Sunday, May 11, 2014

Jess's Mother's Day thoughts~

This morning, donning the blue and beige of a Culvers uniform, Eliot came to me on his way out the door with a side arm hug and whispered "Happy Mother's Day."  It was nice that he remembered.  It got me thinking about this day we have marked on our calendars… wether we like it or not. Much like a collage of other days with an annual reminder, it can be reduced in it's value because it seems "required"… and yet the value of contemplating mothers bears some thought.  
I say this not because I am a mother and am looking for my handout of pats on the back… but because motherhood has the width and depth of an ocean deep. 
It holds within it every loving act bestowed on a child, whether they were woven together beneath your own beating heart or someone else's.  It holds every sleepless night,  every held breathe, every bewildered decision that was made due only to that deep sense burrowed deep within a mother's soul.  It holds the memories of unforgettable birthdays celebrating their life, the hugs full of happiness and the hugs to just to keep them from falling apart, the discipline that brought wisdom and the life lessons that brought valuable insight. It carries the waves of immeasurable self-sacrifice, tenderness poured out over injustice, the gentleness of bandages applied to scrapes, the hours of planning surprises and granting unimagined wishes, the moments of joining them in their imaginations, cheering the loudest because although they were all great, you favor that one special one, coaxing their creativity, delighting with them in what brings light to their eyes, getting out of bed for late night talks, liking their friends, feeding their friends and then feeding them some more.  In it's swells are those moments of pouring yourself out without thought and from recesses that you didn't know you had…not because you have to, but because, like breathing, it's how you live.  

Delved deep in those waters of motherhood also reside the countless questions that seem to have no answers, questions that wrestle with you deep in the night.  The vulnerability blankets you as uncertainty can grow like an ugly algae on the heart of a mother who's heart is anchored with the deepest of loves and only knows the best intentions. As a young mother, I was blessed with a tapestry of older mothers who came alongside me and spoke words that became tattooed to my soul. "You're not alone in this. It's not about never making mistakes… it's about loving them as well as you know how and imploring God to mend any unintended brokenness your failures leave behind."  Mothering my sons will forever be the best and hardest thing I have ever done. I'm so grateful for the grace they've shown me as I've learned how to be the mom they needed and am overwhelmingly thankful that God is more than able to make right any mistakes I have made along the way.  
Beyond my own personal journey, I have come to know that within this deep, beautiful ocean of motherhood lies the wreckage of heartache and sorrows as well.  Young mother's lives that ended far too young left motherless children bearing hollow caverns that have no name but ache all the same.  The loss of a mother who lived a full life leaves grown children forced to breath the unfamiliar air no longer shared with the one whose belly they grew inside of.  Countless mothers who were wounded by their own mothers are left gasping for air as they fight to be more than what they were told they were.  Mother's who have stood over a tear stained box bearing a part of them… there are no words for such loss. In my opinion, those who've bore that grief are the strongest among us.  

Motherhood is a deep ocean with swells of beauty and life, but within it's belly lie countless wreckage, some visible and some hidden beneath the ocean floor.  I write this as a thank you to those mothers I have learned from - the moms who looked like they have it all together and the ones clearly just trying to keep it all together.  I am the mom I am for having sat at your knee, eaten at your table, watched you love your children and listened to you bravely tell your story. Motherhood is not a journey we take alone. We need each other. Our children, our stories and our experiences are as vastly different as the seashells scattered along the beach.  Some are lovely and beautiful, some are cracked and missing parts and some barely resemble their original form.  These stages of life, the infant we can't take our eyes off of, the toddler who burrows in your neck, the teen discovering who they really are, the young adults beginning to stand on their own and the adults left standing on their own…we need to walk alongside each other. Sometimes we need to hold each other up. Sometimes we need help and sometimes we need someone to hold our grown up face in their hands and stare us in the eyeballs and say "You're not alone in this…"

