Thanksgiving’s early morning light broke through a hard frost on the ground and pounded hard contractions in the belly.

Sixteen hours later it was a the boy drummer who broke the womb first.

I have been learning to walk inside the steady drum beat of thanksgiving ever since.

I have stumbled.

There have been murmurings.
There have been downright complaints.
There have even been shouts in the dark, “why is this happening?”


The one who broke bread was teaching me that thanksgiving was the way to cling to the Anchor of my soul when white-coated men tried to predict the length of the boy’s days through the lens of a liver transplant.

Two Thanksgivings later, He was showing me praise was a way to hang onto Him Who breathed life- color into black and white places when a white-coated woman advised abortion for the one who was being knitted into the Fiery Irishgirl.


In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It is in the IN that I see God.

Thirty thanksgivings have gone by since the boy came fearfully and wonderfully made…the boy who bears the same name as the man who fought off lions in a den by wielding a sword of praise instead of one of complaint.

Jack Hayford says it like this:

But by the song, by the praise, (or thanksgiving…my word) we begin to infest the situation with the possibilities of His presence and His power.

Thankfulness is an inside job.

I could not give thanks for missing enzymes and scarring biopsies.

But, I could endeavor to muster my soul, the very inside of me, to give thanks for where He has placed me to face them. By giving thanks in all things, His presence suddenly infests, invades, really, the situation.

His presence changes my geography from the inside out.

It was thanksgiving in all things that brought me to the altar every week for the boy to be smeared with prayer and oil; this time by suit and tied men with tears streaming down their faces.

It was thanksgiving in all things  that kept me standing upright when another white-coated man took a piece of the girl’s thigh for his microscope.

I am a slow learner.

Thirty thanksgivings and thirty birthdays later and I am still in school on this one.

I think of Jesus and how thirty was a Holy Spirit invasion for Him, too. He came out of a desert full of the Spirit and was launched then, into what would become our rescue.

I think about how He wouldn’t turn stones into bread in that desert place to feed himself, but near the triumphal end He warned the grumblers who wanted to stop the praising and put an end to the thanking; that if they did, they would see those stones shout their praise and thanks to Him right then and there.

Jesus will take praise and thankfulness over food?


Because thankfulness invites Presence and Presence invites thankfulness.

The wind blew fierce over a hard frost this morning. The roads heaved hard with arctic contractions.

The boy is thirty today.

He banged drums in worship.

I’ve been thankfully invaded.



Thanksgiving Is For The Birds

Flying birds

I can see them.
The leaves are mostly gone now, except for a few brittle pieces stem-stuck onto bare branches quivering, so sparrows are exposed, tiny twittering tufts of feathers quivering on un-dressed limbs.

It is not like June when, although I hear their songs, it doesn’t matter how hard I stare into the trees, I can never see them.

A canopied, protected hallelujah chorusing, it is.

November is different.


November is a hard gray time.

It is a time when shadows bank early over the remains of harvest places.
It is time when skies come in heavy, leaden, low.
It is a time when things really do die.

I scatter seed.
I stand on hard ground now to fill the feeders and look up into an empty sky wondering how they know that I am filling this for them.

Seeds spill onto the ground. The birds will not waste them.

These birds, my winged friends, are my teachers.
They teach me that even though all around me is bark brittle and decayed dirt, there is rejoicing to be done.
There is singing still to be sung in leafless trees.
There are proclamations to be proclaimed across barren fields.
black and white silhouette of grass and flowers

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Little birds, whom I watch from my kitchen window, show me that I have nothing to fear. No dark shadow can overtake me. The only shadow where I will find refuge is under a holy Shadow, under holy wings. I am able to rejoice, to sing, to give thanks even when I am being buffeted by an early winter wind and my seeds, all my plans, my efforts, my hard doings, have fallen to the ground. Nothing is wasted in the kingdom of God.

The birds know where to find what they need.

They just know.

And their knowing makes them glad.

An exposed, buffeted glad- thanks chorusing, it is.

They are sacred little creatures sent to me from Him when November threatens to close in on me.

They show me where His courtyard is.

Thanksgiving is for the birds.

My very being longs, even yearns,
for the Lord’s courtyards.
My heart and my body
will rejoice out loud to the living God!
Yes, the sparrow too has found a home there;
the swallow has found herself a nest
where she can lay her young beside your altars,
Lord of heavenly forces, my king, my God!
Those who live in your house are truly happy;
they praise you constantly.