We just experienced our 1st Christmas season and completed our first 90 days as missionaries here in Countryside. I have to say this was an awesome, busy, heartbreaking, hectic, uplifting, time. This was a time of joy, sadness and then joy again…as you can see I am still taking in a big ol’ pile of all the emotions we experienced here. This was a different Christmas for our family. We did were not able to do many of the same traditions that we participate in each year. We missed a few dinners, did not see the Nutcracker, and did not have a polar express day at our house. However, I believe in my heart that the things that we were able to do gave us a Christmas that meant so much more!!! Here is a look at our month of December…..
First, we had family photo day and a Live Nativity/ prayer journey at The Connection. Our best estimate for how many people actually rode the prayer journey was over 120!!! This was a hayride through our community. The kids acted out the story of Jesus’ birth, sang songs and performed for hours. People from our community rode the hayride, as well as many members of churches that work with the Connection throughout the year. As they rode, participants were offered a guide and asked to pray for the people of our community and our households as well. This event was so touching to me. Partly because, only 2 years ago, many of these same children had NO IDEA why we celebrated this day….THAT’S what God is doing here. HE is teaching his children……drawing them unto himself.
Next, we had the Connecting Tree. I cannot even explain how wonderful the Connecting Tree was! Churches from all over Lancaster (and Kershaw too!! )participated in this event. The Connecting tree is like an angel tree. But, instead of dropping your gift off and moving on, the participants actually met the parents or children that they were buying bought gifts for! Each person had a chance to personally minister to a family at Christmas time and THAT is powerful stuff!
I cannot even tell you how many times I was able to see God work on this day. However, I will share one story that I just was blessed to be able to hear about. One lady( actually a dear new friend to me ) received a cross from our tree. As she looked over the items the child wanted she saw a bike was his number one wish. Now, the lady who took this cross was not able to go out and buy a new bike. So, she did what most of us do when we have a problem and took to the internet LOL!! She asked if there were any gently used bikes out there that she could buy. This was the best that she thought she could possibly do. She left to go out and run some errands (I think groceries and Walmart) and returned to find a BRAND NEW bike under her carport. No explanation, no note!!!!! And just because we serve a mighty God who loves to give his children good things, he was not even done there!! When my friend arrived to give the child his gift she was surprised to meet another lady with the very same bike for that child’s brother!!!!!
The awesome thing about the Connecting Tree is that I could literally go on for days with stories just like that one! We prayed with parents, loved on children and witnessed God’s work in mighty ways. Before I move on I have to give a little shout out to all the people that donated popcorn and hot chocolate for this event and a big shout out to my sister and her family who took on collecting the packages. Each family that came to the Connecting Tree event left with a package of cocoa and popcorn along with the story of Jesus’ birth with instructions to enjoy together on Christmas Eve!! My prayer is that MANY homes were saturated with the Word of God that night and that families in our neighborhood took a little time to celebrate or maybe even learn about the true reason for the season.
In between these wonderful events, we had our play at church, some Wii dance nights with our neighbors (shoutout to Tara the dancing queen) and yes, Jason participated… a ladies ministry night at my house, dinner with our neighbors, and so much more. God took our normal Christmas season full of tradition and radically changed it for the better. You see, we opened ourselves up to be spontaneous, to follow his plan, to allow him to lead and his plans were exceedingly better than any we could have made. In the words of Billy Graham….”when we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God.”
Lord, continue to show me the end of myself and continue to work powerfully in the ministry here at The Connection……