Christmas is not my Favorite Holiday!

I loved Christmas growing up. Big family, big dinners and lots of presents; it was great! Undoubtedly , no expectations! You had to be good or else!

Growing up and moving away, getting married, divorced and becoming a single mom, whew….. life just happened! Your expectations change with each life role. Some are good and some just awful.

Let me explain.

As a single parent, life sucks! Especially when it comes to money. Not every every single parent gets help with raising their children or any household expenses. Most of the time, we work two or three jobs, try to go back to school to better ourselves and our situation or rely on our parents to help us make it through.

As any parent does, a single parent wants the best for their children, too. It just is a little bit harder to do when you can’t make ends meet. Bills come first and then I always have to decide between gas for my car and groceries. Sometimes I split it in half and pray, as God is my provider. Birthdays aren’t as hard because you’re only buying for one person. But at Christmas, you are buying for a bunch of people including your own children.

My kids had to find out early that Santa doesn’t bring all the presents. But that his spirit of gift-giving exists in all of us. I had them make Christmas lists in September and then chose, usually the least expensive things, to buy them.

They are young adults, but I still struggle. Just because your kids grow up, doesn’t mean your bills and responsibilities go away. They’re still there in great number and Christmas doesn’t go away either.

It’s an emotional time for me. I feel like a failure and inadequate as a parent. There have been times I bought Christmas presents with bill money and there have been times I paid the bills and not had very many Christmas presents. I realize it’s not about them and the way they feel, but about me and how I grew up and feel about myself. I wanted my one parent household (me) to look and feel like my two parent household (my parents).

I know my kids love me no matter what they get because they tell me. They know how hard I’ve struggled all these years because they tell me. I know they appreciate the life I have given to them because they don’t want to grow up. But the feeling of loss doesn’t go away with words or actions. You must grieve and then move on. You must allow yourself to feel the pain of what once was so that forgiveness and redemption can cover the loss. Then you can move on.

Even though Christmas isn’t my favorite holiday, I do have one! It is Thanksgiving because there are no expectations! I just bring the rolls!

Mission in a Shoe Box

Today I got to serve with Operation Christmas Child in Charlotte, NC in the processing center.  I have always wanted to do this after packing boxes in years past in my classroom and with my grandson.  

 

Working in the processing center is like working in Santa’s workshop.  I was a pre-inspector.  My job was to open the shoeboxes and check for money envelopes and take them out.  I also had to make sure each shoebox had a label with boy/girl and the aged checked.  I went by myself, but worked with a church group and a family.  I was practicing my extrovertedness.  I was brave and proud of myself.

 

The shoeboxes we processed today were going into countries that don’t allow missionaries to come in.  We were given specific instructions on what could and could not go into these boxes.  We could not put any religious, Christmas, Angels or anything with the words:  Jesus or God.  These boxes go through customs who search through them for these items and throw them away.   But the cool thing is that these boxes have been prayed over time and again.  They have been blessed and covered by the blood of Jesus!  God is in those boxes without being seen.  Praise God!

 

Countries where you find NO Churches, now have Churches sprouting up because of shoeboxes getting to children who share with their families the gift of Love!  God enters through the hearts of those who give and pack the shoeboxes.  God enters through those who pray and process the shoeboxes.  God enters the heart of the child who receives the shoeboxes because of the love others show through serving.

 

I saw so much love that went into the boxes today through items we take for granted and think are cheap and useless.  I saw people who serve through giving of their time by volunteering and teaching young people to serve.  I learned how much stuff can go into a shoebox and how important it is to treat other people as the human beings God created them to be.

 

Being a missionary doesn’t mean you have to leave your home or country.  You could pack a shoebox and it will go to a child who has never received a gift before or may not know what love from a stranger is or even who God is.  You can be that One.  The one who serves others through love, the love of Jesus!

 

Join me in packing a shoe box or two or more.  Go to http://www.samaritanspurse.org and find out what to pack, how to pack and where to drop off.  Also, find out if there are any openings to volunteer at the processing center where you live.  You will go and serve, but you will leave blessed and never the same.

Broken Christmas Shows

I spent my Sunday afternoon watching Christmas shows and doing school work.  I am ready for the holidays and like to watch them.  Sometimes I even watch them in the summer.  

 

My favorites I watched are:  A Year Without a Santa Claus, Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, and Nestor, The Long Eared Christmas Donkey.  After enjoying these awesome movies, I realized how in each one of these shows there is someone who is broken.  

 

In A Year Without a Santa Claus, there were a lot of broken people, but together all their brokenness helped each other accomplish a miracle by sticking together.  In Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, Rudolph and Baby New Year are broken.  They both have things they were created with that other people have a problem with.  They both had to overcome their insecurities to move forward and help each other out of trouble.  In Nestor, Nestor was broken.  But he overcame the giants in his life and used his brokenness to carry the greatest gift!

 

I don’t know the writers of these shows and I don’t know what they were thinking when they wrote, but I like to think they were writing to children.  Children and adults need reassurance that their brokenness is useful.  They need to know that God can and will use whatever is broken in your life for good and for the good of others.  They need to know that God created them not perfect but with some flaws, so that He can give them strength to accomplish His purpose for their life and for His glory.

 

Perspective comes from wherever in your life that you are willing to let down your guard and allow God to use. It’s OK to be broken, it’s the way God made you!  Use your brokenness to find your miracle and someone’s blessing.  Even if it’s through a Christmas Show!