Thursday, December 27, 2012
I asked my children what they would like us to do as a family to serve others. Jackson, our 10 year old said, "Why don't we go caroling!!" I said, "Great idea!" I started to name off the kind and sweet people and neighbors we could visit, but then my husband suggested 2 of our grouchy neighbors.
Let me give real examples from each of these "grouchy" neighbors:
Grouchy #1: Before we even moved in, she told the painter we had no business living there if we had children. Her son told us never to come by because she's "old and grouchy." I thought I would change her mind and visited her to let her know that we are a "good" family and that she could call us anytime if she needed something. She got so mad that I had come over that she began to shake and said that people shouldn't visit each other.
Grouchy #2: She came over to our house just about a week after we had moved in to tell us that she didn't want our children stepping foot in her yard because they would be a liability for her. We have a backyard of about 2 feet from behind the house, so it's quite difficult to honor her request. We obliged after I told her the request was ridiculous.
Now, Abe wanted to bring cookies and sing to these 2 neighbors too!!
We started on our caroling journey and after several moans and complaints of cold hands and falling socks, I told the kids we needed to have a prayer so that the Spirit would be with us as we shared our Christmas message.
We prayed mid-way in a neighbor's driveway and went directly to grouchy #1's house. Jordan, our 7 yr. old played the guitar to "Away in a Manger", and Tyson, our 9 yr. old played the trumpet to "Joy to the World." No one came to the door, so we started to walk away when suddenly her door opened!! I was the only one left standing there. Nervous, I started singing alone until the rest of my family joined me. Many thoughts were running though my head, "What would she say? Was she mad? Did we wake her? She's cold I'm sure!! She had told us not to visit!"
But, despite my worries, with a smile, she said, "I was just watching 'The Christmas Carol,' and I couldn't believe it that I had real carolers at my door. I have never in my whole life had carolers come to my house." Never in her life had carolers? She has lived at her house for 55 years, and she is much older than that! She spoke humbly, and she was obviously very moved by the experience. Without lingering, we wished her a very Merry Christmas, gave her a plate of cookies and a balloon flower and went on our way.
Shocked that we had been the only carolers of her life, we went on to Grouchy #2's house. We started to sing. She opened her door in her pajamas and looked out in surprise at the 8 of us singing and playing instruments on her doorstep in the dark, cold night. After we finished our songs, she said, in a choked up voice, "I needed that." Again, without lingering, we wished her a very Merry Christmas and went on our way.
What a miracle that these 2 "grouchies" were touched deeper than I ever thought was possible in their "stone cold" hearts. Maybe they aren't so stone-cold after all. Maybe the little things matter. Maybe I should put more faith in continued efforts of simple acts of love. As we continued caroling to the rest of our neighbors, we felt joy knowing we hadn't left the others out.
I am so grateful when God allows us all to be instruments in His hands. It was Jackson's idea to carol, Abe's idea to include the least friendly people on the street, my idea to pray for the Spirit to accompany us, and all the children's willingness to share their vocal and instrumental talents. I thank God for the miracle that unfolded simply because we chose to listen to each other as a family. God is speaking to each of our hearts hoping we will listen so that all of His children may have the opportunity to feel of His love.