NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

An Unthankful Thanksgiving

I was perusing through some old short stores I’d written several years ago and I came across one that happened at Thanksgiving. It reminded me that it’s just as easy to find things to be thankful for as it is to find things to complain about. You can ruin your own vacation by complaining or you can find joy even if the midst of hardship by being thankful. Sometimes I wonder how much I would have enjoyed that trip if I’d practiced gratitude. I hope this year you focus on the things you’re grateful for and enjoy the blessings God’s given you and don’t get stuck focusing on what’s wrong or hard.

Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the story!

Thanksgiving Cruise

I think it’s a bit ironic that the only cruise I’ve ever been on was set during the week of Thanksgiving. However, this is one of the trips that I can remember a lot of unthankfulness. But it did teach me a lesson. And it is one trip I’ll never forget.

We started our cruise from Galveston, TX. We should have been very thankful that we didn’t have to fly all the way to Florida to get on a cruise, but unfortunately, we were late getting to the ship, and this caused some bad attitudes.

“If only we would have left when I said we should,” Dad grumbled as he parked the car.

We hurried to unload our many suitcases and glanced up thankfully at the tall ship. At least we weren’t being left behind… yet.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” my younger sister Alicia said with a whine, “I’ve been holding it for fifteen minutes.”

“Just a little longer,” Mom assured her. “We’ll go sign in and I’m sure they have a bathroom somewhere.”

“Come on already,” my younger brother Jonny said with frustration. “I don’t want the ship to leave without us.”

I agreed with Jonny and started following him towards the wharf, with my wheeled suitcase in tow. We soon found the check-in area, and I was a bit relieved to find out that we weren’t the only family that had gotten there late. But there were some consequences. As Dad signed papers, I stared up at the ship’s deck high above us, and spotted groups of passengers clumped together in formation at the lifeboats. They were undergoing a mandatory safety training, and we were missing it.

“You’ll have to do the late training this evening,” the check in person said.

I shook my head; of course it would be my family that missed the safety training. I was pretty sure we weren’t going to experience a Titanic like adventure, but I still wanted to be prepared in case some kind of emergency happened. Now, while everyone else was having fun, we’d have to stand like a bunch of idiots out on the deck and do our safety training, basically singling ourselves out as the irresponsible ones. But it could be worse, at least we didn’t have to do it alone, there were several other families who were late too.

As our trip got underway, I found myself spending a lot of time in our cabin, a tiny room with two bunk beds, and a TV. We watched a lot of old cartoons that I hadn’t even known had existed. There was Adam Ant, and Mighty Mouse, and the Spiderman movie was played continually on one channel.

“Uh, I wish they played some better cartoons,” I whined. “Like Scooby Doo. There’s nothing good on these channels.”

“I’m bored of TV,” Jonny joined in.

“Yeah, I’m so bored.” I knew complaining about being bored was kind of dumb: I was staying in the room watching the same cartoons over and over instead of getting out on the ship. But I didn’t want to make any effort; I just wanted to be entertained. Thus the unthankfulness epidemic grew. Every little thing there was to complain about somehow got mentioned.

“Uh, I wish that stupid rule about not swimming in the adult pool never existed,” I complained.

“Yeah, that current is so fun to play in, and it’s not as crowded as the kid pool,” Jonny added.

“And we’re all good swimmers, it’s not like we need a life guard or an adult to watch us, we can take care of ourselves,” I added.

“You know what I’m sick of?” Alicia asked.

I turned my head lazily to face her, “What?”

“Those lady fingers that they put in all the desserts, they taste disgusting and I’m so tired of having to pull them out of everything.”

“Speaking of food,” Jonny added. “Did you know they ran out of free ice cream in the lounge today? Talk about disappointing.”

This kind of talk would go on and on, and what did we do; sit and watch more boring TV.

Thankfully, this was not the case every day. On the days we were stopped at an island or foreign country, there were chances to explore, and get off the boat. But complaining fests still crept upon us. The worst stop was in Cozumel, Mexico. For some reason, everyone found something to complain about that day, and even though we were all a part of doing something very enjoyable, we focused in on the parts that didn’t meet our expectations.

I climbed into the taxi after Dad had finally flagged down a taxi van that was big enough for our whole family. It had been a long day. We had split up this time with Mom and me going to a ranch to ride horses, and the Dad taking the other kids to the beach. “So what did y’all do?” I asked Alicia.

“Well the boys went swimming and climbed a big blow up iceberg, but it was too far out for me, so Dad stayed with me on the beach. It’s no fun being small. The iceberg looked like fun.”

