Giving Thanks ‘Round the Table


Thanksgiving Day is the ideal time to “Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.” (I Chronicles 16:8)

Remembering His help, His faithfulness, and His active hand in our life helps shape our own perspectives. It also serves as an organic way to wave faith flags with those you love who have yet to come to know Him in a saving way.

One great way to do this around the Thanksgiving Day table is Gratitude Gab. The link has eleven questions that you can print out and scatter around your table as great conversation starters, or you can come up with your own. Questions like “Describe something that happened last week that you are thankful for and explain why?” are adaptable for everyone, no matter where they are on their faith walk, and help focus our hearts on grateful remembrances.

Another great way to steer conversation around the Thanksgiving dinner table toward what we’re thankful for is this simple conversation starter. Scatter slips of paper with a single word/category around the table – mom, dad, brother, sister, pet, neighbor, job, person on the right, friend, God. Throughout dinner, take turns picking up a category and talking about that particular topic by filling in this sentence – “A time you were thankful for…”

What traditions (new or old) will your family enjoy this year? Please share your great ideas in the comments.


Action Items

I took a personality profile in college that pegged me as a “doer.” This wasn’t news to me, or anyone that knew me. I am an “action-y” person. I get things done. I don’t let dust settle on me, as the saying goes. I think I have viewed my walk with God through the doer’s personality lens. Working on my faith has always been another thing on my to-do list, until I came across this beautiful truth tucked into the first part of Hebrews 12 – Jesus (not myself) is the Perfecter of my faith.

Fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. – Hebrews 12:2

According to this verse, my part is to fix my eyes on Jesus. That’s my sole action item. His part is to begin, continue and finish my faith. I had never before thought that anyone other than myself was in charge of my faith! Other Scripture backs this up – He is the Potter; I am the clay. He does the filling; I get filled. He is the Vinedresser; I am the branch. Just like so many times in my walk with God, another piece of the puzzle slipped into place. Perfecting my faith? That’s His action item.

PONDER: Have you assumed you were the perfecter of your faith? How does this verse change your perspective?

PRAYER: Father, thank You that your yoke is easy and your burden is light! Forgive me when I take Your job of perfecting my faith into my own hands. I realize now that I have a lifelong habit of attempting to do Your job for You. Help me instead to keep my eyes fixed on You while You continue and finish what You have started.

More Like Mary

Mary (left) and Laura, Season 1 of Little House on the Prairie

Growing up, Little House on the Prairie was one of my favorite t.v. shows. I could relate to Laura as someone who struggled to do the right thing when her feelings tempted her to do the opposite. One such example was from the first season. Laura and Mary had just experienced the first of many unpleasant interactions with nasty Nellie Olsen. Sitting on the stairs of the mercantile, Mary commented to Laura that she could never be as mean as Nellie.

I confess – I loved this scened. Oh, Nelly!

Laura’s unforgettable reply was, “I could, if Ma and Pa would let me.” As she lived with her beloved parents’ daily influence, they molded Laura’s actions and reactions. In the same way, we have God’s Holy Spirit living within us.

I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. – Ezekiel 36:27

His Spirit is constantly available to influence the choices we make and daily mold our actions and reactions, as well. While our feelings may echo Laura’s sentiment, with the Holy Spirit on duty within our hearts, our reactions can be more like Mary’s.

PONDER: In what situation are you most tempted to react in your flesh? Choose to submit your will unto God’s, allowing the Holy Spirit to mold your actions & reactions.

PRAYER: Father, I confess that my actions and reactions are more in line with Laura’s. Help me to be more like Mary, slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to anger. Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit living within me, teaching and guiding and directing me as I walk with You.

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Patterns of Prayer – Pt. 5

The “Lectio Divina” (or DIVINE READING) Method

The four steps are reading the Bible (taking a bite), meditating on it (chewing), praying (savoring the word), and contemplating its applications so it becomes a part of one’s life (digesting). This method seems to require the biggest time commitment at one sitting, so give yourself at least 30 uninterrupted minutes per day this week as you explore this different pattern of prayer.

1. Reading. Read the passage slowly. Pay attention to the text. Read it several times. Underline sections that catch your attention.

2. Meditating. Try to grasp the meaning of the passage, be aware of God’s presence in your life.

3. Praying. Respond to God, converse with him about the passage and his will. Open your heart to God. Share your heart, not a laundry list of needs or things you think you ought to pray about.

