Last week I shared about my trip earlier this month to a children’s home. This post will continue that recap…
After visiting the school building, we all went to one of the houses where some of the children live. There was a festive, warm and welcoming spread of hot chocolate, spiced tea, and cookies. It was here that the children would all visit with us and receive their “big” gifts.
We were there for a little while before the kids were released from their classes. As they all slowly walked in the front door, they noticed the huge pile of gifts under and around the tree. The excitement could not be contained and was contagious! After everyone had a chance to get a hot drink and cookies, they all sat around the large living room and waited for their name to be called by the house parent that was handing out the gifts.
Many names were read, and the kids would walk up, get their present, get a crocheted ice skate full of candy, and then go back to where they were sitting and open their gift. Some kids received a few small gifts, some were given one large gift, but each child was so pleased with whatever it was they were given. The people who bought the gifts were given idea lists of what to purchase and there were toys galore! It was so much fun!
One girl, I would guess about the age of 11 or so, stood near the tree as she clapped and cheered for each child as they came up to get their presents. She had one of the biggest smiles I had ever seen! When the last name was read and she had not yet been given a gift, you could see the shock in her eyes. She still continued to smile though. The house parent who had been reading the names turned to her and asked, “Did you not get a present?” She shook her head no. He then said, “Well, you must have been naughty then.” She was handed a crocheted ice skate, and then he walked to the back of the house and out the back door.
She never complained. She didn’t cry. Instead, she walked over and checked out what her friends were given. She shared their excitement, and then sat down to open her candy bag to see what was in it. She smiled as she made an inventory of the candy, and acted as though it was the most wonderful thing she had ever been given. No tantrum, no jealousy, no anger. It was just what it was, and she accepted that.
A minute later, that same house parent came back in the back door with a big gorgeous pink bike. He said her name, and the smile on her face when she turned around was unforgettable. Still clutching the bag of candy, she ran and hugged the man. She then walked her bike over to where she could get a better look at it. I was unable to hold back my tears, I was so ecstatic for her!
I couldn’t help but pray at that moment, “Lord, make me like this little girl. Please. And let more of your people have a heart like hers, also.”
Sometimes God has something for everyone around us, it seems. He’s using them, blessing them, and fulfilling more than what seems to be needed. All the while, we feel forgotten. We start to say “All I have is this” instead of being grateful for what we have. Never considering that instead of whining, complaining, kicking, and screaming that He is actually preparing something beyond our wildest dreams if we just wait. Sometimes, our immaturity and lack of gratitude actually causes Him to wait longer, due to our not being ready.
I’ve been there, have you? Ugh.
If only my phone hadn’t died so that I could have snapped a photo of her walking that bike with that huge smile. It would be nice to have that reminder on my fridge next time I feel like moping instead of waiting… Lord, let me not forget!
On Friday afternoon, I had the honor of visiting a children’s home while they were invited to come out of their classes and sit on Santa’s lap.
Unsure of what to expect, I walked in slowly. I had heard of experiences others had during past visits; Sadness, joy, a mixture of emotions, and the urge to give up their entire life to make a difference for just one child. Me? I was excited but scared, and honestly, distracted. Minutes before our arrival, I had been told of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. I was in shock, though I didn’t know any of the details. Thank God that I was able to have this wonderful happy experience on such a sad day.
The children’s home, which is actually a few houses all side by side, offers a place of refuge to children that are orphaned, not wanted by family members, or have been removed from their caregivers by the state. They have very little in the way of material items, but their house-parents and teachers show them so much love.
They lined up and waited for their turns. Some children asked for teddy bears. A few of them requested bikes. One little girl broke my heart when she said she just wanted her Grandma. Every one of those children smiled and showed so much appreciation that Santa made time for them. I was just blown away.
I had “a moment” with one little girl in particular. I watched as she climbed up on Santa’s lap, whispered in his ear, and then accepted a large coloring sheet and a bag full of small gifts. Immediately, she ran to her teacher and exclaimed, “Look what I got! It was exactly what I wanted!” The teacher smiled, replied “How did they know?” and then explained that the little girl had really been wanting some erasers for her pencils. Sure enough, in her bag, was a little box of erasers that brought her great joy!
