Families come in many shapes and sizes, backgrounds, nationalities and income levels. Still families are well … they’re family – together for the long haul. We didn’t get to pick which family to be born into, yet most of us wouldn’t trade our family. They are our own unique blend of people.
I think most of us love our families and are thankful for our families, although there may be a few days when you wish you could give your toddler away for a day. But as you start thinking of Thanksgiving and hopefully getting together with extended family, I wonder, “Do you have a few misgivings?” Now I must admit that I am blessed beyond blessed in that I love hanging out with my family and am looking forward to getting together with them, but I know that having family, especially a large family over to celebrate can bring some anxiety.
I remember well the first time my husband and hosted the extended family for Thanksgiving. We were newly married. No kids or grandkids yet and we wanted to welcome everyone into our little home. We wanted it to be perfect because … well because it was our first time hosting. In our family, everyone brings something to share when we have a large dinner so we weren’t too worried about the food except that we had to cook a huge turkey in a small kitchen.
Everything was going well. The aroma of roasting turkey was spreading throughout our tiny space, but then it seemed like we weren’t smelling roast turkey so much. I decided I better check on it and I found the oven was cold. The heat had dissipated and the turkey was nowhere near done! Yikes! We had family arriving soon. What were we to do? Our oven had decided to go out at precisely the wrong time. Thankfully there was an old wood cookstove in the backroom of the old house we were living in. We stoked up the fire and cooked that turkey old-fashioned style. Yes, we had to wait a little longer for dinner, but everyone was for the most part very gracious.
Not every family is as gracious as mine was that day. Some of you may be dreading having Uncle Howard over because he is so noisy and his jokes tend to be hurtful rather than funny or maybe it’s Aunt Suzie or Grandma Josie or fill in the blank. There are times when someone in our extended family may need a little extra grace, yes that person may even be you. I certainly know I need extra grace at times! A lot of times, just ask my hubby. Instead of dreading those awkward family moments or extra grace required people in your family, how about praying over the situations you are worried about and then, thank God for your family. I don’t know any family yet who is perfect, although mine may be close! At least I am awfully proud of them. With all their imperfections, your family is still your family. God placed you there for a reason. So when the turkey isn’t done on time or your toddler accidentally sits in the pie you are taking to Grandma’s house or the gravy is spilled on your new carpet or Uncle Frank and Aunt Josie get into a political argument; take a deep breath, clean up the mess as best you can, gently steer the arguing couple into a different conversation and determine to be thankful, whatever happens on Thanksgiving Day.
Remember, God accepted us into His family just as we are and He loves us in spite of those times when we need extra grace. In fact, He is there for us every time we do. I don’t know about you, but I am very thankful that God gave me my BIG family. I wouldn’t trade one of them. And yes, my toddler did sit in the pie when we were going to Grandma’s house one time!
PARENT OR GRANDPARENT PRAYER:
Thank you for my family. I love each and every one of them. I am so glad that they love me too. My biggest problem with my family currently is how to spend time with all of them. Because I have a big family, I often feel like I’m neglecting one or the other. I so want to play games with the little ones, hold the baby, help in the kitchen or perhaps I’m the one that needs help in the kitchen. Yet I’m only one person. I pray for families because while my family is not perfect, it is a solid, loving family. I am so blessed; other families are broken and hurting in so many ways. Lord, strengthen those who are trying to hold their families together. Give grace, love and forgiveness to those families who are finding it hard to forgive. Give children to the barren woman who is hurting because her sister has 4 children and she has none. Give hope to those who have lost hope and restore families who are struggling with addictions, depression, money problems and so many things. Give hope to the mom or dad who doesn’t even know where their son or daughter is. Lord, you see and you know all things. You see the broken hearts and spirits. You see parents and grandparents who are grieved because their children have walked away from you. Bring them back home. Restore marriages and families and give us genuine love for each other. Thank you God, for our families. Amen
- Share the workload. I think most families do ask other members of the family to bring their favorite dish, but definitely do ask if you have something you need help with.
