“Ma’am, do you mind to take one more?”

Those would be the last words I would say before my life would change forever.

My wife and I had been dating for a solid 6 months since she returned from her year-long stay in Slovakia.  It was about 2 months before she left on that missions trip when we officially became a couple.  It was the most difficult year of my life, but we both learned many things about ourselves while she was serving God on the mission field.  Although I was thankful for God that we had that time to be apart, I was extremely thankful the day she arrived back in the US.

During the next 7 months, we continued getting to know each other, praying about our future together, and just enjoying spending time with each other.  I knew she was the girl that I would someday marry, but I was nervous about proceeding with the next steps in making that happen.  I knew I would have to ask her dad, purchase the ring, and then plan on the perfect scenario that every girl dreams of since her childhood years.  I wanted the moment that I asked Vicki to marry me to be special – a day that she would never forget.

After finally talking to her dad, and purchasing the ring – all I had to do was come up with the plan.  Vicki had casually mentioned one time months before (perhaps while she was even in Slovakia) that she would love to be proposed to in front of the giant Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center in New York City.  So – there was no doubt in my mind that we would have to go there.  I requested off work for a random Friday and told Vicki that we would spend the day going Christmas shopping.  It wasn’t until the night before we left that I casually mentioned with her the idea of ditching shopping and going on a road trip to New York City.  I figured if she thought it was a spontaneous trip she would have no idea I had something major planned.

Friday morning, December 14, 2007 arrived, and I was nervously excited.  I picked up my future bride and we left for the Big Apple.  After parking our car in New Jersey and taking the PATH train across the river into New York, we jumped on the subway.  My legs were most likely nervously rocking up and down as we sat on the train headed straight for the Rockefeller Center.  Anytime I visit New York City – my favorite part is coming up out of the Subway and seeing all the big buildings, bright lights, taxis and everything that makes New York City the most famous city in the world!  Today would be no different, and when we walked around the corner, there was the tree, the ice skating rink, NBC studios, and what looked like a million people.  Then it hit me… WHY DID I COME UP WITH THIS IDEA!?!? Why couldn’t I have picked a silent spot in the woods?  Why couldn’t Vicki have picked a different location for her perfect scenario?

I began scoping out the area looking for a good spot.  This was going to be a challenge.  While this was happening, and I’m trying to think on the fly, I realized that Vicki really didn’t want to be at the tree.  You see – she had already been slightly disappointed in the past month because we had gone on a few romantic dates where she thought I was going to pop the big question.  In the back of her mind, she didn’t want to get her hopes up only to be disappointed so this was the last place she wanted to be if we were just going to spend a few minutes looking at the tree.  With so many people around it was hard to find a good spot to do this.  We actually started to walk away when I asked her to walk around the ice skating rink to the other side of the tree.  She reluctantly agreed.  After we walked around to the other side, I found a spot for the two of us.

“Excuse me ma’am, could you please take a picture of us”?

Here was my moment.  She counts to 3.  What am I waiting for?  The camera flashes and she takes our picture.  The camera lady started walking back to us to give us our camera back.  With a quiver in my voice, I asked her once more.

“Ma’am – do you mind to take one more?”

She looked surprised, but said “Sure”.  Vicki looked at me like I was silly.  As I mentioned – she was ready to head to our next stop.

I took a deep breath.  Ok, here goes.

I got down on one knee.

Vicki’s eyes pop open.  She shockingly says, “What are you doing!?!”.

The camera lady started freaking out!

“Will you marry me?”

“YES! Of course!”

Success! We hugged! Kissed! Hugged again.  I yelled out “I AM THE LUCKIEST MAN ALIVE” and all 1 million people simultaneously gave us a standing ovation.  A camera crew came out and interviewed us for the Today Show.

Ok – neither of those last two things happened… but we did hug and kiss!  And laugh!  And call all of our family members!

We then proceeded to spend the rest of the day in New York City.  We went to Central Park and went on a ride around the park.  It was a great day – and it was gotten better every day since then.

My life changed forever that day.  I am so thankful for the wife that God provided for me.

Vicki, I love you so much! Thank you so much for these past 3 years!  Let’s make the next 3, 30, 60, even better! 🙂

Handling Stress

Posted: December 9, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

I’m stressed.

For numerous reasons.

