This advent season, I'm trying to focus on preparation; not preparation by buying all my gifts early (still have way more on that list) or baking millions of cookies, but preparing my heart & focusing on the true meaning of Christmas. I can get so caught up in the hustle and bustle this time of year. The shopping, the parties, the christmas card writing (or not writing in my case), so.many.thing. All of these things are wonderful, but sometimes I get lost in them. I lose sight of that sweet little baby born in the stable & the HUGE gift that he gave us. I won't lie that I'm still making shopping to do lists like crazy and huffing at the lady who almost hit my car while backing out of the shopping center parking lot, but I'm talking little steps towards a new mindset.
In focusing on changing my mindset, I am beginning to notice a few things that I may have missed in previous years. People are SO generous. I knew that & I had seen that, but this year I am really seeing it like I've never seen before. I am blown away by their kindness and desire to love on other people.
Our church had an angel tree this year with over 40 children on it. We are a fairly small church so that was truly a lot. When there were children still left on the tree, we began asking other people in the community to participate. My school took on three children; I talked with the students and then sent out a school-wide email. I was absolutely blown away by the response! Almost immediately I was receiving emails from parents telling me what they were buying for the children. The students were excited to help too & have been so proud of the gifts they are providing. It's wonderful to see people so thrilled to give even when they know nothing about the person or family to whom they're giving.
A small group from another church heard about our weekly tutoring that I've mentioned before and wanted to help one of those families. They planned to give a $100-200 gift card to Walmart to a family with four children (two of which come to our tutoring). The father recently had surgery and has been out of work. The mom works as well, but money is very tight. The parents are so supportive of their children and are always looking for ways to help them improve in school. We got a call from the small group last week to say that they would be providing a $1000 Walmart gift card to this family. Tomorrow, I get the honor of presenting this to the mother and father. I'm am literally grinning from ear to ear just thinking about it. (Not sure if I'll be able to concentrate & think in Spanish to translate because I will be so excited!).
This Christmas season, I am seeing the good in this world, the joy and the generosity of so many. Our world can be awfully dark at times, but I can see the light shining so bright & it is spreading. Joy to the World!
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Monday, December 2, 2013
We spent Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family as we've always done. This group is always so fun and I enjoy catching up with everyone while sampling all the good food [my family is full of good cooks]! Also, my family is known for wonderfully hilarious stories. I was cracking up at childhood stories from my aunts & uncles with Grannie's snide comments added in.
When I look at this picture, it really hits me. We are so blessed. I love being surrounded by a large family. I know that many spend this holiday alone or have never experienced the joyful chaos of a crowded kitchen. We are so fortunate to be so familiar with the smell of turkey and sweet potatoes, the [very loud] sounds of people gathered together and sharing stories and the taste of the annual "log" cake that Grannie makes each year. We are blessed & thankful.
And now it's officially the Christmas season! We've started decorating & plan to get our tree this coming weekend!