About the Guest
Barbara Rainey and Tracy Lane talk about what they do on a typical Thanksgiving holiday and remind listeners of the purpose of the holiday.
Bob: Do you find yourself intimidated by the need to create a Pinterest-perfect Thanksgiving table? Tracy Lane says the primary purpose of a Thanksgiving table is not decoration—it’s to be a place where families gather.
Tracy: The more and more I study about why it’s important to gather, we are convincing ourselves: “It’s still important.” Even if it doesn’t look perfect / even if my kids mess up the napkins—that is not what I need to be worried about—where the napkins are—but teaching them that: “This is important.” We don’t decorate every day; so, when I do that, that elevates the occasion for them—that says to my three-year-old and my five-year-old: “This is a special day.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, November 3rd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Instead of focusing on what Martha Stewart might think your Thanksgiving needs to look like, we think you ought to focus more on what Barbara Rainey and Tracy Lane have to offer. We’ll hear from them today. So, stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. So, I just—I want to know what you think of deep-fried turkey—what do you think? [Laughter] You’ve seen them now—the deep-fryers that they’re selling; right?
Barbara: Oh, yes.
Dennis: I have. I’m sorry I just have a hard time thinking about grease-infused turkey. [Laughter]
Tracy: Then, they catch on fire. You read so many stories every year.
Dennis: There you go!
Bob: The reason I ask is because I remember the first time we had Thanksgiving in our home, and the turkey was a big deal. Now, I thought to myself: “It’s a turkey. It’s a bird—you put it in the oven. You take it out in a few hours, and it’s cooked.” I thought—
Tracy: But first, you have to reach inside there. [Laughter]
Tracy: That is terrible.
Bob: There is more to it. [Laughter] We should introduce who we have around the table with us today.
Dennis: Well, that authoritative voice was that of Tracy Lane, who heads up a cooking show that is heard around the world. [Laughter]
Bob: There are listeners, who are going, “It is obvious Bob has never cooked a turkey!”
Tracy: Right. [Laughter] Come over, Bob.
Dennis: They knew that. And my wife Barbara joins us again on FamilyLife Today. Thanks for coming back, Sweetie.
Barbara: Yes; we’re glad to be here.
Dennis: Well, both Tracy and Barbara work together on Ever Thine Home®. They are all about helping families gather together this Thanksgiving and truly celebrate Thanksgiving in special ways.
Bob: And is there an official Ever Thine Home opinion on deep-fried turkeys? I mean, do you have—
Barbara: There isn’t, but we could come up with one. [Laughter] Should we?
Tracy: We’ll put a recipe on the blog.
Bob: So, you will have something—if people want to try the deep-fryer, you’ll put a recipe up there for them.
Bob: Okay; so, you can go to FamilyLifeToday.com; and the link is there for—
Dennis: I don’t like her grin. [Laughter] I think it’s going to be a health food fried—
Bob: —a grease-infused turkey as Dennis likes to call it. [Laughter] And I just want to know, from our listeners who have done it; because I’ve talked to some people who have done it, and they say it’s amazing.
Barbara: That’s what I’ve heard.
Dennis: Oh, we’ve got some connoisseurs, who listen to our broadcast, who are angry with us right now for laughing about this cuisine.
Bob: Were you intimidated by the turkey at your first Thanksgiving?
Barbara: I’ve never done the turkey.
Bob: You’ve never cooked!
Tracy: I’m shocked. How?
Barbara: I have never done the turkey, and I don’t know why; but it’s just turned out that—we’ve somehow or other—we’ve always collaborated with others, and somebody else has always done the turkey but me.
Bob: You’ve never cooked a turkey.
Barbara: That’s correct. [Laughter]
Bob: The queen of Thanksgiving—
Tracy: I know!
Bob: —has never cooked a turkey! [Laughter]
Barbara: I’m the queen of the dressing. I’m the queen of all these other things but not the meat.
Bob: So, who will do the turkey this year for your family; do you know?
Barbara: Well, see—
Dennis: We rushed by the past too quickly to get to this year, Bob. So, who do you think has probably cooked a turkey? [Laughter]
Bob: Well, that’s true.
Barbara: Not you!
Dennis: Oh, I have to—I’ve smoked turkeys, Honey.
Barbara: Well, you have smoked turkeys.
Dennis: Then, I take the carcass,—
Barbara: That’s true. You have. Forgive me.
Dennis: —after I’ve smoked it, and I make the world’s-best black bean soup.
