Monday, November 19, 2007

A Thanksgiving Blog.


My heart has been writing this blog for a couple of months now. Oh, I didn't necessarily think it would be my "Thanksgiving" blog, but I knew there were things bubbling up from the inner spring that wanted to be shared. And the more I have pondered these things, I have realized that in effect it is my "counted blessings" and even somewhat my personal testimony. A lot of the thoughts are still knocking around somewhere in the recesses and I hope that I will be able to draw them in, and do justice to what I'd like to share.

I remember many years ago being gathered with a group of students outside the high school classrooms at Hobe Sound. I don't remember the occasion or the purpose of the gathering, but Dr. Whitaker was talking to us, and he made a statement that I have never forgotten. He told us that we each one were "marked" whether we wanted to be or not, by the atmosphere of our surroundings on a Bible college campus. Marked by what we had seen, marked by what we had learned. Marked by the people that we were associated with. He assured us that no matter where we went from there, no matter what path we chose to take, that that "marking" would always be with us, that we would never get away from it.

As I reflect back on my life, I can testify with certainty that that is the case with me. I have sensed that marking on me my whole life. Most of the time I consider it a blessing, other times.....I'm not so sure! For me, it is not a marking that I feel is visible to others, it is not a marking to "do this" or to "do that". It is a stamp on the heart of who I am, and in difficult times when I am faced with such frustrations and hard times that shake me, I find myself hitting the rewind button to go back in my memory to those times when I have known solid ground. It is a coping mechanism that gets me through. Recently, I had this experience, and as I began my journey backward (noting those "stones" placed there during times of deliverance), a spirit of Thanksgiving was born in my heart. So I wanted to share some of my very personal thanksgivings with you.

God was there when He designed that I was born to Christian parents, who wanted to love me and train me and provide me with godly examples to look to. God was there when he led my parents to Hobe Sound during the years they were rearing their family; God was there when He made a way through the love of a grandfather to provide tuition for a Christian education for us kids. God was there when He placed a desire within me to love Him, and to serve Him, even though I was still a child. God was there when I went week after week to children's church with Uncle George and Aunt Ruthie, and learned all those great childrens songs that I still remember today. God was there when I stood in awe in Campmeeting services at the visible moving of His Spirit. God was there when I grew old enough to pay attention in Sunday morning worship service, and began learning a deeper sense of what it meant to join in corporate worship. God was there when He gave my parents wisdom to steer me away from potentially harmful influences during those key years of adolescence. God was there when He brought true and meaningful friendship my way, and allowed me to experience the joy of a lifelong bond with another person. God was there when He allowed me to experience falling in love, and to get the gift of sharing the rest of my life with that person that first made my heart turn upside down and inside out. God was there when He led us to Alabama, strangest thing though it seemed at the time. God was there when He put me through the painful process of personal growth and surrender. God was there when He blessed my womb four times over with an inheritance from Heaven. God has been with me throughout all the phases of my life. And though there have been times when as anyone else, I have known the shock of betrayal, the sting of rejection, and the pain of grief, when the dark hours come, I am comforted by the knowledge that He's probably still right where He's always been. Even when I don't consciously know it at the time. My life has been blessed by God. My life has been marked by the dear and precious people I have known, the sermons I have heard, the rules was I asked to keep, the standard (not necessarily "standards") to which I was held.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love that day above all the others. And I'm always thankful for the Pilgrims on the Mayflower who risked life and limb to come to the New World in quest of religious freedom. I'm always thankful for the turkey and the trimmings. Thankful for the family to share those trimmings with. Thankful for the memories of holidays past and those no longer here to share them with. But this year, I just felt thankful in a little different way for the "unseen Hand" that has been with me this far.

I have a busy week of food preparation and travel ahead. I wanted to take the time on this Monday morning before all the hustle and bustle of the week began to post my thoughts of thanks. Personal...maybe a little too personal...but I hope a blessing just the same.

Happy Thanksgiving to ALL! May you have a day of bountiful blessings and loved ones to share them with!

16 comments:

Kimberly said...

