Tidings of Comfort and Joy

December 31, 2017

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
For Jesus Christ our Saviour
Was born upon this day,
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray:
O tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.

You’ve no doubt heard or perhaps even sung the lyrics of this Christmas carol.  When I think about those words, I must admit that often, even in the heart of the Christmas season, it is far too easy to dismay. The good news of Christ’s birth sometimes gets overlooked in the chaos of running from party to party, attending recitals, shopping for gifts, and planning for travel. For a foster parent, there’s the added element of acclimating a new child to your family’s traditions, and navigating the emotions that come with that child being separated from his or her loved ones during the holidays. Tidings of comfort and joy can seem nothing more than words in a song.

At Jonah’s Journey, we know that part of the role we play in serving children and mothers in need is equipping the caregiver families who provide for these children.  That’s why each December, we set aside an evening dedicated to encouraging and thanking our caregiver families.  This year, a team of 36 volunteers came together to make the evening possible, handling everything from decorations and music to childcare and serving dinner.

Jonah’s Journey caregiver families gathered together at the Davis Barn (also known as the Upper Room) to enjoy a time of fellowship and celebration. Children were invited to a party of their own at Restoring Hope, a nearby church who offered their space to host the 48 children in attendance. The kids’ party was staffed by 22 volunteers who designed an evening filled with games, crafts, movies, and of course dinner donated by Chick-fil-A.

Through the years, this event has become a special time for past and present Jonah’s Journey families to connect, no matter where they are in their experience with the ministry. Some families currently have a Jonah’s Journey child in their home, while others are now involved in offering continued encouragement and support to a mother and child who have been reunited. Still others gather as a part of the extended Jonah’s Journey family, though they no longer serve as caregivers. This time together serves as an opportunity to share their experiences and to encourage and pray for one another.

After a time of coffee and fellowship in the warm atmosphere of the Barn, caregivers enjoyed a wonderful meal provided by Kathy Dennis of Kathy’s Sugar and Spice Catering, including her famous white chocolate bread pudding.  Following the dinner together, Jay Strother, pastor of an area church, delivered an exhortation to caregivers, encouraging them in their journey. Strother reminded caregivers that everyday actions in service to others have eternal effects beyond what we can imagine, using the Biblical story of Ruth’s seemingly chance encounter into the field of Boaz to gather grain, which became a part of the story of the birth of Christ, generations later.

While it would be impossible to recognize all the individuals involved in making this event a much-needed time of fellowship and respite for caregivers (and a fun party for the children), we would like to offer thanks to the Strothers, the Crazy Love ladies who decorated, served and helped with the gifts provided for the caregiver families, the Davises, Rivergate Chick-fil-a, and to Jean Jennings and all the volunteers from Long Hollow Baptist who provided everything needed for the children’s party. Of course, we would be remiss not to recognize the hard work of Jonah’s Journey Director Susan Moffitt who provided the inspiration and much of the hard work behind this wonderful evening.

Thanks to these individuals, and the support of so many others, tidings of comfort and joy became so much more than song lyrics for families serving the women and children of Jonah’s Journey this holiday season.