Thursday, December 12, 2019

Appreciating the Gifts We Already Have

When I was a boy, going to bed on Christmas Eve was always a frustrating experience. I was eager to fall asleep so Christmas morning would arrive sooner and I could unwrap the wonderful surprises under the tree. But my anticipation made sleep almost possible.

Many of us are in a similar mode right now. We’re either fretting over what gifts to buy for family and friends – or whether what we’ve already gotten is the right gift – or looking ahead to the gifts we’ll be receiving. The trouble is, all of this future expectation often makes it hard for us to appreciate the gifts we already have.

I began thinking about this in 2006, immediately after my open-heart surgery. Until then I was probably like most folks: I’d start each day either excited about what I planned to do, or dreading what I would be facing. But I never regarded a new day as a “gift.” Upon awakening from the surgery, despite expected pain and soreness, I realized God had given me the gift of a new day. 

This kind of surgery is among the most complex and serious, and patients don’t always survive – strokes, heart attacks, occasionally the heart that was stopped to perform bypass grafts doesn’t restart. So everyone who survives open-heart surgery, or any similar kind of procedure, should recognize just the act of waking up is a gift.

My recent encounter with brain surgery, having a mass removed from my pituitary gland, served as a vivid reminder of this reality. One day you’re cruising through life, experience what seems to be a minor headache at first, and a few days later you’re consulting with a neurosurgeon on unavoidable surgery. 

Even without having to undergo surgery, we can be grateful for the gift of good health if we have it – because many do not, as I know so well. If we’re able to move about with a minimum of aches, pains and limitations, that’s a gift. No question. Because not everyone has that gift.

The list of our present gifts could go on: Family members we love. Friends we enjoy being with. Enough money to pay our bills. A job that supplies enough money for paying those bills, especially if you can find some measures of satisfaction and fulfillment in that job. The capacity for pursuing and appreciating favorite hobbies and pastimes. 

Eyesight for witnessing a sunrise or sunset. Hearing to listen to babies giggle and birds chirp. The gift of smell to revel in the aromas of the holiday season. Tastebuds that enable us to enjoy the flavors of this season – or any season – whether it be ham, potato salad, pecan pie, or the menu item of your choice. Touch for hugging loved ones, petting a puppy, feeling a warm shower.

In the Scriptures we read a lot about gifts. James 1:17 tells us, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” After reading about humankind’s plight – our separation from God by sin for which we can no way atone – we read the Good News, that God is offering the greatest gift of all: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

No wonder the apostle Paul doesn’t mince words when he writes in 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

So as we’re fretting over what gifts to give and building expectancy for gifts we might receive, let’s be sure to do one thing: Not forget about the gifts we’ve already got!

Monday, December 9, 2019

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thanksgiving

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to write a series of perspectives on Thanksgiving Day. As it happened, the one I posted the Monday before the holiday was titled, perhaps a bit prophetically,  “Thankful, Yes – But for Everything?” Then a funny thing happened on the way to Thanksgiving: I got a headache.

This was not a run-of-the-mill, take a Tylenol, Advil or aspirin type of headache. No, it was industrial-strength, one that wracked every bit of my head, in the back, on the top, sides of my face, above my eyebrows. Even my eyes hurt. It started on a Saturday, and at first I dismissed it as a sinus headache. When pain relief medication didn’t affect it, I thought perhaps I had some kind of virus. Wrong.

Unable to find a suitable appointment time with my regular physician, my wife drove me to see a doc-in-the-box on Tuesday afternoon. Based on symptoms I described, he diagnosed a migraine headache, gave me a shot and a prescription, and sent me on my way. Wrong again.

Wednesday arrived and the headache was more intense than ever. Finally, resigned to the fact it wasn’t about to go away on its own, my wife drove me to the nearby hospital’s ER. By this time I was noticing double vision in my right eye. Thankfully the wait there wasn’t too long, and a CT scan identified the source of the problem: a mass on my pituitary gland inside my brain.

Without facilities for treating such a problem, a hospital ambulance transported me to the ER of a hospital downtown. The medical staff couldn’t promise how quickly they could get me to the MRI machine, but thankfully that wait also was much shorter than expected. I forget how long I had to lie still on the machine – they did the imaging in two segments – but the MRI confirmed the tumor. I’m told that after the MRI, when I tried to stand up, I passed out. I don’t recall that, since I was unconscious.

