Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Best Christmas EVER!

DISCLAIMER: I am reluctant to share the following story, because I believe that in giving, "the left hand should not know what the right hand it is doing". Giving should be private. But people who read my blog were involved in this story and I think it will be a blessing to them and to others. This story is all about God moving. It has nothing to do with me.

It started with a mom trying to make a few extra dollars for Christmas. Actually, it really started before that. It started with the Holy Spirit and a man by the name of Francis Chan who spoke about what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. I have lived in that conviction for the last 6 months.

Anyway, I wanted to earn some extra money for Christmas, so I set up my blog for local folks to buy Christmas cakes, and shared on Twitter and Facebook about it. My sweet friend/ Nancy, living across the country suggested that non-local folks be able to give donations so that cakes could be donated to needy families. I thought it was a fabulous idea, a way to pass on the giving. I had no idea where God would take this.

A few days after my post I had several orders for cakes, and a few donations came in. Then, I got a check in the mail, with the sweetest note. A gentleman from my church wanted to make sure we had a good Christmas. We were so touched but did not feel right about taking money without giving back. So I told him that I would make and donate cakes. That one check was more than enough to cover our kind of simple Christmas, and I had already determined that we would love our neighbor as ourselves. Later that week another such generous check came in the mail, though not from the cake post, just the prompting of God.

Christmas Eve arrived and I had determined which families were getting cakes and had made sure most of them would be at the Christmas Eve service. After the service Todd brought the cakes in and I began to deliver them. One family in particular, a mom and 2 college girls, was very grateful. They each hugged me and told me how much it meant to them. It was not a good time, they had just been turned down for food stamps and the refrigerator was nearly bare and there would be no Christmas.

I told them that we happen to have a turkey in our freezer that we weren't planning to cook for Christmas as we were going to friends' house for dinner. (Honestly, I have no idea why I bought that bird in the first place) I asked if we could bring it over later, we exchanged phone numbers and went our ways. I was touched by their gratefulness. It was just a cake, but you'd have thought I'd given them much more.

Later, standing in our kitchen I told Todd about how it touched me. I was all teary-eyed. We looked at each other and we both knew that we needed to take more than a turkey to them that night. It was 7:15 and we knew that Super Wally-world would close at 8 for Christmas. "Go!" he said. I went, taking Letha with me.

I had in mind that I needed to get groceries to last a week or more, plus some gifts, and a gift card for things they might need that we wouldn't foresee. God placed a figure in my mind of $300. Normally when I go to the grocery store I have a budget and we add things up as we put them in the cart and stop when we meet the budget. Letha and I started adding things up, but we were in a time crunch and every few minutes we heard an announcement over the intercom about how soon they were closing. I threw my hands in the air and said to Letha, "Forget about adding it all up. We will just throw things in the cart and trust that God will make it all enough." We just kept throwing things in the cart. I don't think I've ever had so much fun at the store, and I was practically crying the whole time!

The total of groceries and Christmas presents came to just over $200 and we got them an $80 gift card! Yippee Jesus!!!

It took us awhile to get a hold of them that night, but eventually we loaded the kids in the car and headed over with "the turkey". As we pulled up to the house they opened the door and came out onto the porch. We got the turkey out of the back of the truck and then started unloading the groceries. To see understanding dawn on their faces as they began to realize what we had done was priceless. Better than a visa commercial! We carried the groceries into the house and handed them into the kitchen. I confessed to the lady of the house that I had gone a little crazy, that God had blessed us and that we needed to pass on the blessing. As she began to unpack the groceries opening each bag was like Christmas morning all over again! She exclaimed over nearly every item, "You got us a chicken?" "You got us lunch meat?" "...eggs?" It was incredible! And then one her her girls started to jump up and down, exclaiming, "This is turning out to be the BEST Christmas, EVER!!!" And we all agreed!

And then these sweet ladies began to shower us with gifts. The kids each got candy canes, and a stuffed animal from the girls' collections, and Todd and I received with joy glass ornaments, that they had hand beaded, straight from their own Christmas tree! Beautiful! Now every year when we decorate our tree we will remember how the God of the Universe blessed us one Christmas in abundance so that we could bless another family abundantly.

As we drove home our children all agreed, this was turning out to be the best Christmas ever!