But there’s 2 things I can’t do with my stress:

  1. Take it home with me
  2. Hinder my relationship with God

Normally I handle stress by watching sports or playing a game.  It helps take my mind off things.  Although, ultimately it takes spending a large amount of time with God through prayer, reading the Bible, and listening to powerful worship music to help me calm down, and trust God.

How do you handle stress?

Yesterday in church, my dad spoke about the Wisdom of the Wise Men found in the Christmas story.  The last point of the message was “an encounter with God will change you”.

After the wise men visited with Jesus, they returned to their country a different route. (Matthew 2:12)

This may seem insignificant on the surface – but they were originally tricked into believing that King Herod also wanted to worship Jesus.  They were originally scheduled to return to Herod and tell him where Jesus was staying.  The truth was that Herod had heard that a King had been born and he was threatened by this news.  He wanted to kill Jesus.  After the wise men encountered the Son of GOD, their minds were open to know the truth.  In fact, God spoke to them through a dream and warned them not to return to Herod.

If you truly meet God and have an encounter with Him… it will cause you to change the direction of your life.  Many people have a relationship with God and they have accepted Christ into their lives, but their lives have remained the same.  After a God encounter, you will no longer be able to simply go through the motions.  It will floor you, it will rock you, it will change everything about you.

Will you be perfect?  Not a chance.  But God will continue to restore your soul and bring you renewed passion for Him!

In Psalms 51:10, as David was confessing his sin and pouring his heart out to God – he wrote these awesome words: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  In verse 12 David says “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

That’s worship!  That’s having an encounter!

Ask God to give you a fresh encounter with Him.  This is not something that needs to be done in public.  This encounter could take place in the quietness of your heart, maybe over a lunch break by yourself in your car, maybe at home when everyone else is gone.

I encourage you to read Psalms 51, the entire chapter, and then listen to a song like this… and ask God to give you a fresh glimpse of who He is and open the floodgates of Heaven.

Let it rain! Open the floodgates of Heaven!!!

Malachi 3:10 – “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

In a conversation that took place earlier today I was reminded of some Christmas gifts I received as kid.  Being a Pastor’s kid, we were pretty poor, so Christmas time usually started out with big wishes – only to discover on Christmas morning that this wasn’t the year that we got the big one.  It’s funny because although I’m sure I got really nice stuff for Christmas, for some reason I can only remember the gifts I was disappointed with.  I know… I was probably a selfish unappreciative little brat, but regardless … that little nugget can’t be to encouraging for parents who are currently searching for that perfect gift.

I’ll never forget one Christmas my older brother asked for a TV.  For some reason, he thought this was going to be his year.  As a teenager, this would be a turning point in his life.  Back in those days, even though it was rare for someone to have a TV in their room, in our minds everybody our age had a TV in their room.  This was going to be huge.  Even I was started to get a little excited for him… jealous, well yes that too… but I thought this could possibly benefit me in some way as well.  As Christmas got closer and closer, he was getting more and more excited as he knew he was getting a TV.  When Christmas finally arrived a large box showed up with his name on it.  This was it.  The moment it was all going to change.  The year we start getting the “big gifts” on our list.  We had finally made it!  His turn came to open his gift.  A funny look appeared on his face as he thought “hmmm, I would have guessed a TV would be slightly heavier than this”.  Perhaps he thought that it was a new, much lighter TV.  He tore into the box with much anticipation, ripping through the paper to find a big brown box secured in tape.  Quickly the tape was torn from the edges and he opens up his box to find his brand new, top of the line…  ELECTRIC BLANKET!

Um… Let’s just say this wasn’t a great moment in the Riggins household.

Couple that with the fact that our cousins got motorcycles that year… and yea, things started to get a little ugly.

With Christmas, especially for kids, there is always expectations – sometimes we get what we want, sometimes we get what we need, sometimes we get what we’re told we need.  As I mentioned above, I only remember for the disappointing gifts which means that socks and underwear really stick out.  My most disappointing gift that I remember was an electronic football game.  Talk about a waste of money… although the ads on TV made it look so awesome.  Check out this commercial – this cracks me up — and trust me, this thing absolutely DID NOT do this at all…

So… as a kid, were you ever let down at Christmas?  What was the one thing that you had your hopes up for that Santa forgot to bring you?  Or maybe some of you parents thought you had the perfect gift only to discover it wasn’t quite what your child was looking for?  Any good Christmas gift stories, let’s laugh about it in the comments.

Have  a great weekend!

