Make Blessing Bags

Making blessing bags for homeless people is a nice addition to your Thanksgiving holiday. We all know Thanksgiving should be much more than turkey, football and family close-encounters. An approach based on Christian mindfulness turns the day into a celebration of gratitude and a chance to help others.

Blessing bags can be in your car or your bag (if you take a train or bus around town) all year. When you see a homeless person asking for money, you can ask them if they would like the bag.

A Blessing Bag

Use a see-through container – either a large ZipLock bag or a see-through plastic bag. Then fill it with items to feed and help the homeless, such as:

  • Warm socks
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Face masks
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Beef jerky
  • Trail mix
  • Granola bars
  • Peanut butter crackers
  • Mints
  • Lip balm
  • A washcloth
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Single-dose packs of pain reliever
  • Band-Aids
  • Comb and brush
  • Bottled water
  • Hand warmers
  • Deodorant
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Tampons for women
  • Fast food restaurant gift cards
  • A few dollars
  • A note of blessing (You can buy a pack of blessing notes at Hobby Lobby.)

If you keep a place in your home for blessing bag materials, you can put packages you get at the dentist and other freebies in the bag. Assembling these bags can make a great Thanksgiving activity for kids and other family members.

Other aspects of a mindful Christian Thanksgiving can include:

  • Send thank you cards to people who have made your life better this year.
  • Create a gratitude pumpkin for your table.
  • Spend time writing down your blessings.
  • Thank God for answered prayers.

Let’s Build the City of God

Hildegard of Bingen … a woman so far ahead of her time … gives us good advice for today. As we stay in our homes, she urges us to build the City of God.

We can do it in Christian mindfulness. We can do it when we cling to Jesus and his vision of eternal peace on Earth.

Hildegard believed that God is generous toward those who, in good times and bad, faithfully work to build the City of God. These people avoid destructive quarrels, hatred and envy. They work with a calm attitude doing good for others.

Being kind of everyone at home. Being patient with pandemic restrictions. Spending free time in prayer and spiritual reading. All this can help us to build the City of God at home.

Think the World Needs Prayer?

To walk into Thanksgiving with Christian mindfulness, we need to remember two things:

  1. Our purpose on Earth is to glorify God.
  2. God says prayer is important.

Today, on the day before our pandemic Thanksgiving, take some time to go before God with your unanswered prayers. The nation, the world, the sick and the healthy all need our prayers today.

I feel we also need to pray for healing of our image of God. He is loving, never vulgar, never hateful. He wants to spend time with us. He wants us to give him time in gratitude and praise, so He can work on our minds and our ways.

The image of God and the church has been blackened for too many in recent years in the United States. We have linked political expediency to God’s will. God is not shy about telling us that He expects us to love our neighbors, not to view them with suspicion and hatred.

It’s time to see what God says to us about our role in resolving these unanswered prayers. We can only do that through time for prayer and thanksgiving. May peace come to our hearts and to our nation.

thank you signage

Use the Mail to Say Thanks

The U.S. Postal Service has been a great blessing in pandemic life. This Thanksgiving, use it to bless others.

Sit in prayer and contemplate the people who have made your life better during this year. Then send them a card or a hand-written note to tell them how much you appreciate them.

Remember to thank doctors, nurses and health care providers, as well as those who work in senior care facilities.

It’s special to get thanks through the mail, especially when you don’t expect it. Spreading love and gratitude is godly this season. So extend your Thanksgiving by reaching through quarantine to give your thanks.

Thanksgiving in a Pandemic

If you are alive to read this, you have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. But it may not feel like it.

Let’s turn this time into a deep harvest of gratitude toward God. He will be at your table on Thanksgiving, even if many loved ones are not.

Thanksgiving in a pandemic may need an extra dose of Christian mindfulness to be memorable. Let’s start with this step. Reflect and think: What do you appreciate the most about the people you’ve been in quarantine with? How have they made the time pleasant?

Today, thank them for the character qualities and personality quirks that have gotten you through 2020 so far. It’s a first step toward a real Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Twinems

Almighty God, to you belongs the sea, for you made it, and the dry land shaped by your hand.  We hold the riches of the universe only in trust.

Make us honest stewards of your creation, careful of the good earth you have given us, compassionate and just in sharing its bounty with the whole human family.

Thank you for your generosity to us.  Please give us the graces necessary to remain grateful to you every day.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Go Before the Lord With Unanswered Prayers

My Thanksgiving Eve tradition is to a) cook as much as possible beforehand and b) spend 30 minutes going before the Lord with my unanswered prayers.

This year that includes a prayer for decent weather for a seven-hour one-way drive. The prayers also include well-worn requests for healing for people I love. The Lord knows best, but He has also encouraged us to be as relentless as the old widow in asking for things.

This period of prayer sets us up for mindful and joyful Thanksgiving. In her book, “Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough,” Kay Warren wrote, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to pray God in all things.”

This experience is one of the unanswered prayers I will offer as I ask for the grace to make it become a daily experience.

What Do You Love Most About Them?

Preparing our hearts for Thanksgiving often takes place as we prepare our various recipes for the meal. As I type, the pie crust is thawing.

Still, an easy way to bring more joy and peace to your Thanksgiving dinner table is spending a few minutes to think about the people who will be sitting there.

Take just a few minutes to write down what you love most about them. Some even suggest writing a notecard to sit at each person’s plate so you can share your appreciation.

Being mindful about the people who gather round the table gives you extra peace and joy even if all goes hectic in the kitchen on Thursday.

Giving Thanks for Answered Prayer

As you received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in fate, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Colossians 2:6-7

Keeping a gratitude journal … it’s a recommendation from everyone from Oprah to Judy in my small group. If you haven’t kept one, it’s a great time to start.

A gratitude journal focuses on the blessings in your life, re-centering you on God’s gifts. Looking back through the pages, we may find numerous blessings that we’ve forgotten about in the rush of the world. This journal would be helpful in doing another great practice of mindful Christianity today: Spending 30 minutes thanking God for our answered prayers.

So pick up your journal or your list of blessings written earlier this week. Take some time to walk (or sit) with the Lord today to let him know that you’ve noticed how He has blessed you.