Monday, November 18, 2013

Turkey Tales

The following is a story that was published in my book, “Woman To Woman Wisdom”.   It is one of my most popular stories so I was asked to post it again.  As you prepare to enjoy one of the most celebrated holidays remember to focus on what's most important:  love and family.  If your dinner doesn't turn out perfectly, enjoy it anyway!

The Turkey Exchange

   Most of us really cherish family gatherings during the holidays.   If your family is like mine, you have certain traditions that you respect and follow every year. At my house, holidays for the most part are fairly predictable:  special family recipes are shared, cherished stories are retold, relationships are rekindled,  and in some cases new traditions begin.
     But holidays can also be times loaded with stress,  especially our best-laid plans threaten to collapse.  As I’ve learned, in such times you simply need to adapt as best you can and then look for the blessings it brings.   This was the case for our family one Thanksgiving several years ago.  My husband kids and 1 decided to spend a nontraditional Thanksgiving aboard a small fishing boat anchored off the beach in Baja California.  As with every year, I wanted this to be a memorable and perfect holiday for my family—so I was a little bit anxious about our change in plans.  Everything had to be precisely choreographed so that we could make the best use of the small space—and even smaller oven!
     Weeks ahead of time, we made lists that included the measurement of the oven, the pots and pans available, etc.   Upon close scrutiny, we decided that the oven would accommodate only an eight-pound turkey, which would be quite a change from our usual twenty-two to twenty-five-pounder.  About two weeks prior to the trip, I found a great price on an eight-pound turkey, and I tossed it in the Deepfreeze.  About the same time, my mother called and wanted to know if we had room in our Deepfreeze to store a twenty-two pounder for her.  She was planning on having guests for Thanksgiving dinner and needed a turkey bigger than her freezer could hold.  “No problem,” I told her.  “I have plenty of room.”
     So we prepared for our trip.  My very helpful husband always packs the cooler for all of our family outings—it’s just one of the jobs he likes to do.  So while I was helping the kids get their bags closed up, Robert loaded the turkey into its “cold box” for our trip, and off we went.  Well, you can imagine my surprise when, at our destination, I opened the ice chest to find a huge turkey staring back at me!  Robert had inadvertently taken my mother’s turkey!  I screamed at him to come and explain why he’d done such a stupid thing.  Poor Robert didn’t know that my mother had stored her turkey in our freezer.  His defense was that when he looked in the Deepfreeze, he only saw one thing that looked like a real turkey to him…so that was the one he took!  This didn’t make any sense to me, because we’d discussed the size of the turkey weeks ago.  But to Robert, it just did not compute that a small eight-pound turkey would actually look more like a frozen chicken.  He had taken what looked to him like the only turkey.
Well, after getting quite upset—and after leaving a panic-stricken and apologetic voice message for my mom via cell phone—I finally calmed down.  And, of course, we had a really good laugh about it all and prayed that my mother would hear the voice message in time to shop of a new turkey.  I did feel really terrible about flying off the handle, but really, who doesn’t get stressed out by the holidays, especially when you want everything to be perfect?!
     Well,  you know what?  Our Thanksgivings weren’t ruined after-all.  My possibility-thinking husband creatively butchered the turkey so as to fill our small, eight-pound roasting pan beautifully.  We gave the rest of the bird to a local family nearby, and they were very happy about it—because, as it turned out, it was to be their only taste of turkey on Thanksgiving!  And it worked out OK for my mother, as well, because her dinner party plans changed and her company did not come.  We had a lot to thank God for on that Thanksgiving Day.  Truth be told, there were blessings enough to go around—blessings of sharing, blessings of new acquaintances—as we gave away our extra turkey to another family.  And it was all made possible by the unexpected “turkey exchange”!  No one could have planned it better than, of course, our Father, the Grantor of all blessings.
     There’s a Yiddish proverb that says, “Man plans, God laughs.”  (of course that’s true for women too!) I like to imagine God holding his breath, waiting for Donna to explode when she discovered that the enormous turkey instead of the one she’d been expecting!  As this situation taught me, God always has a way of making our mishaps work out somehow.   I should have remembered this when I blew-up at poor Robert!  When things don’t go as we think they should…when our holiday plans get messed up…when people don’t do the things we think they should do, we need to keep in mind that God is in charge, and if we trust in Him, He will help us through.  In this case, my family survived—even thrived—and had a wonderful Thanksgiving after all, even if it didn’t go exactly as I had planned.
     Remember this the next time you make a cake for the school bake sale—and your son drops it on the floor.  Remember this when you get to your vacation destination---and discover your luggage was shipped someplace else.  Remember this when you’re racing to make an appointment---and your car battery picks the same day to die.  Stay calm.  Ask God to show you the wisdom in your situation---and ask Him to let you be pleased with the surprise blessings it brings.  And learn to laugh when things go wrong---which I have to tell you, we’ve done so many times since that day.
Have a very Happy Thanksgiving! 
 God is blessing you.   Donna

