Thanksgiving Stuffing and Godly Motherhood

As a kid, making Thanksgiving stuffing at my house was a major production. The old-fashioned, metal hand grinder was attached to the counter and we all would take turns, through tears and laughter, grinding the onion, celery, dried bread, giblets and more. Each ingredient was dumped into a super-size Tupperware container and reverently stirred together with chicken broth, egg, melted butter and lots of spices. Periodically a ceremonial first (and second- and third- and….) bite was tested by placing a small amount in a glass bowl and microwaving it.

Eventually technology caught up with our stuffing making enterprise, and the hand grinder was replaced by a blender; stuffing lost some of its charm that day when the flip of a switch accomplished in one-quarter the time what we previously labored over for hours. (Not to mention the challenge of wooden spoons being accidentally “blended” as ingredients were tamped down in the blender….let’s not mention who might have done that!)

Regardless, as a newlywed and new daughter-in-law, I brought my rich stuffing making heritage to my marriage. And I was horrified at what I saw. No grinder – hand or electric – was used. Chunks of bread were left whole. Apples and even cranberries were mixed in. Oh the horrors! This was nothing of the stuffing tradition from which I’d come.

But my parents taught me well and so that first Thanksgiving with my new family, I tried two bites of the heretical, counterfeit stuffing. And two more. And two more. Much to my amazement, and dismay, I found the stuffing actually quite good.

That day I discovered there was room in my world for two types of stuffing. The traditional, memory-infused stuffing of my childhood and the new, chunky-fruity stuffing of my in-laws. Truth be told, either stuffing recipe may now grace our Thanksgiving table from year to year.

As I expanded my view of stuffing, I also realized my appreciation for two different recipes isn’t a judgment or critique of one or the other. It’s simply that my palate appreciates both. It’s like having kids. When you have one child who is the absolute joy of your life, and you decide to add another, it isn’t because the first child is somehow deficient. Rather it’s the desire to grow and expand that joy even more, knowing there is always room for more love and more joy in your life.

Or more stuffing.

But here’s my struggle. Replace stuffing with mothering. That’s right – go back and re-read the first few paragraphs, and think about mothering instead. Ok, it’s a little awkward I know. The grinder, blender, crying, laboring….ok well, that all fits…..but that’s not what I mean.

Here’s what I’m getting at. There’s often a general sense fostered among some moms that mothering is the end-all, be-all. Our ultimate joy and satisfaction comes from raising children. Our very purpose is to be the Mom-of-the-Year. As moms, our lives, interests, passions, and gifts have been granted us for the sole purpose of mothering. God created us to be moms and motherhood is our mission.

And truly, what a great mission! What a special opportunity to raise fun, creative, thinking, passionate, respectful, godly kids who are committed to loving God and loving people. It’s an honor, an awesome responsibility, and a joy (well, most days). There is indeed something amazing about being a mom – even more amazing than traditional stuffing.

But, is it possible that God calls some women to be more than just moms? Wait, wait, wait. I know the word “just” struck a wrong chord with many of you. I don’t mean it negatively at all. Is it possible God calls some women to be moms-plus, to minister in the home and in the world? To raise fun, creative, thinking, passionate, respectful, godly kids who are committed to loving God and loving people, and also use their lives, interests, passions, and gifts in other ways. It’s another recipe for mom-hood, if you will. It’s stuffing with chunks of bread and fruit added.

I know it’s possible, because that’s the story of my own journey through mothering and ministering.

You see, as I have expanded my view of mothering, I also realized my appreciation for two different recipes isn’t a judgment or critique of one or the other. It’s simply that my palate – or awareness – appreciates both.

You see, we are all created for a purpose in this world. In fact, our greatest joy and satisfaction comes when our lives and choices align with that purpose. And clearly each purpose is tailor-made for us, or probably stated more correctly, each of us is tailor-made for our purpose. It’s possible God calls some women to be moms in the home, pouring their lives into being wives and mothers. It’s possible God calls some women to be moms in the home and ministers in the world. It’s even possible God calls some women not to be moms (like my friend whose Thanksgiving table is absent of stuffing).

One recipe – one calling – one purpose – is not better, more godly, more purposeful, more obedient than another. One calling is not more honoring to God than another. Because really, the most God-honoring choice we can make with our lives is to obey Him in regards to what He calls us to do.

Unfortunately at times, though, just like I harshly judged my in-laws’ stuffing recipe, we tend to judge and critique each other’s callings and purposes against our own, as if our recipe or our approach to motherhood is the right one.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving next week – checking menus, making shopping lists, and even preparing stuffing – may we be reminded that our recipes aren’t the only recipes. Our experience of motherhood, our calling, our purpose is not the only godly way. May we extend grace to others who strive to honor and obey God just as we do, but whose recipe may look different than our own – whose recipe might even include chunks of bread and fruit.

And hey, can you please pass the stuffing?


  • jeff

    hey cuz I was looking for some insperation so I typed in ” the godly joy fo thanksgiving” and guess whos page pops up. Thanks again for hosting us. have a blessed holiday season

    • Kristen

      Jeff – was great to have you and the family here for Thanksgiving. And – glad you found me online! Look forward to you reading and commenting in the future.

  • And now I want stuffing! LOL!

    • Kristen

      LOL – what’s funny is after writing that post before Thanksgiving, guess what I asked my mother-in-law to make for our dinner?!