Barbara: That is correct, but you don’t usually do that for Thanksgiving; because we usually do Thanksgiving with our extended family.
Dennis: Yes; but—
Barbara: My brother always does the turkey—that’s why I don’t have to.
Dennis: —it’s right around there somewhere.
Barbara: You usually do it in the fall or Christmas.
Dennis: We will put—I don’t think / I don’t think—Tonda, have we put my world’s-best black bean soup—have we ever posted that, online, for our listeners?
Tonda: I don’t think so.
Bob: Okay; alright.
Barbara: Today’s Recipe Day then,—
Dennis: Oh, this is great.
Barbara: —because Tracy and I are prepared with a few ourselves.
Dennis: Now, this takes some work.
Bob: We’ve got the deep-fried turkey. We’ve got your black bean soup, which—
Dennis: No; it’s not—it’s not my black—it’s the world’s-best black bean soup. [Laughter]
Bob: And it involves having to smoke a turkey before you can make the soup.
Dennis: Or a ham—if you’ve got a ham that you’ve smoked.
Barbara: It doesn’t have to be smoked; does it?
Bob: Nobody’s going to do that—[Laughter]—I’m just telling you.
Tracy: Right. [Laughter]
Bob: Maybe, if you are smoking a turkey for Thanksgiving, you’ll want the recipe.
Barbara: There you go.
Bob: So, you can make the soup afterward.
Barbara: That’s correct.
Bob: That would make sense to me. You’ve got recipes too?
Barbara: I’ve got recipes too.
Bob: What do you have a recipe for?
Barbara: Well, I have several recipes; but the one that I was going to—
Bob: I can’t believe this has become FamilyLife’s Cooking. [Laughter] Recipe for what?—go ahead.
Barbara: Well, I have a great cheese grits recipe.
Dennis: Oh, yes; it is.
Barbara: In fact, I shared it with Tracy—she made it, and she thinks it’s fabulous too.
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Bob: What makes her cheese grits so good?
Tracy: I would probably retitle them “Butter Grits.”
Bob: Oh! [Laughter]
Tracy: I remember pouring all this melted butter, thinking,—
Bob: “This is why it’s good.”
Tracy: —“This is going to be delicious.”
Bob: You and the pioneer woman—and your butter.
Barbara: I do like butter—that’s true—in things; yes.
Bob: Yes; alright. So, cheese grits—do we have that recipe to post too?
Barbara: We have that recipe to post; yes.
Bob: So, we’ve got your black bean—excuse me—we have the world-famous best black bean soup.
Dennis: Thank you.
Bob: We’ve got some deep-fried turkey recipe—
Bob: —that Tracy’s digging up.
Dennis: And before we go any further, I want to see if, in the archives—Keith, in the archives, do we have the first recipe we ever offered on FamilyLife Today? Do we have that clip?
Keith: Yes; I do have it.
Dennis: This goes back, ladies and gentlemen—
Bob: —almost a quarter of a century.
Dennis: Oh, yes, it does.
Bob: Yes; almost a quarter of a century.
Dennis: And it’s one of the most unusual recipes you could ever imagine. I’m not going to tell you—I’m not going to tell you what it is, but—[Laughter]
Bob: I’ll give you a hint; okay? Think about something that you might eat at breakfast that would be particularly unhealthy. Then, ask yourself, “Is there a way to make it even unhealthier than it already is?” [Laughter] If you can do that, you have come close to imagining what this could be; in fact, here’s how this got introduced, back more than two decades ago, on FamilyLife Today as we were talking with a staff person, whose name was Teresa Blue.
Teresa: In our family, we have a tradition of chocolate gravy on Christmas morning. The first thing that you’ll need to do is combine all dry ingredients: 2/3 cup flour, 2 cups sugar, one pinch of salt, 6 tablespoons of cocoa. Sift all of these together.
At the same time, in a heavy sauce pan, you’ll have 5 cups of milk beginning to heat. Now, you’ll put the dry ingredients into the milk and stir, keeping all lumps, of course, out of the gravy until it becomes the consistency of really just a good, Southern gravy. Add one teaspoon of vanilla and serve over—yes—biscuits and butter.
Dennis: [Laughter] This is how Whole Foods got its start.
Bob: Chocolate gravy—I don’t think so.
Dennis: Chocolate gravy—that’s how they got started.
Bob: Have you ever had chocolate gravy?
