Living Out of the Box Around a Thankful Table
One neatly wrapped box awaited to be opened, to be seen, to be marveled at what could not fit in that box.
Six young, anxious sleeply-eyed girls scurried to the tree one Christmas morning on Goodrich Street. There were wrapped presents scattered under the stubby asymmetrical tree, but tearing through those presents wouldn’t be the memory imprinted for years to come. It would be that one small, neatly wrapped box with the slit cut through the top that would imprint its mark into one child’s mind. The family surrounded that box, child anxious on her knees, as they enthusiastically removed the top, like a jack in the box, labeled, “My Gift to Jesus.” They each received and read their own slip of paper and remembered their gift to Jesus written the previous year and witnessed in their hearts how God had responded out-of-the-box in the messiness of real life. They then closed the box and parents and children wrote down a new offering–something from their heart in response to what God had given–and folded that offering three or four times before slipping it through the slit again.
There was just something special about recording what was significant to a particular time and capturing it for a lifetime. There was something about witnessing what was good and promising in the midst of life unraveling; God’s faithfulness through it.
Those little girls wouldn’t sit around that gift-box in front of their family tree in the years to come. Instead they would witness life’s heartaches and brokenness in their young lives. They would feel a family divided and a new land open wide across their own. But they would continue to offer their gifts outside of that box and would continue to see God.
They would see restoration, redemption and hope.
Across the sea, in Haiti, a man or woman crafts a journal. They don’t have the luxuries that we know here in America. Children will carry water and walk a long road to school only because of a chance they’ve been given, not simply “a given.”
They work ferociously with their hands and feel abundance in their hearts. The hands that made this journal have also known heartache and brokenness. The hands that made this journal have been rescued from poverty and dependency and are now able to provide for their family with dignity.
The journal tells a powerful story of restoration and hope. Those six girls hovering around that gift box in front of a tree on Goodrich Street grew up and expanded their family to over forty members when they gather for a holiday, including parents, husbands and children. That family is mine. The child anxious on her knees, me. I’m still that child on her knees, anxious to see how God is working through stories unfolding. Across the sea, men and women are giving their children hope for their future. They call themselves 2nd Story Goods because a new story is beginning to emerge in each of their lives. This Thanksgiving all forty something members of my family–five sisters, husbands, twenty plus children and grandparents will all pile in and gather around my family’s home where we will continue to offer our gifts, this time around a thankful table, writing (and drawing for the littlest ones) in one of those beautifully handcrafted journals from Haiti that tells its own story.
A story of restoration, redemption and hope. As I’ve grown, I’ve come to see how all our stories are connected. We are all born into hope, come to know brokenness and are restored back to hope through a Savior who pursues us, rescues us and makes all things new. The hands and feet of Jesus may look a little different in each of our lives, and I wonder if we always recognize them, yet it is the key to a beautiful story unfolding. Now we have a way to connect to a story of restoration across the globe, to also be the hands and feet of Jesus, and build hope for their future. So let’s reach around the globe this year and join hearts and hands around a thankful table of believers, as we share our stories and offerings of thanksgiving. And then witness how God works outside of that neatly wrapped box.
* * *
Theresa is a wife and homeschooling mama of four children. She is passionate about family, writing, and ministry that encourages women in this generation. Theresa has been published in MOPS International, MOMSnext e-zine and other on-line publications. Theresa authors Heavenly Glimpses blog, where she captures the heart of Christ through glimpses into the life of her children, marriage, and a writer unfolding.