Am I Prepared for Thanksgiving?

Before I move on with today’s topic, I wanted to express my thanks to those that are coming to my site to read my various Thanksgiving related posts.  As I looked through the search terms yesterday, there is no doubt what is on the minds of so many right now, and that is Thanksgiving food preparations.

Search terms

I hope that my ideas have been helpful to those of you that have read them.  It seems that I will be taking my own advice this year, too, as we have decided to dine at home again instead of dining out, and I’m quite happy about that, too.

I started my own food preparations yesterday and baked a big pan of cornbread for the dressing last night so that it would have time to thoroughly dry out by Thursday morning.  As it baked, I decided to quickly check my Facebook page to see how my friends were faring with their own holiday preparations.

The first post that showed up, however, was anything but fun holiday happenings.  It was an update post from a friend’s page concerning her little grandson that is extremely ill and has recently been transferred to a large hospital in another city for more specialized treatment.  I think it is safe to say that while so many of us are supporting this precious little one with our prayers, he may not make it.  We’re going to keep bombarding God with our prayers anyway.  He is in very capable medical hands now as well.

What has struck me and literally brings tears to my eyes every time I read a new update from the family is how faithful they are and how willingly they are opening up and sharing their heart with hundreds of us each day.  Thanksgiving meal preparations are not on their agenda right now, but Thanksgiving has been in their hearts every single day from the very beginning.

Let me just say that one more time… mostly for my own benefit… because it hit me like a ton of bricks last night.

Thanksgiving has been in their hearts every single day from the very beginning.

God never ceases to amaze me how he speaks at times.  My friends are already prepared for Thanksgiving.  They are living it on a daily basis in the midst of a struggle that few of us can even imagine.  I am so humbled by their faith, and now I must ask myself if I am also prepared for Thanksgiving, not only this week but every single day in the future.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. — 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

“…give thanks *in* *all* *circumstances*…

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The Real Superhero

This has to be one of the best “feel good” stories I’ve read in a long time.  Sometimes the world is truly a wonderful place, and I think the Make-A-Wish organization in the bay area needs to take the bow they deserve, along with all of the thousands of volunteers that are making this happen today.  Here is the link to the story about Miles, aka #SFBatkid, who has been fighting leukemia for most of his life and only had a tube removed from his chest a month ago.  I got teary-eyed just reading about it.

San Jose Mercury News

And there will be a special edition of the San Francisco Chronicle to commemorate the event as well.

Gotham City Chronicle

I will be sending a little donation to Make-A-Wish today and hope others will consider doing so, too, because somehow I just know that Batkid is going to save the day and all will be well in the world once again.

Donate to Make-A-Wish Foundation

Update 11/17/13:  If you missed out on this story as it happened, there is a good summary video below, as well as links to a few other articles and pictures that I found afterward.  For the record, my mom and I followed along via Twitter updates as we ate lunch out on Friday, and it made me choke up more than once.  I know we were not the only ones either, as many people posted via Twitter that they were following along at work or elsewhere and crying right along with us.

http://www.sfgate.com/news/slideshow/BatKid-Fights-Crime-in-SF-74151.php

http://twitchy.com/2013/11/15/make-a-wish-crime-fighting-bat-kid

-captures-san-franciscos-hearts-photos/

http://mashable.com/2013/11/15/batkid-beyond/

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=%23sfbatkid

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Thank You, Veterans!

American Flag Veterans

Today, I am grateful for every single person that has fought for the freedom I enjoy today, including my own father, my brother and two uncles, one that did not come home from WWII.  My relatives are all gone now, including my dear brother who died a few years ago, and I miss them all terribly.

I am also grateful for all the service dogs that have served, and still serve, alongside our military personnel.  Not only do these dogs help our soldiers do their jobs, the dogs also provide wonderful companionship to them while they are away from home.

Lastly, I am grateful to those who help to care for our veterans that have various needs when they return home.  “If we send ’em, we should mend ’em.”  Wounded Warrior Project is a good one, but I know there are many more, too.

From the bottom of my sincere heart today, I thank every single one of you. ❤

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Great-Grandmother Sarah Jane

I am participating in a study on Wednesday evenings for the next few weeks with some other ladies at my church, studying “The Patriarchs” by Beth Moore, and it is a really good study.  As I worked on my homework last night, I read about Sarai becoming Sarah and Beth’s amazing description of how God blessed her, in addition to his blessing of Abraham.  At the age of 90, God gave her this new name that means “Princess.”  That is a post unto itself, and it would be good for me to write about it.  But, as I closed out that section on Sarah in the study, my thoughts drifted to my own “Princess Sarah,” my great-grandmother, Sarah Jane.

