This morning on my way to work, I was listening to a syndicated radio show that was granting Christmas wishes to some people that had been nominated by others. I've heard these stories year after year and one are just as heart-wrenching as the next. They always humble me and make me realize the many blessings I have and how much I have to be thankful for.
The story this morning was a real eye opener. The girl that was nominated is 19-years old, a college student, works 3 jobs, is raising her brother's 3 children, has terminal lung cancer, lives in shelters on the weekends because she doesn't want to expose "her" children to some of the goings on at her mother's house, and is about to lose her college scholarship because she had to miss so many classes for treatments that she has slipped right under the 3.0 cutoff to maintain her scholarship. Got all that? She is a true inspiration. She sounds like the most selfless person, as she indicated the reason college was so important to her was because having a part-time job just wouldn't cut it. She helps her mom pay her rent because her 100+ hour work week as a bus driver doesn't bring in enough income to pay all of her bills. She also helps her grandmother financially and remember she's also raising 3 children! She sounded so strong, so determined, and so humble. The dj not only gave her a $1000 gift card to Walmart but reached into his own pocket and gave her $10,000 cash. She was in tears. When asked the first thing she'd buy? Another set of school uniforms for her children because they only have 2 shirts and 1 pair of pants each.
As we approach the Christmas holiday, I ask you to remember the true meaning of season. I'm not one to get all preachy but I would encourage you to slow down, enjoy what you've been blessed with, and give the gift of joy to as many people you can. Christmas isn't about giving material items, it's about spreading cheer and celebrating the birth of our Savior.
In the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to get back on the Thankful Thursday wagon and take time to give thanks for some of the things that are often overlooked.
1) I am thankful for the chance to experience Christmas for the first time through the eyes of 2 small children. Seeing their eyes light up when they see sparkly lights, or when they see a talking snowman, or when they hear the boisterous "ho-ho-ho" of Santa Claus. Watching them take it all in just makes me smile. It's as if all the cares in the world have frozen for a minute, as I take in the simple beauty of pure jubilation.
2) I am thankful for the ability to plan for tomorrow. We have good jobs with stable incomes that allows for us to know where we'll be when we wake up in the morning. We're able to go to sleep at night knowing that we'll have something to eat tomorrow. We can set money aside so that we can go on a vacation sometime. While it's great to be able to look to the future, it's also nice to live in the now and enjoy the ordinary days too.
I encourage you to take 7 minutes out of your busy day to listen to this passage from Katrina Kenison's book, "The Gift of an Ordinary Day." Just a warning that the truth of this passage will probably cause a few tears. It's powerful and very thought-provoking, but mainly oh-so-true!
3) I am thankful for the chance to help others. This is not something I do as often as I could or should but it's something I'd like to do more. I love the personal satisfaction I get from knowing I've made someone else smile but more than that, I feel like I'm contributing to the world's work. I feel like I'm doing what He intended for me to do. I want to strive to do more, take less, and find ways to help as many people as I can. I also want to teach my children to be selfless and educate them of the importance in giving back to their community.
This was a somewhat heavy post but it's something that's been heavy on my heart. After hearing that heart-wrenching story this morning of the young girl, I knew I needed to write my feelings down and share it with you all.
Linking up to Thankful Thursday.