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With Thanksgiving approaching, we find ourselves bombarded with tedious tasks and heavy pressures to get everything done. Thanksgiving comes around every year and yet we still fall into the same unhealthy busyness that tends to restrict us from looking up and seeing what opportunities God has given us.
The holidays are a time to truly reflect on the Lord and his goodness. Starting from Thanksgiving: a day to praise our king and remember that every good gift comes from him. Then moving forward to Christmas: a day to remember our greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ. It is natural that during this time of year we as the Church should be slowing down, reflecting more and seeking the Lord’s will. But, the frenzy of the season keeps us from asking, “God, what do you desire of me?” and from being expectant that he will use our efforts to advance his kingdom.
New Life member Caitlin Langley shares how God changed the trajectory of her life through faithful servants who chose to set aside their busy agenda to love her as a sister in Christ. Caitlin has been a member of New Life since July 2016 and is very involved in Chris and Tearney Woodruff’s life group. In the spring of her freshman year, she applied and was hired to work in a soil and crop research lab through the Agriculture Department at Texas A&M. This job aligned perfectly with her passions, however, it required her to begin employment in the summer. Although she was grateful to begin working, she did not have housing through the summer months and due to her family's financial situation, it was going to be quite difficult to find a place that was affordable.
During life group one Wednesday, she was updating everyone on the great opportunity through this job offer, but expressed nervousness about finances. Without hesitation and very casually, Tearney offered her a room at their house. Caitlin was shocked and extremely grateful.
“It is a big deal for someone to open up their home. I felt very loved and cared for,” Caitlin stated.
Caitlin comes from a family of brokenness. Although she has a close relationship with her mother, her father has never been present. This hole in her home growing up left her in confusion of what a healthy family full of love and support looks like. But God had a solution. Caitlin moved into the Woodruff’s guest room in early May. None of her friends were in College Station over the summer, so she found herself mostly hanging around at the Woodruff’s house. There, she experienced something she’d never had before, a loving family. Each night they welcomed her to family dinner where they ate and filled the air with intentional conversation about faith, school, and work.
“I loved watching how they both interacted with Aurora and Logan. They included God in all conversations and sought to learn more about one another. It was amazing,” Caitlin explained.
They were quick to accept her into their family and treat her as their own. Tearney and Caitlin engaged in spiritual conversation, one in particular impacted her deeply as Tearney explained to her that despite the actions of earthly fathers, our Heavenly father is good and constant. Caitlin quickly realized that this opportunity was teaching and providing her with more than she ever expected.
The Woodruff family became very attached to her as well. “I don’t think she realized how much she really blessed us. Our kids adore her and her self-discipline was inspiring,” Tearney described. Every morning Caitlin got up for work around 5 am, ate breakfast, and spent time with the Lord. “After working outside in the summer heat all day, she would come home and ask if she could help in the kitchen and would play with the kids,” Chris stated. Her passion encouraged and challenged them. It was all summed up as a beautiful and rewarding summer for both parties; one that changed the trajectory of Caitlin's outlook on families and her heavenly Father.
The Woodruff’s act of selflessness is a humble example of what it means to see opportunities God brings us and be willing to sacrifice for others. By following God's will and being obedient even in the unknown, they allowed the Lord to work extensively in Caitlin's life.
As you’re reflecting on God’s goodness this Thanksgiving, ask the Lord how you can be of service to his kingdom this season. Perhaps it will look similar to the Woodruff’s and Caitlin’s story. Maybe it looks like loving on those extended family members that really push your buttons. Maybe it involves reaching out your hand to those in need or giving your time and resources even when you don’t think you have enough. David Mathis sums this up beautifully in his article, The True Story of Thanksgiving, “You exist to appreciate God. He created you to honor him by giving him thanks. Appreciating both who God is and his actions for us — in creating us and sustaining our lives — is fundamental to proper human life in God’s created world.”