Thankful and Blessed

By Rhonda Woods

Hello everyone!

Cooler weather is moving in and Thanksgiving is a few days away.  Our family celebrates this gathering a little differently than most do.  Thanksgiving is generally held a week earlier, at my home or my sister’s. Somewhere to host the crowd. Most of the family travel to their extended families on Turkey Day or spend the long weekend camping.  This year, we celebrated even earlier, on Sunday, November 4 for both Thanksgiving and to honor my mama’s birthday.  All the counter tops in my kitchen were full of traditional and favorite dishes brought by the “designated” family members.  The birthday girl had requested a 6-Layer Coconut Raspberry Cake, which was topped by a large number of candles!  The Happy Birthday song was sung by close to thirty relatives and three of her great-granddaughters sitting on “Granny’s” lap anxiously awaiting the end of the song.  This is followed by the children plucking the candles from the cake to suck the frosting off the bottom of each one!  What a sight!  As I looked around the room, I could not help but be amazed at the growth of our family.  I joke and say, I was the one that started the whole mess, as the firstborn. Mama is pictured here with my children who are the parents of her five great grandchildren.  As her health deteriorates, it was important to celebrate her birthday with many of her favorite foods, laughter and lots of love.

The memories of my sweet husband and other family members who were not there with us brought back the “rain”.  The sting of reality. For a brief time, all was good as I buzzed around doing what I do best, cooking in my kitchen, my comfort zone.  Dressing, Herb Turkey Breasts, Southern Seasoned Butter Beans  Pistachio Salad, Butterscotch Haystacks, Sweet Tea, Cranberry Sauce and the birthday cake were my contributions to the feast.

My Mother-in-law and my Sweet HusbandSo, I am adding my often-requested Dressing, also called Stuffing, recipe which was adapted from my mother-in-law’s recipe (pictured with my husband).  I am also adding some casserole favorites that I hope you will enjoy on your Thanksgiving table… or counter tops, as is tradition in our family. Some people ask what is the difference between Dressing and Stuffing.  Well, Dressing is baked in a pan and Stuffing is cooked inside the turkey as it bakes.  I could just hear my sweet husband asking about leftovers as we would get ready to “make a plate” to reheat for supper.

May God bless you and your family as He has blessed ours,

Chef Woods

 

Thanksgiving Recipes

Classic Green Bean Casserole

Corn Casserole

Macaroni and cheese with crumb topping

Pineapple Casserole

Praline Sweet Potato Casserole

Stuffing

 

Being Grateful

By: Crissie Miller Kirby

I’ve been absent the better part of the last fiive months from the Every Woman Blog, not really because I wanted to be absent, but because I have been fighting a pretty bad case of “writer’s block” and struggling with what to say that will matter to people. You see, when I first decided to enter the blog’s contest, I wanted my writings to be beneficial to someone. I wanted to “pay forward” the help that I received in words, thoughts, and prayers from some wonderfully special people who helped me make it when I thought I couldn’t and wouldn’t.

As I write this post, I’m sitting in one of my “happy places,” my in-law’s condo on Hilton Head Island. The boys are sleeping soundly and their angelic faces and even breaths make me smile, and I am grateful. I’m grateful for a pretty good night’s sleep and grateful for what looks like will be a beautiful day ahead for my little family. As I do many mornings, I have risen and have been reading the news online. There seems to be tragedy and heartbreak on every site; from WIS to CNN to MSNBC: death and killings and war and bombings and terrible tornadoes. My problems and my ability to cope or not cope seem so small and minor and trivial in comparison.

I read an article about a teen in Oklahoma who lost her mother in the recent tornadoes that struck the town of Moore. She laid her mother to rest one day and accepted her high school diploma just one day later. I cannot fathom; to me it is unimaginable.

Graduation

This past Friday night, I attended my high school alma mater’s commencement services, where the commencement speaker was a young man in his early 20’s, a young man who, himself, had graduated from the same school about five years before. As Pierce and I entered the school, there he sat in the office talking to the school athletic director, sharply dressed in Marine Corps dress blues. Kyle Carpenter always seems to wear a smile and a personable, approachable nature. Outwardly, it is clear to see that this young man has faced something horrific and many already know his story. Carpenter was stationed in Afghanistan in November of 2010 when a grenade landed on top of a building where he and a buddy were taking part in a fire fight. In an effort to protect his best friend and the rest of his unit, Kyle threw himself on the grenade and sustained some pretty serious injuries that included losing an eye, many of his teeth, and extensive damage to his right arm.  After all that Kyle has been through over the last few years, I was anxious to hear what words of wisdom he might impart on the Senior class.

