The Missing Thanksgiving Turkey

Today is the day to begin all the cooking and prep for Thanksgiving. I love all that surrounds this holiday: the smells, planning, colors and family being together.

I’m thanking God today for Mom. Those of you who frequent this blog have heard me talk about her. Her humor, love for family and endurance through suffering have left me quite the legacy to attempt to follow by God’s grace.

My favorite Thanksgiving memory, like many I have, involve her humor. Mom would always clean out and prepare the turkey the night before, then put it into the frig until she got up at the crack of dawn to put it into the oven.  Like other years, we prepared much of the food during the days prior but knew we needed to leave room for a large turkey in Mom’s frig downstairs. Mom loved picking out and preparing the turkey and I enjoyed baking and helping with side dishes.

That morning I woke up earlier than normal and decided to go ahead and get the turkey started. I quietly went downstairs to the frig in Mom’s little apartment and opened the door. No turkey! Wait. She must have somehow found a way to get it into the upstairs frig after I went to bed. But when I looked, all I found there were dishes full of casseroles and the big pot of roll dough I had left rising overnight.

Where was the turkey???

Confused, I assumed she forgot to buy it. What would be open at 5 AM that sold turkeys? Were we about to have Thanksgiving with no turkey?

I went to wake up Benny with the dilemma and he was similarly perplexed. Mom wasn’t the type to forget the Thanksgiving turkey! It was time to wake her up.

I told her I had gotten up to put in the turkey but it wasn’t in the frig.

She assured me it was in her frig but I told her it just wasn’t there. She jumped up and stumbled into the kitchen, threw open the door and was shocked to find no turkey.

It took a few seconds for her disorientation cleared….

“Oh, the turkey is in the van!” she exclaimed as she hurried toward the door.

What??? Why was the turkey outside in the van? By the time we retrieved the turkey Mom explained that because the overnight temps were below freezing she knew that having it spend the night in the van would be safe — and allow room in the frig for all the other items we needed. By that time she was wide awake and we enjoyed one of our many “dying laughing” moments.

Within a few minutes the turkey was safely in the oven and we had a wonderful meal together. Each Thanksgiving since, I remember the missing turkey and this year I’m especially missing Mom. We fry our turkeys now so I won’t be getting up early to put one into the oven. But I will remember her and the missing turkey…but mostly I’ll wish I could hear her laugh.

Wednesday’s Child

She was five and we were sitting on the bed together. I was passively watching the evening news while editing one of her brother’s homeschool writing papers while she played with a couple of stuffed animals.

“Will you give me away?” she asked, jolting my attention away from correcting Joey’s common overuse of commas.

The news channel that was on did a weekly spot called Wednesday’s Child which showed children who needed foster families. I had noticed the children were always black or hispanic. That day, my little bi-racial daughter seemed to notice this for the first time. As I asked questions, I realized she was wondering why these children didn’t have parents and understood they had been “given away” by them.

That was our first “real” conversation about her adoption. I explained to her that God brought her to our family…forever. The children she saw on TV needed a family but she would never need a family. She had one and we would never let her go.

“Honey, no one will ever take you away and Daddy and Mommy will never give you away. No matter what happens, you’re ours.” A faint smile appeared on her adorable round face and I squeezed her tight. It was a holy moment for me that I hope to never forget; a moment where I asked the Lord to seal in her little heart that having a Mommy and Daddy who loved her was super important and could help her through whatever the future brought.

Over the years since then we’ve had other conversations. Each time the content deepens and each time she learns a little more about the circumstances surrounding her adoption.

In a recent conversation with a friend I was lamenting that I wished I had known years ago some of the things I understand about God and His ways now. I surmised that if I had been more attentive to His word or sought to know and understand Him more deeply I may have been able to avoid some trials along the way — like a few through which I am currently walking.

Her response resulted in me doing what my friend Ginny calls “processing.” She explained that because we are God’s children He can’t divulge all of who He is at once. As we mature He is able to disclose more of Himself to us. My daughter is able to grasp more about the complex issues of adoption now than when we had our first conversation fifteen years ago. Likewise, as we Christians grow spiritually,God is able to entrust us with more about who He is and how we have gotten to where we are today.

Honestly, I don’t always like what providence brings. Sometimes I wish for days gone by when simple answers like “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so” satisfied me. Dealing with aging, living in a fallen world full of my and others sin, and too frequently battling anxiety about what the future holds for me and those I love forces me to run to God for help. Feeding on milk was way easier than the solid food required of me now.

But when I run for help I still don’t typically get what I want. You see, what I too often want is either for someone or something to change when God’s agenda is a change in me. Will I trust Him when I’m completely out of control of my circumstances? Can His plan actually be better than mine? Is He powerful enough to sustain and strengthen me when I want to give up? Are the difficulties through which I’m walking building rather than tearing down my confidence that He is in control and everything He does is good (thanks, Mom)?

Yes, growing up in Christ means having to wrestle with aspects of who I am and who He is in a different way than I could handle when I was younger. Living in a broken, fallen world is just plain hard way more often than I anticipated. Somehow I got the idea that growing in godliness and knowing Christ better would mean an “abundant life” that meant less hard stuff.

But when it’s time for Him to go a little deeper in His communication with me I find something amazing every time: I find that I am His. Forever. Even when nothing changes but my perspective, there is comfort simply in having a loving Father.

The truth is I was Wednesday’s Child before He adopted me. Knowing that He will never give me away helps me to navigate the complex issues Christian maturity requires. After all, knowing I’m loved is super important and can help me through whatever the future brings.