Some funny things happened this past weekend in the NFL.  A fight, a future Coors Light press conference commercial, and probably the most popular thing an athlete has ever done with his twitter account: blame God for causing him to drop the potential game winning catch.

In case you didn’t see it on  your local news, Sportscenter or the Drudge Report – just about everyone, and I mean everyone has broken down the Stevie Johnson tweet that he sent out after Sunday’s heart-breaking loss to the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers.

Just in case you forgot, or didn’t see what Johnson tweeted… here it is, in its unedited glory:

I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…

When I first saw this on Sunday night, I relayed the tweet to my wife and we began chatting about it.  I don’t recall the exact dialog of our conversation, but I’m sure we were ripping apart the context.  24/7?  Never forget?  Do you think God really cares about the Bills/Steelers game?  And what about Scott Norwood, good thing he didn’t have twitter.  But in the two days have passed since then, I’ve changed my tune a bit.  Basically it starts with Johnson himself.  Consider the following tweets he has sent out:

I learned A lot Within 24hrs. Saw Both Sides.(Ups&Dwns) I AM HAPPY & THANKFUL 4 YESTERDAY! w/out Sunday iWldnt have grew closer w/The Lord!!

And No I Did Not Blame God People! Seriously??!? CMon! I Simply Cried Out And Asked Why? Jus Like yal did wen sumthin went wrong n ur life!

Spoke To Friends Fam Teammates and Most Importantly I Spoke With My Wife. I Honestly Believe Evrything Happens For A Reason! Everything!

I love the honesty!

One thing I love about twitter is sometimes you can see conversations between two high-profile athletes.  If you know anything about Kurt Warner, you will know that he is a God-loving, former Super Bowl MVP winning quarterback for the St Louis Rams and also took the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl… the ARIZONA CARDINALS!  That same Kurt Warner, who has nothing to do with the Buffalo Bills sent the following messages to Stevie Johnson shortly after Johnson’s initial tweet:

@StevieJohnson13 Hey, man, we all have those moments! I had way too many of them… Keep ur head up, U will b on other side next time!

@StevieJohnson13 I asked same thing when released in STL & benched 3 times, But then God did his thing… Be ready! Enjoy watching you play!

How awesome is that?  And not long after those tweets…

Almost Missed Your Tweet Mr. Warner. I Just Want to Say Thank You! Meant A Lot! @kurt13warner

Another thing I read that I really thought was respectable was this report from a Peter King Sports Illustrated article regarding Johnson’s willingness to face the media after the game. 

I got an interesting explanation of what happened with Johnson postgame Sunday from Scott Berchtold, the Bills media-relation poobah. Here it is: “We figured Stevie would address the media at his locker, but he insisted on doing it at the podium. He assured us that he was OK to address the media at the podium and really wanted to do it there, even though we reminded him that he had the option of addressing them at his locker. The bottom line is that Stevie was really a stand-up guy through it all and it was his idea to go to the podium. He didn’t duck anyone and he answered the questions that were asked of him. He was extremely honest in his comments, as I’m sure you saw, and we just thought he deserved a lot of credit for being a stand-up guy in a situation that was, obviously, very emotional and extremely difficult for him.”

Talk about a guy being real.  Isn’t this how the church needs to be?  More real, less fake?  Whether it’s in life or in football, I think we can learn a lot from this situation.

  1. It’s ok to question God’s sovereignty.  Sometimes it’s ok to say “Why God”.  It may be emotional, angry, or a result of total emptiness, and I’m sure we all feel that way at times.  Are we naive to think that Joseph didn’t question God when he was sold into slavery, accused of rape, or completely ignored when put in prison?  What about Job?  We commend Job for “in all this he did not blame God”, but remember he tore his robe in grief, and shaved his head, and fell to the ground.  Real emotion!  These men served God whole-heartedly… but they also faced HUGE negative trials in their lives, but God had GREATER things in store for them… as He did for Kurt Warner when He was cut by the Rams, and as He does for Stevie Johnson… and as He does for me… and you!
  2. Don’t jump to judge someone who expresses their true feelings when dealing with an extremely emotional situation.  A similar recent example of this is when Carlos Whitaker, a Christian musician, recently tweeted the phrase “damn monkey bars” followed by “Seanna my 6 year old just broke her wrist. prayers please…” after his daughter apparently had an accident falling off the, uh, monkey bars.  Predictably, a few people immediately started criticizing @loswhit for his actions calling him “a prominent leader” and he needs to “watch his language”.  Carlos shot back asking why they would judge him, when he was really asking them to pray for his little girl.  He later clarified that in the heat of the moment, that was exactly how he felt and he actually tweeted an edited version of what he really said.  He was real.  Genuine.  Sure… not perfect, but also… not fake.  You can read more about this story here.
  3. Be there to lift up someone who is going through a difficult time. As a fellow Christian, I’m so proud of Kurt Warner.  He just recently went on Dancing with the Stars and worked his tail off to make it as far as he did. Now, while he’s retired and living a full life spending time with his family, took the time to send Johnson the tweet that quite possibly re-opened his eyes to the reality that God has bigger plans in store for Johnson than beating the Pittsburgh Steelers.  When you see someone going through an emotionally tough time – sometimes all it takes is a simple email, tweet, facebook post, card, or phone call to lift them up and remind that God is still in control.  It helps if you’ve experienced a “Why God” moment in your life.  If you have… allow God to use that moment to help others that are currently going through a “Why God” moment.

