“And what happened, then? Well, in Whoville they say – that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then – the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of *ten* Grinches, plus two!”

Nope, it is not Christmas here in Phoenix. I promise! And my blog won’t discuss schlunking down the chimney with care either. If you are not familiar with this cute little Christmas story by Dr. Seuss, called “The Grinch”, the storyline tells of a place called Whoville where, “Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot…But the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did NOT!” The Grinch, who had become very annoyed at happiness and joy, was bound and determined to “stop Christmas from coming… but how!?” The Grinch would eventually go to great lengths in an attempt to keep love out of his heart and eliminate the thing that most annoyed him, but in the end, “Well, in Whoville they say – that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then – the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of *ten* Grinches, plus two!”

At this point, I bet you are wondering, well what does this have to do with Maggie’s Place? The other day while praying, I had come to realize that the story of the Grinch may have more to do with our lives here at Maggie’s Place than we may think at first. The MissionCorps that live in the homes with the moms, are not often thought of as hairy green beings who attempt to steal Christmas (unless we are possibly turning off the television during productivity hours) but how much do we really have in common with main culprit in this story? I find that most of us (even outside of Maggie’s Place) are on a journey similar to that of the Grinch’s.

As MissionCorps, we know firsthand that love is one of the most challenging parts of our jobs here, and also the most important. Love is easy when that baby is being super cute and showing off his smile to volunteers, or when the moms show their love by making a meal. Love is easy while taking a mom to mass with me or holding that baby in the communion line while he receives a blessing. But, how much more often is love hard at our homes?  Love is hard when a mom comes home and we need to ask her to leave, it is hard when a baby won’t stop crying in the middle of the night, it is hard when our love isn’t accepted by others. Unfortunately the hard things happen more often than not, and those moments of easy love only come when we most need a little pick me up.

As a MissionCorps at Maggie’s Place, do I get annoyed and frustrated at this love and attempt to stop it, like my green and hairy friend? In order to save my heart the heartbreak, do I sometimes get tempted to not give the mom my whole self? Do I forget sometimes that our mothers are just like myself in many ways, and sometimes just want time and attention? How often do I get annoyed at love and try “to stop it from coming, but how!?” It could just be easier if I could be allowed to sit at my computer and answer emails all day, instead of driving and running errands or sitting down and letting a mom do my hair and makeup.  Like the Grinch in the story, sometimes I do fight the love that surrounds me, but in the end, God’s Grace and the little ones save me.

For about three consecutive days one of the moms that I live with had been dying to straighten my hair and do it up. She tried in all sorts of ways to talk me into it, but I came up with a million excuses. On Sunday, however, after these three days of begging, she asked at the perfect moment, when I was in the driveway, in a rush to get out of the door and go to Target to buy eggs for breakfast. I was flustered, and I wanted her to stop asking.

When I arrived home from Target, and had finished breakfast, it was time for the makeover to begin. I sat there as Lacey began to prepare my in-house salon, thinking of all those emails that really needed to be sent and paperwork that needed to be filed. As a few minutes passed, however, those thoughts slowly went away and I became fully immersed in the love that was being given to me at that very moment. It quickly became a whole house affair as Corps were taking pics of the in-home makeover and other moms chimed in about what eyeshadow would be best and whether or not mascara should go onto my bottom eyelashes. We laughed as I reminded them I was going to mass, not a date! “But, you never know who you might meet at mass,” they kept telling me as we all laughed together.  My heart smiled as I realized that in that moment my heart was growing. God had rewarded my sacrifice of time. He gave me insight into beautiful mothers who care deeply about me and show their love for me by giving me spa treatment. He showed His love for me by giving me moments of joy and laughter with His precious little ones, the marginalized of our society, and his favored people.

At the climax of my green friend’s story, The Grinch has a moment of realization and when that sled full of toys is hanging on by a thread at the top of Mount Crumpit, he hears the little Whos singing and realizes that Christmas is about joy and thanksgiving rather than material goods. I believe, however, that while the story may appear to make the Grinch a hero, that the little Whos down in Whoville, “the tall and the small, who were singing! Without any presents at all!” are the heroes of the story. These little ones save the Grinch and his heart. Their perseverance and joy save the Grinch from becoming a being without any love in his heart.

As a Corps member living with the moms of Maggie’s Place, God gives me Divine inspiration on a regular basis. As soon as my heart gets to the top of that mountain, ready to plummet, the moms give me love in ways that I need it most. When they go without presents, or are facing jail time, or are fighting an addiction, or are exhausted from being up all night with a crying baby, they still keep on singing without things at all.  Not only do the Whos down in Whoville save the day, but ultimately they save the life of the Grinch. They show him love and joy, without which he surely would have no life at all. The moms save our souls on a regular basis by showing us the love of God in everyday things, especially makeovers on the living room couch.

During my time here at Maggie’s Place, God has pulled on my heart in what often seems like every direction. It stretches and grows so much that if often hurts. As soon as one growth spurt is over with, a new one comes right on in, and I feel as if I can never catch a break.  Through the grace of God, I have been able to grow in love and have learned how to love better. Although it has been anything but easy, I have grown tremendously during my time here. I have found strength in the love of Christ and in the love that my moms give me every day.

But in the end, well, in Phoenix they say – that Clare’s heart grew three sizes that day. And then – when the true meaning of Maggie’s Place comes through, Clare is able to find the strength of ten Clares, plus two.


By Clare Shear, a MissionCorps member