Tag Archives: Christmas

slowin’ it down

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While I enjoyed traveling with my little family over the Christmas holiday, I must admit that it’s always nice to come back home.  So much time and forethought goes into preparation for travel. You know: the laundry, clothes for several different weather options & possible occasions, shopping, wrapping, snacks, holding the mail, packing of any medications, gassing up the car, loading the car…get the point?

Once the destination is reached, there’s the whole unpacking extravaganza. This is typically when you remember what you forgot to bring along, y’know, “just in case”. Then, comes the time change issue, if there is one, in which your body clock has to adapt. And, then there’s the lack of control you have when you are someone’s guest in their home, especially if you don’t have a vehicle. The food choices, times for meals, and sleep schedules are all a little outta whack.

If I had to choose a couple of items about my ‘home sweet home’ that I dearly miss while away, it’d have to be my comfy bed and our full-pressure shower with never-ending hot water. I suppose you’re seeing how self-focused I am….Ugh!

Why, as we speak, I’m kicked back, enjoying a little “P&Q”/ relaxation time as I enjoy the lights of our Christmas tree. The holidays are a great time to be with family and of course, making all sorts of memories along the way, but it can also be hectic and exhausting, too. So, I’ll be catching up on missed sleep from late night visits, getting back into our normal routine, and eating a regular diet minus all the holiday treats!

Gosh, it’s good to be home!

 

“Wherever you wander, wherever you roam, be happy and healthy and glad to come home.”

 

 

Generosity

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Just today I had a conversation with a friend and the subject of generosity came up. Honestly, I guess I’d never really thought of it apart from the giving of money. You know, “he made a generous donation,” or “she was so generous with her giving this year”.  As I think on topic, the giving of money is but a facet. In fact, there are various ways to demonstrate generosity.

Perhaps the Christmas season has sparked an interest within me on this subject; after all, it is quite assuredly the largest (retail) season for giving of the entire year. I began to ponder the concept of what it means to give of yourself. Whether or not it involves money is immaterial. My friend and I were discussing the fact that some of us are quick to offer our money, perhaps because it is a commodity we have, rather than giving of our time. Maybe our time is quite scarce and so, it is easier to turn loose of some cash.

Case in point: several years back, a dear couple friend of ours with young children hadn’t been out on a date night in quite some time. So my husband and I offered to keep their kids for them for a few hours so they could enjoy a rare night out. To us, it was a mere gift of our time; we weren’t babysitting for money. While they thanked us for watching their kids, truly we received the blessing! We felt overjoyed to be able to do something for our friends whom we love so much. We were able to be generous with our time and desired to bless them with a night out. We enjoyed giving of ourselves! (*)

To effectively give of oneself, the heart is a package deal. When our heart is in the right place, then we find we are acting out of a pure heart, and with the right spirit. This is the quintessential art of giving. Giving of yourself is an act of selflessness. Again, sometimes this generosity involves money and other times it does not. More important is that you give of yourself because you really want to, not because you feel manipulated, or desire notoriety for your philanthropy. Our heart matters. How is yours?

So, this Christmas as you’re wrapping up your gift buying, or just beginning your shopping, don’t buy into our culture’s model of overspending in an attempt to purchase just the perfect gift. Try thinking outside the box! Perhaps a simple card with heartfelt written words would mean so much more than the random $20 gift you were planning to purchase. Offering your time to cut someone’s yard throughout the summer, helping to provide meals for a widow or a working single Mom would be so appreciated. Purchasing a newspaper subscription or paying for winter snow removal for a parent or grandparent on a fixed income would be well received. As long as it comes from your heart, you’re giving a generous gift. In this, we demonstrate our love for one another.

*(Note: my intent in sharing this is not to brag or to receive accolades, rather to illustrate what giving looks and feels like.)

Christmas is just around the corner!

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Christmas is just around the corner!

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Are you one of those who loves a big countdown to Christmas? You know, “only 10 days until Christmas!” Or, are you one of the many who love to go out in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping? Perhaps you are like me and rather despise the anxiety that can be brought upon us with all the marketing, countdowns, and crowds of people everywhere, fighting for the perfect gift at the perfect price.

Regardless of where you stand on the rush brought on by the holidays, one thing remains common to us all: the heart. If you’re reading this, you are living and breathing and your heart is beating. I can’t really take credit for the point I’m about to make because it isn’t original to me. A gal and I were chatting about whether or not we’d decorated our homes for Christmas. It was her goal to put her tree up that day. Since my family and I had just returned from a long car trip, my focus needed to be unpacking suitcases, doing laundry, unpacking our car & buying groceries, all the things that go with being out of town. We both agreed that the house has to be clean before we can decorate. This added some stress to our otherwise fun plans! She shared how her 5 year old loves to decorate the tree and help her put all the decor out around the house. What a lovely thought; I however, imagined doing my decorating while my son was at school.

Our conversation quickly turned to the heart. My friend simply said “if your heart isn’t in to the joy of setting out the decor and preparing your home for Christmas, it is being done with the wrong intent and motive“. This resonated with me in the season of life I’m in as I have debated whether or not to even put up a tree. Lest you think I’m the Grinch over here, let me assure you that Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I used to look forward to getting all the decor out, unwrapping all the precious and memorable ornaments to flock my tree. I loved setting out my beautiful nativity scene, wrapping the garland around the banister, hanging our stockings and sitting back to enjoy the warm glow of the lit tree.

