Published by Kelly Wilson on 14 Nov 2021

Thanksgiving Tips 2021

If you are alive to read this post, you have something to be thankful for!

As we approach the 2021 Thanksgiving Holiday, I am reminded of the tumultuous year that we have lived through. I won’t list anything other than the word covid – which I know is usually spelled with a capital c – but it makes me feel like we take away some of the “ominous-ness” by using a lower case c.

I love the Thanksgiving holiday because it brings together so many of my favorites things… I get to cook, eat, and prayerfully host some of my family and friends. I get to be a little lazy and lounge the day of and day after, if I choose to.  For many of you, there is a weekend of celebrating with extended friends and family who are in town. And best of all – we take time to tell God how grateful we are for blessing us.

Psalm 111:1 captures this sentiment beautifully…

I will thank the Lord with all my heart, as I meet with his godly people.

Isn’t this a great passage to describe Thanksgiving!

To help you get ready, here is my 2021 list of Thanksgiving tips and ideas…

12.    If you haven’t done so yet, now is a good moment think about the people you can safely celebrate with this year. Try to confirm whether these people are available and willing to gather. And if yes, determine how and where. Is it dinner in person, or a Zoom meeting after dining with the people you can eat with? Or is it a gathering on a different day?

11.    Once you know this, those who are hosting/cooking can plan the menu. I usually type my plan on a spreadsheet. (See the screen shot below.) I list the dish, the person who is making it, and if it’s me, when I will cook it. Some things get cooked well in advance and they go into the freezer. Most are cooked the day before. My list helps me not forget things people are looking forward to and also to pace myself and to help from other people.

10. I have noticed that turkeys might not be as plentiful this year. Rather than fret, this could be a chance to try a new protein. One year my mom made fried chicken to go with the turkey. From that point on our family demanded friend chicken and most only eat turkey when the chicken runs out. Or you could roast a whole chicken and have a similar look as a traditional turkey. What ever you have – it will be delicious – if you cook it with love and thanksgiving like the first celebrants did.

9.    I find that the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving are a perfect time to clean out your refrigerator and freezer. You are going to need that space for the feast and leftovers. I typically plan to cook and eat whatever is currently in the frig/freezer. I candidly have more this year because of covid. I trust we will be eating some creative combinations…

8.      If you are making a dish for the first time, or one you haven’t made in a long time, consider making a small sample as a practice dry run. That way you will be confident when the big dinner arrives.

7.      If you are hosting the dinner, layout the serving dishes that you plan to use a few days in advance. That way you will know what you have and what you might want to borrow from friends or family.

7.      Take pictures of the preparation and throughout the big day. Don’t worry about posting them anywhere. Just keep them, the good, the bad, the ugly, like the dozen uncooked yeast rolls that my dog pulled from the table before I got a chance to bake them, to savor during future holidays. (And if you must share just do a quick air drop to people in the house.) These photos may become precious mementos like the one below of my mom, who is now celebrating in heaven.

5.      If you are a house guest staying at someone else’s abode, ask how you can help. Men folk, maybe you can keep an eye on all the garage cans in the house and be the emptier/bag replacer. My favorite guests help clean the mountain of dishes from dinner. That is one of the best gifts that can be given.

4.      If we have a large crowd, our dining room table isn’t big enough for all our guests to sit there. So we dress-up the kitchen table and add a cute table in the family room, so the football heads can watch the game while they enjoy the meal after we say grace. Each is decorated and set with plates and utensils that guests can carry through the buffet line. This can be a great strategy to help manage create social distancing spaces.

3.      Consider setting up the food buffet style. We sit our dishes around our kitchen countertops so folks can serve and get seconds easily. I try to make it attractive while self-sustaining once the eating begins. Keep plenty of hand sanitizing handy so people can be safe. And wear masks while fixing plates, especially if guests have not taken the vaccine.

2.      Make it a priority to enjoy the process of cooking, cleaning, visiting. Make sure you laugh. Play encouraging music or listen to books on tape/CD while you cook and clean or pack if you are traveling. (Check out this playlist of music written by Vince Guaraldi – for inspiration. And definitely watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special. Make popcorn and toast as your show-watching snack if you dare. Gather up some board games to play when Thanksgiving dinner is over.

1.      As you finish reading this post please take a moment to tell God how grateful you are for His grace and mercy in your life. Be thankful this Thanksgiving holiday and don’t stop. (Just like Psalm 103:1-5 says…

Published by Kelly Wilson on 17 Aug 2021

Volleyball and Christianity: Keys to One helped me with Keys to the Other

I really enjoyed the Olympic games this year. I was on the edge of my seat on so many occasions. Simone Biles, choosing wholeness over possible self-harm do to the twisties. Alyson Felix showing the power of hard work and the pride of motherhood. I loved seeing how the US Women’s Indoor Volleyball Team worked as a true team, stepping up with different players when injury struck. They continued to fight through the tournament to become Gold Medalists.

