On a sunny and cold day last week, I asked Ron and Darryl to take a break from the scraping and sanding project they have been doing on our front porch, so our videographer Titus and I could record our Thanksgiving video for this week. We needed some quiet for just a little while. They joyfully complied! A break was just what they needed.
Ron and Darryl have worked on our house before. That’s what happens when you live in a house built about 175 years ago. It’s one project after another. We’d been on their schedule for several weeks. The morning they came, Ray and I decided to ditch the work inside the house we had been planning and switch to the front porch. For years, we have wanted to take the aluminum siding off the house and restore the weatherboarding underneath.
Bravely, we asked Ron and Darryl to take the siding off only the front porch wall that faces the road. We didn’t know what we would find, but to our delight, we found the wood to be in excellent shape. Soon, we were saying, “Go on to the chimney and then go on to the edge of the side porch and then go ahead and take the siding off the porch ceiling.” We stopped there and we may never go any further, but, oh, we are excited about the results.
We also had another wonderful surprise. Ours is one of those old houses that has two front doors–not double doors, mind you but two front doors, each of which enters a different room. Above and beside each door were rectangles of boards, covering what were once side lights and transoms. Many times I have looked at those boards and wondered if the windows, which had also been covered with aluminum siding in the 1970s, might still be between the boards and the siding. To our further delight, the windows were still there. None of the glass was broken, and some of it was the original glass with its beautiful imperfections.
While Ron and Darryl worked on our 175-year old house, I began the video, talking about our sweet now 95-year old friend, Miss Katherine. I love her stories about our house. She used to spend the night here with friends when they were all teenagers and when peacocks used to squawk from the trees in the backyard.
As we all prepare for a less-than-perfect, but very blessed, Thanksgiving in our less-than-perfect houses, I hope this video is encouraging.
At church one Sunday morning, Miss Katherine walked sprightly down the side aisle. “How are you?” I asked. She responded with a brief but honest comment about her 94-year-old body’s less-than-perfect condition; and then she added, “And thankful.”
In less than twenty words, she illustrated an excellent way to communicate. She was both open and positive. I have a hard time relating to people who are always and only positive. I don’t feel as if I have an invitation to share needs with them. On the opposite end of the spectrum, few of us enjoy being around people who don’t seem to have anything positive to say about their situation.
You know the old description of some people seeing a situation as a glass half empty while others see the same situation as a glass half full. Miss Katherine gave me a half-full summary with the added bonus of gratitude.
In spite of the happy images of the perfect Thanksgiving that surround us at this time of the year, almost every mama will begin the week of Thanksgiving experiencing two realities: Some things in her life are going great; other things could use some improvement — maybe a whole lot of improvement. God wants to hear our thanksgiving and He wants us to ask for what we need, too.
Miss Katherine’s answer was in keeping with the attitude Paul told the Philippians to have when they talked to God. He told them:
Be anxious for nothing,
but in everything by prayer and supplication
let your requests be made known to God.
God’s gift of prayer is an invitation to be open and honest about our needs. That alone deserves our gratitude, not to mention all the other things God does for us. He wants us to express our needs and our gratitude.
Our children need from us the same thing we need from God. They need an open, all-the-time invitation to be open and honest about what is in their hearts. At the same time, we should help them to cultivate a grateful heart. Our own honesty combined with grateful hearts is a powerful example to them.
Devote yourselves to prayer,
keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving . . .