Finding God in a Burnt Turkey

By Martha Bolton:

We can end up finding God in all kinds of strange things…even a burnt turkey.

 

Turkey memorial

Turkey Memorial

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best cook in the world. You’ll never see my recipes on the Food Network (although, Home Depot might be moved to display a few of them in their lumber aisle).

My biggest problem is with my timing. I put the food on the stove or in the oven, and then I get distracted. A TV show catches my eye, I need to finish something on the computer, I go on vacation…

What happened one Christmas some years ago was not the result of any of that, though. It was an innocent mistake.

Mark Lowry had given my family and I a smoked turkey for Christmas. Now, I don’t recall ever serving anything “smoked” before, other than maybe brownies (smoked, smoldering, what’s the difference?)

So I wasn’t quite sure how to prepare the gifted holiday bird. I had no idea that the term “smoked” meant that it had already been cooked.  Remembering that my mother always placed the turkey into the oven at night and then cooked it until the next day, I decided to do the same. I laid the bird in a pan, wrapped aluminum foil over it, and then baked it at 350-degrees until I served it the next day for the Christmas meal. It smelled delicious. That smokey aroma filled the entire house.  My dinner guests, which included a professional chef, were sure to be impressed.

But when I pulled back the aluminum foil, I was aghast to see that the turkey was as black as coal, and the meat of its drumsticks had shrunken down, exposing several inches of bone.  If you stood the poor thing up on its legs, it would’ve looked like a Cornish hen on stilts.

Mark almost cried, citing that it was the best tasting turkey in the country and I had turned it into turkey jerkey.

Luckily, I had also prepared a ham which I had only baked a few hours, so the dinner wasn’t a total disaster.

But I learned something that day about the importance of timing, the futility of trying to impress others, and how God can turn our mishaps into opportunity.

God has his perfect timing.  It was in his perfect timing that the first Christmas happened in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago.

That babe, who left heaven to sleep on a bed of hay, didn’t worry about impressing others, either.  The one who humbly and obediently traded a throne for a manger of wood didn’t think about what others would say about him.

And God can turn even burnt turkey into opportunities:  The opportunity to learn from my mishap—I now read the instructions on food gifts before incinerating them.  I also know that watching someone’s actions at a particular moment does not always give the whole story.  Mom put the turkey in the oven at night, but what I didn’t realize is that she got up in the middle of the night to take it out of the oven when it was done and then put it in the refrigerator.  She was simply reheating it in the morning.

So look for God to show up at your Christmas gathering this year.  He’ll be there.  In ways you might not even realize.  Even in a burnt turkey.

©Martha Bolton. Martha has written for many well-known comedians including Bob Hope, and also is a musical screenplay writer and book author  and parody lyric writer. Find out more about Martha at marthabolton.com. According to Martha, “Life’s tough. God’s good. And laughter’s calorie-free!”

We are excited to welcome Martha to our Finding God Daily team, to inject more humor and wisdom into our blog! In the video below, meet Martha as she shares her recent works on Amish musicals and fiction, including Josiah for President, and describes what it was like working closely with comedian Bob Hope for over fifteen years:

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Finding God to Endure Christmas Grief

 By Heidi McLaughlin:

Even when you think you cannot possibly bear the grief of losing someone you love, God can provide comfort.

 

Whose silhouette is that behind my glass front door at this time of the night?  My heart was hammering inside my chest. It felt like my knees would disintegrate, as I inched my way down the circular staircase. I had to force through my panic to discover who was relentlessly ringing my doorbell.

Mechanically and fearfully I opened the door to look into the face of a somber policeman.

“Are you Mrs. Conley?” He asked gently and quietly.

“Yes, I am” I said – then hesitated before I added, “do you need to come inside?”

He took three steps into my house and his next words shattered every semblance of my life and left me gasping for air.

“Tonight your husband died on the basketball floor at Immaculata High School”, he said. “You are going to have to call a friend to help you go down to the morgue to identify his body.”

 Ugly, constricting silence hung in the air. I had heard these words in movies and on TV, but they couldn’t possibly be meant for me. After all, just a few hours ago my husband Dick cheerfully said, “Hey honey, see you later; after the game.” Something was wrong – the words did not connect.

But the timeless silence was broken with the continued prompting, “Mrs. Conley, you are going to have to call a friend, you can’t do this alone.”

Who do you call in the middle of the night? Like someone groping through a fog, I stumbled to a phone to call my friend. “Bea,” I heard myself saying, “Dick died tonight, please come over and help me.” With disbelief in her voice, she tenderly responded that she would be with me in minutes.

The nameless policeman and I sat down in my living room and stared at a Christmas tree that mocked reality. Christmas was just two weeks away and all the beautifully wrapped presents were under the tree with anticipation of another Grand Conley Christmas Celebration. All this exquisite, dazzling beauty now glared at me – scorning my anguish. Just a few hours ago it had seemed so important. For weeks I had been eagerly and joyfully consumed with wrapping paper, gift tags and chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Now it was meaningless.

In a matter of minutes Bea and her husband Ernie were at my doorstep. Calmly but with love and authority, they took over for me. They dismissed the policeman, drove me to the morgue, hugged me, held my hands and loved me.  They had to hold me up as I made the most heart wrenching phone call of my life – telling my two children that their daddy had died that night.

The entire night I watched the minutes and hours tick away.  My heart would not stop pounding and my mind was whirling, anxious – unable to make sense of anything. What would I do when first light of dawn appeared?  I couldn’t even pray – all I could muster was “Please God, help me endure this pain and confusion – help me survive this.”  Right now, more than anything, I needed peace and hope that was beyond my present human, inadequate comprehension.

 … the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus ( Philippians 4:7 KJV).

Would anything good come out of something so horrible?  And yet, I could not forget the words of a friend spoken a year earlier when we moved from Lethbridge, Alberta to our new home here in Kelowna, British Columbia.  I could still see him shaking his head when he said, “God must have something amazing for you in Kelowna.  I can’t believe He would move you away from your children and your ministry unless He has something even better for you to do. Trust Him to do something great.”

I knew that when the first light of dawn broke over the Kelowna mountains, I would have to trust God right in the middle of my pain.  He was my only hope.

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him” (Psalm 62:5 NIV).

Have you, too, lost someone and in your grief  desperately need the comfort of God? See this video from the Psalm Praise Project by Derek Sandstrom, with his wife Sheri (clarinet) and Dennis Jones (violin). Video by Roberta Robbins.

© Heidi McLaughlin. For over two decades Heidi has taught women how to become “beautiful from the inside out”, applying God’s powerful truths via bible studies, mentoring, and Heidi’s own poignant stories.  Visit Heidi at www.heartconnection.ca, or  her blog. Follow Heidi on Twitter: @heidiheart

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