When I follow my closest and most “precious-to-me” lineage in my family tree, I am following the ladies on my mother’s side.  I know it is more customary for some people to put an emphasis on the father’s lineage, and while that is also very special to me, it does not hold the tender place in my heart that the ladies in my mother’s lineage hold.  Truthfully, I only ever knew my own mother (who is still alive at age 91) and her mother, but how I wish I had known Sarah Jane in person, too.

If I could make any reasonable assumptions about Sarah Jane based on my grandmother, she would be an amazingly kind and caring soul that I would certainly have treasured to have in my life for however long she lived.  My mother has also told me a couple of times just how much my grandmother adored her, too.  You see, Sarah Jane died in the southern part of the Chickasaw Indian Territory of Oklahoma a few days after an appendicitis surgery that was performed on her at their home when she was only 46 years old.  Her mother, Minerva – my great, great-grandmother, also died at a young age of 39 in Kentucky.  So it is a fact that my precious grandmother that I adored so much in my early life really never had her own mother and grandmother in her own life for very long, since Sarah Jane died when she was just 13 years old and Minerva died many years before she was even born.  It almost makes me feel guilty for having my own mother still in my life and quite healthy at age 91, and it also speaks volumes to me about why family was always the focal point of my grandmother’s life.  When I think of family values, I think of my dear grandmother’s loving example above all because I think it was instilled in her at an early age by Sarah Jane.

My grandmother's handwriting at the top of the newspaper article
My grandmother’s handwriting at the top of the newspaper obituary for Sarah Jane

We only have one photograph of Sarah Jane, an early photograph with her young family, including my grandmother as a small child, but it has meant the world to me to have it.  We also know much about great-grandmother Sarah Jane’s death, thanks to an actual detailed newspaper clipping passed on to my mother that a friend of Sarah Jane’s wrote about her passing.  I have a copy of it that I read often, just to remind me of what is most important in life.  I am ever thankful for this unknown friend that made sure that Sarah Jane’s story didn’t die along with her because if not for that article, I don’t think Sarah Jane’s full story surrounding her death would have ever made it to me.  Except for a few ancestral details, this is all I really know about my great-grandmother.  But if I could know anything about her, this is what I would most want to know.  The article is just amazing to me, as it told specifics about her last moments on this earth before she died, but what I dearly love is that she was described as…

“… a sweet Christian lady who lived what she professed.” 

The article continues and states that Sarah Jane was “almost an invalid” for the last few years of her life for some unstated reason but that she kept trying to live “for the sake of her family.”  That included my sweet, young thirteen year-old grandmother, and while I can only speculate how deeply this loss impacted her at that time, I believe my grandmother did her best to continue her own mother’s legacy of love for the rest of her life.

The article then tells about the final minutes of Sarah Jane’s life with the following statement that I have since memorized just like a treasured bible verse.

“After calling her [seven] children to her bedside and admonishing them to meet her in Heaven, she put her trust and life in the Lord’s care.”

Somehow, I think Sarah Jane’s admonishment is meant for all of us who followed her as her descendants, not just her own children.  I know that it was my grandmother’s wish, and I also know it is my mother’s wish, too.  This legacy of motherly love and a firm desire to pass on their faith in God is what has always stood out to me when I think about these special ladies, my closest and dearest ancestors.  When I think about my male ancestors, I do not have any memory of such things, with the exception of my father’s acceptance of Jesus Christ much later in his own life.  But even after his conversion, he was a very private man and never spoke much about his faith to me or anyone else, even though I could see its’ manifestation in some of the things he did, especially for the poor and for his church.  No, the legacy of faith passed to me has most definitely been from the mothers on my own mother’s side.  And what a beautiful legacy it is.

I am thankful today for a Godly heritage from three wonderful and beautiful women, including Sarah Jane.  God help me to live up to their examples and admonishments and impart the same desires to my own descendants.

And to the unnamed friend who penned her obituary, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and hope to give you a big hug someday, as your words have been an unspeakable and life-changing blessing to me over the past few years.  You are the ultimate friend.

The last sentence of Sarah Jane's obituary - by an unnamed friend
The last sentence of Sarah Jane’s obituary – by an unnamed friend


I first began ancestry research back in 2007 after the death of my older brother, and I did it as a way to give a living memorial to him and help me deal with my grief, since no one in our family had done any research that I was aware of at that time.  It has blessed me many times, and I highly encourage anyone who is even remotely interested to explore their own ancestors and their stories.

