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Canadian Thanksgiving Celebration: Thanksgiving with Strangers

Written by Staff on October 10, 2020 – 3:06 pm -

Infinitely More

Infinitely More: Allison Lynn and Gerald Flemming celebrate Thanksgiving with Strangers

By Allison Lynn

The image of us alone in our hotel room was more than I could bear.

It was just three days from Thanksgiving, and my husband, Gerald, and I were very far from home. As a touring ministry, we’ve gotten used to being away from our family for months on end. We’ve missed countless birthdays, anniversaries, and family celebrations because of our unconventional work schedule.

But this was the first time we were going to be away from our families for Thanksgiving.

We were currently on our first tour across the Canadian prairies. I’m not exaggerating when I say that we didn’t know anyone for miles! Technically, I knew we would be away for Thanksgiving, but the reality of it didn’t really dawn on me before we hit the road. Now, the date loomed on the calendar. I could just see it: In three days, we would be alone in a hotel room, eating cheap take out, watching reruns on hotel cable, and feeling very sorry for ourselves.

The thought of it was more than I could bear. I decided to be proactive. I wrote a post on Facebook: “We’re about to spend Thanksgiving alone in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Does anyone know of a church or community center hosting a public dinner?” There, I thought, with all the people we know, someone has to have some idea!

A friend wrote back, “My friends live outside the city. I’ll connect you with them.”

So, three days later, we found ourselves driving to the town of Dauphin, Manitoba, to spend Thanksgiving with strangers.

Husband and wife, Gary and Betty Medwechuk, had a dream of building a small cabin next to their house. They wanted to create a quiet space where folks in ministry could retreat for rest and refreshment.

Our hand-scrawled directions led us to the sign: In His Rest Retreat. Gerald and I stepped out of the car, a little tired, a little hungry, and mildly apprehensive. Thanksgiving is a time for family. Would it be okay to intrude on this private celebration?


As we stepped into Betty and Gary’s home, we were immediately met with warmth. The wood stove took every bit of fall chill out of the air. The sun on the glittering lake was blindingly beautiful, and the smell of the food enwrapped us like a soft blanket. Turkey, stuffing, veggies, and piles of desserts – what a feast!

And the warmth didn’t just come from the home or the food. It came from Betty, Gary, and their guests. We gathered around the table; introductions were made. We discovered that no one there was family by blood. Instead, we were connected by something much greater.



Our apprehension melted away as we were drawn into this circle of friendship. We told stories, shared laughs, and, as the day called us to, gave thanks.

I was raised that you never come empty-handed to a dinner party, but making a dish is a bit of a challenge when you’re on the road. Instead, we offered them something else: “After the meal, if you like, we would love to perform a mini-concert for your guests, as our contribution to the evening.”

So, as everyone licked up the final crumbs of pumpkin pie, Gerald pulled out his guitar, and we began to sing. We shared songs we had written, filled with a message of hope and joy. We sang favorite hymns, and got our new friends to sing along with us. We ended with a prayer of thanks, and a roof-splitting version of “How Great Thou Art.”

Since that time, Betty and Gary have become our true friends. We’ve spent lots of time in their sweet cabin by the lake, and shared countless meals together. We’ve fallen in love with the glorious sunsets that blaze across the prairie sky. We’ve sung in their church, joining together in hours of worship and song.

We thought we were going to spend Thanksgiving with strangers, but you know, we really didn’t. We spent Thanksgiving with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve experienced this over the years. We’ll arrive in a town we’ve never visited to sing in a church we’ve never seen. We’ll arrange to meet a pastor we’ve never met and sing for an audience of absolute strangers. And yet, they are never strangers. We’re always, without fail, welcomed as family.

And every time, I’m reminded of this instruction:
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:2, ESV)

Canadian Thanksgiving


Normally, I might take this moment to encourage you to invite a stranger into your home this Thanksgiving, but as I write this today, we are still in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. No doubt, our celebrations this year will be much more intimate. So, in a world of social distancing, what are some other ways we can share our Thanksgiving celebrations with those around us?

Perhaps you could support your church’s Thanksgiving outreach with a gift of time or resources? Local food banks will also need extra donations this season. Perhaps there’s a family on your street who could use a grocery gift card to help provide their meal? Or a shut-in who would appreciate a home-cooked delivery? If cooking isn’t your gift, perhaps you could make a flower arrangement or craft item to brighten someone’s table? And let’s not forget the blessing of technology! Why not host your Thanksgiving dinner over Zoom or Skype so your whole family can participate?

Even in the midst of these trials and challenges, we are loved and blessed. Let’s take time to give thanks, and share our blessings with those around us.

In doing this, who knows? You might just entertain angels unawares…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Note: Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated technically on the second Monday in October, but it usually expands to the complete three day weekend, October 10-12, 2020. Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

Jim Brady. Allison Lynn.

