Thanksgiving Preparations: Finding the Calm Before the Storm


Turkey day is in three days.  Are you panicked? Or are you a pro in the kitchen drinking your glass of cab with a a checklist done two weeks ago (if so, share your stuff)?  Most times, I feel like these three days leading up Thanksgiving feel like call-in days.  There are things that can only get done the day of or night before.  It's like the calm before the storm.  I wanted to give you some helpful tips on executing Thanksgiving with a light spirit.

1. No Use in Crying over Burnt Turkey

Here's the thing.  Some people either love to cook all day long or don't.  There are people like me who thrive in being able to create the day of pulling out a bag of tricks.  And then there is the rest of the populace.  What I've realized is that even if the turkey is dry, the mashed potatoes are lukewarm, & the crust got burnt, when you're celebrating a day of thankfulness with people you love (and hopefully love you), it's not the end product of dinner that qualifies for a successful day.  

2. Don't Try New Things

Thanksgiving is NOT the time to pull out a new recipe that you saw premiered on the cover of Food & Wine, or some food blog.  It's a time to cooking well based on your expertise.  If you've never deep-fried a turkey & decide you must on Wednesday--probably not a good idea.  Be comfortable in your cooking skin & even ask those more seasoned for help.  

3. How to Prepare

For the novice cooks, today (Monday) is a good day to finalize your menu.  Figure out how much thawing time you need for your turkey (weight).  What sides require oven time & stove time? It's good write out each side you will be serving & when it needs to begin prepping, to when you begin cooking, in order to have it hot for eating time.  You can always prepare mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes in advance (a day) & pull them out to warm by adding some liquid over the stove to heat them up.  Another tip is avoid putting the stuffing directly into the turkey, because it tends to require more cooking time for your turkey (evidently leading to one dry bird).  Appetizers are good to keep it simple & have done a day in advance.  

On Wednesday, have a time schedule of what cooking day looks like.  Do this by working backwards from the time you intend to eat.  If dinner begins at 3:00, you need to evaluate what food stuff needs to start when & setting your table needs to start when.

4. Enlist the Forces

Always delegate.  It's no time to be Type A or pull out your OCD card.  Remember how ultimately it doesn't matter if the food is perfect?  Well, if our attitudes stink because we have steam rolled our spouses, children, relatives or friends, in order to achieve the "perfect meal," we have failed.  

Ask others to contribute their favorite side to mix it up.  Ask others to bring a specific side dish, in order to ensure variety.  If your friend loves making desserts, delegate it.  Enlist your children, spouse or others to set the table.  Let go of your vision & invite them to share their vision.  

5. Ease up on Yourself

In these next couple days you might be feeling overwhelmed with all that needs to get done.  I know I am, but, I have to remind myself that I'm only given 24 hours in a day & I'm still required to be present in the here & now.  Sure, I can prepare & plan for Thursday; but, I don't want to ignore the present opportunities to play puzzles with my daughter, go on a date with Ben for his birthday.  

If you know you will be a basket case on Thursday, because you didn't plan--then begin that today.  If you know you might be a little nutty, but doable with a more fly off the seams of your pants, then don't.  Ask yourself this, "When I don't plan ahead, do I make it unbearable for myself & those around me when kickoff begins?"  


What tips do you have for preparing for Thanksgiving to make it as stress free as possible?  Do you have any fun stories of Thanksgiving mishaps?  


Thanksgiving Recipes:

Harvest Salad

Apple Sage Sausage Patties

Sweet Potato Goodness

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake with Honey-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Sour Cream Apple Bars

Final Thoughts on Mission Statements


 In coming up with a mission statement, it's good and easy to have one; yet, much more difficult to stick with it.  In Part 1, "what makes you unique?," we address & answer that first, most vital question.  It's the map that sets us on our journey.  In Part 2, "what's your rally cry, your top priority?," we address & answer how to eliminate stress by focusing on one area (rally cry) in our lives we can work on (& achieve in 2-6 months), which will help us stick to our journey.  Now, in Part 3, the final question remains.

