The first graders entered the room one by one, laughing and greeting one another by name. I handed out papers–we were making Handy Turkeys for Thanksgiving and the paper feathers we pasted to their handprints would list what we were thankful for. The answers were typical–mommy, daddy, siblings, grandparents, and friends. Until I came to one little girl and bent over her chair. I smiled, with my pen in hand and ready to record her answer. She looked me straight in the eye and boldly declared, “I’m thankful for the Cross.”A hush fell over the room as the other boys and girls looked at her. Someone commented, “Wow, that was a good answer.”
It was a fantastic answer and a wonderful reminder to be thankful for the Cross this Thanksgiving. Last year was my first Thanksgiving since my mom unexpectedly passed away and it was hard. I was surrounded by family and laughter and I wore a smile on the outside but on the inside, I was hurting. Angry. Thankless. Wanting to be anywhere but in the center of such joy and celebration.
I spent the entire day with my false front on, fake smiles plastered across my face, hoping no one would notice. I didn’t want to talk about it.
Later that afternoon, in the middle of the woods, tucked into a hunting stand with my camouflage gear on, the quietness surrounding me calmed my heart. The beauty of creation arrested my soul and in the presence of the Holy Spirit, reminders of the previous Thanksgiving were brought to my attention. Like a slideshow, snapshots and snippets of the year before slid past. We usually spent Thanksgiving at home with my husband’s family but that year was special. We decided a destination Thanksgiving would be less stressful and loads of fun. We met my parents and my in-laws at an indoor water park in the Carolinas for the weekend. Most of my time was spent with my mom and we had an absolute blast. Rushing down the water slides with the kids, splashing with them in the kiddie pools, shopping, tasting each other’s food at the restaurants and late night talks and watching Christmas movies were a few highlights of the weekend. Little did I know, that would be the last Thanksgiving I ever spent with my mom.
As I sat in the tree stand remembering Thanksgiving past and the miracle it was that we spent it together with my mom, tears streamed down my face. All the ungrateful thoughts rushed out of my heart and mind and in its place was a new gratefulness. An appreciation of God’s grace. An undeserving love. Bountiful blessings I had taken for granted.
In the midst of my pain, God reminded me He was there for me and He graciously allowed my mom and I that special time together before He took her home with Him.
I don’t think I’ll ever spend another Thanksgiving without thinking of our special destination trip and being thankful to God for her and our time together. Being thankful my mom had a relationship with Jesus and because of the Cross, I’ll see her again. Because of the Cross, one day our tears will be wiped away and there won’t be any more sadness. Because of the Cross, one day I’ll be reunited with my Savior and my mom and other loved ones.
Don’t spend this Thanksgiving being upset over past regrets. Be thankful for the Cross and what Jesus sacrificed for you too. Is there someone you’ve avoided because harsh words have passed between you? Or maybe you need to let go of something that’s been bothering you and keeping you from the Cross? Will you search your heart as I search mine and let’s lay our burdens down together. Let’s forgive and be forgiven. Let’s build one another up with our words and attitudes this Thanksgiving.
Because I don’t know about you, but without the Cross and Jesus’s blood covering my sins, I’d be lost. Thank You for the Cross, Jesus, and the huge sacrifice you made for me.