Monday, December 28, 2009

The Best Thing We Did

I don't want Christmas to end. I have savored this month and enjoyed each day the celebration has brought.

In reflecting this morning on what we did this month, the biggest highlight took place on a COLD Saturday morning a few weeks ago. Our family layered the clothes on and went out to a local government housing project to deliver Christmas gifts we and many other families from our church had purchased for the residents. Every family also received a large box of food. We saw the cutest babies ever. Their eyes were bright and full of love, unaware of their surroundings, but content without a doubt.

The giving was great, but the best part of the day took place in our car and home afterwards. The kids were moved by the lack - lack of grass, lack of clothes, lack of space, lack of ________. There was lack. We were able to discuss how poverty is a curse. Poverty can be overcome. The Church is designed to help the poor - not the government. Jesus said the poor will always be among us. It is our responsibility as Christians to help those in need and do it in His Name.

We talked about the lack of fathers in the homes. We visited many apartments that day and there was not one man to be found for these beautiful children and their mothers. I cannot fathom that. The single moms have a tough road ahead of them, and it was a learning opportunity for our children to see a glimpse of their reality.

Our kids felt like Jesus' hands and feet that day. They knew they were giving on behalf of Him. They knew the gifts we purchased for the family we helped adopt were of greater priority than their own, especially after seeing the children's circumstances.

The family vote was unanimous - we all want to do it again next year. The family vote was unanimous - we all need to pray for these families.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Past

I love Christmas! I love decorating, baking, buying gifts, and yes, receiving gifts! I enjoy pulling out the decor that has been given to me by friends over the years. Some date back to my childhood. I have a ceramic Santa ornament painted by my fourth grade student teacher! I have the ornament I sold so I could go to Washington, D.C. in sixth grade with my class. I have ornaments from dear friends given to me during different seasons of my life - each and every one brings a flood of precious memories of Christmases past and the blessings of very special people in my life.

I am especially fond of a set of ornaments given to me by my mother-in-law over the years. When I got married, we started out with very few ornaments for our tree. My MIL began that year by giving us ornaments - each one carefully picked out and chosen to mail to us in time for decorating our tree. Each one is extremely unique. The anticipation of what she would send would build every year. Then when we had children, each child received beautiful and meaningful ornaments for the tree.

As we began decorating this year, I realized my daughter knew the ornaments from my MIL. She asked about all the other ornaments, and I could pinpoint who gave them to me. After she was finished with decorating the tree, she said, "Wow, every ornament has a story. That is really neat." Yes, I thought, that is really neat. With many of them, the ornament is the only connection I have with the giver.

The ornaments from my MIL are extremely special, because she is now with the Lord. I have her Christmas apron. It is the apron she wore the only Christmas she spent with us once we had kids. She came ready to bake and make memories with her cherished granddaughter. They made Mexican Wedding Cookies together. She thought that would be one of the easiest to make with little hands. What fun they had!

Can I tell you, I am wearing the apron as I type. The cherished granddaughter has worn it throughout this month as she has baked...Mexican Wedding Cookies. As I tie it around my waist, I remember a wonderful woman who loved me and my children, a wonderful woman who loved this time of the year more than anyone else I know. This woman sent her girlfriend out to find the special ornaments when she was in a nursing home. Just in time to get them sent to us to decorate our tree.

When I think of her, when I think of the blessings God has given me through so many friends over the years, I am overwhelmed by His goodness and mercy for me. Oh how He loves me and how He loves you!

Merry Christmas!

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