4. Contemplating. Focus on God, rest in his presence, and commit yourself to living out his will, especially as reflected in the reading.

For more information, a simple google search of the name will yield a wealth of further reading on the subject.

Patterns of Prayer – Pt. 4

This week, let’s implement yet another new pattern of prayer – The T.R.I.P. Method. This seemed like an abbreviated pattern very similar to last week’s P.A.R.T.S. pattern. Like the P.R.A.I.S.E. method, I enjoyed starting my time with God thanking Him for what He has already done. It positioned my heart for the next section, which is perhaps what I appreciated most about this particular pattern of prayer – the section on “regrets.” That is a category that I can relate to! Unlike “repentance,” regrets encompasses mess-ups that don’t stem from intentionality, but burden me, keeping me stuck in those moments. I appreciated this new aspect of talking through the times during the day that I missed the mark. It was unburdening to approach the Lord with these burdens, gratefully dumping them at His feet and being able to move forward – both in prayer and with my day. I feel that beginning with those two prepared my heart to intercede, praying for His will more than my own. And then ending by praising Him for His answers, whatever they will be.


Patterns of Prayer – Pt. 3

This week, let’s have our prayers focus on the P.A.R.T.S pattern, another new pattern of prayer for me. This prayer pattern didn’t flow for me as easily as the P.R.A.I.S.E. pattern did, but I appreciated the addition of “repentance,” as that is one area that I tend to forget amongst all the needs I find myself praying for more often. I also liked the “sharing” addition, as too often I keep my prayer & devotional life private. It challenged me to open up more with people and share what the Lord was actively teaching me and I needed that.


Patterns of Prayer – Pt. 1

In April of this year, my class was encouraged by our beloved Sunday School teacher {and DTS Professor} to branch out of our norm to explore various forms of prayer. We focused on this first one since it seems to be the most widely known. It was a very interesting week as I practiced new patterns and definitely took the routine out of approaching the throne.

Like he did, I want to encourage you during this month to step out of your prayer routine and explore various patterns of prayer. This first week, let’s focus on the famous A.C.T.S. pattern of prayer.

For a very in-depth look at this popular pattern of prayer, go here.


A Time to Trust


When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move;
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through;
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You –
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!”

Trust In You by Lauren Daigle

Oh my. This song has reverberated through my mind several times a day, every day, for several weeks now. I relate too-readily with the sentiment in the chorus. My heart is too ready to wallow in the feeling of God’s abandonment when anything is too tough or too long or too unpleasant or too uncomfortable.

Do I trust in Him when He doesn’t move the mountain in front of me? When He holds out His hand, offering instead to walk with me over the mountain, guiding me, helping me, do I eagerly take it or do I cross my arms and walk off in a huff, agitated and resentful?

Do I trust Him when He doesn’t part the waters I wish I could walk through? When His wisdom dictates a more difficult or seemingly perilous route, do I drop to my knees – not in worship, but in a tantrum of two-year-old proportions?

Do I trust Him when He doesn’t give me the answers as I cry out to Him? When He lovingly answers instead, “wait,” do I accept that as an answer or rebel against His not performing on cue?

Because that’s what is at the heart of this ongoing issue of trust I continually struggle with – believing He knows best when it conflicts with what I think I know is best. Trusting His plan when it doesn’t match mine. Surrendering to His will instead of arrogantly clinging to my own.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

PONDER: What mountains or waters or questions are you facing right now about which God is asking you to walk with Him in trust?


Camping & the Apocalypse

I am a fan of the apocalyptic genre. I don’t read or watch it exclusively, but this has been a summer of reading and watching rather a lot of it. Need proof? Over these short summer months, I have binge-watched The Last ShipContainmentSurvivors, Fringe, 12 Monkeys, Primeval: New World, and Zoo. I recently began reading Station Eleven since one of my friends suggested it based on my like of the aforementioned binged show Survivors. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, our family read-aloud has been Battlefield Earth, a quasi post-apocalyptic gem. Needless to say, it’s been a rough summer of near-annihilation for the human race all within the confines of my own head!

I share this about myself to help you understand my doomsday mindset while we were recently on our annual Labor Day Weekend Campout with our youngest kids in the breathtaking panhandle canyons of northwest Texas.

