The First Thanksgiving: A Joyful Hope

Re-blogged from my blog over at

This year, I’m going to make it a point with my children to focus on the first Thanksgiving and the role that God had in it.

The First Thanksgiving

In September 1620, the Pilgrims left England for the New World. The trip took over two months and was very hard on the passengers (just over 100 people). Enduring the elements and the storms of the open sea, the Pilgrims held fast to their mission and relied on Divine Providence to survive.  They finally arrived in what is now Massachusetts at the end of November 1620. After several days searching for a suitable place to disembark, they chose what they called Plymouth Rock on December 11. Before stepping foot on land, they signed the Mayflower Compact, which is referred to as America’s first document of civil government. 

The Pilgrims leaned heavily on prayer, and that was the first thing they did upon arrival. Unfortunately, they were not ready for the realities of a Massachusetts winter, and almost half of them succumbed to starvation or sickness before the spring of 1621. It is said that at one point their daily food ration was down to five kernels of corn each. But then- Hope. A trading vessel arrived, and the Pilgrims traded beaver pelts for corn. In the summer of 1621, assisted by Native Americans, most notably Squanto, who had accepted Jesus and become a Christian thanks to a Spanish monk after being captured and sold into slavery in Spain, the Pilgrims’ crops were plentiful. Squanto taught them to grow corn, use fertilizer, kill deer and fish. Governor William Bradford decreed December 13, 1621 a day of feasting and prayer so that the colonists could show gratitude that they were still alive. It was a three-day feast! Of Squanto, Governor Bradford said that he was “a special instrument of God for good beyond their expectations.”

Below are the joyful words of Pilgrim Edward Winslow, describing the first Thanksgiving.

“Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling so that we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as… served the company almost a week… Many of the Indians [came] amongst us and… their greatest King, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought… And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet BY THE GOODNESS OF GOD WE ARE… FAR FROM WANT.”

I just love those words from Mr. Winslow so much! You can practically see him smiling when you read them. How joyous and grateful the Pilgrims must have been! They were faithful to God and He provided for them. What a great message to share with our kids as we gather around the Thanksgiving table this month, almost 400 years later! God’s love never changes.

Here are some of my favorite verses to share with your kids this Thanksgiving.

Psalm 95:1-6 – O Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, And a great King above all gods, in whose hand are the depths of the earth; the peaks of the mountains are His also. The sea is His, for it was He who made it; and His hands formed the dry land. Come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

Colossians 3:15 – And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

As Christians, we are to be thankful and should be joyous all throughout the year, not just for one Thursday in November, but doesn’t reading the story of the Pilgrims just make your heart smile? I know it does mine, and that’s what I’ll be sharing at the table this year.


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Teaching Our Kids to Lose Graciously

i060607dtm2Re-posted from my blog over at

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)

This summer my kids are playing baseball for the first time. They are in the Wildcat League, which is far less competitive than some other leagues around the Fort, such as Little League, etc. But the level of competitiveness was not a deciding factor in my choice of their summer sport. To be honest, cost was my first consideration. I did, however, want them to play their first year with a group that was a little more laid-back, especially while they’re learning the basics.

The kids wear matching hats and jerseys, but some wear shorts, some baseball pants. They share equipment and take turns playing all of the positions. Their games are fun, and the scores aren’t posted up on the board; rather, they are casually announced by the coaches as each team is coming off or going onto the field.

Yet, even in this casual and just-for-fun atmosphere, poor sportsmanship rears its ugly head, both from the players and, shamefully, from some of the parents.

As moms and dads, we all know how important it is to teach our kids to lose graciously. It starts with siblings or friends at a very early age, with simple games and competitions. Not just in sports, but in other things like board games or who gets to go first or is chosen to be the line leader in the classroom.

I believe that losing graciously, or more to the point, showing good sportsmanship, comes down to humility.  It’s about doing everything to the best of your ability. If you do that and your opponent comes out on top, it means swallowing your pride and offering a genuine “Good game!” and a handshake-and really meaning it.

It would take me months to count on fingers and toes how many times, as a mom, I’ve heard, “He/she cheated!” or “That’s not fair!” in response to one of my two kids ending up on the losing end of a situation.  Last week at baseball, as a matter of fact, a player from my kids’ team was called out at first base. Some of the kids in the dugout (including my son) started yelling, “He was safe! That’s not fair!” In fact, even at the end of the game, as we were loading up in the van, my son was still angry over that call.

