Five Kernels

"I will greatly praise the LORD with my mouth; yea, I will praise him among the multitude" (Psalm 109:30).

My children loved studying the heroic story about the Pilgrims in our homeschool history class. The Mayflower voyage, Squanto's corn planting and hunting lessons, and the first Thanksgiving all captured my children's deepest interest; however, the one story of the Pilgrims that most affected my family was the story about the "Starving Time" during the spring of 1623.

Imagine going through the cold, New England winter living off a slim, summer corn crop and a few fish. Every person suffered daily from hunger and watched as the food supplies continued to dwindle. Tradition says that eventually all that was left for this band of Pilgrims to eat each day was five kernels of parched corn. Certainly, this is a stark contrast to the Thanksgiving most of us experience!

Because my children's compassionate hearts were touched by this story, we began placing five corn kernels by each of our plates for our Thanksgiving meal. We used this tradition to remember the Pilgrims' sacrifice and reflect on the many blessings God had given us. One by one, we each took our five kernels and offered thanks for five blessings. This ceremony came to be the most meaningful time of our Thanksgiving meal.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? God has blessed you with so much — salvation, health, children, and a home. Perhaps you can use five kernels to encourage your own children to be thankful this Thanksgiving. Count the kernels and count the blessings from our loving Father. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17a).

Gracious Father, what a loving God You are! I praise You for all the good things You have given to me. When I get discouraged, help me to remember Your goodness every day of the year as I count my many blessings. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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Comments(16 comments)

ELLEN S 11/23/2008 05:33:33

Your Daily Focus articles are almost always a source of much needed inspiration.

DAWN S 11/23/2009 05:20:12

I love this idea. What a great way to remember and to give thanks with the five kernals. We plan to use this at Thanksgiving this year.

AMANDA G 11/04/2010 13:28:26

Thank you for the reminder of our history. This will become a tradition of ours as well.

LI G 11/05/2010 19:41:50

While this is a nice anecdote, you have left out the part about what the Indians did to save the Pilgrims from certain death and how the Indians were latter attacked and massacred by the very community they had once saved. History is only the whole story when it's understood in context. The real story of Thanksgiving is a sad one.

JULIE A 11/25/2010 01:49:36

Li G, How do you propose that we all spend our Thanksgiving - what should our attitudes be and what activities should we participate in on this day?? I believe that there are plenty of Americans who know their History accurately, especially in the homeschool community - well aware of the terrible treatment that we've showed to other races. I, by no means believe that we should forget or down play what we've done as a country to other people groups, but at the same time, are we suppose to FOCUS on the massacre and sadness at Thanksgiving?? The Bible says 'IN ALL THINGS BE THANKFUL'. Is it more important that we all remember the accuracy of the massacre at the first Thanksgiving, or that we, in spite of terribleness, discipline ourselves and learn to be grateful in ALL circumstances??

This devotional was excellent and it's so sad to me when the "point" of these devotionals sometimes goes right over our heads.

ELISHA H 11/25/2010 04:51:42

Happy Thanksgiving to my devotional family. I am thankful that I get to eat the "Bread of Life" with you each day. I am thankful that there are so many of us that love the Lord God. I am thankful for His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.I am thankful for the Seal of my Salvation, the Holy Spirit, and I am thankful for my problems, I can hardly wait to see how God gets the glory! Love to each of you and your families, keep up the good fightas we press on to the high calling in Christ Jesus!

tim H 11/25/2010 05:51:11

DON'T LISTEN TO THE IGNORANT SAVAGE! The white man has a lot of history to be proud of too. If we were to include all of the facts of history, the Indian was a wicked people who needed the white man's knowledge of his God. The savagery of the Indian is well documented as well. Thanksgiving is a time for giving of thanks-to GOD-not the Indian.

Jeannette B 11/25/2010 07:18:08

I agree with Li, and Tim even though the natives did not know God in the way that we know God today, does not mean that they did not have a relationship with Him. They believed in a great spirit and if we had taken more from what they tried to teach the "white man" the earth and what God has provided us with our earth and world would not be in the state that it is today.

TAMMY C 11/25/2010 07:22:58

what does this have to do with the indians. she's saying that about the plgruims not the indians. I think she made a good point plus you shouldn't be that way because god said love all things not to bad mouth the indian people. if it wasn't for them we wouldn't of been here in american free and the brave. thank god.

