"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks...

Appreciation: gratitude; thankful recognition.

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
-1 Thessalonians 5:18

As I was running this morning, pondering another Thanksgiving Day, I wondered what it was like during the first Thanksgiving celebration. I wondered when first the "Turkey Day" took place and how different it was from how we celebrate Thanksgiving today. Obviously there are major differences between the first Thanksgiving in 1621 and the one we will experience today. I'm sure in the beginning there were no discussions concerning "Black Friday" shopping plans, little to no interest in the latest apps and no football or Macy's parade on the television. 

It's safe to say that times were different and with all of the points that could be made concerning the many differences, it was the 102 pilgrims that displayed tremendous resolve, strength and character in the midst of the most trying of times that gives me reason to pause.  

Depiction of the 1st Pilgrims.

The first Thanksgiving was a celebration of survival during a time of terrible hardship.

Many times we as Americans tend to romanticize the pilgrim, we think of them as well dressed men, women and children with buckled shoes and frock coats. Those visions couldn't be farther from the truth. In the winter of 1620 a group of 102 pilgrim pioneers had began an adventure that had no turning back.

 Jean Craighead George in her book "The First Thanksgiving" shared with her reader that by the following spring many pilgrims didn't survive the winter, being reduced by illness and hardship to 56. Surrounded by the land's native people, whose intent they could not know, they buried their dead by night so the tribes wouldn't realize how quickly their numbers were dwindling and prayed by day that they would live to see another.

Portrait of the 1st Thanksgiving.

So when the fruitful harvest and late fall arrived in 1621, it was natural that the weary settlers and their native benefactors should gather in a great feast of lobster and goose, turkey and venison, duck and pumpkin, fruit and corn. These Pilgrims, sorely tested, gave thanks for a hard-won survival and the help of friends. I truly believe that it would be impossible for all involved not to count their blessings without thinking of the trials just endured, the terrors of their strange new land, and the loss of their dearest comrades. The original 102 pilgrims, lived and died, bravely in the face of danger and most likely prayed daily for strength and safety.

And with all of this they found reason to be grateful producing their greatest legacy; a legacy of gratitude and appreciation

Enjoying the harvest... 

So that's where I find myself this morning, feeling tremendous gratitude for my faith, family and friends. Many things come and go but these three things have been with me for a lifetime.  

My faith has been the biggest blessing to me over the course of my life. I'm very thankful that my mother, the spiritual patriarch of our family, took my sister and me to church every Sunday morning, and Sunday and Wednesday night, without fail. I'm grateful that she instilled in me the importance of consistently attending church, and more importantly, that our faith in Jesus Christ is the most important quality we can develop while on earth. It is true what is said in Proverbs 22:6; "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it." In the end, my parents "God" could no longer be mine. I had to decide to find Jesus for myself and invite Him in my life so He could become real to me. 

I'm grateful that my relationship with God has become more personal over the past five years, very personal. It has made all the difference for me and my family. 

When speaking of my family I feel very blessed and thankful for the "little" things. I'm thankful that we all made it home safely every night over the past year and were able to share the day's events with each other around the dinner table. I'm thankful and appreciative that so many people have made it possible for my oldest two boys to be currently attending college, and that Bryce received to full scholarship to play football at Miami, in Oxford, Ohio.

I'm full of appreciation and gratitude that my mother and father-in-law acknowledged, accepted, and without judgment, invited a man that had been divorced twice and had multiple children by multiple women (5 children by 4 women to be exact... one child with their daughter at the two) into their home and in doing so making that man, me, a part of their family. I'm thankful for the fact that my parents pretty much provided Christmas for all of my children over the past 16 years and especially thankful that my wife has accepted her role as wife, mother, stepmother, daughter-in-law and sister-in-law with such grace and class.  

She is wonderful. 

I'm also very thankful that my three oldest boys have accepted Jesus Christ into their lives. 

Finally, I'm thankful for my friends that I have had for the better part of my life. Craig Birkhead, Joe Ceravolo, Todd Onusic, Mike Elfers, Steve Iannarino, Mark Eissy and Jeff Wright all have been close friends for over 25 years. Craig has been a best friend for over 33 years. In each case they have given me their money, their time and their ear. They have blessed me with their constructive criticism and unforgettable understanding. 

  Charlie & his friends.  

They have often shared with me what I needed to hear and not what I wanted to hear. 

They have been a truthful and true friend to me and for that I'm very grateful. 

In the end, I'm thankful for the 46 pilgrims that set out on a difficult journey that died along the way and for the 56 pilgrims, on that same journey, that were able to find something inside of themselves that enabled them to survive the journey.

In both cases many sacrifices were made. I believe greatness comes in many forms but it has been my observation that sacrifice is often the loneliest form of greatness.

 Giving thanks & sharing...

Today I recognize and honor their many sacrifices and their true greatness. With that being said, let all of us take pleasure in the simplest and most meaningful of things during our holiday celebration.  

Today let's remember that, as the Roman philosopher Seneca once wrote, "Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart." And with that let's remember and reflect upon the things that are in our life that we are grateful for and give thanks for them.

It has and always will be about grace, the grace that has been bestowed upon us and the grace we have the opportunity to share with others every day. I wish I could say it better but Ralph Waldo Emerson put it best when he said: 


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.


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