The past few months have been life changing for me… Just as I feel there truly isn’t a mortal word to describe the depth and span of God’s love for me, I believe there isn’t a mortal word for the gratitude I’ve felt.
I have a new motto: Do the next right thing. Trying to live my life in this way has brought me SO. MUCH. PEACE. I have been living a peace-starved life for much too long. Doing the next right thing has brought simplicity, serenity, and service into my life. More than anything -and this is surprising to me -it’s brought an acute awareness of JUST HOW MUCH GOD LOVES ME. In turn, this has brought an acute awareness of just how much He loves everyone. I see people differently. I spend less time objectifying people (cashier, parts delivery person, shopper, student…) and more time actually SEEING them: children of God, just like me.
This isn’t to say I do this perfectly. I don’t. Because doing the next right thing entails letting go of things I can’t handle or manage (other people, the future…) there are some days I FREAK OUT and try to manage and handle ALL OF THE THINGS, and I do. On those days, I don’t have peace or serenity, and I generally end up sleeping it off and trying again the next day.
It’s definitely a worthwhile process, but a painful one at that.
When Lacy came to me with an idea to give money to a sick child, I could feel it was The Next Right Thing. The pieces fell so naturally and seamlessly into place, completely VOID of the stress and pressure that comes with projects I CONTROL and MANAGE. God was in control of Operation Christmas Child Box.
As we went out shopping, we came across a donation canister that actually started the inspiration for Lacy’s project. I had the kids stand next to it so I could take a picture. Lacy was all about it. Trenton didn’t even make it into the frame, and then he went to pick his nose, and then he DID it. I caught it all, and I’m sharing it because when he’s 16, he needs to know that he picked his nose in public.
From the onset of Lacy’s inspiration to give Christmas to a family with a sick child, the project fell exactly into place. The money that God needed raised was raised. The family that God needed found was found, and I sat on the sidelines completely in AWE. What a miracle, what a LOUD manifestation of God’s love for EACH of His children!
Benny’s story isn’t the kind that makes all the front pages. It won’t show up on your news feed -he’s one of us: working each day to make it to the next day. His parents are trying to balance the worry of having a sick child with parenting and paying regular AND hospital bills. Their story isn’t broadcast anywhere.
BUT GOD KNOWS THEM.
Knowing that God is no respector of persons is peace-giving. God doesn’t care if you’re a celebrity or a politician or a mechanic or an accountant or black or white or orange (there’s an article about how we are all orange circulating). HE KNOWS about YOU.
I believe that Lacy and Benny came together to show THE REST OF US something God wants us to know, maybe more than He wants Benny to have dinosaur toys for Christmas…
I KNOW YOU NAME.
I KNOW YOUR PAIN.
I KNOW YOU.
I LOVE YOU.
I SEE YOU.
Benny’s mom had no idea when she met us who we were or what had gone on for a few weeks… she didn’t know we had been praying for Benny and his family.
We were set to meet his family at an event put together by a giving organization called HopeKids. Benny was coming to a movie theater with his mom and two brothers, and we arrived before them.
Here’s Lacy with Lisa and Bridget -two of the directors of HopeKids in the Phoenix area:
As we prepared to meet Benny, my emotions were really starting to get the better of me. When that happens, I don’t have the luxury of being a sweet, tender crying lady. I’m the lady who is frequently asked if there’s been a death in the family when they see me in tears.
I just FEEL stuff, okay guys?
Benny’s mom was led to us, with her baby in a sling, a toddler holding her hand, and a small child running at her feet.
“What organization are you with?” She asked, looking at us, confused at what she’d just been told: that little Lacy had money set aside just for them.
I made sure the cash wad was transferred safely to a bank bag…
As Benny’s mom tried to wrap her mind around what was happening, I began ugly crying and asked my husband to please take over trying to explain to her what was going on, which was:
Lacy was given Secret Santa gifts in a big box.
Lacy wanted to take that same box and fill it full of gifts to give someone ELSE.
She knew there were sick kids, and she wanted to give it to them.
She made a donation box.
She collected donations.
She prayed about WHO to give her donations to.
With the help of friends, family, and a few non-profits, she was given a few names of sick children in need.
She prayed again.
She picked Benny.
We left Benny’s mom to go shopping, and we spent all afternoon loading our cart the likes of which would have made SANTA proud.
We let Lacy have the reigns with this project… riiiiiight up until we went shopping because a 7 year old with a thousand dollars is a force to be reckoned with. We helped guide her heart away from the gigantic piles of gigantic fake jeweled necklaces and more toward the board books.
We all wore red -worked as a little festive holiday team.
Stopping for the occasional loose-tooth battle:
As the day wound down, we drove ourselves back to a family party where our cousins joined us in their RED-ness. They formed the sweetest little Nativity and tied a gorgeous bow on the spirit of the miraculous day:
The next day, we turned Danny’s sister’s living room into WRAPPING CENTRAL! The kids ripped and wrapped and loved every minute of it…
Sunday night, we went to the Mesa Temple lights as a family:
And then we met up with Benny’s family once again to make the drop off! It is a memory I will NEVER forget, no never.
Benny’s family presented Lacy with a necklace she won’t take off, and we left with our hearts completely FILLED. We gathered in our car and said a prayer of gratitude, asking God to help us NEVER forget the feeling in our hearts at that very moment.
It truly, TRULY felt like Christmas.
Did we start a new tradition? Maybe. But maybe the new tradition is a simple, daily decision to just…
DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING.
God will let us know what that is.
When I met up with Benny’s mom a second time, she confessed that her family had been praying for help -praying for God to make himself known. Then I shared my side of the coin: how for the FIRST time in my life, I’d heard in my heart the prayer of a family in need, the prayer of a family with a sick child. Although their prayer was a quiet one on their side, it was LOUD in Heaven, and I HEARD IT. God let me hear it. I had heard the prayers of Benny’s parents.
God knows you personally, and He is THERE, ALIVE, and AT WORK. Let Him.
As the remnants of a meteor shower fell all around us while we drove back to Northern Arizona that night, I was wrapped in the Savior’s loving arms… the words, “All is calm, all is bright” filled my soul, knowing that Heavenly Peace had just come to life in my own life.
I’m sharing Benny’s mother’s words of her own experience, and that will conclude this post: my Christmas greeting to you.
Three weeks ago Lionel and I got on our knees and prayed for a miracle. We asked God for help emotionally and financially. The next day God answered our prayers through our family that gathered money and groceries that we desperately needed. And within the next few days we were given a washer and dryer, which couldn’t have come at a better time! Little did we know that the night we prayed for help God picked a little girl to answer our prayers. Three weeks ago God touched her heart and gave her a desire to help a sick child in need. She didn’t know her angel would be Benny and we didn’t know our angel would be Lacy. God knew. Lacy is a 7 year old girl who was able to raise over $1,000 in just two weeks! She prayed and asked God to send the perfect fit for her project. She chose Benny Boots and our family to help. We were able to meet Lacy and her amazing family with the help of HopeKids. We cannot thank Lacy and her family enough for their incredible gift. God bless you and Merry Christmas!!