Sunday, November 25, 2012

Roses, Thorns and Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Memories 2
Thanksgiving is a time of sacred memories with family and to a certain extent friends. Justin O. Smith shares some of his memories which evoked some of my own memories of past happy days. Perhaps the same will happen for you.

JRH 11/25/12
Roses, Thorns and Thanksgiving

By Justin O. Smith
Sent 11/24/2012 7:10 PM

Thanksgiving Day always evokes an array of thoughts and emotions for Americans, as some who are prone to complain about their lot in life try to put on a brighter face and the optimists among us become happier than usual in their preparations. Through it all, even in the bleakest of situations, we all certainly have many things that deserve thanks to God.

Today we see many of our Armed Forces veterans either returning from wars in the Middle East in Flag draped coffins or missing one or more limbs. I thank them for their sacrifice; I thank God that they were willing to serve in defense of these United States, and I am thankful for those who made it home to their families alive. Seeing their sacrifice drives home the fact that so many of us have received so many blessings for which we offer our heartfelt thanks and prayers.

I am whole and alive, and where there is life anything remains possible; and, whenever I think I may be feeling a little sorry for myself because something didn't go my way or just exactly as I had planned, I simply recall the words of my "Little G'Ma" Mamie Smith who was fond of repeating this adage, "I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet."

I was fortunate enough to have known all my grandparents, and each left their own indelible impressions in my mind. My Dad's father, G'Pa Grover, helped give me a desire for a certain sort of rugged freedom, while my Mom's father, G'Pa Spurgeon, a coal miner from the hills of West "By God" Virginia, helped me develop a good work ethic. And Lord, how much fun I had with my Mom's mother, G'Ma Ila, as I would often tease her about making "home brew"...her ebullient laughter was music to my ears.

Aren't we who still have one or both parents living so fortunate? What a blessing and a wonder it is to be able to hear them relate tales of their youth in comparison to life today, as long as they don't repeat themselves too often (just kidding Dad). And I give thanks that my Mother, Mrs Gerri Smith, loved and cared for her family, as she kept us well, clean and fed as we grew. My Dad, Mr Robert Smith, did his part and provided well for the family, while he guided us boys with a sometimes too firm hand, but also with fairness and love. So, I give thanks for having excellent parents, when so many children are orphaned early or suffer the most horrific abuse at the hands of people who should be protecting them.

Thanks to the many blessings I have received in life, I was prepared and able to raise two of the best daughters a father could wish to have, both good hearted to a fault. And, these two wonderful girls enriched the family with four little angels... my grandchildren. What fantastic memories and new experiences we have shared together.

I recall, with a smile and a twinkle in my eye, a time I was preparing to give my oldest, Kelli, a well earned spanking. She was a precocious nine, and as I stepped towards her, she jumped up with one hand on her hip and her finger pointed at me and exclaimed, "Now Daddy!"...meaning to change my mind. And it worked, as my heart melted and I burst out with laughter.

Of course with children there are often scares for parents, such as the time my girls wrecked on a motorcycle (3-wheeler) and my baby girl, Jessi, injured herself. Fortunately the injury proved to be minor, but never have you seen an old Daddy move so quickly, a when one of the neighborhood children banged on our door to tell me the girls had wrecked. Any parent who sees their children make it into adulthood and beyond does indeed have much to be thankful for regarding their own life and circumstances.

For any who have lost loved ones and are hurting during these holidays, our hearts go out to them, not in pity, but in the Christian spirit of love for our fellow man. Whatever the struggle may be, surely something or someone can bring some continuing joy to their lives... still living children, siblings, neighbors or a significant person/loving friend. While we have breath in our body, we must do the best we can for ourselves and live for the living, as we remember, love and pray for lost loved ones. Even in your darkest hour, be glad for the life you have, for where there is life there is hope.

Pray for those lost in Hurricane Sandy and for the survivors, who even now are still suffering in areas where the relief effort has been slow in coming. Many people are still without sufficient supplies, water and food, as well as heat...braving the cold the best they can. Thank You God in advance for speeding up the process to send immediate help their way.

Whatever power they believe gave them their eyesight; surely even atheists give thanks when they gaze upon their children or the stars in the sky for that gift.

Many Christians, even the poorest among us, are rich beyond measure when we view our faith and our heavenly "bank account" as Paul described it in Ephesians chapters 1-3: adoption, acceptance, redemption, forgiveness, wisdom, inheritance, the seal of the Holy Spirit, life, grace, short, every spiritual blessing. And again, we give thanks.

Whatever one's faith and situation in life, it won't help to rail at God for imagined or real wrongs, injustices or miseries one has suffered. We may not see God's plan for us until we reach the Other Side. In the meantime, give thanks for the thorns on the rose stem, just as you admire the rose, because both have shaped you into the person you've become.

2Corinthians 4:15 - For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the Glory of God.

By Justin O Smith
Minor editing by John R. Houk

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