CARLA D 11/25/2010 08:53:39

Li G, THANK YOU for bringing up that most important FACT about our history. I incorporated The Trail of Tears, and various other facts about NATIVE Americans into my lesson about Thanksgiving, because I wanted my children to know the truth. Native Americans ARE an integral part of this holiday- many don't know/understand that because in most cases it's not taught. Many would like for us to believe that our ancestors were savages, but they were far from it. I thank God that on this day I have so much to be thankful for. BE BLESSED EVERYBODY:)!

EILEEN M 11/25/2010 09:14:54

Remember that the times people were living in while early explorers came to America was at the same time of the Inquisition where the Church and state were working together to combat heresy and crime. It was the way of the world back then and we are all guilty of mistakes. God's will though prevailed to a people who would work towards virtue for all. Many history books leave out important events or change things around for the sake of blaming someone. We can not point fingers anymore.

JULIE A 11/28/2010 21:27:39

Wow, I take back my comment - delete, erase, take away, etc. This got really .........confusing - yuck!! Wasn't grateful hearts the point - and not history???

I'm totally with Elisha H.

LISA K 11/24/2011 06:39:15

Here is the poem, 5 Kernels of Corn

Five Kernels of Corn

by Hezekiah Butterworth

Twas the year of the famine in Plymouth of old,

The ice and the snow from the thatched roofs had rolled;

Through the warm purple skies steered the geese o'er the seas,

And the woodpeckers tapped in the clocks of the trees;

And the boughs on the slopes to the south winds lay bare,

And dreaming of summer, the buds swelled in the air.

The pale Pilgrims welcomed each reddening morn;

There were left but for rations Five Kernels of Corn.

Five Kernels of Corn!

Five Kernels of Corn!

But to Bradford a feast were Five Kernels of Corn!

Five Kernels of Corn! Five Kernels of Corn!

Ye people, be glad for Five Kernels of Corn!

So Bradford cried out on bleak Burial Hill,

And the thin women stood in their doors, white and still.

Lo, the harbor of Plymouth rolls bright in the Spring,

The maples grow red, and the wood robins sing,

The west wind is blowing, and fading the snow,

And the pleasant pines sing, and arbutuses blow.

Five Kernels of Corn!

Five Kernels of Corn!

To each one be given Five Kernels of Corn!

O Bradford of Austerfield hast on thy way,

The west winds are blowing o'er Provincetown Bay,

The white avens bloom, but the pine domes are chill,

And new graves have furrowed Precisioners' Hill!

Give thanks, all ye people, the warm skies have come,

The hilltops are sunny, and green grows the holm,

And the trumpets of winds, and the white March is gone,

Five Kernels of Corn!

Five Kernels of Corn!

Ye have for Thanksgiving Five Kernels of Corn!

The raven's gift eat and be humble and pray,

A new light is breaking and Truth leads your way;

One taper a thousand shall kindle; rejoice

That to you has been given the wilderness voice!

O Bradford of Austerfield, daring the wave,

And safe through the sounding blasts leading the brave,

Of deeds such as thine was the free nation born,

And the festal world sings the Five Kernels of Corn.

Five Kernels of Corn!

Five Kernels of Corn!

The nation gives thanks for Five Kernels of Corn!

CHARLOTTE R 11/24/2012 08:24:34

Always someone who\'s got to put their two cents in and ruin the whole devotional. Why can\'t we just read the devotional and listen to what God is trying to tell us through the devotional?

MELISSA R 11/24/2012 13:24:05

Oh my, this is a devotional...not a history lesson. A very touching way for the writer\'s family to remember to \'Thank God in all circumstances\'. We all have different way of celebrating and focus on what God touches our hearts to focus. God created each and every one of us as unique individuals with different strengths, gifts, attitudes, ect. Instead of trying to find things in the devotional that you dissagree with, try to see what God is trying to say to you through the writer\'s words.

Your sister in Christ,


TERESA S 11/25/2012 19:35:48

I agree- this was a devotional, not a politically correct history lesson. As we all were born sinners, we all, from all races, have sinned as individuals, groups ect.

On this blog, the point is to support each other as Christians seeking to educate our children as God directs.

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