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What Every Child Should Know About Thanksgiving.

November 30th, 2008 by stephanie

 I leave you on this Thanksgiving weekend with these words I found from Newt Gingrich. I thought they were appropriate as we say good-bye to Thanksgiving and enter the joyous Christmas season.


“Second only to Independence Day, Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday. And as an American holiday, it is rooted deeply – like our nation – in faith in God.

The earliest Thanksgivings were celebrated by Americans who were keenly aware that their blessings – like their rights – came from God. In times of hardship unimaginable to us today, they took time to give thanks to their Creator.

Throughout early American history, when they suffered from drought, famine or war, Americans paused, not to seek vengeance or to question their faith, but to give thanks to God for the blessings they still had.

At a time when the economic news seems to get worse every day, it’s important to remember the humble faith of these early Americans. They didn’t just give thanks when times were good, they gave thanks when times were bad – especially when times were bad.”


Even in these “times” we as a nation and a people are still so blessed.

And now, it’s time to move on.  May I be the first one to wish you MERRY CHRISTMAS!


Pilgrims = Puritans? Well maybe, Not so Much.

November 29th, 2008 by stephanie

A well educated friend of mine recently reminded me, “Pilgrims and Puritans weren’t the same thing.” So, for sake of clarification, before we completely put Thanksgiving back in boxes this holiday season, I thought I’d get in this one last plug for the P’s.


You may not be familiar with this term, but Pilgrims were also known by the name: Separatists. Apparently, our trusty Pilgrims didn’t want any part of the Church of England, so they completely “separated” themselves. Thus the term Separatists. Uncomfortable with the heavy rituals and symbolism found in the Anglican Church they preferred a more simplified form of worship.  They felt New Testament studies of the Scripture portrayed the original church (right after Jesus had been on earth) as a simple church.  Not in any hurry to take on the Anglican Church at the time, they decided to just “separate” themselves from it completely.  And so they did.

Their pastor, Richard Clyfton also taught them a form of democratic self-government where the majority ruled all decision making and they believed in equal rights and equal duties for members of its congregation.  (Sounds like a Personal Responsibility program if you ask me).

History books show that the Pilgrims were warm, generous, and thoughtful towards fellow citizens and with the Indians they met in America.

They wore the ordinary fashions you’d have found in England at that time and Wills and Inventories of that period show that some of the leading men wore brightly colored clothing such as red, green or violet leggings or pants. This is a far cry from the dark, boring clothing of the Puritan image that we have been spoon-fed. The Pilgrims were good-natured, fun-loving people who loved life while insisting on the freedom of choice.

Remember: It was the Pilgrims who established Plymouth Colony. It was the Pilgrims who celebrated that first Thanksgiving with the Indians and it was the Pilgrims who ushered in the American principles of democratic government – not the Puritans.

So, who then were those notorious Puritans?


The Pilgrims weren’t the only believers who weren’t too thrilled with the Church of England at the time. The Puritans wanted to “purify” the church in the area of worship.  Since they too didn’t feel a church war would be successful, they quietly formed a rather severe, militant group of believers. The church leaders ruled the parishioners lives and they weren’t the least bit tolerant to those with opposing views.

Committed in their quest for “pure” religion, they were pretty relentless when it came to punishing anyone who went against their doctrines (think Salem Witch Trials). Their attire was dark and plain and accessories were unacceptable as they were deemed the work of the devil. (Man, would I have been in major trouble!)

So, the moral of our lesson today kids is simply this: the Pilgrims and the Puritans were worlds apart in their religious views, their governing style, their everyday attitudes, and their choice of clothing.

Just a little food for thought on this post Turkey, stuffing, and pie holiday weekend.


November 28th, 2008 by stephanie

“…I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens…” – Abraham Lincoln 10/3/1888

Party of 32 Please.

November 28th, 2008 by stephanie

As I looked out across the yard after stuffing myself like the Thanksgiving turkey back in the house, I began to count, “1,2,3.. No, wait. 1,2,3,4,5…8 dogs?”  It had been quite a houseful. But I had no idea that many canines were wandering the property as well.  We had managed to juggle 5 kids, 2 teens, 3 senior citizens and 22 adults into the kitchen while jockeying for position to load up our plates, but this latest revelation exposed just how full our Thanksgiving truly was.


Seven car loads had made their way to the feasting destination. When we all had finally arrived we gathered around a plethora of selections. There was ham, and turkey with dressing. Mashed potatoes with two kinds of gravy. Cranberry sauce, salad and rolls. Broccoli, sweet potato, and corn casseroles. Two kinds of dips with chips and crackers.  Asparagus and Green Bean casseroles. 4 kinds of pies of pies and coffee along with a huge tray of cookies and fudge. And every morsel was homemade. (S’mores by the campfire topped off the evening). As we held hands to pray my uncle did not disappoint as he choked back the tears of gratitude while we all bowed our heads.


