Christmas gifts for the Homeless

My husband and I decided to take some of the money we would have spent on our family this year and instead spend it on others. We’ve always contributed to gift projects like Angel Tree, and helped to support local families in need, but we wanted to do something that would get our kids involved in a more direct way.

After careful thought and prayer we decided  to help the homeless by putting together a care packages full of useful items and then personally giving them to 5 people we find living on the street.

Over the last few weeks we’ve talked about the sorts of things that we would like to have if we were homeless. I’m so proud of my kids for coming up with a very creative list of items. This last Sunday we went shopping using the list we had created. We let our kids choose themselves what they wanted or didn’t want to include. The only rule was to stay under $25. We were amazed at what we were able to purchase for $25. For instance  one of the care packages has:

  • Super cute Christmas Blanket
  • Gloves
  • Socks
  • 4 waterless toothbrushes
  • Package of Baby wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • 12 individually wrapped pastries or crackers
  • 3 sets of plasticware
  • Can of vienna sausage
  • Can of Soup
  • 2 Carabiner clips
  • Plastic Shower Curtain
  • and one mesh bag to hold it all

Tonight we took time to wrap and assemble each care package so it would be special, fun and unique to the person who receives it. Thursday, on Christmas Eve Day, we will hop in the car and begin our search for 5 homeless people to give our gifts to. I have to be honest, I’m a little nervous, so I’m asking for your prayer.

Please pray that

  • God would direct us to the right 5 people
  • Our choices of items would be perfect for each person
  • We would clearly show the love of Jesus to each person we meet
  • As we find each person, we would not have to turn others away
  • We would be safe
  • That we will remember every day how blessed we are

Thank you so much.

Ministering to People is the Highest Priority

This has been one of those weeks when I’m reminded that being in ministry is about the people we serve, and not the stuff we need to check off our to-do lists.

* * * * * * * * *

We received a call this week from one of our most faithful volunteers. Her 1-year old granddaughter was taken to Children’s Hospital and they discovered she had a brain tumor. She underwent surgery the next day and although that went well, her recovery is not.

Another volunteer was admitted earlier this week to the hospital with appendicitis. Her surgery went well and she’s now recovering at home.

I can’t help but think of another volunteer, she’s been around kids ministry forever, her mom is seriously ill with cancer. She’s been flying back and forth from San Diego to Arizona to care for her and visit. This is such a hard time for both of them.

* * * * * * * * *

I used to not get involved with other people’s issues. They’d get one prayer, and if appropriate, I’d let family ministries or Pastoral care know about the situation so they could follow up.

As awful as it sounds, here are all excuses I had:

  • I didn’t want to be nosey and get into other people’s business, but
  • If I did call, I might wake them up cause they might be resting, and
  • if I got a hold of them, I wouldn’t know what to say.
  • I could never visit anyone in need cause I know I would cry and
  • I wouldn’t want anyone to visit me if I landed in the hospital cause I would look terrible.
  • Besides, I’m not people oriented,  I’m task oriented and “people-oriented” people will do a better job.
  • After all, I was hired to create programs, plan events and do artwork which means,
  • If I took time to help people, I would get behind in my “work”, and last but not least,
  • My family needs me at home, my job already cuts into my family time too much.

Thankfully my belief system has changed dramatically over the past four years as my family has experienced our own series of trials and heartache. My beliefs changed because I experienced the richness of receiving the powerful kind of love that can only come from God. It came from God, through his people, who stepped up to provide support and care during my time of need.  Even before my trials had fades away, my heart began to burn with a desire to be able love others so richly. Now when I hear of people with needs, any kind of needs, I look forward to helping with joy in the following ways:

  • Prayer (I don’t stop til I know everything’s okay) and then
  • A phone call to let them know I care, call me for anything,
  • or better yet a personal visit, or a chat over lunch, on me.
  • I don’t have anything to say, but I have great ears to listen,
  • I’ll bring extra kleenex incase they cry too.
  • Now I watch the “people-oriented” people and follow thier example,
  • and if I get behind in my work, then I take it home and make it up
  • and last but not least, my family will understand and can even help when it comes to ministering to others.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still task oriented, and I still feel inadequate at really caring for others, but that’s what is so great about God. He makes up for my shortcomings and doesn’t need me to perfect in order to help others. He just needs me to obey his prompting and take action when he nudges.

* * * * * * * * *

What I love about the Kids Ministry team that I’m a part of, and especially my boss, is that we haven’t forgotten that caring for the people is always more important that finishing our tasks for the day. We work together to coordinate and provide meals, we take turns making visits, and we keep each other informed so we can pray more efficiently and don’t bombard people with all of our calls.

I hope your team is the same. There is great joy in caring for others

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:1-4