Where is my joy? It’s there. Down deep. I feel as if it’s yet another chore to add to my never-ending “to do” list. Sad, isn’t it? Remember, I told you I’m not the Grinch. This is where the heart comes in! Just as you would prepare your home for the Christmas holiday, so should you prepare your heart. I’ve been pondering what that means. I want to be “all in” and celebrate. What does this look like for me? I want to usher Christmas in by being in the moment. I want to put myself and my thoughts into that day so many ions ago when Christ Jesus came to earth as a babe, born of a virgin to bring joy and hope to a dying and sinful world. Jesus would live here with us as a human being before the plan was fulfilled in which Jesus would die a horrifying and tortuous death upon a cross, taking on our sin (yours and mine), yet 3 days later raise from the dead! It is during the Easter season that we celebrate the hope there is beyond the grave for those who believe and place their trust in Jesus Christ. Whew! What a humbling thought. What amazing love was displayed for you and me!

Slow down your busyness. Be intentional with your time. Take time for yourself to read the Christmas story in the book of Luke. Set out your nativity. Ponder what that day must have looked like on that day so long ago when Jesus was born. Listen to Christmas carols with meaning to help prepare your heart for the reason, the true reason, we celebrate Christmas. Quiet yourself before Him and thank Him for the gift of His Son. Share these truths with your children, as you pray for ordained moments. Help them to understand the season isn’t about Santa or presents, parties or candy. Give them a glimpse into your heart. Christ is alive and well and waiting for us to meet with Him, if we’ll give Him some time.

Merry Christmas!

Silent Night, Holy Night

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Christmas Eve is here! Christmas is just a day away….can you believe it?! It’s hard to imagine especially when there are tornado warnings where I live and 60 some odd degrees outside! Regardless, December 25th is the day we celebrate Christ’s birth.

So, have you taken some time to enjoy the season and take a break from the hustle and bustle going on all around you? Have you been able to quiet your mind to ponder that very first Christmas when Jesus, King of all kings, was born? Steeling away is the only way for me to get the silence I need to focus on the reason for our celebration.

For me, tonight was one of those nights. Our family packed into a van and traveled around town to see the beautiful Christmas lights. In between complaints from my 3 year old, who was bored with it all, I was able to focus on a short row of houses which had beautiful lights strung all about and synced to Christmas music. It was gorgeous and full of delight! There was even a man and his son who came to each car offering hot cocoa and cookies.

So, before you tear into your Christmas morning festivities, I challenge you to take a moment to just breathe. Reflect on our Savior’s birth. Enjoy some Christmas carols, take in a Christmas Eve service, sit before a roaring fire. I’ll bet you will feel a real sense of true peace and joy if you choose to focus on such things. Your heart and mind will then be able to reflect on the fact that Jesus really is the Reason for the Season.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

A Gift of Thanks

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horn-of-plenty-575628_640While I have always loved Christmas, I’m beginning to believe that Thanksgiving might just trump it in my book. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love, love, love Christmas with all that it means to me as a Christ follower. It is the day we collectively celebrate, among fellow believers, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I, too, love all the warm fuzzies of Christmas: the beautiful lights & memorable decorations, Christmas caroling, purchasing just the right gifts for loved ones, the long-planned surprises and carefully guarded secrets, the yummy celebratory food and travels to Grandma’s house….so many years of treasured memories for sure! However, what knocks this special holiday down a peg for me is the over-commercialization of it all. It has become absolutely absurd to me that the Christmas season begins in “retail-world” well before Halloween, leaving Thanksgiving in the dust. Christmas has sadly become all about the almighty dollar….and the “stuff” it buys. Stores opening at ridiculous hours with their clerks working beyond what is reasonable and fair, boasting super-competitive sales to convince even the most tight-fisted of spenders. I won’t even get into the fights that ensue throughout the busy buying season with people battling it out over merchandise, for heavens’ sake! At the risk of being considered the next ‘Grinch,’ I resent what this special day has become.

Enter: Thanksgiving. What I have come to love about this sometimes dubbed, ‘pre-Christmas, obligatory family holiday leading up to the biggest celebratory day of the year,’ is that it is subdued, quiet, simple, reflective, humble, and most importantly, all about giving thanks for what we already have been given. We as believers, are so abundantly blessed (Ephesians 1). We should feel incredibly humbled and grateful for God’s provision on this day and every day. For we are not guaranteed or entitled anything.

As we countdown to this Thanksgiving holiday, while much of our focus turns to food and its preparation, as well as (for some) the enjoyment of watching football, I challenge you to quiet your mind and consider the bounty of blessings God has richly bestowed upon you. Rather than reflecting upon years past with loved ones absent from our table, focus on the people who are present at your table and the love that abounds. Most importantly, don’t just rush through your blessing this year; instead, prepare a mental list of 3 things you can truly give thanks for in your family’s time of saying grace. These don’t have to big or monumental things; they can be simple offerings of thanks such as: health and healing, protection from a near accident, receiving an “A” on a report card, having the money to pay for your groceries, or the provision of a long sought-after job. My point: rather than offering generic/blanket prayers of thanks such as “family,” “friends,” or “food,” consider being specific as a testament of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Truthfully, if you take just a moment to examine the past year of your life, you are sure to easily recall specific moments of God’s goodness and favor. Nothing is too small or too great; everything we have is due to God’s grace, favor, mercy and provision.

He is worthy of our gift of thanks….and so much more!

Happy Thanksgiving!