Collard greens, pecan pies, cornbread cooked in a black skillet. Kids playing football in the yard, women laughing and cooking in the kitchen, men huddled around a black and white TV. When I think about Thanksgiving's spent growing up in Macon that's what I remember. Food, fun, laughter - it was a blessed childhood.
To be a part of that family came with a history of struggles. We met in my Aunt Geneva's house most years, on the fringe of the mill village where most everyone worked or had worked. But you'd never know it on Thanksgiving.
I've never known a more thankful group of people.
They didn't have much - but they shared it.
And they loved each other deeply, from the heart.
I am so thankful to have been able to experience that. And to know them.
Then I got married to the most wonderful woman I have ever known. A whole other world opened to me. Another family filled with love. Our years seeing all our kids come into the world and sharing the joys of life and sharing the sorrows together added another level of joy. To say that my wife's parents were just "in-laws" is to trivialize the sacred. They were gifts from God, just as their daughter is a gift from God. Through those relationships I was led to faith in God, became a husband and a father. Blessings followed blessings.
Eleven years ago we left all of that to follow God's call to a small church in a place we'd never heard of. We left a lot behind even though we were able to keep in touch by phone, through email, and infrequent visits. But as the years rolled on, we realized we gained another family. We've been through a lot together - great joys and deep sorrows. Yet we have seen God at work in incredible ways. We've cried and laughed together. They are family too.
Heaven's Thanksgiving table is going to be amazing when all these people get together.
And I am so thankful to God for everything He has given.