There is this little thing called Christmas Change that some of our friends here in NWA started. This, along with this great organization, has made Christmas look a little different for many of our friends families here in NWA. We have all made some kind of change to the way we do Christmas. It is not like I was not aware of people in need before, but there has been a heightened awareness this year like never before. I would say a stirring in my heart started about 6 months ago when I read Crazy Love and Same Kind of Different as Me back to back. He has opened my eyes to people in need. For John and I, at this time, we don't feel the Lord leading us to go across the globe, but we do feel a calling to get out and do something here in our own backyard. That might be serving, giving financially or opening our home to people for a warm meal and a sense of family around them. I desire for my girls to have open hearts for the needy, the hurting, the abandoned, the hungry. So, this Christmas season (and hopefully for the rest of the year as well) we have tried to think a little more about others, than ourselves. It has been more of a blessing and joy to my heart to do these things than I'm sure to the person receiving.
So, what changes have been made in our house? Here a few:
1. Less gifts this year. The girls will still probably get too much, but we scaled back quite a bit.
2. Our advent calendar this year that used to consist of a small goodie each day was scaled back as well. Each day, we read our verse (we have tried our best to do this daily) and also have some kind of "act of kindness" for the day. We might write a note or draw a picture for our teachers or we might give goodies to our neighbors or postman. The girls and I had the opportunity to take hot chocolate to a Salvation Army bell ringer on a VERY cold day. What a blessing that was for us to do. The girls loved it and have asked to get to do it again. AND, we will soon.
The girls have still received a couple little Christmas crafts to do in the advent, but it is now a surprise when they receive something in the advent instead of expecting it each day.
3. We have given financially from our Christmas budget to provide shoes for a girl in need and some toys for kids who would not normally get a single gift.
4. We took dinner to a new friend and her husband, knowing that there was as chance that might be their only meal that day.
5. I was able to serve by setting up for the Potter's House Giveaway and John at the Help Portrait Day. These were blessings to both of us.
I feel like because my heart is more open this year to serve, that God has opened my eyes to see the small things that I can do too. I pulled over yesterday (something I probably would not have thought of before) to ask an elderly lady with a cane and groceries in hand if she needed a ride. She did not want a ride, but she gave me a fabulous response and a good laugh for the day
I am not AT ALL writing this to boast. As I read back over this list, all of this seems so little, like not enough. I write it so that my family of 4 can see how Christmas changed this year for us and to encourage you to look around for ways to serve. It will change you. It is not to late and a brand new year is about to begin, with ways to serve year round.