A Thanksgiving Miracle–Inside My Heart and Fridge!

Even though I’m a recovering perfectionist, this past Sunday, everything had to go according to schedule. I’m talking, split-second timing.

Our daughter Katie invited us for Thanksgiving. She married in February. Sunday would be a time of celebration! New marriage. New house. New family.

Early in the week, I posted my list on the fridge.

I even bought a thermal container for my strawberry Jell-o salad–

The yummy kind with a crust made of pretzels.

Sunday Morning Agenda:

1. Go to early church.

2. Son Thomas (24) puts dressing in oven while we’re gone.

3. Hurry home.

4. Pack food.

5. Leave!

Before heading to church, I took the dressing out of the fridge and stuck a note on it for Thomas.

350 x 30 minutes!

When we got home at 11:15, I didn’t smell that wonderful scent of dressing baking in the oven.

A bit of the Old Panic Button Julie rose up.

That terrible uh-oh feeling. 

Wool scarf-tightness around my throat. 

But Thomas’s standing in the kitchen. The oven’s set for 350.

“You put the dressing in at 10:30, right?”

He nodded.

I pulled this out of the oven.

“Thomas, what is it…lasagna? No! It’s the Jell-o salad!”

“It was sitting on the counter with a note on it.”

“You’re right! My fault. Ahhhhh!”

I crammed the Jell-o mess back in the fridge. Kicked the oven up to 400. Threw in the dressing. Made a spinach salad.

“Quick! Pack the cooler!”

The dressing didn’t have time to finish cooking. Mush-mush on one side.

“Hurry! We gotta go!”  

We arrived 25 minutes late. Green bean juice had sloshed all over my new carrier. I opened the cooler.

“Where’s the ice?”

“Ice?” my husband said. “I thought you needed the cooler for storage.” 

“Who takes a cooler for storage?”

Right then, something wild and free broke loose inside of me and I started laughing.

About everything. 

Hysterical laughter! 🙂

Turns out, the pumpkin pie and spinach salad didn’t need ice. We ate around the gooey parts in the dressing.

Back at home that night, I peeked at the Jell-o salad.

Something miraculous happened while we were gone. You’ll never believe it! 

The Jell-o did its thing again. The pretzels bloomed into delicious salty-tasting gummy worms. 🙂  

Life becomes a celebration when you learn to laugh at yourself.  

God helps us fix our mess-ups. 

Sunday reminded me of Surrender, Simple, and Enough.

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

Have you ever tried to make a day go according to schedule and everything fell apart? Did you learn anything? 🙂

P.S. I’ll be glad to share my baked Jell-o dessert recipe. 🙂




  1. Pat Garczynski says:

    Dear Friend, I like to think/say that if these things didn’t happen, we’d never have any stories to tell & hopefully laugh about later! Baked Jello and Half Baked Stuffing!

    • Ohhh, thank you, Pat! What a wonderful way to look at Sunday.

      That would have been a great blog title, “Baked Jello and Half Baked Stuffing! 🙂

      Love to you and yours. Have a beautiful day tomorrow.

  2. Ha ha!! Oh, I feel your pain. And you had me giggling. And I’m so glad you broke out in laughter. You needed that … I did, too, while I was reading. You gave me permission to laugh. 🙂 Our Thanksgiving had seemed to fall flat this year … every family member heading out in other directions. Looked like it would just be the four of us. And I was okay with that. Less stress. I was tempted to have that feeling of worry … like I need to fix this …. Yesterday, I got a message from my sister-in-law, and they want to see us at Thanksgiving. I knew God had a plan. Yes! I really love this family … my Thanksgiving will be perfect. And I’m so glad I didn’t try to fix it. 🙂

    • Ohhhh, Shelli….really, you and I are learning the same things. I love it when that happens–when we sit back and trust and He works His ways.

      Sounds like your day tomorrow will be absolutely Divine!

      Hope you blog about it!

      So much love to you and your precious daughters.

