Today is November 1st, and in the Adirondacks, when November comes, it means several things. First of all, it means hunting season is in full swing. People are trying to fill freezers with fresh meat for the winter months that are just ahead. There have already been great preparations with the garden harvest, that now over-flows root cellars and pantries. Filled canning jars line storage shelves, and wood has been split to dry, and piled high. Rich stews are slowly cooking in oven-warmed kitchens, and loaves of steaming bread are placed on cooling racks.
November is a month of dramatic changes, where the world has gone from brilliant splashes of October color, to gray twigs rattling in a cold, north wind. Pale sunlight streams down to highlight the last brown and yellow leaves of birch, beach and ash trees, as they fall to their final winter resting place. It is a month where we pause to think, and remember, and ponder the good things of our past, and look forward to the joy of Thanksgiving. The food and family, that have not yet found their voice, will do so soon enough!
In many ways, November cements the years together for me. It is the culmination of what has been, and the anticipation of what is yet to come. It is the nostalgic glue of years gone by, where half-remembered stories of family history, are told once again to another generation. It is prayer with friends and family, around a Thanksgiving table that is heaped with roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, cranberry sauce, orange-cranberry stuffing, and apple and pumpkin pies. It is hot spiced apple cider, sipped from warm mugs, on evenings when the first snow flakes fall to the ground.
It is a month were the precious time we have together, around the table, restores ancient family ties, builds new memories and reconnects old friends. Most of all, November is the month were I am drawn closer and closer to the One who loves me. All the food, the family, and the friends I enjoy, serve to remind me of how it all comes from God. He is the author of every good and perfect gift. Each mouth-full of food, or explosion of laughter, echoes His endless affection for me. The mouth-watering aroma of a fresh baked apple pie, just pulled from the oven, opens me to the delight of thanking God in a new and deeper way.
If November causes you to struggle with thoughts of the snow that is about to come, or dark, cold morning drives to work, perhaps you may need to re-frame how you think about it. In fact, all of life can easily be re-framed, but where you focus your attention plays a very important role in that process. Focus on what goes wrong, and that’s exactly what you will see. Focus on what might go wrong , and you will become the agent of your own undoing. However, good changes begin when you begin to give thanks, and I mean give thanks in everything, not for everything! There is power in what God says about this, and it is quite a shock for most people. The point is, Scripture says a thankful heart pleases God, and it creates a thankful life, and this is what unlocks the potential in us all.
This November, take a moment when friends and family are gathered around your Thanksgiving table, and really give thanks for what you see. Look into the faces, hear the stories, embrace the laughter and savor every moment as a treasured memory. Don’t be in such a hurry to get to what’s next. Slow down, and enjoy the time you have, like you were savoring a rare wine. If you do, it will fill your heart with joy, and be a source of great blessing to you, and the generations that follow. This can be yours simply because you learned to enjoy the life you see all around you, when November comes.