These moments reminded me of watching Olympic Volleyball during the 2016 Games. Back then I was viewing with a specific purpose. I watched intensely because I was having the privilege to coach my daughter’s fifth-grade volleyball team that year. Ironically, I am a short lady, and I hadn’t played volleyball since Junior High. But our school needed a third coach because a large number of girls wanted to play that year, so I grabbed the opportunity to serve and share the experience with my daughter and her buddies.

I watched every indoor and beach match, I could, whether male or female to try to figure out what would be the keys for our students to have a productive and enjoyable season.

And I prayed, asking God to make the keys to volleyball success obvious and allow me to communicate them to fifth graders well. At some point He gave me some patterns that made sense. The following is what we had to do:

  1. Serve well.
  2. Return well.
  3. And volley as a team.

I spent weeks talking these concepts with our team, over and over. We would repeat them every practice. With support from many other parents, we taught them specific skills. If we served tough, at that level of volleyball the other team wouldn’t be able to easily return the serve and we could score lots of points. In many causes we could “ace” the opposing team, as they couldn’t return the serve at all. But in contrast, if we could return “tough” the serves of our opponents well, then we could keep them from scoring “aces” and potentially score a point if we volleyed the ball as a team. For us, that meant – obviously getting the ball over net in three hits or less – but also knowing who should be doing what and how to place the ball so that we could score points while having fun doing so.

These simple keys helped us have an outstanding season. Despite many twists and turns, we made it to the Championship Game. Though we were underdogs we ended up with the “silver medal” losing by one point in the third set to a team who was a local powerhouse.

This year, God brought my faith to my mind as I watched Volleyball. I kept wondering if there were three simple keys that could help believers grow and develop like our three volleyball priorities helped us. After some prayerful pondering, here are three for your consideration:

  1. Read the Word (your Bible) every day.
  2. Do what it says.
  3. Be regularly integrated into a community of believers.

I think these are even stronger than the ones we used for the fifth-grade season.

Start by reading the Bible every day. The majority of believers who live in the United State are fortunate to have access to the Bible in its entirety. We can easily read or listen to the very Word that God has given to us as His set of instructions and inspiration for a godly life. And because there are so many other voices speaking to us daily from so many vantage points and motivations – we really need to hear from our Creator daily to get “tuned” to His voice. My routine is to read in the morning before I do anything else. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me understand what I am about to read so that the Words can give me life and whatever God wants me to have in that moment. I am a huuuugee fan of the One Year Bible ( and use it, but know this might not be everyone’s cup of tea. I would say that each of us has 5-7 minutes that we can take to read at some point in each day. May I suggest beginning in the Gospel of Matthew. Pray and then set the timer on your phone for seven minutes. After you finish, put a bookmark where you ended. Maybe take a moment to ask God what He wants you to carry forward and then you are prayerfully ready for the next task of your day. Pick up the next day where you left off reading so that you can read in context for greater understanding.

(Read through all four Gospels and then the book of Acts and you will have daily connection to the time when Jesus was walking the earth, what he said and did, and also you will learn in Acts about the early church and the move of the Spirit of God in it. If you are ready to read other parts of the Scripture that is fantastic and if you want to stay in the Gospels, there is great benefit to doing so.)

Once we begin to know what the Bible says, we should make it our practice to do what it says. God’s Words give us the information to live lives that are meaningful, productive, and have measures of peace and joy, even in challenging times. And maybe most importantly the Scriptures lead us eternal life, which is the wonderful life that last forever with God, after life on this earth is complete. 

I suspect obeying God’s instructions in the Bible are like when a child obeys a good-godly parent’s instructions. Toddlers, children, teens and young adults, grow and learn as we get rewarded and corrected. We gain self-control and honor the instructions that are set out for our good. By God’s grace we mature into well-functioning people who have lives that we are glad to have. Of course, there are stutter steps and wipe-outs along the way, but these are part of the process. Thankfully we can ask for help from the Holy Spirit, and He will do so, especially when we have a heart and desire for obedience to our Lord.

The last thing is to be actively engaged in a community of believers. Ideally, that is your church home. Or maybe this is more accurately described a small group with the larger church. It could be a Bible study group, your family members or a handful of faith-filled friends who do life together. These communities of believers will help you remain accountable to do the first two things and these relationships are going to give you opportunities to expand in your knowledge and experiences. Importantly, the people in your community of believers will ask you to pray about things and they will pray for you about things. Candidly, some of the encounters with them will likely force you to pray because you may become frustrated or annoyed. Prayer will be a natural outgrowth of being actively engaged in relationship with other believers.

Another great benefit is just the joy of having people to live life with; it is beneficial to be with folks who are headed in the same “heavenly” direction.

For many of us, Autumn is volleyball season for school-based athletics. The next time you see a match, I hope you will cheer for your favorite team and be reminded of the above three keys to growing in Christ that were cultivated from a special silver-medal volleyball season. If you would like additional tools on how to thrive in your life from Christian worldview, please visit

Published by Kelly Wilson on 30 Mar 2021

Women’s history, Easter & the phrase Ride or Die… what?