  3. Julie Gilleand says:

    Of course this puts me in mind again of the shower curtain tablecloth event at my house one Thanksgiving which was horrifying at first, but then a good family belly laugh in the aftermath! It also reminds me of another holiday dinner at my house. I was young, early 20’s. When my grandma was alive, we rotated whose house we’d do Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners at. One year at Grandma’s, one year at Mom’s and one year at mine, and so on. This particular year it was my turn. Grandma was bringing the turkey and everyone else brought something. All I had to do really was make the mashed potatoes. Around 11am that holiday morning, I am awakened by this annoying loud banging on my door. Finally I jolted awake and realized I’d overslept!!! Everyone was at my door, banging away to get in! I ran downstairs in my pj’s, my eyelids barely open and let my family in. I was met with wide eyes, jaws dropped open and a little exasperation. I hadn’t even peeled the potatoes!! Well of course dinner turned out fine, albeit a little late, and we had a good time together as always, but boy was that a rough start! I think I’d stayed up late cleaning the house the night before, and probably winding down watching Christmas movies. I’m a late bird at heart anyway. But that never happened again!!

    These days both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are at our house. We haven’t much room and our gatherings are getting smaller since Grandma’s been gone many years now and Dad’s gone too. Our oldest son and his wife and four kids usually have dinner with my daughter-in-law’s family since they live next door and have much more room but we end up visiting later in the day or over the long weekend sometime. Our youngest son and wife and baby live 6 hours north. So we won’t see them for Thanksgiving but maybe Christmas. That leaves my husband, me, our son Andy and my mom. I always make my grandma’s baked beans and I also do a jello salad (but won’t be baking it, lol). It is a mandarin salad, a recipe from my grandma — orange jello with crushed pineapple, mandarin oranges and water chestnuts in it, and made with hot tea instead of hot water. Rod will be making his famous stuffing for our turkey tonight and of course I’m on mashed potato duty again! Lots of other goodies too. Very thankful for my family, the people I do life with and love having near.

    Blessings to you and your family, Julie, this Thanksgiving.

    Other Leafy Julie G. 🙂

    • Leafy, I can already tell–tomorrow is going to be lovely at your house. And your Jell-o salad sounds absolutely amazing.

      I gotta tell you–I felt that same Panic Button feeling rise up in me when I read that you over slept and Thanksgiving was at YOUR HOUSE. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I don’t know if I could’ve recovered!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Just teasin’ you. Thanks for sharing though. Gave me a good laugh.

      Much love, my friend.

      • Cathy Mayfield says:

        Leafy Julie – a tip for you! Don’t bother peeling the potatoes! Just cut ’em, cook ’em, ‘n’ mash ’em! They come out yummy, unless you use russets. My favorite is the red potatoes. Of course, a manual potato masher works best. Enjoy!

        • Julie Gilleand says:

          Hi Cathy,

          Personally I’d love mashing them with skins on, and hubby would too, but the rest of us probably wouldn’t. One of the very few memories I have of my grandpa was noticing his eating a baked potato, skins and all, and I wondered why he was eating it like that. He told me the skins were the best part. I’m sure I wrinkled up my nose at the thought but I finally tried it and loved it. Have eaten them that way ever since. I saw a facebook post once, though, that said an easier way to peel them before boiling and mashing was to make a cut all the way around the potato, then boil them. After draining the water, the peels can just be pulled right off each end! I might try that. Peeling potatoes is so tedious! I may just try them your way next time I make them and see how it goes!!

          Thanks Cathy and have a wonderful Thanksgiving 🙂


        • Love this idea, Cathy! xo

      • Julie Gilleand says:

        Oh I got over it, alright, but if memory serves, I’m pretty sure I was admonished to set my alarm the night before, by well-meaning family members who didn’t want to eat late again in the following years, lol. Now here I am writing this at 12:45am after working on all the food prep! Thankful for hubby who is an early bird. He’ll be up and at ’em, putting things in the oven while I snooze a bit longer (but not too long!).

        Happy Thanksgiving 🙂

        • Leafy, that’s one way we’re different. I woke up this a.m. at 2:45 wondering if it was time to put the turkey in. Nerd that I am.


          • Julie Gilleand says:

            I wish I was more like that! At 7:30 this morning, hubby was waking me up asking me when the turkey was supposed to go in. My eyes pop open. What time is it? He tells me. “It was supposed to go in at 5!!!” I had thought he was going to put it in the oven and he thought I was! He was even up then!! Well, so, dinner will be a tad late again, I guess, but it’s cookin’ now! And I slept straight through my alarm. If he hadn’t awoken me, I’d still be snoozing away! Okay, day, here we go!

