This year we decided to start a new family tradition. Like many families hit by economic downturn, we didn’t exactly have a ton of presents under the tree. That’s tough for a parent. We want to spoil our kids with all sorts of toys and goodies. Our three boys have been anticipating this day all year and we wanted to do it right.
Something struck me a few weeks ago, though. My work with WorldHope.us has been seriously educating me on what it means to not have much. I felt down about semi-empty stockings while people in my own community are sleeping under the bridge. And you know what? We have something so many don’t have: each other.
So, we decided to share each other this year at a local homeless shelter called King’s Harvest. In 2009, they served 27,000 meals to the poor and needy. Our objective was simply to go and be a blessing to someone during Christmas lunch. It turned out to be the best Christmas experience I’ve had in a long time.
There were so many volunteers there that they didn’t need us to serve so we found someone who was all alone and planted ourselves next to her. Her name was Shelby and she had no family. Her children all lived far away and she hasn’t heard from them in several years. Her only companion was a kitten, and he ate half of what little food she had. We had the great privilege of being her family for the next hour.
We learned that she’s lived in New Mexico, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Upper Michigan just like me. She was a Farah Faucet fan and she likes Lee Majors. She finds the mountains of Albuquerque beautiful and a spiritual experience to explore. As we shared stories, laughs, and observations, I couldn’t help but notice the gradual change in her countenance. Life begun to show in her eyes, she smiled more, and she became much more demonstrative.
At one point, a homeless woman stood at the front of the room and sang “Silent Night” with incredible passion and grace. The whole room erupted in applause and then we continued our conversation. Shelby told us how she’s been so lonely and depressed and what a gift it was to spend time with us. It lifted her spirits and blessed her heart. It was a blessing to me too! Thank you Shelby, for letting us be your family for an hour!
I have to admit, it was such a blessing to be a blessing. Acts 20:35 is SO TRUE! “It is more blessed to give than to receive.“ I’ll treasure the experience (and keep going back to help some more) far longer than any of my Christmas presents will last and my boys are learning the value of giving of themselves to bless others.
So what? I’m learning that no matter how little we have, we still have enough to bless those with less. What an incredible lesson!