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11th~ 12 years later

My soul will forever hold a well of tears for the 11th day of every September that I will live.  It remains a sacred day for me... a day that silently demands me to remember.  Remember the crispness of the air on that glorious fall day, remember the brilliant blue of the sky with cotton candy like clouds and that gasping moment when I realized what was happening in real time right before my eyes.  Like many, that day changed me.  I met terror that day and an unmeasured sorrow burrowed deep inside of me... but so did hope as I watched strangers wage war against hate with kindness as their only weapons. It was a day that everyone helped everyone.  Black smoke was a blanket that blinded us from all of our differences. We were all the same that day... grasping for one another- grasping for courage and hope.  Death, sorrow and sadness loomed over our city on that day and the many days that followed... but in the ashes, hope rose up in every act of kindness extended between strangers.  Kindness... it redeemed what hate tried to destroy.  Kindness... brought life where death clamored to have the stage.  Kindness... it was no small thing on that day.  It is no small thing today.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Good Friday - yes it was

While many of you were getting ready for a Good Friday service tonight, I was driving Eliot and 4 of his buddies up to "The Attic" in Dayton to see one of their favorite bands - "A Skylit Drive". This day had been long awaited and the excitement was mounting along with the odors from these sweet boys crammed in my Ford Explorer. They're a good bunch... I love that my son pics friends that are keepers. I really enjoy them. :)
We arrived and I got a tour of the place as I'd never been there... a guided tour no less, because for security purposes, they
don't just let anyone go in and wander around. The space was ginormous and had two stages, a snack bar, pool tables, tons of couches and booths for seating and lots of wide open space for "moshing" and "circle somethings"... can't remember what they called that. The dimly lit room could not hide the fact that I most surely stuck out like a sore thumb in my very adorable little plaid pink jacket, ponytail and light blue converse sneakers... of course, there was also the fact that I was, well... old. Surrounded by colorful hair, eyeliner, mohawks, tattoos, piercings (& lots of them!) and more black skinny jeans than I've ever seen in one room, I came across this painted on a large black wall....
I loved it. It made me stop and think... it made me realize why I felt perfectly comfortable in this place where I clearly didn't really fit in at all... not even a little bit-but I'll get to that later
I found my way to A Skylit Drive's merchandise booth and scored some points snagging the beat up 5 dolla drumstick signed by Cory himself (Cory La Quay is ASD's drummer if you didn't know) and the ASD Breathe Easy rubber wristband I knew Eliot would love. I started chatting it up with one of the guys behind the table only to find out it was Joey Wilson, the lead guitarist for ASD. Within minutes the boys returned from changing into their new ASD wear and I introduced them to Joey and we got our first pic.

I decided to step out for a bit... let the boys enjoy the experience without the old lady hangin' around. I meandered through a nearby Marshalls while text messages trickled in on my phone from Eliot about how rad it was and that The Attic was saweet! & there may or may not have been quite a few of these :D but the best part was where he thanked me so much and said I was the best for taking them. Yup... cried a little right there in the Marshalls. It's kind of awesome when your kids give you that beautiful gift of genuine, heartfelt gratitude... kind of awesome indeed.

I decided to head back to The Attic in hopes that we might head home even earlier than we'd planned. I arrived back just as ASD had finished their set. Immediately I saw Eliot and his cronies emerging from the crowd. The look on Eliot's face was priceless... utter happiness was bursting out of his eyeballs behind his non-prescription black rimmed glasses! His blonde hair was drenched with sweat, and he could not have stopped smiling if he had wanted to! he rushed over to me and without a thought, threw his soggy, sweaty arms around my neck... and I didn't mind a bit.