Soon we were discussing my situation with a neurosurgeon who recommended surgery as soon as possible. By this time my right eyelid was drooping and had almost closed. As my headache continued to pound, I had to agree. There was no time for “second opinions” or evaluating which surgeon to use, since it was already Thanksgiving morning. So, suddenly my holiday had shifted from the prospect of a turkey dinner with all the requisite trimmings to brain surgery. Not exactly as I had anticipated the day unfolding.

Thankfully, after my Thanksgiving morning brain surgery, I awoke in the Neuro ICU. The headache that had plagued me for five days was…gone! Not even a twinge. There was no post-op surgical pain, either. Looking to the left, my vision was clear, but looking toward the right my double vision was pronounced. This, the medical staff surmised, would subside over time. They could not offer a specific timetable. I couldn’t read twice as fast, but I definitely could read twice as much!

Over the next several days I was poked and prodded, had blood drawn, and my “vitals” checked every few hours. As I had learned previously, you don’t go to the hospital for a rest. There’s an unwritten rule against patients getting sleep. But the doctors, medical staff and nurses were reassuring, extremely competent and caring.

Apparently there was no nerve damage from the pressure of the pituitary mass, since my double vision rapidly improved. I was even able to watch the traditional Ohio State-Michigan football game on TV from my hospital room – a first for me. That’s not recommended, since I was still hooked up to blood pressure and heart monitors at the time, but I handled the stress pretty well. And the machines survived.

The Monday after my surgery, I was discharged, armed with pages of post-op instructions. My double vision had disappeared, and I had successfully walked the hallways and even navigated some stairs to ensure I could handle my return home. Brain surgery on Thursday morning, heading back home just after noon on Monday. Wow!

I don’t recount this experience to point to myself. I know many people have gone through – and continue to go through – far worse. But it gave me more opportunities for thankfulness. Philippians 4:7 speaks of “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding.” We never really know what that means until we find ourselves in circumstances that would seem to defy having such peace. I and my wife both had that. We trusted that God knew my situation, even better than I or the medical team did. We also trusted that He had guided us to the right place and the right hands for treatment.

Having learned a lot about sheep over the years from my friend, Ken, who raised them, I’ve long loved Psalm 23, the “shepherd psalm.” Many of us are familiar with the verse, “though I walk through the shadow of death.”This doesn’t necessarily refer to imminent death, but shadowy areas where shepherds in the Middle East guide their sheep to new pastures. The sheep trustingly proceed, aware predators might be lurking in the dark. I sensed God’s presence in the “shadow of death,” even when my headache was at max force.

And I could be thankful because, even though the outcome for me was uncertain on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, I knew from God’s point of view my life and circumstances were right on schedule. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'” (Jeremiah 29:11). Nothing is beyond His control.

Do you have this trust, this confidence in the Lord? I hope you do – because I don’t know how we can successfully navigate the stresses of everyday life without it. Because, as my friend Albert often says, “God is good all the time – all the time God is good!”

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Why Having Talent Usually Isn’t Enough

Have you ever wondered why some talented people manage to achieve so much, while others with considerable talent seem mired in mediocrity? Sometimes less-talented individuals rise to levels of accomplishment that more-talented peers can only envy.

We see this in every area of life: “Most likely to succeed” high school graduates who never amount to anything out of the ordinary, while largely overlooked classmates rise to prominence. Sometimes even becoming nationally or internationally known in their chosen fields of endeavor. We see this with school teachers, physicians, authors and artists, business executives, military leaders, musicians, athletes, scientists and innovators.

So what’s the difference? What separates the truly accomplished person from talented ones who never fulfill their potential? There can be many contributing factors: finding the right environments for using their talents; inner motivation; effective training and mentoring. Maybe you can think of others. But there’s one factor we usually don’t hear about.

Brian Kight, a noted business consultant and motivational speaker, explained a key reason he has observed for the difference.“Talent is common. Discipline is rare,” he said. “The combination is elite. Discipline produces what talent promises.”

Among Kight’s clients are sports teams, an ideal place for seeing how wide is the gap between talent and achievement. Take, my favorite sport – college football. Every year during the pre-season, pundits study the various rosters – returning starters, four- and five-star recruits, caliber of coaching – and submit their projections for the coming season.

