‘Twas the Saturday before Thanksgiving

Twas the Saturday before Thanksgiving

…and all through the house, all the creatures went shopping, except for this mouse.

So I sat and I listened to sounds of quiet cheer, and thanked God again for joy soon here.

I’m supposed to be cleaning, but before I begin–I wanted to write this thankful note for both kith and kin.

Those near and those far, I never forget–each face, through my memory, some I have never met.

I stop for a moment and bend my knee, giving thanks for they’ve given so abundantly to me.

A smile, a kind word or prayer and a gift–letting the dross of my much-ness be all a-sift.

I thank God and intercede for all left unsaid…and remember those feelings which hold weighty tread.

Then I pause and give thanks for my enemies, too–a tool in God’s hand, shaping the much and the few

of my faults and my pride and the things that must go, so I walk boldly by faith and see wisdom grow.

The years laid down carried many such tools, to resent such pressure is the making of fools.

I grasp now in my heart thankfulness for all, the easy and hard, the big and the small.

For I know to my marrow such unmerited grace. And I look ’round overwhelmed, by the hope of Christ’s face.

To you, my brother, and you, my sister–the stranger, the miser, the resentful mister…

Be blessed this Thanksgiving and forget not a one–give thanks to the Father in the light of the Son.

With joyful love from our home to yours!

Happy Thanksgiving

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Ebenezer Stone

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(Pictures: Family on Thanksgiving 2003 (Our fourth child, a baby girl, came along as our beautiful and joyous gift in 2006) and finally our Ebenezer stone (actually petrified wood, which is wood changed to stone, so it’s quartz-like) in our front yard moved all the way from East Texas to Colorado–a very heavy rock!



It was late November 2003 right before Thanksgiving. Tabor was only 4 1/2 months old, Noah, 5 and Kylie, 4. Chris began to have pains in his stomach. He went to the doctor twice before Thanksgiving to no avail.

Thanksgiving day, we are at Chris’ parents house and Chris is not eating. We should have taken him to the emergency room right then and there. No good southern boy misses his Mom’s best dish–Sweet Potato Casserole done-the-right-way. He didn’t eat at all that weekend. His stomach hurt. He took hot baths. Nothing would help. On Sunday, he began to run a fever at my parents’ house. I was very worried. I remember crying, “I think you’re going to die. You need to go to the doctor. What if it’s cancer or something?”

So on Monday morning, Chris took his truck to work. We lived 40 minutes away from his work and 45 from the hospital/ doctor’s office. He was going to get into the doctor’s office as soon as he could. On I-20, his truck broke down (pump module driver went out). His parents came and gave Chris their ’88 Suburban. Chris went to work. When he finally got in the doctor late that morning, they gave him something to drink and were running an MRI on him at 4 pm. So Chris slept in the bed of the Suburban. I got a call at 5:30 from Chris. They were keeping him through the night, but couldn’t tell him what was wrong, yet. Finally about 7 pm, I heard that Chris was having a laparoscopic appendectomy. No one was there with him.

At 10:30 pm, the doctor called. He began, “He’s not out of the woods, yet.”

I asked “Should I come up there?”

He said “Someone should be here!”

Oh my, I didn’t realize how very serious it was. Then came the doctor-talk. Basically, Chris’ appendix had been ruptured for 3-4 days and it had solidified (so the poison did not spread to his bloodstream).

They had opened Chris up immediately and took a part of his intestine, as well. His brother went up and stayed the night, since I had the kids asleep.

I drove to the hospital every day for 7 days, spent the day with Chris and then went home. The oldest two kids had preschool, and friends and family helped. Baby Tabor went with me to the hospital.

Chris looked at us and didn’t really care about anything. He really was not with us. I took him home and took care of him for the next month or so. Christmas was a blur, but I went and got a tree, bought new lights for it and decorated it. I took the kids to school and lived life in a blur.

January 12th rolled around. Chris went back to work! He was very slow with his “shark bite” incision healing, but numb. The following Sunday we did our blessing box with the kids. We had so much to be thankful for! Then we all went out and signed & dated our Ebenezer stone. We thanked God and said, “Thus far has the Lord helped us.”

The next Christmas rolled around. I began to remember the year before and then Chris said, “Where did those Christmas lights come from?” I began to cry. “You weren’t really with us last year, were you?” “I guess not,” he said.

