What’s Really Important?

by Alena Tauriainen writing as Alena Wendall @alenawendall

I remember hosting my very first Thanksgiving dinner. Fyi..the following is a perfect disaster scenario for someone’s story.

I should explain a little a bit about my family. My parents are from the islands and I was raised on typical Trinidadian foods. Hence, our Thanksgiving dinner looked a little different than those in the states. Okay, to be truthful, a lot different. We served things like macaroni pie, plantains, and rice. There was always rice.

My husband’s family is from Finland and they opt for a traditional Thanksgiving. Turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and, of course, my mother-in-law’s famous stuffing.

Did I mention at that time I had never cooked for both families like that before?

That day, I woke up super excited and determined that everything was going to be perfect. I had my step-mom and my mother-in-law in the kitchen with me. Both had an opinion on everything I did that day. EVERYTHING.

Did I mention I was pregnant at the time?

I thought I was doing great. We were close. I was plating all the big items for the meal. I was listening, nodding, and smiling. Then it hit.

Did you see that emotion zing across the kitchen? No? It was that fast.

When someone told me how to pour the rice into the serving dish, I lost it. Unequivocally lost it. One minute, I was pouring rice, and the next, I was in the bathroom crying.

All I remembered was my husband appearing in our bathroom. He just stood there until I was ready. He never said a word about me crying. Just waited. Smart man.

Later that afternoon, after all the food was eaten, leftovers bagged and put away and we were on our second round of dessert, both of my sisters-in-law started laughing. I didn’t know what was funny. I didn’t think I’d missed a joke but apparently, I had.

They said that they knew it was going to hit the fan, so they deliberately stayed outside. Smart women for sure!

I bring up that story because if I’d taken a moment before all of the craziness to reflect on what was truly important—time with family, laughing, joking, eating—then I wouldn’t have been so wound up about everything being perfect.

Thanksgiving is a time of reflecting on the blessings in your life. Being thankful. Sure, we look forward to the meal, but really, whether you make a baked turkey, a smoked turkey or a fried turkey—it doesn’t matter. Paper products versus real dishes, freshly made rolls versus store-bought—those things aren’t deal breakers, not if you remember what’s really important.

So, before the craziness starts…take a moment to reflect.

Then when the green beans are over-cooked, or some very helpful family member tells you for the thirtieth time how to do something, you will have the patience to let it go. Because you will be smarter than I was that Thanksgiving, and you will remember to focus on what’s truly important.

Oh, and if I had to give one extra tip for a happy Thanksgiving dinner? Delegate. Get those in-laws and siblings to bring something and/or put them in charge of something. Share the load. Share the fun.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tweet: What’s Really Important? #Thanksgiving thoughts by @alenawendall via @NovelAcademy https://ctt.ec/J2hEv+

Tweet: Thanksgiving is a time of reflecting on the blessings in your life. Being #thankful. by @alenawendall via NovelAcademy #gratitude https://ctt.ec/3ckfL+


Writing as Alena Wendall, Alena Tauriainen pens contemporary Christian romance novels that always end with a happily ever after. By day, she partners with her lifelong mate Clyde, to run the family HVAC business. She manages both business and family life with four lovable but crazy kids. She is the Retreats Coordinator for My Book Therapy. She is represented by Rachelle Gardner with Books & Such Literary Management. Visit her at alenawendall.com.




Giving Thanks – The MBT Voices Ezine hits the stands!

A year ago, right now, I was flat on my back in bed, in terrible, unabating pain.

I had slipped a disk in my neck while shoveling and within hours was in the fetal position. I stayed that way for three weeks, and I am still in weekly therapy to maintain healing. I remember, at one point of too many sleepless nights, just weeping with fatigue and crying out to the Lord for relief. It was then I remembered the testimony of a fellow author who had struggled with devastating life-altering pain and how she coped with it.

She praised God. I’ll never forget her words as she told me how she turned her eyes upward in her darkest hour, and despite the absence of any relief before her, she simply praised God, thanking Him also for her blessings. That testimony met me in my dark hour, and I too turned my tears to praise and gratitude.

It changed everything. For her, and also for me. Suddenly my eyes were off my present trials, and on the overwhelming hope I had and on the fact that God’s grace is sufficient if I’m willing to hold out my hands. The pain didn’t instantly abate, but, miraculously, I was able to sleep. Most of all, the anguish of frustration and helplessness left me as I put my hope in the One who could save me. Praise and gratitude healed me.

I also gradually got better physically. And God provided every word as I labored to catch up in my deadlines, as well as needed strength as I fought to heal.

Since that moment, when my life feels overwhelming and dark, I’ve tried to create a habit for giving thanks, for praise. It instantly changes my perspective and shines light into my circumstances. That’s why I love the theme of this e-zine: Gifts of Gratitude. Every article is meant to point us toward that position of a new perspective through giving thanks.

The current issue of the MBT e-zine just came out – and I love it because it’s not so long that I can’t consume it in one sitting. We’ve specially designed it that way for busy writers. So, get a cup of cocoa and I encourage you to sit down and spend thirty minutes enjoying the delicious articles of our last e-zine of 2011. Everything, from Rachel Hauck’s article on Gifts of Gratitude, to Edie Melson’s article on using your Grandmother’s Rules for Social Media Etiquette to our Retreat Hostess Alena Taurainian’s delicious recipes (and exercise!) will bless you. Don’t miss the review of the Pizza Party by our resident humorist Melissa Tagg (and read her Finding your Funny article, too!), the excellent interview with Love Inspired Editor Tina James, the list of books by MBT Authors now out, the Shout-Outs about our excellent Voices, and the much-needed encouragement by Dr. Reba J. Hoffman, our resident Member Care Coach. You’ll also meet this year’s Frasier Winner, Andrea Nell, and much, much more! A fabulous issue during a time of year when we all need to take a moment out of our hectic lives to give thanks.

Read it HERE: http://voices.mybooktherapy.com/

Susie MayThank you, Lisa Jordan, Editor, and her crew, for the blessing of this issue.
I’m very grateful.

Susie May Warren
Founder, My Book Therapy