Hope in a Christmas Jar

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I love my children. All day at work I look forward to seeing them. Even if it is a day that I won’t get to see them…I’m still thinking about the smell of their hair and the twinkle in their eyes. I love to listen to them talk and sing. Sometimes while I am away from them I idealize the excitement that will fill the air once I pick them up from their father’s house.

Last night I picked up the boys and witnessed excitement from one child but not from the other. Desmond ran to see me and was ready to go, while Dexter was concerned about disrupting the game that he was playing on the tablet. As Dexter instructed his father to finish his game before the tablet died, I attempted to negotiate Desmond into his sneakers. Desmond requested to be carried so he could rest his head on my shoulder. I then decided that shoes were not as important as the experience of just holding him a little bit longer. As I slipped Desmond’s coat on, Dexter walked up and volunteered to carry Desmond’s shoes.

Desmond says, “Yeah, Dexter can carry my shoes, because he likes to walk.”

Dexter, practically yells, “Hey, I like when mommy carries me too!”

Sensing a possible meltdown I focused on Dexter and thanked him for being a good helper. Crisis averted and we were out the door…

After I had buckled the boys into their seats…the whining began.

Dexter: “Mom, I’m so thirsty.”

Me: “Well, we can get a drink at home and sit and cuddle.”

Dexter: “I’m thirsty now.”

Me: “I don’t have anything to drink now.”

Dexter: “We can just go to Burger King and get a drink.”

Me: “We’re not going to do that. We don’t need to spend money on a drink if we can get one at home, which is where we are going.”

Dexter: “Ugh! There’s McDonald’s, we can go there and get a drink.”

I wanted to say Dave Ramsey say’s no…but instead I said, “Mommy doesn’t have money for that.”

I questioned immediately if that was a good thing to confess to a child…whether or not it would worry his 5-year-old head…Quickly I added, “They don’t have healthy drinks there anyway.”

Dexter: “What’s the healthiest drink?”

Me: “Water.”

Dexter: “I’m drinking water when I get home. It’s the healthiest.”

When we arrived at home I went to unlock the door and discovered a bag sitting on the threshold. I unlocked the main door and sat the bag inside, it looked like it contained a candle and a card or something. I settled the children down in the living room, retrieved Dexter some water and Desmond some fruit snacks…as soon as I delivered the water Dexter exclaimed he was hungry, so I started some mac and cheese. (He also requested broccoli with peanut butter…I asked him, “You mean celery?” and he said, “Oh yes, celery.”)

Sometime after starting the mac and cheese and before Dexter realized that he hates how celery smells…I went back to the front door to pick up the gift bag that had been left. I grabbed the bag and went to the kitchen…I didn’t want the boys to see what was in the jar…because it might contain brightly colored M&M’s  or some other candy that I didn’t want them to be begging for the moment I pulled it out of the bag.

I sat the bag on the counter and realized that the “card” was actually a book—that got me excited…I pulled out the book and it said…The Christmas Jar. I’m thinking to myself, “Oh this must be a thing that people do.” I picked up the jar and did not see M&M’s…I saw money, paper notes, coins…all types of currency filling the jar to the top. I gasped a little and sat the jar down back in the bag. I picked up the book again and thumbed through it. I wanted to know what this was all about. I could have sat there and read the book…but I imagine you can guess what I did–I picked up my phone and googled, “received Christmas jar”.

I learned that the money contained within my Christmas jar was the loose change collected by an individual or family over the course of the past year in order to donate anonymously to a needy person or family.

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Tears welled up in my eyes, that’s when I realized that it is obvious who gave me this jar–

Generous people…

People who probably prayed for me before they even knew that they were going to be leaving the jar on my doorstep…

These are people who faithfully believe that their loose change can be multiplied by giving…

These are the type of people who smile when they see you…

They pray for the people that surround them as they walk into church…

They pray over unoccupied seats for the next soul that will sit there…

They volunteer their time and expect nothing in return…

They serve because Jesus served and that makes their heart glad…

They are passionate about bringing the church into the community…

They are willing to be transparent about their own weaknesses and welcome others with authenticity…

They weep with those that weep and they celebrate in the victories of others…

These are the type of people that let their light shine so bright that the world can’t help but ask…what do they have inside of them?…

Do I know the true identity of who left the jar for my family? No, I don’t. Because truthfully, I know a lot of people who possess the traits that I described above–for they are followers of Christ, my King.

If you have never known followers of Christ to live like this…I truly apologize…

If you have not seen “church” that acts like this, I again, apologize and offer this hope…

We are here, we are serving, and we are waiting.

We are there, we are praying, and we are celebrating.

We will listen, we will love.

We will mess up, we are human, but the divine inside of us compels us to “do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.”


Last night as my children settled down to bed I was thankful  for the jar and thankful that I had found a community to experience all of my messy life stuff with…when a little voice asked me, “why did God make people have to die?”

I reminded him that was not God’s plan at all. That God wants us to live forever with him. That Jesus came down to earth and was born as a little baby just so that we would not have to be afraid of dying. That Jesus let us know that whoever lives and believes in Him will not die.

Then Dexter said, “I believe in Jesus.” And he whispered, “Mommy, mommy, ask Desmond if he believes in Jesus.” I whispered back, “Don’t ask him.” (I don’t know, but in that split second I wished we were talking about Santa Claus instead because earlier in the week my sweet 3 year old Desmond had critiqued my dinner prayer and proclaimed that he didn’t even believe in God…) Dexter asked, “Desmond, do you believe in Jesus?” Desmond exclaimed, “I believe in Jesus!” My heart settled and I never want to forget the next things that Dexter said…

Dexter: “Yay! We can live forever…I want Jesus to sit on a chair in my heart. Is there a TV in there?”

Me: “No, there’s no TV in there.”

Dexter: “No TV?!? Hmm…I guess He just has to look at our blood and feelings. Well I don’t think He’d want to look at the blood, but I think He’d want to look at the feelings.”

Me: “I think you’re right buddy. He absolutely cares about how you feel.”

I love my children. I look forward raising them to be radical in their generosity.

Next year I will have my own Christmas Jar to leave for someone in need. I know this because I have hope and a future…and someone else will need to be reminded of that hope and know that someone out there cares about their future.

Want to learn more about Christmas Jars?

Please visit:  http://christmasjars.com/

Want to get radical? Are you interested in joining me to do 40 Acts of Generosity during Lent this year?

Sign up here: http://www.40acts.org.uk/

Send me a message letting me know that you signed up and we can do 40acts Together.

If you dropped off the Christmas Jar at my house, thank you. If you prayed for me this week, thank you. If you served this week in the name of Jesus, thank you.

Merry Christmas and may God bless you!

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