Merry Christmas! How’s your Christmas going?
We’re currently getting ready for a family ski trip. Getting excited! All the preparation has reminded me of the blessings that one couple’s generosity has provided to so many families throughout the years.
Every year, this particular couple spends their time negotiating pricing and seeing to all the details so that other families will be able to go on an affordable ski trip, packed with fun.
It’s become a tradition for us — and one we look forward to during the bleak winter months. It brings light and joy to the darkest days of the year.
Most of the families in attendance on these ski trips couldn’t possibly spend the time and money to make a trip like this happen on their own.
Most of us are there because of one couple’s efforts — and they have nine kids of their own, so it’s not like they’re twiddling their thumbs all day long, either. Their generosity is amazing.
In fact, the husband once told me that he had his own struggles with the bleak winter months and these trips were his way of pushing against the darkness and bringing some light to his family and the families that participate in it. Beautiful, isn’t it?
It got me thinking. How many beautiful moments would never have been, if it weren’t for this one couple’s generosity with the gifts God has given to them? This couple really has a gift for organizing events — and they have blessed many other families by using this gift.
Have you ever heard the word charism? A charism can be defined as a gift of the Holy Spirit, which is given to a person in a specific time in history, so that this person can share this gift with the Church. These gifts are given to strengthen and build up the church and the community.
These gifts are given by God and with them come an excitement and energy to practice them. In other words, if you tap into your charism, you’ll actually find energy to do the work you are being called to do in the world, and you’ll see good things happening as a result of that charism.
It will also not detract from your primary vocation. That’s an important distinction, because clearly some people find themselves doing a lot for the Church, but their family suffers for it — and God wants us to give our best to our family, not the leftovers.
If it’s a charism, it actually energizes and lights a joy in your heart that will spill into the rest of your life and help you to live out your vocation more joyfully. It won’t detract from the rest of your life, it will actually enhance it — while blessing others at the same time.
Sign me up!
It’s a great reason to learn more about charisms and prayerfully consider what gifts God has given to you to build up the community around you.
Sometimes these charisms are not huge, impressive gifts. Often they are little things that make a big difference for others. The way that this couple have used their charism of organization to make these ski weekends happen have most definitely built up the local church in unexpected ways.
Not only do our kids have amazing, hilarious memories of skiing together, but they have also formed friendships with the other kids who go on these trips. They get to witness other families trying to live out this crazy life, and we all get to experience the culture of life in a very real way.
It’s real families living real life and enjoying the heck out of it –as crazy as that life sometimes can be. That alone makes it a worthwhile venture, in my opinion.
These trips have provided some great highlights for our family adventures. They’re like golden nuggets in our family bag of treasures.
Even the times when everything went wrong and hotel bookings were lost, or kids had the stomach bug, or a certain child smacked into a tree and thought they were dying — we laugh about all those moments on a regular basis.
The life-long friendships that have been formed, the memories that have been made, not to mention all the fun everybody has had along the way. All because of two people sharing their gifts and stepping out in generosity.
I can not tell you how encouraging it has been to gather with other families who are trying their best to face the darkness of this world, and bring light to it in their own unique way. Somehow these little interactions have a way of giving us a renewed enthusiasm for the life we’re living. Somehow it renews our hope.
Besides, getting out in God’s beauty brings out a reflection in a soul that just doesn’t happen when you’re stuck inside all day. Yes, skiing involves some risk, but so does being a Christian in this world.
Perhaps that’s why Saints like John Paul II and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati were known to love getting outdoors so much. It is an experience that can slowly change a soul for the better, I think.
Being a Christian isn’t about playing it safe all the time — sometimes it means pushing ourselves off the top of a steep mountain and experiencing the thrill of the mountain meeting us and leading us to the next place we were meant to be.
There are lessons to be learned on the slopes — some good and some bad — and we have learned a lot during our time on them as a family.
Brad and Wendy most likely don’t see all the good that they have done for others all these years. They may not see it, but the rest of us do.
We appreciate it, and we feel inspired to try to do the same for others — and we know that it’s going to look different for us than it does for them.
Mother Angelica, founder of EWTN, said it well. “Let us not be confused by the talents and mission of other Saints. Let us be the kind of Saints we were created to be”. Those are good words to ponder, aren’t they?
Comparison is not the name of the game here. Prayerfully considering our gifts and trying to share them with others might lead us down paths very different than everybody else around us.
It can even be a scary prospect, but that’s part of the joy that comes with such daring. If you’re not willing to risk a little — or maybe even a lot — you haven’t fully embraced what it means to be a Christian. Frankly, you haven’t fully embraced what it means to be a human being if you refuse to step out in faith every once in a while.
Maybe it’s time to consider what gifts God has placed within you. Don’t be afraid to dig deep and discover them. The world is waiting for the kind of Saint you were created to be.
The world needs your particular kind of holiness. The world needs the gifts that only you can bring to it.
Whatever they are, I think God wants us to know that our gifts matter — that they are important for our world and that our particular gifts are desperately needed.
You and I matter. God created us for this time and He has given us the gifts necessary to respond to the greatest needs of our time.
Let’s not be afraid to discover those gifts and share them with others. We all have a part to play. Let’s get crackin’. No time like the present.
Have a great weekend!