God has been unbelievably gracious to us. I remember the prayer I prayed during that time, “Lord, I’m weak. YOU be strong.” I said it over and over again. I am thankful also for so many who prayed. Indeed, many stood in the gap for my Chris! God was strong. He IS and He will be.  Our HELP is He.

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Rose’s Buttermilk Pie

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1 1/2 c. sugar plus 3 T. for meringue
6 T. cornstarch
1/4 t salt
2 c. buttermilk
3 egg yolks (reserve 3 egg whites for meringue)
2 T. butter
1 t. vanilla (or lemon juice, if you like tart)
1/4 t. cream of tarter
Pillsbury pie crust, baked and cooled

Mix 1 1/2 c. sugar, 6 T. cornstarch, and 1/4 t. salt in large microwavable bowl. Add: 2 c. buttermilk and microwave on high for 4 minutes. Stir well with a wire whisk. Microwave on low for 5-6 minutes and stir again with whisk for 2 minutes.

Add 3 beaten and strained egg yolks. Remove and stir in 2 T. butter and 1 t. vanilla or lemon juice (if you like tart). Pour into a cooled, baked pie shell. Top with meringue and brown.

Meringue: 3 egg whites, whip in glass bowl. After whipped, add 3 T sugar and 1/4 t. cream of tarter. Cover pie to edge of crust and brown in broiler until just browned.

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When the News You Get is “Bad.”

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The phone rang, and I heard my son rushing to get dressed.  It was different than when he would get ready for school.  There was an urgency in his actions that morning.  His dad was already up waiting for him to go hunting on the morning after Thanksgiving.  The sky outside my foggy windows was just beginning to show a lightness from the sun that would soon appear.  I covered my head back up with the blankets and thought about all the shoppers and the hunters that were making journeys into the early morning darkness.

But Adam wasn’t going hunting, he didn’t have on his hunting clothes….he had been called out to a fire.  At 16, he volunteers at the local volunteer fire department.  He stopped at the door and turned back.

“It’s Mrs. Sandra’s.”

My heart dropped.  News that someone is in trouble hurts your heart, but when you personally know that person…your heart breaks.  I started praying.  I jumped on FaceBook (the source of all news) to see if anyone else had heard, and I put out a simple prayer request, since I didn’t know all the details.  I prayed it wasn’t major.  I gave Adam a little while to get to the fire and do his thing before I texted him for news.  His response was simple.

“Bad.”

My mother’s heart kicked in, and I wanted to be there for my son, who was responding to a fire at the home of his best friends.  My friend’s heart kicked in, and I wanted to be there for my dear friend.

I started getting dressed.

When we pulled up, the yard was full of emergency vehicles and cars from the volunteer fire department.  They had gotten there first…but it was too late.  The house was already engulfed in flames.  We found Sandra and her children covered in blankets watching their home of over 17 years burn to the ground.

“Why?” (When just the night before her entire family had gathered for a Thanksgiving meal in the same house now holding fire within its walls, that she had a cleaned for days before the event and had all the leftovers in the fridge.)  “Why was God doing this?”  I held Sandra as she cried out, knowing that God loved her, but not understanding why He allowed such pain into her life.

And then she started remembering everything that was in the house, now gone forever.  Treasures from her mother and father in a chest–all she had left of them.  TJ’s things were lost, her foster son who had been killed in a car accident just a couple of years ago.  All of Travis’ and Justin’s boyhood memories from the past 16 and 17 years.

Treasures that had been passed down to her.  Treasures that she was saving to pass down to her children.  She could see every one of them in her mind and where they were in the house, as the ceiling caved in and the walls started to fall.

Her sons watched as the metal frame of their beds crashed into what used to be the living room–the only thing recognizable from their room from the second story.  Their father held them, as only a father can hold sons that are young men.  Stressed relationships were put to the side as he once again stood by the side of the mother of his children.  It didn’t matter at that moment that they had divorced when the boys were little–tragedy brings family together.

Just a few short hours before, she had posted on FaceBook all her blessings from having the family together in her home and pictures that she had taken with all her children and grandchildren.  Now they all stood in the yard with her.

