Playdates with God: Image-bearers

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The night before last, I had a dream that I had Alzheimer’s Disease. I was in a strange town, had parked my minivan along the street somewhere, and couldn’t remember where I’d left it. Nothing looked familiar and IT WAS TERRIFYING.

Last night, Jeff and I went to Mountain Stage to see one of our new favorite singer/songwriters—it’s one of the best playdates, seeing live music—and Mountain Stage always introduces us to amazing new artists (AWE-MAZING!), anyway, on the way home, I was telling him about my dream.

“For that little bit of time,” I said, “I knew what it felt like to have dementia. When I awakened, I had so much compassion for anyone dealing with that illness. I was terribly frightened.”

Ever since, I can’t stop thinking about it. This train of thought leads me to try to inhabit the many sorrows people deal with every day. Sometimes, the holiday season must feel like just another day to get through. The world is a broken place. We can still see the beauty through God’s common grace, but being human means living with frailty.

This time of year, we all get bombarded by charities. From the bellringers at the grocery store to the woman standing at the intersection with a sign, everywhere I turn there is a hand out. It would be easy to let my heart turn to stone and look the other way. But I hope I never do. We are the only creatures formed in God’s image. Yet many times I fail to see the holiness in the faces I meet every day. Here are some of our favorite organizations that remind me to open my eyes and see anew.

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World Vision

We’ve been sponsoring three children through this organization for many years now. I’m amazed at all the good work they do. One of our favorite gifts is to give something from their gift catalog in the name of a special friend.

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Family Health Ministries

This is the organization I went to Haiti with last summer. I witnessed first hand the many ways they are changing the lives of the people they serve.

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Read Aloud West Virginia

One of my passions. Helping children fall in love with reading will change the future of the world.

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College Summit

I believe education is one of the keys to helping many of the problems our world faces. College Summit is dedicated to helping make sure every child has an opportunity for higher education.

Some other organizations I haven’t worked with but read wonderful things about:

Help One Now
Mercy House Kenya
Compassion International
Pure Charity

And one more we may add to our giving list this year:

Alzheimer’s Association

What are some of your favorite ways to give back?

I’m going to take a break from the Playdates linkup for the remaining Mondays in December. Have a wonderful Advent Season, beloveds. You are all gifts to me. I’ll see you back here in January.

Every Monday I share one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find God and know joy. Click on the button below to add your link. I try to visit a few of your stories every week, so if you are a new visitor, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can welcome you. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us.

Laura Boggess

Last Minute Gift Ideas

Is it just me, or does Christmas come earlier every year? Some of you have been done with your Christmas shopping since Halloween, but others, like me, are still scrambling to find that special gift to let the people you love the most know just how much they mean to you.

To me, the amazing gift of Christmas morning—that frenzy of excitement and expectation—mirrors our wait for Christ’s return. But the giving of the gifts is one way we let our loved ones know that we see them, that we care about what makes their heart beat faster. It’s a picture of God’s love for us. Besides, it’s fun!

So, today I’m sharing some of my favorite gifts.

  •  I love to give gifts from my kitchen for Christmas. All that hard work of canning this summer really pays off when I give my             friends the gift of homemade salsa, apple butter, or pickles (you’ll find recipes in the links). And if you are not a canner, why not whip up a fresh batch just to give as gifts? Your local supermarket always has the ingredients you will need. Your friends will taste the love you put into your recipes. What better way to say, “I treasure you”?

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  • The first time I went to Laity Lodge, I fell in love with the coffee Tim served us. Imagine how elated I was when I learned I could mail order Taste of San Antonio and enjoy that special blend right here in West Virginia. Now? Taste of San An is our house blend. I am spoiled for any other coffee. You can be spoiled to, or spoil the coffee lover in your life with the HEB coffee club. You’re welcome.
  • What do you get for the grandparent who has everything? Check out this tutorial on how to make silhouettes. A few years ago, I made these for my mother-in-law of all of her grandchildren. I’ve even done this for a friend with his dogs. He loved it. It truly is a special, custom-made gift.
  • Books. Well, yes, of course, I highly recommend Playdates with God: Having a Childlike Faith in a Grown-up World. But giving any book on Christmas is a beautiful thing. (Did you know Amazon is offering free shipping on orders placed through Friday, December 19, to ensure delivery by Christmas Eve?) Do you sign the books you give? Write a special message to the recipient? You must do so—the message will be treasured as much as the book in the years to come.

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  • What’s your favorite charity? Christmas is a good time to give a donation in honor of one of your loved ones. Every year, my boys shop in the World Vision gift catalog and make a donation in honor of their youth leader and our pastors. It’s a good thing to do.
  • Finally, give a wish. Jeff and I stopped buying each other gifts years ago. One of our love languages is gift-giving, so we are always giving to one another. When Christmas giving started to feel stressful, we decided to rescue the magic. Now, every year, we grant each other a special wish. My favorite memory is the year I wished he would dance with me (we rarely do that anymore). On Christmas morning, when I was least expecting it, he put on the song we danced our wedding dance to and we did. We danced. Amidst wrapping paper and boxes and all that tinsel. It was  a beautiful thing. So, be creative and have fun with it. It’s one of my favorite things.