Thankfully, my family and our home were spared the wrath of Hurricane Harvey. However, my grandmother died in mid-September, and her passing felt all the more heartbreaking after the difficult weeks we had all just endured. Reflecting on what a wonderful Nana she was, my thoughts turned toward the beautiful Christmas stocking she made for my daughter. She worked on it months before Tessa was born so that it would be ready for her first Christmas. It is a family treasure. That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks… families who lost everything in Harvey also lost all their Christmas decorations—special ones like Tessa’s stocking, and others that would be costly to replace. I knew I had to do something to help. A friend recently pointed out that it wasn’t a ton of bricks that hit me, it was the Holy Spirit that moved me. Of course!
I started planning to collect excellent-used-condition Christmas decorations that could be passed on to flooded families. The family heirlooms and other meaningful items, like ornaments collected during travels or that very special box of ornaments made by the children, could never be replaced. Yet I knew that by the time we reached Advent, these families were going to need help getting into the spirit of the season.
I also knew I couldn’t do it alone, so I reached out to a woman I’d never met who had started a Facebook group to help the flood victims in our area. (We live on the west side of town near Buffalo Bayou where thousands of homes were destroyed as a result of the releases from Addicks Dam.) She has a servant’s heart and was immediately excited and suggested two more women who might like to help. Strangers became friends, and off we went!
Now we’re busy planning a holiday market where flooded families can come “shop” (for free!) for Christmas decorations on Saturday, December 2. My garage is filling up with new and used trees, ornaments, wreaths and all manner of holiday decor—yet another outpouring of the incredible generosity of our community. We will have Santa and Christmas carolers and cookie decorating and toy giveaways and teenagers helping folks carry loads to their cars. The list goes on and on. My heart is already so full of the spirit of Advent, even though our event will take place the day before it officially begins. One spark from the Holy Spirit has grown into what we hope will make it a bit easier for those struggling to join in the eager anticipation of the arrival of Jesus.
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