Bottom line… I commend Stevie Johnson for his questionable faith.  I don’t know what his normal relationship with God is like, whether or not he really praises God 24/7, but quite honestly, that’s not my problem either.  I respect the man for being real, authentic, and transparent.  I admire that, and wish that more Christians would be the same way…  and that fellow Christians would respond with Christ-like attitudes when people of faith admit their true feeling, their fears and their doubts.

For me though, that’s tough… on both sides.  By habit, I’m a hypocrite.  At times I can be fake on the outside and I judge those who are real.  God help me!

So now that the greatest holiday of the year is officially behind us, I feel it’s OK to actually care about Christmas.  I used to be one of these “last minute” guys that waited to do my shopping on Christmas Eve.  But as I’ve gotten older, there is something exciting about Christmas.  I’m not talking about the kind of excitement you have as a kid, it’s a different type of anticipation.  Possibly because this is my first Christmas as a dad, which is AWESOME! Possibly because I’m looking forward to attending a few Christmas parties with some close friends. Possibly because I’m looking forward to visiting Hershey Park’s Candy Lane.  Possibly because I now appreciate GIVING gifts way more than I look forward to receiving gifts.  Whatever it is… I am thankful it’s that time of year.

Over the weekend we put up our Christmas lights, our Christmas tree and all of our little Christmas decorations that go in and around the house.  Last night, my wife made some cookies and then after Naomi fell asleep we played a few games while listening to random Christmas music on the public advertising channel.  (Our version of XM!)  Now all we need is SNOW!

So… as you sink into the “Most Wonderful Time of Year”… I ask you the question: What is your favorite Christmas song?  It can be an old classic like White Christmas, or maybe a newer one like Bebo Norman’s Come and Worship.

I’ll go first…

Are You Likable?

Posted: November 29, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Ben Arment, who has a blog here, had a simple post this morning on The Likability Factor.  His bottom line:

Never overestimate your likability factor. =)

Whether you like it or not… your likability factor affects the perception others have towards you.  Whether it’s business, ministry or life, it affects how others respond to you, whether they respect you, want to listen to you, want to work together with you, enjoy being around you, include you in their “inner-circle”, want to grow with you.

Our day-to-day decisions (big and small), how we respond to our circumstances, and general dialog have a lot to do with creating a high likability factor.

Am I likable?  I like to think I am.  I think most of my friends would say that I am.  But what about strangers at the grocery store, or someone I’m waiting behind at a Red Box kiosk, or someone that has offended me and I hold a grudge against them, or someone that is introvert and doesn’t communicate well, or someone who disagrees with me, or someone I disagree with, or someone that works for me?

Would they consider me likable?

I’m not sure.  Truth is, in most cases I listed above… probably not.

The reality is that sometimes I become so focused on my selfishness, my schedule, and my insecurities that I fail to respond and take advantage of opportunities that would help increase my likability factor.  By responding differently, I could potentially create the possibility to change someones life, or at the very least make their day a little brighter.

I am going to try a little harder this week to be more likable.

Are you likable?

Earlier this week, I blogged about how this was the greatest week of the year.  It only makes sense then that during the greatest week of the year would include the greatest day of the year.  Now obviously you may consider your birthday, wedding anniversary, or even one of your kids birthday’s the greatest day of the year, but this Thursday is a day we ALL collectively (if you live in America) get to celebrate together!    

