Ryan was discouraged. During the first few weeks after he had lost his job he had been confident about acquiring employment. But so far, out of all the resumes he had sent out–only one interview, yet no offers. With Christmas coming soon he was even more determined to find work. He applied for temporary seasonal jobs, but no offers. Then he took on more
household chores and taking care of baby Ava so that Caitlin could work on backorders for furniture. He cried out to God for wisdom and direction.
Since his work experience had been small-scale manufacturing it seemed to him that he would have to transition to something else, since locally, very few manufacturing businesses existed.
While doing chores he observed the labels of common household items and learned that everything was made in China or some other country, any country but his own. He became very frustrated with this discovery. Frustrated to the point that he began to think about going into business for himself to make one of these items that so many people use every day. Why not? He began to contact other professionals and previous coworkers for their input and feedback. He developed a private web page for communication and collaboration where they could post information, reports and research. Energized with this new direction–Ryan was hopeful again.
“Should we have a Christmas tree kids?”
Everyone had just settled down for a family meeting in the living room, but now the kids jumped up and down expressing their approval for getting a tree. Earlier that Sunday evening they had celebrated the first advent with a soup dinner and an advent candle as the table centerpiece while Ryan read the scriptures about Messiah’s birth. The kids seemed to enjoy the first Sunday advent celebration, but had asked about a Christmas tree because their friends at school and neighbors had Christmas trees with lights. Ryan and Caitlin had never put up a tree before, since previously they had had no children at home, but now it seemed like a good idea. So they had sat down for a family meeting to discuss the Christmas tree.
Caitlin laughed and Ryan motioned for the kids to sit down again. “Okay kids it appears you definitely vote yes for a Christmas tree–should it be plastic or a real tree?”
Each of the kids had a different answer while baby Ava began to fuss because she was tired and ready to sleep. After further discussion they all decided on a real tree with candy canes and red bows and that they would eat popcorn while decorating the tree, rather than hang it on the tree. Denver hinted that handmade ornaments were already in the works at school. So it had all been settled. They planned to purchase the tree and other items, then assemble it the next Sunday night after advent celebration.
Ryan planned to use the gift card Jas had given him to purchase things for Christmas. As he walked into the store he saw an elderly man who reminded him of his dad. Tears came to his eyes when he thought of his parents–missing them–wishing they were still alive. Someday, he would have to tell the kids the story about his parents. It was an exciting, adventurous story of missionaries who gave their lives to tell others about Jesus. For now he was on a mission, an errand to purchase groceries, the Christmas decorations and all within time to pick up the kids from school.
He chose the super store for the task, taking a shopping cart and armed with a small calculator in hand he proceeded to look for the items on his list, starting with the decorations. Since the decorations took up the whole cart, he checked out with those first, taking them out to store away in the car trunk, then came back into the store to get the groceries. Snowflakes were beginning to come down so he added hot chocolate mix to Caitlin’s list.
He visited briefly with neighbors and church members who were also shopping. “Hey Ryan be careful–snow is coming down heavier!”
He discovered it true after checking out and with great difficulty pushed the cart through the snow to the car. He noticed the hatch was ajar and then upon raising the door–all the packages and all the decorations were gone. His heart sank. Someone had taken the decorations and gifts out of the jeep while he was grocery shopping. The kids would be so disappointed. There wasn’t enough money to buy more. How could he tell them? He could only imagine their disappointed faces.
He proceeded to clean the fluffy snow off the windows–thankfully no ice. But then the jeep would not start. He sat for a moment, not sure what to do. What now, God? I should have stayed home.
Caitlin had sold her car, so now they had only one car. He pulled his phone out of his coat pocket and called Caitlin. “Caitlin, I’m at the store and ready to go pick up the kids, but the Jeep won’t start…okay…call your Mom and have her pick up the kids…I’ll try to call that mobile car guy to see about getting the Jeep started…I’ll let you know…love you.”
Okay, so the kids are taken care of…please God, help me get this Jeep started. He tried again, turning the key in the ignition, but no start. He called the mobile car guy–no answer–so left a voicemail. With a rolling finger tap, he lightly tapped the steering wheel. What to do, God? What to do?
He watched the snow coming down–big fluffy flakes–so peaceful and beautiful. An old song came to his heart. ♫Peace, Peace wonderful peace, coming down from the Father above, sweep over my spirit…in fathomless billows of love♫ He looked up toward heaven. Help me Jesus!
Ryan quietly waited, hoping perhaps the mobile car guy would call back, but then he saw his neighbor coming out from the store. Ryan rolled down the window and shouted, “Hey could you pull your car over next to mine to jump start the battery.”
It worked. Ryan was on the road again, thankful to God, arriving home soon after the kids had already been dropped off by Junia. He would take the Jeep in later to have it checked out. Caitlin met Ryan at the kitchen door as he came in from the garage. He whisked her off to their room to privately tell her about the theft from his car.
Holding her closely in his arms he quickly kissed her hello. “The good news is, I’m home safe with my lovely wife and kids–the bad news is…” Then he stood back with a grimaced face, “all the decorations and gifts I bought were stolen out of the Jeep!” Screeching with disgust he fell backwards on top of the bed. “Ugh!”
“Oh no!” Caitlin heard baby Ava crying so she turned toward to the door. “What are going to do?”
“Don’t tell the kids yet. Not until we figure out what to do.”
Caitlin hurried off to check on baby Ava while Ryan finished unloading the groceries. Then Ryan called the kids and the dogs to go out to play in the snow. Dad had to end the day laughing and having fun with the kids–building snow forts, snowball fights, making a snowman and angels in the snow till dusk. His way of forgetting, forgiving and honoring God with joy, expressing his thankful trust in God’s loving-kindness.
This story is a fictionalization. Although, historical events, people and places are used fictitiously, details of the time period have been portrayed as accurately as possible for authenticity. All characters are fictional unless otherwise noted. If an actual historical character is mentioned an endnote with citation will be included.
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