Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Coolest Christmas Present Ever!

Angie here: A genuine joyful smile beamed back at me at the coolest Christmas present ever!

Dustin sits in a wheelchair and speaks a little slower than most folks. He has a tough time remembering names. In fact, he asks me for my name every Sunday. And I give it with a handshake and a smile each time. He's had a major head trauma. He attends our church and has for several years and knows I'm often up front at the altar. But I had this last week off so I sat in the pews near Dustin.

Dustin chatted at me several times during service. Toward the end he asked, "Do you get paid to do your assistant minister job?"

(Here's what I normally do at church.)
Angie performing assistant minister duties. I lead the liturgy, prayers of the people, and assist with communion.

I smiled and said, "No. I volunteer because I love doing it."

He responded, "Oh, that's nice. I wish I had a job at church."

My mind raced to something I thought Dustin would be very, very good at--ushering. He has a knack for getting people to slow down, smile, and share their name. It's just this ability that our church needs to warm up and get to know one another a little better. I thought about it as we finished the last hymn. What if people did slow down and talk to each other as they came in the door? What if Dustin's talent for befriending people could be a gentle gift to the church he loves and to Jesus? That would be the coolest Christmas present ever!

After service I caught our pastor and shared an idea. He looked a little surprised, but jumped at it with enthusiasm too. I ran back into the sanctuary.

"Dustin, how would you like to be an usher?"

His assistant looked a little surprised too. "What would that mean?"

"Dustin would hand out bulletins and greet people as they come in the door. He'd need to be here about 20 minutes before service. Do you think that would work?"

Dustin's entire body showed his excitement. "Yes, I would like that." He said slowly. He couldn't stop grinning and leaned so far forward he almost fell out of his chair. He beamed bright with a genuine smile that showed the highest level of joy I've ever seen.

His attendant confirmed she could help him be here (she drives him each Sunday). "This is going to be great. I wish we'd have thought of this before!"

"Me too. Me too!" I wish I could describe the zing of happiness, the airy lift in my spirit as I watched Dustin talk about his new job. Days later I still smile thinking about Dustin and the joy he expressed.

We all left the church together planning for Dustin to start his new duties as soon as he gets back from Christmas vacation with his family.

I thought I was giving Dustin a gift. He had a simple request to serve in his church. But as I danced out to my car with my own beaming smile, I realized I had been given THE coolest Christmas present ever and it had nothing to do with a wrapped package!

Please share your ideas about giving the gift of pure joy.

PS: I get to share a little more joy during Christmas this year.
I'm giving away two books on Goodreads if you'd like to enter. Just click the link :-)


  1. Absolutely awesome, Angie! Blessings~~~

  2. As a person who works with individuals with disabilities, I so appreciate what you have done! I hope your post inspires others to do the same. Thank you!

  3. Hi Eva, Jackie, and Heather. I'm so glad you could pop in. I think we are going to see blessings we can't even imagine happen with Dustin and I can't wait.

  4. How fantastic! Dustin will love it, and everyone who walks through the door will benefit! :)

    I hope you'll update us, let us know how he's enjoying his new job, Angie.