I lead a Bible study for the ladies at a shelter in Lynn. During out meeting the week before Thanksgiving, a little seed of hope dropped into my heart. I had been imagining what it would be like to be away from family and the comforts of home on Thanksgiving, and I couldn’t stand the feeling. I kept wishing I could do something to make their Thanksgiving better. I thought there were 24 residents; that wasn’t too many.
As I watered that little seed of hope with prayer, I began to believe that maybe I could come up with two dozen little gifts for the residents. I knew I had no budget, but I did have some little gift bags. Anything is nicer if it’s packaged well.
I knew we had a Thanksgiving dinner at the Ladder House to pay for the following Monday, and I knew we only had $137.91 in the ministry account, and I knew there was absolutely no way I was going to make this happen myself, but that little seed of hope just kept growing. God could make a way!
I really was stumped for gift ideas, especially for things I could make out of thin air, so I did what I often do: I queried my Facebook friends for ideas.
I got some great ideas from folks, but nothing close to a universal response. Time was ticking. On Sunday (Wednesday was my deadline) I learned that there were actually 37 residents, not 24. I won’t lie: panic struck. That was a lot more somethings to come up with, and I still didn’t know what those somethings were!
Well, by Sunday we had received some donations via Paypal to cover the dinner costs. Praise God! But, the real miracle was that Paypal allowed the transfer of funds to our business account instantly. On the weekend! That just doesn’t happen. It normally takes two business days, but there it was in our account. That meant we could pay for dinner on Monday morning, and it meant I had at least part of the $137 for the gift bags.
Then, I received messages from three women friends, pledging funds towards the Thanksgiving gifts. I was NOT expecting that! God PROVIDED 100%, and leftover money is already designated for Christmas gifts for the residents. Stunning!
WHAT WAS COZY?
So, I had a budget. I just needed a gift idea. A cozy gift idea. Well, my Mother always said you should give a gift you would want to receive. So, I asked myself what would be cozy to me, and I knew the answer immediately: a mug of something hot. Tea is my favorite, and it’s easy—all you need to enjoy it is hot water. I had a cozy gift!
Now, I just needed 37 mugs.
I had imagined going to a dollar store and finding all the mugs I needed, but I soon realized that in a residence with 37 people, each mug had to be unique. It wouldn’t do for two people to have the same mug in a house with shared kitchens. Though I had a budget, I wasn’t about to blow it on mugs. My sights were already set on those Christmas gifts. So, I decided each mug needed to cost no more than $1.00. This was going to be just a little bit challenging,
Monday we had the Ladder House Mission dinner to prepare for, but I popped into a discount store and found about 15 mugs. That left me Tuesday to find the rest, and that took the better part of the day. I confess I did end up spend a little over a buck for the final few mugs, but it was getting late—and, I was tired.
When I got home and set out all of the mugs, I had 39. I decided to prepare the extra two as insurance against any breakage that might happen in transit. It didn’t take long for Doug and I to assemble the gifts, and I was happy with the finished product. It looked cheerful—and, cozy—to my eyes. What do you think?
Doug went with me to deliver all the goodies. We also brought a bunch of canned vegetables, paper products, and a sweet potato casserole to add to their Thanksgiving Dinner (one of the ladies coordinated the meal). A few men filed into the room when they saw Doug, so he stayed and we had a co-ed group. It was very nice. And, I was so grateful to know I was leaving little miracles behind when we left. I can’t tell you what it meant to me.
A FINAL MIRACLE
So, I have one last work of God to share. When we got all the mugs into the house, none of them were broken. I asked my liaison at the house to confirm there were 37 residents. I was going to offer the extra two mugs to staff members. Before I could say anything, though, she piped up and said, “Well, it was 37, but two more women showed up last night.” Two more women? I almost cried. Can you believe it? It’s so like God. What kind of love is that, huh?
Oh. folks, will you just stop right now and say a prayer for the men and women at Great Hill? The spiritual need there is extreme. Each week, I hear something else that breaks my heart and leaves me all too aware of my shortcomings as a leader. (Will you pray for me, too?)
If you gave towards these ministry events this month, thank you so much. I wish I could give you a hug, and tell you face-to-face how your contribution made a difference for someone.
God bless you all!