As the stage set up for the final band of the night, we lingered and waited in hopes that maybe some of the ASD band members would come out to meet some of their fans. We waited... and waited... and waited.... apparently loading their bus takes a fair amount of time. Eliot's friends were beyond gracious as many of them were ready to roll long before we finally did... but eventually, the waiting paid off. Eliot spotted Cory La Quay as he headed stealth like through the crowd towards us. Without any hesitation, Eliot approached him, commenced a cool handshake and they began talking. Not wanting to miss my photo opp, I smiled and leaned in and said "we've been waiting for you". His response caught me off guard. His voice was soft and gentle... almost timid. He lingered in conversation with us, in no hurry to move on and thanked us repeatedly for our accolades and our support of him. In spite of the impression the steel piercings and the blanket of inked tattoos would lead one to believe, he was a genuinely sweet guy... so sweet that I decided I wanted a picture with him too! Thank you Cory :)

We'd asked Cory if Jag (Michael Jagman-lead vocals) was coming out too... he said he thought so but that he'd go get him to make sure (see... wasn't that sweet :) Sure enough, moments later, Jag appeared and headed our direction. Eliot loves this guy's voice... I mean loves it. He apparently has a range and tone that is very unique. So he was quite excited to meet him... it pretty much rounded out the evening of fantastics that filled our night.

In all the ways that this night would not be something would pickmyself, I loved it. I loved being with Eliot and his friends and watching them have so much fun together. I loved that his friends had my kid's back in the moshing. :) I loved that I found that in being open to something that on a not so good day can make me crazy... I can be stretched and be surprised in new ways I didn't expect. I love that whatever our differences, whether we wear blue converse or black boots, ponytails or mohawks, pink plaid jackets or studded leather ones... we're really not all that different. We all have more in common than we ever take the time to understand.
It brings me back to that design painted on the black wall... the hand... with a hole... a nail perhaps. "Love" written beneath it. God made all of us so uniquely... so different... but with one exception... we all are broken. We are all so much less than we can be when we let God join us in our journey... not as a dictator but as someone who understands us because he made us. On our ride home tonight, one of our friends commented that he didn't care for how one of the bands was so intense in their comments about God (he was kinda hollerin')... I didn't care for it either. I don't think God wants to beat anyone into liking him... I think he just wishes we knew that if we gave him a chance, maybe we wouldn't feel so alone all the time... that maybe, if we have the balls to throw all our crap out in front of him, he'll help us make some sense of it all. I think he loves us like crazy no matter what we do... or don't do for that matter.
It's Good Friday... the day we remember that Jesus died for us before he kicked death's ass a few days later! He died for all the things that keep me from him... all that sin and brokenness that would create a barrier between his heart and a nutshell, that's love... at it's best.

I hope you had a Good Friday... we sure did.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Jess's thoughts on Grace, Gambling and Gobble Gobble

So once again, my well-laid plans to sleep in were thwarted by a feline who is under the false impression that he needs to make sure we know when the sun is about to come up. So as to ensure that the "stupendous Chef of all things Thanksgiving" wakes well rested, I took the bullet and tended to the one known as Maximus... or when annoyed with him... Maxine.

Those morning hours, when the house is still asleep, are some of my favorites. The stillness is rare. I rather enjoy it. I have found myself contemplative in the quietness this morning... feeling the fullness of the day ahead. Soon these rooms will fill with aromas from the culinary master I married some 20 years ago... sleepy young men will pry themselves from their beds just in time for a little lunch... my husband and sister will bicker in the kitchen over whether the cranberry relish needs more sugar... Grandma will join us later with the holy grail of desserts - raisin squares... the faithful canine will sit dutifully, prepared to clean up the floors the moment anything decends upon them... perhaps a family foosball tournament will ensue and if we're lucky, a family poker game will add a little redneck gambling to our Turkey day.

An awareness of the bounty that fills my life emerges... not because it's Thanksgiving, but because it's Thursday and my life is full of good things and people I love. Don't get me wrong... some things in my life are pretty messy. Living in this home of ours requires a boatload of grace, patience and forgiveness... unfortunately, we aren't always careful with each other. We are impatient, sarcastic, selfish and sometimes just mean. I think God's idea of family was to give us a place to just be who we are. To be our messy, transparent selves... and still be loved by people who will speak the truth to us and give us needed perspectives on the parts of ourselves we can't see so clearly. After all, we are all on our own journey of discovering who we are and who we want to become.

