Thursday, December 19, 2013

Caroling, Cookies and Cocoa!

A couple weeks ago, as Jason and I thought about blending our Christmas traditions, I mentioned trying to do something with the neighbors.  Something involving caroling- songs specifically chosen with the gospel message.  Something involving a story- a story specifically picked that mentions Jesus.  Something involving interacting together- specifically involving eating sugar in some form or another.  But also something low-key and non-threatening- since we don't know most of our neighbors!

As the thoughts processed and we prayed, it also became clear that there was an Enemy working against us.  Each time Jason and I would talk about the order of events, or which carols to sing, it seemed like we were never on the same page.  Regardless, we prayed every day leading up to the event and 10 minutes before they arrived.

I'm realizing that indirectly prayer reminds us what is right and true and that no matter what, we are in this together, and the Lord is with us too.

I invited the neighbors in person and they all responded enthusiastically, with only one or two sharing specific conflicts they had with the time.

I think inviting them was perhaps my favorite part of the whole thing…walking to the different homes, introducing myself…I felt, just for a tiny second the same way I felt trekking to different villages in South Asia, introducing myself to people I hadn't met, asking if they might want to hear a Story in their language…..yeah….it was a great feeling!

Still, while people were excited, we weren't sure who would come or what would happen.

I baked lots of cookies - peppermint, chocolate peanut butter and of course sugar cookies for the kids to decorate.

Four o'clock Saturday came and went - no neighbors came.  The dogs watched patiently as I told them, "Any minute now…they might come!"

Finally, somewhere around 4:20, they all came at once!  One-by-one, they came in the door, and kept coming.  By the end of the evening, we had hosted 6 adults, and 6 kids- representing 5 different ethnic groups!  Pretty fun stuff!

We started decorating cookies and enjoyed getting to know our neighbors.  Being in Florida, we did this on our porch in case it got messy - the weather was perfect!

After that, we decided to take the neighbors who came and venture out and sing to our other neighbors.  Jason had printed out song sheets to match the songs I could play on the guitar and we went to the first house.

The kids were excited to sing for each of our neighbors...

We probably sang carols at 7 or so homes on our street.
The responses we got were:
"Thank you - this is wonderful!"
"Is this the first year you are doing this?  I will be ready next year!"
"This made my day, I'm so glad Christmas isn't just about Santa Claus, these carols are so good - this really made my day!"

We came back to the house, and Jason read the "Legend of the Candy Cane" to the kids, which includes talks about the shape and colors of the candy cane.  It talks about how the Candy Cane can remind us of Jesus birth (the "J" for Jesus and the shepard's staff), His death (red stripes to symbolize his blood) and how believing in Him can give new life (the white symbolizes that our sins can be white as snow).

The evening ended and Jason and I were tired, but incredibly thankful for the neighbors that did come and the time we could share with them.

Side note: No one knew it, but my throat was sore- it actually felt like I have knives in it.  Jason and I called various clinics, but none were open.

My throat had been sore for two days, and in spite of lots of over-the-counter medicine, it had gotten dramatically worse on Saturday.  I couldn't talk or swallow without severe pain.

I barely slept that night, so Sunday morning we went to a clinic and got some medicine.  After a day or two it had significantly improved.  I don't know how I was able to manage the neighborhood event except by God's grace!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

that is lovely! what a great first Christmas you are having as a married couple! what a blessing to your neighbors. and guitar too! wow!

i like most the part about inviting the people. it's so neat how you can go anywhere in the world, and be welcoming:-) love, blaky

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