I’ve been binge watching, “When Calls the Heart” on Netflix. I scrolled past it many times but on Thanksgiving Day I was looking for something wholesome and I got hooked. It is classic Hallmark Channel goodness and before I knew it I spent Thursday night, Friday and Saturday in my P.J.’s completely absorbed as I avoided doing anything productive but watch the series based in the early 1900’s.
It brought me back to primary school. My class went on a field trip to Roaring Camp in Felton, CA. There was an old-time store with post cards of great Indian Warriors and Women Pioneers. You could buy old fashioned sugar candy, candy sticks, jaw breakers and bonnets, like the one Laura Ingles wore in Little House on the Prairie. I reminisced on going to the hundred year old school house in my town and sitting in an old fashioned desk writing on an individual size chalk board while my teacher taught about prairie life. The resident peacock made the experience even more intriguing, causing me to feel I was truly back in time.
Season one, season two, season three, season four. I was swept away into courting, proper titles, manners, women sipping their tea with perfect posture and modest innocence. The impression I was left with most, however, was within episode three of season five. The railroad promised to build a depot in Hope Valley but then reneged on their promise. The Mayor and residents try to convince the railroad representative that it is in both their interest to build the depot but the guy won’t budge. In march the children of Hope Valley. Cody, the mayors son, stands on a chair to be seen and heard and begins talking about the importance of keeping your word and promises. He shares his mom kept her promise when she said she would adopt him, love him, raise him and teach him right from wrong. He goes on to say that his teacher, Miss Thatcher, taught him that his word means everything and it is more important than popularity or money. He goes on to say that when a promise is made, it should be kept.
As I sat watching the scene unfold, I was convicted. I thought about how as a culture and society we have diminished the value of our word. People make commitments and easily break them. We do this to our families, our friends, our churches, our employers and to ourselves. I once heard that if we can't keep a commitment we made to ourselves, we will not have the discipline to keep our commitments to others. As I reflected I saw that this past weekend was a live illustration of exactly just that. The commitments I made to myself were disregarded and tossed aside once I sat down and got caught up in the Netflix series binge fest I was on. I wanted to stick to my eating plan but instead I hurt myself as I sat, eating high calorie leftovers, plate after plate. I wanted to work on my projects calendar to reach deadlines I committed to but that was neglected as well. I wanted to read a good book, pray and spend time filling my soul and spirit with the good things of God. Instead I ate the crumbs of god statements thrown here and there in the episodes. Not enough to fill me up. I neglected myself, my health and my goals and by Sunday I was depressed and consumed with the mountain of personal trials going on in my life and the life of my family.
It was then I was reminded that God always keeps His word. His promises are yes and amen and He keeps His word to us, through community, a lot of the time. He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. He promises to comfort us and to love us. He promises to provide for us and be a friend. As I was sinking lower into despair and tempted to feel alone, I heard the voice of His promise that says, “My sheep hear my voice”, and as I heard His voice encourage me to reach out, I sent a text to a group of my friends, asking for prayer. What I received was encouragement and life. I felt the prayers lift me and jumping out of bed I showered, got dressed and began a productive day full of joy. Their encouraging text messages back saved me from another day on the couch and I am so thankful.
What I was left with this Thanksgiving Holiday is this. I stepped outside the commitment I made to God and myself and it led me down a path of feeling sorry for myself. Reaching out to my friends, my tribe, I was lifted through their prayers and encouragement. I was the recipient of Jesus hands and feet ministering love and grace to me, through them.
This Thanksgiving I found gratitude in not being alone but being loved. In not being forgotten but being seen. In not being condemned but being edified. This beautiful gift of Thanksgiving taught me a valuable lesson. When we are not where we belong, we are vulnerable to lose sight of where we are going. I am on a path of purpose and I belong right here, typing away to bring life and hope. If I lose sight of that by stepping away from my set intention, I can never be truly fulfilled. God has placed a desire in my heart that He continues to feed. As I feast on Him and His will, I will always eat from the best Thanksgiving table ever.
To my friends, family, church and employer, I ask your forgiveness. I've made commitments and didn't follow through. There were times I didn't keep my word, because I haven't learned to keep my word to myself. I've given up, ran, hid and worst of all denied sharing what God has placed in me to give away. Growing up hurts sometimes, at 54, I still have a long way to go, but the lesson I learned from the children of Hope Valley this past weekend did me good. God highlighted a character flaw I have in a gentle way, through a gentle story.
Hope Valley will forever be in my heart, like Little House on the Prairie. The innocence of the past still lives on through these made for T.V. series and God works through them in mysterious ways.
This year I received a Beautiful Gift through Thanksgiving. It also included laughter and winning Yatzee around the table with my family. I have much to be thankful for and I have received my second wind to press on and upward. Join me in a prayer today. Heavenly Father I thank you, You have restored my hope and brought correction to my life that I may better serve You and those around me. You have protected me and brought joy back to my purpose and life. You have given me rest and now it's time to run. I am forever yours my God and my King.