It’s the end of Women’s history month and I have been greatly blessed. Candidly, this is the first year that I have proactively celebrated and it has been a joy. I have seen many unique intersections and I’d like to share them and encourage you to keep celebrating and connecting beyond March.

As I heard and shared stories of women across cultures making great contributions to their communities and to the world, I want to become a more effective leader and collaborator.

One story was about a woman who born as Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867, on a Louisiana plantation. This daughter of former slaves transformed herself from an uneducated farm laborer and laundress into the first Black woman millionaire in this country.

Known as Madam C. J. Walker, she was orphaned at age 7, married at age 14, and widowed at age 20. Laboring as a washerwoman for almost twenty years for $1.50 per week, she discovered a much-needed product – a hair care formula that would change her life and the lives of many others.

Part of Sarah’s transformation happened as she was mentored in St Louis, MO by the Women’s Mite Society of St. Paul AME Church. (Mite stands for the widow who gave all in the Bible, Mark 12:41-44.)  Friendships with these and other members of St. Paul A.M.E. Church along with members of the National Association of Colored Women exposed her to a new way of viewing the world.

The above illustrates that the celebration of women doing great things and coming together is not only a global social concept, but it is a “Kingdom” concept. God greatly blessed Madam CJ Walker through relationships with women.

Ironically, as the Easter season is nearing, women’s history is woven into the Resurrection account.

Here is some of the backstory… There was a group of smart, resourceful influential and now healthy, women who were part of Jesus’ ministry team. They get a shout-out in Luke 8:1-3 (NET)

Some time afterward he {Jesus} went on through towns and villages, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and disabilities: Mary (called Magdalene), from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Cuza (Herod’s household manager), Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their own resources.

These same women are people He blessed and they blessed and served with Him in Return. They were devoted until the very end. In today’s vernacular they might be considered “ride or die.” And though this phrase is very descriptive, I have to say upfront that I really dislike it. But I will come back to that.

This core-group of women, unlike some of His male disciples, remained at the cross through the heartbreaking moments of His death.

Now when it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. But Jesus cried out with a loud voice and breathed his last. And the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, {who oversaw the execution} who stood in front of him, saw how he died, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

“There were also women, watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they had followed him and given him support. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were there too.” It seems that they are united by their love for Jesus and for one another. Mark 15:33, 37-39, 40-41 NET

Not only do they remain connected to Him, they remain connected to one another and plan to offer a final act of service, which is to prepare His body for a proper burial.

Because of the strong customs of their day, this process is interrupted by the mandatory rest of “Holy Days.” But before the interruption comes they follow another believer in Christ is see where the body is taken.

Mark 16:1-11 (NET) describes what happened next.

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought aromatic spices so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, at sunrise, they went to the tomb. They had been asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”

{Don’t you love how practical they are?}

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled back. Then as they went into the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has been raised! He is not here. Look, there is the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples, even Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” Then they went out and ran from the tomb, for terror and bewilderment had seized them. And they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

The gospel of John completes the story with these verses…John 20:11-18 (NET)

But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she bent down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting where Jesus’ body had been lying, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Mary replied, “They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have put him!” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” Because she thought he was the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him.” 20:16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni” (which means Teacher). 20:17 Jesus replied, “Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 20:18 Mary Magdalene came and informed the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them what Jesus had said to her.

Because of her faithfulness, Mary of Magdala, was given a great privilege of being the first person to see Jesus after He had come back to life. She was also one of the first to get to share the story of that good news with her friends; the sisters and the brothers. What an honor!

But let’s go back to this phrase “ride or die.” My 15-year old daughter is a great blessing in my life. We do lots of things together. Once while I was driving her to school, she asked if I was her ride or die. I told her in a way I was, but then I asked why do we have to have death as an option. We are going to live. We would be each other’s Ride & Live. The ladies above are definitely Ride & Live!

As I close this out, here are the intersections that I see:

  • So many of the women I learned about in March 2021, were making their contributions out of great need and great love. This fueled them to do amazing things. Just like Mary Mag, Joanna, Salome, Mary the mother of Jose, etc. So let your great need and great love lead you to do likewise.
  • Just like modern day women, these great women found a way to be supporters of one-another. They taught, helped, championed for each other. Young and Old. Free and Bond. Poor and Rich. Healthy and not Healthy. And Across Cultures. Let’s be like that.
  • Make sure that you thank and celebrate the people who are your Ride & Lives (Koah, Gerri, Tanya, ReShay, Mom Wanda, my nieces, the Bible Study Ladies, my cousins, etc, etc, etc.)
  • If you don’t have a community of women who are secure enough in themselves and Christ, to be able to have affirming relationships, please pray and begin to build one.
  • Lastly, never forget that Jesus is your for real, Ride & Live. He died so He could be that for you.

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