How I Almost Ruined 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 that 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 a lot of thought and time into preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Gathering my favorite recipes, compiling the grocery list, shopping and cooking usually begin several days before Thanksgiving.

Last year, was no exception. Jessica, my youngest, and I got up early and began the preparations. We recorded 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 surf session. Before engrossing myself in the holiday floats, high school bands and the Radio City Rockettes, I thought I had better check on the turkey and baste it one more time.

However as I attempted to open the oven door, it wouldn’t open. The door was stuck, trapping my turkey inside!

On Thanksgiving!

Really?!

You have GOT. TO. BE. KIDDING ME!

Why couldn’t this have happened while I was reheating Bagel Bites like on any other night? This is Thanksgiving! The Super Bowl of all meals!

Seriously, the door was only opening about six inches.

Somehow, the latch at the base of the oven door had broken, jamming the door and preventing it from opening. We tried EVERYTHING! Pounding it. Prying it. Shaking it. Kicking it. Skyping in family members for advice.

Nothing worked.

So there my turkey sat, in my oven, fully cooked, with no way of escape.

My Thanksgiving dinner was on the verge of disaster and as my attempts to liberate my turkey proved futile, the excitement of family gathering together around our table shifted to worry, anxiety and visions of eating 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’s fully cooked).

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

dont-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-gods-peace-which-exceeds-anything-we

Ouch! My joy and peace can be sooo circumstantial. How quickly I can allow something as silly as an oven door not opening to steal my peace and take my focus off of the important things. Opening the door to worry, I let can little distractions begin to consume my thoughts. First world problems, right?

Paul’s source of joy as he wrote this letter to the Philippians was 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, pray and be thankful – as a man who had been beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, starving. OK, I’m now thoroughly convicted.

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 (Psalm 100).

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, is in control of everything and intimately concerned with every detail of their lives – 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. My hope is that I will grow in my ability to pray, give thanks and notice the shards of hope in the difficult places and unlikely circumstances. I want to be able to respond as Paul did…

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. The benefit of talking to God about them is that while we do, we discover that the God who is everywhere and in control of everything, becomes real to us in ways that 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.

 

 

I Want to Soar but I’m Afraid of Falling

There’s an attraction at Disney’s California Adventure called Soarin’ Around the World where you’re in a flight simulator that mimics a hang gliding adventure above some of the world’s most amazing wonders.

During your airborne experience, you can actually feel the wind blowing in your face and smell scents like fresh flowers while you soar over majestic places like the awe-inspiring Alaskan glaciers and the incredible Iguazu Falls in South America.

You really feel like you’re being carried by the wind. Like you’re soaring.

It’s a freeing feeling and while I was there I decided I want to live like that.

Soaring

He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. Psalm 18:10

At least for the 5 minutes I was on the ride. Then my kids dragged me over to the Tower of Terror where you’re strapped in a seat, locked in a dark room and drop free fall for 13-stories.

It’s a lot easier for me to want to soar when I’m gently floating in front of a large computer screen and aware that I’m on a ride at a theme park that will end in about 5 minutes.

Although it feels like I’m soarin’, in reality, I’m in a room, sitting in a chair that is only two feet off the ground.

While I say I want to soar, I want to live with courage, faith and freedom, if I can confide in you, I really prefer to keep my feet on solid ground where there’s more certainty and I can control my course.

Because when the bottom drops out and I start falling.

Down.

All.

Thirteen.

Stories.

Well, then I scream, panic and really embarrass my kids.

When fear creeps in, my natural impulse is to tighten my grip on what I can control – my circumstances, my kids, my schedule, etc.. Anxiety level rises, my stomach turns, my neck tightens and I start calling my kids a zillion times trying to track them down and make sure they’re okay (another story).

I’m learning, though, when facing mountains of fear, when it feels like I’m free falling and there’s no way out, if I relax, take a deep breath and step out, God is faithful to lead me through my greatest challenges.

Because I don’t soar alone. He calls me out, but He comes along with me. And in the process, He changes me, teaches me to trust Him and I get to know Him in a more wonderful way.

Not a terrifying free fall bursting with fear.