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Walking With The Wounded

The Race

The Race


3 teams, 335km, 16 days, -35°C, constant winds, life changing injuries. This is not your average race!

Three teams of wounded servicemen and women are embarking upon on one of the most high profile expeditions of modern times, racing across 3° to the Geographic South Pole. Wounded from the UK, the US and the Commonwealth (Australia and Canada) will embark on this grueling challenge.

Why? To show the world the extraordinary courage and determination of the men and women who have been wounded while serving our countries, and to remind us all of the help and support we owe them.

When? Following extensive training, from cold weather training in Iceland in March, to team training through the summer, and a final session of snow preparation in October, the teams will fly to Antarctica in November. They aim to reach the South Pole around 17th December 2013.

Where? The South Pole

(Image Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

For more information about these amazing men and women you can click here   

  And remember that God is blessing you through all things.  

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Billy Graham Turns 95

As I pack to get ready to join my husband in Ashville, South Carolina for Billy Graham's 95th birthday party this Thursday night I feel very fortunate to have been invited to such a great man's celebration of his remarkable life of faith.

Billy Graham is best known for his crusades and has conducted over 400 of them since 1949.  Before his retirement in 2005 he traveled and preached the Gospel in the United States and all over the world.  If you think about it, he really brought church to people instead of having people come into the church.  His team would set up the crusades in stadiums, various meeting halls, or even in fields of grass that had been cleared in preparation of his arrival.
 This reminds me of what I heard at a Christian Business Men's meeting a couple of weeks ago (yes, as a woman they even invited me!).  The speaker that evening was a family court judge and he had been counseling and encouraging men and women for many years.  He regularly deals with individuals at their very lowest times in life. I'm sure you can imagine the hellish stories he hears as people come into court seeking dissolution of marriage or to petition for issues having to do with child custody and more.  Throughout his career he told us that he found it more important to try to "get heaven into people instead of getting people into heaven."  The Bible teaches us that "the kingdom of God is at hand" which means that we can access it anytime.  Jesus came to earth to live as one of us so that people could have access to the Father, God.   So many people are living in a personal hell of addiction, disease, or extreme heartache: I love the judge's approach to sharing the Christian message. 

How many people has Billy Graham encouraged and blessed in his life time?  How many people has he encouraged to find heaven on earth or heaven for eternity?   As my father-in-law, Dr. Robert H. Schuller always said, "anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in one seed."

Helping to share inner-peace and to hopefully encourage heaven on earth to people less peaceful than myself has always been a passion of mine.  This is why I love my participation in The Global Peace Foundation.  Robert and I leave December 1st for this year's event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  I will be reporting on that mission more in the coming days and weeks.

 *Please join me and my husband on November 15th at 6pm California time for "The Call" as we discuss being thankful and finding happiness no matter what our circumstances in life.  To access our call simply dial 530-881-1300 and when prompted enter this code:  642848#   We will interview our youngest son, Anthony, as he tells us what it means to reach-out to people of different cultures and faiths.  He will join us in Malaysia as he reaches out to the youth of that nation.

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