We come and go from this place every day, each to our own worlds that are both kind and cruel. It is my hope that our home is also a soft place to fall when life has opened a can of whoop ass on us... a place where we can love and be loved, however imperfectly... a place we can take risks, breathe deeply, laugh loudly and find rest when we are weary.
So today, join me in inviting grace to be a guest at your Thanksgiving table. Hug those imperfect people you love and forgive the ones who piss you off... and feel free to steal our tradition and add gambling to your Thanksgiving tradition!

(It's probably time to wrap this up anyway... finding it hard to concentrate with Scott and Julie already bickering in the kitchen - this time both in the voice of Gloria from "Modern Family".)

Happy Thanksgiving~

Monday, November 14, 2011

A snapshot of Heaven...

There are moments, I think, that are snapshots of heaven. They are sometimes in a quiet, peaceful place, in nature's beauty, in the smell of a newborn, or in the self-less loving of another person, and sometimes, a snapshot of heaven shows up in a stadium full of thousands of self proclaimed band geeks and their parents.

Hope is a funny thing... it's what gives life to dreams and yet it is the very thing that, when deferred, can crush them and sorrow takes it's place. Our little marching band has long hoped for the honor of making finals at the national competition. It has come close, but always, the bus ride home was full of tears and pieces of a broken dream. As freshman, we only know this from the retelling of the heartache of years past... but everyone knows what that feels like... the longing and pursuit of an end that seems to evade you. It's almost cruel. If you have the courage to hope, you have to have the courage to carry the sorrow too... but it's always heavier than you plan for.

There was an unspoken hope in the air as the days led up to Nationals... we, of course, were all so proud of the kids and their hard work. No matter what numbers the six judges jotted down on their scorepads as they experienced our "Winter Solstice", these kids had been successful. They had poured themselves out day after day for countless months, and 260 individuals came together and became a single, beautiful piece of visual and musical art... but that hope lingered in the air. It almost taunted us. We thought we had a chance, but then again, we didn't have the most impartial perspective.

With two performances to be proud of, we collected ourselves and gathered in our own little section of the stadium... band members, parents, grandparent, chaperones and directors all waiting together.... a family of sorts that had formed on this journey. The announcement of the finalist began as expected...many of the schools resuming their status as finalists and whose fans had purchased their finals tickets the same time they bought their prelim tickets. The first ten of the twelve called were really no surprise... and with each announcement the hope in the air seemed to be looking for the exits. Then he announced the 11th Finalist in the Grand Nationals Championship... "William Ma....." honestly, that's all I think any of us really heard. In the blur, I vaguely recall turning and seeing Mr. Bass in the row behind me with his head in his hands and his eyes welling up. I was so happy for him! I looked at my friend who, if we didn't make it, would be picking up the pieces of her daughter's last chance... the exuberance billowing out of her was nothing short of glorious! Barriers collapsed and friends and strangers hugged and screamed and hugged some more! Tears of joy flowed freely as the dam of hope unleashed it's reservoir.

In the midst of all of this, I looked up to see a boy's face searching the sea of unglued parents... when he found the eyes that he new from birth, he bolted down the stairs. Upon reaching her, he burrowed in her shaking arms, clenched his own arms tightly around her and finally, released the floods of emotion that overwhelmed him... between the sobs, I heard him say "We did it." There are no words for what that exchange felt like, but I am certain it was happening all over section 247 of Lucas Oil Stadium.

This moment will forever be frozen in time for me and countless others. It was a capturing of something... the long days and nights, the demands on young bodies, the commitment to a purpose, individuals becoming a part of a whole, the persistent pursuit of an unattained dream, parents making endless sacrifices, directors finding the delicate balance of pushing and affirming, and a rag tag group of kids with the courage to believe it was possible... it had all led to this moment... and it was a beautiful thing to be a part of. It was for me... a little snapshop of heaven.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jess's thoughts on a couple of boys she thinks are swell...