Tracy: I have had chocolate gravy. I try not to make it a regular occurrence, because I want to fit in my pants; [Laughter] but on Thanksgiving—I mean, just wear elastic pants on Thanksgiving. [Laughter]
Bob: Well, I’ll tell you what’s worse than chocolate gravy—is the “Company French Toast”; because I think there are more calories in the “Company French Toast” than even in the biscuits and chocolate gravy; don’t you think?
Barbara: Maybe—it may be.
Bob: What do you put in—I mean, there’s sugar / there’s brown sugar. There’s—what?
Barbara: Yes; it’s brown sugar and butter on the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. You let that all melt and mix together.
Then, you soak bread in an egg and milk mixture. You put that on top of it, and you bake it. So, you’ve got the carbs from all the bread.
Barbara: Then, you’ve got the sugar and the butter.
Dennis: No carbs in that.
Bob: So anybody who is abandoning their Paleo lifestyle at Thanksgiving can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to find the recipe for this. [Laughter]
We had a recipe—in fact, when our kids were growing up, one of the ways that we taught them about the history of Thanksgiving was that Mary Ann made something called hardtack. Hardtack is—it’s like an unleavened bread that will last for a long time before it gets moldy. It’s really not very good; okay?—it doesn’t taste very good at all. We understood that this is a part of what was packed onboard the Mayflower as they were making the crossing; because you can’t keep bread fresh at sea, but this bread would stay fresh longer. So, they had hardtack.
Our kids would get involved in preparing this and eating this. I assume we used wholegrains and everything that you’re supposed to use; right?—because it’s Mary Ann.
Barbara: Right; I’m sure. [Laughter]
Bob: We would have this as a part of the Thanksgiving meal to remember—as we’re sitting down to eat pecan pie, and mashed potatoes, and turkey, and gravy, and all of that—to remember that the people who came on the Mayflower endured a lot of hardship, and they didn’t feast. In fact, some of them died in famine, settling in the New World.
Tracy: While we’re talking about all these recipes—and you don’t have to be intimidated, because it’s really not about the recipes—it’s mostly about getting everyone together. We just think it’s important to put your people around your table. It doesn’t have to be with the most delicious fried turkey or that recipe that your Grandma has made for hundreds of years. It mostly is just about getting people together.
Barbara: Yes; that’s why Thanksgiving, I think, is important because, again, it reminds us of what God longs to do with us.
There’s a verse that Jesus spoke, near the end of His life when He looked at the city of Jerusalem, and He said, “Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I long to gather you together.” Jesus was expressing what God, the Father, feels toward us—that He longs to gather us together, as His family, because He loves us. That’s how we feel, as parents—we look forward—and grandparents, too, like your grandmother and my mother—we long for our children and our families to gather together; because we belong to one another, and we love one another.
At Thanksgiving, we do that most naturally around the table; because I think that’s an easy place for everyone to be at the same time—is gathered around a table, just like the four of us sitting around this table, having a conversation. At Thanksgiving, when your family sits around the table, it’s a great place to have good, meaningful conversation.
Dennis: Speaking of a table and meaningful conversations and speaking of—
—almost 25 years, Bob, we’ve had this table in the studio.
Bob: That’s true.
Dennis: It’s a kitchen table, where we gather with guests to talk about what Jesus Christ is doing in their lives, how the Scriptures are being applied to their marriage / their family—their descendants.
Dennis: We could have replaced—we could have afforded a better table than this. Did you buy this at a garage sale?
Bob: No; this was at an antique mall, where we found this. I’ve had a lot of my broadcast friends, who see the studio, and they go: “This is a lovely studio. What’s with the table?” But the point of the table is—we’re just sitting around the table, having a conversation; and that’s what FamilyLife Today has been for 25 years.
Dennis: Well, I tell you what—we’ll take a picture of this table, along with the placemats that Barbara has for Thanksgiving; and you can take a look at it. It really isn’t a fancy table; but speaking of gathering, we wanted guests to feel a cozy atmosphere, some hospitality, and feel relaxed at a kitchen table to have a meaningful conversation.
That’s what Thanksgiving is really all about.
Bob: And your placemats are built around different Scriptures that are all about gathering; right?
Barbara: That’s right. There are four placemats in a set. Each one has a different verse from the Bible about God gathering us. One of them is: “Where two or three or gathered, there I am with them.” There is another one—the verse says, “I long to gather you together.” Another one says, “With great compassion, I will gather you together.”
It’s a way for us, as we do get together with our families around the table at Thanksgiving, to be reminded that what we’re doing is what God will do with us someday in the future; but what He longs for us to do now is to gather with those who know Him and to share the life that we have in Christ with those who matter most.