Of course the centerpiece of the house was the omni-present TV screen which faithfully flashed the latest football game. The welcome airwaves took us late into the evening culminating with the big game for a certain set of alumns. Conversations ranged from memories of family times together, to catching up on the latest news, to the usual banterings about politics.


All in all, I would guess the above was a pretty typical Thanksgiving in America.  At least in the heartland it seems.  And it really doesn’t get much better than that.


As we made our way home in the beautiful fall air, the Starbucks stop at the half-way point seemed the perfect ending to a very perfect day.


Yes, we felt very blessed.  And I hope you found yourself at the end of your day feeling much the same.  I am most grateful for this country that I live in and for the people who left their native lands and trekked the stormy waters to make it their home. Here’s to many more Happy Thanksgivings to come. And May God Bless America, yet, again.




If You Like Thanksgiving, Thank a Pilgrim.

November 27th, 2008 by stephanie

Each Thanksgiving I like to make doggie treats. Now hear me out. I know a pie is usually in order, but most people with dogs like to receive gifts for their pets too. Especially if the pup is a family member of sorts. So, for those kindred spirits, I enjoy surprising them with my annual Pilgrim Doggie Treats. They really are cute. And too, they remind the owner of the origin of Thanksgiving.

I am amazed at what a bum rap the Pilgrims get these days. Puritanical now seems to connote a bad word. Yet these people were hard-working, God-fearing people that put the likes of today’s culture to shame if you ask me.

So I did a bit of research for you my loyal readers to offer a slight bit of trivia on this very special day:

Since our culture is obsessed with sex, let’s begin there.

According to Dr. Harry S. Stout, Jonathan Edwards Professor of American Christianity at Yale University (author of The New England Soul: Preaching and Religious Culture in Colonial New England, Oxford, 1986).

Dr. Stout says that it’s true that promiscuity was absent from colonial New England. But for husband and wife, sex was important, and Puritan families were routinely large. A spouse could be punished by the authorities for withholding sex from his or her partner.

So how did the “joyless Puritan” stereotype get started?

It began during Prohibition. People like H. L. Mencken said, “Whom do we blame for this Victorian America we live in?” and the Puritans came out as culprits.

In fact, the Puritans were not teetotalers. Scholars estimate the Puritans had a rum-consumption rate that surpasses the alcohol-consumption rate in the twentieth century.

Didn’t many Puritans come to America primarily to escape persecution?

There was persecution in England, but it was limited mostly to ministers. So it wasn’t fear of persecution that drove the laity to come.

Instead, many lay people were extraordinarily loyal to their pastors and followed them to the New World. It’s impossible to overstate the spiritual and moral influence these ministers had over their congregations. Ministers were enormously respected, people for whom the laity literally traveled the ends of the earth. The most famous case would be Anne Hutchinson, who convinced her family to follow her minister, John Cotton, to America.

How has studying the Puritans affected you personally?

You can’t read the number of Puritan sermons I’ve read and not confront the central question of those sermons: your mortality.

The Puritans knew that this life doesn’t go on forever, and that you need to live your life in the shadow of eternity.

It’s frightening to confront your mortality. Studying the Puritans made me confront what we try so hard to avoid in this society. But it confirmed in me the sense that there needs to be an eternal hope

Copyright © 1994 by the author or Christianity Today International./Christian History magazine. Issue 41, May 1996, Vol. XIII, No. 1, Page 41.

So, here’s to the Pilgrims this Thanksgiving. For without them, this day would not have been possible. May your day be filled with gratitude, blessing, and hope.



Daisy does the Hilton.

November 26th, 2008 by stephanie

If you are traveling today over the rivers and through the wood to perhaps Grandmother’s house as you go, you will appreciate this little tail, or tale I should say of sorts.


In my family, we come from different states to gather in Texas for the holidays.  I come from Tennessee and my cousins come in from Kansas.  The Kansan Clan has mom, dad, two girls under the age of 5 and then there is Daisy the Basset Hound. The pets in our family are just that, family members. And are treated as such.


The trek to grandma’s, for this particular crew, used to be accomplished in a 12 hour day. Yet due to circumstances and such, it has evolved into quite a process.  It now requires preparing and packing for days, and a reservation at the Hilton Inn if you can find it cheap enough on  (Thank the Lord for the internet!)


With only five hours left for the journey, the exhausted brood tumbled out of said family van, eyes heavy with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads as they longed for the soft mattresses awaiting them. 


With one child in the arms of each parent, various and sundry paraphernalia strapped from stem to stern, the remaining question of the overloaded pair was simply, “What to do with Daisy?”  Ever the resourceful father, my cousin proceeded to stuff Daisy into a sports bag, zipped it up, and slung it over his shoulder. (Yes, I said a Basset Hound.)


