I hope you don't mind, but I'm reposting (sort of) an entry from last Christmas. I found it in my archives, and it moved me. Probably because so far, the holidays this year have been crazy and I've spent more time thinking about everything I have to do than reflecting on others.
Last year I mentioned a few people in my life who were experiencing especially difficult times. Here's a brief update:
My cousin found out a month or so ago that she has Stage 4 ovarian cancer. She has a husband who adores her and a 10-year old son. She's currently undergoing chemo. Praise God she is healed and doing great!
After being extremely fatigued over the summer and being extremely sick and dehydrated for the past few weeks, my uncle (my cousin's father-in-law) discovered he has lung cancer, which has already matastasized to his bone. My uncle died a few months later, followed by my aunt (his wife), who died from heart trouble.
One of my very best friends got divorced this past year from a very emotionally abusive man. She lost her job last month and is quickly running out of money. I am thrilled to report my friend now has a great job and God is blessing her side photography and writing business, which is her passion!
Yesterday, my Bible Study group prepared a gift basket for a woman with chronic pain and health problems, whose husband virtually abandoned her to move several states away, leaving her to raise two children on barely any income and no support. This woman is now reconciled with her husband, who accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. The family now attends church together. God is good!!
This year, I know a few people who are struggling. My cousins and their kids (the children and grandchildren of the aunt and uncle who died), are still heavily grieving. One of my dear friends just lost her father and is heading out of state for his funeral today. Three other friends have a parent currently in Hospice care. Other friends are experiencing major financial challenges.
Maybe you know someone in a similar circumstance. Maybe you're the circumstance.
There are people (maybe you) who won't be having the perfect magical Christmas that the television commercials portray. There are people in pain, and those who will spend their holidays in a hospital or alone. I wonder how God feels when I get so caught up in my own little life and the craziness of the holidays that I miss opportunities to be a light to those who are hurting. While I complain about the crowds at the mall or all the baking and wrapping I have to do, there are some who would give anything just to have enough money to buy their child a gift or have someone to bake for.
Shame on me.
Have you ever sat in the dark staring at your Christmas tree lights? Isn't it beautiful? Imagine that the Christmas tree is your world and you're one of those lights. You can add to the beauty of your world. You can shine to those around you.
Oh, my holidays will probably always be filled with shopping, wrapping, baking, planning...craziness...but I will be more aware of those around me. I will be spending more time praying, being a friend, and simply shining a light to those who are hurting. Want to join me? Consider the following ideas:
*Invite a hurting friend for coffee.
*Head to the nursing home and spend time talking to the residents - ask the nurses which ones don't get many visitors and focus on them. Maybe bring a small gift to pass around or bring the kids to sing Christmas carols (if you're kids aren't little anymore, borrow your nieces and nephews).
*Hang lights or decorate the home of a single mother or someone in chronic pain. Offer to take down those lights after the holidays.
*Offer to babysit for a frazzled stay-at-home mom.
*Shovel (or snowblow) the driveway of an elderly neighbor.
*Bake several mini loaves of banana bread and pass them out to the homeless (or your neighbors!)
*Adopt a family for Christmas.
*Hire an out-of-work husband and father to do odd jobs around your house.
*Pay for the car behind you in the drive-thru line. A friend of mine was in the McDonald's drive-thru the other day and when she got up to the window to pay, the cashier told her that someone two cars ahead of her handed her a fifty dollar bill and said to keep paying for drive-thru customers until the money ran out. Is that cool, or what!
*Pray, pray, pray for those you come into contact with every day. You may not know their needs, but God does!
Below is one of my favorite Christmas songs. It's a perfect compliment to this post. I hope you'll take a minute to check it out.
What about you?
How do you keep things in perspective and look outside of yourself during the holidays?