I appreciated hearing your heart in these thoughts of thanksgiving. Made me go get out my old Bonnie Keen CD "Marked for Life." Here is the quote that prefaces the song lyrics..."Anyone who knows the living God...is marked by this experience and is recognized forever after by the mark." Madeleine L'Engle. (Now I want to post this quote on my own blog!!:)

Thanks for getting me thinking along these lines! Such mercy and grace seen in our life stories and such a responsibility to share those blessings.

Love the new look! Love Ya!

Making Memories 1999 said...

Thank you for sharing from your heart! I, too, am thankful for that "unseen hand"!! God bless you, friend! Happy Thanksgiving!!

jenny said...

Personally, this was SO moving to read...thanks for sharing from the heart. Hearing about that conversation with Dr. Whitaker makes me remember his particular influence on our lives, in marking us. To this day, I never can cut short a corner to walk across the grass after hearing his chapel lecture on that particular subject one day.

Kimberly's quote research was magnificient!

Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels to your beautiful family.

Kelly S said...

You said this so beautifully Tara! I truly believe in God's divine leadership and guidance in our lives. There was something about Dr. Whitaker's talks that always made us want to hang on to every word. He was so good at getting his messages across to us in a strong yet such gentle way.

Thanks for sharing your heart!

kayla said...

I'm very moved after reading this post. All of us have our own experiences of "Grace" to share, but being married to someone who was also raised in HS I feel a familiarity to everything you have written. You guys have a rich heritage.
Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Anita D said...

I share in your gratitude for the "unseen hand". I too am grateful for His hand on my life even before I knew and still during times when I tend to forget...but I'm always reminded and humbled.

Living in a different country, outside the bible belt of NC...this is the acid test to my faith. And I'm so glad I have been deeply rooted in the absolute truth that may be shaken at times but not removed.

Sonja said...

As someone with a similar heritage and wealth of blessings, my heart resonated with your words. Thank you for blessing me today!

Marty said...

Beautiful!!! I felt your heart today...thank you!

Josh said...

Thanks for a great post. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Queen Essie said...

It was a joy to share in your blessings and thankfulness. I am so glad we can share these moments "together"!

Pray traveling mercies are with your family and you have an extremely Blessed holiday :)

julie f said...

Thank you, Tara, for sharing your heart. I can relate to and testify to God's hand that has gently led.

He's a great God!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving day with your sweet family.

Juwah said...

Friend;

I too really enjoyed this uplifting post.

I'm with Jenny, Dr. Whittaker had a way of saying things that not only made you think, but impacted the way you live. I can't cut corners or throw trash on the ground, all because of his influence. I remember seeing him pick up trash on campus. He also said, "Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is sleep." I've quoted that MANY times. :)

I hope you all are having a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am so blessed to call you my friend.

Tara said...

Thank you, friends, for your kind comments...hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families. We're home safely, grateful for God's protection on the road.
I have enjoyed reading others' reminisces of Dr. W's influence...I, too, well remember looking out the classroom window and seeing him stoop to pick up trash. That impacted me even as a kiddo! As for the cutting corners and walking on grass.....I have to say that by the time Dr. Whit got to me on that one, Dr. Mrs. Connie Palm had already put the fear of God in me for that offense!!! Those of us who started at HSBC as itty bitty ones learned right away that cutting sidewalk corners was unacceptable!:) Oh, yes, and to always "be a sunshine-spreader"! Well, I could go on and on with this memory lane list.
Thanks again for stopping by!

Kelly S said...

p.s. you still have a friend in me! Just kidding about the OCD! It's actually a gift, be proud of it:)

Amy said...

Tara,

I came across your blog today and read this post. It is amazing to look back and "see" God's leading! A good reminder to be sure!

David and I were pleased to have Dr. Whitaker as our pastor for 10 years. They impacted our lives for the Kingdom over and over. We miss them deperately and I fear that void will never be filled!

Blessings to you!

jpehr said...

Tara, I'm a little late commenting on this but I agree with you about Mrs. Palm. As you child I felt like she was omnipresent! It seemed like she could see or hear ANYTHING even if she wasn't there! : ) But that being said she was a great woman, and the older I get the more I appreciate her character and influence! I loved Dr. Whitaker as well but he did not have quite as much of a direct infuence on me. Those of us who grew up in Hobe Sound were truly blessed!

BTW, I am switching my blog to www.ehrblog.multiply.com. You should be able to log onto that one. : )