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Creating Christmas

Is it already December 8th?  It doesn't even feel like we are embarking upon the Christmas Season.  Last night, I heard an Evangelist Pastor give a sermon on Christ and Christmas and he said, "Christmas is coming at us fast!  Where is your spirit?"

His name was Elon.  He was addressing a room full of 30 or more homeless, almost homeless men and 3 or 4 women, a couple of small children, me, my kids and our new friend who has been struggling with loneliness and isolation.

Gosh...where was my spirit at?  It was a string of meaningful words.  He cautioned them that it is easy to get down when your situation is hard but they needed to lift themselves up in the redeeming spirit of Christ.  His sermon was about 15 minutes long, just before dinner was served to this hungry crowd.

I had had this family home evening activity planned for a few weeks.  We made a bunch of cookies and packaged them up and took them down to hand out to the men and women being served dinner at one of the soup kitchens.  It's one we go to frequently.  We have made a complete meal and served the men, three times before but with everything happening lately, I didn't quite have the energy or resources for a big meal to feed 50 or more, so cookies was our compromise.  They were thrilled with them though.  One man opened his bag and said, "These are real!  Homemade!"  I watched as he savored that first bite.

In through the door stumbled a young girl with two kids.  I thought they were two girls but the little one in the stroller was a boy even though he had on purple stretch pants and a pink sweat shirt, no shoes and no coat.  The little girl was 9 years old.  As I greeted the young mother, who was also missing a coat, she took one look at me and said, "I know you!!! I haven't seen you in so long!"

This girl did look familiar, or maybe it was just the power behind the thought that she knew me but even her name sounded familiar.  The name of her mom was familiar.  Her mom would have been about my age but she passed away earlier this year apparently.  She was happy and so excited to get a hot meal.  The kids were restless so Sam and Shelbie helped to settle them down during the sermon.  As people lined up to get their dinner, Shelbie went with the mom to help her dish up for the kids, Sam knelt down to help the little girl pass a level on a video game she was playing and my friend and I played peek a boo with the little boy.

As Carla ate, I made conversation with her.  I asked her if she was excited for Christmas?  "Oh Yes!"
"Have you been able to get some shopping done?" I asked.
"Not yet.  I applied for some grants so I can get my kids a blanket for Christmas and maybe a turkey so I'm really excited to hear if there is money leftover for my grant."

There is nothing like a homeless shelter to put your life into perspective and to prepare your family for the Spirit of Christmas.  All night, I thought about what that pastor said, where is your spirit?  This week, my spirit has been deflated a little.  I had a major Lupus attack on Sunday and ended up in the urgent care.  That carried into Monday and I had to cancel work and I was going to cancel our outing for family home evening.  I haven't really started shopping for my kids or anyone, because I've been waiting for some checks to come in.  I'm so tired and have a lot of big decisions to make so my spirit...is there but it's under a heap of worldly woes.

As we left, after hearing so many more stories of struggles from these homeless folks, my spirit felt lighter.  The pastor offered a prayer.  There was so much energy behind that prayer!  Even Shelbie commented on how much meaning and love she felt from that prayer because he just visited with God, he didn't get caught up in rehearsed words.  He said, "God, there are more problems than we can count in this room but we know you are bigger than any of them and in your way, you will strengthen these men and women to go forward with faith."

It was really the best way to spend a Monday night.  I got Carla's number because I can not deny the connection that was between us and she isn't going to have to wait to see if she gets a grant for some blankets.  When we got home, we decided to buy Carla Christmas.  I still had to work so Shelbie and Sam went to the store to buy some things for this sweet family, including the fleece blankets she needed.  We will be going back down tonight to meet Carla at the shelter and surprise her with a car full of love!  We are so excited!

We can buy Christmas...or we can create Christmas.  I am calling this year, Carla's Christmas.  There is no way this story ends here.  What a great season this is turning out to be.  Different than past years in many ways but better.

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