Walking Alongside our Families this Christmas
Well, it’s that time of year again: the holiday season, ushered in by cooler weather and an increasing number of brightly lit houses. These are some of my favorite times here at Emerald Youth Foundation.
Emerald Youth Christmas Store preparations are being made, too; decorations are pulled out and dusted off, and it’s almost like you can feel the excitement and anticipation. The day of the Emerald Youth Christmas Store has got to be one of busiest and all together most joyful days out of the year for us, because it is a small but shining step in our journey with families.
Discipling a person to maturity in Christ is a lengthy process that is not easily all tied up with a neat little bow, so to speak. It reaches so much further than involving kids in a program, or offering resources to families. Building long-term relationships in the hope of creating and empowering community leaders who are Christ-followers is a year-round, 24/7 kind of thing. But at Christmastime, we have the opportunity to invite our families to participate in this special one-day event that serves to emphasize the daily message of the gospel: through Christ, you are worthy.
The Emerald Youth Christmas Store is designed to lighten the load for our parents who daily pour themselves out to raise and provide for their children and just want Christmas to be a special, worry-free time. It’s for the men and women in our city who are caring for their grandchildren full time, and are figuring out how to do it all over again; how to make sure the children feel loved. It’s for our kids, the children and youth that we get to spend time with every day after school, or out playing sports. It’s the same reason why we do all that we do — we believe in strong families, unity in the Church body and the goodness of God toward His devoted followers.
And for us, it is incredibly worth it just to watch how God chooses to use this day every December in the lives of our families. For one of our families, last Christmas was going to be a tough one. One parent with a major illness, one parent laid off from work and 5 children was adding up to a heavy weight to carry. But the Lord knew, and He saw. As part of our relationship with this family, God used the Christmas Store to provide for them and allow the kids to stay kids for a little while longer. This is the God we serve, a Father who delights in giving good gifts to His children.
You see, at Emerald this Christmas Season, there’s so much more going on than just a wish for peace and goodwill. Our longing to disciple the young people of Knoxville leads us to continue walking side-by-side with our families; to help ease the burden and truly allow Christmas to be a time full of joy. What an incredible gift we’ve been given.