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Hope Changes Everything

A few Christmases ago, I discovered we somehow had this amazingly beautiful song in our collection of 2 days of Christmas music. As it played I realized I had never heard it before, so I paused my holiday scurrying long enough to listen. And then I hit the repeat button and listened again. Something about this song reached my heart like few other Christmas songs ever had and it became an immediate favorite.

Then my world changed. I am not going to say I am like Mary or anything, but last year I came to understand her more through this song, and by reflection, I understood the sacrifice of God to give us His son.

I’ve blogged this before, but in case you missed it, the short story is that my husband and I, intentionally childless, were asked in the summer of 2014 to take in a little girl. We were unprepared and felt we were not worthy of such an important task as helping to raise a child. But we knew we needed to do it, so we said yes. It was hard. Our lives had to completely change to fit her into our world, but we grew as a family and the bond of love became something I could never had imagined, I could never have planned.

She became our daughter… a child entrusted to us, of all people.

Then last winter, right before Thanksgiving, we found out we were going to lose her. No, she isn’t deceased. She just lives with her biological father now.

So when I heard this song last year, the meaning changed for me. I definitely felt the uncertainty of Mary, being chosen to not only give birth to Jesus, but having the honor of raising him. She knew he was the savior, but she did not know how he was to save mankind, that he would have to be sacrificed. She had nothing of certainty except that she had been chosen for the task.

It isn’t easy to give up your loved ones who have become part of your heart and your being. Trusting God’s plan when it makes no sense hurts like nothing I can describe. How must Mary have felt when she beheld Jesus, torn and beaten, hanging on the cross 32 years later, remembering when she had held him in her arms? She had to have felt broken and confused. Maybe even angry. Why had she been given such a wonderful gift only to have him taken from her in such a brutal way?

But he was God’s gift to give, and though Mary could not see it in the midst of her pain, salvation came from Jesus’ death. And no one suffered as God did in that moment when He could not even look upon His own son. He knew what the sacrifice meant for mankind, but in that moment, He hurt and He wept.

I love Christmas decorations, the baking, the parties, the smells, the music, but I remind myself those good feelings of Christmas are meant to remind us of the greatest gift ever given. It’s wonderful when, in the midst of the commercialism, people are able to appreciate the general warmth of the holiday, the love and peace,  but it needs to be more than just that. Let’s remember where Love really originates and who gave it to us.

There is always a plan. It doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes it hurts, but we have been given the gift of Hope.

A Human Trafficking Jam

Christmas is my favorite time of year (cliche, I know); the reasons for this joy have changed over the years as I’ve grown up and come to realize what is really important in this life I’ve been blessed to live. It was once about getting gifts.  Then it was about getting the perfect gifts for others.  Last year my husband was unemployed and we opted out of gifts altogether, a choice which opened my eyes and heart in a new way.  Perhaps I’d lost sight, or never had it in the first place, of the TRUE meaning of Christmas.  A savior was born with the full intention of dying as the ultimate sacrifice for a lost world that continually turns its back on Him.

Now that is LOVE!

So it is with this in mind that I go forward.  Christmas is about salvation… for everyone.

Some time back I prayed that God would “break my heart for what breaks [His],” and he’s been doing it over and over again.  The further I research human trafficking as I get ready to run another 200 mile relay with some friends to help fight this atrocity, the more my heart breaks, and the angrier I become that more people aren’t doing anything to stop it.  Doesn’t anyone care?  There are 27 million people around the world right now who need SALVATION from slavery.  Many are children, and for them my heart breaks the most.  We are to stand up for the orphans, the widows, the poverty-stricken…and those who cannot stand up for themselves.

I’ve recently become frustrated.  As our race comes closer (Ragnar Relay FL Keys, Jan 6-7), our fundraising meter continues to stay at about 12-13% of our goal.  I guess it’s a bad time of year to ask for donations.  Money is tight for many these days and their families are the priority for Christmas spending.  I get that, but just wish everyone could set aside just a tiny bit to give these children the gift of freedom, even donating in the name of a loved one perhaps.  I think the problem is that Christmas has become so commercialized that many have forgotten that SALVATION and SACRIFICE are the true meaning of this beautiful holiday.  It’s sad.

I have little money to give (right now anyway), so I understand that side of the issue.  But there is hope.  Though little money has come in yet for our cause (Love 146), we’ve managed to get the word out about human trafficking, and creating awareness is the first step.  When people find out about this race and why I’m running it, I get a chance to answer a lot of questions.  Maybe when people do have money again, they will remember the 27 million slaves and help us free them, just as Jesus came to free us from our bondage. I’d love to do more… like hold each of those little children suffering at the hands of sick child molesters, and tell them that no matter what has happened in their lives, God loves them, and so do I.  But until then, I will continue to spread awareness and work towards a human trafficking jam (abolishing slavery) in the only ways I can.

Several years ago, Jewel put out a Christmas album, and her song “Hands” was on it.  It isn’t a traditional Christmas song, but it seems to capture what I believe God wants us to understand about Christmas.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk0bKfC8XSE

If you are interested in giving to our cause:

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/robert-harper/love146rr