These so-called experts have done their research, devoted many hours to their respective analyses, and submitted their best-educated guesses. Invariably, some of their prognostications fall short, sometimes stunningly so. One reason is that you can’t judge on-field performance based on talent alone.

As Kight has suggested, a key factor for determining success is discipline. Athletes maximizing their talents by spending countless hours in training and conditioning programs; focusing on their respective responsibilities; preparing diligently for upcoming opponents, and working together effectively. Their names also don’t appear on the police blotters for doing things they shouldn’t have been doing.

Discipline is a recurring theme in the Scriptures, as well. When we read about “discipline” in the Bible, it’s not speaking about punishment for wrongdoing, but rather God’s method for correcting and training His children. For instance, Proverbs 3:11 admonishes, “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves as a father the son he delights in.”

Another passage, Hebrews 12:5-7, says much the same:
“… ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.’”

Obviously these passages refer to our being disciplined by the Lord, rather than self-discipline. But again, to use the football analogy, a successful coach will discipline players in a variety of ways. At the same time, he expects them to implement discipline in their own lives as well.

Writing to his protégé, Timothy, the apostle Paul instructed him to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the worth of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). He’s saying that to be a genuine, fruitful follower of Jesus Christ, we can’t be passive. We must be consciously striving, working diligently and with discipline to become the men and women God intends for us to be.

As another passage tells us, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to all who love him” (James 1:12). To persevere means much more than to simply endure or withstand difficult times; it means to courageously face adversity, working through it and seeking to remain true to the goals and purposes we believe the Lord has provided for us.

Paul also liked to use sporting metaphors. Referring to athletic competitions that were common in his day, he wrote, "Everyone who competes in the games trains with strict discipline. They do it for a crown that is perishable, but we do it for a crown that is imperishable" (1 Corinthians 9:25). Or as the New Living Translation expresses it, “All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.”

The Scriptures don’t use the word “talent” as much as they do “gifts,” but it’s clear that every believer has at least one spiritual gift that God intends for us to use for His glory. Through devotion and discipline, we can use those gifts in such a way that we will one day hear Him welcome us with, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!” (Matthew 25:21). Just to hear this will have made our discipline more than worth any sacrifice it required.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Still Marching, Christian Soldiers?

I find any discussion of music intriguing, but especially within the local church context. In some churches or denominations, it’s traditional, time-honored hymns only. Anything written after 1899 need not apply. Other churches emphasize contemporary praise music. There are even those, it seems, that favor songs written only within the last month.

There are the slow, reverent hymns that focus on God’s character and draw lyrics from the Scriptures. Then there are the oft-repetitive praise choruses derived from “Me Generation” philosophy. “Me and God, God and me….” As much about “me” as they are about God. To each his or her own, as they say.

I didn’t become a follower of Jesus Christ until my adult years, but grew up in a church tradition that favored classic hymns like “Faith of Our Fathers,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” and the Doxology. Do you remember, “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow…”? 

One of my all-time favorite hymns was “Onward Christian Soldiers,” with its cadence that conjured up images of soldiers “marching as to war.” Years ago, one denomination banned the hymn for what its members considered a belligerent, war-like message. Christians are supposed to be people of peace, they argued, not war.

I could understand their reasoning, even though I didn’t agree with it. In light of violent acts perpetrated in the name of religion, a hymn about believers going into battle definitely has the ring of political incorrectness. But it’s also a denial of biblical truth. We are involved in war, the Scriptures assert, although it’s of a spiritual nature.

The last chapter of the book of Ephesians makes this clear: 
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm” (Ephesians 6:10-12).

Then the passage proceeds to describe that, like soldiers involved in military combat, we also are to be well-equipped:
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth…the breastplate of righteousness…the gospel of peace…the shield of faith…the helmet of salvation…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17).

Reading this, some of us might shrug and respond, “I don’t want to engage in any kind of spiritual battle,” but the Scriptures make clear we don’t have that option. Writing to his protégé, Timothy, the apostle Paul admonished him, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

Writing to believers in the ancient city of Rome, Paul asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered’” (Romans 8:35-36). So much for peace and tranquility and “can’t we all just get along?”

And the apostle Peter warned, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). Recounting the hardships he had to endure during his missionary journeys, Paul described how he employed resources for survival “in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left…” (2 Corinthians 6:7).

