I just returned from the North Central Hearts at Home conference in Rochester, Minnesota. Loved it! What could be better? 2750 moms. Great speakers. A hilarious improv comedy team. The opportunity to speak to hundreds of moms in workshop sessions—and to speak with many face to face at our Mom to Mom table. A chance to see my sweet husband “working” the table and telling lots of moms about what Mom to Mom meant to husbands—a first. Thank you, Woody!
I always come home from such weekends with my head—and heart—full of stories. Yes, lots of smiling moms and funny stories and good laughs. But also stories of hard places—very very hard places. Stories of struggling kids and gasping marriages and leukemia and hospice and moms (yes, even moms) making bad decisions to leave families for old flames or imagined love.
Maybe that’s why the pilgrims on my dining room table are so important to me this week, this week before Thanksgiving. The pilgrims belonged to Woody’s mom. They were always on her dining room table. Thanksgiving was Mom Anderson’s holiday. Most years we traveled to spend it with her, especially in the years after Dad Anderson died.
Which brings me to what the pilgrims most remind me about. It’s Psalm 34. And it takes me back to one Fall many years ago when Woody’s dad was in the hospital for 9 weeks, dying by inches of a rare and never-diagnosed blood disease at the age of 52. Every day, Mom drove from her home in the suburbs into Chicago to sit by his hospital bed all day long. And nearly every day they read together a paraphrase of Psalm 34. This paraphrase was read at Dad’s funeral. That Christmas, we commissioned an artist friend to do a beautiful calligraphy of Psalm 34 which hung in Mom’s living room till she died. Years later, the same paraphrase was read at her funeral—the day before Thanksgiving.
“I feel at times as if I can never cease praising God. Come and rejoice with me over His goodness!” That’s how the paraphrase starts. An unlikely place to begin when you’re sitting by a hospital bed. Or worrying about a sick child. Or how you’ll make the money stretch to the end of the month. An unlikely Thanksgiving Psalm. But a good one. A psalm for all seasons of life. For all those twists and turns . . .
So I share it with you as my Thanksgiving Hymn this year. I hope it can be yours, too.