Christmas Time

Monday, December 12, 2011

this christmas...

it's monday morning and the rain is gently falling. the christmas tree is lit up and fully decorated with memories from my husband and my childhood as well as those precious handmade crafts that our kids have brought home (without breaking, of course). i have enjoyed a warm cup of coffee and given my sick one medicine to help ease her discomfort. the stockings are hung and the nutcrackers are scattered around. the kitchen waits for the candy making to commence. the closet is filled with gifts that need to be wrapped in matching brown paper with pretty ribbons.

the more i type the more my stomach hurts and my heart sinks. just last week a friend of mine sent me a link to a blog asking if i had read it. i have been reading this blog for well over a year and then read a book by the author this spring while i was in Peru. i had read her blog telling the story of their family's christmas last year but had tucked it away in my mind for another time.
read this year's post on Ann Voskamp's Blog then come back. i'll be here.

this was my response to my friend:
"I have and it makes my heart ache to do
the same thing. I think I might read it to my
kids and pray they hear the truth. How
does one go about changing the gift giving
tradition? For we are not saved by human
tradition so why do I cling to it so?

i have continued to think about this blog. i have searched my heart as to why i am so stubborn in regards to letting go of the gift giving. as a teenager, my aunt and uncle would give us a devotional book and a little card saying that a donation had been made to a foundation in our honor. i am embarrassed to admit it but, i thought that was a sorry gift to give a teenager. my self absorbed heart wanted the temporal. i wanted all the stuff that would not last. i am thankful God has continued to work on my heart.

i sell my God short. one of the reasons i have clung to giving "stuff" for Christmas is that i don't want my children to feel slighted. i want them to have good gifts. i want them to not feel left out or deprived. in my doing so, i am separating them from what God has intended for them to know about the world and what we are called to do for others.

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to
give good gifts to your children, how much more
will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those
who ask him!
Matthew 7:11

ross and i spent time the other morning talking about how we do christmas and how we remember christmases of our growing up years. neither of us can honestly direct our memories to the birth of Christ. both of us grew up knowing that christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ but the magic of christmas that we remember from growing up really had little to do with Christ.

in our effort to train up our children in the Lord we have begun new traditions like the jesse tree advent, going to the Christmas eve service, and making a Jesus birthday cake for christmas day. many conversations are had throughout the season about what christmas is really about. we still do the santa thing and i don't have any real problem with it. anna even said last night, "santa is magic. he knows a lot but God and Jesus know more." we read all kinds of christmas books throughout the month- those about santa, snowmen, the Christ child, ways that people around the world get the gist.

our children are generous givers and somehow we have horded christmas for them. in light of wanting our family to go beyond ourselves and see that God is at work in a world that is so much bigger we have decided to begin giving a new gift to our children praying that in the coming years we will give more than we receive (from a worldly perspective of course).

here's our plan- on Christmas eve we have always given our children new Christmas pjs. this year they will still get their new pjs but they will also get a catalog and money envelope. under the light of our tree in the warmth of new pjs, that are a gift from God that we all too often fail to recognize, we will give our children the chance to choose a gift to give to someone else who's in need of what we take for granted.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come,
you who are blessed by my Father; take your
inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since
the creation of the world.
For I was hungry and
you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and
you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger
and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you
clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was
in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when
did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and
give you something to drink?
When did we see you a
stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe
When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did
for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me.’
Matthew 25: 34-40

dear Lord, would you strip away my ugly heart of selfishness and lack of faith in the work you are doing in our children's hearts and give us all selfless hearts that break for that which breaks Yours. may we, as a family, in your grace reach beyond our temporal comforts to provide for the needs of others so that You are glorified.

" Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of
witnesses, throw off everything that hinders and the sin that
so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race
marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and
perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,
scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne
of God."
Hebrews 12:1-3