Kyle Carpenter

As the time came for Kyle’s speech, I listened closely. Part of Kyle’s message seemed so simple, yet so profound: be grateful. Be grateful that you can attend school and learn. Be grateful for clean drinking water. Be grateful for having the use of four good limbs. We sat quietly in our independent school setting where God is openly worshiped and praised, and listened to someone who has fought against the Taliban, has been severely wounded, and has not just survived, thrived and has used his injuries to better not only himself, but the world around him. Although he would certainly be entitled to be angry and/or depressed, Kyle, quite literally, “soldiers on.” Part of his message is to just be grateful for the little things in life we overlook every single day. How can something so simple be so difficult? I know that I struggle with it, and some days are easier than others.

Kyle and Pierce

In the days following the recent tragedies that have come with Hurricane Sandy, the shootings in Connecticut, the Boston Marathon bombings, and the most recent Oklahoma tornadoes, it is easy to be thankful and grateful for my life, my children, my job, my home, my extended family, my wonderful friends, and my faith. Thank you, Kyle Carpenter, for reminding us to be grateful not just when tragedy surrounds us, but every single day and for every single thing.

Grateful Expectations

By: Shannon Shull

I recently read an article in a magazine that discussed the importance of fostering a thankful attitude in children. If our children don’t absorb the value of thankfulness from us parents, teachers, mentors and coaches at an early age, then who will it come from?

The ability to be grateful for the good things in your life is an important part of a person’s character. If us adults show and share our own thankfulness, hopefully the children in our lives will learn to do the same and even be a healthier individual for it!

When we have a tough day, those of us who are optimistic tend to remind ourselves that it could always be worse and that compared to some, we have it made. I think if we take the time to recognize the good in our lives instead of giving so much weight to negative aspects, we can think ourselves into positive health, which will eventually allow more positivity to come our way. The mind-body connection is so incredibly strong! I know that if I repeatedly tell myself that I’m going to get sick and focus on not feeling well, then guess what happens? I inevitably get sick! If I tell myself that I will be just fine and focus on strength and healing, I open this amazing door that seems to allow my body to actually get better.

Studies show that positive thinkers are healthier and less stressed. And I betcha they have a lovely effect on those around them too!  So as we strive to be grateful examples to the children in our lives, we can positively affect the adults in our lives, too.  Thankfulness is addictive! And the best part? Counting your blessings is FREE!

So here’s a thought – why don’t we make every day a day to give thanks? We all know that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for all the goodness in our lives, but shouldn’t we take note of our blessings on a daily basis? Here’s a challenge for us all: starting on Thanksgiving, let’s encourage the children in our lives AND the adults to have an attitude of gratitude! Check out these fun family activities you can do to help inspire thankful thinking:

ABC Journal of Thanks

Designate a small notebook as your ABC journal. Have your little ones practice writing the alphabet, and help them draw a picture of something they are thankful for that begins with each letter. Don’t limit this journal activity to just the kids! Set a positive example and do it, too! Have fun cutting pictures out of magazines to represent what you’re thankful for or draw pictures yourself. You will treasure this special ABC Journal and will enjoy looking back on it in later years.

Wreath of Thanks

Transform a bunch of clothespins into a fun way to mark down what you’re grateful for. To make it, paint some clothespins, and once dry, attach them around a wire wreath frame. Cut a heart out of thick cardstock and attach to the center of your wreath. Write, “I’m thankful for…” on the heart and then customize each clothespin with a different moment of gratitude. You can pull out this ultra special wreath every year to celebrate your thanks!

Our Daily Thanks

Make a gratitude calendar. Make a base (you can use foam core or a poster) and use mini craft envelopes or regular small envelopes to represent each day of the month. Each day, every family member puts a note in the envelope describing something they are thankful for.  At the end of the month, entertain each other by opening the envelopes and reading aloud the notes of thanks inside. This will not only instigate conversation but inspire everyone with an air of positivity!

Fabric of Life

Dress your table with a plain tablecloth. Fill a tumbler, large cup or bowl with permanent fabric markers and encourage everyone to write or draw one reason for thanks on the cloth each day. You’ll end up with a linen full of gratitude for your Thanksgiving feast or special dinner.

Sunflower Plant of Thankfulness

Transform a paper plate into a blooming sunflower plant filled with black bean “seeds” and card-stock “petals.”

To make it, paint a paper plate black, then glue black beans to the center of the dry plate. Cut out enough petals from yellow card stock to fit around the rim of the plate. Think of thankful words and phrases to write onto each petal, then glue the pieces to the rim. Make the stem by painting a paint-stir stick (found at the hardware store) green, and embellish it with sticker letters and raffia.

Remember: Don’t limit your thankfulness to one day. Let’s carry out an attitude of gratitude throughout the entire year!