This season has an air of magic to it. This week, we had a ladies tea event at our church and ladies who hosted their table were able to decorate it for ten ladies. There were 50 tables and by the time of the event the high school gym looked MAGICAL. Not only were the tables gorgeous, but the stage, the music, 500 women dressed to the nines…it was almost impossible NOT to get into the holiday spirit.
I find it fascinating that this season is also stressful, and busy with so many obligations, traditions, and expenses. Is it all worth it? All the things we require of ourselves for the holidays? The hours it took these women to plan and decorate their tables, cart all the stuff in, set it up, all for 2 hours. Just to take it all down again. Time, labor, money….all to sit with 10 other ladies some of whom are strangers and drink some tea and eat some sandwiches, hear some music and a message about the Lord.
Before the event happened, I had no idea of what to expect. But I was the photographer for the event and I saw up close and personal the ministry that happened.
For example, there is a woman who last year was homeless, her name is Mary. She attended our Thanksgiving outreach and had a meal with us and began attending our church. She eventually got a job and shared her testimony with us on video that we played on Veteran’s Day. She gave glory and praise to God for sending her to this church who she now considers her family because she has no immediate family of her own.
The week after we showed her video, she lost her job. It brought back many fears for her that she might lose her home once again. She was hospitalized for depression and has once again entered into a season of trial. Only this time, she was visited in the hospital by several members from church. One of them took care of her cats. One brought her home from the hospital, another brought her bags of clothes and kitchen supplies that she needed.
Being alone for the holiday is hard. I am facing my first Christmas without Harry and my sister will be out of town. I too was facing spending the day alone. The thought brought with it sadness, and fear. My kids are trying to make it out to see me hopefully by Christmas evening.
For the Ladies Tea, one of the women at church had the idea of inviting Mary. We got her a ticket and a ride and she was able to sit and enjoy the evening along with the rest of us. She was all dressed up. We got to visit a bit and she shared that she is getting her knee surgery she needs this coming week. Praise the Lord!
As I said good night to her, I thought, “This is what this is all about!” I know how depressing it is to sit at home thinking no one cares. We were able to show her again…that she is part of our church family and we care! And it is a reminder that so does God. He is with her everywhere, every day.
Reflection is something God has uniquely given to humans. The ability to be in awe and to see something through the eyes of wonder. It is what brings us to tears, fills our hearts with joy, and makes all the crazy busy things that come with this season…WORTH IT.
As long as we are doing it for the right reasons and with joy in our hearts…the busyness of this season can actually be a good thing.
So perhaps instead of grumbling at all the tasks that lay before us from now until the end of the year…we should challenge ourselves to look for the moments of wonder in this season. If you look for them you will find them.
I have bought one Christmas present so far. It was at Ross. The line was 20 deep. Ahead of me was an older woman who had a smile on her face and lots of goodies in her cart. Behind me was a woman with a crying infant and a three year old tugging at her sleeve constantly. The more she bounced the louder the baby squealed. Me and the old woman looked on like we wished we could reach out to hold the baby ourselves to help…and then she said…”Why don’t you go ahead of us”. And I thought, of course why didn’t I think of that! As soon as the woman scooted ahead in the line her baby quieted and suddenly standing in line didn’t seem quite so stressful anymore – for any of us! Everyone was smiling and feeling the Christmas cheer.
Wonder can happen in simple acts of kindness. It doesn’t have to be complicated. The trick is in the attitude we have. We can’t control our circumstances but we can control our response to them.
Christmas is busy…it is expensive…and it is stressful. But it can also be WONDERFUL!