cherry pie picDuring the next several weeks, we will be enjoying a beautiful series of very special holiday posts! Some of them are from familiar writers, and some are guest posts…All are from remarkable women whose words will be sure to give a breath of fresh air to your spirit during this holiday season! Keep reading for inspiration, encouragement, and of course, yummy recipes!

Last Thanksgiving began with the unmistakable sound of shattering glass. We had just arrived at my in-laws and when I opened the rear passenger door to our car, I watched helplessly as the coconut cream pie I had made slid out and crashed onto the pavement. Thus began a holiday that turned out opposite of what I had expected.

My husband and I are both from Plainview and have most of our family still there. We have a big lunch with his side and then turn around and have a big dinner with mine. We really have to pace ourselves so as not to end up in a food coma by the end of the day! The in-law lunch went by rather smoothly except for my pie debacle, but my family dinner was not the usual. We headed to my aunt’s house where—come to find out—the stomach bug had started to make the rounds. My parents only joined us for dinner for a very short time because they took food to Momo (my Dad’s mom) who was very ill. Then to cap off the night, while driving back to Lubbock, my kids whined about how they were hungry because they wouldn’t stop playing long enough to eat.

Expectations can be a slippery slope. If rigid and unrealistic, they can prevent you from experiencing all God has to offer. I often find myself building up in my head how special occasions, especially holidays, should look. Then as I go to bed that night and reflect on the day, I battle the disappointment of things not meeting my lofty expectations. If I’m not careful, I will find myself blinded to the love happening in precious moments that aren’t found within “the plan.”

We live in a time where social media, if we let it, can add to our unrealistic expectations. Rather that being inspired by Pinterest or celebrating one another’s accomplishments seen on Facebook, we feel inadequate in our own experience and start adding things to our check list to make it “better.” Great is the temptation to compare our journey with others.

My husband and I teach our boys that we have two main rules in our house: love God and love people. Everything else is simply a subcategory of these commandments that Jesus gave to us. As I am instilling these into my children, I am attempting to embrace them for myself. These are the only expectations I want to have for the upcoming holidays. My hope is that I am able to roll with the punches that life can throw at me, but still graciously honor my Father and those around me by laying down my life and plans.

My parents were my greatest example of this last Thanksgiving. As I said before, they were only at dinner for a very short time. They made a plate for my grandmother, even though she had to be coaxed to eat even a few bites. She was at home, where in the last month she had stayed, because of some unsteadiness and a severe fall. Momo’s health was suddenly going downhill fast. I watched as my parents selflessly jumped in to help her. That night my parents physically cared for her when she couldn’t care for herself. In the days and weeks to follow, my parents relentlessly served Momo with grace and love—allowing her to spend her final days with dignity, honor, and compassion.

This, for me, was truly a picture of loving God and loving people. As I look at last Thanksgiving, I am able to laugh off the splattered pie and late-night hungry kids in light of witnessing the beauty of my Mom and Dad walking out God’s commands.

Maybe you are dreading the family drama that seems to inevitably happen when your family gets together. Maybe you find yourself having to work and be separated from those you love most, or maybe you have a sick little one this year. Whatever our holidays look like, I pray that the things that can bring us down would pale in comparison to loving and serving our Creator and those around us.

At the end of the day, my Thanksgiving will look different than yours, because it is uniquely mine. But what is the same—what we all have in common—is a God who loves us and gives us the ability and choice to love those around us. So I embrace my Thanksgiving in all its distinctive qualities (and celebrate you in yours), and I rejoice in the beauty of what we all have in common through our God.

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My passion for baking and creating desserts began with my grandmother. The following recipe is a favorite of my family’s that she would make for the holidays. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Momo’s Cherry Pie

Ingredients
3/4c sugar
1/4c flour
16oz. can red, tart cherries packed in water
Pinch of salt
2 TBS Cold butter
9 inch double pie crust
Ground cinnamon

Separate the juice from the cherries and place in a saucepan. Add sugar, flour and salt and stir to combine. Cook over low heat until juice turns clear and sugar is dissolved.

Place cherries in uncooked, prepared pie crust. Cut butter into small chunks and dot cherries with them. Pour cherry juice mixture over cherries. Cover with top crust and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes then lower temperature to 350 degrees and cook an additional 30 minutes or just until browned.

*For added texture you can swap out the top crust for a streusel topping.
1/3c sugar
1/4c brown sugar
1/2c + 2TBS flour
1tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2c COLD butter cut into pieces

Combine all ingredients except for butter in a bowl. Add butter and using a pastry cutter or your hands, mash until the butter is the size of small peas. Sprinkle over the top of the pie and bake as directed.

This post was written by Meredith Riddle. To read more about her, click here.