“Yeah it was,” Jonny said. “But you got to go on the bounce trampoline and do flips.”

“But you got to do both,” Alicia whined. “I wish I could have gone with you Lydia. I would have rather ridden horses.”

“Well it wasn’t too exciting. I was separated from Mom for most of the ride. My horse wouldn’t go at all, even when I kicked like the guide said, he wouldn’t listen. He just walked when the horses in front of him walked. I really wanted to gallop with the others, but when I tried, the horse was still really slow.”

“So you didn’t have fun?” Alicia asked.

“No, it was fun. There was a cool show they did for us where this rider danced with his horse. And we saw a lot of ruins on the trail ride… they looked fake to me though.

“Well I’m starving,” my older brother Brain said. “I can’t wait to get back to the ship. Dad didn’t want to pay for any of the food at the beach. He said it was too expensive.”

Just then we pulled up to the curb. I glanced out the window at the ocean in the distance; there was our cruise ship, still as a sunken log. “Good timing then,” I said. “Let’s go eat.”

We jumped out of the van, ready to get back to our temporary home aboard the ship, but as we started moving towards the ship, a yell disrupted the evening air.

I turned back to see Dad yelling at our Taxi driver, saying something about the amount was wrong and that it shouldn’t be that expensive to drive three miles. I kept walking, hoping the other vacationers returning to the ship didn’t think we were part of the same family. I hated this day, not only had the horse ride been quite disappointing, but now my Dad was having a breakdown about money for the whole world to see. At that moment, it seemed like I was on the worst vacation ever.

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A Reminder to be Thankful

a thankful heart

As the Thanksgiving Holiday is approaching, I’ve been trying to be more thankful for things. But this past weekend, I got a surprise moment of thankfulness. So I hope you enjoy this little story and that it reminds you to be thankful this month too.

So, when I was growing up, I went to a church and our youth pastor had all of these events for us to invite our friends to. He wanted us to bring visitors and give us chances to invite friends who didn’t believe in Jesus. It sounded like a good idea and a great way to share the gospel. But unfortunately for me, I was a home schooled kid with no friends that didn’t already go to church. So I always felt a little guilty when he told us to invite our friends to these events because the only people I could invite were already Christians. Well, I did my best and invited some people I knew from other home school groups even though I didn’t think what I was doing had any significance or would make an impact. I thought the only good that could come from inviting friends to a church event was them becoming a Christian and following Jesus.

But the other day, I realized just how wrong I was, how big God’s plan is, and how thankful I am for His work in my life. One of the friends I invited to these church events was named Lindsey. We had one class together in High School and that was it. I was never in any other home school classes with this girl. With those odds, we wouldn’t have stayed friends. It would have been like a lot of other friendships that lasted for a year while we were around each other and ended when we no longer saw each other at school. But, that didn’t happen. I invited her to those church events we were supposed to invite friends to, and she actually came. We spent time together outside of school, and that gave us room to grow our relationship. Then we started hanging out at each other’s houses even when there wasn’t a church event to go to. And when I left for college, we emailed each other, and when I was back in town, we would meet up. Lindsey has remained one of my closest friends to this day. I even got to be maid of honor in her wedding last year.

As we were reminiscing about how we had met this past weekend, I realized how pivotal those church events had been to my relationship with Lindsey. I wondered if we would have ever stayed friends if I didn’t invite her to them. So now I am so thankful for those random events, like Super Bowl parties, and Christmas scavenger hunts, because they provided opportunities to grow relationships.

So today I want to say thank you to Jake Box, my old youth pastor for organizing all of those events and let him know I am thankful for what he did and amazed at how God used them in my life. And I want to say thank you to my friend Lindsey for her constant friendship and her willingness to say yes and go to another youth group’s event.

And I want to encourage my readers to say thank you to someone today and let them know how much you value them.

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The Vacation Syndrome

Family, Pier, Man, Woman, Children, Happy, Holiday

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As Summer begins and many families head out on their summer vacations, I thought I’d share a short story I wrote and give a brief warning to avoid the ‘vacation syndrome.’ I hope you enjoy and learn something too.

