December 29, 2011

A Christmas of Giving

Each year, even before Thanksgiving our family starts talking and planning for one of our favorite Christmas traditions... putting aside the shopping and self indulgence that marks many holiday celebrations and instead looking to how we can reach others during the Christmas season, when many hearts are open and yet many more are hurting.   

We were so excited when our Pastor sent an email saying he was going to call this A Christmas of Giving.

When I was a little girl I remember the fellows my dad worked with would all come together to make a Christmas for a family who would otherwise have none.  This usually involved gifts and a meal.  I never knew who those faces were we wrapped packages for but I have never forgotten how my heart was blessed at the idea of helping someone else.   

Another thing I remember from when I was a young girl was the giving tree.  This would appear in the foyer of our church each year around Thanksgiving.  The tree was decorated with little tags which said boy or girl and included an age.  Sometimes, it seems, there was also a notation about what this child might need and what size or color it should be.  Church  members would choose a child and then leave the wrapped package under the tree with the tag attached so they could be distributed.  

 The joy of doing for others was far greater than that of opening presents on Christmas morning.  I wanted my children to know the blessing of giving from the heart with no other reward than knowing we had given in the name of Jesus.  So when the girls were little, we started looking for ways to do just that.  Over the years we put together gift boxes for the victims of Hurricanes and other natural disasters.  We have sent donations to the food bank.  Helped provide for Christmas dinner at a mission where our cousin lived.  One year we wrapped bedtime stories and pajamas for homeless children.  Another year it was sending boxes to an orphanage in Haiti.  While we were doing this we always made a point to pray for the unknown recipients.
We also tried to do something for a family or families we know personally who are in need.  It has always been a blessing to see who the Lord will lay on our hearts and how we can bless them without them finding out who was doing the giving.  

As a parent you always hope what you are doing isn't getting lost in the translation.  We were moved a number of years ago when our children came to us and said, "Who are we going to give to this year?"  Thank you dear Jesus for helping us reach their hearts!  Thank you for letting them understand this season, this life and this world is not about us.  

Do you all read Voice of the Martyrs?  Maybe if you do, you saw the issue with the lady who had been severely disfigured on the cover?  The woman's story so touched Elisabeth.   She has prayed for her many times over the last few months.  Sometimes she would come to our little girl's memory and we would drop whatever we were doing so we could pray for her.  That's why we decided to contribute to the mission work of Voice of the Martyrs this Christmas season.  

When we asked the children how we would fund it, they spent an hour tossing around ideas.   They each wanted to fund a child themselves.  They asked if we would forgo their gift and contribute money to the cause instead.  Again, I was both humbled and overjoyed at their dedication to doing something for someone other than themselves.  The older girls had babysitting money to contribute.  Samuel had saved some money from his birthday to fund a child in Africa.  Our big boys asked Pa for an advance on the Christmas gift money Pappy and Granny send each year.  It is the little moments like those that encourage me as a mother.  When their gift envelope from Granny and Pappy were opened each cheerfully handed over their money.  But there was one more special gift to come.  When Samuel opened his envelope he asked what he should do with his money.  I suggested he put it in his piggy bank.  But that wasn't good enough for him, though.  He asked if he could send it to the children in Africa.   

And the Lord blessed their giving.  Last night on the cover of the new Voice of the Martyrs what did we see?  A picture of that beautiful woman who first touched Elisabeth's heart.  Inside we found an update of her story.  

Long ago the founding pastor of our little church, who has since gone home to the Lord, decided he would not pass an offering plate.  That tradition has been held to at least as many years as we have been at this church, since 1998.  However, I have always been moved by the giving spirit of those I have the privilege of knowing as my brothers and sisters in Christ.  We were all excited the week before Christmas when our Pastor announced he would be passing the offering plate on Christmas Day to fund Bibles for a missionary we have long supported in Mexico.  

With the piggy banks and billfolds emptied for VOM it was an act of prayer and faith to see how the Lord would fund this project we all wanted to be a part of.  Christmas Eve before he tucked them in bed, Allen helped the children put their envelopes together.  They were so excited they couldn't even sleep.  Not because of what they would get on Christmas Day, but because they wanted to know how many Bibles we would be able to send.  Samuel must have asked me at least ten times during the music service on Christmas morning when he would be able to put his envelope in.  I mean he was literally bouncing up and down in his seat the whole time.  I was so grateful Pastor took up the offering before the sermon.  I don't know how he would have made it another 45 minutes or an hour.  We were blessed to hear the total was over $3000 to go to Brother Martin.  Praise God for the way He provides for the work of His people.  That was just about all the kids talked about on their way to the car and during the ride home.  When I tucked them in bed on Christmas night they all deemed that their favorite thing about Christmas.  

Dear Jesus, in this season when we celebrate the gift you gave us in that manger, and remember the salvation you gave to us on the cross, I am so blessed by the way you continue to give to us by allowing us to continue your ministry here on earth.  We are not worthy of that blessing and yet you have given us the joy of helping others to know you.  Lord, never let us forget to look for ways to help the persecuted church, those brothers and sisters who are struggling physically, financially and emotionally among us and most importantly the lost and dying world who need to hear.

Precious Savior, never let us forget who it is really all about.

1 comment :

  1. What a beautifully written and inspiring post Kat! Your message comes across so wonderful.

    Hope you and your family had a lovely Christmas and a VERy Happy New Year to you all!!!!