Bob: Do you spend a lot of time on the table at Thanksgiving?
Barbara: Yes; we do actually. We go to my mother’s—
Dennis: You better believe it!—[Laughter]—
—I’m going to put a hearty exclamation point by that. Barbara’s tables are beautiful, but meaningful; and you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other.
Barbara: That’s right. When we go to my mother’s for Thanksgiving—the farm where she grew up—we can’t all fit around one table—the rooms are too small / the tables are too small. We may have as many as four or five tables scattered around the house for the 30 or 40 of us that get together; but each one, then, becomes a little unit / a little community of conversation. We do sit there for a long time and talk, and reminisce, and talk about things that matter.
Bob: Why so much effort and energy on a table? Is this a Martha Stewart thing?
Barbara: No; it’s actually a Jesus thing.
Barbara: One of the things that’s really interesting about Scripture is that you will see that, throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament, there’s a lot of emphasis of God bringing His people together around meals.
In the Old Testament, it’s the Passover. The Passover meal was a really important occasion—they gathered for that meal, year after year after year; and they still do. In the New Testament, Jesus taught us to gather at the table to remember Him. We think of that as communion—we call that communion.
So, there is something about gathering together at tables that’s very meaningful; and Jesus did that often with His disciples. His most important last teaching to His disciples was around the table in the upper room at the Last Supper.
Bob: I’m guessing it was not a highly-decorated table—
Barbara: I’m guessing it wasn’t.
Bob: —it was a rented room. But you invest a lot of thought, and time, and effort. Some of the moms, who are listening—moms like Tracy—are going, “I can barely get a menu put together much less a bunch of table decorations,”—I mean, don’t you feel that way?
Tracy: Right. I have a three-year-old and a five-year-old. So, even if I put the decorations out, they are going to get rearranged. [Laughter]
My five-year-old is going to have an idea where they go, which she’s learning—so, we do a lot of that—trying to put it out and decorate, because she thinks it is fun; but I like to include the girls when I do that as well. I change my expectations a little bit. I know that the most important part is not where they end up but that I am teaching them how to do this too.
I’m just starting—where it’s my responsibility to cook a lot of things—it used to be, you know, the older moms. Now, it’s like me, and my cousins, and my sisters—it’s falling on us. We have definitely felt: “Oh, why do we have to do this?! Why do the dads not have to?” or “Why are the rules this way?” The more and more I study about why it’s important to gather, we are convincing ourselves: “It’s still important.” Even if it doesn’t look perfect / even if my kids mess up the napkins—the thing is—they are washable. [Laughter]
Tracy: But that is not what I need to be worried about—
—where the napkins are—but teaching them that: “This is important.” We don’t decorate every day—we don’t put special napkin ties out and placemats every day. When I do that, that elevates the occasion for them—that says to my three-year-old and my five-year-old, “This is a special day.”
Bob: Tracy, some of our listeners don’t know; but when you’re working with your three-year-old and your five-year-old to get the table ready, one of the things you’re thankful for is that your three-year-old is there helping you out.
Tracy: Yes; we’ve had a long journey with our three-year-old daughter. She was born with half of a heart. Just this past August, she had her third open-heart surgery. Having her there to celebrate with us, and teach about gratitude, I mean—
Tracy: —you know, we’ve known what that means—to be thankful for every day. Being able to pass that on to my kids—I feel like it’s easier, in some cases. My five-year-old gets it / my three-year-old gets it in ways that I know other families don’t. That’s something that my husband and I have chosen to be thankful for.
Bob: I’m just thinking of a lot of moms who, with the challenges you’ve faced, would say: “You know what? We’ve got bigger things to worry about than trying to drive to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving or trying to build family traditions. We’re in a battle for life and death with a three-year-old.”
Tracy: I think that’s all the more reason my husband and I have chosen to live our lives this way—is to enjoy every day. We don’t know how many more days we have, as a family, in this way. We have these days to teach Annie what we need to teach her, and it is important to pass on our faith. These are the situations that allow multiple generations to pass on our family’s faith to Annie and to Audrey. It’s worth it to us to invest and to honor each of those generations in our family.
Dennis: So, Tracy, I’m still way back at the beginning of this little conversation here. How does half a heart work? I mean, a three-year-old—
—I get it that she is small—but half a heart as in only one-half?
Tracy: Right. When I was pregnant with Annie, we went in for what I thought was a gender ultrasound. I didn’t even know they looked at anything else. I was just hoping we were having another girl; and they said, “It is another girl, but something is wrong with her heart.” We went on to find out that the left side of her heart was never formed, and it continued to never form. She was born with only the right side of her heart.
