Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving Thanks and Meaning It

This week we take a break from our regular routines to gather with those whom we love to celebrate Thanksgiving. It's a wonderful time full of fond memories, but not always full of thanks, if we're honest. Times are tough and it's when things aren't going as we planned or how we would like them to that it is most difficult to give thanks to God and mean it.

How do we thank Him for the loss of a loved one, for a lay off notice, for a child who keeps making poor choices or for a spouse who has been unfaithful? How do we thank him for illness, unkind remarks supposed friends have made about us or for lost opportunities?

The answer is: by faith. Being able to thank Him for His goodness, for His faithfulness, for His love, for His promise to walk with us through it all, can be the shelter in a storm.

First Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to give thanks in all circumstances because this is God's will for us. He doesn't expect us to be happy about all of our circumstances, or even to understand why they happen all the time, but He does want us to rely on the hope and joy we have in Jesus to get us through them. Sometimes we just have to say, "Thank you for being God. I don't get it, but you're in control" and let that be sufficient. It's when we need to reason, or demand an explanation, or justify our acts that we find it most difficult to say thanks.

These thoughts aren't trite and come from years of struggling with trying to give thanks through the tough times. When we moved to Connecticut eight and a half years ago, we were excited about the new chapter starting in our lives. Things didn't go as we planned, however, and instead we began what I now think of as the desert period in my life. The losses and heartbreak over the past few years have been numerous and weighty and are too complicated to try to list here. Suffice it to say that I haven't always been the most thankful person. When I was at my lowest, God specifically showed me that verse in Thessalonians and it made all the difference.

So this Thanksgiving, I'm giving thanks for the hard times, simply because He's God and He's asked me to. Those times have helped shape me into who I am: a person giving thanks this year for my health; a home; two healthy, really nice, bright kids; a supportive husband who has a job; enough food to eat; best friends Ron, Donna, Bern, Torry, Muriel and Carolyn who've been such an important part of my life for so many years and who bless me in so many ways; countless other close friends and ministry partners; mentor and friend Retta Blaney who continues to amaze me with her generosity and the thrill of working in and writing about theater, which has brought me a fabulous new friend and editor, Andy Propst.

May your Thanksgiving be truly blessed and full of thanks.

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Daily Inspiration

The Blind Side

Read about the real life mom from "The Blind Side."

Lifeway: http://www.lifeway.com/article/?id=169816

Guideposts: http://www.guideposts.com/story/sandra-bullock-blind-side-football?page=0,1

Read Matt Mungle's review of the movie at http://www.buddyhollywood.com/.

Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/) and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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