It’s the most wonderful time…of the year… Nothing warms my heart more lately than to hear the sweet little voices in our home singing Christmas songs. It’s a contagious, joyous, excitement that quickly fills the room. There are so many things I enjoy about this time of year – the excitement of opening the ornaments box, the lights, the get-togethers, the music, reflecting on Christmas’ gone past – but I have to be honest about my feelings of today (needless to say, happiness and contentment were not at the top of the list).
You see, I’m not a “shopper” by nature. I like to have a game plan, know what I’m looking for, get in and get out. My feeble attempt to “get-now-and-have-peace-early” plan is leaving me frazzled, and even more frazzled that I’m frazzled. Since I don’t frequent the stores, I find myself seeing and thinking about things that I suddenly realize I “need”, or that need to be replaced with newer and better (i.e. dishes I have from college that we use everyday!) But the true reality is – I have been blessed with dishes. I have been blessed to have food to put on said ugly plate, to then serve, eat, and even rinse (not really wash because that work is done by a machine!) The fact of the matter is that I don’t need a thing. If I did have a need, I probably already went and bought it (sad isn’t it?) So when family asks for a gift idea, saying nothing usually follows with a response of a sigh. I love finding that special, unique-to-that-person gift as a way to show my love and appreciation, and I realize others love to give in this way as well. But today, I didn’t give it a moments’ thought when Aaron approached me about an idea.
If you’re interested, click on his blog to the right, but for $25, we each purchased a T-shirt, with proceeds feeding an orphaned child for a month – our gift to each other. There are numerous programs like this to be a part of, and I realize that gift-giving could go on and on so limits need to be in place, what I simply want to suggest to you today is ways to think outside the box. The kids and I traveled to Dollar General today, each armed with a yellow basket, and loaded up some goodies to place in a shoebox to send across the sea. Never have I been more proud and excited to watch their giving hearts as they picked out item after item. Now, the littlest one was a bit crushed to have to place all her special treats in a give-away box, but the Lord opened up an opportunity to talk about how much He has blessed us with, and how we can be a blessing to others with these given provisions (so often in abundance).
Do I feel like I’ve earned a gold-star in my good-Christian-box today? Nope. A few hours later, I found myself miffed at a lost opportunity for my husband and I to shop together for the kids, simple circumstantial changes, but I was disappointed all the same. As I processed with my best friend in the car (my favorite times, though I’m not exactly sure how I arrive at my destinations on occasion… not good), He brought to mind our friend Stef. With every breath this man is given, he is bringing glory to God, simply amazing. He brought him to mind very gently and kindly, no condemnation what-so-ever (as I find myself pulling guilt-trips with the kids at times), and my perspective immediately shifted. My I-have-a right-t0-feel-miffed attitude shifted to one of gratefulness and thankfulness instead of resentfulness and bitterness. How did that happen? The focus shifted off myself and into the Light. How? I asked. I received. He is faithful.
One last goodie I’d love to share if you can indulge me for one more paragraph. I have to give credit to my friend Jen (again) for a fabulous out-of-the-box concept that has made Christmas much more focused and purposeful in our home. The children each receive 3 gifts, same as Jesus. To go a bit further, we’ve taken a look at those 3 special gifts of gold, frankinscense, and myrrh. I recently read a post from Marybeth Whalen, a member of Proverbs 31 and she explains this concept much better than I:
- First, they get a “gold” gift. Gold is precious and priceless and highly desired. So, they get one item they really, really want! It is their gold gift.
- Next, we have frankincense. It burned and arose during prayer. It was meant to draw you close to God. So, their frankincense present is something that helps them in their walk with Christ. It can be a new Bible, a musical CD, Veggie Tales DVD or tickets to hear a concert or Christian speaker. Maybe it is a weekend youth retreat pass or a new book or leather journal that will help them in their spiritual life.
- Finally, we have myrrh. This was a spice that actually accompanied burial and covered a person from head to toe. So, they too get something that will go on their body. Perhaps it is a new coat, an awesome outfit they have been eyeing. For my boys it has been hunting clothes and boots or for our daughter it has been jewelry. Anything that they can wear.
- Being purposeful in limiting the amount of gifts and tying it in with that first Christmas long ago has been a bright spot in what could otherwise be a very commercial Christmas. And it has forced me, as a mom, to be intentional and creative rather than just picking up all of the latest “must-haves” of the season. You just might want to try it!
Have fun with your “giving” this year, afterall, it’s more about the time and thought than anything else!
By the way, looking for an activity this weekend? Northwest Bible Church is hosting a Christmas musical that is … simple, passionate, real. This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 7:00 (childcare provided), come, see, hear music and testimonies, but more than that, you may witness something just a little different – ordinary people serving an extraordinary God. “I will bless your name, I will bless your name, I will bless your name, forevermore….”