What if we showed up for life?

Dan and I thought up a brilliant idea. 

During this COVID holiday season—since we won’t be gathering with our kids and grands—what if we did at least one act of service or giving on each of the 25 days leading up to Christmas? 


What could that look like?

For us, it looks like arranging to pick up a truckload of firewood from a local woodlot ministry and delivering it to a single mom.


Photo by Arno Senoner on Unsplash

Purchasing Christmas stocking gifts for the residents at Shepherd’s House women’s center—socks, books, chocolates, small stuffed animals.


Photo by Arthur Brognoli on Unsplash

Delivering homemade banana bread to a single male friend who is challenged with mobility.

Setting up the shower truck at the newly-opened winter emergency shelter.

Baking treats for the carpenters framing our new addition in the below-freezing weather (some might call it bribery).


Delivering Christmas wreaths to lovely widows—some of them facing their first holiday season without a husband.

Dropping off coffee shop gift cards for cancer center staff at the hospital.


This thought from Kristi McLelland:

Hold your space. Show up for your own life – whole-hearted, fully present, all in.

There are people whose professions call for “whole-hearted, fully present” living during this chaotic season: 

Medical professionals and first responders. Teachers. Social workers. Ministers, priests, and rabbis. Those of you transporting goods and stocking shelves and working cash registers so the rest of us have access to the essentials. You who are sacrificing to work with the homeless, the displaced, the marginalized, the mentally ill. 

You are already showing up whole-heartedly for life in your work and volunteerism.

For the rest of us ordinary, non-hero types who want to sprinkle love and make a difference and make some joy during a challenging time, there’s the gift of being creative and kind—a gift we give to ourselves as well as to others.

What if?

There’s a familiar verse from John 3:16 that reads:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

What if we could be proactive in looking for opportunities to give of ourselves during this giving season when the greatest gift of all was God sending his only Son to show up on earth to reconnect us with our Creator?

What if we could put together craft kits for a home-schooling family? Knit scarves or hats for the homeless? Mail a hand-written note to encourage someone who’s lonely, ill, or carries a broken heart?


Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

Our “25 Days of Christmas” scheme is keeping Dan and me engaged and proactive during this family holiday interlude … in which we won’t be celebrating with family.

Not surprisingly, this new tradition has generated much joy. And exhilarating fun.

Side note

When I say something like, “Dan and I thought up a brilliant idea,” it usually means I have the creative part covered and he brings the logic to the game by letting me know where it could go sideways. Together we tweak the brilliant idea … and then move forward.

See how that works?


9 great ways to support a grieving friend during the holidays


Is joy a choice?


  1. Allison McCormick

    Marlys, what a wonderful way to celebrate the season – God’s hands and feet. Enjoy this special time together and thank you both for ALL you do.

  2. Chris Youngblood

    What a great way to spend the holidays when not being able to be with your families. God has a special place for both of you!
    I got my Christmas present early today with God’s blessing. Both Dr. Miriovsky and I would have hugged if we’d been allowed. End of October, a mole biopsy came back as an aggressive Nodular Melanoma on top of my head. After a month of tests, doctor appointments, etc., the surgeon removed a fair amount of my scalp and three lymph nodes on the 30th of November. Heather and Addi came over to help – when she saw me the day after surgery without the bandages, she didn’t think I looked any different. I turned around, not thinking, and she gasped when she saw the back of my head. Wearing a hat when I’m out and about is my new accessory. I’m the third family member that Dr. Miriovsky is or has treated for cancer. Mine is the best outcome for all of us. We got the results: all lymph nodes were free of cancer, and all margins were clear. The hole is only about 3 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch deep in the area, fitting the palm of my hand. A year after Barry passed away, my mom was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and at 94 years old, she started chemotherapy a year ago. She made it past her 95th birthday and looking towards her 96th. She’s currently receiving immunotherapy treatments. Her goal was to be able to stay in her own house by herself. So far, so good! We’ve been truly blessed.

    • Oh, Chris. That’s too much cancer for one family. (Actually one diagnosis is too much.) Your mom is amazing, and so are you. Wishing you all the best this challenging, awkward, but holy season.

  3. Nancy Darst

    Marlys, you two are such an inspiration! Thanks for sharing your wonderful thoughts and ideas. Blessings to you and Dan ❤

    • Thank you, Nancy, for your kind words. That was our intent: not to highlight what we’re doing, but to hopefully inspire some shenanigans out there amongst all who are able to be mischievous!

  4. Barbara

    Well Marlys and Dan, I’d say you fall into the HERO type, as a grateful recipient of one of those beautiful wreaths. You warmed my heart with your love. My front door is beautiful! THANK YOU. ???? Beyond that I so appreciate your thoughtfulness of calling and telling me you are “making a Costco run and asking if I need anything. You are certainly HERO types!

  5. Hidie Baker

    You are an inspiration to all of us. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    P.S. I’ll miss the coffee shop gift cards, being here at home, darn.

  6. Your posts are always full of great ideas. Thank you for sharing. God has given you a wonderful hubby. It’s easy to see your hearts move in the same “blessing others” direction. Merry Christmas

    • Maxine – Yes, God has indeed given me a wonderful hubby! It’s ironic how we humans oftentimes don’t fully appreciate something until we’ve lost it. This second chance at love for both of us has made us appreciate all the little things that make a marriage partnership so great. Thank you for your kind words.

  7. Fawn

    This article blessed me so! A prime example of growing in the Lord and not grumbling in these times, blessings you two!

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