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Ms. Van Ryn: Hope in Times of Change

This holiday season is looking a little different for every family, and that can be really difficult, especially during an abnormal year. Although high school English teacher Ms. Van Ryn’s Thanksgiving Day plans looked a lot different from previous years, she learned to accept change and is even more thankful than before!

Change can be a hard thing to push through, but even though Ms. Van Ryn couldn’t spend Thanksgiving with her family, she made the best of a bad situation.

Ms. Van Ryn on a Zoom call with her family

Normally, Ms. Elizabeth Van Ryn loves to travel to her home in Michigan where she spends the Thanksgiving break with her family. Every year she looks forward to attending her church in Michigan, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and football, especially if the Lions or Bears are playing, going around the room saying what everyone is thankful for, and enjoying her mom’s family favorite Oreo ice cream dessert.

This holiday season, Ms. Van Ryn knew things were going to look different. Due to traveling restrictions and her parents recovering from COVID, she was unable to visit her family. “I had been preparing myself mentally since the school year started for a Thanksgiving apart from my family,” she says. “I figured it wouldn't make sense for me to travel for only a few days, and as the pandemic worsened again, I started to accept the reality.”

Instead, she spent Thanksgiving with Ms. Belin Araneda and her family. “While I was sad to not be with my family on Thanksgiving Day, being able to spend the day with another family who welcomed me made me even more thankful and aware of how God loves me and takes care of me.”

Ms. Van Ryn was excited to experience a different family's holiday traditions. She was not used to having little kids around, celebrating for a birthday in November, or playing a game called Anomia, but she was glad she could experience them.

“Everyone's Thanksgiving looked different this year, and with Ms. Araneda's family to spend the day with, I really had no reason to complain. In fact, I felt more deeply thankful this year for things I've taken for granted before.”

Ms. Van Ryn still got to see her family over the break through Zoom, as she has been doing throughout quarantine. “This year, myself, my brother and sister-in-law, and my brother's fiancée all joined the Zoom call! So that made it easier - I wasn't the only one missing out.”

Despite a challenging year of uncertainty, Ms. Van Ryn continues to look for the good in each situation and knows that only true satisfaction comes from God. “Change, especially difficult change, has a way of highlighting what's most important,” she says. “It also has a way of showing you what you take for granted and revealing all the unique ways God always shows up and provides for us.”

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