Sometimes, when Christmas is in the attic and winter is knee-deep on your lawn, you need a little something to look forward to – a reason to celebrate.
I suppose that’s how this idea to decorate for the Winter Olympics got started in our house. The dining room looked bare without its evergreen branches, and in my mind I guess that meant it was time to pull out the colored paper and the glue.
We decided we would all cheer for the United States but that we’d also choose two other countries to support in the games.
For Jessie, that’s Romania and Japan. Benjamin chose Jamaica and New Zealand, and it’s Argentina and Ethiopia for Colt.
Brian, sensing that there would be an award for the most medals won, went with Russia and Norway.
Me? I’ll be pulling for Thailand and the Ukraine.
We measured and cut on and off throughout the weekend. First, for the flags. Then, for the paper chain of Olympic rings and the tiny banner for the coffee table.
Somewhere between cleaning paper scraps off the floor and lining the first black triangle up against the green of Jamaica’s flag, I started to think of our project as more than a party, more than a geography lesson.
It was a way to think of people other than ourselves.
These flags hanging 3 feet from where we bow our heads and give thanks for every meal could be visual reminders to pray that people in other parts of the world would be blessed, too.
At least for the next few weeks, we could follow their athletes and their stories. At least we could start to see them not as countries but as individuals with joys and burdens – as people loved greatly by God.
We started by praying for laid-back Jamaica. Then, the next day beautiful Argentina was our focus.
Those crooked, handmade decorations?
Turns out, they are helping our hearts see straight.
Will you pick a country – or two – to pray for in February? Would you add them to our list?
Marketta Gregory is a former religion reporter who now shares her own journey of faith with readers. She lives in Rochester, N.Y., with her husband, their three young boys and one very vocal Pomeranian. To contact Gregory, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to her at P.O. Box 12923, Rochester, NY 14612. You can also visit the Simply Faithful page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter (@MarkettaGregory).