TO eliminate all future arguments, I’ve created the official Matt Riggins Blog Holiday Ranking Calculator.  Using this simple formula, we are able to figure out what the greatest holiday of the year is.

  1. Is it on the same day every year – 1 pt 
  2. Is it on the same day of the week every year – 2 pts
  3. Do we get any days off work – 1 pt for each day (assuming you don’t work for a school, or the federal government)
  4. Has commercialization ruined the “real reason” for celebrating the holiday – if so subtract 1 pt
  5. Are sports played on this day – 2 pts for pro or college football; 1 pt for basketball; 1 pt for baseball
  6. Do you celebrate with family – 1 pt for immediate family; 2 pts for extended family
  7. What type of food is served – rank on a scale of 1-5
  8. Are gifts given – 2 pts

I took an imaginary poll in my mind and figured out that the top 4 Holidays are Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.  There are other holidays that would probably end up on your list, especially if your jewish, or live in another country… but since this is my list, I’m going to assume those are the top 4.  Here’s how they ranked up against each other.

Easter

  1. 0
  2. 2
  3. 0
  4. -1
  5. 0
  6. 1
  7. 4
  8. 0

Total: 6 points

Thanksgiving

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 2
  4. 0
  5. 2
  6. 2
  7. 5
  8. 0

Total: 14 points

Christmas

  1. 1
  2. 0
  3. 1
  4. -1
  5. 1 (since football isn’t played every year, only counted basketball)
  6. 2
  7. 3
  8. 2

Total: 9 points

New Years

  1. 1
  2. 0
  3. 1
  4. 0
  5. 2
  6. 1
  7. 3
  8. 0

Total: 8 points

 There you have it folks.  It really wasn’t even very close.  Thanksgiving destroyed the rest of the field with a total of 14 points. 

So, the next time someone asks you what your favorite holiday is, just point them to the Matt Riggins Blog Holiday Ranking Calculator.  

Perhaps I missed something in my ranking system.  Let us know in the comments and we can add it into the fail-proof formula. 

Regardless of whether you agree with me or not – Have an extremely Happy Thanksgiving… and speaking of thanks, THANK YOU so much for reading my blog and being apart of this little community.

A Great Surprise Story!

Posted: November 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

I love surprises!

Who doesn’t love a great surprise?

When I turned 30 my wife through a surprise birthday party for me, and walking into a room with 40 people yelling SURPRISE!! was one of the most shocking moments in the last year.  It was during March Madness so I knew my cousins were here but I had no idea so many other people would be at my brothers house waiting to surprise me when we walked in.  It was a great moment, I got to see some old friends and best part – we were all celebrating MY birthday.  Kudos to my wife for pulling it off.

So, over the past year, I have searched for opportunities to return the favor.  2 weeks ago while I was in Atlanta, and she was in Lynchburg, Virginia, I was finally presented with the perfect scenario.

My Uncle (who lives in Roanoke, Va) showed up at my Grandma’s funeral. This was surprising to me, because my Uncle is on my mom’s side of the family, the funeral was for my Grandma from my dad’s side of the family.  Regardless of how confusing that last sentence sounded, the reality was I was not expecting him to be there.  As we spoke the night of the viewing, I had an idea… so I asked him.

“Would you mind if I rode back to Virginia with you after the funeral tomorrow and you dropped me off in Lynchburg?”

For those of you not familiar with the Virginian geography, Lynchburg is only about a 45 minute drive from Roanoke.

“Sure!” He says, “I’d love the company for the 8 hour drive”.

I had a plane ticket already with my name on it for the morning after the funeral.  I was scheduled to fly back with my 2 brothers and my sister-in-law.  My wife was expecting to see me around 1 o’clock Friday afternoon when she would arrive home from visiting her family in Virginia.

Truth is.  I missed her.  And I missed Naomi.

So as soon as the funeral was over, I got in my Uncle’s car and we headed for Virginia.  Our anticipated arrival was about 9 o’clock.

After we stopped and ate at Subway, sat in traffic in South Carolina for 45 minutes, and took 20 minutes to change a flat tire, we were behind schedule a bit.  My Uncle didn’t seem to mind.  He’s an adventurous type and was telling me stories the whole time.  He’s a Pastor of a large church in Virginia so it was great to talk to him about so many different things.

As we drove, I started to get texts from Vicki.  Most were simple as she was telling me about her evening, and how she was getting ice cream with her brother.  She had no idea I was heading in her direction.  Then at 10 o’clock as we were about 15 minutes away from her, I got the text that I was worried about getting the whole time.

