Stacy Voss

See life differently. Live courageously.

Tag: Thanksgiving (page 1 of 3)

The Birth of Thankful Suffering: A Holiday Mash-Up

I’ve been busy editing my Easter devotional, Reflecting Easter: Living and Understanding the Resurrection while marketing my Christmas devotional, Savoring Christmas.  (I bet if someone leaves a comment asking me to, I’d be willing to post a picture of the cover of Reflecting Easter). It should come as no surprise that working on both has once again led to my holidays being a little confused.

Bear with me as I mix them up even a bit more by adding Thanksgiving to the mix.  Hard to believe it was just a week ago, isn’t it? It seems like we get ready for the day, buying the turkey and fixings but also spending as much time getting our hearts ready. Many post something they’re thankful for every day in November up until Thanksgiving.

And then here we are, in that land between when we really start celebrating Christmas and when Thanksgiving becomes a long-lost memory as we chuck whatever leftovers remain from the feast.

I think there are many of us who don’t want to carry that grateful attitude into advent because we’re entering a season that is deemed joyful, yet carries bitter scars for many. Some watch the sappy Christmas movies and mourn being single (okay really, just how did Hallmark come to decide that Christmas is about romance and love? Apparently I’m not the only one confusing holidays!). Others know that all the cousins or in-laws will be descending upon the house and grateful just isn’t the word that comes to mind. There are countless other reasons convincing us to celebrate Christmas throughout the month of December while giving Thanksgiving a few tryptophan-ingesting hours.

But let me mix it up a little with this holiday mash-up. You see, as I’m focusing on Easter right now, I’m reminded yet again that the one who’s birth we celebrate is the same one that said he had to suffer (Luke 16:21). Did you catch that? His suffering wasn’t optional. Funny how we’ve come to assume that ours should be, though, and when the suffering comes, the thanksgiving normally ends. But check out when 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to give thanks:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

All, as in even with when the in-laws are staying with you for much too long. I’m not saying it’s easy. In fact, I may or may not have texted one of you last week saying that a perk of being single is that I don’t have to deal with in-laws anymore. Sorry to rub it in, but that piece of thanksgiving comes readily for me, but I’ll have other ones that won’t feel as comical.

So here’s our challenge: even when things get chaotic in the next few weeks as we bake too many cookies, scramble to find great deals or scratch our heads trying to figure out what to buy for that impossible person, let’s commit to mashing up the holidays by giving thanks to the One who was born to suffer.

Stacy Voss

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Unexpected Joy

untitled-3We’re wrapping up the weekend of thanks (or dare I say the day or hours of thanks before singing the songs of praise over finding good deals?). And while I had plenty to be thankful for on turkey day, my grateful-barometer runs over even more today.

Yes, today. A non-scheduled gratitude day.

A non-everything day, as in nowhere to be other than church (and even then, we had multiple service times to pick from). Non as in the mental list of things to was simply that: mental. Any and all things that I suddenly chose to erase could slip away without anyone knowing. And non as in nothing fancy planned. No outings or big events.

And yet, in the midst of the non, the peace bubbled over, a warm tea type of feeling that penetrated beyond the simple “I’m grateful for a house (which I so very much am!)” or “I love my kids” or any of the other cliche gratitude standbys. Nope, this was the deep kind of gratitude that swells up from the unexpected.

It was unexpected because the challenges I faced yesterday still exist today. So are the uncertainties and the dreams I hope become a reality, yet find myself apprehensive to let my heart hope for them.

In the midst of the routine of life, joy jumped out in full force. Perhaps it was because I got to spend more time with my Girlie today, something I’ve missed as I’ve spent too much time the last few weeks recovering from a minor surgery. Or maybe it was because I finally gave myself permission to non, to unplug in a way that had no deadline or schedules.  Or maybe it’s because that thing called gratitude that I once held so dearly onto but somehow let slip away ounce by ounce came thundering back in and these once-strong muscles of gratefulness are finding their way yet again.

Whatever it is, I wish it for you, too. I know we’re entering the season of hurry, but don’t pack the gratitude away like I accidentally did. Instead, give yourself permission to stop, savor and be filled–filled with joy and peace!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:13

Stacy Voss

Grateful through the Tears

Grateful through the TearsMany talk about being grateful throughout the years, a buoyancy that helps them when the crazy hard strikes. I get that, but what has been even more apparent in my life this past season of gratitude is of being grateful through the tears.

Yes, let the happy tears flow.

And flow. So much so, in fact, that my Girlie has decided its embarrassing even when its just the two of us and no one but her can see the wet gratitude rolling down my cheeks.

So why the happy tears? The sweetness of today is grounded in the pain of yesterday and the many yesterdays that preceded it. It’s been a rough year.

No, let me say that in a way that isn’t quite so understated:

It’s been a hold on with everything you have, pray like you never have before, stock up on Kleenex, get all of your friends to pray for you (as in everyday at noon. Not kidding, but oh so grateful), hit the ground in prayer again, cry again, curl into a fetal position, pray, take a few baby steps, get knocked down, count some blessings, wipe away tears, and well, you get the idea. It wasn’t all bad, but it without a doubt it was the hardest year I’ve had to face.

Some of the events of this past year caused me to feel lost, not lost as in who I am as a person or even what my purpose is, but lost as to how to make my current realities line up with my priorities and needs. I floundered, a startling thing that is foreign to this driven girl.

Worse yet, there were a few people who spoke ugliness into my life. I’m sure they didn’t mean to, but they bred confusion in my thoughts, making me wonder if I was further off track than I acknowledged. One person in authority condemned me for a physical attribute of mine that couldn’t be changed. Another ridiculed for something else that wasn’t easily changed, nor should it have been.

The list continues, but this post really isn’t about the bad.

It’s about the good. The really, really good.

Life turned a corner recently. Can’t say for sure what brought about the change, but it’s been a welcome friend. And with that change comes another: Things that in the past would have gone unnoticed now have great meaning.  Words of affirmation ring deep, not because I need the external reward, but because there is something beautiful in being acknowledged for doing what you love and being set free to further pursuit it. A paycheck that now comes every other Friday without the guessing and hoping and wishing bring a greater sense of calm than before.

No, the wounds of the past year haven’t vanished, nor will they ever. There are certain things that are irrevocable, events that happen that forever change the future. Many of us know these events all too well, but we also know this:

they are the very things that can cause us to be more grateful than we ever knew possible.

So, my friends, whether this has been a year of great joy and celebrations,

or tragedy, loss and grief,

or a string of ho-hum months with nothing much new to report,

I pray this season of gratitude undoes us to the core,

that we may reflect upon where we’ve been and where we think we might be headed,

that we’ll look the trials square in the face and revel in the unexpected splendor we got to behold,

that our gratitude will flow out in hugs, fist bumps, quiet sighs of relief, proclamations of “Thank you, God”

Or maybe, just maybe,

Gratitude through the Tears

What’s something you’re more grateful for today only because of hurt, aches or pains you’ve had in that area in the past?

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