Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Christmas Ministry--and Yours

You hear about them all the time--those amazing ideas to serve others at Christmas.

Sing carols at an old folks' home.
Visit the children's wing of a hospital.
Feed Christmas dinner to the homeless.
Invite the lonely into your home.

And more ...

These are wonderful ideas--great ways to teach our kids to help others. And although my wiggling toddlers would make many of these an experiment in torture, I think it would be great to give more in the future. My husband and I have even talked about spending Christmas serving in Mexico someday.

But something strikes me about the way people glorify volunteering during the holidays. It's like helping in a soup kitchen etc. are real types of ministry and what we normally do is not. But,

This morning, my two-year-old daughter's eyes scrunched in sheer sadness when she spilled her hot chocolate. Her tear-drenched cheeks wet my shoulder as I held her.

Comforting the distressed is my ministry.

My son, Christian, sitting at the island coloring, fell right off his chair (again)and landed on the linoleum. "Let me get you some ice for those bruises, sweetie." And we snuggled in the blue recliner till he giggled and ran off to play.

Healing the wounded is my ministry.

Sweet Gabrielle, seven, loves to hug. Every few hours she checks in, wraps her arms around me to receive the love waiting in my arms. We finish with a few yummy kisses, and off she goes.

Hugs and kisses are my ministry.

And a couple days ago, my oldest was getting picked on by a neighbor girl who is much older than him. He came inside crying. I held him and told him how special he is. "God loves you so much, Benjamin. Let's play a game together."

Befriending the friendless is my ministry.

Finally, every night after dinner we light the advent candles and read from the Bible about Jesus.

Teaching my children about a baby who grew up to die on a wooden cross to forgive their sins--that's my ministry.

What's yours?

Let's not worry about what others think our Christmas ministry should be, because of Christ, we are amazing moms--and that's enough.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Program with a Four Year Old. Embarrassing? No Way.

My little Christian with his cherry-red chubby cheeks stood on stage with a band of other four and five year olds singing the ever-preschooler-popular "Away in a Manger." So cute.

Of course, my eyes focused on my little one, and what was he doing? Well, he had his priorities in the right place. You see, he was wearing his favorite "play ball" knee-high socks. In order to share the coolness of the socks with his church family, he shoved his pant-legs up to his knees. There he stood, socks in all their glory.

I have to say, he sang pretty well. He actually knew the words--even the second verse. "The stars in the bright sky..." And how cute it was when they flashed their little hands above their heads like stars--except that, with his arms pulling his shirt up, the whole congregation could see that Christian's pants were neither snapped, nor zipped. Nice Thomas the Tank Engine underwear though.

That little boy gives me so much joy. He had no clue he should be embarrassed. He just felt excited to share himself with a room full of people who love him.

Sometimes I feel like Christian looked--not quite tucked in or snapped up. But I'm just me, not the perfect mom, housekeeper, or Christmas decorator, but amazing nonetheless. So at Christmas time especially, I try not to worry about sharing only the perfect version of myself. It's time to just give, however imperfectly.

Why? Because my family loves me, and of course, my heavenly Father loves me too.

"The Lord your God ... will take great delight in you, he will rejoice over you with singing. He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy." Zephaniah 3:17

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Yesterday's Blessings

Blessing number one: I arrived home from a three-hour editing stint with a seriously fried brain and a mounding serving of worn out. "Lord," I prayed as I got out of the car, "Help me make it through the rest of the afternoon."

Walking through the door, the first thing I noticed was a clean family room AND a couch-full of folded clothes. Then I heard the sound of the dishwasher whirring. I glanced toward the kitchen--yep, the dishes were done. I kept myself from fainting and smiled at my most wonderful babysitter. My heart exuded thanks. I really needed the help at that moment. A clean and peaceful home is a blessing--and help getting there double blesses.

Blessing number two: "Honey, can you bring home some paper towels and diapers from Costco today?" You see, my husband was laid off from a mortgage management position a few months ago, but rather than waiting around for the perfect situation in the finance world, he took a part-time job straightening bread for a vender at Costco. He rises in the wee hours of the morning to provide for us, then heads back in the afternoon.

This gives him time to pursue other work while still providing help with the bills. I'm so blessed by his hard-working, dedicated attitude. Plus, he did bring home the paper towels and diapers AND a roasted chicken for dinner. Wahoo!

And blessing number three: "Ho-ly! Ho-ly! Ho-ly!" My little singer-superstar Abigail belted out in typical off-key howling yesterday afternoon. "Hoooo-leee!" I laughed, not just chuckled, but a real hearty guffaw. Then she giggled and did it even louder and with odd and varied lip positions. "Hoo-ly," she sang with her lips all pooched out, then "Ho-ly," with her lips smacking. Ah, we laughed and laughed.

After my long hours editing, the comic relief felt good. Plus, the sweet innocent joy of a two-year-old girl screeching with delight about God's holiness--you gotta love that.

Then I remembered my prayer. "Lord, help me through the rest of the afternoon." Like Abigail's praise, I'd prayed with simple trust--childlike--and a loving Father answered.