Thanksgiving Tradition


Holidays are a part of every season. Part of what makes holidays so memorable are the traditions we create each year. Some of the traditions are cultural. Some of them are specific to religion, country of origin, or personal family customs.

Thanksgiving in America comes with some stringent traditions. Most of us wouldn’t think of celebrating without turkey and pumpkin pie. Other cultural traditions are semi-optional, like cranberry sauce (yuck) and football.

Here, in Detroit, we have the option of freezing our rear ends off  while we watch the parade march down Woodward Avenue (yes, the one in the song). In addition, we torture ourselves by watching our native football team (Detroit Lions: you probably have not heard of them) fail miserably in their annual Thanksgiving Day game.


Traditions are important, but they can also drive us crazy with anxiety and stress. We work so diligently to bring back those memories and feelings of the past. Sometimes we are left empty and depressed because it doesn’t meet our unrealistic expectations.

If you find that your traditions are causing you more grief than joy, then here are a few things you can do this holiday season.

Stop and Reflect

Takes some time to stop and reflect on those traditions and customs that seem to rule your holiday. Why do you do them? Why or how did it begin? Do you find any value in continuing this tradition? What would happen if you didn’t do it?

Consider a Break

Consider taking a year off from that particular tradition. It may be that it doesn’t fit with your current season of life. It doesn’t mean you can’t reinstitute it next year. It simply means you are taking a break.

Consider a New Tradition

Seasons come and go. It may be that you are now the parent/grandparent. And with your role change comes new traditions and customs to pass along. Sometimes we cling so tightly to the past that we forget to experience the present. Be creative. Let go of the past to begin something new.

Be Thankful

Take some time this holiday season to be thankful. Your stress may be that you have not stopped to enjoy the traditions you already have now. Learn to be truly present this holiday season and enjoy each tradition God has given to you.

For my family, we are doing something new this year. We are still keeping some of those things unique to our family, but we are reshaping them for a new day. But, yes, there will still be turkey!


Recliner Recommendations [November]


People ask me what I am reading, watching, or listening to. Here are some Recliner Recommendations for the month of November.

Audiobook: Presence by Amy Cuddy

I’m currently listening to this book in audio form (about 97% done). I give it a five-star rating! Amy has done her research well and tells us how we can learn to be present even in stressful situations. This book has great implications for those of us who struggle with self-doubt or insecurity. But it is equally provocative for the high-achiever. Put it on your “must read” list!

Podcast: Introvert Entrepreneur 

I started listening to this podcast a few months ago. It is an excellent resource for those who recognize themselves as introverts. Beth Bielow gives advice on how we can be successful when we lean into our introversion. And her guests are equally encouraging.

Watching: The Blacklist 

I’m not much of a television person. However, there is usually one show I am following. Right now, it’s The Blacklist. James Spader is amazing! It’s my fun outlet and I hope you check it out.

Reading: The Homiletical Plot by Lowry

I’m reading this book in paperback form. I know. Some of us still do that sort of thing! It is a challenging read, but I am finding it helpful. It is written for the pastor, but I can see it would be useful for anyone who gives oral presentations.

Sermon Series: Half Truths by Adam Hamilton

I recently finished preaching a series inspired by Adam Hamilton’s book, Half Truths. We had a great response from this series. So many found freedom from misrepresented doctrine they had come to believe. It would be a great resource for pastors or individuals.

Scripture I’m pondering:

“But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites…” Exodus 1:12

Hope these are helpful. Check it out and pass it on. And feel free to share your own recommendations in the comments.




Her Name was Vada


Her name was Vada. It means “famous ruler”. I looked it up. But it doesn’t accurately describe her.

Vada was a godly woman in my Bible study and I was a fairly new Christian. She was one of the first Christian women I met who exuded strength and humility with equal fervor.

I didn’t know her well. There are many who knew her journey and her character up close and personal. My knowledge of her was as an observer. But I did know her. She called me by name. We chatted in the hallway on a few occasions.

Vada was a persevering soul. God had given her more than her fair share of trouble in this world. Her childhood was tumultuous, yet she overcame it with grace. Her marriage endured a season of ill health. So she cared for her husband and children while working full time as a teacher. And she pressed on in her faith.


I didn’t have the honor of watching her walk through those tough days. Instead, I saw the person she became from walking through those tough times. Vada clung to her God and her faith community during the darkest of days. I imagine there were times she thought she wouldn’t make it. But she pressed into God and pressed on in faith.

It was her persevering spirit that I admired, but it was her unshakable confidence in God that captured my heart. She was such a quiet person until she stood to teach the Word. It was then you saw the strength in her legs and conviction in her heart. She knew God! And God knew her!

You may be walking through the tough days now. And God is shaping you to become the person He wants you to be in the midst of those tough times. You may be tempted to run from God and these trials. Instead, let this become what establishes unshakable confidence in God.

Today, you are being transformed. Tomorrow, you will be able to stand in humility. Take heart! Jesus has overcome the world, even your world.