Grateful in the small moments

Published on November 22, 2022

Cranberry sauce may not be the star of the Thanksgiving table, but it is still an integral part of the dinner. This simple unassuming side can also be repurposed as the star of the show for next morning’s breakfast in a cranberry stuffed French toast (See recipe at the end of the article).

Just like we underestimate cranberry sauce, sometimes we are so focused on the big events and the hustle and bustle of the holidays that we dismiss the smaller moments in between. When we think of the Christmas story, the larger moments come to mind. We think of the nativity, the star and all the key players. However, in Luke 2:19 we find a beautiful detail: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” 

Imagine the countless small moments in between that Mary must have experienced. She knew to hide them in her heart, and I suspect that most modern day parents want to do the same.

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Small moments of obedience

Have you ever thought about how much Mary experienced from the day the angel visited her and gave her the news?  If you think about it, her life was filled with just as much hustle and bustle as us modern day mamas… except without any modern-day conveniences. She had to pack up and move, travel on a long journey and find shelter in order to give birth, which was clearly not easy. 

But in these passages, we don’t hear Mary complaining about a lack of hospital accommodations or that the crib she wanted from Pottery Barn was on back-order.  She was consistently obedient. She was a faithful and content servant. While maybe not understanding everything, she understood the importance of her God-given role.  However, I suspect she may have wanted to express her dissatisfaction in having to make the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem while pregnant. She most likely didn’t have any option of first class, or even an air-conditioned SUV.

When we have children, we often say we want to freeze time. We take photos, videos, and save every piece of artwork we can. There are bins of memories in our attics filled with some of our family’s greatest moments. And when I recently read verse 19 of Luke 2, it stood out to me in a different way. I’ve read the Christmas story many times over the years andI’ve listened to sermons and Sunday school presentations. But this year I found new meaning. 

Small moments of intimacy

Thousands of years ago, Mary had the same desire that we do as mothers today. She wanted to treasure these moments, freeze time, and be present for things she knew were special. Mary knew these small moments were part of a larger story happening around her. 

We know the larger parts of the story such as the star in the sky, and the visits from the shepherds and wisemen. However, Mary was also taking in the small moments she had with Jesus. Those were the quiet moments that mother and child have together. Although not detailed in the story, you know she was experiencing those as well. She knew her child belonged to something greater, but for now, he was her baby, lying in manager. Mary was taking the time, tucking away the memory and holding it close to her heart. 

 These smaller in-between moments are to be treasured just as much as the bigger moments.

Small moments of connection

 Yes, the big events like Thanksgiving dinner, parties, and tree lightings are all magnificent. However, the moments where you are in the kitchen cleaning up with your mom and sisters is a time of bonding as well.  The moment you turn on the Christmas tree lights for the first time and you see the smiles on the faces of your family against the twinkling lights is special. When you and your husband have that moment of teamwork prepping for a gathering, you can treasure it. The moment when you get home early from a holiday event and have extra time, crawl under the covers with your littles for a Christmas movie and hold on to it. 

So this year, just as you make the cranberry sauce (or take it out of the can), each little thing you do can contribute to memories and traditions you will ponder in your heart forever. Because those small moments are what build and create the larger ones.  

That simple cranberry sauce can turn into a delicious breakfast to feed your overnight guests the next day, bringing you together at the table once again. You never know what God will reveal to you through those little moments. Your obedience in the small things will allow him to use you in a big way. 

Cranberry Sauce Stuffed French Toast

Serves 5-6 people

15 min prep time

45 bake time

8 oz cream cheese, softened

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar

3 tbsp milk

1 tsp orange extract (unless you are using homemade cranberry sauce that has orange juice or zest already in it, then omit)

½ cup whole cranberry sauce (not jellied)

12 slices of brioche bread

5 eggs

¼ cup heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp cardamom

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, brown sugar, granulated sugar, orange extract and milk with a hand mixer. Blend until well incorporated and smooth, about 5 minutes.
  2. Lay out the 12 pieces of brioche bread on a clean work surface. Spread the cream cheese filling onto the surface of each bread piece, about 1 tbsp per piece, or until the piece of bread is well covered.
  3. Add the cranberry sauce to 6 pieces of bread. Spread a thin layer over the cream cheese. Then top with the remaining 6 slices of bread. As if you were making a sandwich,  cut the sandwiches crosswise. You can also leave them whole. (Cutting them crosswise can help make layering them into the casserole dish easier.)
  4. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and cardamom.
  5. Prepare a 9×12 casserole dish by greasing it with butter.  Add the stuffed French toast pieces to the dish, it is okay if they overlap slightly . Pour the egg mixture over top of the bread. Then cover with foil and place in the fridge overnight.
  6. Remove the casserole 30-60 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes until eggs are set and bread is golden brown. 
  7. Serve with warm maple syrup. 

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Dina Deleasa-Gonsar

Dina is The creator, writer, speaker, and television personality behind the popular food blog Dina Deleasa-Gonsar is known for sharing her family traditions and modern twists on recipes along with an inside look at her real-life as a mom and wife. When in the kitchen, Dina brings her recipes to life with her personal anecdotes and honest, quick wit. Whether she’s whipping up something quick for dinner or pulling out all the stops for a family celebration, she is inspiring at-home cooks to get creative and try dishes that will become a staple in their house. Dina knows life isn’t always glamorous, so she strives to keep her content relatable, making sure to dish out her real-life that goes on behind the social posts and media platforms. Her family is at the center of everything she does and this can be seen during her time on the E! Network show “Married to Jonas,” which she appeared on alongside her sister. 

More recently, she was named Best Home Cook by the Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family and has contributed her recipes and on air talent to the Today Show, The Good Dish, Guys Grocery Games on the Food Network, Inside Edition, GMA Online, Rachel Ray Online, Real Simple, as well as countless other media outlets. Dina has experience as both a co-host, in food segment demo’s, as well as commercial campaigns.

As a speaker and writer, Dina has also lent her recipes, family time solutions, and encouragement to numerous podcasts, conferences, and news articles. Most recently, joining the Christian Parenting team as one of their highlighted speakers for their virtual conferences and writing for their blog. In addition to coming alongside the Exhale Women’s Ministry as a devotional writer, and frequent podcast guest. It is part of Dina’s mission to encourage other people to seek opportunities to gather with others and make memories. To help parents see that there is magnificence in what they consider “mundane.” She hopes to fill people with “DishSpiraTion” both in and out of the kitchen.

Whether it’s a 4-course meal or simply breakfast for dinner, with DishItGirl, Dina hopes to keep it real, with real-good food along the way. She currently lives in New Jersey with her husband, Brian, and daughter, Siena.

Read more about Dina

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