So for me, this fall seems to be holding a sort of grand transition... a shift in the grid of my whole world. I have becoming increasingly aware of this as my youngest son Eliot began high school this year. His (and my) summer began with the immersion into the world of Marching Band (plays cymbals in the drumline)... the grueling schedule of Band Camps and rehearsal schedules began long before the school doors opened. The first day of school was an afterthought for him... he went in with more confidence than I have probably ever had in my whole life. He knows who he is, he knows who he's not and he knows he doesn't have to be any different in order to matter. This is remarkable to me in a school of 3500 kids and a subculture of 260 like minded band geeks... his definition, not mine. (If you're wondering, Eliot is on the left side of the picture, 2nd from the top.) I wish you could see him when he's on the field... when they are rallying the crowds, he is oozing with energy, excitement and utter delight! It is unbelievably fun to watch!

In the meantime, my oldest son Gavin began his Senior year. This has been it's own little process of trying to wrap my brain around that. I've tried to stay present and intentional in this matter as it is easy to get overwhelmed by the daunting knowledge that this child we've raised is on the cuspis of becoming a man. One year from now, he will likely live elsewhere. That statement alone brings tears to my eyes. I just can't imagine. As those tears bulge behind my eyeballs, my motherly instincts kick in. I gather my whits about me and ask myself if I have done all I can to equip him for when he stands alone in a world that will not always be on his side.

This season of our life is unique. It is a time of stepping away, while always being there if counsel, insight or direction is needed. I will admit, I have struggled with this... not because I don't trust Gavin, but because this world we live in is often cruel and cares little of others. I've spent his whole life protecting him from the realities of that.. but the time has come for him to find his own way of navigating these things. I believe we have equipped him well. He is a wise young man and walks with a fine balance of caution and playfulness. This would be a signifigantly different experience if this was not the case and for that I'm overwhelmingly grateful. I have been blessed beyond measure in the man that Gavin has become and the friends that God has encircled Gavin with. They are people of character and I love how they love him. I have come to see that they are soft places for him to fall when life's rough edges leave it's cuts and bruises... they are his people... they are his tribe. They are God's way of caring for him when it is time for his mom to step back a bit and let her boy become a man.

As mothers, we pour ourselves into our children. We hope with all that is within us that they will become confident, independant individuals who will move about in the world with kindness and compassion while still carrying with them a pocket full of adventure and fearlessness. What one forgets is that when they do just that... they leave you behind. When they grow... they grow away from you... and as proud as you are to see them doing so, a new longing forms in your soul. A longing for moments that they choose to come back... to play with you... to laugh with you... to share their journey with you again.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I don't think this is what Jesus had in mind...

I'll begin these series of thoughts by saying that I love Jesus. I try not to be religious and I don't claim to have all the answers, but I am sure that I am broken and need the one who made me, to bind me up and make me whole. It has little to do with religion any more...

The events prompting this post began with a knock on my door. Having seen the two men approaching, I didn't know what to expect... perhaps someone thinking our lawn looked like crap and need their professional touch, maybe some new area take out that was passing out coupons... no, no such luck . The first immediately introduced himself as the Pastor of a church in our area while his sidekick stood silently observing the Jedi ways of his Obi-wan Kenobi. Maintaining a friendly demeanor, I shared that I already had a church I called home. He then tilted his head and said "now does that go beyond being religion, because there are a lot of religious people who ... " He continued with a buffet of well placed Bible verses, sweetly disguised condemnations of my neighbors he'd spoken to and all while quoting Jesus own words about judging someones "fruit" and the ominous reality of hell.

