What a wonderful weekend...I'm sad to see it end. Although physically tired, I feel spiritually renewed. This weekend I had two opportunities to serve others.

Saturday morning my parents and I volunteered with Operation Gratitude, an organization that sends care packages to the individuals fighting for our freedom overseas. We packaged 4,000+ boxes full of food, toothbrushes, toys, cards, scarves, letters, books, and more, for them to receive on Christmas. I had the opportunity to work next to a mother with three children overseas who told me that her children prefer the Operation Gratitude care packages over anything their family and friends send them because those are the people they are fighting for.

On Sunday afternoon, 50 sack lunches were made and taken to Bridge to Home, a local homeless shelter. With help from family and friends to get all these items together, we were able to provide the whole shelter with lunches for Monday. Dropping off the items broke my heart. I had never experienced something like what I saw in the ten minutes at the homeless shelter. Because they are at full capacity, there were people sitting outside of the shelter waiting in 40 degree weather for someone to leave so they could go inside. A young man, probably my age, was handed a disposable razor and shaving cream for his shower...something I don't think twice about needing in my daily life, simply because it has always been there. Many people were huddled around a small TV, watching a movie and trying to stay warm.

I too often take for granted this life the Lord has blessed me with. I have never had to worry about where I would sleep at night, where my next meal would come from, and when my next shower would be. Even when I had $0.36 in my bank account for a couple days my junior year of college, I still had a roof over my head, a warm shower, and a full belly.

Because God has blessed each of us, we must serve others in His name. Our money and time are not OURS. They are given to us by the Lord. All these things we have-- luxury cars, the latest Jordans, and big screen tvs-- will mean nothing in the after life. Our deeds, however, will.

"But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:17-18

I encourage each of you to look outside your bubble. Look around your community at those in need and do your best effort to make a change in their lives. Don't just do it around the holiday season either! Bring this joy to others year round.

"We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19
And with that...we serve because he first served us.

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