November is the month that most of us associate with 'being thankful.' Thankful for our families, homes, jobs, warmth (in New England), and everything else God provides. For many of the Lion's Den kids, however, thankfulness can be tough to come by. Many of the children are so focused on surviving and navigating the "politics" of a fractured home that the concept of thankfulness gets lost in desperation. And, even though God has blessed me enormously, it is to my dismay that all too often I can totally relate to how our kids feel & behave.
On one particular Tuesday this month one of our 9 year old boys had a "melt down" while going to the Den. He did not want to get in the van, and, once we talked him into the van, he did not want to get out of the van when we arrived. We "talked" him to the front door where he decided that's as far as he was going. After much discussion between the boy and one of the Den's most loving volunteers we learned that he "just wanted his mom." As one of 10 children, this boy was not among the youngest or the oldest in his family. He is "stuck" in the middle, and easily overlooked. Tired after a long day of school & frustrated from not seeing his mom for more than a few minutes, the boy simply could not go on without connecting to his mother. As God would have it, another gifted Den volunteer hopped in our van and retrieved the boy's mother. They spoke, he stopped crying, and then the mother, her son & 3 of her other children ended up staying to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner at The Lion's Den. Afterward they returned home with all of the leftovers, smiling. They were connected.
What a fantastic reminder of how connection plays a vital role in the health & well-being of our soul! We are hard wired to be connected to God and others, and, if that connection becomes severed, our lives simply do not work right. Thankfulness becomes more foreign & distant each day. Lost in our desperation, pride takes hold, and keeps us from reaching up & out. It is important to note, however, that God remains constant. While we may drift at times, God does not. (Heb 13:8) Like a search light scanning the nooks & crannies of our lives, His love finds us where we are, so we may be rescued. …from self-inflicted pain and loneliness. Surely, that in itself is something for which to be thankful!
But wait, there's more! Once "found," God continues to pursue us. God reminds us through his word that He is always with us, ever-present & watching over us. (Gen 28:15) And, if you're open to God's leading, you can see Him everywhere. In the love shown to hurting children by volunteers who care, in conversations that encourage you to continue, and in things like the incredibly gorgeous sunsets we experience this time of year in New England. God is everywhere, He loves us, and He wants to be with us, connected.
Today, as I stand in the Lion's Den & look back on November:
- A brand new church now meets at the Den every Sunday @ 11am
- A delicious Thanksgiving dinner was provided to the children by one of The Den's Food Angels
- A fully functional, efficient furnace that provides heat in minutes was installed.
- A weekly bus charter to safely transport 25+ kids to the Den each week.
- Reverb! happened in Springfield. LD Youth was there!
I am overwhelmed, again, by God's steadfastness. …always there, always providing, and always connected to HIS children. So, as Thanksgiving draws near it is my prayer that you too may feel the joy of God's hand on your life, and that your heart will be filled with the same thankfulness He has afforded to me. God bless you!