“Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.” –Psalm 95:2-3

I love the “feeling” of waking up early on a holiday. This morning as my first thoughts were about family, food, and the fun day ahead, my mind was immediately flooded with three vivid images: the cross on a hill, then an empty tomb, then a beautiful sunrise. What a wonderful way to wake up. 

Yes, family, food, and fun are huge blessings, especially around the holidays, but I was reminded early this morning that I am a daughter of the King. Of course I have an irreplaceable family and husband that I cannot imagine living without. I have an incredible father who will always be my first love. As I saw that image of the cross, then the tomb, and then the sunrise, I was filled with such joy that I cannot adequately put it into words. Jesus, my Heavenly Father, died for me to save my life. He cleansed me of my sins and gave me the opportunity for a second chance.  It was such a good reminder that His sacrifice alone creates so much joy that is sufficient no matter what the circumstance.

This Thanksgiving was incredible. Not only did I awake thinking about the King who saved me, but also awoke to my first holiday with my husband. This was our first holiday as a married couple! I am so thankful to God for blessing me with Zach. Holidays have always been memorable and fun in my family, but I realized how much more joy he added to it all this year.

We had gone to Mom and Dad’s house the night before to help set up and get ready for the next day. Ryan had come into town that afternoon, and Kathy and Brad were over too. Stephen came over later in the evening—right about the time we had started popping some popcorn and were watching more football. I love being home when everyone is there. Even though it isn’t the house we all grew up in, we did in a sense. Aunt Jean and Uncle Joe’s home was a place that we all spent so many holidays growing up. It still had the same scents and had the same “feel”.  It is a blessing to still have it in the family.

It was a cold, rainy/icy day. After waking up on Thanksgiving morning, Zach and I cooked breakfast together, I made some coffee, and we watched the Macy’s Parade. Before we knew it, it was time to go to Mom and Dad’s, and as soon as we walked in, it felt like the holidays. The house looked beautiful and smelled great! Grandma, Aunt Jean, Judy, Chris, Katie, Mike, Matt and Jon came over shortly after we got there. My parents surprised Grandma with a chair lift that they had installed a few days prior. She loved it! It took away the stress of trying to figure out how to get inside the house without having too much trouble (it was also fun to test-ride earlier in the day). Our appetizers consisted of crackers, cheeseball, spinach balls, and assorted nuts. We always seem to go through more food than we think, even with a relatively small family.

The afternoon was wonderful—so relaxing, fun, and positive. After Dad’s prayer, we spent a few moments naming people and things we were thankful for, specifically Grandpa and Uncle Joe. Then came the best part—all the food! Turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, salad, orange Jell-O salad, cranberry sauce, veggies, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and Brussel sprouts made for what felt like a giant food coma afterwards. As I looked around the tables while we ate, it was great to see how much fun everyone was having. It had been awhile since we had been together for a time other than a wedding or a funeral. I sure missed Grandpa and Uncle Joe though. Holidays just aren’t the same without them, but we spent so many great years with them. I missed Grandma Paula too, even though she was just in Bellevue that afternoon since the roads were icy. God has really blessed me with wonderful family. Yes, there have been bumps and hard times, but overall, family has been a positive, great blessing.  After continuing our feast of coffee, cookies, Rolo pretzels, and our choice of pumpkin, pumpkin cream, pecan, and French silk pie, we were able to see some of Katie and Jon’s videos, watch football, and chat. As it started to get dark, we all realized that all of our cars had frozen over because of the ice. After scraping ice and saying goodbye, we all went our separate ways. What a great day it had been and I think all of us were tired.

As I fell asleep that night, not only was I full of great food, but was also full of joy. Without Jesus and all of the blessings He has given me, life would be very different. Happy Thanksgiving!