What happens after Christmas?

Being that it was Sunday morning I had every intention of getting up with my alarm clock at 7 a.m. sharp and getting the kids and myself to church like the good girl that I am (at least I try to be). However, when the alarm went off I must've turned it off and went back to bed because when I finally rolled out of bed, it was 9. It didn't take much to convince myself that trying to get everyone ready and off to church wouldn't be worth it. So putting on my best disappointed face, I told the kids that we would not be going to church. I was definitely surprised when my kids expressed their GENUINE disappointment that they would not get to go to church because they "want to learn about Jesus". So resigning my laziness quickly, I clapped my hands loudly and operation "get ready for church fast" was under way! I'm very proud to say that all three of us were out the door looking halfway decent and me with coffee in hand in as little as twenty minutes! Well I'm very happy that we went and here's why...

First let me say that I do NOT preach religion or judge anyone for their religious beliefs. I have friends from all walks of life and different religions and I love them all the same. Honestly, even though my beliefs and faith are christian based, I love learning about other religions and cultures. I think as long as you believe in something and whatever it is inspires you to help and touch other people, then that's what is important...to me.

So back to my story... this morning's service talked about what Christmas is really about. Even if your beliefs aren't the same as mine, I think this can apply to us all in some way. The pastor talked about how we go Christmas shopping for the perfect gift for those we love. That the gifts we give represent how much we love them and how much we know about them. After all, if you know someone good enough to get them the perfect gift then you must care about them in one way or another. I know I felt horrible this Christmas because I couldn't afford to get every one presents. It was enough for me just to be able to get the kids the things they wanted. Everyone else got cookies and cards (and if you know me, you know I'm not the best at baking). Then the pastor went on to say that the real meaning of Christmas should last all year long. So are we supposed to buy presents and have a tree up all year long?! I bet the kids would love that. No, what Christmas is really about is putting the needs of others before your own. Sure, we all have people in our lives but how many of those people would do anything for you? I can count on two hands the people in my life who would make sacrifices for me and if it weren't for them I'd be lost. For me personally, Christmas is about how God loved us all so much that he suffered unfathomable pain by sacrificing his son. To me, his gift is priceless and the perfect model for how I should live. Here's how I apply this to not only my life but others.

I believe that the biggest honor in life is putting other peoples needs before yours. Helping people. Look at our soldiers who face the kind of pain and suffering that a lot of us can only imagine in our worst nightmares so that we can live freely. Look at the single parents (and not single parents) out there who sacrifice so much just to give their kids the best lives that they can. I chose to work in my profession because I wanted to be there to help people over come their scariest and darkest moments. Putting someone else before yourself means sacrificing on your part and being vulnerable but it's the best and most perfect gift you can give to someone. I remember when I was a child my mother gave me some money to get a radio that I really wanted. I saw a man on my way into the store and he looked really sad and lonely to me. I remember wanting so badly to make him happy so I went into this store and I found this somewhat cheesy picture of Jesus knocking on a door (representing Jesus knocking on the door of your heart). Now keep in mind that I grew up in a religious family and to me Jesus was the epitome of hope and happiness. So instead of buying the radio that I wanted to buy, I bought this picture and excitedly, I ran out and handed the picture to the man and quickly walked away ( I think I was kind of embarrassed). Now I don't know if that man appreciated the picture or if he tossed it away but I remember how proud of myself I was after. That feeling that I did something really good and giving was no doubt better than how I could've felt had I bought the radio that I really wanted. I still think about that story when I see someone in need. Just thinking about the sacrifices people have made for me and the ones I've made for others brings happiness to me that no amount of money could ever bring.

After this morning, I was really happy because what the pastor said reminded me of how lucky I am to have my kids, my family, my two best friends Lauren and Stephanie and all the other people that love me. Not only that but I was reminded of how much change one person can make in so many lives simply by putting the needs of others first. So every once in a while, sit back, take a quick break from your busy life and remind yourself that you will never be alone because of those who love you and when you feel that genuine smile come across your face, remember that you have the power to share that smile with someone else.