Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Blessed Christmas

The day is finally here. I think this is the only Christmas Day in my life when I’ve been more excited about the end of the day than the beginning!

Presents were opened last night, in the German tradition of Jenny’s family, which the kids seem to prefer to waiting until the crack of dawn Christmas morning. We’ve tried it both ways. We parents certainly prefer the sleep in on Christmas morning!

This morning, while the rest of the family put their Christmas gifts to use, I checked and rechecked my bags. Particularly the kilo’s in each. I got it to a perfect 30kg between the two bags and exactly 7kg in the carry-on. In the two bags, there’s 25kg of kids shirts, shorts, pants, hoodies, dresses and more. Each bag has a illustrated children’s Bible tucked in between the clothes. And one of them also has my toiletries, sandals and a notebook in which I will write notes as I interview people. 

I can’t wait to see the happy faces as the kids receive the clothes!

In the carry-on are 5kg of my clothes, iPad, Kindle, charger, cords, and an 21000mha battery which can charge both the iPad and phone at once. :) There are also two little bags lovingly prepared and gifted to me from my wonderful daughter - Rachael! One has healthy snacks. The other bag, labelled “For extreme cases of boredom” is filled with activities for my childish mind! 

At about 1pm we headed over to visit Grandma. After a wonderful Christmas lunch at Grandma’s house, we headed home and I had a quick nap. (I only slept for a few hours last night due to my excitement!) I checked all my bags again and then the boys loaded them in the car.

After hugging everyone and saying “farewell my lads and lady” Jenny and I headed off to the airport. 15 minutes later we returned home to retrieve my mobile phone which was faithfully charging on the bedside table. An hour later, Jenny and I said farewell at the airport. 15 minutes later I returned to the curb to retrieve my mobile phone which was faithfully charging in the car's dash console. 

Half an hour later, as I was filling in my customs departure card, a security guard came in from the X-ray machines holding a phone and shouted, “Did anyone leave their phone at the security station?” I checked my pocket and retrieved my phone which was dutifully resting where I always keep it. I replied loudly enough for the security person to look at me sternly and the guy next to me to snort to himself. “I’ve left my phone everywhere else today, until now!”

In the passport queue, the couple in front of me asked where I was going. I said, “Kenya, to tell stories to children at two schools!” They both smiled and said something about that being a nice thing. Then I asked, “Where are you going?” With a smile, the woman said, “Kenya as well.”

“Oh!” I said, “What will you be doing?” 

She looked guilty… “Just going on Safari.” 

“How long?” I asked.

“Three weeks,” she looked a bit upset now. Here eyes said, We’re not doing anything for anyone else. Just us. 

“That’s cool,” I said. “Have fun! I’m doing a two day safari at the end of my three weeks. I’m really looking forward to it!”

Now, I am sitting in a small cafe in the international departure area. The flight boards in 45 minutes. And, I’m so glad for the opportunities I’ve been given in my life. 

I’ve done a lot of selfish things in my life - usually because I believed they would make me happy. Sometimes they do. But those fleeting joys last little longer than the moments themselves.

And yet, it is always in the others-focused minutes, hours and days that I am reminded the most meaningful moments in life are the ones that we give away. 

The golden rule is bigger than a playground, a family or a lifetime. When we humbly do for others what we would have them do for us (if we were in their situation) we change the world - one playground, family and life at a time - for eternity.

That’s what happened the first Christmas, when the Creator of the universe dared to put Himself in our shoes. He became one of us, walked among us and gave what we needed - for eternity - because He loved us.

He still does. He loves you and I more than words can say. So, He showed us - that’s what love does when words are not enough. 

Jesus reached in to the muck of our lives and grabbed us tight. Unable to pull us out, he dove into the muddy pit we were mired in. He defeated the darkness and pulled us up into the light. 

Then, ever so gently, Jesus wipes the crud out of our eyes so we can see past ourselves, our playground, our family, our life. And He gives us a new vision - one designed especially for us.

Jesus always heals the blind. But He doesn’t stop there. Next, He presents something worth seeing - Himself. And in beholding we are changed - into His likeness. And, compelled by His love, we reach into the world in the hopes of bringing another from the darkness.

So, this Christmas, if you are seeing more clearly than you have before - focus on that vision and follow it into the light of God’s glory. And join the mission to change the world!

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