On Christmas Eve we started a new tradition! Or at least we did something that I HOPE the church board will let me make a new tradition!
I felt a pulling on my heart in November to cook Christmas Eve dinner for ANYONE who wanted to join us, and I also wanted to take some of that meal to those who were less fortunate than us. I took the idea to my pastor, who was generous enough to take it to the board for me. Thankfully we received full blessing to use the church facility to cook dinner and throw the doors open to anyone who wanted to join us! I had a great team of helpers and God provided a fabulous feast for us! I think I will even brag a bit and say that in the end we were able to do everything that we did for less than $50.00 spent! (Well as long as we don't count the fire alarm that went off, but that REALLY was not our fault and I am praying that they did not charge the church for that call!!!)
I had my camera that day... but I was so busy I kept forgetting to use it!The few pictures I do have are from when the kids remembered to pick it up and take pictures! So forgive me... but we were BUSY!
We got to the church around 7 am to start cooking everything. We planned to serve at 3, be done by 5 and cleaned up by 6 for candlelight service that night. Ambitious, I know!
I was ESPECIALLY PROUD of the kids. Bri started out at the house with them at 7 am, by 10 am they were ready for the day and at church with us (with NO IN HOME since it was a holiday!) and they did FABULOUS all day! Those kids were at church from 10 am to 730 pm and they never once lost it! I am so happy with them. Bri did a great job of packing a bag of tricks for Nat. Audrey and Josie both left the Diva-tudes at home, and Nathaniel ROCKED it! He even showed Brianna for the first time ever that he could completely cath himself that day! (He has been self cathing for a few months now... when the mood strikes! It has NEVER struck before on Bri's shift!)
We did GREAT at having dinner ready on time!!! There was only one thing that wasn't done, but it all worked out great!
Faline and I, with the help of a brother from church, prepared the base meal, then people could bring what they wanted to add, or bring nothing but themselves! Faline and I prepared 2 20 pound turkeys, a HUGE ham, an equally HUGE pork roast, green salad, dressing galore, green bean casserole, yam casserole, candied carrots, mashed potatoes, bread, lemonade, coffee (or Bruce did, but we took credit!), pumpkin pie, apple crisp, a pecan cranberry pie and of course, pink stuff. Whew.... that was A LOT!
I thought that we had a great turn out for a first time event, and look at those smile... people were enjoying themselves! And these pictures were taken right at the beginning before things got busy again!
I really felt like it was a blessed day with friends and family and a time to come together to celebrate the birth of our savior. It felt so good to use my hands and my passions to bless others.
About half way through the meal we packed up 18 meals to go and I took the girls and our friend Garrett over to the local homeless camp. We had gifts that the kids had packed up (simple things like shampoo, soap, gum, and homemade bread and cookies all packed in gift bags) and the food to share.
I really felt like our time there was a blessed time. There were friends we have come to know over the past many months, people I met when I did my gig at the gas station last spring and people I had never met before. We hung out, the girls played with the other kids, Garrett got his football out and started a game with the guys and I sat around with the women smoking and talking. The air was filled with hope, laughter and joy.
While we were there a officer from the city force stopped by to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and handed stickers out to the homeless children there. At one point he took me aside and thanked me for what we were doing. I was a little speechless.... I was only doing what God put on my heart to do and loving people.. it is what I do everyday, but to this man (who I greatly respect) it was special. I was glad that God touched MANY that day, not just the homeless we were hanging with!
It was hard to pile back into the car and head back to the church, but I knew we had dishes to wash and clean up to do before candle light service started. So we gathered around and prayed for those dear folks, then headed back to clean up. When we got back I was so touched by the number of people pitching in to help. We could have never got through all of those dishes without Phil, Susie and Chris. The other Chris was a blessing lugging load after load out to our cars and the kids even pitched right in!
Then we sat down to Christmas Eve service. It has been MONTHS since we all sat down to service together. Seriously. The last time I had all four kids, Faline and I at service was 4th of July! It greatly touched my heart to have the kids all together worshiping our Lord on the Eve of his birth.
All in all, Christmas Eve was an ABSOLUTELY BLESSED night for us and I hope and pray that we get the opportunity to do it again next year!