 Question #3: How do you talk about and use the answers to your questions?

It's one thing to know what makes you unique.  It's also another to know one area to focus on to eliminate stress & lack of vision/focus.  Yet, it's another thing to know how you are going to accomplish it.  We could write a grandiose mission statements filled with our core values & strategic values. We could have our rally cry that sings in unison with our soul & mind, creating a Zen-like space, free of clutter & distraction. 

Better yet, picture yourself 50 lbs overweight.  You tell yourself, "I'm better than this.  I deserve more for my life!"  So, you go out and buy some exercise clothing, rid your house of the junk food and fill your fridge with clean, nutritious food.  You tell yourself, "By the end of the year, I'm going to be one hot mama/dude!"  You make the appointment with the gym and start your regime to better health. 

After your first workout you think, "this is hard, I don't know if I can do this."  You look in your fridge and wonder, "salad with chicken doesn't sound appetizing." Your body says, "OH.MY.GOSH.  I didn't know there were muscles here," you're in pain. 

You go the next day to stick with the plan, because you remember your long-term goal.  Yet, by the second week, you sleep in...missing the gym.  You begin to buy a couple more food items away from what you intended.  You find yourself paying for a gym membership that isn't being used. 

Question 3 helps us continue going to the gym, eating healthily without letting the food rot and the exercise clothes sit clean in the drawer.  Here's how...

1. Find a time every week to evaluate.

Spend 10 minutes every week (preferably on the same day) going over your 'rally cry' and the defining objectives & standard objectives.  Are you finding that your defining objectives might have been too vague (notice I redefined one of mine)?  Or did you try to over achieve?  Were the objectives too narrow that no one could fit through them?  If so, you might need to tweak it a bit.  If you find it hard doing this on your own, then maybe there is a trusted friend or spouse you could share your rally cry with and they can help you with accountability.

2. Keep it Visible

It's one thing to have your mission statement, rally cry, & objectives written out.  It's another thing to have them in clear view to see everyday.  Keep them posted for you to see and be reminded of who you are and where you are headed. Put them in a place you walk past every single day.

Kamille's Scoreboard

1. What is my top priority right now?

My Rallying Cry: “Creating a gentle spirit that listens.”

Defining Objectives:

  1. Spend time in solitude every week (have scheduled internet times).

  2. Pray earnestly for the Spirit’s empowerment daily, begin with this each morning.

  3. Journal 3xs a week.

  4. Spend quality listening time with each family member everyday (start with five minutes).

  5. Cultivate a heart that allows interruptions, mess…play with the girls, embracing this daily.

  6. Update: Go to bed by 10:00, in order to have a well rested body & spirit.


Standard Objectives:

  1. Exercise & maintain health

  2. Marriage

  3. Home administration

  4. Girls & family fun (means our family of four)

  5. My Spiritual Life

2. What makes me unique?

I’ve been blessed with a sensitive spirit, which is moved into action by standing up for righteousness, especially for people. I value my relationship with Jesus and how he has imparted me with a storyteller’s heart and redeemed my story. Through this, I am called to encourage & empower my family & others to find their story and how to connect to others with it. I also value good, quality food and love creating nutritious & delicious food through cooking & baking. All of these have ignited a strong call to genuine hospitality within me.

3. How will I talk about and use the answers to this information?

I will spend time on Sunday afternoon evaluating how effective I have been in following the defining objectives.  I will include Ben on this conversation for accountability.  I will look over journal entries & track my sleep time as well for encouragement.

Where are you finding yourself among these questions?  Where in your life is asking to be your rally cry?  Which question seems the most discouraging or daunting?  Add to the conversation to impart your unique perspective.


Part 1, 2, & 3 have been influenced & inspired by Patrick Lencioni's book The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family.
A Year Ago: Mascarpone Chocolate Cheesecake

A Mission Statement...Now What?