Her blessing list had changed in the matter of a few moments.  But as the sun started to shine through the black smoke, she was reminded over and over again that she was loved by each person that came to hug her and offer their help.  She was reminded that what mattered the most was standing in the yard with her.  Her children…her friends.  She even reminded us that God can bring good in all situations.

God was still in control.

And as I stood watching a home being destroyed, I thought about Mary.

She was in the midst of God’s will for her life–for everyone’s life!  Mary nearly lost her husband, probably lost her family–all to do what God asked.  She gave up the comfort of her home and rode astride a donkey in her final days of pregnancy and then had to give birth alone in a barn.  Strangers came to her instead of family….and they came with the news that the king wanted to kill her child.  She had to leave in the middle of the night, to a strange place for who knew how long.  And yet….

Luke 2:19 HCSB Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them.

All Mary had in the world was wrapped in a blanket in her arms and leading the donkey.

It was enough.

It was what would be passed down from heart to heart for more generations than her young mind could possibly ever imagine.

After the shock subsides and the pain over what was lost eases, Sandra will continue to pass on the one thing that can never be destroyed…..

He was wrapped in a blanket and laid in a manager….in tomb…for you…for me.

I know that many of you have received a text, a phone call, or a doctor’s report that simply was “bad”.  You’ve been knocked down to your knees and all you can do is cry out to God and ask “why”.  In all honesty, you may never have the answer to the “why”, however, never forget that God loves you and He will love you through the trials and tribulations that come.   He can give you a peace that is the foundation that keeps you from sinking into a pit of despair.  He is with you.  He understands.  He is wrapping His arms around you.  He loves you.


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Turkey

Man Carving Turkey at Christmas Dinner

Turkey, table, family, blah blah blah

It is Thanksgiving week. We all know that. We all are under some sort of pressure right now. And if you aren’t…..you are one good woman.  I’m personally balancing a family, a home, and a job and have not done ONE SINGLE THING for Thanksgiving. And….I’m stressed.

Let me add to the stress by telling you that we are completely ditching the normal Thanksgiving scenario for something completely out of character for us.

We are packing up and heading to the beach for a few days. Just us. A mom, a dad, and 3 kids.  No grandparents. No cousins. No aunts and uncles. Nada. Just us.  My stress is having to get us packed and out the door. Your stress might be the house, the table, the food, all the crazy family members. ;)  Regardless, we are covered in some amount of stress right now.  Don’t let the details of the day and week keep you in a stressed out place. Keep the focus on the people in our lives as well as Jesus Christ Himself.

I’ve finally said, OUT LOUD, that it is Thanksgiving. It’s not bringing the President of the United States over for dinner.  I’m going to readjust my sails, sit back, enjoy the scenery, and simply thank God for these people in my life.

Make it simple. Make yourself say it out loud right this second…..

Come on!!! You can do it!!!!  I’m saying it with you…..

“I’m thankful Lord for these people you have so graciously given me.  I’m truly, truly thankful for them.  I’m NOT worrying about the blah blah blah this week. My heart is thankful for the people.”

Sometimes the blah blah blah needs to be tended to and should be tended to, but it’s not worth the stress. Throw it in the trash.

See? That wasn’t so bad! Hang onto it sisters!!! Claim it in Jesus Name!!!

I love y’all. And, I’m thankful for you.

Hugs and blessings,

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Roasted Turkey

Cooked Turkey

Photo courtesy of Dreamstime

I used to just buy my turkey, plop it in a pan, and roast it in the oven with butter smeared on it. It was good, but it was kind of dry. Then I saw an episode on Food Network by Alton Brown about brining a turkey. I tried it a couple of years ago and have been hooked ever since! The brine makes the turkey juicy, moist, and gives it a flavor that butter and salt just can’t compete with!

After your brining is complete, then you can cook your turkey. Here are my recipes for both my brine and my turkey. Hope you enjoy!

