How I Almost Ruined Our Thanksgiving Dinner

I love Thanksgiving! It’s the one day of the year where family and friends gather and share an abundant meal, eat to our heart’s content and give thanks for all God has done and continues to do in our lives.

It truly is the best kickoff to the Most Wonderful Time of Year. It’s a day to reflect on God’s goodness, to enjoy the special relationships in our lives and celebrate God’s continued faithfulness. It’s a day to watch football games and parades, and a day to cook and create a wonderful meal for those whom I love the most.

While I’m no Pioneer Woman, I enjoy investing time into preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Gathering my favorite recipes, researching new ones, compiling the grocery list, cooking everyone’s favorite dishes, usually has me beginning the preparations several days before Thanksgiving.

A few years ago, Jessica, my youngest, and I got up early and began cooking as we’ve done in so many years previous. We recorded the Macy’s parade to watch later in the day because my boys were adamant that a football game – not a parade – should be watched live.

Several hours later as the smell of turkey wafted in the air, Jessie and I sat down to enjoy the parade while Gregg and the boys headed to the beach for a quick surfing session. Before engrossing myself in the holiday floats, high school bands and the Radio City Rockettes, I thought I’d better check on the turkey and baste it one more time.

However as I attempted to open the oven door, an unusual thing occurred.

The door wouldn’t open. It was stuck, trapping my turkey inside!

On Thanksgiving!

Really?! I was incredulous.

Seriously, the door would only open about six inches.

Why couldn’t this have happened while reheating Bagel Bites like any other night?

Somehow, the latch at the base of the oven door broke, jamming the door and preventing it from opening.

We tried EVERYTHING!

Pounding.

Prying.

Shaking.

Kicking.

Skyping in family members for advice. Nothing worked.

So there my turkey sat, in my oven, with no way of escape. My Thanksgiving dinner was on the verge of disaster and as we futility attempted to liberate my turkey, my excitement of family gathering together around our table shifted to worry, anxiety and visions of eating whatever was leftover at Zippy’s.

After about 45 minutes, we decided to break the oven door, bending and prying it open about 12 inches – just enough space for Gregg to spear the turkey with two roasting forks and squeeze the bird through the opening and onto the platter.

Crisis averted (as long as it was fully cooked, which thankfully it was).

Ironically, throughout the week I had been meditating on Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians,

lDon_t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God_s peace, which exceeds anything

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

Ouch! My ability to live filled with joy and peace can be sooo circumstantial.

It always surprises me as to how quickly I allow something as silly as an oven door not opening to steal my peace and shift my focus off of the important things.

Opening the door to worry, I allow little distractions to consume my thoughts.

How different was Paul’s perspective?

Paul writes this letter to the Philippians in the midst of really difficult circumstances. He was in prison with no resolution in sight.! Yet, here he is telling them to not worry, but instead to pray and be thankful. This is a man who had been beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and at times, starving.

Paul could challenge them in this way because he had experienced God’s presence. He had a relationship with Jesus; he had seen people healed and delivered. He had confidence in a good God and knew that He was faithful.

Paul wasn’t advocating positive thinking, or a “glass half-full” perspective. His confidence was rooted in a deep assurance that God is in control – regardless of his present circumstances.

Paul encouraged the Philippian people that they didn’t have to live in fear, worry or anxiety anymore because the One True God, Jesus, controls everything and is intimately concerned with every detail of their lives.

Possibly, even a turkey trapped in an oven.

You can approach God and know that He is intimately involved in your life. Even when troubles and difficulties arise, He will be with you to lead you through them. I aspire to grow in my ability to pray, give thanks and acknowledge the shards of hope even in the midst of difficult and unexpected circumstances.

I want to be able to respond with the faith Paul exemplifies…

Pray about everything…

I once heard it said this way: worry assumes that we are in control; prayer asks God to be in control. The causes and opportunities for our worry will never go away. While our natural reaction may be to control our circumstances or fix our problems, God asks us to surrender them to Him.

Tell God what you need…

There are legitimate needs and causes to worry. We worry about the things and people we care about. The benefit of talking to God about them is that when we do, we discover that the God who is everywhere and in control of everything, becomes real to us in ways we wouldn’t experience otherwise. In our cries to Him, we feel His comfort. In our pain and anxiety, we feel His presence and we get to know Him and discover His character.

Thank him for all he has done…

Thank him for all the little amazing miracles He does every day all around you.

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

We liberated our turkey, (and it was delicious by the way) but broke our oven in the process. I almost ruined Thanksgiving – not because I wrecked the turkey, but I almost allowed the pressure and stress of creating the perfect Thanksgiving meal to usurp the true intention of the day – a day of thanks for God’s abundant blessing in the midst of life’s imperfection.

As we enter the most wonderful time of year and begin to journey through the holiday season, my prayer is that you would remember these words from Paul and take time to thank God for the simple things around you – even an oven door that opens.

 

Chicken Problems and Other Wildlife Concerns

 

Last week, I came home and found two chickens in my yard.

Now just so we’re clear, I don’t own chickens and I don’t live on a farm. I don’t know why they showed up or where they came from.

Our subdivision is a nice, peaceful place that was fairly quiet until a few days ago when these chickens began crowing in MY BACKYARD at 4AM IN THE MORNING!

There is no snooze button for that wake-up call, my friend.

So far, all of our attempts to shoo them away have failed. They tried our neighbor’s backyard for a few days, but decided to come back. They have moved in a made a nest.

Perhaps they considered that with five kids, a cat and a dog they wouldn’t be noticed? And for the most part, they’re not…until 4AM IN THE MORNING!

Untitled design

A couple of weeks before the chickens showed up, two ducks strolled into our driveway.

Why is my home becoming wildlife’s choice for refuge?

My neighbor called animal control about the ducks and asked what could be done.