  4. Patricia Martin says:

    I have had a week that has not gone according to plan. but, I intend to laugh about it and Let go and let God!(: throwing perfectionism out the window. How was your Thanksgiving with Katie? What’s her new house like?

    • Hey Patricia,

      Honestly, you are such a quick learner! And it seems you’ve mastered the whole letting go thing! I’m impressed.

      Katie’s house was just wonderful. It’s in the sweetest little neighborhood. Rilynn was thrilled to see us. I got to sit beside her at the table. Which made me so happy. And grateful. 🙂

      I’ll be praying for you on Maddy’s surgery today.

      Big Hug from GA

    • P.S. Praying for Maddy….xoxox

  5. Anna Haney says:

    Wonderful! Thank you for sharing. Happy Thanksgiving sweet friend

    • Loved reading about your WonderHusband on FB….a man who can cook–even make cheesecake.

      So much love to you. Tell Don I’m impressed!


  6. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Oh my goodness, Julie! I laughed so hard that my dog, who cannot hear much at all, just lifted his poor old head from his pillow and stared at me, as though to say, “Have you finally lost it?” I LOVE the point when you pulled the jello salad from the oven! I wouldn’t have gotten very far after that. I’d have been a puddle on the floor – a puddle of laughter!

    I think it was my mom’s example and gentle teaching that has made me the type of person to laugh first, groan later! And my husband would tell you, unashamedly, that I overuse that particular personality trait, along with the many mishaps that cause it. One of my favorite memories of mess-induced-laughter comes from food, as well.

    Early in our marriage, I was mixing up some chocolate chip cookies. You know that gooey mess when you’ve finished creaming the sugar and the butter and are adding the eggs – one at a time? Well, I’d added one and had just turned on the mixer when I noticed I hadn’t removed the rubber spatula after scraping the sides of the bowl. I grabbed for it and whipped it out of the bowl, forgetting the mixer was the portable type, without a stand, making it necessary to hang onto. So I grabbed at it and inadvertently brought it up in the air! Sloppy cookie-dough-in-the-making flew all over me and the kitchen, including some that had apparently slid behind the refrigerator and wasn’t found until we moved and pulled the fridge out! My husband just shook his head as I watched the slop sliding down the walls and splooshing in pools on the floor from the bits on the ceiling. What can you do at a time like that? Just laugh!

    Oh, I have so many stories just like this, times when I think I heard some angels laughing right along with us!

    Blessings to all of you for a fun and worshipful Thanksgiving spent with Jesus and your earthly family and friends!

    • Cathy, I can just see it now–you painting the walls with chocolate cookie dough!! Laughing here, my friend.

      Thanks for sharing. I’m feeling a tad better about my mishaps. Which happen quite often.

      Hope you and yours have an incredible day tomorrow. And stay away from the chocolate chip cookie recipe!


  7. as a fellow recovering perfectiionest, (and yes, i see the typos and yes i’m leaving them there! ha!) i feel your pain! so glad you recovered from the events of the day and were able to laugh at your (our) humanness. Merry Thanksgiving to you Julie!

    • Merry Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love it. I’m going to start saying that, Robin! Such a great way to shake up our old ways of doing/saying everything perfectly.


      Thank you. And I’m not even re-reading this for typos.

      • Cathy Mayfield says:

        Ahhhhh!!! I could barely read this, Robin! I critique my journal, for goodness sake! My internal editor is the main reason I’ve been a writer for 50 years and still haven’t broke into the publishing world, at least the paying one! And a “Merry Thanksgiving” to you, as well! 🙂

  8. marci says:

    This is a wonderful blog. Sounds like a story that will go in your family’s history/ stories, and no doubt always bring smiles. I think most of us have at least one of those stories in our family.

    Recovering Perfectionist. Yes, what perfect wording. And I am part of that same club.
    Sometimes when things don’t go as I would have liked them to, and it seems everything is going wrong, I have learned to stop and think, Does God have a lesson for me in this? Maybe I need to lighten up some. Maybe I was being drawn back into old habits again, and I need to go with the flow more. And remember what God can do with what appears to be a mess. — see how I am learning from you? So many lessons.

