Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love. Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it!” Hebrews 13:1-2 The Message


This morning, as a cold rain falls in Georgia, my heart and mind are turned toward the upcoming holiday. I love Thanksgiving! This holiday holds many snapshots of memories for me, as I am sure it does for you, of people and places I have celebrated God’s abundance.  As my mind turns toward the past, I’m going to attempt to share some memories that might spark some ideas for you as you plan and prepare for next week’s celebration.

In my eleventh year, my world suddenly became outwardly focused as the church my parents were deeply involved in hosted a group of Indian refugees from Uganda, Africa. These families literally lived in the old house where our church met.  On Sundays, the old musty smell of the house was transformed to the scents of curry and other spices. We graciously shared space with a group of families until proper homes could be found. My mom assisted the men in job searches and the women in shopping for their needs. The families added a layer of intrigue and interest to our Fellowship House as we tried to communicate with these precious folks who did not speak much English. The children were enrolled in school and began to learn English. They became translators for their moms and dads!

That Thanksgiving my mom invited one family, the Khumbars, to our home to share Thanksgiving with our family. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned how deeply honoring an invitation to eat at your home  was to someone from this culture. I really can’t remember the awkwardness of the differences in food and likes and dislikes plus the language barrier. I know it must have been a reality. What I do remember is that my family stepped out of their comfort zone to welcome another family, who was far from their home, to ours. It made a lasting impact on a young, eleven year old girl.

What was so amazing to me was that my mom, an only child, really wasn’t a great cook. My siblings and I laugh about her culinary failures! However, our table was one of welcome over my growing up years. We never knew who Dad would invite, usually last-minute, to eat dinner with us. For me, as a child, it was great training to learn how to interact and talk with adults! This tradition carried on through my high school years and many moves.

As an adult and a mother of growing children, I began to follow the tradition set forth by my mom. As Thanksgiving approached, my husband and I would begin to think and pray about who we would invite to come to our house for dinner. One year it was a single mom and her children. Another year it was college students who couldn’t get home to their families. The boys from the group home and their counselor was probably the most heart breaking for us. And then came the year that we invited an Indian family who had associated with our church in Jackson, TN; the Alex family. That particular year my mom and dad were coming to our house for Thanksgiving. How precious it was for me to see my parents, who taught me so much about welcoming the stranger in, interacting with this family at my house, where we were carrying on their legacy!

Our home became a place of welcome and hospitality, just like my parent’s home had been as I grew up. Were there awkward moments and challenges for our kids? Of course! But they were taught and encouraged to welcome the stranger in and share a meal or even a home with them! Our lives were enriched by the stories and experiences of others as we broke bread together. As we shared meals, we shared Jesus’ love and grace. We were walking out our faith, using our home as a place of welcome and refuge.




This year our Thanksgiving table will be filled with family: four generations. We will eat wonderful food, enjoy the beautiful decorations loving hands made, and celebrate life in the moment. Perhaps my Jamaican neighbors across the street might join us as they are new to our area and may not have family with them. Perhaps there might even be someone else God will reveal to eat with us. One of my prayers will be that the legacy my parents gave me will continue to the next generation. I pray that my children and grandchildren will open their home to the stranger…

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.  Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:1-2 NIV


2 thoughts on “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

  1. Thanks you for sharing. Thanksgiving is definitely a wonderful time to share with friends and family and to give thanks.
    Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving


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