What Number Is Your Turkey?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6 ESV


(Reposted from Thanksgiving 2009)

My mother was the official turkey maker for our Thanksgiving dinners. Every year, Mom would fret about cooking the turkey, and Dad would answer by telling her how many turkeys she had cooked through the years. "We've been married 27 years, and you've made 27 turkeys. It'll be fine"….."We've been married 40 years, and you've made 40 turkeys. It'll be fine." It was the same conversation each Thanksgiving, and the turkey was always fine.

I confess, that I was somewhat annoyed by their annual exchange. Sometimes when we're young, we miss the significance of the little things – those little exchanges that couples have again and again.

Mom was a worrier, and I'm sure that she prayed to God each time she put a turkey into the oven. She read her Bible daily, and Philippians 4:6 was a verse that she liked to quote: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. "Dear God, thank you for this turkey. Now, please help me to cook it just right so it won't turn out dry. Amen."

Mom checked the bird often. She tested it for brownness and juiciness, and when it was finally done and presented to the table she always said, "I hope that it's okay." That's when Dad would chime in and announce the annual turkey number and proclaim that the bird was fine.

The last turkey was number 57. We didn't know that it would be the last. A few months after Thanksgiving, Mom became suddenly ill and died. That same year, Dad went into a nursing home.

Dad had dementia that progressed rapidly after he lost his wife. He no longer remembered the number of turkeys that Mom had cooked through the years, but he remembered Mom. As time went on, he forgot that I was his daughter. I became Betty, his wife. I looked like her and I sounded like her, and that, I think, was a comfort to my dad. In his mind, his beloved wife was still with him, and although I wished that he'd remember me, I played along. I was Betty.

On each of the nine Thanksgivings that Dad was in the nursing home, I cooked our traditional Thanksgiving dinner at home, packed it up, and took it there to share with him. Like my mother, I fretted about the turkey and wondered if it would be done enough or if I had overcooked it and it would be dry. The nursing home staff always prepared a private dining room where Dad and I could sit together and eat our Thanksgiving meal. In Dad's mind, he was home. "I hope the turkey's okay," I found myself saying as I presented Dad with a steaming plate of food. I half expected him to answer that this was turkey number 58 and it would be fine, but he didn't. I fed him the turkey because he was no longer able to feed himself. He said that it was good. Gone was the traditional exchange between my parents. Lost was the annual turkey count. But we went on sharing our Thanksgiving meals, father and daughter together, until he died.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." This year, I'm thankful for all the Thanksgiving turkeys that I shared with my Mom in joyful holiday fellowship. I'm equally thankful for the additional Thanksgivings that I had with my dad. Although the circumstances were sad, and grew more difficult with each passing year, we had each other. I'm most thankful for memories of the little things: my mom and dad bickering about the turkey and the wonderful smell of it roasting in the oven when I walked through the door. It was those little things that reminded me that I was home…and everything was fine.


Dear Lord: On this Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks to you for family, home, and for the sweet remembrance of Thanksgivings gone by. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.


What number is your turkey? I wish you, my readers, a blessed holiday filled with little things that become cherished memories...and most of all, I wish you a turkey that turns out fine!





Thanksgiving 1963 -- Lee Harvey Oswald

"Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.
Live as servants of God."

1 Peter 2:16


I climbed out of bed that morning, November 24, 1963, savoring the steamy aroma of a fat, stuffed turkey roasting in the oven. As I stumbled into the kitchen rubbing the sleep from my eyes, Mom was busy making cranberry sauce. Dad was sharpening the knife he always used to carve our Thanksgiving turkey. Their attention focused on a small, portable, black-and-white television set, its “rabbit ears” antenna tilted toward the steam-fogged kitchen windows. On the screen a fuzzy image of Walter Cronkite re-told the events since President Kennedy’s assassination two days before. Guilt contributed to our silence that Sunday morning. We had skipped church, the place where most Americans sought comfort following one of the darkest days in our country’s history.


We were having our Thanksgiving meal four days early because my grandmother planned to travel to Quantico, Virginia to spend Thanksgiving Day with my mother's sister. No one felt like celebrating. Our President was dead, shot by Lee Harvey Oswald who took aim from a window in a schoolbook depository in Dallas and twisted our lives into a tangled mass of confusion and fear.

