Friday, December 20, 2013

Emmanuel Is A Gift For Every Day

I have a million and one things to do today but I can't help it, I had to write out what I am feeling right now. Here we are, getting ready to travel for the holidays. I should be meticulously going over my to do list and packing and wrapping and plenty more. However, I just need to write some things out. I am filled with joy and I just can't keep it to myself.

Today, I helped my husband file a grant application for my children's school. He works for a company that every year offers grants to employees that volunteer locally in schools of up to $3000 for schools. Last year we helped a Cedar Rapids school receive funds for iPads and after school enrichment programs. This year we are applying for a grant for the Mount Vernon Elementary School. The funds will go towards new library books that the school is in great need of replacing. We will find out in February if the grant is approved but I am just so excited that we are in a position that we can help bless our community. It could be the book lover in me but giving $3000 in books really feels like Christmas!

It isn't just what is happening in our own home. This week I have been constantly reminded of all the blessings that God gives to us. We celebrated Oliver's 5th birthday yesterday but it is more than just that. I see blessings filling up the hearts of family and friend around me. I see reasons for joy everywhere.

My Facebook feed keeps lighting up with people sharing about carolers singing at their doorstep and strangers doing random acts of kindness. It is friends sharing how they donated to Toys for Tots. It is a group of moms helping another mom that needs help this Christmas. It is a picture of the Angel Tree at our church literally overflowing with Christmas gifts for children here in our city. These are just "small" things that have such a big impact on our communities.  When we give even the smallest of gifts, we give something more.

Earlier this month a friend shared that her adoption of two children from Ghana is going through. They have been on this journey to adopt for quite a long time. They have been through their fair share of challenges with many ups and downs. However, their hearts kept calling them to keep going forward. This week the visas for their children were finally approved. Even more of a blessing, they will fly home just two days before Christmas. It is the story of a real Christmas miracle. What a blessing to witness this miracle. Two children now have a loving home, all because they opened their hearts to God.

For over a year another friend has been battling lead in her home. Her son has lead poisoning and it has been a struggle for their family to manage. This fall their youngest child was also diagnosed with high lead levels. It was a blow to their family. However, with the support of friends they were able to push through and get some resources for her family. Friends and family and people from both Cedar Rapids and around the world have been pooling together through Lead Safe America Foundation to help. They now have enough funds for their family move into a temporary residence. Their family has been a blessing to hundreds of families here in Cedar Rapids. I love that our community is giving back to them when they need the love and support the most. I love that our community is selflessly supporting each other when we need each other. This is love.

So often we get busy during this season of the year. So often our lives stay too busy all year long. So often good news gets drowned out by all the bad things in life. These prove to me that good things still happen.

The reason for the season is not presents. The reason is Christ came to us many years ago as God's gift to us. God came to be with us. Emmanuel. God is with us. To witness these acts of giving and be a part of it, it gives me something more. It is life changing. It is transforming. To experience this is a real Christmas blessing.

These things are so encouraging to me. The empower me. They show me that the spirit of God is with us. That God is present in our lives. God is alive when we give to others. These are gifts of peace, joy, hope and the greatest gift of all: LOVE.

Christmas can be every day, because every day is an opportunity to give. Christmas is not December 25th. Christmas is forever. Every day is Christmas.

Give Peace.
Share Joy.
Be Hope.
Most of all, LOVE.

Every day. All the time. Forever.

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