Infinitely More: Gerald Flemming and Allison Lynn

By Allison Lynn

Allison Lynn and her husband, Gerald Flemming, form the award-winning duo, Infinitely More. Infinitely More creates a fusion of folk, pop, hymns, and worship that soothes the heart and ignites the soul. Based out of beautiful St. Catharines, Ontario (near Niagara Falls!) this full-time nationally touring ministry annually drives to every province in Canada, singing in churches of all sizes and denominations. Their songwriting and recordings have been nominated for 15 national music awards. Their latest album – The Beauty Of The One – was honored with two Covenant Awards from The Gospel Music Association of Canada. In all things, Allison and Gerald strive to bring God’s light and love to a world in need.

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Jessica Horton rejoices that “Morning Has Broken”

Written by Staff on April 18, 2019 – 5:41 am -

sun rise sunset Morning Has Broken: “Praise with elation, praise every morning” 

Devotional by Jessica Horton

A few years ago, I lived on the west side of the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii. Kona is all about the sunset. Rental properties, hotels, restaurants, and bars line the shores with the promise of the most gorgeous view.

Sunsets in Hawaii really are like nowhere else. But my favorite view was watching the sun rise from behind Hualalai, one of the breathtaking volcanoes that slopes down to the beach town of Kailua-Kona. There was a special place in my neighborhood where I would stop on my way to work, just so I could watch the sun crest over the peaks, shooting rays
of sunlight in every direction.

It was in these moments of awe and wonder that I began to truly understand that if we ever stopped praising the Lord, the rocks and trees would cry out to give Him glory. As the sun rose each day in Kona, the birds began to sing, the sounds of traffic came into focus, and the whole island awakened to begin a fresh, new day.

I have always loved mornings. My mother always said that they are fresh starts with new possibilities and second chances – “It’s a new day, baby girl. Start fresh.”

Psalm 30:5 tells us that “weeping may come for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Praise God that we do not live in endless night.

Praise Him for the beautiful morning – the sun that rises just in time! Let us renew our spirits with Him each day, and may we never lose the awe and wonder for the things God has done and continues to do. Amen.


Jessica Horton

Jessica Horton

Almighty God,
Thank You for Your beautiful creation. I am in awe of your glorious work. Help me to walk each day with You. Thank You for the beautiful gift of a new morning. Renew my spirit and draw me nearer. Amen.

Psalm 90:14
Psalm 130:6
Psalm 143:8
Job 38:12
Lamentations 3:22-23

By Jessica Horton.

Find out more about Jessica HERE on Facebook or HERE online.

Jessica Horton is a singer/songwriter from Columbus, MS. She was raised in classic country and gospel, and the soul and sound of these classics often find their way into her music. Her songs feature the acoustic guitar, dobro, mandolin, and other roots instruments. On stage, Jessica brings a live aspect to her show by playing guitar and including singable old-time hymns and gospel songs. Off- stage, Jessica spends a lot of time with her husband, David and her church family. She serves as worship leader and youth director at Shaeffer’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Columbus, MS… (for more click here.)

(bio from March 1, 3:55pm)

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SGN Scoops Friday Favorite: Ricky Atkinson

Written by Staff on June 26, 2015 – 7:34 am -

image1 (1)

Ricky Atkinson

At SGN Scoops, we love to ask artists questions! On Fridays, they tell us what their favorites are and we get to tell you, our readers.

For today’s Friday Favorite, we asked Ricky Atkinson of Ricky Atkinson and Compassion, “What is your favorite hymn and why?”

Ricky’s response:

“‘How Firm A Foundation’ because it was often the hymn of choice when my mother sang in church, while I was still a very young boy…

It means alot to me personally knowing everything we do is all based on the foundation of our faith.

Also, as a writer, I appreciate not only the blessed message, but the depth of lyric by the writer, Robert Keene.
The words, melody, and chord progressions create a beautiful masterpiece.”

What is your favorite hymn? Tell us today on SGN Scoops Facebook page!

Ricky Atkinson and compassion

Ricky Atkinson and compassion

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SGN Scoops Friday Favorites with Jeff Hawes of Karen Peck and New River

Written by Staff on June 5, 2015 – 5:26 am -

Jeff Hawes

Jeff Hawes

It’s Friday and time for another fabulous feature from SGN Scoops! With today’s Friday Favorites we went to Jeff Hawes of Karen Peck and New River.

Vonda Easley asks Jeff: “What is your favorite hymn and why?”

Jeff Hawes: “My favorite is ‘It Is Well.’ I have grown closer to this hymn over the years and to the power it has. I especially love the fact that He loves me and will NEVER abandon me no matter what comes my way. I am SAVED and I can truly say it is well with my soul! Amen!!!!”

Karen Peck & New River Hosts Online Prayer Meeting

Karen Peck & New River

Thanks so much Jeff for being a part of SGN Scoops Friday Favorites!

Find out more about Jeff and all of Karen Peck and New River by visiting their website.

Keep watching the SGN Scoops mainpage for more Friday Favorites!

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