As fun as it is to get great deals and shop during the Christmas season, that is not what Christmas is about for our family.
It’s about joy. It’s about giving. It’s about Jesus.
So when I had the opportunity to work with World Market on a campaign dedicated to sharing the joy of the season by helping people in need, I was in.
World Market provided me with $15o gift card to buy anything I wanted in their stores to help a local organization. I chose Dismas House in Nashville, which is a home for men released from incarceration that helps address the likely challenges faced by many who are released back into society – housing, employment, support, and hope. They have a beautiful mission and it was so fun to shop from their wish list.
I also reached out to another local organization called Fifty Forward about “adopting” a homebound person in honor of my friend, Sara. I know how hard it was for Sara to make ends meet and buy extras, so we wanted to bless someone in a similar situation. They connected us with a lovely widow in her 80s named Miss Ruth.
With Dismas House and Miss Ruth in mind, I went shopping at World Market.
I was blown away by how much food and household items I could buy for $150 at World Market. I needed TWO CARTS! It was incredible.
I bought pasta, sauce, chips and salsa, snacks (including peanut butter pretzels – yum!), and cookies + a large storage basket, kitchen towels and pillows (which were 50% off- yay!). I also think of World Market for their home goods, but man, their food selection was impressive.
My whole trunk was full!
When I got home, I had to figure out how to transport the donations and I decided to cover paper boxes (you know, the kind that reams of paper come in), in JOY wrapping paper – perfect, huh? As I wrapped, I prayed that the contents would be a blessing.
Yesterday, I helped Matthew fill the trunk, and he delivered the large basket full of pillows + a box of food to Dismas House.
We had planned to go as a family after church, but both kids were fighting colds and needed rest instead. Matthew made the delivery on his way home from church and he said they were so grateful to receive the goods. I pray those gentlemen enjoy all that yummy food and comfy pillows.
While Matthew was away and the kids rested, I baked my favorite baked spinach pasta recipe for our soon-to-be new friend Miss Ruth. I used World Market’s tomato basil sauce and penne pasta noodles in the recipe. In the crock pot, I also got a big pot of chili cooking, too, with plans of taking her two good, home-cooked meals.
As I cooked, I cried thinking about Sara. My heart misses her friendship every day, but I carry her message of choosing joy deep in my soul.
And so, with joy, I cooked and packed, praying for Miss Ruth, that the box and our visit might bring her joy amidst any loneliness she might have.
In Miss Ruth’s joy box, I tucked in caramel corn, peanut butter pretzels, cheddar popcorn, italian breadsticks and new kitchen towels from World Market. (New kitchen towels always make me happy!) I also gave her some fresh bread for with the meals, a new throw blanket from One Kings Lane, DaySpring’s Advent devotional and Ann’s new One Thousand Gifts Devotional.
Sunday night, I called Miss Ruth and said the kids were fighting colds, but she said to bring them anyway – she loved children. We gathered up the two meals and joy box and headed to her home, just a few minutes from our own.
As soon as we pulled up on the gravel driveway, she was at the door with her walker, welcoming us into her cozy duplex. When we got inside to her meticulous home, we saw a collection of angel figurines atop blocks that spelled the word HOPE and a tall bookcase displaying photos of her whole family.
I set the box in the kitchen and together we went through its contents. She hugged me multiple times saying that I was an answer to prayer… that these days she had been so down… and God brought our family into her life.
We read the scripture on the Advent devotional and reflected on God’s grace.
We put the pasta in her half empty refrigerator and left the warm chili on the table, ready for dinner time.
She told us stories about her childhood, kids and grandkids. She also shared how much she loved to read her bible, which was open on the coffee table, as well as other non-fiction Christian books. We said we would bring her some more books.
She wanted a picture of me and the kids, but they were being a bit shy… so she wrapped her arm around just me, bringing me in close.
As we left, we promised to come again. Elias and Adeline hugged her (they had finally warmed up!), and she held them tightly, her love of her children evident.
She said she would go through that box all night and that she was just so thankful. We tried to express that it was us who were thankful for being able to serve her in a small way.
As I walked out the door, she said, “Thank you again. I used to bring people food when I was young, but I can’t anymore. The Lord will bless you. You never know what will happen to you when you are older.”
She is so right. Only the Lord knows what is to come. We just are called to be His hands and feet.
And while we left that joy box in her kitchen, the joy of her came home with us.
I’m so thankful to World Market for enabling us to do a little more this Christmas – and will definitely go there again to purchase food and gifts to give.
I’d love to know what your family does to serve others during the holidays – and throughout the year.
Note: A cool way that you can share the joy this Christmas season is by entering World Market’s Share the Joy Sweepstakes! The Grand Prize package includes: A $5,000 American Express Gift Card for you and $5,000 for a charity of your choice. You could be one of 5 winners (one winner per week). The Share the Joy Sweepstakes ends this week Friday, Dec. 21.