This year has been hard for our family. Starting the year off with invasive cancer surgery and a young child forced into some very adult choices because of health problems will do that to you. We have had to dig deep and sometimes found our reserves lacking. I remember one especially bad day feeling I just couldn’t do it anymore, and offering a silent plea for God to please help me, because I was crumbling. The response I received back was strong and certain, “Help someone today.”
I was neither impressed nor immediately motivated. To be honest, I had always thought that help was best provided from a position of strength. And at that time I had hardly any, so it was easy to rationalize delaying my service. When I decided to finally heed this council, I started small and perhaps begrudgingly. A note here, a smile there. Then slowly adding in a meal, and other small projects I could manage.
And here is the amazing thing. Even though I had to drag myself screaming to overlook the sorrow in my own family and immerse myself in the trials of others, I felt my heart heal. Piece by piece. Bit by bit. God didn’t take our family’s struggles away. Instead we found a way to bring the light back that for so long had felt elusive, because we began to help others. It really was a personal miracle.
This Christmas members of my church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints or Mormons) have been asked to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ by serving others in whatever way we can, and to Light The World as HE did. I knew our family needed to participate, but how?
In my church each of us are given volunteer responsibilities. Mine is to serve as a sort of go-between for service and charitable organizations within my area and the members of our various LDS/Mormon congregations. Over the past several years one of the areas of service that has consistently touched my heart are our local food banks. The need with these organizations is great, and it is a sustained need throughout the entire year. The continued thought of having a bake sale to raise funds for our local food bank kept entering my mind. I couldn’t shake it, and after overcoming my initial doubt that a bake sale could even succeed in this millennium, I answered, “Alright God, if this is what you want me to do, please guide my footsteps.”
I nervously put out a call to friends and family to see if they would be willing to donate baked goods that could be sold in order to raise funds for the food bank. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I kind of expected some might think I had lost my mind.
The response I received was overwhelmingly affirmative. After dozens upon dozens of people unflinchingly volunteered their time and talents, I knew I had better get planning. I also knew I needed help, so I enlisted the planning prowess of my sixteen year old daughter, Samantha. She got to work organizing bakers, photographers, making images, and coordinating supplies and such.
The next hurdle was “where to hold such an event?” I was at a loss, and felt I needed to call a long time family friend to see if he had any ideas. He told me that he knew an amazing Reverend who was, in turn, looking for just such an opportunity! Within 24 hours the Reverend Debra of the Church of The Apostles graciously and warmly welcomed our group of ragtag bakers to hold our event at her church.
She and her congregation helped to make our little bake sale so much more than what I could have imagined. It didn’t matter what specific denomination we were, because we were united in a common goal to do good and help our neighbors and friends in our community. It was absolutely lovely!
On the day before the bake sale I was both humbled and excited that so many people were willing to donate their best baked goods to help feed those who were in need. I had dozens upon dozens of cakes, cookies, treats and cans of food dropped off on my doorstep all day long!
All of these lovely pictures you see here were taken by a fabulously talented young photographer named Heather who donated her time and efforts.
Plus it made my heart happy to see some pretty amazing young people willing to pitch in and help.
Funny story about these sign wavers, but halfway through the bake sale my son texted me that a front loader was coming our way after they had flagged him down with their signs. It was pretty epic when he came rolling in!
So on a cool, crisp morning in December an event that started with a pretty harebrained idea became a conduit for something great. Not because I was great. Far from it. It happened because together we were able to light the world one cookie, cupcake and can of food at a time.
By the end of the day, our efforts had earned close to $600 dollars and 392 pounds of food. The Food Bank was beyond thrilled with our efforts!
As I finish writing this I am both humbled and filled with a supreme gratitude for a loving and merciful God who continually knows how to feed his sheep both spiritually and physically.
“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
I have no idea what this coming year will bring, 2017 brought me to my knees, but because God loves me, He found a way to turn my weakness into strength. And for that I am forever grateful.
To all of my friends and blog readers I want to issue a very special thank you for following me here. Your support is a cherished part of my life. May God bless you and yours this coming year, and may you find joy and peace more often than sorrow, and laughter more often than tears.
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