It doesn’t require a prophet to recognize there is indeed a spiritual war being waged all around us. In particular, Christianity has come under attack on many fronts. Public expressions of biblical faith are sometimes denounced as if the Constitution were calling for a separation of church and daily life. 

This rise in hostility, some observers believe, indicate the prophesied “end times” are fast approaching. One thing for certain: this is no time for laying down our spiritual armament. In Romans 13:12, the apostle Paul admonished believers not to become complacent, even if they sensed the end was drawing closer. He wrote, “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12).

Clothed with and protected by the full armor of God, we’re commanded to persevere as “salt and light,” as Jesus commanded in Matthew 5:13-16, and also instructed to encourage one another, “all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). Are you willing to march onward, Christian soldier?

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving Prayers That Are Powerful and Effective

I’m not sure where or when I saw it, but I vaguely recall a movie scene in which some not particularly religious character was asked to pray over the meal. After awkwardly folding his hands and bowing his head, he uttered, “Good food, good meat, good God, let’s eat!” Not the most eloquent expression of thanksgiving!

Then I think of persons asked to pray at public gatherings who reach into a coat pocket, unfold a sheet of paper and proceed to recite a prayer they had composed in advance. There’s nothing wrong with that, I suppose. None of us would want to stumble with our words in such a setting. But I believe the prayers God loves most are those expressed spontaneously, from the heart, without pomp or circumstance, as led by the Holy Spirit.

On the day recognized nationally as Thanksgiving Day, perhaps this is especially significant. In some households, a traditional “saying of grace” before meals is rare. So a show of sudden spirituality might seem daunting. How should we pray? And what should we pray for?

I don’t have a formula – or “recipe,” if you will – for a Thanksgiving Day dinner prayer. But the Scriptures do offer many helpful suggestions. Perhaps one of the best was given by Jesus when He warned against what I’d call “ostentatious religiosity.” In giving examples of persons who liked to parade their piety, He said, 
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men…. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:5-6).

This doesn’t mean if someone asks us to pray for God to bless the food, that we should retreat to a room, close the door, and then pray. That would defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it? But we don’t need to try to impress anyone listening, either. Jesus continued, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:7-8).

What’s most important, I believe, on this Thanksgiving Day, is that before enjoying the food that’s been so lovingly prepared, that we pause to enjoy and praise the One who has so lovingly provided for all that we need. I like what the apostle James said about prayer, words that could be applied even to the simple practice of “saying grace”: “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

Recently I was reminded of how the ancient Israelites sometimes expressed their gratitude in a call-and-answer manner. The worship leader would voice a phrase of thanksgiving, and then the congregation would give a repeating response: 
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good...His love endures forever. 
Give thanks to the God of gods...His love endures forever. 
Give thanks to the Lord of lords...His love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1-3).

Maybe it’s because it reminds me of my early church days when we had a responsive reading each Sunday, but that seems like a cool way of giving thanks. Amen!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Thankful, Yes – But for Everything?

As we look toward another Thanksgiving Day celebration a few days from now, we can usually think of things for which we can be thankful: A car that runs, if we have one. A roof over our heads, especially if it doesn’t leak. A selection of clothes to wear, hanging in our closets. A job that enables us to pay the bills. Loved ones and close friends that mean so much to us. But what about things we can’t feel thankful for?

This presents a bit of a problem for those of us who follow Jesus Christ, because three consecutive verses in the Bible seem to assert that when it comes to thankfulness and gratitude, there should be no exclusions, no exceptions.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, we’re told, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” The words “always,” “without ceasing,” and “everything” seem all-encompassing. That’s because they are. But that doesn’t mean they’re easy to implement. Nor does it mean they should be.

I think of a book I helped my friend, Mike Landry, to get published, called Advancing Through Adversity. In it he recounted a series of trials he and his family endured over an 18-month period some years ago. The hardships they faced were difficult – and unwarranted. They suffered through many sleepless nights. Answers to their “why” questions weren’t forthcoming. 

Ultimately, the problems were resolved and they could look back at the circumstances and realize how God’s presence had never left them alone in their circumstances, even when they seemed most dire. Through this time, when they had no choice but to turn to Him and trust that He would work things out according to His perfect purposes, they found Him unflinchingly faithful.

