The Shabby Lawn Furniture at My Thanksgiving Table

I’ll never forget the Thanksgiving at my house on 803 Glenn Drive, Euless, Texas. (And that is pronounced – YOUless – not USEless.) Indeed the lessons I learned as a brand new single mom in that house were anything but useless. 

Thanksgiving was only three weeks away, and my heart was devastated that my kids would not be with me for the holiday. They were spending it with their dad. I dreaded that day and could not wait for it to be over. Sometimes when we’re struggling, we just want the holiday hoopla to GO AWAY! (Did I hear an amen?!)

So on this particular Thanksgiving, my extended family voted to gather at my table in YOUless. They thought it’d be good for my spirits, and then we girls could all go shopping after the meal in the mall next to my house. (Shopping? Oh yes, please.)

The family descended on my household with food in hand. My job was to decorate the tables. However, I realized I didn’t have enough chairs. So inside the house came the lawn furniture: torn, stinky, stained and what I thought was a ghastly disruption to the lovely fall ambiance.

That was over two decades ago, yet I still remember how I felt when I had to bring those chairs into the kitchen. I was horrified. Maybe it’s because they represented my heartbroken life. I muttered, Lord, shouldn’t my husband and kids be in this household sharing this day—laughing, bonding, and sitting on mahogany chairs instead of these tacky ones?  

I discovered much the first couple of years of being a single parent without Jason and Sara with me on Thanksgiving. I learned that chairs don’t matter, and more importantly, where the children were didn’t either. Thanksgiving is not just about thanks-living (everyone all nestled down in their jovial little families), but thanks-giving (offering oneself as a sacrifice in blessing others). So for the next couple of years, I joined the people at the homeless shelter (without my children), making that day all about serving others and living life outside of me and my woes.

This November, for the FIRST TIME in over thirty years, I’m totally beside myself because I’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving with both of my children and their children. I can’t even imagine what that will be like, but I’m ready to taste and see. And yes, we might even sit in mahogany chairs. (I have to chuckle at God’s attention to detail.) Yet the lesson branded deep within is far above that blessing. It is this: God is good all the time whether we see it, feel it, or think it, fulfilling His promise to make everything beautiful in His time. 

What does your Thanksgiving Day look like? Are your circumstances right now sitting in scruffy lawn furniture or mahogany wing-backed chairs? Whatever the case, Thanksgiving has a unique purpose, one that is not useLESS, but rather useFUL in God’s economy and timing. And because of that, we can enter into the Thanksgiving season with a grateful heart. 

Psalm 107:1 – In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.

About Pam Kanaly   

Aloha! I’m Pam Kanaly, President and co-founder of Arise Ministries. But actually, I think Arise found me wanting to bless single moms years ago. Ministry was never on my mind as a kid. All I wanted to be was a hula dancer. So Mother enrolled me in the tiny tots’ class. Guess God knew I’d have two grandbabies born in Hawaii. I love the great outdoors. You might even find me spending time with my husband grizzly bear watching or camping. In fact, it was on a turkey hunt that God gave me the name Arise Ministries in 2002. I suppose it’s a good thing that I majored in Grammar in college since I love to write words of encouragement to single moms.