I just finished wrapping some gifts. As I was wrapping, I was remembering the special Christmas' of my past. Two of them stand out among them all. One was when I was about 11 years old. I was living in Arizona with my mom, two brothers and my mom's boyfriend. This was a hard year for us, neither my mom nor her boyfriend were working, and they were pretty heavily into drugs at that time. So much that we had both our gas and electricity turned off due to non-payments for over a year. I remember doing my homework by candlelight and we had a propane stove where my mom would make us soup and heat up some water for the one bath that my brothers and I would have to take together. As a child, I didn't care much....life seemed pretty normal for me (I didn't know any different). Well, during Christmas time this year, I think that my grandparents told a church about our situation. We were sponsored by a church; they paid for our gas and electricity for the month of December, put up Christmas lights on our house and bought us a Christmas tree. Not only that, but I remember there weren't any gifts under the tree and my brothers and I would make 'paper gifts' to put under the tree and that's all we expected since we knew we didn't have any money. Well, on Christmas day, I remember a gang of people coming over to our house with trash bags full of gifts. I was very surprised and remember being embarrassed at having all these people in our home. But, they brought us gifts. I will never forget that Brian, my youngest brother got a collection of coloring books, pens, crayons, markers, etc. Chris got a super soaker gun that shot ink that disappeared. He was incredibly excited. And I received probably my favorite gift of all time; a Cinderella barbie doll with three outfits to go with it. I had never seen anything so beautiful. I loved it so much that I didn't open the outfits for such a long time because they were so pretty in the wrapping. I can still feel the excitement and not knowing how to react to these people who I didn't know bringing me gifts. I felt Jesus that Christmas.
The other Christmas that stands out was when I was a sophomore in high school. By this time, my mom had passed away from drugs and my brothers and I were living with my Dad in Fresno. My dad was a pretty bad alcoholic, and again, when it came to gifts, it didn't look like they were an option for our family that year. I had become a Christian when I was a freshman, and so was attending a youth group at the Evangelical Church of Fresno. I don't remember how or how it came about, but I remember one night that our youth pastor, Ed Noble, went in front of the youth group and said that they were going to take an offering for someone in need during the holidays. I didn't know it at the time, but that offering was for my family. Ed came to me after the service and gave me a check and said that this was for my family. He even took me out Christmas shopping so that I was able to get my brothers a nice winter jacket, which they needed very much. Again, God showed Himself and His love to us that Christmas.
Now, Jesus has provided for me in numerous ways that I can go on and on about, and I cannot help but be a little taken back by the life that He has given me today. I am married to an awesome guy, have a sweet little home and a precious baby growing in my womb. As I celebrate this Christmas, I am reminded that it isn't about the gifts, but about showing Jesus to others. There are so many ways to do this, and my prayer is that Jesus will use my family to be the light and love to others that He showed to me through those experiences as I was growing up. Also, I am one of those people who were blessed from the generosity of others...so be generous to those who are in need....it has a lasting impact.