As a child in my grandmother’s home, this would be the day that I traditionally would wake up nauseous, the stench of slow-roasted turkey thick in the air.  When Beauty made turkey, it was a 28-30 pound affair.  Her stuffing was stock full of giblets.  For the uninitiated, I am not even going to tell you what giblets are.  It’s Thanksgiving after all, and as I could never stomach them as a kid, it seems unfair to distress innocents with an explication. Her table fed 35-40, depending who was able to travel home and who was in the woods hunting. In later years, each family brought a dish to pass that became known as “their dish.”

It’s been years since I sat at that table, but I remember the smell.  In fact, one of the most vivid memories I have of being invited to The Husband’s grandparents’ house for the first time was the aroma of turkey baking.  That smell, which for whatever reason has always caused my nose to recoil, was enough to take my already nervous stomach over the top.  I spent the rest of the morning in the bathroom and am still teased about it four children later by The Husband’s family.

Like so many, I am thankful for many things this Thanksgiving. I imagine that my catalogue reads much like your own, and above all else we count our family, church family, friends and school communities among the things for which we most earnestly rejoice.  It is a song of constant Praise to be able to circle in relationship with each other as we journey through the hills and valleys of this gift of life.

The experience I am most grateful for this week centers around an intense experience at my father’s table.  My father and I had a significant communication glitch, and my feelings were really hurt.  From the moment of the exchange, all parties knew it had been a misspeak. There was complete consensus among the stakeholders to repair the relational damage, mend together, and not go to bed until everyone felt well and safe again.  However, despite the high emotion and potential for a really bad scene, no one got angry.  No one yelled.  No one maligned another, pointed a finger, leveled an accusation, assigned blame or quit.  My Nana Mamma was the triage mediator of crisis.  This beloved woman, who has gifted my life with so many rescue sentences of wisdom that I have held on to over my coming of age like life buoys, followed me into the bathroom and cradled me in the quilt of her arms as I cried.

I am grateful for this because it documents so much growth in relationships and skills.  Speaking only for myself, I know as certainly as I know my children’s middle names that there was a time, and humbly I confess a time not that long ago, that I would have attacked with anger, hurled profanity bombs and left, or at least threatened to leave the home.  I would have rehearsed the hurt, and held on to the anger like a spoiled poodle.  I would have carried a grudge, thought it a confirmation of all that is wrong in the world in general and my father specifically.

Certainly, the dynamic wasn’t as tasty as Dutch apple pie with French vanilla ice cream, but I am thankful for the experience nonetheless.  It provided an opportunity for the people I most love on this planet to learn new things about each other.  Next to The Husband and our babies, there is no one I have ever loved more than my father.  I adore him.  I have looked up to him as long as my neck had the strength to look up.  It wasn’t until I was 13 that I realized that he could not defend me from every dragon in these deep blue seas.

A lot has happened between 13 and now, and my love for him has only grown over time.  I simply have never known anyone as consistent and fierce as he.  He is a defender of truth and family.  His loyalties run deep and remain.  I respect that about him the most.  He will never quit me.

Finally, God has done enough work on my heart, I feel like I can reciprocate that kind of love to him, The Husband and my babies.  There have been times that I have felt discouraged that God hadn’t yet mended this broken heart of mine.  There are issues in my life I have prayed over as ardently as I know how, and felt little traction.  This exchange gave me a yardstick to celebrate some measureable growth.  It’s been incremental and far from even, but God’s been super busy with heart.

This Thanksgiving, I am reminded of what one of my brothers from another mother said about dangerous prayers.  He reminded our home group to be aware that when you pray dangerous prayers that God will answer them, sometimes in ways we neither welcome nor expected in the moment.

I think the misfire between me and my father may have been such an answer, or the beginning of a beginning of an answer, to a dangerous prayer of my heart for years.  I have prayed, and will continue to pray to be clean.  I have asked God to search my heart and help me forgive myself and others for those residual woundings  that keep me separate from His Grace and Will in my life.

I don’t love my father less because we had a miscommunication, I love him more, because it cracked the door for us to have a deeper relationship and understand each other better.  My Nana Mamma, who I adore, showed me once again that she stands for me and claims me as her own.

I am grateful.

I am happy.

I am loved.

I love in return.

Blessed Be His Name.

And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!