Monday, December 5, 2011

The Gift of Giving of Yourselves

I absolutely love this time of year!  Even here, where the Christmas season seems a bit non-existent outside our homes.  Where to the majority of the population December 25th is just another day on the calendar.  I love the reason we celebrate, I love the cold, I love the family traditions, and I love, I mean I love giving presents! :)

The picture at the top of my blog shows the boys in PYP (their International Ch*rch youth group) blowing up 125 soccer balls and unwrapping and trying to figure out the maze of string for the ball string that came with them. (fyi- I looked up the "official" name of the ball string only to discover it is officially called "ball string," so there you go, who knew?!) lol

This year their group is helping the "G" family prepare 125 gift bags for school children in a neighboring area.  The interesting thing about this school is that while it is a public school (all public schools are M*slim), they are allowing a teacher there to offer a course on Chr*stianity.  This does not mean it is warmly accepted or desired, she has experienced pers*cution due to offering this class, but she keeps doing what she feels called to do. 

To assist her, the "G" family offered to prepare gift bags for their celebration of Christmas.  One way they did this was to gather supplies and donations while they spent the summer in the States.  However, the crate that they put the items in has run into numerous delays and although it left in August, it has still not arrived.  Well, that's not necessarily true.  It arrived in Macchiato last week and we were so excited, until they received word that there was a dock workers strike at the shipyard and therefore it was sent back to Singapore.  So frustrating, but also very much on par for the way things are over here.  But the "G's", despite facing roadblocks, set plans in motion to find a factory in "Starbucks, the capitol city" that could send them 125 soccer balls for these bags and miracle of miracle they were ordered, and arrived this week.  Just in time to put the bags together!  Yay, for the CEO!! 

The way Mrs. G explains it is that after struggling with the fact that the gifts and donations didn't arrive in time she felt the CEO saying that he wanted to do something different here.  He said "she" could supply school supplies, but that "He" wanted to supply soccer balls! Can't argue with that can you?   See, the kids here LOVE soccer.  Daily you can see them running around kicking a ball, usually one that is battered and worn beyond belief, or maybe a wad of paper and plastic in place of a ball if they don't have one of their own.  Isn't that just like the CEO?  He doesn't always just give what people need, sometimes he gives what people want so they can experience His love.  All because He is good. 

I thought this story was beautiful.  It reminds me of how very good the CEO is and how He is always looking out for us.  We certainly do not always understand His ways, but I love that we can always trust him to do what is best for us.  See, as much as we believe that our circumstances, life, wants, and needs depend on those around us, the truth is that the CEO is always in control.  His plans will not be thwarted by the actions, lack of actions or the obedience or lack of obedience of others (or a crate that is 3 months overdue!).   I love that!  If something is/is not being done that you are praying for it is because the CEO, in his infinite knowledge and love, has a different plan/timeline than you do.  Don't let that discourage you or cause you to grumble like an Isr*aelite in the wilderness (after all, that didn't end well for them), allow it to strengthen your faith by believing that He works all things for the good of those who  love him and are called according to His purpose. 

I know some of you might say, here we go again with the worn out scripture verses.  But these are not some contrived words of pseudo empathy.  This is TRUTH.  This verse is so often misquoted without the last half, and that is an important part that should not be left out!

Definitions -
 "..for the good.." - That which conforms us into the likeness of the Son.

"...called according to His purpose.." - His children for His purposes, His divine will and plan of redemption. (not our plans and purposes, even with the best of intentions)

So often we focus on ourselves, but there is such a bigger plan in motion!  Yes, we are a part, but the CEO wants to mature and grow us into His Son's likeness, being outward focused so as to draw men to Him.  Now, if you are anything like me, that is no easy task!  I readily admit, this is not something I have conquered.  But being over here and being stripped of so many things that I thought I needed or thought I would do here, I have been humbled in more ways than I care to count.  It never ceases to amaze me how sometimes I can be focused on my plans and purposes while living in a place that so desperately needs people willing to live out His plans and purpose.  To be willing to say, "Okay, I surrender my will.  This '(situation)' is not what I wanted but I trust you and what comes from Your hand is enough.  I will keep doing what I need to do in obedience and trust you for all results!"  (which might mean giving soccer balls instead of toy cars and school supplies)  When we can do this without grumbling or worrying then we are truly maturing and growing into the Son's likeness, willing to be content with what He supplies.  That, my friend is not an easy lesson to learn, but the rewards of learning it are priceless when it comes to living out your daily life with joy.

Join me in lifting up these precious kids who will be hearing (some for the first time) about the amazing gift that the CEO gave them on that first Christmas morning.  This is in an extremely impoverished brick makers village, bricks sell for maybe $60 USD per 1,000 bricks and their equipment is very old.  The kids here would never dream that they would own their own ball.  They will be so excited!

I am so grateful for the "G" family.  They are tender hearted and giving, we are blessed to call them our friends.  I am so thankful that they take the time to lead this youth group and offer our kids a place where they can give of themselves and serve others.  We truly feel they are an answer to our prayers as they formed this group at a time (unbeknownst to them) my boys were having trouble adjusting to life here after leaving the International School.  It has been such a blessing to them.

The girls are making dozens of snickerdoodles for the gift bags.

125 un-inflated soccer balls waiting to be aired up and placed in their own string bag.

Marshall trying to unravel/untangle the string bag for the soccer ball, it was no easy task!

Snickerdoodles waiting to be placed on the cookie sheet.  The girls did a great job.

Mr G.  passing out hot cocoa, Hudson was thrilled that they also had marshmallows that they brought back from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  What a treat!  We can't get them here.

Here the group is putting together bags of candy for the kids.

A few of the bags that were filled with the soccer balls.

The PYP group, here in Folgers!  They are great kids, and don't you love that huge tree?  A mall where the "G's" live in the States was getting rid of them and they were able to snag one, so pretty!

Remember, you are most like the CEO when you focus on others and give of yourself, you are least like Him when you are inward focused and dwell on yourself.  For the CEO so loved the world that he gave...
Love = Giving


thegereckesonamissionaryjourney said...

that's a really great story Justine! I'm tearing up over here in Portugal :) Love you guys...merry Christmas!

joan said...

luv ur blog....Merry CHRISTmas!

Justine said...

Thank you Cristi! :) Love you guys too, and I hope it's your best Christmas overseas yet!

Justine said...

Joan, thank you and thanks for keeping up with us. Merry Christmas to you!! Love ya!

Zimms Zoo said...

Beautiful! Soccer balls are the best presents ever!!

As are soccer jerseys mailed to the states from dear friends overseas! hehe JK

Have a great Christmas and we begin our countdown to the Mcmanus Jan 1!

kgetzinger32 said...

Your post was wonderful! We are so thankful for your family too. Merry Christmas!! Love, Mrs. G :0)

Christina said...

Justine ... G used this to really speak to me in a HUGE way! Having trouble in a certain area and really hung on to your words. Thanks for writing and sharing ... again, G really used it. AFter I read your blog, I had to tell Chris to listen to it as I read it to him. YOu are loved ...