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I write day after day because I discover extraordinary lessons from ordinary life experiences. I record my visual portraits of everyday life filled with something sacred in hopes that my reflections might bring an insight that blesses my readers.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Lessons

For over forty years, my husband and I have sponsored Christmas families. They have come to us in various ways. I suspect God has sent them all to help shape us and teach us His love. I will retrieve a few past memories to share what we have learned.

One of our first families was a family of nine. I was a full time mom at the time, and we lived on a very limited budget. I have always enjoyed giving our "adopted family" a fabulous gift laden Christmas. I wanted it to be the best Christmas they ever had. I hoped the family would relate this special blessed day with the birth of Christ . My philosophy was that if they remembered that the name of Jesus brought them such a wonderful Christmas, that they would one day choose to serve Him.

So, back to my family of nine. I began making stuffed animals out of all my fabric scraps. I asked my seamstress friends if they would help me by making pajamas for every child. The ladies at Center Chapel were so enthused they made each child and mom a brand new outfit. I understood that God had a plan much bigger than mine.

These children were tall and thin. So, we all made long legs in each garment. I remember the joy on each seamstresses' face as they showed me their finished product. We all chipped in and made food baskets , and I asked our sons to give up one of their three gifts to these children. They did this with a willing and cheerful heart. They went with me to select the gifts. I knew this was the teaching God intended. I could share my need to bless others , and God would teach all of us the real meaning of the Christmas spirit.

I remember many Christmases of singing " We wish you a Merry Christmas" as we entered small homes which we filled to the ceiling with brightly colored packages. One family of six little tykes stands out in my mind. The children were more excited to have a homemade gingerbread man than they were about the gifts. As the little hands reached for my tray of goodies and munched on their cookies, I tried to tell them of the love of the Christ child. As I looked at those sweet faces, I began to cry. That year someone else had to finish the manger story. As we left, my youngest child said, " Thanks , Mamma for baking them cookies." Again, God's love was magnified through the eyes of a child.

I was driving from downtown one wintery day and noticed a child standing alone on a dilapidated porch. I felt a nudge from God and pulled to the curb. Soon, a mother stepped out of the door holding a small child in her arms. I went up to the porch and asked if they needed help with Christmas. She began to cry. She helped me make a list of sizes and gift ideas for her five children. I promised I would return. I hurridly went home and called friends to see if they would help. Many times it was Young Life teens who pitched in with great fervor. They loved the afternoon of wrapping and singing carols. We would enter the home with our cheery songs or stay outside and carol. This family had a dirt floor, so I gathered many warm blankets and quilts and pajamas. We filled the tiny kitchen with cans of food and baskets of fruit and boxes of canned and frozen meats. Of course, I was crying too hard to tell the story, but one of the Young Life kids did a wonderful presentation of our manger gift and the story behind it. The mama's eyes caught mine and said, " You all are God's helpers. You helped Him answer my prayers." That was the lesson I learned that year. I could include others in the act of answering prayers to God. This was the Christmas we realized that we could be His messenger, His hands, and His heart to others.

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