Gratitude Day 378
Fri., Dec. 20, 2019
Psalm 9:9: The Lord is a safe place for the oppressed— a safe place in difficult times.
When something difficult happens, it is never easy. But around the holidays? It seems even more challenging.
Recently, our dear friend Tatev had an unexpected lemon thrown into her life. Tatev is from the country of Armenia. She is currently working on her PhD at Michigan State University. For many years running, Tatev has spent Christmas with Hubby Rick and me. It’s become an annual tradition for her to travel from Lansing, MI to Poynette, WI. While it’s not traveling to Bethlehem and Tatev has the advantage of more modern transportation, this has become her Christmas homage.
Once in Wisconsin, we spend several days celebrating Christmas, reconnecting and doing fun things together. Often Tatev has participated in Christmas Eve worship. I always knew that I could just write her into the program.
Tatev planned to spend Christmas 2019 with us as well. About a week ago, tickets were purchased so she could make her annual trek to Poynette.
And then, life changed. Really, it almost stopped for Tatev. Her father unexpectedly passed away last Saturday. It was a shock for Tatev, her Mother and her sisters.
For Tatev, being so far away only made the situation more challenging. Her family encouraged her to stay in American and continue with her “normal” life. But honestly, how can anyone really revert back to “normal” when your world has been turned upside down?
When Tatev and I spoke Saturday night, it became clear that she wanted, no needed, to go back to Armenia. Overwhelmed by her emotions and feelings, Tatev was struggling on trying to decide what to do. When I suggested that I start looking for flights, she accepted my offer to make her travel arrangements.
Per Armenia tradition, the funeral was held three days after the person’s passing. With the time change involved, it was IMPOSSIBLE to get Tatev back to Armenia before the funeral Nonetheless, we agreed that getting Tatev back still priority.
On Sunday morning, a ticket was booked. Tatev would leave on Tuesday and arrive in Armenia on their Thursday. This made the most sense, as Tatev needed to make a couple arrangements with the university before leaving the country.
On Sunday night, I spoke with Tatev again to confirm the travel plans. Her friend Erika was with Tatev. After Tatev and I spoke, Erika came on the phone line. Sunday morning, I had quoted Tatev a ball-park figure for the airfare. By Sunday night, people from Michigan had provided more than enough money to cover the airfare. Erika had shared with folks from where Tatev has participated in church know of her circumstance. In less than 12 hours, several people provided funds to cover more than what was needed for the ticket.
I knew of some other folks who also wanted to support Tatev. We reached an agreement and agreed that the additional funds would be used for incidental travel expenses, as well as be available for Tatev and her family once she arrived in Armenia.
Here’s the deal. Loosing a loved one is difficult. Losing a loved one close to the holidays is painful. Losing a loved one who is half of a world away is ridiculously impossible to navigate. While no one can remove Tatev’s pain and hurt, we could help her get back to her family as quickly as possible. And this is what we did.
I don’t know the names of all the folks who helped cover Tatev’s plane ticket. I don’t need to know them. What I do know is that when life threw Tatev a lemon, they tried to offer her just a little bit of lemonade.
Fortunately, Tatev and I have a wonderful mutual friend named Pam. Pam knows Tatev’s family and was able to attend the funeral. She was met Tatev at the Yerevan airport when Tatev arrived in the middle of the night.
I’m confident each one of us can quickly find someone who is going through one of life’s lemons right now. We can’t fix every situation, nor should we try to do this. What we CAN do is step in and serve up just a little bit of lemonade in their situation.
I know that it’s Christmas next week. I know we all have lots of things to do. But if you become aware of a lemony situation in someone’s life, please stop. Listen. Hear what the person is saying and help them figure out what their next best step is. You can’t remove the lemon for their life … but you might be able to make even a small glass of lemonade for them. Along with the Lord, may we be a safe place for them to land during any difficult time.
For opportunities to witness to others and help them turn a lemony situation into just a bit of lemonade, I am grateful.
Holy God – You are definitely aware of those around us who are struggling with lemony situations. Place it upon our hearts ways that we can take their challenging situation and create just a bit of lemonade for them. Amen.
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