I was so excited to participate in this challenge. After all, this is what I write about every day - people helping people, people changing the world because they care. So why was I so reluctant to actually go do it? Why was I procrastinating?
I finally called Child Haven, my local area Department of Family and Children Services group home. I planned to answer their call for volunteers to come rock and play with the many babies in their facility. This was Saturday, no one answered the phone. I had to do my good deed by Monday so helping Child Haven was out.
Sunday I called an assisted living facility near my house. I told the nice woman who answered the phone that I'd like to come visit the residents, bring a stack of Christmas cards and help people fill them out for family and friends. I'd even mail them when we were done. Her answer, "You need the approval of the activities director. She's off on Sunday's." But I need to come today! "Can't help you without approval."
By yesterday evening I was back to square one and running out of time. My husband suggested adopting an angel from the Salvation Army Angel Tree. "But we do that every year," I said. He shook his head, "So just tell everyone about it this time." I grabbed the camera to chronicle everything for my blog and my stomach tightened. Suddenly I knew why I'd had so much trouble with this assignment.
You see I was brought up to believe that one should do the right thing for no other reason than it's right. To ask for praise or talk about what I've done as if it was something special makes it about me and diminishes the act itself. The Bible verses imprinted on my memory are found in Matthew 6:1-4 of the New Testament. As a result, I never took my camera out of my purse.
I've been blessed with excellent examples of sharing love. I've witnessed the kind and selfless acts of many humble spirits. Their lives are daily reminders of how God wants us to care for each other.
If you meet my mother she will never tell you that for twenty years straight she made weekly visits to nursing homes (one of them was over 40 miles away) to help care for two of her sisters and an aunt. She'll never tell about the times she made entire meals for sick friends or sat by the bedside of dieing loved ones while they drew their last breath. She just did those things because that is who she is.
I've known my mother-in-law since I was a teenager but back then she was just my friend's mother, the one who answered the phone when I called her son. When Todd and I started dating, I learned how special she really is. Just like my mother she goes out of her way to care for others by taking part in special projects in her church. She is always contributing, always helping someone in need. She's never told me about these things, I discovered her good nature by watching. The first time I celebrated her birthday I stared in awe as she gave gifts to all of her grandchildren. By knowing her, I am constantly reminded of the kind of woman I want to be.
So back to me and what I did last night. I'm happy to report that my local Salvation Army is doing well this year. The tree was almost empty of angel tags. All the children had been chosen. But the program was in need of filler gifts for teenagers so Todd and I chose tags for a boom box and a music gift card. We shopped and returned the items to the table. I have to admit that I've enjoyed it more in previous years when we've been given a specific child to shop for.
Last year we chose a little girl and a little boy and took our children to buy the gifts. As we shopped, we talked about them as if they were our children's friends. The kids had fun picking out clothes they thought were cool and toys that would elicit screams of joy on Christmas morning. It warmed me from head to toe to think of the boy's and girl's faces when they saw the wrapped stacks of presents. I find value in this program because it teaches our children to share and give and to think of those who have less with love, not pity.
I'm glad I participated in this challenge but at the same time I learned a great deal about myself. like - I'm much more comfortable shining the light of praise on others.