Monday, November 26, 2012

Unusual Thanksgiving

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Last week was our American Thanksgiving holiday.  The advertisements on television, showed beautiful homes (no dust bunnies), beautiful people, and the most perfect turkey you can dream of.  No one in my family has ever been able to cook the perfect looking turkey : )  As a photographer, I'm thinking plastic with gel on it.  I don't recall my Grandmother wearing diamond jewelry to dinner either.

This year's Thanksgiving was different from most.  Because of the storm, my husband had to miss some days of work.  He had to make up the time on Thanksgiving.  The whole staff in the Nursing Home was there with him.  He got home late.  I made a frozen turkey loaf with gravy, instant mashed potatoes, dressing, and heated a can of corn.  It was a feast with some pumpkin pie and whip cream.  I was so grateful to have my kitchen back, for our meal and my husband.  He still makes my heart dance when he gets home.  Ok, so last night he ate the last 2 pieces of pie by himself...  no one's perfect.

The News showed how a group of people went to Long Island, NY and made Thanksgiving dinner for those without homes.  I felt such pride that people would go out of their way to make someone else's holiday special.  Then the camera zoomed in on an older woman.  She was holding back tears as she said, "This is hard.  I usually make Thanksgiving dinner.  My family gets together.  I don't have a kitchen."

Sometimes being thankful isn't how we feel at all.  Thankfulness isn't really a feeling, it's a choice.  And sometimes it's ok to just cry.  Most of us can think of all the possessions and people we are thankful for.  When I'm down, it's amazing how choosing to thank God, lifts my spirits.  

Everyday is a day of thanksgiving for Christians.  We have much to be thankful for!  Here's a great song by Matt Redman,   10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) link.  I just raised the roof in my studio singing along : )

I found these Thanksgiving Psalms the other night.  It seemed like the Lord turned the pages of my Bible to what He wanted me to read.

Psalm 100

1 Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

Psalm 103

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

6 The Lord executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
9 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children's children,
18 To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.
19 The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.
21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.
22 Bless the Lord, all His works,
In all places of His dominion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lessons Learned from Superstorm Sandy

1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of your wings
I will take refuge,
Until these calamities have passed by.
2 I will cry out to God Most High,
To God who performs all things for me.
Psalm 57:1-2 NKJV

It's so amazing how the Bible still applies to us today : )  Our calamities change with the generations, but God's Word is still active (Hebrews 4:12).

The east coast of the USA, has had an intense few weeks.  We came through the storm just fine, with no damage.   Not everyone did.  There were many losses along the New Jersey and New York shores.  People learned to pull together in new ways.

My Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,
I lift up those without power to You.  I pray You will step into the center of the problems and help them get heat for their homes.  Where there is confusion and politics let there be a single focus, to save lives.  Where there is fear bring peace and hope.  Let Your love and amazing compassion be known to all.  Let them know of Your presence.  Renew the spirits of those who are working so hard to help out.  Guide the homeless to safety, through this frightening journey.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

After the storm

In my last post I mentioned the wooden cross in Ocean Grove.  The video below is a bike tour right after the storm.  The wooden cross was replaced by a metal pipe cross.  It goes by quickly but you can see it.
Ocean Grove Boardwalk Bike Ride After Superstorm Sandy (Youtube)

Last year I did a photo shoot through Ocean Grove before the storm.  I wrote about it in my photo blog, if you'd like to see it before the storm.  It also tells the story of this Christian community.  I did the blog posts in reverse order wasn't sure how to do it properly on a blog...
Ocean Grove before Superstorm Sandy (link to my photo blog)

I realize most countries and states are more experienced with major storms than we are.  I'm writing some of my lessons learned in case someone else can use them.  I am a new storm survivor.  We did have Hurricane Irene last year.  If anyone has other ideas please feel free to share them.

My Lessons Learned (the hard way...)
  1. I put a tablecloth on the coffee table and made it our station for candles, the radio, flashlights, matches, my Kindle (has the Bible in it)...   We got to use our gigantic wedding candle!  I put all the breakables on the washing machine (knew we wouldn't be using it for awhile).  It worked out well, we knew what to bump into to get a flashlight.
  2. If you don't have a generator, get one in an off season.  They are less expensive and more available.
  3. It takes gasoline to operate a generator.  In our case, it was hard to get into the state after the storm.  We ran out of gas...  So, we could only run the generator until it ran out of gas.
  4. My neighbor suggested boiling large pans of water on the gas stove (if you can) for heat.  It worked really well.  Use common sense:  don't leave the house or go to sleep with the stove on.  Gas isn't our friend.
  5. The generator wasn't on long enough to save our food in the refrigerator.  I learned that you can fill all the tupperware bowls (or a large pan) with water and freeze them.  Put them in the refrigerator when the power goes out, the food will last.
  6. Check trees around the house before a storm.  If any are damaged or leaning, it's wise to take them down.  Trees caused the majority of damage in towns not on the Jersey shore.  
  7. Make sure everyone's thermal underwear, hats, gloves, coats, etc. are in a place you can find them.  It's really hard to find things when the power goes out : )
  8. Keep a stock of canned goods.  Canned goods are great.  I could heat up some stew or ravioli on the gas stove in a pan.  They can also be cooked on a fire.  Stock up before a storm is announced.
  9. Buy fruit that doesn't need to be refrigerated.  Bananas and apples are great to help with the nutritional value of canned food.  Maybe raisins and dried fruit too.  (I'm not an expert on this...)
  10. Make sure everyone in the state knows what the law is when the traffic lights go out.  People had their own interpretation in New Jersey.  Some stopped and some hit the gas pedal, "Free at last!"  Unfortunately, we had lots of accidents on top of the storm recovery.  I stopped at a dark traffic light, only to see the woman in the opposite lanes get rear-ended.  The police and fire department had way too much to deal with.  It kept them from helping storm victims.
  11. Cats make great lap warmers.  Our 20 lb. cat sat on my lap and it was like an electric blanket : )
  12. Keep a good stock of batteries in the house for the radio, flashlights, lanterns, cell phone charging.  Make a list of what you need and buy them before the storm is announced. You can still purchase Boom boxes that play CDs, the radio, cassettes and run on batteries : )  I may be the only one in the world, who's thrilled about this!
  13. It was really nice not watching TV.  We missed a lot of campaign ads.  Yes!!!  Got to know my hubby again.  I married a good guy.
Feel free to comment if you like : )