Have leftovers from that delicious Thanksgiving dinner? If you’re like most families, the answer is probably “yes.” So you’ll be coming up with creative ways to continue to eat and enjoy that leftover turkey and mashed potatoes. Sandwiches? Barbecue turkey, turkey omelets, fried potato cakes? Soup?
Speaking of soup, remember the alphabet soup you ate as a child? Now follow me. It’s the way my mind is working this late Thanksgiving night! Here’s a creative way to keep enjoying your family’s Thanksgiving gratitude-spirit this season–with some ALPHABET PRAYER SOUP.
Moms, Dad, Grandparents, Aunts, involve the kids in making and enjoying this special soup. Maybe when you’re cooking in the kitchen, riding in the car, walking to the park, or tucking them into bed. Explain that you’re going to make some leftover Thanksgiving Alphabet Prayer Soup.
Take turns naming something that you’re grateful for starting with A and proceeding through Z. Example of how to begin the prayer: God, thank You for the:
A. Air we breathe. Apples we had for lunch. Animals. Artwork I did at school. Aunt ________.
B. Bird. Bananas. Books. Bike. My bed.
C. Clouds. Courage. Christ.
D. Duck in the pond. Dishes. Daddy.
E. Evergreen trees. Electricity.
F. Flowers. My friend ____________.
G. Gas for the car. Grace. Grandpa. (And so on, through the entire alphabet, as you have time. Be gentle with yourself and your family. Skip a letter if you can’t think of anything.)
Watch your heart flood with gratitude as you enjoy this creative prayer tool with your family. Maybe you’ll want to make this Alphabet Prayer Soup often throughout the year to keep the Thanksgiving spirit alive and well in your home.
Okay, now it is YOUR TURN. Enjoy a little Alphabet Prayer Soup with me right here on the blog. What are you grateful for that starts with H, I, J, K, L… Well, you know the rest of the alphabet. I’m looking forward to your THANKSGIVING ingredients.
We’re headed into the annual season of holiday joy and OVERWHELM. Reminds me of a comment I heard:
“My doctor says I must take a day off each week to rest. He says that if I don’t, I’ll almost certainly experience total physical and emotional exhaustion,” shared a talented youth worker friend of mine. “But I don’t see how I can manage that. I just don’t have time to take off.”
Perhaps you identify with this caring and overworked professional. (Maybe you’re a tired mommy, wife, volunteer, nurse, pastor, CEO, employee, care-giver, writer, speaker, all around loving person!) Many of us believe that we don’t have time to rest and relax. One of the burnout warning signs is the attitude that “I’ve got to keep going. I can’t stop now. I’m on a roll. I can do it. I don’t need to rest. I can make it through.” But if you and I do not pace ourselves; if we do not stop to rest, eventually we will burnout. The risk is great.
God rested after he completed the seventh day of creation. (Genesis 2:2-3) He rested not because he was tired, but to set an example for us. Stopping to rest is acceptable with God. It does not make us any less valuable or worthwhile to admit that we need to cease working and creating to rest. God loves us when we work, when we rest, and when we play.
What would “rest” look and be like to you? I’m asking myself this question. (And in fact, I’m planning a get-away vacation with my husband in December. I just may stop to dangle my feet in the water again like I did last June in Oak Creek in Sedona. Ahhh.) How would you answer this question for yourself?
r-r-i-ng! Br-r-r-ing! “It’s late. Who could be calling now,” I thought. I lifted the receiver to my ear.
“Hi, Joanie. It’s me,” said my boyfriend, Dick. “I have something to tell you.” (He was going to school in Chicago. I was at home in Kansas City and planning to join him soon at Moody Bible Institute in The Windy City.) “I’ve joined the army. I’ll be leaving for boot camp soon.”
I sunk to the floor. I couldn’t believe it. What was I supposed to say? This was not in my plan. What was he doing? The Vietnam War was raging.
“I want to do my duty. I’m not in Bible School to avoid the draft,” he said. Before long he was serving on the DMZ line dividing North and South Korea. He sacrificed a lot to be there. So did his mom–and his dad. So did I. He stayed for a year. When he returned, I became Mrs. Richard L. Webb.
Today I honor Richard for serving our country so proudly.
I also honor my father, Robert W. Pressler, who as a gunner in WWII, saw his best friend die and barely escaped being shot down himself. When he came home, any loud noise nearly freaked him out. He sacrificed much. So did his mother–and his father. So did his girlfriend, my mom. After he returned, they got married. The effects of the war lingered. And then I was born.
This morning, the day before Veteran’s Day 2011, I thought of these stories. I’m not sure why. It all hit me differently than it ever has before. My husband and my father gave a part of themselves, a portion of their lives to help sustain my freedom–and yours.
And there are still boyfriends, fathers, sons, brothers, as well as daughters, mothers, sisters and girlfriends who are spending scary, lonely, challenging, sad nights and days away from those they love. Thank you, brave people. I’m truly grateful.
Will you join me in thanking the next soldier you see in a restaurant, airport, church, home or walking down the street? And will you pause to tell a veteran–or a veteran’s family–that you appreciate their sacrifice. If you do, leave a comment. I’d love to hear your story.
Some of us race through the day, then hurry home to more projects and pressures. When our internal motors rev up, we have a hard time turning them off. Sleep may elude us because our racing mental engines won’t slow down. Our heavenly Father knew we might have a tendency to hurry through life and miss the silent joy, so He said, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Current scientific research agrees that quieting the mind and body can calm the sympathetic nervous system, cause heart rate and blood pressure to drop, and tense muscles to relax. Redford Williams, M.D., director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Duke University, says, “Withdrawing from problems and calming your mind can calm the body, blunting the adrenaline surge.”
I want that–to untie the knots in my muscles. But even more I want to know God–and just sit still with Him. I think Centering Prayer (CP) might be a way to experience both of my desires. I’ve enjoyed CP before, but lately… Well, let’s just say, “Not so much.”
As I contemplate my dreams for this next year, I want Centering Prayer to be a part. Do you want to join me? If like me, you’re interested in living a calmer life in the midst of our culture’s maxed-out reality, click and read this CP information/explanation–and tell me what you think.
I sense God encouraging me to work less, relax more, and reach out with love. I know it will be an imperfect process, but I’m committed to it. How about you?
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.