And a little child will lead them

December 25, 2012

Sometimes I’m a slow learner. With all the hats I wear I have a hard time slowing down. This Christmas season we decided to do Advent Acts of Kindness, each day picking something kind to do for someone else.

When Julie first brought this idea up in early November, I’ll admit I wasn’t exactly thrilled.

Really, Julie? I thought. Christmas is already a busy season; you want me to add one more thing to do?

But she promised it would be fun and sent us links for great ideas of things others had done. And I’ll admit after browsing through websites and blogs and seeing pictures of all the random acts of kindness that others were doing, I was sold.

We each picked out a list of things to do during the month, and I decided to bring my children in on the fun, getting their input on what they’d like to do. The little ones wanted to bring cookies to the neighbors and buy toys for kids who didn't have any.

Donnie thought for a bit and then said, “I want to do something for a homeless person.”

“Like what?” I asked.

“I’m not sure.”

“Ok, I’ll add it to the list and we’ll see what happens.”

This fall, Kyle and I have been challenged to consider all that we consume, purchase, use up and waste. And it has trickled down to our children. Everything from fasting once a month for another country where people are hungry, going without and allowing our children in on the experience; to buying Christmas presents for Jesus like a goat for a family needing food and milk; to purchasing Christmas presents for kids without and only buying our own children just two presents each (instead of the usual 5 to 7). We are slowly shifting our perspective.

And this has not failed to touch our children. Just the other night, as I wrapped and brought down to place under the tree one of the children’s two presents, I said to Abram (our three-year-old):

“Abe, come see your present, buddy!”

“This is another present for kids who don’t have any,” he states.

“No buddy, this one is yours. This is for you.”
Again he says, “Yeah, for the kids who don’t have any toys mom, I know. And then we buy them food, because a lot of people don’t have food, mom. So we give them food, too.”

“That’s right bud, we do.”

Maybe they do understand. He wasn’t even concerned, or terribly excited, to be receiving a gift. All he could think of were the children who didn’t have anything. Maybe they get it better than me. Like I said, sometimes I’m a slow learner.

Now fast-forward a bit. The Saturday before Christmas has arrived; our family’s last day to do an Advent Act of Kindness and with everything we’ve accomplished this month, we still have not been able to help a homeless person. So that morning we decide to pray.

“God,” Donnie says, “Help us find a homeless person today that we can help. And help us know what to do.”

It’s a simple prayer, spoken with great faith, by my eleven-year-old son. And I immediately think, God please answer his prayer! It’s so cold today, I don’t know if anyone will be outside. But Donnie believes you’ll do this today!

Oh me of little faith. That afternoon, after finishing up a few errands, we were on our way home when we see him. Standing on a corner, shuffling foot to foot to keep warm against the wind, sign in hand “homeless: please help.”

“Donnie, there’s a homeless man,” I state. “What should we do?”

After discussing what it must be like to stand out in the cold and what someone’s basic needs for the day might be, we decided on a hot cup of coffee, food and a gift card. Donnie and I purchase the items at a coffee shop close by and head over to a parking lot near the corner where we first saw the homeless man.

“What if he’s not there anymore?” Donnie asks nervously.

“We’ll just have to see,” I tell him.

We come to the intersection, and realize that he's still standing in the same area.

“Oh, good, he’s still there,” Donnie says, relieved.

We park in a bank parking lot close to the corner we first saw the man and get out, walking over snow banks to the man. He greets us warmly from a distance.

“Hello!” he calls.

“Hello, sir!” I reply. “We thought you could use a hot cup of coffee on such a cold day!”

“I do, thank you so much,” he says.

We talk for a few minutes, exchanging names and little niceties.

“Who’s your favorite team?” he asks Donnie.

“The Vikings,” Donnie shyly replies.

“Oh, they’re a good team!”

We speak for a few minutes more. As we get ready to leave I say, “Sir, do you have a warm place to sleep tonight?”

“Yes,” he replies. “There should be a bed for me at the Salvation Army.”

“Ok,” I respond. “Merry Christmas, sir.”

“Merry Christmas and God bless you.”

“God Bless you too.”

As we walk back to our car Donnie has a smile on his face and after a few moments states, “God answered our prayer.”

And all I can think: He certainly did, buddy.

And as we have now finished our Advent Acts for this Christmas season I look back and think: more than blessing others or doing good, more than hearing people commend our efforts, I am struck by how my heart grows softer with each action. It’s as though by lending a hand, offering a soft word or sacrificing some of our wants, I am changed. The last few acts we did left me in tears. But not tears of despair. Tears of joy. Of renewal. Of faith. Tears that remind me once again that God came for the least of these. Including me. Including you.

"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is Christ the Lord.'" - Luke 2:10-11


  1. I love this! It touches me in so many ways! Thanks for sharing :)