Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above,  
coming down from the Father . . .
(James 1: 17) 

Ted and I were watching a movie the other night.  It was a cute movie about a girl and boy falling in love.  During one of the scenes, the boy asked the girl what was her favorite day, or special time, in her life.  As the girl started to speak, I found myself looking over at Ted.  He was looking at me and smiling.  I had a feeling we both were remembering the very same moment.  A special gift of time that we never expected.   As we cuddled together and watched the rest of the movie, I found myself thinking back in time - - - to a time when we were just beginning this journey . . .

and every perfect gift is from above,  . . .

It was the very first trip that Ted and I had ever taken together.  Ted was bringing me to meet his family.   As I packed up my things, I wasn’t sure what to bring.  I had piles of clothes on the bed, and I couldn’t decide what I needed.  My nerves were already kicking in, and I just wasn’t sure about anything!  So grabbing the biggest suitcase I could find, I put most of what was on my bed inside of it.  I also had bags full of “necessities” sitting on the floor, waiting to go.   As Ted put all the things I had packed into the car, I knew he was being extra kind not to mention that I had brought just about everything I owned - except for the kitchen sink!  As I stood there watching him, I didn’t want to let him know how afraid I really was.  But I think he knew.  He walked over and just hugged me tight for the longest time.  And then he helped me into the car.  We were finally packed and headed toward Pennsylvania!

As we started driving, small flurries were falling around the car.  I don’t think I really noticed them, as I was fighting the butterflies that were threatening to explode in my stomach!  We hadn’t driven very far, when I asked Ted to stop at the next rest stop.  We visited almost every rest stop - for the next two hours.  My stomach was definitely not co-operating!  Finally, I seemed to settled down and we started to drive toward Ted’s home.  That was when I realized it was snowing out!  Big flakes were falling all around us and starting to stick to the ground and road in front of us.  I wondered for maybe the 900th time, if this was a good idea.  But Ted was so excited to have me meet his family.  His grandmother was cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for us, and all his family was planning on making their way to his grandparents’ home.  Settling back in my seat, I turned to Ted and asked him about his family.

Before long, Ted was telling me stories of his childhood.  I couldn‘t help but laugh at his stories about growing up, and his brothers and sister.  I could hear the love in his voice, as he spoke about his family.  I loved this man so much, and I wanted to know the family that helped to make him the person sitting next to me.  The snow was swirling all around us, but inside the car was full of warmth.   With Ted holding my hand - I felt very loved.  I slowly drifted off to sleep, wondering all about Ted’s family, and the Thanksgiving that lay ahead . . .

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: . . . 
(1 John: 4: 7 & 18)

When I woke up from my nap, the storm was still all around us, and it was getting difficult to see.  We had been driving for hours and both of us were pretty hungry.  Despite the storm about us, we were able to find a nice little restaurant to stop and eat at.  Ted had decided to call his grandmother while we were stopped.  So I waited in the booth, while Ted made his phone call.  By the look on his face as he walked back inside, I knew something was not right.  Ted’s grandpa had been taken to the hospital - he had suffered a stroke.  As we ate, I could see the worry on Ted’s face.  We were still several hours away from Erie, so I knew we needed to get back on the road as soon as possible.

With coffees in hand, we headed back on to the highway.  Darkness had come, and with the snow - it was even more difficult to travel.  As we drove, a quietness had settled between us.  The roads had become quite dangerous, but Ted was confident that we could make it.  He needed both hands on the wheel, and so I clasped my hands in front of me, praying that God would help us through the storm . . .  

but perfect love casts out fear: . . . 

That night, we drove through a blizzard!  As we drove, we saw cars, and even trucks - stuck on the side of the road.  We prayed together that night, asking God to help us.  Soon, we were following a plow truck.  For miles it led us in what could only be called “white-out” conditions.  As we came to the bridge that would take us toward Erie, I wasn’t so sure that we would be able to see where the bridge even began.  But again, a truck went before us - leading the way.

That night, we found our way to Erie, and the hospital where Ted’s grandpa was.  As we parked the car and headed inside, I could feel Ted’s fear start to grow.  Holding tight to his hand, I whispered a prayer.  Walking into the room, I met the person who helped shape the man I loved.  When his grandfather saw us, tears filled his eyes.  The stroke had taken away his ability to speak, but those eyes said so much!  Ted walked over and hugged his grandpa.  Then he looked over at me, and back at Grandpa.  “This is Debbie” he told him.  As I walked a little closer to him, the tears started to fall down his cheeks.  He looked at Ted, and then at me.  At that moment, I realized how much he loved Ted.  And I knew that he “saw” - - - that Ted and I loved each other with all our hearts.  