“Whatcha doing? I hate not knowing”

This night the Baltimore Ravens were playing the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL.  This was cool, because being in Atlanta, everyone would be watching the game.  I had mentioned earlier in the week that I was looking forward to watching the game with my cousins husband Scott.  What would I say now?  Well, thankfully I have an iPhone and was tracking the game results on my phone, so the following statement was not a lie.

“Football game, I’ll call you in 20 mins or so. Nomes still awake?”

I could not wait to make that call.

15 minutes later we pull into her driveway.  My plan was perfect.  I was going to have her step outside and look to the sky to see if she can see the same stars as me.  This was a game we used to play back in our dating days when we were apart from each other.  From just off her front porch, I called her gave her the idea.

She goes out the back door!

NO! I think to myself… starting to panic.

I start walking around back… I can hear her talking through both the phone and my other ear.  I’m getting closer to her.  My heart pounding!

“I’m going back inside… it’s freeezing out here!”

NO! AGAIN!

I get around back just in time to see the door shut.  She was on a deck and I’m on the ground, so I can’t just follow her inside.

Meanwhile, it’s dark so I continue to walk around to the front of the house, all while carrying on the now awkward, non-flowing conversation.

Finally I decide to just walk in the front door.  Thankfully it was unlocked.

Her parents are on the couch watching a movie.  They were the first to see me, and they look at me like I’m a ghost.  I smile. They smile back.  I put my finger to my lips as to indicate to be quiet and point to the phone on my ear to indicate I am talking to their daughter.  They point in the direction of the back room .  Not saying a word the whole time, I walk around the corner into her sight.

She gasped! Her jaw dropped.

“OH MY GOODNESS!”

Imagine the feeling of thinking the person you are talking to on the phone is 300 miles away, and now they are wrapping their arms around you.

She didn’t exactly know what to say, except to smile, laugh, hug me back!

It was awesome!

Unfortunately Naomi was asleep but that didn’t stop me from laying beside her in her bed and kissing on her.

I love surprises!

Who doesn’t love a great surprise??

How about you?  Do any of you have any good surprise stories that you can share?  Doesn’t have to be as long and detailed to what I just shared.  Toss it in the comments – maybe you’ll give the rest of us a good idea for our next surprise opportunity.

Greatest Week of the YEAR!

Posted: November 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

Welcome to the greatest week of the year!

The kids are out of school, at most it’s a 3 day work week, and there’s probably a road trip scheduled in there somewhere.

Wednesday is considered the busiest travel day of the year and Friday is considered the busiest shopping day of the year.  And as a bonus, if you live in Pennsylvania – Monday is a holiday as well… the 1st day of deer season!

All this results in a week-long celebration of Thanksgiving!

This year things are a little different for us.  For the first time in years, we will not be making the trip to Virginia to spend time with my Aunt/Uncle, cousins and their families.  This was a tough pill to swallow when I first heard the news, but with our families growing so much, we would have soon been forced to sell tickets to guarantee space and seating.

Since no one wanted to contact Ticketmaster, the decision was made to start new traditions.

So this year no matter how things go, remember to relax and enjoy the day with whoever God has brought in your life.  Maybe everyone is not together like has been in past years.  Maybe someone is missing from Thanksgiving due to getting older and families growing like us.  Or maybe it’s much worse because of tragedy, death,  or rebellion.  Or quite possibly, some family members are serving in the military or they’ve simply moved away.  No matter what, remember that God is still with us, and really that’s the most important thing we have to be thankful for.

Think about this:

“The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts… nevertheless, they set aside a day of thanksgiving.”

If anyone had it rough, it was our founding fathers.  Let’s consider how thankful they were and agree to join them with a thankful attitude… no matter what our circumstances.

As per yesterday’s sermon at New Life… here’s a few ways to RELAX:

  • R ealize my worth (James 1:18)
  • E njoy what I already have (Ecc 3:13)
  • L imit my labor (Ex 20:9-10)
  • A djust my values (Mark 8:36)
  • X change my pressure for God’s peace (Matt 11:28-30)

This week, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, be sure to add REST and RELAX to your “to do list”.

Don’t overwork. Don’t over-stress. Don’t over analyze.

Most importantly… Slow down and ENJOY this week.  After all – it’s the greatest week of the year!