About 10 seconds later, this little girl was sitting at my feet. Looking through her bag to see what kind of loot she had, she asked me, “Did you see my presents?” I kneeled down to her level. She was such a smart, talkative, and loveable little girl! For about 2 minutes we talked. We discussed my name, her erasers, and the pencil pillows that came with them. She told me about her new coloring sheet that she had received. It had Sponge Bob on it. She let me know that she doesn’t like Sponge Bob, but she’s so grateful to have something to color and some new coloring pencils. The little girl ecstatically told me that she would even color him yellow. Then, she asked me to take her photo, followed by another request for me to retake the photo, as she didn’t like the first one. We then debated the speculation of who was really in the Santa suit. (She knew exactly who he was and giggled that he made a great Santa. I kept my lips sealed.)
Soon, she was rounded up with the other children to return to the last few minutes of class. As she walked away, she dropped a few of her new treasures. I stopped her and tucked them back into her bag. “Oh, thank you for helping me!” and off she went.
I don’t remember the last time that my heart felt such gratitude for something as that little girl showed for those erasers. Talk about guilt and reflection! That was it right there! I silently prayed for God to show me how blessed I truly am, and to never forget to be thankful.
And yes, in case you were wondering, I did want to take that little girl home with me. I won’t lie. Being unable to bring her into my family, I pray for her every day. That God would keep his hand on her, guide her, and raise her to be a Godly woman that follows His lead. And if God allows, I will go and visit the home and find out how she is doing next year.
I have another story from this day that I plan to share with you in the next few days…
This Christmas, are you truly thankful to God for your blessings? Are you reaching out to show love to others, even if a smile is all that you can afford? On Friday night, did you have to stop and question if there was still goodness in the world? Have you ever experienced something like this? I’d love to hear about it!
Has God ever done anything for you? I’m sure He has- you’re reading this, right? That means you woke up this morning with breath in your body. There was no hearse at your front door. And I’m sure that’s just one of many. He’s done amazing things for me in my life, and in the life of my friends and family.
Yesterday, my husband, Markus, preached a message (and did a great job!) about forgetting what God has done for us. If it weren’t for God, we could be lost, in jail, dead, still in Egypt’s bondage, etc. Yet, we tend to overlook all He’s done for us in the midst of the everyday chaos of life.
Today I want to share with you the story of a mighty woman from the Bible who could teach all of us a BIG lesson on how to react to the blessings of an Almighty God. Sure, her story is very short, all of two scriptures long. And sure, she doesn’t even have a name (that I know of) other than “Peter’s Mother-in-Law,” but we should all strive to be just like her. Watch this…
“Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them.”- Matthew 8:14-15
Did you see that? The very last line…“And she arose and served them.” Jesus had done something wonderful for her. He healed her. Her response? She immediately arose to serve Him. Wow! That simply simple statement just blows my mind. Why? Because I have been in church all my life, and for the past several years, I have been involved not just as a member, but as a part of leadership. You know what I have noticed? People come in needing/wanting something from the Lord. When they get what they came for, they walk right back out the doors, never to be heard from again until there’s something else they need/want. Really? You mean, you’ve noticed this, too? It’s a pretty disappointing cycle.
Peter’s mother-in-law was the exact opposite. She didn’t walk out the door because she got what she needed from Jesus, never to be heard from again. Instead, she began to serve the One who made her whole. She became a servant to the One who supplied her need.
That’s how we’re supposed to react to the greatness of our Lord and all the blessings He has bestowed upon us. We are to serve Him. In becoming His servant, we will gain a servant’s heart. In gaining a servant’s heart, we have a desire to serve…a call to servant hood. Living a life of servant hood makes us an example and a light to a lost and dying world. That’s what the lost need to see…a Christian with desire to serve the living God, not a “Christian” who only lives the life in time of need.
As I said, we could all learn from this woman, myself included. Think about everything the Lord has done for you, great or small. No matter what it is, He deserves for us to love and serve Him in return. Yes, He gives us free will and allows us to choose how to respond. But what He deserves is a child that will love and serve Him.