This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What's the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?" (Author: Holly Root)
Sooo... The date on this post says "December 30, 2010" but I'm really doing some catch up posts and am typing this on January 2, 2011. I tell you this because the gift I'm going to speak of started on Sunday, January 3, 2010 and continued today.
Over the last couple of years, there have been times when I've wondered what my life is supposed to be about. If I end up not having my own kids, what is the point of my life? How will I contribute to the world, make the world a better place, leave a legacy? We all ask these questions... But I think many can answer with, "I raised good kids. They're good people. They'll do good things and make the world better."
But if you don't have kids... What's that leave you with?
Last January, I was going to be home for the first Sunday of January. At our church, our pastor does a "Blessing Service" on this day. We start the New Year knowing we are prayed over and blessed. Since last year was the first one I was going to be present for, my pastor invited me to help doing the blessings.
The way it works, is people come forward and serve themselves communion, then walk to Pastor Penny, Reverend Terry, or myself. They hand us a card with their names and any prayer requests they have (the names are more for visitors or in case we get flustered - for the most part, our congregation is small enough, that we know everyone's names). Then, the pastors or I get to hug, hold hands, and pray a blessing on each person individually.
It's SUCH a beautiful way to start the year. And it's SUCH a gift to be asked to be part of it.
I realized last year, as I blessed people one by one, that I was trusted and loved - and that's why some people chose me as the person to bless them. And as the year went on, many of those same people have continued to let me in on their struggles - to continue listening, blessing, and loving them through the tough times. This congregation has allowed me to do things in ministry I never thought I would do. They let me lead them to new opportunities, they believe in me and my crazy ideas, they love me through tough times, and they walk with me in faith.
As I prayed with and blessed friends and strangers today, listening to the struggles of their lives (whether it be a job loss, parenting struggles, family drug abuse, caring for parents with alzheimers, the loss of loved ones, or simply looking for guidance), tears came to my eyes when they hugged me back, squeezed my hand, and told me I was a blessing to them, too... That is a gift that can never be forgotten.
Knowing that God can use me in ways I never imagined. Knowing that I will have a legacy, I will make a difference in the world - even if it is one person and one moment at a time.
Today was a gift. A gift that I hope I get to replay every first Sunday in January for a very long time...
Things I am thankful for today:
1. God's presence in my life.
2. Not knowing how and when God will use me - the surprise is half the fun!
3. The honor of praying with and blessing others.
4. The wonderful blessings that were prayed on me by Kate, Penny, Terry, and Dawn.
5. Excitement over the book group selection for January! (I have to order more books!)
6. A memorial service for Linda B. today - such fun listening to stories about her life.
7. Mark telling me his plan for his $5 challenge - so fun!
8. A 2 hour nap. Boy did I need that!
9. Looking forward to seeing Em, Elly, and Sam tomorrow.
10. Ken's 85th birthday! Amazing!
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