymn with the text included.

A Thanksgiving Revolt?

thanksgivingFor years, I was a traditionalist when it came to the holidays. Thanksgiving had to be turkey and everything that went with it. Even when I lived 7 miles from the Mexican border and all my neighbors were breaking out the tamales on Thanksgiving Day, I made a turkey, just like my mother always did. In that tiny kitchen, I made a pretty nice bird, if I do say so myself, along with dressing and gravy and everything else. After all, that was what you ate on Thanksgiving. Even with 5 young children underfoot, I made a full Thanksgiving dinner one year, because my mother-in-law was coming over, and I wanted to prove to her that I could do more than chuck frozen meals in the oven. ;-)

Looking back now, it exhausts me just thinking about it. In more recent years, we have always gone to my parents’ home for Thanksgiving. This year, however, I decided to lay down the law to Mom: No exhausting herself in the kitchen as she usually does every year, paper plates (the heavy duty ones) so we don’t have to spend hours washing up afterward, and Lisa and I will bring whatever necessary so she doesn’t have to work. I even suggested we order it all from a deli so we could all have a break. Well, that went over like a lead balloon. My mother is from the old school where no homemaker would insult her guests by putting anything but regular plates on the table, and as for ordering it all in? What nonsense! Mom always has a tablecloth on the table, a Thanksgiving centerpiece, beautiful cranberry salad, homemade rolls, and so forth. I am sorry to say that I never quite reached that stage completely and now, I fear I’ve fallen off the wagon altogether. Chalk it up to mid-life crisis or something, but I have the overwhelming urge to do something radical on Thanksgiving like having Chinese take-out or having a Mexican food bash (from our local El Rey restaurant/deli). What is happening to me? I’ve become what I’ve always abhorred: LAZY! Maybe it’s the emotional drain of the job that I do, constantly hearing of national and world apocalypse, that makes me singularly unable to face the thought of all that cooking. That’s right, I’ll blame Barack Obama because I don’t fit the Currier and Ives ideal this year!

In reality, I’ll get a grip and help my wonderful mother come up with a traditional meal. I’ve roasted the turkey the last few years and brought that along with us. After one disastrous time when an entire container of candied yams overturned in the back of our van, I’ve hesitated to bring anything that contains sweet syrup! But we’ve made it with a big turkey before, so I think we’ll do that again. And most importantly, we’ll all thank the Lord that we have been so richly blessed to be together again as a family. We don’t take those things for granted any longer. There is much to be thankful for, despite all of the unease concerning America’s future. We can be thankful that we have a sovereign God who has it all in His almighty hand, and that He has allowed us one more year of freedom in America to worship Him. As we are all freshly aware, that is no small thing.