This naturally made crevice in the rock was much explored by the other members of my family during our recent visit to Palo Duro Canyons State Park. Climbing to, in, through, and on it was a highlight of our trip!
This naturally made crevice in the rock was much explored during our recent visit to Palo Duro Canyons State Park. Climbing to, in, through, and on it was a highlight of our trip!
I ventured about this close to it. My cowardice won and I stayed behind while the family explored the nooks and crannies with other brave hikers that day.
The family explored the nooks and crannies of this magnificent fortress in the cliffs.
Simon and the kids couldn't resist climbing down into a ravine and then through this natural "tunnel" under our hiking trail. If you look closely, you can see Simon's head in the center for scale.
Simon and the kids couldn’t resist climbing down into a ravine and then through this natural “tunnel” under our hiking trail. If you look closely, you can see Simon’s head in the center for scale. While they were exploring, they talked about making a Western in which the hero used a place such as this as his hideout.

With a mixture of both imagined images (due to my favored genre of late) and real images (due to my current locale) floating through my mind, I was primed with a mental slideshow as I read these Words early one morning –

Enter into the rock
    and hide in the dust
from before the terror of the Lord,
    and from the splendor of his majesty.” Is 2:10

“And people shall enter the caves of the rocks
    and the holes of the ground,[b]
from before the terror of the Lord,
    and from the splendor of his majesty,
    when he rises to terrify the earth.” Is 2:19

“to enter the caverns of the rocks
    and the clefts of the cliffs,
from before the terror of the Lord,
    and from the splendor of his majesty,
    when he rises to terrify the earth.” Is 2:21

As you can imagine, these words & images reverberated through my apocalyptic mind all day long as we hiked and explored the caverns! Later, I went back and reread Isaiah 2, which I admit was rather discouraging the first time through, and that time God illuminated the {more encouraging} beginning of the chapter –

“and many peoples shall come, and say:                                             Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
    and that we may walk in his paths.’ ” Is 2:3

Where am I going with this? Too many times I stumble on the negative. My mind dwells on the half-empty glass. I focus on the fears. I cry out in despair when the Lord doesn’t move the mountains I want Him to move or part the waters I wish I could walk through. And yet, His purpose for me isn’t to make my journey easy or smooth, but worth the effort, worth the struggle. As I go to Him each time I face a mountain or have to cross a sea, He teaches me more of His ways and I learn to walk in His paths.

What about you? What obstacles is the Lord eagerly waiting to teach you His ways as you walk His path with Him?

In the Light

“I want to be in the Light
As You are in the Light
I want to shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the Light
All I want is to be in the Light.”

In the Light by dcTalk

Morning One – I helped Jesse get his kayak and gear into the water, turned right and was treated to this spectacular sunrise.
Morning Two – En route to the fishing spot Jesse had selected, we saw this spectacular sunrise. Though it looks like the sun rising from an African savannah, it is actually over the still-dark canyon behind our campsite.
Morning Three – Unobscured by nearby trees, the sunrise was blindingly bright and beautiful at this morning’s fishing spot.



In recent years, we have started a new tradition of taking the younger kids camping over the extended Labor Day weekend. It is a much-anticipated time of getting away from the busyness of our life in the city to enjoy the slower pace of an unplugged, back-to-the-basics existence. This year, we headed to the canyons hidden within the panhandle of Texas.

A true angler, Jesse woke at the crack of dawn to fish each morning. I served as his chauffeur, being a morning person myself, and we left the night owl to enjoy his slumber a little longer.

While Jesse tempted the occupants of Lake Theo with his tasty bait each morning, I spent my time walking with the Lord through His Word. On the second morning just after the sun had crested the canyon, I read,

“Light is sweet, and it is pleasant                              for the eyes to see the sun.” Ecc. 11:7

That verse struck me in a completely new way that morning. While I love camping, love the family togetherness, love seeing new sights, love getting back to the basics, love cooking over a campfire, etc., I do not love bugs and creepy-crawly things. In my head, the dark belongs to the evil creepy-crawly things. For this reason, I greet the morning light as eagerly as our resident angler. For fishermen like Jesse, light IS sweet. It IS pleasant for the eyes to see the sun because that’s prime time for catching.

Something to Ponder: As a child of God living in a dark world where the enemy is creeping and crawling around seeking whom he may devour, do I shine? To the eyes of the fallen who desperately need to see the Son, am I a beacon of His light?