Monday, December 29, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" Luke 2:8-14
Appropriate and beautiful. The perfect Christmas message. A Christmas Miracle.
Then, this happened:
To understand this story you have to understand my mom. She's a regular person who works full time as a nurse and LOVES to spend her hard-earned money on her grandkids. This year, she was thrilled, to say the least, about something she'd found for Logan:
I'm not very familiar with what's cool in the toy world, but this is apparently what seven-year-old Logan had been drooling over for quite some time now. In her usual over-eager fashion, my mom ordered the car for Logan, told Logan all about it, then informed his mother (my sister, Mindy) about her purchase.
Mindy was none too excited about a gift that cost several hundred dollars and would jet Logan down the road at 10 miles per hour, but Logan was already in love with the little car, so Mindy was basically powerless over the situation. And in her heart, she knew that Logan would be thrilled by the car.
For weeks now, Logan has been anxiously awaiting the arrival of his red mini racer. Every time I see him, he explains a new aspect of the car in vivid detail. "Aunt Erica, it goes up to ten miles per hour and someone up to 150 pounds could ride on it!! That means even you could fit on it!"
Amazon.com had given mom an estimated arrival date somewhere between December 17th and December 22nd. Mom waited and waited. The car never came. Finally, on Christmas Eve, my not-so-online savvy mom contacted the company she'd ordered the car from.
Several frantic phone calls and emails later the truth was brutally obvious to all of us.
The car had been stolen from my mom's front porch.
It had shipped on December 10th and had been delivered to my mom's front porch on December 13th. There had been no signature required on the delivery. To make matters worse, everyone involved had curtly dismissed my mother's worried questions. The company who sold her the car had fulfilled their obligations by shipping the car via FedEx. FedEx had fulfilled their obligations by delivering the car to my mom's address. No one was responsible for what happened to the car after it was delivered.
I am not exaggerating when I say that we were all absolutely heartbroken at the thought of Logan's car being stolen and felt powerless to change the situation. Susan and I were armed with all of my mom's email correspondence, tracking numbers, credit card info, etc. On the 26th, we were ready to go to battle trying to get someone to help us replace the car. We knew it was a long shot, but we were willing to call anyone and everyone involved until we found someone willing to help. My dad and I found the same car on ebay and were ready to buy a replacement if all other efforts failed. I told Mindy to tell Logan that the car was just taking longer than we expected to get here. I couldn't bear the thought of Logan knowing that his car had been stolen.
In the midst of my frustration and sadness, I tried to console myself with the thought that maybe there was someone out there who needed the car more than Logan did. It didn't help. I just couldn't wrap by brain around the fact that there was someone out there willing to steal a little boy's Christmas treasure. Naive. I know.
Last night, I prayed for God's help. Help finding Logan a new car. Help with straightening out the mess that my mom's order had become. Help with protecting a new car from being stolen again. Help with softening the heart of the person who had taken the car.
This morning, my mom found the box on her doorstep, no shipping label or packing info, no address of any kind, still factory sealed, intact in every way.
One perfect red mini racer inside.
There were no angels singing, but it was a Christmas miracle, nonetheless.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
The girls behaved beautifully and enjoyed the ballet. Grace's only complaint was towards the beginning of the show. The story of The Nutcracker begins in Clara's home. Her parents are throwing a Christmas party. Clara receives the nutcracker as a gift at the party, so it's kind of a set up for the entire ballet. The party goers are sort of dancing around, but they are in party clothes, and they don't look like ballerinas at all.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
After the sermon, the offering plate was passed around, as usual. After the offering was collected, an envelope was given to every member of the congregation. Everyone in the huge church, even Mindy's seven-year-old son was given an envelope.
Everyone who came to one of the 3 services was given between $5 and $300. Their instructions were to give the money to someone in need.
I was intrigued by the idea. Mindy goes to a huge church. I'm sure that on any given Sunday several thousand people attend one of three services. The church was giving away a lot of money. All they wanted in return was for their members to share with them what they did with the gift.
Inspired and excited, I urged Mindy to something BIG with the $30 she, Stuart and Logan had collected. But what? What can you do with $30? How far can you make it go?
Raise more, I said. Have a fundraiser. Collect money from your friends, family, coworkers. Charge a cover for Thanksgiving dinner.
I had a lot of half-baked ideas, but no real inspiration. Mindy and I wound up adding our own money to the church money and using it to sponsor a child on an angel tree. We wound up sponsoring two angel tree kids because there was one lonely ornament left on an angel tree at Grace and Carter's preschool. I'm sure these children will be thrilled with their trains and bike, but somehow, I knew something was missing.
Inspiration hadn't found me. Yet.
Tonight, it did. Maybe inspiration is not the right word. Maybe it's a tap on the shoulder. A whisper. A calling. Maybe it's God telling me specifically what He wants me to do. Maybe I'm delusional.
It doesn't matter what you call it. This is the thing that found me tonight:
I've heard of this before. I remember reading about it. I also remember reading about the what the critics had to say. And, yes, I know that there are starving children right here in Austin. I know there are many reasons why I should not do this or why I should do something else, but dwelling on those would be pointless.
This is the thing that found me.
And this is what I'm going to do.
First, watch this. Then, I will explain my somewhat baked plan.
OK. So now, here's my plan.
First, I started out with a plan to buy one of these $199 computers. Yes, it's Christmas. Yes, these are tough times. And, yes, Ray, I know, we are not made of money. But come on, it's two hundred bucks. We've spent that much on a steak dinner in the very recent past.
But then, I got to thinking. What if I could buy two computers, or three, or enough for an entire village?
That's where you come in.
If you are reading this, you have a computer. Wouldn't it be wonderful if your tiny contribution connected with other tiny contributions and resulted in a child experiencing the wonder of the Internet for the first time?
We have the power to create meaningful and lasting change in the lives of children everywhere. We do.
Seriously. If I called you right now and said, "Hey, I'm stuck at home with the kids and I really need a Diet Coke." You'd get in your car, drive through, and bring me a Diet Coke. You'd pay $1.37, and you wouldn't even think twice about it.
So call me, email me, leave a comment. Let me know what you think.
p.s. This is only phase one of my plan...
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
This morning, there was a little crankiness from the late bedtime, but by lunchtime things had evened out nicely and everyone was happy.
Grace and Ellie were playing in Grace's room and Carter was busy driving his trains around on the coffee table. I was cleaning up the lunch dishes and getting ready for our "painting party." The girls were excited about spending the afternoon painting Christmas pictures.
It took a moment for my mind to register the pile of hair atop the paper towel. Grace has been known to scalp a Barbie or two from time to time but no doll in Grace's collection had that much hair. All of the dolls combined would not have had that much hair.
Immediately, the arteries pumping blood to and from my heart froze. As the pressure built in my chest, I mustered the courage to peer at the girls. I must have had a horrible look on my face because Grade shrieked, "Mommy, please don't hurt me," as I moved toward her.