It was a great teaching moment. We went over the rules of the game, the fact that the coach had a much better view of the play and that no matter what, the coach’s calls always stand.

It’s such a hard lesson to learn, losing graciously, but one that is so essential in shaping the character of our children.

There are so many examples that have made headlines of athletes, parents and coaches resorting to poor sportsmanship, public tantrums and even violence. It’s rare to find coverage of role models and GOOD sportsmanship, and that is what our kids need to see celebrated in the news.

I’ve found a few examples I’d like to share with you.

1.      Act of Sportsmanship Gives Texas High Schooler Shot at Glory

A Texas teen has set the example of sportsmanship by unselfishly surrendering the basketball to a developmentally disabled member of the opposing team so he could score a point during a game. (CBS News)

2.      Chasing Silver: The 200m Usain Bolt 2008 Olympic Race

We all know that Usain Bolt broke the World Record in the 200m race in Beijing….but do you know who got the Silver? And why was it one of the Olympics’ biggest controversies? (Bleacher Report)

  1. I Believe in Tim Tebow

Every week, Tebow picks out someone who is suffering, or who is dying, or who is injured. He flies these people and their families to the Broncos game, rents them a car, puts them up in a nice hotel, buys them dinner (usually at a Dave & Buster’s), gets them and their families pregame passes, visits with them just before kickoff (!), gets them 30-yard-line tickets down low, visits with them after the game (sometimes for an hour), has them walk him to his car, and sends them off with a basket of gifts. (ESPN)

My kids’ Wildcat baseball team has yet to win a game, but they are improving every week. It’s so wonderful watching them develop what for some of them will be a life-long love of the game.

It was during that same game with the contested ‘out’ call last week that I pinpointed my personal MVP. His name is S, and he was playing third base. My son H was pitching; the other team had the bases loaded and H was about to walk the kid at bat. S calls out from third, in a sincere and friendly voice, “You can do it, H. It’s OK!”



Celebrating Dads

Re-blogged from my blog over at

Dad. Daddy. Father. Pop. Old Man. Whatever you call him, this Sunday is his special day. Father’s Day. How will you celebrate yours? My daddy is in Alabama, but I plan to have a nice long chat with him. I wish I could share the day with him, but I’m just glad I still have him, and that he’s healthy and happy.

I think it’s important for us all to remember that dads don’t have to be biological. Father’s Day is a day to cherish all of the special men in our lives who have watched over us, protected us, given us advice and support, nurturing and love. That includes adoptive and foster dads, uncles, grandfathers, pastors, mentors, coaches and teachers, just to name a few!

Not all of us are lucky enough to still have our dads on this earth, and not all of us, especially in this day and age, are lucky enough to have known our ‘real’ dads. But I’ll bet all of us are blessed to have men in our lives who have helped guide us and shape us into who we are today and who we will become. These are the men to be celebrated this Sunday, and every day.

My daddy and I in 1977

My daddy and I in 1977

I’ve spent some time looking through some scriptures that talk about godly fathers, and these are my favorites.

Proverbs 17:27– A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. (NIV)

Psalms 103:13- As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him (NIV)

Psalms 127:3-5- Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate. (NIV)

Proverbs 14:26- Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge. (NIV)

Ephesians 6:1-2- Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother—which is the first commandment with a promise. (NIV)

If you’re a dad looking for some support or encouragement, I’d recommend checking out The National Center for Fathering. In reading through the fatherhood blog there, I came across this and I just had to share. It’s an essay written by a 6th grader named Abigail:

My dad makes me feel loved. I can always count on my dad. He makes me laugh so hard…. Most of the time, my dad’s actions speak louder than life.

My dad is a short, stubby man, but his smile goes from the east to the west. He makes really, really bad jokes, but we always laugh. He acts sometimes, [imitates] singers, and even tries to dance. But he makes his imitations really bad on purpose to make us laugh. He laughs at things I say even if they’re not meant to be funny. That makes me laugh.

My dad has all the qualities of a great guy. He’s so truthful, honorable, and trustworthy. I can always count on him. He even understands what I’m talking about most of the time.

My dad sees everyone for who they are. He won’t judge people but always learns their personalities first. He helps people he doesn’t know, and he’s always nice to strangers. My dad is kind and always helpful.

My dad is awesome, fantastic, and phenomenal. I love my dad. He’s far from perfect, but far past amazing.

I don’t think it gets more honest or lovelier than that.