November 27, 2017
Our Sixth Dare Challenge Thanksgiving Meal is history.
During the twenty-four hours leading up to the meal, Steve and Sarah and I turned into veritable Thanksgiving-prep whirlwinds. The first thing on the to do list was to decide which napkin fold to use.
While Sarah made the Important Napkin Decisions and then folded twenty napkins, I did a few other tasks which I’d like to show you in case these ideas are helpful to you down the road. (photos below)
Photo 1: I got a big bin and filled it with all sizes of takeout containers as well as foil and gallon Ziploc bags. That way when it was time to pack all the leftovers to send home with Dare Challenge, I wasn’t frantically scrounging around for containers.
Photo 2: I put our ice in a colander to keep it from getting watery.
Photo 3: I put all of the cake knives, dessert servers, ladles, serving spoons, butter knives, meat forks, etc. in one place to make it easier to grab the needed utensil in a hurry.
Photo 4: I found these candle jars at a thrift store for $1 each. (Original tags said $16.50!) I taped a leaf behind each one and had instant autumn-y decor.
Photo 5: I used napkin rings as an easy candle decoration.
There was the setting up of (and the setting of) all the tables to accomplish . . .
. . . but at long last, it was all done.
(This picture shows off our new paint colors. The room used to be yellow and white.)
We had the guys come an hour before the meal so that they could enjoy just hanging out. Some of them played chess.
Some did stuff outside . . .
and one found a quiet spot to read.
While the guys were relaxing, Sarah and I stayed busy putting the final touches on the food.
Just before we ate, Steve gathered everyone in a circle to pray sentence prayers about one thing that they were especially thankful for. One man said it was his first Thanksgiving in ten years when he wasn’t high and out scrounging for drugs or food.
There were many thanksgivings spoken and prayed, each worthy of a smile, a tear, or a hallelujah.
Our church folks outdid themselves cooking. We had turkey, ham, eleven side dishes, two kinds of bread and eight desserts. The guys were so appreciative of the bounty and a couple of even noticed (and mentioned) the napkins, place cards, and special decorations. They said it made them feel like family. They also loved having their name cards with the meaning of their names printed out.
After the meal, there was some more hanging out time.
A couple of guys sat at the table and looked at some books from our bookcase that caught their eye.
A few of the men insisted on getting a start on the clean up. Every year that we have hosted, the Dare Challenge men always volunteer to help with the dishes.
I told Sarah she had better get a picture of me so that there was proof I was actually there!
At the end of the evening, there was the traditional “get a photo with Pastor Steve” moment.
Steve had to leave at 6 p.m to spend the night at the church with our homeless guests. (We feed and house the homeless two weeks each winter.) A Dare Challenge staff member was going to be spending the night as well.
When the guys heard what was going on, they said they wanted to pray for Steve before he left. Talk about a tender, heart-touching scene, getting to see a group of men snatched from the jaws of death (and that is not too dramatic a statement), turning their hearts and prayers to God on behalf of their mentor and friend.
As I stood and joined in the prayer, I couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty that was being borne out of lives of chaos and heartache.
These men with substance abuse issues (some of whom have been homeless), were praying for Steve (who used to abuse drugs and alcohol) and was headed out to minister to the homeless, some of whom have struggled with drugs and alcohol. And just to make it all the more poignant, the Dare Challenge guys (many who have been in trouble with the law) had just sat and eaten Thanksgiving dinner with two police officers–former enemies turned friends.
I don’t think there could be any better way to spend Thanksgiving than to be a small part of the process of seeing broken people made whole and getting to witness prayers and tears and thankful hearts.
The recovering addict, the homeless, the preacher, the policemen, the pastor’s wife and daughter . . . we are all one family, all of us broken, all of us struggling, all of walking together on the road to healing.
Here are a few Dare Challenge posts from past years.
Thrift stores, fuzzy socks
and conversing with my Yorkie
are all on the list of things I love.