Our second Christmas, it was just the two of us for brunch, but we started an additional tradition of Cookies on Christmas. We baked 24 dozen cookies and wrote a bible verse about hope on note cards and placed them along with cookies in Ziploc bags. The plan: to deliver them to our neighbors and to people who had to work on Christmas day. It made a huge difference in the interactions with our neighbors and the people who were working were in complete shock. I think my face hurt from smiling.
This being our first Christmas back in Savannah, we decided to combine the traditions. This year we had two couples along with my mom at our Christmas Brunch. One of the couples were friends we met through the apartment fire earlier this year. Their apartment was one of the ones that was burned and we have kept in touch since then. The other was a couple whom we had never hung out with before. I had met her at a bible study the week before and when they arrived we realized Glenn and been on a men's retreat with her husband. It was such a blessing to have people from different parts of life all converge on Christmas day. There was LOTS of laughter.
Following the brunch, our friends helped write the bible verses on all of the cards for the cookie bags. The verse was Romans 15:13 " May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." I invited my friends to go with me to deliver the cookies around our block. It is amazing what a bag of cookies will do to break the ice and to create conversation. We were welcomed by everyone we encountered. We were invited into one neighbors home in which she gave us each a candy cane. We talked to kids who were outside playing with their new toys. One grandmother saw us and came outside and said, "Now that right there is a blessing." We met a man who was getting on his bike and asked if he could have a hug. We even ventured down the (drug) alley I had dare not walked down until that day and gave a bag to some men in their back yard frying a turkey. They were very nice and very appreciative.
When everyone else left, Glenn, my mom and I went to deliver little stockings to some of our Dream Campaign kids. Someone had blessed us with enough money to buy them each a devotional.
At the second home, we were able to bless a single mom with a large financial gift because an anonymous person had given an envelops of money to someone who asked for it to go to a single mom. This person immediately asked me if I had a mom it could bless. As a matter of fact I did....remember the single mom from this story? We called her out to the car and reminded her that when she commits herself to the Lord, He will provide. This is a moment I will never forget. The Joy. The tears. The relief. The hug. Knowing that she had not been forgotten. The love of a stranger. The card and its contents came with Joshua 1:9 written on it. We framed a picture of her and her kids the first night in their home as a reminder of all that God had done.
As we drove home we passed out a few more bags of cookies to employees at McDonalds, a homeless man on a bench downtown, 2 pedicab guys. Their reactions were all different but all priceless.
We got the best gift that day. The gift of seeing hope in others who thought they may have been forgotten. We continue to receive the gifts of neighbors who now say hello because of Christmas cookies. Witnessing God bringing people together at the House of Dreams and filling it with joy and laughter.