By Jennifer Underwood
The holiday season feels quite different this year for my family. I would imagine many of you feel the same way. When you are living outside your home, in conditions that are just a little too close to those you experienced in college (Ramen for everyone!) but with the addition of three little munchkins, to say that normal holiday routines and traditions are disrupted is an understatement. There was no front yard graveyard this year, the dancing skeletons and styrofoam gravestones — carefully crafted while poring over internet resources on the creation of the Haunted Mansion when my “oldest” was my “only” — sat against the back fence amid the remnants of things not yet thrown away. We never spent a weekend distributing the wooden pumpkins throughout the monkey grass, while tiny feet shuffled along behind me directing my efforts. Our wreaths sit idle in their dusty containers and I never lit a single pumpkin spice candle.
And yet, here it is anyway, the week of Thanksgiving…our centerpiece is still in a box, nobody knows which one or at what location, and we will be eating our turkey at a restaurant.
My family’s experience this year is like a tiny microcosm of what our church and school have also been through. This larger family has persevered through property destruction and displacement and has done everything it can with what it has left. The season continues with October, November and December steadily marching through our lives, but things are not the same and many of us cling desperately to what we can of “how it was in the past.”
But Thanksgiving is on its way. We are toiling away replacing our flooded appliances at “deep discounts” during the promised Black Friday sales. And while Thanksgiving at the moment looks a bit like Thanksgiving in the Upside Down, I am grateful for the many ways in which the Lord has used this destruction to His glory. For that is what He does.
The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:5-6
While the past few months have been rife with hardship, He has shown us so much to be thankful for. A year ago at this time, I wouldn’t have believed it possible that we could lose our home and yet be completely fine and smile and laugh and experience just as much joy as we had in times of greater comfort. Warm snuggles from sweet babies who smell of cookies are just as delightful, no matter the bed in which they are enjoyed.
He has given my family and our church and school community the knowledge that while we all enjoy material things, we can still experience all of the beauty of the immaterial without their benefit, whether it’s the love and tender care that is shown among the church members for each other, the beauty of the Word that we gather to hear each Sunday, a constant amid any destruction, the echoing majesty of singing in our now-unupholstered sanctuary, or the revelation that the spirit and vision of the school persist with strength and fortitude beyond the boundaries of walls and floors. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
The Lord is with you. Pray to him with thanksgiving, for he protects your heart and mind with His peace, which is beyond anything that we can imagine…
….a comfort infinitely greater even than that 40% off laundry room essentials being offered at Best Buy.