I felt something happen inside of me... a combination of sorrow and fury. I knew that his intentions were good... for many years, so were mine. I was raised to always have an answer and verse to back it up, and getting someone "saved" was the whole point, whatever it took. I sensed a quiet prayer whispering inside of me to keep my own spirit from taking the soapbox and wielding my own light saber of truth on his religious ass. I felt a deep sorrow that the beautiful message of my Jesus who longs to brings hope and wholeness to our broken world, was once again being drowned out by the flood of religious brow beating, justified judgement and horrific scare tactics to usher someone into a religious experience. I listened and let him speak... interjecting when I found something we agreed on. Finally, as he found his way to the end of his bullet points, when I could have said, "thank you... and have a nice day". I didn't.

In a surprisingly gentle manner, I said something like "can I share a few thoughts with you?" The words that followed caught me off guard and are vague to me as I try to recall them. They included a plea to be gentle with people, as our best intentions and the way we cloak them can leave people feeling wounded... sometimes even farther from the One we want them to see. I encouraged them to remember that God is the only one who can truly see the heart of another and perhaps these assessments are best left to Him. He really doesn't need our help.

As they walked toward their church van bursting with more young Jedi's, I hoped. I hoped that God was bigger than the clubs they carried. I hoped that my own truths of how I see Jesus do not take the form of clubs as I converse with people who see things in a different light. I hoped that we will be as intentional about wanting God to change us daily as we are about wanting him to change others. I hoped that my neighbors weren't wounded by any of those clubs... and if you were, I'm sorry for that. I don't think that's what Jesus had in mind.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas of 2010 by Jess

I really love giving gifts. I love the experience of giving someone unguarded laughter in a gift that brings them joy... or watching them become speechless as they discover a gift that they couldn't have dreamed of receiving... or watching them physically leap in delight of a wish that's been granted or seeing tears that creep into their eyeballs because their heart is simply overwhelmed with gratitude.
I was blessed today to be the giver and receiver of such gifts. My mom got giddy when she saw a card that would pay for the movies she loves to go see... a theater is a friend she simply delights in. Gavin jumped off the couch when he got a thing for his xbox that will let him play video games with his cousin who lives in another state. Scott cried when two large bags of gift were dumped in front of him and he was told that none of them were for him to open, but rather to deliver later in the day to the less fortunate kids he'd met delivering turkey's to at Thanksgiving. I cried (okay... I blubbered and it wasn't pretty!) over handwritten notes from my kids that were and always will be simply priceless.
Eliot got an early present a couple of weeks ago when through the wily ways of his mom, he was able to meet his all time favorite musician... he simply could not fathom it was really happening. Being the giver of that gift was one of the best moments of my life. I couldn't help but think that must be how God sees us... knowing us intimately because He thought us each up in the first place! and longing to delight us in ways that we can't even imagine possible! I can just imagine Him saying "oh wow! I just can't wait 'til she sees what I've been working on for her!" I wonder if He ever wants to jump out of His socks with excitement for me like I did that day for Eliot. I hope my heart never stops bursting with gratitude for the kindness that my Father in heaven pours over me every day... in the things I see and in the things I don't.
This day of gift giving was fan-flippin-tastic! We needed nothing but were blessed by much... some in the giving and some in the receiving. Merry Christmas 2010!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chair thoughts

I'm sitting in my living room under my toasting warm blanket while the fireplace breathes it's warmth beside me and the lights of our simple primitive Christmas tree are reflecting on my laptop. It's quiet. As much as I love the silly banter of boys becoming men and the strangely odd exchanges fathers and sons have of connecting (I mean titty twister wars! really!?), when they all go to school and work, the stillness that falls over this place invites me to soak it in. We have this great leather armchair in the corner of our living room with a big ole' foot rest... throw in the heated throw and the fireplace and we are talking a done deal. It stills me... it stills my core. In this moment, I feel content in my spirit... deep down. Whatever list awaits me, whatever things need to get done... they can wait.