The best answer I can give is: “God has sustained her.” She’s had three open-heart surgeries, where they’ve been able to reroute the way that her heart works; but God has given surgeons these ideas, and we’re very thankful that Annie’s at the table with us at Thanksgiving.
Dennis: I remember when that happened—the entire FamilyLife team prayed for you, and your husband, and little Annie.
Tracy: Yes; yes.
Bob: What are doctors saying is the prognosis?
Tracy: You know, it’s interesting because doctors have said, “If it was me, who was born that way, I wouldn’t be here.”
The oldest person living, with Annie’s condition, is 30. So, we don’t really know what her prognosis is. In fact, she’s actually outlived every prognosis she’s ever been given; so, we don’t always lean into fully what the doctors say.
I thin, for our family, the prognosis is faith and hope; and we know that whether her healing happens on this side of eternity or the other, there is hope for Annie’s life. There is an eternal impact she’s had in the three years that she’s been here, and we really are thankful for every day that we get.
Dennis: And meanwhile, you just continue to give thanks.
Tracy: Yes; we say that: “We enjoy today. We live today with gratitude and courage, and we just trust God for tomorrow.”
Bob: Barbara, I know you’ve prayed with Tracy for Annie. You want to lead our listeners so we can all pray for Annie?
Barbara: Yes; love to.
Well, Father, as we approach this season of Thanksgiving, when we tend to think more about gratitude, Tracy has just reminded us that we have so much to be grateful for every single day.
So, Father, I pray that you will help us remember to be grateful people every single day of the year. We pray that the model that Tracy has just shared with our listeners would keep them thankful.
And for little Annie, we pray for her life—that You would extend it / that You would make it long. I pray that in these years ahead that more procedures would be created. You are the Creator of the universe. You know all things. May You guide researchers and doctors to create new ways to extend the lives of these children, who are born like Annie with half a heart. We look forward to what You have for her in the future, and for the ways that You are already using her, and the ways that You will use her in the years to come.
Thank You for giving her to Matt and Tracy and to all of us that we might be more grateful people. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tracy: Thank you.
Bob: You have a blog, where you’re sharing Annie’s story. We’ve got a link, at FamilyLifeToday.com, for those who would like to keep in touch, and see a picture, and know what’s going on, and keep praying for Annie.
We’ve also got, on our website, at FamilyLifeToday.com, all the recipes we talked about earlier, including the fried turkey. I’m advocating for the fried turkey this year. [Laughter] It just—I don’t know—it sounds more my style.
Dennis: It does. [Laughter] We’ve got the picture of our table, here, in the studio,—
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: —along with Barbara’s placemats that are all about gathering together.
Bob: In fact, if you’d like to see all that Barbara has been working on for Thanksgiving, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and check out the Thanksgiving Table Collection with the “Untie Your Story” napkin wraps, the “Gather Together” placemats, the banner that you’ve created to hang in your home at Thanksgiving; and there is a downloadable do-it-yourself project. Check it out at FamilyLifeToday.com—
—again, along with the recipes and the other things we’ve talked about today. The website is FamilyLifeToday.com. If you’d like to order the resources Barbara has created, you can also call 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, we’ve been spending a little time reflecting, recently, on the past ten months, here, at FamilyLife and things we are thankful for. We were just looking at the number of folks who have been with us on FamilyLife Today—people like Pastor Sam Allberry from England, who joined us to talk about issues related to gender and sexuality, and Tom and Dena Yohe, who joined us and talked about their daughter’s experience with drugs and alcohol and how they worked their way through that. Lauren Chandler, Matt Chandler’s wife, came and joined us and talked about how she has experienced God’s steadfast love in her life.
The list could go on with people who have been with us in 2017.
When you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, you are helping us multiply the impact of these conversations that you hear on FamilyLife Today. We’re able to reach more people more regularly because of your support of this ministry. We’re grateful to those of you who are regular supporters—those of you who are Legacy Partners, monthly investors in the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
For those of you who do listen regularly—if you have never donated or if it’s been a while—today would be a great day for you to go to FamilyLifeToday.com / make an online donation; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate over the phone. You can always mail your donation to us at FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223.
I hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday.
Next week is kind of a special week for us—we’ll be celebrating our 25th birthday. FamilyLife Today first went on the air in November of 1992. So, all week long, next week, you’re going to hear from some of the people who have joined us over the last 25 years to share great insights on marriage and family relationships. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry.
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