When I was young, we usually took a trip somewhere every summer, and sometimes even in the fall too. When going on a trip, it’s easy to get the ‘vacation syndrome.’ This attitude could be described as one of expecting certain privileges, and feelings. In many cases a person with vacation syndrome expects everything to go smoothly, to be relaxing, and to be just as one wants. I mean this is a vacation right? You worked hard for this, right? So everything should be perfect. Unfortunately this is rarely the case, and often times ‘vacation syndrome’ hinders us from actually having a good time on a trip, and instead makes it more stressful. This short story gives an example of a trip with some obvious ‘vacation syndrome’ going on and I hope it encourages you to stop complaining and instead be thankful for your vacation and enjoy it and the time you get with your family.

Thanksgiving Cruise

I think it’s a bit ironic that the only cruise I’ve ever been on was set during the week of Thanksgiving. However, this is one of the trips that I can remember a lot of unthankfulness and many symptoms of ‘vacation syndrome.’ But it did teach me a lesson. And it is one trip I’ll never forget.

We started our cruise from Galveston, TX. We should have been very thankful that we didn’t have to fly all the way to Florida to get on a cruise, but unfortunately, we were late getting to the ship, and this caused some bad attitudes.

“If only we would have left when I said we should,” Dad grumbled as he parked the car.

We hurried to unload our many suitcases and glanced up thankfully at the tall ship. At least we weren’t being left behind… yet.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” Alicia said with a whine, I’ve been holding it for fifteen minutes.”

“Just a little longer,” Mom assured her. “We’ll go sign in and I’m sure they have a bathroom somewhere.”

“Come on already,” Jonny said with frustration. “I don’t want the ship to leave without us.”

I agreed with Jonny and started following him towards the wharf, with my wheeled suitcase in tow. We soon found the check-in area, and I was a bit relieved to find out that we weren’t the only family that had gotten there late. But there were some consequences. As Dad signed papers, I stared up at the ship’s deck high above us, and spotted groups of passengers clumped together in formation at the lifeboats. They were undergoing a mandatory safety training, and we were missing it.

“You’ll have to do the late training this evening,” the check in person said.

I shook my head; of course it would be my family that missed the safety training. I was pretty sure we weren’t going to experience a Titanic like adventure, but I still wanted to be prepared in case some kind of emergency happened. Now, while everyone else was having fun, we’d have to stand like a bunch of idiots out on the deck and do our safety training, basically singling ourselves out as the irresponsible ones. But it could be worse, at least we didn’t have to do it alone, there were several other families who were late too.

* * * * *

As our trip got underway, I found myself spending a lot of time in our cabin, a tiny room with two bunk beds, and a TV. We watched a lot of old cartoons that I hadn’t even known had existed. There was Adam Ant, and Mighty Mouse, and the Spiderman movie was played continually on one channel.

“Uh, I wish they played some better cartoons,” I whined. “Like Scooby Doo. There’s nothing good on these channels.”

“I’m bored of TV,” Jonny joined in.

“Yeah, I’m so bored.” I knew complaining about being bored was kind of dumb: I was staying in the room watching the same cartoons over and over instead of getting out on the ship. But I didn’t want to make any effort; I just wanted to be entertained. Thus the ‘vacation epidemic’ grew. Every little thing there was to complain about somehow got mentioned.

“Uh, I wish that stupid rule about not swimming in the adult pool never existed,” I complained.

“Yeah, that current is so fun to play in, and it’s not as crowded as the kid pool,” Jonny added.

“And we’re all good swimmers, it’s not like we need a life guard or an adult to watch us, we can take care of ourselves,” I added.

“You know what I’m sick of?” Alicia asked.

I turned my head lazily to face her, “What?”

“Those lady fingers that they put in all the desserts, they taste disgusting and I’m so tired of having to pull them out of everything.”

“Speaking of food,” Jonny added. “Did you know they ran out of free ice cream in the lounge today? Talk about disappointing.”

This kind of talk would go on and on, and what did we do; sit and watch more boring TV.

* * * * *

Thankfully, this was not the case every day. On the days we were stopped at an island or foreign country, there were chances to explore, and get off the boat. But complaining fests still crept upon us. The worst stop was in Cozumel, Mexico. For some reason, everyone found something to complain about that day, and even though we were all a part of doing something very enjoyable, we focused in on the parts that didn’t meet our expectations.

I climbed into the taxi after Dad had finally flagged down a taxi van that was big enough for our whole family. It had been a long day. We had split up this time with Mom and me going to a ranch to ride horses, and the Dad taking the other kids to the beach. “So what did y’all do?” I asked Alicia.

“Well the boys went swimming and climbed a big blow up iceberg, but it was too far out for me, so Dad stayed with me on the beach. It’s no fun being small. The iceberg looked like fun.”

