When Thanksgiving Doesn’t Look the Same.

The sun is setting so much earlier now – the dark settles in long before the little ones are ready for it to. We light candles and flip switches, forgetting how powerful the pull of light can be.

I witnessed the truth of it last night in the aftermath of turkey and stuffing, in the reminding myself that dinner would happen and there was no time frame and family was here and friends were here and hearts were more important than perfection.
His face appeared at the door, oddly misshapen and hamburger-like, as though someone had pounded it raw.
They had.

Three sheets to the wind and terrified, he saw the light on and an open door and he walked in. He knew he would find safety here.

And Tony, he came near, stood near to the overwhelming stench of alcohol and terror and he turned and grabbed a plate and began to heap it high of warm food, good food and his gaze finds mine. I know it now, deep in my soul, I know exactly what this is – and I fumble for more, desperate to give because this man is more that what he appears. He bears the very image of the One I love and if serving him means I am really serving Jesus than let me give him pumpkin pie – let me heap it high with ice cream. Let me love in the small ways that I can.
The ground underneath an intoxicated ex-gang member becomes holy – the air in the hallway is sacred, I want him to see Jesus somehow through his haze.
He leaves before I can give more.
In his wake though, come three small ones. Shy smiles and sweet dark eyes. They come in and play quietly in the hall – content it seems to play in the corners until ice cream is mentioned. The one little boy, he holds out his plate for seconds and I see this for what it is, another opportunity to love Jesus, another way to serve Him, another way to brush up against the Holy. So when this little one asks for maybe a pickle too, I want to give him the whole jar. I want to give him everything on the loaded counter. If the breaking of my heart means I can see more of Jesus, then shatter it completely – I want to give Him my all.

We slip on coats in the dark of the night and this little one, he races ahead of us – thin cotton covering even thinner arms. We walk behind him and I reach for Tony’s hand. This boy, he is so small, how can no one be out looking for him? But I remember, there is One Who see him too and maybe he came to us so we could be the safety he needed – we could be the ones making sure he got home. 
There is a rythym here that I am learning – a weight that leans heavy on my soul. Gun shots are fired in the night and I wait for more but am met with only silence. The clouds are dark in the west.
I read this morning of the ugly-made-beautiful and I nod along with the author’s words. I’ve witnessed it and I don’t want to lose the wonder of watching God move. I didn’t know that I could love a broken area in this way that I do, but maybe now that my own broken places have been exposed, that they have seen the Light and are finally finding healing, my eyes search out evidences of Him more –  and He meets me here. He shows me His beauty and glory and His image transforms the faces around me.

I wrote it on the chalkboard above my sink, hours before the guests arrived and Olivia began to heave, I placed it as a lockscreen on my phone because I need the reminder as the days grow dark and I could forget His truth and fall back on fear and I need it infront of my eyes because I want His Light to blaze here in this home, in my life, 
I will give thanks to the Lord
with my whole heart;
I will recount all of Your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 9:1

This Thanksgiving was marked by the beauty of His presence, transformed by the beauty of His grace. He extended our family and let us love Him through the loving of others. How could we ever stay the same?

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