- Relax – Your house doesn’t have to be Pinterest perfect – although don’t we all sometimes wish that our houses were? Still remember, it’s the people that are the most important. Simplify and make memories.
- To make room for a large crowd, put away clutter or things that might not be appropriate for a young child. A coffee table can be stashed in a bedroom or the garage or maybe covered with a fun paper tablecloth and transformed into a kid’s table, complete with crayons so they can color on the paper.
- Be flexible. Learn to laugh at yourself and with others. If something goes wrong, it’s okay.Clean up the mess and go on or enlist some help to clean up the mess and move on.
- I like to have toys, games and art supplies at my house for anyone – adults or kids who might want to use them. For you maybe it’s a favorite holiday movie playing softly in the background or some music.
- For those extra-grace required people, thank God for them. They keep us humble. Also, try to engage them in conversation. Ask them to tell you a story about when they were growing up or to share a favorite recipe or something. For as much as is within you, let them know they are loved.
- For yourself, take a break, sit down and visit for awhile, the clean-up can wait. If you need a break, go play a game with the kids or simply sit and watch all that is going on for a bit.
SHARE A STORY: Hannah Prays For A Son – 1 Samuel 1
Once there was a woman named Hannah. Hannah wanted a baby (Pretend to hold a baby.) to love, but she didn’t have any children. Every year when Hannah and her husband went up to the temple church to worship, Hannah hoped that she would have a son. But year after year went by and still Hannah didn’t have any children. Hannah was so sad. (Make a sad face.) She was so sad because she didn’t have a baby to love. (Pretend to hold baby.) She even started to cry. (Say, ‘Boo hoo!)
One year when Hannah went to the temple church to worship God, she cried (Say, ‘Boo hoo!’) and prayed. (Fold hands as though praying.) She promised God that if gave her a son, she would give him back to God so that he could serve and worship God all his life. Hannah prayed (Fold hands as though praying.) from her heart (Place hands on heart.) and God heard (Cup ear with hand.) her prayer. (Fold hands as though praying.)
God gave Hannah a son. Just like she promised, Hannah gave Samuel back to God. When Samuel was a young boy, Hannah took him to the temple church to serve. Each year Hannah would take Samuel a new coat that she made for him to wear. (Pretend to sew.) Hannah was happy! (Smile!) God had answered her prayer. (Fold hands as though praying.) She thanked God for giving her a baby boy (Pretend to hold a baby.) to love. (Place hands on heart.) God gave Hannah other children to love too. (Place hands on heart.) Hannah prayed and waited for God’s answer. God heard her prayer.
God loves you. (Place hands on heart.) He gave you a family who love and care for you too, just like He gave Hannah a family, a baby (Pretend to hold a baby.) that she could love and care for. (Place hands on heart.) God answered Hannah’s prayer (Fold hands as though praying.) and He can answer your prayers too. Let’s thank God for our families. (Fold hands as though praying.)
Thank you for giving me a family to love and care for me. Please take care of my family and help my family. I know I can talk to you whenever I need something. I can talk to you any time and any place. Thank you for hearing me. Amen
MEMORIZE: 1 Chron. 16:34 ERV – (Hands open as if holding a book.)
Give thanks – (Touch lips with fingertips and bring down to meet other hand.)
To the Lord – (Point upwards.)
For He is good. – (Rub tummy.)
KNOW: God gave me a family. God hears my prayers.
TALK ABOUT: Who’s in your family?
ASK: Who made you? God made me. God made my family.
AND DO: Thank God for my family.
FUN IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK
- Pick someone from your family to pray for at dinnertime or bedtime – could be dad, grandma or Uncle Bob. Let your child pick.
- Share a story of a time that God answered your prayer with your child – maybe, like Hannah, you prayed for your child before he/she was born.
VERSE SONG: (To the tune of “Frere Jaque”)
Give thanks, give thanks,
To the Lord, to the Lord,
For He is good, for He is good,