We stayed only a short while, visiting with Ted’s grandfather.  As we left, I could still feel the tears on my cheeks.  The visit had been difficult, and yet so amazing.  In just a few short minutes,  I had somehow found myself loving “Grandpa”.  In my heart, Ted’s family was becoming mine . . .

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.
Thou wilt make known to me the path of life;
In Thy presence is fullness of joy;
In thy right hand there are pleasures forever.
(Psalm 16: 9 & 11)

To this day, I still remember that Thanksgiving, almost 13 years ago.  I met Ted’s dad and his grandma.  I also met his brothers and his sister that week-end.  Grandma had made the Thanksgiving dinner, making so much food for all of us!  There was the usual Thanksgiving turkey and side dishes.  But then there was coleslaw and jello with fruit in it, and other dishes that I didn’t even know what they were.  Ted just watched me and smiled as I tried each dish in front of me.  Then there were the cookies - - - all kinds of cookies that filled the side room off of the kitchen!  As I watched his Grandma in the kitchen, I wondered how this little lady had taken care of this entire family.  She had been the “mom” when their mother had left the family.  She had kept them all together and safe, as they grew.  As Grandma cleaned off the table that day, I asked her if she would let me help.  At first she said “no”, but she finally gave in and let me work along side of her.  This was the woman who had taught Ted so much about “life”.  As Ted sat talking and laughing with his brothers and his dad,  I was so happy that I was becoming a part of this family.  Working in the kitchen, with Grandma beside me, I knew my life was changing and growing.  I knew that my heart would never be the same again . . .

Thou wilt make known to me the path of life;
In Thy presence is fullness of joy; . . . 

When Ted and I said goodbye to his family that week-end, I felt like I had been given a gift from God.  The time had been full of such love and joy, that my heart felt like it would burst.  As we left Erie that Saturday afternoon, I felt a little sad.  We had planned a little time away, for just the two of us.  But I couldn’t help but wonder if we should have just stayed a little longer with his family.

Ted headed the car north, toward New York.  He had told me all about Niagara Falls, and how he and his family had visited it often.  It was only about an hour away from Erie, and so we headed north.  When we checked in to our room, I have to admit that I wasn’t impressed.  But Ted was so excited to show me around, that we headed out on foot - toward the falls.  

Thou wilt make known to me the path of life;
In Thy presence is fullness of joy;
In thy right hand there are pleasures forever.

As darkness settled over the area, Ted and I started walking around the paths that surround the falls.  The different colors that shone on the roaring water made it so beautiful to watch!  I was in awe of the beauty of it all.  There seemed to be an excitement in the air, and we found out that there was a special Christmas celebration that evening.  There was a hayride, and hot chocolate, and even Christmas lights to look at.  As it became later in the evening, we slowly walked along the pathway - holding hands and savoring the moment.  Just then, we heard a loud bang, and looking up, we saw fireworks overhead.  Sitting down on a bench, we watched as the fireworks exploded over the falls, filling the sky with beauty -  the water reflecting the colors as well.

That night, I felt as if there would never be another gift as amazing as that week-end.  There had been miracles and moments, that I knew I would remember forever.  My love for Ted was overflowing, and I knew that God loved us even more.  How could there ever be such gifts as these, for two people who were just “us”?

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above,  
coming down from the Father . . .

There has never been another moment like that night almost 13 years ago.  I was right, God never did give us a gift like that again.  But He has given us different gifts, different moments in time, that have touched our hearts in ways I never thought could happen.  I used to wonder if we would ever have a blessing like that again.  Now I know that we will!  We just never know when those miracles are going to happen.

Whether we are surrounded by our children and grandchildren, or sitting alone on the front porch watching a sunset - miracles can be found everywhere! That is God’s promise - not only to Ted and me - but to you as well.  Precious gifts of time, moments to remember - they are His promise to us all.  They are our “Hope” - as we travel through life.

Will you ask Him to be a part of your life - for the rest of your life?  When you do, you are asking God to bring a little bit of Heaven - down here on earth.  You will still have times of struggles and heartache.  But His promise is to always  be with you, through everything.   And the moments of  Joy and Life, are never ending . . .

The voice of joy and the voice of gladness, 
The voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, 
The voice of those who say,
“Give thanks to the Lord of hosts,
For the Lord is good.
For His lovingkindness is everlasting” . . . 

We are about to celebrate  “Thanksgiving” in our country.  As the preparations and business of this time surround you, it is my hope and prayer that you will find time to remember the moments and miracles that God has given - to you.

God bless you and keep you during this most wonderful of times!

In His Amazing Love,

Debbie & Ted Ayers



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