"Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God."

Friday, November 28, 2014

Faithful Friday: Thanksgiving

Happy belated Thanksgiving!  Knowing the week I would have, this post was started early, something I don't normally do.  I put the finishing details on it this morning, complete with coffee and PJs.  My hope is that your bellies and hearts are full by the time this reaches you.

Our Thanksgiving day was spent serving, a fairly new tradition our family started a few years ago.  As usual, God had great things in store for this year's event.  In the midst of the organized chaos, He never ceases to amaze me how it works out perfectly.  As the drivers were dispatched, trays of turkey and dressing in hand, calls began to come in.  "Where is this street? GPS can't find it."  And unexpectedly, "I have the same list as someone else!"  -oops.

The best message though came from a driver who shared that at his last stop, the lady answered and told him someone had already been there.  (Not the duplicate list mentioned above!)  As he was about to leave, she shared that her two sons were on their way.  As it so happened, two meals were what he had left.  I double checked all the routes and the lady was only listed on his.  Most certainly a God thing!

Thanksgiving had been a particularly difficult holiday for us, as it was our last one with Austin.  As such, there's a lot of painful - and bittersweet emotions around this day.  The first Thanksgiving without him I just wanted to ignore and avoid.  It was a welcome change and a perfect fit for a family focused on RAKs in the month of November to be a part of delivering meals to those in need.

Of course, with this new tradition, I no longer cook a big meal to have family over.  Instead, we eat lunch with the volunteers that day.  In some ways I miss it, but knowing how special our last get together was, which happens to also be my most popular post, gives me comfort in how it ended.  Time changes things and God has a purpose in it all.

The week will still be peppered with family, beginning with a Wednesday meal at my niece's (so strange to see her all grown up and hosting!), a visit at my grandma's, and ending with our own little turkey meal at home.  A new-to-Tina activity will be a night at the Shriner's circus, thanks to this girl winning tickets on the radio.  We haven't gone since the boys were little.  She is super excited and I'm thrilled to share this experience with her.  An added bonus is that my mom, sister and her littles will be joining us.

Folded in will be lots of Random Acts of Kindness as we wind down to Austin's Heaven-anniversary. We've done RAKs throughout this month but tomorrow will be the big day, complete with our favorite tradition, the Reverse Shopping Spree and a new one, backpacks for foster kids.  

Though we may do better year to year, prayers are still appreciated.  Keeping our minds busy doesn't take away the tug in our hearts.

Truly though, when I think back to those first holidays after losing him, it is amazing the healing that God has brought to our family.  I remember the broken, being lost in the darkness and depth of grief, and wondering if the pieces would ever come together again.

We will never have a day that we don't miss Austin but the pain, most days, does ease over the years.  And for that I am ever-thankful to my God.  He has returned JOY to us, even in the midst of our loss.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful Thursday: Hodgepodge of Help

In this season of thanksgiving, this spirit of helping others in need, I bring you a hodgepodge of helping opportunities.  My collection this week may seem random but all serve a purpose.

First of all an update to Habitat.  I hear they are still in need of Saturday workers.  Below is a message from the Baptist association:

"If you would like to help with this project I encourage you to call Steve Flener and 270-256-6950 for more information.  The home is located at 728 2nd Street in Beaver Dam and they usually begin work around 9am in the morning.  This is a great opportunity to help out one of our own! So even if you only have a couple of hours on Saturday please consider helping out.  Every volunteer hour that is recorded helps the Mason's out tremendously!"

A "hug from above" update on the food pantry, in that I heard they helped 232 people last week.

Now, to other needs around us.

"Betty's Buddies" is a beautiful new program, formed in honor of a wife battling Alzheimer's.  She is currently receiving care in a nursing home and her husband noticed how many others never receive visits.  BB is a "mentoring" type program where people can sign up to be a buddy and just simply visit someone, to make them smile and give extra company.  Right now, they are doing a fruit basket campaign by partnering with IGA to provide for every nursing home member in the county.  You can give a donation as small as $5 to help ensure someone gets a smile this season.

Thanksgiving is 1 week away.  Do you know someone who is home bound and will not have a meal this holiday, perhaps a neighbor or someone you know in need?  If so, please contact me personally, as our church delivers meal on this day throughout Ohio county.

Or, perhaps you could use this as your RAK opportunity and invite them over to your home?  Or stop in and surprise them with a plate and a quick visit.

With the holidays in mind, do you know someone who is newly grieving this season?  I just had a comment from a mom who lost her dear daughter just four weeks ago.  How I remember the firsts after losing Austin.  My heart goes out to those especially who see the anniversary of their loss around the holidays.

If someone comes to your mind now, consider that as a God-nudge asking you to do something for them this season.  It doesn't have to be big.  Maybe a note on their door or in the mailbox.  Everyone gets Christmas cards but how many get a card around Thanksgiving?  Or, as you are packaging up leftovers from your dinner this week, maybe you could deliver it to a new widower, who finds it hard to eat alone this season.  The next time it snows, maybe you could surprise them with a salted and cleaned driveway?  A simple act of kindness to someone grieving can go so far to their health, happiness and healing.

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." 

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