As I set the table later that morning, and Grandma arrived with homemade pumpkin pie, my ten-year-old mind struggled to understand why anyone would want to kill the President. The whole world, it seemed, had stopped. Our feelings had shifted from anger and disbelief to a stark, quiet acceptance. Kennedy was gone. There was nothing anyone could do to turn back time and make things right again.

We were about to sit down for our Thanksgiving dinner when Mom called from the kitchen. “Come here. They’re showing Oswald!” We gathered around the TV for our first look at the monster who had killed President Kennedy. There he was, handcuffed and looking surprisingly clean-cut wearing dark corduroy slacks and a pullover sweater. He walked swiftly and with a sense of arrogance, through the basement corridors of the Dallas Police Department, toward a car waiting to take him to the county jail. Then, as we watched, a man wearing a suit and fedora lunged forward. He shot Oswald, point blank, in his stomach. “Mercy!” Grandma exclaimed. We had just witnessed a murder, and although no one felt merciful toward Oswald that day, we were shocked. Stunned. “Enough,” said Mom, turning off the television. "It's Thanksgiving."

We sat down at the dinner table, joined hands, and prayed, “Thank you, Lord, for your many blessings, your faithfulness, and your never-ending love . . .”

*****
Praise the Lord, all you nations;

extol him, all you peoples.

For great is his love toward us,

and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

~Psalm 117:1-2











How To Turn Fuzzy Gratitude Into Heartfelt Gratefulness

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”

Isaiah 55:8 (NLT)


When bad things happen, we sometimes assume the role of a therapist psychoanalyzing God. The conversation might go something like this:


“God, it says in Psalm 145 (NLT) verse 3—‘Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise. No one can measure His greatness,'


and verses 5–7—‘I will meditate on Your majestic, glorious splendor . . . Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness.’

Verse 18 says—‘The Lord is near to all who call on Him.’

So, God, if You are so great and good, and if You are near when we ask for help, then why do You allow bad things to happen?”

And God answers, “But you don’t understand!”

During this month of Thanksgiving, I want to challenge you to look at God from David’s perspective in Psalm 145. Keep in mind that David’s life was filled with trouble. Saul wanted to murder him, he ran away, hid in caves, and went without food. After he became king, David lost a child, his best friend was killed, his enemies tried to overthrow him, and his own son tried to kill him. Certainly, David asked why, and in doing so he learned to change the way he thought about God.

Read the second part of verse 3. Here David tells us that no one is able to psychoanalyze God. There are no answers to our why questions, because we humans cannot begin to understand God’s thoughts. God does not behave according to our rules. So, instead of asking why, David accepts that God is too great for the human mind to understand, and he chooses to praise His greatness.

In verses 5–7, understanding that he can’t comprehend God’s thoughts, David meditates on God’s Creation. He concentrates on what his human mind is able to comprehend as good. He finds so many awesome things, that he says to God, "Everyone will be talking about how great You are!”

Then, in verse 18, David shares his belief that God is near to those who trust Him. He has learned through his own experiences that

1. believers should accept God for who He is and praise Him in all circumstances;

2. when it is hard to praise God in bad times, it helps believers to concentrate on God’s goodness as they are able to comprehend it; and

3. when believers do these two things, God draws nearer to them.


Has this been a bad year for you? Are you half-heartedly thanking God during this season of gratefulness? Then try this: spend from now through Thanksgiving looking at God from David’s perspective. See if God draws near to you and transforms your fuzzy gratitude into heartfelt gratefulness.






NEW FROM THOMAS NELSON

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FROM BARBOUR BOOKS
I'm proud to be a contributing author to the following series of humorous devotionals.
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By Max Lucado, Published by Thomas Nelson
Max Lucado has a unique way with words, and his children's book Hermie A Common Caterpillar is no exception. With simple text and bright, watercolor illustrations, the story of Hermie unfolds.

Hermie wonders why he looks and feels so common. Whenever he asks God why, God simply answers, "I'm not finished with you yet." Then, one day, Hermie feels very tired. He gets into his cozy, leafy bed, and he sleeps. And while Hermie sleeps a transformation takes place. When he wakes up, Hermie discovers that God has done something grand. You can guess what it is. Every caterpillar that lives to adulthood knows the end of the story.

Parents, please share this book and its powerful message with your children. We are all special because God loves us, and He has a unique purpose for our lives. Whenever we slump into feeling ordinary, we know that we have hope because . . .God isn't finished with us yet!


*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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