“Yeah it was,” Jonny said. “But you got to go on the bounce trampoline and do flips.”

“But you got to do both,” Alicia whined. “I wish I could have gone with you Lydia. I would have rather ridden horses.”

“Well it wasn’t too exciting. I was separated from Mom for most of the ride. My horse wouldn’t go at all, even when I kicked like the guide said, he wouldn’t listen. He just walked when the horses in front of him walked. I really wanted to gallop with the others, but when I tried, the horse was still really slow.”

“So you didn’t have fun?” Alicia asked.

“No, it was fun. There was a cool show they did for us where this rider danced with his horse. And we saw a lot of ruins on the trail ride… they looked fake to me though.”

“Well I’m starving,” Brain said. “I can’t wait to get back to the ship. Dad didn’t want to pay for any of the food at the beach. He said it was too expensive.”

Just then we pulled up to the curb. I glanced out the window at the ocean in the distance; there was our cruise ship, still as a sunken log. “Good timing then,” I said. “Let’s go eat.”

We jumped out of the van, ready to get back to our temporary home aboard the ship, but as we started moving towards the ship, a yell disrupted the evening air.

I turned back to see Dad yelling at our Taxi driver, saying something about the amount was wrong and that it shouldn’t be that expensive to drive three miles. I kept walking, hoping the other vacationers returning to the ship didn’t think we were part of the same family. I hated this day, not only had the horse ride been quite disappointing, but now my Dad was having a breakdown about money for the whole world to see. At that moment, it seemed like I was on the worst vacation ever.

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The Importance of Thankfulness

Pumpkin Pie, Dessert, Food, Baked, Holiday

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/pumpkin-pie-dessert-food-baked-1041330/

Even though Thanksgiving is over, the pumpkin pie is all eaten and the leftover turkey is now stuffed in the freezer, that doesn’t mean that being thankful is over for the year. Being thankful is very important to our attitude and perspective and it can affect how we react to our circumstances.

In church this past Sunday, one of my fellow leaders in Jr High ministry, talked about a man who lived through the Holocaust and stayed in three different concentration camps. But he decided to be thankful each day, and that gave him something that a lot of people around him lost; hope.

So as the holiday season continues towards Christmas, and away from Thanksgiving, I don’t want to forget the importance of giving thanks. And I want to encourage you to do the same. All the chaos of Christmas may seem more manageable if you remember that you have so much to be grateful for already. You don’t really need all those presents under the tree, they’re just another reason to be thankful.

I’ve also decided to accept a challenge to be grateful for something each day during the month of December. I probably won’t post every single thing I’m grateful for, but it is something I will be journaling about. And in case you’re interested, I’ll post a few of the things I’ve been thankful for so far.

1. Food. After all the Thanksgiving goodies and surplus in the fridge, I’ve realized what a blessing that is. There are a lot of people in this world who go to bed hungry and never get enough to eat. So I’m thankful that I have enough to eat.

2. My cat Alex. Right now he is curled up on my lap. Although it makes typing more difficult, he is keeping me nice and warm. He brings a smile to my face everyday and even when life get’s hard, he’s there to greet me with a cheerful meow. He is one of the most friendly cats I’ve ever owned and he makes sure that any guest to our home feels welcome.

IMG_9164

3. A job. I know work always has it’s frustrations, no matter what kind of work it is. But there is always a sense of accomplishment I get from finishing a task. Even if I don’t get any recognition for it, I feel a sense of fulfillment after I’ve worked, that I don’t get from just lounging around.

So there are a few things I’m thankful for, and I hope you continue to be thankful this month too.

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Thankful for Hardships

Pumpkin, Orange, Grass, Autumn, Halloween, Harvest

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/pumpkin-orange-grass-autumn-1004979/

In case you didn’t know, I’m doing several posts this month about being grateful or thankful or whatever you want to call it, in honor of Thanksgiving. I’ve already talked about family and friends, and I think that’s the sort of thing that comes to most people’s minds when they are trying to be thankful. But I’ve also been relearning recently that as a Christian I should be thankful for the hard things too.

I started reading in James this morning and he starts off his letter telling Christians to be joyful in hardships because it produces perseverance. And yesterday my Mom got up in front of my church, along with several other members, and thanked God for the difficulties our family has faced and how it’s grown her spiritually. Even my Dad thanked God for problems and how they force us to rely on Him. I also just finished reading Christy, a wonderful book by Catherine Marshall. I really loved one of the characters, Ms. Alice, and how she lived out her faith. Even with all of the baggage in her life, she was able to use it to become more able to help those around her. Reading about her made me desire to mature in Christ and be able to do the same kind of things.