    I was glad that my daughter was being there for her friend, during this time, Thanksgiving, But also felt the twang that she would not be with us that day.. — but she did plan to come during the week-end. .. I didn’t know at the time that I was going to have to spend a lot of time dealing with my father’s trust and all the calls .. losing a week’s worth of time… I didn’t know, but God did. And I have learned to trust Him in that.
    And it seems that every time I want to really dig in and clean house, something will come up that keeps me from having that block of time. And reading your blogs, I wonder if perhaps it is God’s way of instilling the lessons, You don’t have to have everything perfect, and all will be well. — Just like your jello turned out to be.
    Lots for me to do before this week-end, It may not be perfect.. — It is a pretty sure thing that it wont be perfect! but that will be OK.
    Even the typos that I always seem to have – .. I am learning to even let them go.

    God Bless you dear Julie, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


    • Marci’a….so much rich Truth in your thoughts! Thank you.

      This morning at our porch party, I said, “Sometimes I think my whole life lesson is letting go. Over and over again.”

      Love that you get the “recovering perfectionist.” I’m discovering there are lots of perks to coming out of my old way of living. I told my mother what happened on Sunday. She said, “If that had happened to me in my twenties, I’d have found an excuse not to go.

      See…………..we’re all growing!!

      Big hug this Thanksgiving morning, and so thrilled about your upcoming time with Miranda!

      • marci says:

        Yes, dear Julie, I read your porch party insigth and the lightbulb went off! The whole life lesson is letting go over and over.

        I also saw a quote on Twitter that jumped out at me today..”God doesn’t give us what we can handle, He helps us handle what we are given.”

        Hope you are having a wonderful Thankgiving day.

        God Bless you!

        • Beautiful, Marci’a. Just beautiful. And I LOVED using your fall covered place mats to decorate with this year! xo

  9. Mary says:

    Love this! You have created a wonderful event! No one would have remembered “perfect food” but they will laugh at this story for a long time!!! The ability to laugh at ourselves is a gift. It lightens our load and makes everyone else comfortable too!

    • You made my day, Dear Mary. It was worth it all!!!!!!!!! I’m so glad it happened!!!!!!

      THANK YOU.


  10. Norma says:

    Enjoyed this!!!!! My laugh for the day.

    • Ohh, thank you, thank you, Norma. Thanks for taking the time to let me know you “got” it.

      Thanksgiving blessings today to you and yours.

  11. Oh, Julie, I needed this today. Laughed out loud. Thank you, thank you.

    • This makes me so happy this morning…to find out that my kitchen mishaps make people laugh, Beverly.

      So much love to you and your beautiful family!

  12. Baked Jello!!! Can we make that for Thomas’ wedding!!!??? I love this story-it’s so funny and at the same time has such a wonderful lesson!!! (cooler for storage! well that makes perfect sense!!!) oxoxox

    • Laughing, Robin. And looking at your beautiful self peeking out your front door.

      I love you, One day, Lord willin’, we’ll be together on Thanksgiving.


      But it did serve a purpose inside my heart.

  13. Laughing with you at the baked jello-salad and the unbaked dressing. Funny indeed! Sure glad you ended up laughing about it. I need to take lessons from you on Surrender, Simple, and Enough. Thanks for the joy today!

    Am especially thankful today for YOU!

    • And I’m so, so, so thankful for you, B.J. You’ve loved me through a bunch of stuff. I’ll never forget it.

  14. Oh, what a story.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your fam!

  15. Becky Boyd says:

    Julie, you crack me up! I too made the strawberry pretzel salad to take to my brothers house. That is so something that would happen to me! I had to laugh even though I know at the time you probably wanted to cry. What a great story. I’m a perfectionist too and God lets us know I guess to just loosen up sometimes. Hope y’all still had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • Becky, don’t you just love this strawberry salad! Well, at least when we make it correctly. 🙂

      Thank you so much for reading this and for letting me know you understand.

      We are not alone!! And the good thing is, we see our tendencies and we’re changing! Wo-hooo!!!!

  16. Hahaha! That’s a funny moment, Jul. At least, everything just worked out for you in the end.


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