It's inevitable. As I sit here, prayers come. Whispers to God for people I love... and people I don't. It's hard watching people struggle, be weary. It's hard to not try to fix it. So I talk with God about them. He already knows how heavy their hearts are and how deep their sorrows burrow...He knows their unspoken and unarticulated reasons for being less than happy. So I will whisper their name with Him, asking on their behalf that He, the life giving author of their very being, would stir in them the longing to lean in towards their Father and ask Him to lift their countenance. To heal them... to bring them back to life...abundant life...wholeness...contentment.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Teaching Moments

I had a few events in my life collide in the past couple weeks that have made me stop and ponder. The kind of events that need to happen on a more frequent basis to constantly remind me.

The week before Thanksgiving, my youngest son, Eliot, and I delivered complete Thanksgiving dinners to a couple families in the Cincinnati suburbs who were in need. The families we visited were struggling to make ends meet, pay bills, take care of kids, and find jobs. One had just taken in a foster baby and were planning on eating cold cuts for Thanksgiving without the assistance.

On the way home from making these deliveries, we saw a young woman pull over on the side of the road. Moments earlier, a tire blew out and she barely escaped a major accident and bodily injury. In her words, she thought she was going to die. She already had her spare tire on her car on another wheel so she was stuck and in need. I offered to drive her somewhere so she could get help from friends or family. She asked if we could take her to her work, where a friend would let her borrow a spare tire until she was able to buy a tire. While talking with her, I learned that she just bought the tire that blew out a couple weeks earlier...for only $20 (probably an old retread for that price). It was all she had and she needed to get back and forth to work. When I got her to her workplace, I asked if she needed any money to help in getting a new tire since she wasn't going to get paid for awhile. She immediately said, "No, I could never ask you for money. You have already helped me a lot". I could see she needed the money but was too respectful to ask. I reached into my pocket, not knowing how much I had on me, and gave her the $30 that was there. She couldn't believe it, started to cry, and reached across the center console in the car to give me a hug. She was speechless. She said that she couldn't understand how a total stranger could stop and help her in such a way. She was deeply touched. I told her that God apparently had His eye on her, and to not forget that.

The whole time (in fact, the whole day), my son is watching this all play out. A great teaching moment!

Last weekend, I went to a AA hockey game here in Cincinnati (The Cyclones) with Eliot and a friend. It was a first for Eliot and me. Eliot is a huge sports fan and was actually more interested in seeing fights on the ice than seeing a Cyclone's win (and he was rewarded). The Cyclones have this sweet deal - if they score in the first period and keep the other team scoreless, everyone in attendance gets a free chili from Wendy's. Well...the Cyclones came through and we were the recipients of free chili (actually a coupon for the free chili).

As with every sporting event in Cincinnati, since the stadiums and arena are located downtown, you are hit head-on with the homeless in the city whenever you leave an event. They are sitting at all the exits with their signs asking for money.

Last weekend was no different. As we left to make our way to the parking garage, there they were. We passed one man asking for money. It was extremely cold this night and I could not imagine living on the street on a night like this, and wondering where my next meal would come from. We all saw him. The three of us knew what he was asking for. And then the my son blows me away.

Eliot, who had his free chili coupon in his hand, asked if he could run back and give the homeless man his free chili. And he did just that. My son just fed the needy. He just helped a man he didn't know, but knew of his circumstances. He loved a stranger. He shared his food with the hungry.

He made me very proud. What a great teaching moment from my son.

And then my friend and pastor, Joe Boyd, teaches on a non-traditional Christmas story ( The fact that Christ came to not only save the lost, but to meet the needs of the poor. I encourage you to watch this. It's powerful. Thanks, Joe, for the teaching moment!

I am reminded again this season of just how much I have. There is nothing I need. I do not go without anything. If there is something I need, I get it. I know I frustrate my family when I tell them to not get anything for me for Christmas, but it's true. There are so many others who have legit needs - food, clothing, help with rent or a car repair, or a medical bill, etc. I encourage us all to give to those with the greatest needs more than those who already have an abundance. And then let's not limit it to this time of year, but work to make it a lifestyle. We can change the world!

"Small things done with great love will change the world" - Mother Theresa