Sunday, December 4, 2011

If I Had a Million Dollars

I've been planning this post all week, preparing to show you readers how I would decorate my house if I had no budget. I've searched the Pottery Barn, Pier 1, and World Market websites just to show you photos like this

and this

and this.

I was planning to write all about how magical and glittery and warm and fuzzy Christmas makes me feel, and how I'd love to place those all of those items in our home, if only I was fortunate enough to afford it all.

Now, let's rewind. We are searching for a new home church down here, and both are getting discouraged with the ones we've tried so far. We were blessed by an incredible community at a church for 4 years, and recently switched to a non denominational church in Seattle prior to moving down here. We adore the pastor there, still listen to his sermons online, and are having trouble finding someone who can compare. We pray about this everyday, and both our hearts are just hurting, yearning for a church to call home.

This morning we drove a little further to try a church that looked promising. We really enjoyed the worship (I'm picky) and then they turned on the video screen. Immediately I was turned off; I like the pastor to be standing in front of me, not feel like I'm at the movie theatre... Anyhoodles, the pastor started talking about a ministry the church has in Mexico to feed children whose parents either abandon them, don't come home from their nightly work with drugs sex or crime, or who just can't afford to feed them. These children live in 6'x8' storage units. Most of the doors have been broken off and are replaced with pieces of broken wood or abandoned buildings. These kids just stay in their storage units, all lined up next to each other (I envisioned a row of prison cells when the pastor was telling all this) and hope their mothers come home that morning to unlock the door.

Last year, the church's ministry there had enough money after feeding 400 children, to get each child a gift worth 15 cents. They felt bad for only giving each child a pencil and a candy cane. When those kids realized they each got a pencil and a candy cane, they shouted and laughed and jumped up and down! They were so excited to get a gift of a pencil and candy cane tied together.

Here's where I broke down. I felt so incredibly ignorant, selfish, and materialistic. My heart was broken for these children. I ugly cried in church while the pastor on the TV screen talked about the Mexican kids. Not only do they live in storage units hoping that their parents to come home each morning, but they are cold. Most of them don't own any blankets and sleep on the dirt floor. Insert more ugly cry. Do you know how many blankets I own? I just bought a heating pad yesterday because I didn't think my blankets were warm enough.

I will say now, that I am so incredibly thankful for where I was born and the family I was born into. I am so thankful that we can afford to stay warm and cozy, and to brighten our home with Christmas decorations. I have parked my booty on that heating pad and fully intend on keeping it there.

But in the midst of the season of giving, I have been reminded that it's not all about me. It's not all about fulfilling wish lists. For thousands of people just 70 miles south of me, their wish list is much simpler than mine. So today, while shopping at Target with my wonderful husband, we bought a blanket. A big soft fleece one to send to Mexico. It feels so small and insufficient compared to how much is needed, but for now it's what we want to give. I can tell, though, that this is the beginning of something pulling at my heart strings.

I love the Christmas season, I love the lights and the decorations, I love the friendliness it brings out in strangers. It's so easy to focus on the cheeriness of this season, but this morning, my friends, my heart was broken for this season. I needed to share my heart with y'all. But mostly for myself, to look back and remember how I felt today, remember these kids and be reminded that I am incredibly blessed, and have the means to share with others.

So in the midst of my broken heartedness, I will rejoice that there are ministries reaching these children and many other children each day. I rejoice that our God, our King, cares. He cares about you and I, and He cares about those we don't even know about. Our God is big, so big, and he will provide for those kids, I just know it.

"But God will never forget the needy,
nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish." 
Psalm 9:18


Lauren said...

Our pastor doesn't talk through the TV screen but we occasionally watch short films at the beginning if there is a particular message to kick off a series of sermons. A few weeks ago we had a sermon talking about orphans and adoption and I seriously bawled. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you know there are children in need - children that deserve more. I had always had adoption on my heart but that message just strengthened it for me.

After reading Hollie's post the other day about the JCPenney Salvation Army Angels I had entered my zipcode and saw a little 1-yr old boy that said "REALLY NEEDS A COAT" next to his name. I cried on and off all day long just thinking about it. Of course I bought him a coat. I had to, there was no question in my mind. It really does make you grateful for all your blessings but then on top of that, I love how it opens your heart outward. Sometimes we focus too much of our love on ourselves when it could go SO much further if we spread it out among others.

Tiffany said...

Precious post. You are right, we are beyond blessed and we take it for granted and we get so greedy. I cried when I looked through our angel tree at church and the items these boys and girls were asking for were UNDERWEAR and shoes. Basic needs...and they want it for Christmas. It's a really great reality check.

On another note, I'm saying a prayer for you that you will find a church home that meets your needs. That is so difficult but it's what feeds our souls. Best of luck to you!

Ruthie Hart said...

I know how hard it can be to find a home church. I was so lost in college and missed my church at home SO bad. I was so happy to graduate 2 years ago and fully immerse myself in church with my husband. And WOW! What an amazing story about the pencils and candy canes. Don't you wish children in the US were as grateful??