But unfortunately, recently I’ve found myself complaining about the busyness and craziness of my life. I don’t want to do that, so this is one way I’m trying to live out being thankful, even for the hard stuff.

So here are a few hard things, that I’m thankful for:

1. I’m thankful that when I was a kid, I was left out, excluded, and didn’t have many friends.

That experience affected me, and it’s helped me love others, especially the people around me who are excluded now. If I had never experienced that hurt, I wouldn’t care for others that feel it too. It also helps me to appreciate all of the friends I have now.

2. I’m thankful that my sister has gone through and still deals with anxiety and panic attacks.

I’ll be honest, I prayed for it to go away, for my sister to be healed, for my family to not have to deal with it anymore. And I still hope for the day that it will all be gone. But I’ve gotten to see over the years how this difficulty has shaped me, my sister, and my family. We’ve had to grow in forgiveness and understanding. I’ve had to grow in patience, sympathy, and giving up what I want. It hasn’t been an easy road, but it’s the one God gave my family, and He has brought good out of it.

3. I’m thankful that I’ve never had a serious romantic relationship.

This is a struggle I’ve had off and on for a long time, most girls do. I have wanted to find a guy, get married, and start a family. And I’ve waited, and waited. I never thought I’d be in my mid-twenties and still not be married. But it has allowed me to have time for other things that I love. A lot of the couples I see around me spend so much time on that one relationship, and they need to, but it means they can’t spend as much time with other people. I’ve seen God use this extra time in my life to give me the freedom to go on mission trips, serve in ministry, and disciple other ladies in the faith. And throughout this time of waiting, God has shown me that what brings true joy is Himself, and not the fulfillment of my desires.

4. I’m thankful for my fear of public speaking.

I’ve never liked talking to groups of people, and for a long time I’ve been the shy girl in the corner that doesn’t talk. So public speaking has always been difficult for me. And it still is, I don’t like the spotlight on me. But through this weakness, I’ve seen God’s strength. He has put me in situation after situation where I need to speak in front of groups, give presentations, teach lessons, and… well speak publicly. It’s uncomfortable, it’s scary, and I still struggle with what to say. But this has forced me to rely on God each time. I learned early on that when I trusted God with my fear and asked for His help, He provided. And so I still go to Him. Each time speaking publicly arises, I have to trust Him all over again. And this learning to place trust in God, instead of my own talents, is a special gift I wouldn’t trade.

So, what are a few things you are thankful for?

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Things I’m Thankful For

Turkey, Fowl, Thanksgiving, Thanks, Gratitude, Poultry

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/turkey-fowl-thanksgiving-thanks-966496/

Well it’s November, you know the month before Christmas, and the month of Thanksgiving. And even if the advertisers skip Thanksgiving and start playing up Christmas, I love this time of year. And I love giving thanks. It’s important to stop and think about all that we have to be thankful for. So this month I would like to do a few posts about what I’m thankful for.

So here’s my first one.
I’m thankful for my cousin Lauren Hill. She was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer about a year ago, and it doesn’t look like she has much time left on this earth. But she has done so much with the time she has. It’s inspiring and I’m so grateful for her perseverance, her ambition, and how she’s living.

Here’s what she did just recently: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=11810419

She makes me want to use the time I have wisely, enjoy it, and be a blessing to those around me.

So what’s something you are thankful for?

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Free Birds

Free Birds

Because Netflix recently updated their available movies, I decided to watch Free Birds, the Holiday oriented film about turkeys trying to rewrite the Thanksgiving tradition. Though it inadvertently reminds me of a burrito, I had been interested in the film when it first came out. I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the ticket price, and never made it to the theater. Although I’m glad I didn’t spend the money on this fairly average family film, I still enjoyed parts of the movie.

The plot was mostly given away by previews, and the few twists were fairly predictable. Overall it didn’t have a very compelling story, and the humor was very childish, with many jokes simply repeated several times to make them more ‘funny’ or in this case annoying. There were a few good references to popular culture, such as the turkeys being called Angry Birds. And the visual quality of the film wasn’t bad.

I was also a bit offended at the treatment of the human characters, especially the Plymouth residents. Captain Standish was made into a obsessed villain and Governor Bradford into a selfish glutton who lied, and stole. I think the story would have been a lot more compelling if the villains were less flat and could be related too.

In the end, it was a decent family movie, however not one that needs to be watched more than once.

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