As we enter into the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, I’ve struggled this year to enjoy all the traditions I always look so forward too. I have a feeling that there are many of you out there that may feel the exact same way…
Maybe it’s the loss of a dear loved one and the season will just not be the same.
Maybe it’s financial burdens and the worry of the lack of gifts you will be able to give.
Maybe it’s a divorce that has torn your family apart.
Maybe it’s the uncertainty of the future for various reasons.
Maybe it’s hardship and pain from causes you never saw coming.
There are people hurting all around us. Hurt and pain seem to be amplified at Thanksgiving and Christmas. “‘Tis the Season to be Jolly…” Unless, you just don’t feel real jolly. So, how do we find the JOY in Christmas if we are struggling to find the JOY in our day to day lives?
During a recent deep time of prayer (the kind where my knees hurt from my really hard tile floors), God simply reminded me that He Knows. And it was the kind of I know from Him that made me feel so loved, it was all I needed in that moment to know as I enter the Season… it’s just about so much more than how I feel. He didn’t discredit my feelings or my pain. He acknowledged them in my prayer time as if He were giving me a hug. But then… in that same time of prayer my heart was pierced with conviction. I simply am not the only person hurting right now. And so many are experiencing hurts that I cannot even conceive. Through my pain and struggles, there is still purpose to be had and God’s work to be done. I am so thankful that the God of James 1:2-4 ” Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” is also the God of 1 Peter 5:7 ” Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” and Isaiah 41:13 ” For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
So does it really matter if I choose to spend the Season under my covers watching a healthy combo of Hallmark and Lifetime movies while eating Bluebell Peppermint Bark ice cream? Can one person really make a difference in this world?
A God timed phone call from a Holt International rep, reminded me that one person can make a difference by showing God’s love to others. A pebble is just a simple pebble until thrown out into the water, creating ripple after ripple… causing once still water to have movement. One human has the opportunity to show God’s love to a hurting world. The ripple effect that God will use from obedience is something so great that we won’t even see the full effect this side of Heaven.
That phone call I mentioned was a follow up from a mission my Amelia Rose started during this past summer. When receiving a letter that many orphans needed surgeries and care, Amelia Rose asked,” Momma? If I baked, do you think I could raise a lot? Like maybe $75 to send to help?”
200 cakes and 264 cookies later, Amelia Rose raised $1,700. She baked for almost 4 weeks of her summer. And the community joined in, creating a ripple effect of God’s love reaching far beyond what Amelia Rose could have ever done alone. I promised to show how the money would be spent. And after much prayer the following is how Amelia Rose felt led to distribute:
- Once anticipating helping with $75 towards a cleft palate surgery and care for 1 orphan… The Gift of a Smile $400. An entire surgery and after care for an orphan will be given.
- The Gift of a share of a heart surgery. $300 (this money will go towards the cost of a $3,000 heart surgery for an orphan that will not only save their life, but give them greater chances of being adopted)
- School tuition for one year for one child living near Mongolia’s largest dump. $150 Children who attend the Red Stone school in Mongolia come from families who live and work in the city’s largest dump.
- A year’s supply of school supplies for 3 students. $30
- Shoes for 10 children. $70
- A sewing machine and sewing kit for a struggling mom. This will provide income for a mom to provide for her children by sewing and selling clothing. $155
- One sheep for a family that will use the wool to make blankets and clothing and earn profits. $85
- 2 pigs, 1 cow, and 5 chickens for one family to start a business. These animals will provide milk, meat, eggs and fertilizer for a family to become self-reliant. $365
- Give a garden: seeds, tools and training. Provide a family with the training and equipment they need to grow fruits and vegetables. This includes seeds, buckets, fertilizer and training. $45
The remaining $100 (if you are doing the math) will go toward a new mission. Yi (Lee) Ae-Sook, a 61 year old resident at Ilsan ( a Korean resident of homes for the disabled that the Holt family established after the Korean War), recently fell and broke her hip. She has spent her entire life as a resident and after this fall she requires surgery and rehab. If you would like to join in by helping, Amelia Rose will be baking again soon.
Acts 20:35 ” In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”
If you lack JOY this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, don’t look for it in the traditional warm and fuzzies of years past. Consider giving out what you feel you yourself need. Time spent with a lonely widow. Babysit for a single mom or dad. Provide a home cooked meal for a widower. Give a special ornament in remembrance of someone’s lost loved one. Befriend the friendless. Share the message of Jesus with the lost. The blessing you will receive will be from God and maybe not even on this side of Heaven. Do it for His glory and His Kingdom.
Helen Keller said, ” I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”
I am only one, but I can be obedient to Him. He can take my obedience and send waves of ripples of His message farther than I could ever imagine. Instead of squeezing God somewhere in between Hallmark movies, parties, programs, decorating and shopping, I’m going to give this season to the ONE who gave me Christmas in the first place. That is where I plan to find my JOY.