The Christmas season has finally wound down and I feel like I can finally relax a bit. When you are married to a pastor and work in the church office, Christmas is actually the busiest time of the year. Easter is also a very busy time, however it does not come with as many expectations as Christmas. So, as it ends and I reflect on the “holiday” I am once again amazed by the aspects that mean the most to me.
One of the goals we had at our church this year was to look for ways to spend less on things that do not matter, and find something to “give” to that is meaningful. One option was to give more than just material items and perhaps give of your time.
Considering this, our church decided to gather throughout the Advent season and make tied blankets to give out to the homeless. As people gathered the three Wednesday afternoon and evenings before Christmas to make blankets, I was blessed to see an amazing thing happen. People of many different backgrounds, ages and abilities were connecting over a common cause. I saw Latino’s who speak little to no English being helped by elderly German ladies that could not utter a word of Spanish. There were young and old and all ages in between. Blankets were made with love, and prayer for those who would receive them, and those who made them were blessed by giving of themselves.
When we planned the event we thought if 20 blankets were made it would be a success. By the time we finished, there were 44 blankets ready to be delivered. The timing was really perfect, the weather here had taken a turn for the worse and it was very cold. When we left to donate the blankets Jim and I drove toward an underpass that I was sure would have homeless gathered and would be happy to get the warmth we had to share. As we drove we saw a man with a young girl tucked under his arm trying to stay warm. It was so windy and they looked terribly cold.
Getting closer, I saw the young girl was severely disfigured. She looked to have a birth defect and resembled someone who had been burned. She had no ears. Only small bumps and she was so thin. My heart went out to her and Jim and I knew we had found our recipients. We stopped and went to them. We offered them a couple of blankets and care kits we had with us. The look on that young girls face was priceless. I knew that we had been led to them and that it was no coincidence when they said they had moved here from Colorado, our home state. They had come for work, only to find the job was short lived.
As we talked with them we asked if we could pray with them and they were both so joyful about it. I asked their names and we prayed for Phil and his daughter Kristen. We joined hands and prayed for them to find work and for them to be cared for. I felt so inadequate, it was such a small thing to give them, yet after our prayer, the young girl raised her hands high in the air, praising God and thanking Him for us. She thanked Him for people who care and her eyes became glassy with unshed tears. She reached over and hugged me. Hugged me, and gave me the best Christmas gift I could have gotten. Her love and gratitude filled me to the brim. It was truly amazing.
I will continue to pray for Phil and his daughter Kristen. I will hold them in my heart and remember that it is when you give of yourself, thinking that you might be helping another, that you so often receive a much bigger gift than they.