If we had the option, we probably have something (or things) we’d like to eliminate from our lives: Serious financial pressures. Severe health problems that have lingered and appear without remedy. A difficult marriage. Struggles a family member is going through that are beyond our capacity for bringing any relief. Grieving over the loss of a loved one. The day-to-day realities of aging. The list could go on. Does the Bible really mean we’re to be thankful for these?

I’ve mentioned him before, but my friend, Albert, is no stranger to adversities. He lived through the horrors of World War II. From childhood he has wrestled with health problems. And he’s survived major business setbacks. And yet, he’s been steadfast in trusting God and remaining grateful for the life He has given him. Albert even wrote a booklet about his life called “Saying ‘Thank You’ Even When You Don’t Feel Thankful.”

The overriding lesson he has learned – and has helped many who know him to grasp as well – is that regardless of the challenges we face in life, we can still embrace hope. We can define hope as earnest, confident assurance that God will use even our worst circumstances to carry out His plans. In the process, He will refine us, transforming us into the people He desires for us to become.

That’s why, in Romans 5:3-5, the apostle Paul could write, “…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

The apostle James seemed to second the motion when he wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

Although they do not use the words thankful or grateful in these passages, they’re clearly implied when the writers admonish us to “rejoice” or “consider it pure joy” when we have to deal with various trials God allows in our lives. So, when Thanksgiving Day arrives and we pause to give thanks, let’s be sure to express our thankfulness to the Lord – even for the things for which we don’t feel thankful.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Finding a Selfish Reason for Being Thankful

Many of us spend weeks – for some, months – getting ready for the Christmas celebration. Buying trees and ornaments, putting up decorations, planning parties, purchasing gifts. And sometimes it seems as if we still don’t have enough time. What if we were to spend as much time getting ready for the annual Thanksgiving observance?

I’m not referring to assembling all the ingredients for the meal, including turkey or ham (or both), yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, etc. No, I mean getting into the true spirit of Thanksgiving – preparing to be genuinely thankful. So I’m dedicating a few posts, including on the holiday itself, to consider how we could best do that. First, a bit of motivation.

Tony, one of the pastors at our church, introduced a series he called “21 Days of Thankfulness” by citing a secular study by Dr. Robert A. Emmons, a psychologist and professor at the University of California-Davis. Described as “the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude,” Emmons has written a number of books about what science has learned about being thankful, including, Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier

Turns out, according to his research, “We discovered scientific proof that when people regularly engage in a systematic cultivation of gratitude, they experience a variety of measurable benefits: psychological, physical, and interpersonal.” 

Among those benefits are greater happiness; lasting relationships; better health; fewer aches and pains; more alertness and determination; decreased stress, anxiety and depression, and better sleep. Who knew there’s actually a selfish reason for being thankful?

Once again, it seems, science is affirming what the Bible has been saying all along. We’re told in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Another translation puts it this way: “in everything give thanks.”

When we read that, however, some among us might be tempted to argue, “Yeah, but you don’t know my circumstances!” But Philippians 4:6-7 provides this response: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Could it be that a key to this promise is found in the simple phrase, “with thanksgiving”?

Living in a materialistic society, where the virtues of consumerism are exalted – and exploited – we’re bombarded by messages that give us every reason not to be thankful. Whether it’s a car, smartphone, TV, the latest high-tech gizmos or clothing, commercials, print advertising and even news reports tell us we’ll be woefully unfulfilled if we don’t have the latest and greatest. We watch romance movies with idyllic couples that can make us wonder, “Why isn’t my relationship like that?”

The Scriptures, however, offer the antidote for such poisonous wishful thinking. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:6-8). In other words, we should learn to feel thankful for what we have.

Getting back to Dr. Emmons, his findings support biblical teachings that warn us against the pitfalls of being greedy, covetous and envious. He stated, “Our groundbreaking research has shown that grateful people experience higher levels of positive emotions, such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness and optimism, and that practice of gratitude as a discipline protect a person from the destructive impulses of envy, resentment, greed, and bitterness.”

So as we gear up for Thanksgiving Day, besides planning and preparing the meal, deciding which football games to watch, and whether we’re going to see the new holiday movie that’s just come out, maybe we should try warming up our “thanksgivers.” It would be good for us!