Friday, December 28, 2007

Changing the World


Christmas Morning Sunrise

Greetings to you here nearing the end of 2007. I hope everyone has had a lovely Christmas and as I share a few favorite photos from our Christmas day, I'd also like to share a few thoughts.

On Christmas Eve Paul asked me what I liked most about Christmas. I mentioned a few things, but one that I have been thinking of, and which touches me every year is this: my life is always changed after Christmas. Just as when I take any trip somewhere, I realize that I have stepped out of the ordinary and that my life will never be the same again. I will have new memories to mull over and to share and all of that will be added to the storybook of my life.


Eve was so excited watching Daddy open her present to him!

To the intangible, the tangible changes are added as well. Last year, when I received my iPod, I was introduced to a whole new world of informative, compelling, and inspirational pocasts as well as being connected with an online community associated with a few of them. This year, Paul gave me a dock for my iPod and now I will be able to share some of the wonderful and fun "radio" theater and audiobooks with my children. My mom and Jerry gave us a terrific set of luggage - you know, the kind you all already have with the retractable handles and wheels! - and now I won't suffer trying to rush through the airport with a heavy suitcase. Small things, but yes, they do change my life.


It is with that thought that I have been thinking about changing the world. :) Watching the movie, "Evan Almighty" with my family last night added to these thoughts. That and this overwhelming desire that I have had over this Christmastide, to be of service somehow, when I look all around at the abundance that has been given to me.

Obviously, when we hear the words, "change the world," we think BIG. But, really, changing the world can be small and doable, because an action of kindness or generosity will change the world for the recipient in a small - or even large - way, just like the gifts we exchange at Christmas. First of all, I would never really want to change the world on my own. #1, I wouldn't want all that responsibility and #2, I know myself well enough to know that there have been plenty of times I thought I was right about something only to change my mind about it later. No, I think I'd rather leave the changing of the world up to God as He intended. And what did He ask us to do? Love Him and each other. Yep, I think that's doable.


I'll admit that I struggle often with feeling like I ought to be doing more. How much more and of what I don't always know. Recently I took a few online assessments to determine my spiritual gifts - gifts given to everyone by the Holy Spirit, not to benefit oneself, but others for the purpose of furthering the Kingdom of God. I'd taken one assessment a number of years ago when I was a newer Christian, but since having grown and developed in my faith, I wanted to take a look again. After taking four online tests (all of which base their questions on different criteria - some limiting the gifts to ones mentioned in specific verses in the Bible and others evident in the whole of the Bible), the top general gifts that showed up for me were mercy and service. The most comprehensive test (which lists more specific gifts) listed voluntary poverty as my top gift, which would explain my passion for voluntary simplicity. All the information explains to me the ache I sometimes feel in wanting so badly to help... with everything and everyone sometimes.


But I need to take small, doable steps. I want to be able to follow through with commitments I'd like to make toward service. I know that I need to be careful with overcommitting myself and then letting others down. Giving and service will find their way into my new year's resolutions, but I plan to take it one small step at a time.

I am beginning with working on knitting a blanket for Project Linus. My involvement with that organization may grow, but actually being able to at least do something, to start something (as soon as my yarn arrives!!) has helped me to feel a bit more peaceful within myself.


Today I also went through some things in our closets and pulled out things to donate to the Kidney Foundation which will be doing a pickup in our neighborhood next week. I often do things like this and I know that it "counts" (isn't that a funny thing to think - whether something "counts" or not?), but I have been plagued with feeling like giving stuff to folks isn't always the answer. Even giving money isn't always the answer. I mean, there likely isn't really just one answer anyway. We're all too complex for that. But the word I keep coming back to is "relationship." I don't often have a relationship with those to whom I give and I think that is the piece that has been bothering me the most.

I don't know the poor. I live a pretty sanitized and insulated life when in comes to knowing those that are suffering on a daily basis. It's messy and challenging and this is where I feel my conscience being pricked. This is where I feel like I ought to be doing more. Maybe this feeling will develop into something that I can address in the future, for I don't know quite how to address it at this season of my life wherein I homeschool my two children and have a full life and schedule because of it. I have faith that if I start small and ask God to show me where He would like to use me in regard to this that He will show me the things I can do now and how I can continue to add to it in the future. I'll be praying for this in 2008, because like Evan Baxter, I want to change the world. :)
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