Part 1: What Makes You Unique?: Writing a Personal Mission Statement

Can I just say that I feel very "legit" and "organizational" writing up posts like this one and How to Write a Personal Mission Statement?  I'm a bit scared, not because it's totally out of the ordinary, but how much I love this sort of thing and my nerdy side is coming out.  You might also be thinking, "how does writing a personal mission statement have anything to do with Evangitality?"  I would wage to say it has everything to do with it.  Whether, you are a free-spirit individual embracing spontaneity & labeled with a "P" on Myers-Briggs; or, you like a bit more structure, and direction of where you are headed with a "J" on Myers-Briggs...all of us need to have some element of intentionality in life.  We need to know what it is we value and who we are if we are going to show genuine love & hospitality to the many people we encounter.

So, maybe you finished your personal mission statement and are wondering what you do with it?  Or you haven't started and you don't know if you ever will, because let's face it, there is still that box of old stories on tape that you promised your husband you would go through to declutter and bring order to your life (oops, maybe that's just me?).  Either way, I believe having a mission statement is good for destination & keeping one on track.  However, a mission statement alone doesn't help us navigate through the journey to get to the final destination, which is what question 2 of the Big 3 Questions addresses...


1. What is your rally cry?  What is your Top Priority?

It doesn't take much to figure out your rally cry--really, it doesn't.  Make a list of a couple things that you see right here and now as a hindrance to get to your destination.  It's not a science.  Overthinkers need not apply.  Choose something that you can achieve within 2-6 months--that's it.  It your rally cry can be fixed in a week, don't choose it.  If it's something that takes longer than 6 months...leave it alone.  Pick one thing to rally around.  Here was my list:

  1. Being gentle in my responses.

  2. Having an activity everyday for my girls.

  3. Do gross motor exercises with V everyday.

  4. Provide nutritious meals for my family.

  5. Provide spiritual growth opportunities for the girls.

  6. Develop storytelling curriculum.

As you can see, all of these happen to align with my personal mission statement.  And any of them would be good to pick.  I can stress (probably like others) about picking the best one, or wondering if I don't pick the gross motor exercises for V then I'll be throwing her further behind in her development.  Or if I don't pick spiritual growth, then my girls might become spiritually destitute (a little dramatic flare thrown in for good measure).  But, when I boiled it down, I knew I wanted & needed a gentle spirit that listens above all else.  My rally cry is:

"Creating a gentle spirit that listens."


2. Create Defining Objectives

Once you have picked your rally cry that can be accomplished in 2-6 months, write up five defining objectives on how you will get there.  These should be clear & concrete (and tangible).  Granted, my rally cry of creating a gentle spirit that listens isn't as tangible (or even as measurable) as #2: Providing activities for my girls everyday; however, I think my rally cry is more essential to the person I desire to become.  Here are my Five Defining Objectives:

  1. Spend time in solitude every week (have scheduled internet times).

  2. Pray earnestly for the Spirit's empowerment daily, begin with this each morning.

  3. Journal 3xs a week.

  4. Spend quality listening time with each family member everyday (start with five minutes).

  5. Cultivate a heart that allows interruptions, with the girls, embracing this daily.

  6. Update: Go to bed by 10:00, in order to have a well rested body & spirit.

Not easy, but doable.  Notice that I didn't say I would journal everyday, or spend an hour (or even 1/2 hour) with each family member, it's about scaling it to what I can do and building upon it.


3. Create Standard Objectives

Standard Objectives are those areas in your life that always need to get done while you focus on your rally cry.  Again, yours will look different from mine.

  1. Exercise & maintain health

  2. Marriage

  3. Home administration

  4. Girls & family fun (means our family of four)

  5. My Spiritual Life

Maybe after reading all of this you are feeling a bit overwhelmed?  I hope you give yourself grace as you walk through these steps.  Allow yourself the freedom to become intentional without legalism.  Look at your present, forgive yourself from your past failures and walk in freedom with your future.  When in doubt, watch What About Bob and begin chanting, "babysteps!"

A Year Ago: New Beginnings & Chockful Blondies and Homemade Graham Cracker Sandwiches