Happy Sunday! Helping ourselves to an extra frappuccino combining our love of Starbucks and coffee. Love this a-latte. (Brother Rex and Brother Bobby are smiling somewhere.)
‘Tis the season when there’s a lot going on, and we’re here focusing on things that are really important and meaningful.
Share this with a friend who understands the season of giving means so much more than unwrapping a new pair of boots.
Open House Takes On a Whole New Christmas Meaning
It’s about creating special moments for children and gathering family and friends around a night of food, fun, and fellowshipping. Maybe it helps make the holiday brighter for someone. Maybe that’s the only gift they will get, or the best meal they will have, or the happiest evening they will spend with people.
You never know what needs are being met and who is being helped during times like this night.
People go through a lot of hurrying and meaningless motions to get through this season, and on this night, Elder LaFleur and Sister Jean wanted everyone to have a sense of belonging and be taken care of. They started Open House 45 years ago in their home and it quickly became a tradition. No one loved Open House more than Elder LaFleur—spreading joy, happiness, and especially wanting the kids to have a fun night.
But at the Heart of Open House . . .
. . . you’ll find Sister Jean. From the time it was in her home, through the years watching it grow, she enjoyed every minute preparing and counted it a pleasure shopping all year for gifts for everyone (no, she would not want this credit). She has always been extremely thankful for her team of angels (she calls them) who help her every year.
It Takes Place in Three Hours, but Reveals a Lifetime of Love
Open House was another expression of love that Elder and Sister Jean started because they wanted to give back to the congregation and make it a happy evening for children, young people, and every person who came by. They could never be thankful enough for what God had done for them, and Elder believed in keeping your hand open—to receive and give. They kept the fluidity in giving. God blessed them; they blessed others.
I’d Rather Be a Doorman at The Plaza than Owner of a Motel in Rural Town.
God’s house is not built with materialist riches, yet it is the wealthiest place on earth.During the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, God was extravagantly generous—as He is today giving us so much: the truth, the gospel message, a ministry working around the clock to make sure the flock is taken care of and well-fed, a loving community of people to serve God alongside who (aren’t perfect) but are there for each other, and ALL the answered prayers. God doesn’t scrimp with His travel companion on this journey. He pours out blessings in astonishing ways withholding no good thing from those who walk uprightly.
A Young Girl Who Fell Hard in Love with Jesus
As a little girl, Sister Jean had a heart desiring Jesus. Her pilgrimage has been a generous journey, and her generosity has greatly honored God and this church. She has been generous with her words, kindness, time, money, and empathy. Empathy may be the toughest. It requires setting judgement aside. It’s considering for a moment what it must be like to be in another person’s situation or going through what they are going through. It requires saying, ‘but for the grace of God, I could be in the same place’ and considering how we would fare if in another’s shoes and how appreciative we’d be for help, kindness, and prayers.
Sister Jean has spent her whole life serving Him, feeling empathy toward others’ difficulties, responding with compassion, and being there to help people who needed her in any way she could.
Don’t Be a Polite Clapper
Brother Nobles teaches us the importance of staying thankful and not getting stuck going through the motions of serving God. Let’s keep our thankfulness for where God has brought us and our excitement about what He is doing for us now and never become polite clappers, but rather clap with meaning and feeling.
The Present is not the Gift
Sister Jean truly enjoys picking out gifts for everyone. She knows some sisters who like getting a blanket and brothers who love selecting a travel coffee mug. She consults with parents to see what young children are into and what gift they would be excited to pick. She knows young people like a gift card that will treat them to a Starbucks coffee or a sandwich during a school day.
Shopping for Open House gifts has been her tradition that she starts in January getting sales for the next year. Her desire is for everyone to leave with a little something special—not just something that was thrown onto a table with no thought. It is important to her because YOU are important to her.
A Christmas Memory
When you choose a gift, you’re holding in your hands a Christmas memory of Sister Jean’s thoughtfulness, her love for you, her spirit of generosity, and her smile when she found that particular gift and imagined someone being happy to get it.
Once you understand how the Open House gifts came to be, maybe when you leave the gift table, you will feel more than a polite thank you for the item in your hand.
Maybe you will see a woman who has spent her life serving God and His people and feel a deeper gratitude for the real present you’re holding—the heart of gold that was at the core of that gift.