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A Wonderful Gift

I am so blessed today after reading and watching such a wonderful message online.  I invite you to spend six minutes of your precious and valuable time to simply be still and watch this … (please) … “The Gift of Today” via Michael Hyatt’s sitewith inspirational words of his own to add as well.

I just had to share.

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Never Forget

On this anniversary of 9/11, I wanted to simply share one of the most beautiful music videos of all time, at least in my opinion.  I first saw it in 2002, and I have come back to watch it and listen to the words many times since then because the lyrics are so beautiful and sad, yet leave me full of hope at the same time.  Michael W. Smith’s music has a fabulous way of doing that at times, and this portrayal of how so many of us feel when we see our flag, especially in times of national trial or remembrance, is so accurate and moving.  Our flag is not just a piece of cloth.  It embodies who we are as a nation and the highest ideals of who we are striving to become.  This video makes me want to cry, and then it makes me want to get up and be a better person today than I was yesterday.  That is who we are as Americans, at heart, I think.

I recently heard someone say that someday, the 9/11 anniversary will simply fade into obscurity and will hardly be noticed, probably after most of us that are old enough to vividly remember the day are gone.  After all, who really thinks much of Pearl Harbor Day anymore?  I must sadly confess that I probably fall into that category.  But while I am alive, I will never, ever forget this anniversary and the thousands of my fellow citizens that died that day and afterwards.  I recently read Let’s Roll, Ordinary People – Extraordinary Courage by Lisa Beamer, the wife of Todd Beamer who was one of the men on Flight 93.  It is one of the most inspirational books I have read in quite some time, too.  (Last year, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the Flight 93 Memorial was dedicated in a solemn ceremony, and this article tells more about that event.)

Even though I was going through some very hard days during the Fall of 2001, it pales in comparison to what so many others were going through that were directly impacted by the attacks.  Still, the combination of events, both personal and national, caused me to pursue God in a way that I had never done before.  For the opportunity to experience God’s grace and help and love more than ever before, I humbly remain grateful because it changed me forever.

Peace to you today, hug those you love, do something kind for someone, and remember the courage and sacrifice of those that have paid the ultimate price for us.

D
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RIP Neil Armstrong

“Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.”
— Paul Brandt

I am so sad to hear of the death of Neil Armstrong.  I was just a kid when he and Buzz Aldrin made their now famous flight to land and walk on the moon for the first time.  It made a profound impression on me at the time, and as I have read the comments of others today regarding his death, I realize that I am definitely not the only person that was so impacted by watching the first moon landing.  I seriously doubt that there will ever be another moment in time around the world like that one either.  For just a little while, everyone around the globe seemed to just stop what they were doing to watch this all play out on live TV, many of us watching it along with Walter Cronkite and Wally Schirra, who actually got misty-eyed at one point.

Walter Cronkite Anchors First Moon Walk – You Tube (3:24)

I’ve been able to spend some time over the past ten years or so reading more about Neil, Buzz, Mike Collins and all of the Apollo missions.  It really is fascinating to read all about the missions and the astronauts involved, and the internet has made much of that information very easy to find, along with some fabulous pictures.  This photo gallery is one of the best ones that I’ve found, too.

“Remembering Apollo 11” – The Big Picture from the Boston Globe

Many of the Apollo astronauts and some key people at NASA, like Gene Kranz and Deke Slayton, wrote great books.  I’ve read some of them and intend to read the others as I can, too.  While some are fairly technical and way above my head at times, they are still great reads as these heroes share their own stories in their own way, and to me, they were very inspiring.  I even have the Apollo 11 mission videos bookmarked in my You Tube account.  Occasionally, I watch them and just remember that fabulous time when we all really did reach for the stars for the first time – and made it, right alongside Neil and Buzz.  I only wish the generations that have come after me could somehow have that same experience in their own lifetimes, but I don’t think we will ever replicate the worldwide excitement, anticipation and sheer joy of that moment when Neil set foot on the moon.  It was magical, but it was also real.

Update 8/26/2012: Eugene Cernan Remembers Neil Armstrong
(This is a truly great radio interview about the first man on the moon by the last man on the moon.)

Neil Armstrong on the Surface of the Moon
— NASA 40th anniversary photo

1.6 Million “Earthlings” Bid Farewell on Twitter…

RIP, Mr. Armstrong, and thank you so much for the memories of a lifetime.  You really were a hero.  Prayers going up for your family.

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