I get to soar and experience the freedom and grace that comes when I live by faith.

…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

 

Living for a Bigger Story

 

I love using the mobile app Waze to find my way around town. The calm, computer-generated voice gives me the assurance that I’m going to arrive at my desired destination. Every turn is anticipated, mapped out and scripted for me, highlighting where the accidents and heavy traffic are. Shoots, I’m even made aware of the upcoming potholes and unexpected objects in the road! It’s comforting to drive when I know there are no surprises in store for me.

But real-life isn’t like driving with Waze. It’s not like strolling through a flowery meadow or floating gently in a pool on an air mattress with a fruity iced tea in hand (you know, the kind with the toothpick umbrella containing the pineapple and maraschino cherry)?

God doesn’t guide us through life, whispering step-by-step instructions to us.

Rather, I’ve found real-life to more closely resemble climbing a rugged mountain or traversing a forging stream. It’s full of unexpected objects in the road, detours and last minute course adjustments.

And instead of using a detailed road map to direct our every step, we’re asked to use our faith and trust God.

For a person like me who has control issues, this can be troubling – even terrifying at times.

“Just tell me what to do, Jesus, and I’ll do it. Point me in the right direction and I’ll walk.”

But what do I do in the silence?

How do I walk forward when I can’t clearly see the direction I’m supposed to go?

How do I have faith when things are uncertain?

How do I trust God when I don’t see any evidence of results?

In the Gospels of Mark and Luke, we see two kinds of people contrasted: those who lack faith and those who have great faith.

He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith. Mark 6:5, 6

Ouch! Jesus goes to his hometown – the town where He was raised, the streets where He probably played as a kid, the families and friends He grew up with – and Jesus was stunned, shocked, amazed by their lack of faith. People whom Jesus knew, loved and cared about, didn’t believe He was who He said He was and that He was able to do what He said He could do.

In Luke 7, we see another interaction Jesus has, this time with a centurion (a Roman officer who was in charge of 100 men). The centurion had a servant who was sick and dying so he sent someone to go find Jesus to help.

So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. Luke 7:6-7

This man believed the spoken words of Jesus had more than enough power to heal his servant. What a huge statement of faith, especially when you take into consideration that this man was a Roman centurion and not even Jewish!

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Luke 7:9

Two different times, Jesus was amazed. He was amazed at the lack of faith from the Jewish people He knew intimately and loved deeply and He was amazed at the great faith of a stranger who He didn’t know and had never met.

If Jesus looked at your faith – the great things you’re attempting, the bold things you’re believing He will do, your expectation for God to stretch you and use you in the lives of others…

Would He be amazed by your faith?

Do

Does your life point others to the greatness of God?

Or… would He be amazed at your lack of faith – limited by a small-thinking, fear-filled, self-engrossed, adventure-less life?

I desperately want my life to resemble a life of great faith, but if I am to be completely honest, I often reduce my life to become manageable, reasonable, attainable and pretty average. I follow my map, consult my budget, plan my timeline and believe for things that don’t require much faith at all. Really, they’re things I can probably accomplish on my own strength.

Oh, but God desires to stretch us!

To enlarge our faith, for God to be made so big in our life that others want to know about the God we serve.

Consider whose amazing faith your life better resembles – the Jewish people from Jesus’ hometown or the Roman Centurion?

When our faith is small, our focus becomes small. We look for answers instead of looking to Christ. We trust in our personal road map for our life instead of trusting God. We ask for things we think we need instead of asking for more of Him in our life. Instead of partnering with God and what He is doing in the world we bask in the comfort of our own minute, selfishly-focused perspective.

Does your life tell a bigger story? When the world sees my life, I want to be a reflection, not of what Kris can do in her own power and planning, but in the greatness of what God can do through a life that is fully surrendered and possesses amazing faith in an Almighty God.

Don’t live a smaller story – a story that tells about a safe, calculated faith.

Ask God to stir your heart to take a step of faith.

Who knows? Just maybe many months (or perhaps years) from now you will look at all that God has done and you’ll be able to trace back to this moment when God inspired you to believe Him for something that could not have happened without amazing faith being partnered with His presence and power.