I will never forget the look in her eyes.  Tired.  Hungry.  Frigid.  Lost.  Weary.

The look of despair captured in the eyes of a beautiful woman, probably in her mid 20’s. Found in the line at the homeless shelter in the freezing cold.  She had very little clothing to cover her tiny body.

Her eyes caught mine  – and they locked.

I wondered how she had gotten to this point, to this place.

She was so pretty – so innocent looking – so scared.

I wanted to ask, but I didn’t.

I couldn’t find the right words to speak.

So, instead, I just looked at her with all of compassion that I suddenly wished could be tangible so that she would know that she, too was loved and whispered, “Merry Christmas.”

A Merry Christmas that seemed so weak and so powerless as she waited for the doors of the shelter to open and for warm food to be offered to satisfy the hunger pain.  And as I unlocked my car to retrieve the packages that we had packed for the ladies, I scanned the seats to see if there was anything of value to offer to her.  Anything in my car to shield her from the cold.  Anything to bring her joy.  Instead, all I found was empty candy wrappers from the kids and crumbs from meals that they had recently enjoyed  – and I had yet to vacuum.

It was Christmas Day.  Christmas Evening, to be exact.  And this was not at all the way that I had planned for this whole event to go down.

It was supposed to be done way before now.  With little girls by my side – the ones that had worked so diligently to ensure that every gift package had the same amount of items.  The ones who had giggled and skipped and laughed and loved providing every gift bag with tokens of love, donations from the community.

We had discussed where these items were going and how it would impact these women – and they were so excited to be a part of the giving!  And in my plans, my vision… they were supposed to be here too.  Participating in the delivery – just as they had participated in the packing.

Yet, the plan that I had envisioned and had attempted to orchestrate fell through my fingers at the last minute  The way that it often does with the most optimistic plans.

Altered agendas, holiday schedules, unforgiving traffic and a massive to-do-list was all weaving itself against the plans.  My plans.  Which placed me here – at this exact moment – on Christmas night with packages flooding from my car.

And it could not have been more perfect.

And it could not have been more heart wrenching to look into the desperate eyes of those waiting in the line to find a room, a place to sleep for the night.  Experiencing this on Christmas night simply changes you.

We had prepared gift bags full of socks, deodorant, bath gels, lotions, shampoo and conditioner, toothbrushes and toothpaste, chapstick, candy and so many precious goodies – gifts from the community.

It was the mission of Daughters of Worth to impact those in our community this Christmas season, but what actually happened… this heart was changed.  They were the ones who impacted me.

A precious elderly woman, bundled in a worn coat and tattered ear muffs offered to help me unload my car.  Her smile filled her face as she watched the packages present themselves.  She knew that one of those would belong to her!  The fact that she was balancing her self with her walker and shivering from the cold did not deter her willingness to help, to serve.  She simply wanted her very existence to make a difference.

As I arrived back home to my warm shelter and dinner cooking on the stove, with candles flickering and Christmas lights dazzling, unwrapped gifts that had yet to be put away and dishes still in the sink from meals enjoyed… I simply could not help but to pause and give thanks.

If my plans had worked out the way that I had hoped, I would have missed the miracle of Christmas night.  I would have missed the gift of those who gave up holidays with family to welcome the stranger inside.  I would have missed the smile of the beautiful woman waiting for the doors of safety and love to welcome her in.  I would have missed the eager elderly woman who desired to help.  I would have missed the very ones that that these gifts were given to.

It is the heart, passion, vision, and mission of Daughters of Worth to not only pour into the hearts and lives of the girls that we serve – but to encourage each and every one to use their story, their life, their experiences, their talents to serve others!  It is with deep conviction of heart and renewed passion that Daughters of Worth will seek to truly make a difference in the lives of others – that Hope will be found and Love will be seen!

And it is my prayer that my plans and life will be interrupted as much as possible so that these precious moments will never be missed!