The lady at animal control asked her how old the ducks are. (You may be wondering, as I was, how one can possibly determine the age of ducks? Glad you asked.)

My neighbor replied that the ducks don’t have any feathers. To which the animal control lady decisively said, “They’re teenagers.”

I’d never heard of teenage ducks, but I guess it makes sense. She continued to say that teenage ducks behave very similarly to teenage youth.

Seriously?

She surmised that these ducks were mostly likely asserting their independence from their mom and taking a whimsical adventure for the afternoon. They had probably wandered further than anticipated and just needed to be walked home and reunited with their mom.

But where is that? They must’ve found their way home because they haven’t come back.

I digress. Back to the chickens.

This morning I called animal control to see what my options are.

Apparently, it’s ILLEGAL TO RELOCATE CHICKENS!!!

Are you KIDDING ME?

She explained that feral chickens are a big problem here. I told her I’m aware of that – my kids’ school has close to fifty chickens roaming around campus. But this is different.

This is my not-so-very-big BACKYARD!

Sleep-deprived and desperate, I pleaded with her, “What can we do?”

She responded that legally she cannot give me advice or options, but the Humane Society will take them for free with no questions asked if I bring them in.

Incredulous and for the sake of clarity, I asked, “So what you’re saying is that I’m supposed to CHASE these chickens down, CATCH these chickens, with their CLAWS and BEAKS and COMBS and WATTLES, and then I’m supposed to figure out how to PUT these chickens in my MINIVAN and DRIVE them across town to you?”

“Yes.”

Did I forget to mention that this conversation came on the heels of my son announcing to me that he was going to SWIM WITH SHARKS this afternoon and he’d see me later.

Apparently, there’s some guy on the North Shore that will take you on his boat and let you swim with sharks…WITHOUT A CAGE!

Really? What parenting book prepares us for this stuff? 

Welcome to my world. This explains my ongoing battle with gray hair and why I always have a secret stash of candy in my bedside table.

Not sure what we’re going to do about the chickens.

Any humane ideas we should consider?

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it…” Psalm 24:1

 

 

 

 

Your True Selfie – The Relentless Pursuit of Who God Created You to Be

Day One

Our family had just completed our cross-country move from Los Angeles, California to Nashville, Tennessee, driving through rain, sleet and snow with five children under ten years old, a packed minivan and pet bunny. Whew!

After one month on the road, eating way too much fast food and living out of various hotels, everyone in the family (including the bunny) had frazzled nerves, testy tempers and fragile emotions.

To escape the cramped quarters of our hotel room (yes, ALL seven of us were staying in ONE room), one night we thought we’d head out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants. Why we dared to venture to a semi-nice restaurant at this point of the trip, I have no idea – we were clearly borderline delirious.

Your family has probably never had this kind of experience, but at the risk of being vulnerable – my pain will now become your pain.

Our three boys conveniently chose to expend an entire month’s worth of energy during this one-hour restaurant break, making LOTS of noise, bouncing up and down in the restaurant booth, wrestling, arguing… you get the picture. As I was getting the “stink eye” from the other restaurant patrons, our one-year-old daughter conveniently chose to this moment to produce her own “stink” in the form of a toxic poopy diaper.

Yes, we were THAT family.

On the verge of tears, I ventured out to the bitter cold to scrounge the floor of our minivan hoping to find a diaper hidden amidst piles of toys, luggage, and fast-food trash. My husband, Gregg, in an exasperated tone, handed me the keys told me,

“If you don’t come back, I understand.”

We laugh about it now, but at the moment, we were second-guessing our decision to uproot our family from a comfortable house, stable job and close friends to venture into this unknown territory of big belt buckles and country music.

This wasn’t what we had signed up for. The picture didn’t look as glamorous as we thought it would. In fact, it didn’t look appealing at all.

It would have been easy to give up, turn around and go back to what was familiar.

This was difficult.

Tiring.

Painful.

Lonely.

Uncomfortable.

As a little girl, I remember having lofty aspirations and dreams of what I would someday become. I had big plans to change the world and high hopes for what God would someday use me to accomplish.

Yet, that stormy night, I unexpectedly found myself in the middle of a snowy parking lot in an unfamiliar town, searching through my incredibly messy minivan for a clean diaper while my other four kids wreaked havoc in a neighborhood restaurant.

Did God forget that I have a college education?

What happened to my plans to be different, my aspirations to make a difference? Where did the passion and determination that I could do or become anything go?” What happened to this wonderful plan God had for my life?

Perhaps you can relate. Have you ever felt sidelined, left out or overlooked by God, wondering what you have to contribute? Feeling stuck? Thinking maybe you missed your opportunity to make a difference? Or perhaps you feel your mistakes disqualified God from using you?

You’re not alone in your thoughts. In fact, throughout scriptures, we see many sincere God-followers ask the same questions. Read the love and tenderness God expresses to his children through the prophet Isaiah…

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” 15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. Isaiah 49:14-16

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands... Isaiah 49_16

As God tenderly reassures the nation of Israel, God persistently affirms his love towards us, gently, continually reminding us of his care and faithfulness. Prodding us to look to him.

God has not forgotten you. He created you, knows you intimately and has a great plan for your life – one that will bring glory to his name. As you seek him and allow your life to be shaped by him in an increasingly greater way, He will lead you.

Things may not always turn out the way you expected, and you may find yourself trapped in a restaurant during a winter storm with energetic toddlers, but you can trust that He is good and He hasn’t forgotten you.

Take a moment…

  • When have you experienced a season when you felt a little empty on the inside? Feeling that you were made for more than you’re currently experiencing?
  • What does this verse say about God and your incredible value to Him? How can knowing and meditating on the fact that God loves you and never forgets you breathe hope into your weary soul?