Family, Thanks Living

Thanksgiving and smoldering ashes

A phone call yesterday morning delivered the news my friend’s home had burnt down in the middle of the night.  She and her husband barely escaped with only the clothes they’d worn to bed.  Thankfully, their children had spent the night elsewhere.

Everything else was lost.  Everything.

I knew I had to immediately get to my friend.  But, I was an emotional wreck.  Driving the thirty minutes to get to her through the tears was going to be a challenge.

Mandi had given me the address where I could find her.  With hands shaking and emotions trembling, I plugged it in to my GPS.  Halfway there, I realized the sound was muted on Gertie (the GPS).  I fumbled with the touchscreen volume and awaited assistance from her familiar and friendly voice.  But, I was greeted with a thick, Hungarian-sounding “Draai links in een myl.”

Draai links.

Nader bestemming.

I knew immediately Gertie had been the victim of translation tampering.  By my teenager.  I envisioned Camden quietly giggling with Gertie, changing her language from English to Afrikaans.

And I busted out laughing.

At that moment of tense anguish, headed into the uncharted territory of bringing comfort to a friend who’d lost everything besides her family, I’d forgotten the truth.

…Do not sorrow. For the joy of the LORD is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

It is HIS joy.  The Lord’s joy is my strength.  And Mandi’s strength.

But how?

Here and now on the heels of running from an inferno engulfing a home.  Her home.



In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

In everything.  In the smoldering cinders.  In possessions becoming ashes.  In children losing pets to a fiery blaze.  In sentimental memories going up in flames.

Give thanks.

Whoever sacrifices a thank offering honors Me, and whoever orders his conduct, I will show him the salvation of God. (Psalm 50:23)

When I arrived and wrapped Mandi up in my love, I didn’t have to remind her of thanks living.

She reminded me.

Mandi shared her joy of having a family.  Her eyes were on what she did have.  Her heart was in tune with a melody of grace.  She uncovered eucharisteo in ashes.  Thanksgiving in loss.

On Mondays, those who are seeking to walk in gratitude share multitudes of blessings.  We’ve accepted a challenge.

A dare to live fully right where we are.

My multitudes this day…

A friend who can live fully though her material possessions are emptied

A family who escaped blazes and finds thanksgiving in their heavy hearts

A church who immediately meets the needs of the hurting

The warmth of love finding its way in to a winter loss

The joy of the Lord bringing strength in weakness

A teenager who lives life with vreugde (that’s joy…in case you don’t speak Afrikaans) and who reminded his mom, through a GPS, to live life fully

For more inspiration on living life fully and with the practice of thanks living:

15 thoughts on “Thanksgiving and smoldering ashes”

    1. I am crying for you and praying for you right now. I cannot imagine. This will be hard eucharisteo. God is still in control. I am very sorry for your loss.


    2. KD I join Cristal in praying for you, your husband, and your family. I know we don’t know each other. But I do believe that we are all connected. So please know that I am lifting you all up that God will comfort and strengthen your hearts. That his provision will continue to flow as always. That he will bring forth another job for your family in soon time. That this Christmas will be the most wonderful ever. That you will be able to receive his joy even in this time.
      God bless you.

        1. I continue to pray. Please keep us updated. May you walk through this time faithfully and arrive on the other side with a renewed and refreshed sense of thanksgiving.

  1. Cristal when I read this post my heart went out to your friend and her family. Please know that I am praying for them that God will restore and make new once more. I was so moved by this post because it is shows the way God brings life and love and laughter in the midst of what is ashes. I love your post and the insights you share. It has been a joy reading along with you. I wish you and your family a beautiful Christmas! Blessings my friend.

    1. Thank you, Kerry-Ann. I know this family covets your prayers. I have certainly enjoyed your posts on your blog, as well. May you celebrate Christ this week and all the days of your life!

  2. At Danelle’s ( today I read,

    And Mary visits Elizabeth, Elizabeth all round tummy with John, waddles to the door, greets her dear cousin.
    Two cousins growing miracles inside.
    How John leapt like that calf in the stall (Luke 1:41) when he heard Mary’s voice.
    John knew even in the darkness of the womb that she was carrying the Light of our world.
    Maybe our hearing is clearest in the darkness? We are more drawn to Light?

    Cristal, you surely have described a friend’s dark scene (home loss) and one of your reader’s another dark scene (job loss). Perhaps, in these days when both families are not moving in their usual patterns because of their losses, God will be recognized more readily, heard more clearly, obeyed more easily? In darkness, the light is strongest. May both Mandi and KD see like they have never seen before-through the hard eucharisteo. I am praying they find their strength in the joy of the Lord.

    Loving the community of believers here,

    1. Amen, Dawn. I pray the same for these and the countless others facing the times of intentional thanks living in a situation where faith alone will produce thanksgiving.

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