Friday, November 23, 2012

Faithful Friday: Thanksgiving

Coffee and PJs...a roaring fire...Macy's Parade on the TV...turkey roasting in the oven.  Such has been our Thanksgiving morning for about as long as I can remember.  But yesterday that changed into what I hope can become an annual tradition for us.

We swapped all of that homey comfort to get up and out early.  To give back.
To make a difference...

Our church cooks a Thanksgiving meal for those who would otherwise do without, or have to work on the holiday.  My family was blessed to be able to help in the deliveries.

We were actually giddy with excitement the night before and throughout the morning.  We opted to drive both our vehicles, to make room for the food trays we'd be delivering.  Having an extra spot in my car, we brought along another kid from the youth group who wanted to help.

Routes in hand, the scent of Thanksgiving drifting through the car, we headed out on a mission.  Our first few stops were at businesses, bringing lunch to those who had to work.  Many of them were surprised and that tickled the boys, as they placed meals into their hands.
They were both so well mannered, saying "God Bless You" to each person and wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving - and it was sincere.  After each stop, they'd talk about the smiles or thankful faces and how good it felt to do this. 

Our route led us to an apartment complex and on into a more rural area of our county.  In most cases, they were single, often elderly women, possibly widows.  It was a wake-up call for the kids that not everyone has a family on the holidays and how many needs are right in our backyards.  On our drive we would mention things we might pray for about individuals we had met.  For all of us, it was a reminder of how much we each have to be thankful for.

The church sent us with two extra meals, just in case.  I told the boys to pray that God would lead us to whomever might need them most.  On one of the stops, Noah noticed a little girl in a far corner of the room.  From my position at the door, I had not seen her, but as we walked away he said, "Mom, I think we need to go back and offer another meal."  After he explained, we went to the car and got one of the extras, knocking for a second time at the door.  The lady was so grateful, saying that she didn't want to impose, but that her granddaughter would love it.  Hugging Noah on the way back, I thanked him for being observant and could tell he was touched through helping.

All meals delivered, we took the longer route back to the church, as we had one container left.  The boys were looking at businesses we passed, hoping to find someone working. From the backseat, Alex shouted, "How about that gas station?" and we pulled in, seeing one worker.  Perfect.  As Noah stepped out, he realized it was someone we knew, a former neighbor.  The man was shocked and very thankful for the timely hot meal.

"The service you are offering helps God’s people with their needs,
 but that is not all it does. It is also bringing more and more thanks to God."
- 2 Corinthians 9:12

We returned and gathered as a church, and a family, sharing stories of our visits. Much like any other family, kids clustered together to play ball or hangout.  Adults remained busy getting our food together, for those who worked, and anyone who wanted to join us for a group meal.  We filled the old sanctuary, prayed, and feasted on an enormous potluck.  
Though the kids were happy playing "Thunder & Lightning" outside, we coaxed them home to greedily get in a nap before going to my sister's for another meal.
Though tired, Tim and I spent some time talking about the experience.  We found ourselves mentioning it throughout the day, and then again last night at the close of our day. We were just so grateful to have spent the better part of it giving back, and it blessed us beyond our expectations.

This holiday is rough one for our family, as it was our last with Austin.  We tiptoe through this season, never knowing when painful memories will attack.  And even though tears fell in missing our sweet boy, we know Austin was very much a part of the day.  Having the heart of a volunteer, I'm certain he was smiling down and watching over every mile.

The pain from losing him never leaves, but helping others was such a healing way to spend this Thanksgiving.  And what we plan to do every one to come.


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