I hold a tiny detail from the Christmas story close to my heart. It'ss a detail not usually focused on. And I don't think I've ever heard a sermon on it.

Why?

Because it's ordinary. We don't think it's important.

But God does.

The detail I'm referring to is caregiving. Mary was to birth the Savior, feed Him, nurse Him at her breast and see Him grow into a man. She was to do whatever was necessary to ensure His survival.

Caregiving is God's work.

It could be the one of the most important ministries there is if ministries were rated.

God is in it. There is no doubt.

God is right there when you spoon-feed your spouse.

God is right there ministering through you to your parent when you get her ready for the day.

God is right there loving your child through you when you sit up with him all night because he's sick, or when you change his diaper for what feels like the millionth time.

God's not into numbers or showy ministry. God's into people, one-by-one. Jesus, the Son of God, the King of Kings had only 12 disciples when He walked on the earth. When He ministered to people it was one person at a time. He didn't heal thousands at once or raise all the corpses in the cemetery back to life. He's into the relationship, touching a life, changing a life, seeing that life through to the end.

There's a flip side to this ministry many don't consider. It is the ministry of the one being cared for. We can care for our family members out of obligation and duty. If we care for them this way we will be applauded by outsiders, but we then refuse to allow our family members to minister to us. We are taking away their opportunity to change our lives.

When the shepherds visited the Holy Family on the night of the Child's birth it changed Mary. It ministered to her.

St. Luke writes, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

Remember she had been through a very rough nine months. It wasn't rejoiced over as it would have been if it had been a typical pregnancy. Very likely she was treated like an outsider by those who used to embrace her. But when she held her newborn baby all of that melted away. Because she loved Him, the shepherds' visit meant even more. Wow. The things she felt that night – I can't imagine!

We caregivers must open our hearts to those we care for. To care for someone with a closed heart will only cause resentment and anger to fester.

Maybe the caregiver role you are in was thrust upon you. Maybe it wasn't your choice.

Know this: it is no accident you are in this role. God chose it for you to make you more like Himself, to make you into that incredible person He created you to be.

I'm typing this column on my laptop as I sit in my son's bed with him. His bed has metal rails along the sides so he can't fall out. He made it clear through noises that he wanted me to write my column sitting beside him.

He's content now.

I am too.

Being a caregiver is an all-consuming job. There are no breaks and no monetary pay. But it's God's work. And if done in love it makes life sweeter.

Make this Christmas sweet. Love on your family.

Please check out Jane's blog on her website http://JaneHinrichs.weebly.com.

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