To the amazement of our family when he relayed the tale to us at dinner, Daisy fussed but only for a few seconds. It was when the master slapped the bag lightly in assurance to let the pure bred know all was well, that the dog literally went into a coma of sorts. And never moved! They could have taken that dog to the opera, and probably wouldn’t have seen movement or heard a peep until the soprano’s aria.


It wasn’t until they reached their room, unloaded the bags, and the children, that Daisy was finally released from her dark cocoon. But only to emerge as calm and cool as a cucumber ready for her evening snack.


Now, this divulgence of sorts is not to encourage you to sneak the family dog into the next luxury hotel, however, holidays can be a time of survivial. And for this troupe, it was just a necessity.  Daisy is a dream, and as my cousin said, “…a better guest than most adults at these places!”  Sad, but true.


So, for all of you traveling with your beloved pet this holiday, remember that there are many kindred spirits out there joining you in empathy on the journey.  And please don’t ask me how I managed to get my 110 pound Labrador Retriever into the Hampton Inn.  During the holidays, there are just some things that are best left to the mind, and not the tongue.




Another Great Audio File to test via PodCasting

November 25th, 2008 by stephanie

This is another audio test to get our podcast up and running. Excuse the random posts 🙂


The First Thanksgiving…

November 25th, 2008 by stephanie

“Our harvest being gotten in , our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together.” — Edward Winslow

There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays.

November 25th, 2008 by stephanie

Thankfulness. Gratitude. Abundance. Blessing. Words that sum up Thanksgiving. At least, words that used to be part of what Thanksgiving in Amercia used to be like and still can be in my humble opinion.


No family is perfect.  Believe me. I would never try to give you the impression that mine was.  But I have to tell you, every time I am home for the holidays, I am reminded how blessed I am.  And I find that other members of our clan voice the same feelings.  My family loves to be together. Anytime. Anywhere.  


As I sat on the couch last night watching the dynamics in the room, I smiled.  If the kids weren’t piling up on each other on the floor, the adults were piling up on the kids or on each other on the couches and chairs. There’s just a lot of love and laughter in the house when we are all together.  We not only love each other, we like each other.  But we are very aware many families do not have that luxury. And because of that, we truly are thankful and feel blessed.


The holidays can be really rough. Going home can be stressful.  You find yourself practicing what you are going to say to that difficult relative who seems to have that “something” against you or that just likes to pick at you.  You know that this time your strategy is in place. And you will know what to say and how to emerge the victor when they come at you this weekend. You find yourself practicing out loud (while you are in the shower or even on the plane or in the car) what you are going to say to them as you make your trek their way.  


I guess the thing to remember here is that we are all human. Sinful beings. And when all of us get into a room, well, sin happens.  So don’t be shocked by that this season. Just be prepared for it. Accept it.  And may I suggest, focus on the good things.


For me, it will be my mom making me wonderful coffee in the mornings and shopping with her, my aunt preparing fabulous meals of abundance for all of us to devour and enjoy, my grandmother offering her words of wisdom and encouragement and my uncle forcing back the tears as he gives grace for the Thanksgiving meal.  Those are the feelings and the thoughts that I hold on to.  Make your list. Don’t focus on that menacing sibling, strange Uncle Joe or annoying cousin Sally.  Be grateful for the special and good things that will be coming your way this weekend.  You know what they are.


Even if you find yourself in your own home this Thanksgiving away from family or loved ones, make the best of it.  Create good things and happy memories.  You can do it.  And most of all, may I encourage you to count your blessings when you make that list.  Name them one by one as the old Hymn goes. Take a moment to check it out. The words are powerful. 


Wishing you a Thanksgiving full of gratitude and peace.


Abraham Lincoln. 16th President. Still relevant today.

November 20th, 2008 by stephanie

In January of 2009 the 44th President of the United States of America will be sworn into office. Interestingly, though he is a Democrat, his latest book of choice is titled Team of Rivals. It focuses on how Abe Lincoln (a Republican) put together his cabinet. And it is quite a read I hear. For those of us that don’t remember who, and how, and why Lincoln did what he did, it was apparently a bit revolutionary if not controversial at the time.

All that to say, I was reading about a guy that was heading into a restaurant in Philadelphia. Before he entered, he saw a homeless man holding a sign that read: Please vote for Obama. I need the money. As the customer was seated at his table, he was then greeted by a server that had on an Obama tie. When the check came, the man stated that he was going to practice Obama’s “spread the wealth” idea. Instead of leaving the server the tip, he was going to give it to the homeless Obama supporter outside. Needless to say, the waiter was furious. But the man left and did just that dropping a $10 bill into the hand of the man outside in need.

Shortly after hearing about this incident, I was digging through some old files and ironically came across this quote from dear old Abe. Our 16th President. It goes like this:

“You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot build character and courage by taking away men’s initiative and independnece. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.” – Abraham Lincoln

And with that, just my, or better yet, a past President’s thoughts for your day.


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