Turkey Brine

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon vegetable broth
  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 gallon ice water

Directions

  1. In a large stock pot, combine the vegetable broth, sea salt, rosemary, sage, and thyme. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to be sure salt is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature.
  2. When the broth mixture is cool, pour it into a clean 5 gallon bucket. Stir in the ice water.
  3. Wash and dry your turkey. Make sure you have removed the innards. Place the turkey, breast down, into the brine. Make sure that the cavity gets filled. Place the bucket in the refrigerator overnight (or you can put the turkey in a cooler and load it down with lots of ice to keep the turkey cold)

Roasted Turkey

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 1 (12 pound) whole turkey

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, basil, Italian seasoning, black pepper and salt. Set aside.
  3. Wash the turkey inside and out; pat dry. Remove any large fat deposits. Loosen the skin from the breast. This is done by slowly working your fingers between the breast and the skin. Work it loose to the end of the drumstick, being careful not to tear the skin.
  4. Using your hand, spread a generous amount of the rosemary mixture under the breast skin and down the thigh and leg. Rub the remainder of the rosemary mixture over the outside of the breast. Use toothpicks to seal skin over any exposed breast meat.
  5. Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan. Add about 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the pan. Roast in the preheated oven 3 to 4 hours, or until the internal temperature of the bird reaches 180 degrees.

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Turkey Tetrazzini

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When you have turkey leftovers, this is the very best way to spend them!  This dish will make your house smell wonderful and it tastes fantastic.  My whole family will gobble this up–hee hee!

10 ounces mushrooms, sliced thin (about 4 cups)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
10 ounces spaghetti
3 cups coarsely chopped cooked turkey, including cooked giblets if desired
1 cup cooked peas
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/3 cup fine fresh bread crumbs

In a large heavy saucepan cook the mushrooms in 1/4 cup of the butter over moderate heat, stirring, until most of the liquid they give off has evaporated, stir in the flour, and cook the mixture over low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add in a stream the milk, the broth, and the wine, stirring, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring, and simmer the sauce for 5 minutes. ( I add a teaspoon of tarragon also, just because I love the flavor) – In a kettle of boiling salted water cook the spaghetti until it is al dente and drain it well.

In a large bowl combine well the spaghetti, the mushroom sauce, the turkey, the peas, and salt and pepper to taste, stir in 1/3 cup of the Parmesan, and transfer the mixture to a buttered shallow 3 quart casserole. In a small bowl combine well the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan, the bread crumbs, and salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle the mixture evenly over the Tetrazzini, and dot the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, cut into bits. The Tetrazzini may be prepared up to this point 1 month in advance and kept frozen, covered. Bake the Tetrazzini in the middle of a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is bubbling and the top is golden.  From Debbie Elrod, Seymour, TN

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Giblet Gravy

Cooked Turkey

This is my favorite gravy.  It is my favorite gravy that someone else makes.  I do not like dealing with “giblets.”  Though they are a cute word, they are gross to me…that is, until they are made into this splendid gravy.  Then I’m good with it.  It is delicious!

turkey liver, heart and gizzard (from the package inside your turkey)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 c. drippings from the cooked turkey
1/4 c. flour
3 c. giblet stock (see below) and milk (or cream)

Wash giblets. Boil giblets in a stock pan with 4 cups water over medium-high heat with salt and pepper until done, adding liver during the last 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the stock.  Chop giblets finely. Pour 1/4 c. stock in the roasting pan, adding flour mixed with 1/4 c. milk (or cream)–cook over medium heat.  Stir constantly.  Add 1 cup giblet stock, 1/2 c. drippings from turkey and 1  c. milk (or cream). Add giblets. Cook over medium heat for five minutes, stirring often.

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Thanksgiving Dressing

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This is from Jeno, who writes, “There are no words to give when it comes to Grandma’s Thanksgiving dressing. I can remember walking into her house on that special day and because it smelled so good you could taste it on the tip of your tongue before the dressing was even served up on your plate. It is one of those smells that just embraced you. Leftover dressing was even better.”

1 stick butter
2 bunches green onions, celery & 1 bell pepper, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound boneless pork chops
gizzards/giblets from turkey
4 (6 oz) pkgs of Pioneer cornbread mix
1 (16 oz) pkg herb seasoned stuffing mix
2 tbsp poultry seasoning
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp celery salt
green olives – to your liking (optional)
Juices from turkey

Sauté all your greens in the butter over medium heat until tender. Boil your meats together for about 1 hour or so and chop into small pieces. Combine all ingredients into your prepared corn bread and let sit overnight.

On Thanksgiving Day, retrieve some turkey juice and pour over your dry dressing to moisten, cover with foil and heat in a preheated oven at 350 for 1 hour.

*Cooks Note: You may substitute chicken broth for turkey juice.

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