November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Day 3

Express your gratitude for family members.  Make a list of each immediate member and next to their name write a quality in them for which you are particularly grateful.

Take time to thank God for each member of your family and pick at least one from your list to whom you can express gratitude today, either in person, by phone, or other means.  Do not confine your thankfulness only to those who are easy to love or to communicate with, and do not have unrealistic expectations of their response to you.

November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Day 2

I hope you enjoyed reading through Colossians!  I'm feeling more thankful already!  As my family crawls through the attic to bring down our Christmas decorations, I'm hiding so I can post day two for you!

Day 2

Take time to identify the specific benefits you have received from God and others.  List the material and spiritual benefits you have received.  Make a list of these blessings and thank God for each item on the list.

Read Ephesians 1 to remind you of some spiritual blessings.

November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.  Psalm 68:19

Happy Thanksgiving!

When I hear those words, I immediately conjure up images of turkeys, pies, and potatoes. I wish my first thoughts were thankful ones.  Instead, it's all about the food.  It's about food just as Christmas is about presents. 

One year I tried to buck the system.  I was in my late college years, very idealistic and trying to change the world.  I arrived home for Thanksgiving break with a radical offer. 

"How about we fast on Thanksgiving day and send the money we would have spent to a missions work?" I eagerly spouted.

Silence.  A few eyes rolled.

It was too much.  I can't remember the outcome of the day.  I believe we skipped breakfast...but we certainly didn't spend the day hungry.  I understand now, everyone anticipated the traditional meal and my crazy idea a few days before the big holiday was too much. 

Over a decade later, I wish I could do something to make our Thanksgiving day more than a blur of baking and pigging out.  The gorging is the appropriate grand opening for the Christmas season, which has become it's own gorging of sorts.  Tragedy.

Raising five children has made the burden weigh heavily on my heart.  I grasp at any idea to make our holidays focused...Christ-centered.

I would love your ideas--what does your family do to make Thanksgiving special? 

Here's one idea I got from church last night, I believe it's a perfect opener to Advent: 
A week of Thanksgiving

Day 1
Read the book of Colossians (Everett gasped when we told him to read an ENTIRE book of the Bible, but don't fret, it's only four chapters!).  Colossians has at least one reference to thankfulness in each chapter.  Jot down thoughts that relate to thankfulness.  Pay close attention to: 

1:3  We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

1:12  Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light

2:7  Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving

3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

4:2  Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving


November 11, 2013


This summer I met my own insecurities.  Writing about it sends shivers down my spine and makes me feel queasy.

I tend to overbook myself.  That is an understatement.  I have a hard time cannot say no.  I don't even need to be asked for help, I just offer.  I hear the words coming from my mouth and think about how I shouldn't be saying it, but I can't help myself!  Label me as codependent or weak, but I have always preferred the word 'compassionate'.

I heard an old pastor say, "Cram a quart of activity into a pint of time".  That would be a fitting motto for my life.  If it's at all possible, I'll make it happen.  After 36 years of living a life like that, this summer it caught up with me.

Pulling onto the interstate with my children in tow, my van packed to the gills for a camping trip, and husband out of town, I finally felt like I could breath.  I had exchanged breakfast for three cups of coffee while furiously packing and corralling the dog and children.  The kids were ecstatic about the week ahead, yet I was pensive. I had three days of mandatory training scheduled for the end of the week.  I also had two dear friends that planned a camping trip--moms and kids only--for the week.  Mistakenly, I thought training was close to the campground and gave a hearty "yes" to all activities.  Then I realized that the training was an hour and a half away from our campsite.  Enter my go-to reaction, I can't let anyone down so I'll run crazy and make it all work.  But, for the first time in my life, I felt uneasy.  I guess it was a warning.

It was there that I found myself driving on a beautiful morning to meet my sweet friends and their kids for a relaxing week of camping.  I decided to call another friend about our upcoming trip to New England, just as I merged into traffic.  I believe I was speaking quickly, and running solely on caffeine, when she said, "I can't even understand you."

Right then, the truck in front of me seemed to balloon out, like a bubble, my ears started ringing, and I hung up the phone.  I was on a bridge, which always strikes terror into my soul, and white knuckling the wheel, praying that we could find somewhere to pull over.  My mind wasn't right. 

I survived that week.  I wasn't sleeping.  I wasn't eating.  During the training one day, we had tornado warnings and had to seek shelter in the halls along with all of the children.  The next day, Josiah cracked his head open during lunch, blood seeping from the gash, and I barely held it together.  But for all appearances, I was fine.  So calm, "Wow, look at Apryl, she's rock solid.  Her kid just cracked his head open and she's just chill about it."

I was pretending.

I lost seven pounds that week.  After I got home, I kept thinking that I needed sleep.  I had worn myself out.  But the headaches and ear ringing...I called my doctor.  He was very concerned and ran tests.  All turned out fine.  Then he asked if perhaps I had 'burned out'.  To which I replied, "What would that look like?"

And, why in the world would I 'burn out' now?  At this time last year, I was planning a trip to Ethiopia, collecting blankets to bring, organizing a statewide reunion for our adoption agency, beginning a new curriculum, and teaching courses using that curriculum to families paying me.  This year doesn't come close to what I was going through last year.  I guess. 

My doctor made me hyperventilate and that was exactly what I was experiencing during these 'stressful' times.  It's as if my mind felt fine, but my body knows the truth.  My breathing altered a little and then I began to experience the symptoms of hyperventilation. My mind would race and suddenly even the simple things in life seemed impossible. 

This would be me falling off of the pedestal on which I'm sitting.  I'm not even falling gracefully.  I'm head first-wailing-arms swinging-cracking my forehead on the linoleum-falling. 

It is ugly.

This is reality hitting me hard.  God showing me that I can't do everything.  I shouldn't do everything, because that makes a person proud.  Hearing compliments often enough, and even I was convinced I had super powers.  But superwoman didn't need God, and I really do.  No other lesson has been so brutal.

1 Corinthians 1:27 kept coming up:
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty...

God used foolish, weak things to confound me.  I felt wise and mighty, most of the time.  Now, I don't.

1 Corinthians 1:29 is where I am now.  "That no flesh should glory in his presence".  Keeping myself in check, because this life, the reality that Apryl lives in now, isn't possible without the strength of God.    Humility is a hard lesson.  But, this is my new reality.  I am not a superhero. I'm not even a mildly successful woman, unless I'm asking God for help.  I can't fix everything that is broken in this world, I can't even fix what's broken in my own house.  And I need to be okay with that. I've been stripped completely bare, and He's building me up slowly with a better foundation than before.  A true reality, knowledge that everything that is done in my life is done by Him.  

As Paul wrote, "His strength is made perfect in weakness."  I am now weaker than I have ever been before, yet I experience the strength of God more than ever before.