Light: Helping our Children to Shine

"It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…"

The wreaths, holly, pine trees — both real and representational — are everywhere. And, of course, the lights. My street has taken on a whole new, colorful nighttime persona. I love it.

A few months ago, a friend invited me to sit in on a planning session for her church’s Christmas Eve service. The creative team kept revisiting the subject of Light. That conversation stuck with me and shaped how I have thought about Christmas this year.

When the First Christmas Light shone, it came to a dark world. People were oppressed, under a harsh government to which they had to report. A young pregnant woman faced a terrible situation. Her fiancé considered leaving her. She was looked at as “sinful.” Yet together the couple faced a journey that would change not only their lives, but life for all humanity.

A star shone over the place where the Light was born, and people noticed. They came. They stood in awe.

Jesus (yes, I am unapologetically saying the NAME of the one associated with CHRISTmas!) said of himself: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

He also referred to his disciples using that same phrase. He said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine…” (Matthew 5:14).

Whether or not you consider yourself a “disciple,” I hope you will consider the wisdom of these words.

We have the opportunity to be LIGHT to a hurting world. As parents, we get to lead by example and teach our children about reaching out to others.

In this upcoming series, “The Growth Chart” will explore ways to teach kids about sharing wealth (both monetary and through service) with those in need.

I love the story of Mary and Joseph. They are central to the story of Light. It was part of them. They carried the Light with them, Mary in her womb, and both of them in their hearts. Though they faced adversity, they needed to carry the light to its place of destiny.

You may be facing adversity this Christmas. Actually, I am. Yet a week
ago, I had the opportunity to “adopt” a child from Ecuador, and I did it! I can’t tell you how joyous it has made me feel. Emile is, to me, so much more than a face on my refrigerator; I can’t wait to tell you about her, next week! I chose to invest in this little one because I am the light of the world. Can light refuse to shine?

You, too, are light. As are your little ones. Their light has a place of destiny. You can help them to find it.

The light isn’t always fully revealed where or when we think it should be, but we can do our part to help it travel. We have the ability, no matter where we are personally, to get outside of ourselves and carry Light to unexpected places.

Will you journey with me, Dear Patch Reader?

Feel free to get started now. Some organizations (both global and local) we will be “visiting” include: Compassion International (adopt a child), World Vision (give a goat!), Women at Risk International (fight human trafficking by buying jewelry made by those rescued), and local shelters like Refuge of Hope, The Haven of Rest and The City Mission (help local homeless persons). These organizations have excellent financial track records,
ranging from 79-90 % of received income going directly toward helping those in need. All of these organizations display Better Business Bureau or other organizational membership for financial accountability on their websites.

Include your child when you give. Visit the organization in person or online. Let your child be a part of writing the check or giving online. Keep track of ways you have helped others, and put your list in a special box to opened on Christmas morning (Check out the children’s story “The Sparkle Box” by Jill Hardie).  

Just so you know, this is not just a little “Christmas Side-Trip”. We’ll be following this road right into the New Year. The holidays are a popular time for giving (whether it is inspired by the Season itself or the crunch to affect tax deductions, the fact is, most people are more inclined toward charitable giving at year’s end.)

Charity at Christmas time is "well and good" and needed, but when I think of it, I have the same feelings as I do about serving at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving. That’s great, but people come out of the woodwork to serve on holidays. You are needed February 3rd. Or any number of random days throughout the year.

Years ago, a friend said, “It makes no sense to adopt a family at Christmas. If you’re going to do it, invest in their lives throughout the year. Get to know them. Come alongside them until they are able to get by on their own. Then they can adopt someone else…” I followed his advice. The year that followed was challenging, but it impacted me for a lifetime. 

Light is essential. Think for a moment if your home only had electricity for one month out of the year? Or if you could only afford to pay for it at the holidays? How would it be illuminated for the other eleven months?

Where is your light destined to travel? The journey begins with one small step. Light the flame. Carry it forward. Hold your little one’s hand and learn together all that is to be gained from giving.  


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