The ruffles on her green and white dress and the big bow that tied in the back made her feel beautiful. You could just tell.
The small heels on her Christmas shoes with the little rhinestones across the toes made her feel like a big girl. She walked with her head held high.
And the big Christmas bow in her hair assured her little soul that this was a Christmas celebration.
She was one of five children her momma brought into the Christmas party and as she and her baby brother lifted their self decorated sugar cookies into the air for a toast before the first bite, I couldn't help but think....this is joy.
Her mom spent the majority of the night ensuring that each of her children had an ornament with his or her name on it. She gathered all the supplies she needed from our large table of craft items and made her own space at a coffee table across the room.
She diligently decorated even after her three precious girls became bored with the glitter and the glue.
She smiled when she told me that they had a Christmas tree this year.
If you haven't figured it out yet, this was no ordinary Christmas party. My dear friend, Jamie Bierd, organized our Bible study service project this month. She took on the huge task of throwing a Christmas party for the OKC Homeless Alliance.
Everybody pitched in. We were able to give each child two gifts and each family was given a huge care basket on their way out the door. The women in my Bible study are absolutely amazing. There was a feast fit for a king, sugar cookies to frost, and ornaments to decorate.
And, of course, God showed up. In the eyes of precious twin baby girls who I held on to swaying and humming "O Holy Night" to, all the while wishing I could hold them forever.
He showed up in the eyes of the many children there when Santa walked in the door. Presents for everyone!
But for me, He showed up in the actions and words of a momma fighting for her kids. I couldn't help but watch the way she cared for them. The way she wanted to make sure they took full advantage of this night of celebration.
The Homeless Alliance has a program where they provide homes for families where at least one parent is disabled. From what I could tell, there were maybe only two out of sixteen families in attendance with two parents. Most of these families are single parent homes.
All of these families were at one time homeless.
I'll admit that on the drive over, a huge part of me just wanted to be home with my family. The past few weeks have been busy, and I'm just plain tired.
But God had something to show me tonight.
I spent the day paying bills, balancing our accounts, talking to the IRS and our accountant. I was highly annoyed at the day I had. I hate to pay the bills.
Tonight when that mom looked up at me with the most beautiful smile on her face and said, "We have a Christmas tree this year," I thought I might completely lose it.
Who do I think I am?
Why would I ever complain about bills that I can pay? We may be behind on our taxes, but we'll be able to pay them off. It's a small dilemma in the big picture.
We have a Christmas tree this year.
Who do I think I am, really?
As I sit at my kitchen table and type these words, I can see three Christmas trees. Three.
And her words run through my head over and over again. We have a Christmas tree this year.
I feel so stupid. Like I was slapped in the face. God so gently elbowed me right back to where I need to be. Back to a place of awe and wonder at the life He has blessed us with. A place where I want to get down on my knees, roll back on my heels, and look up at Him in awe asking, "Who am I? Why me? Why would you give me all this but not them?"
And then I remember her eyes when she said it, "We have a Christmas tree this year."
All we have and do and are is not what brings joy.
We have a Christmas tree this year.......That is JOY. Being grateful right where you are (no matter where that is). That is Joy.
.....day 122 of a year of writing.....
Check out this video to see what the OKC Homeless Alliance is doing for families. The Homeless Alliance is the only one of its kind in the nation.