I might be publicly asking the people with the white coats to show up this year by saying “God told me what He wanted for Christmas” – I mean, for some, “hearing from God” is akin to “being crazy” so feel free if you want to judge me that way.
I don’t care because you might be right – I’m either hearing from God, or crazy, and it doesn’t matter much to me which one others think it is. 🙂
Hopefully that makes sense, I’m not going to go TRY to have others think I’m crazy – I’m just living my life following Him and letting others think what they want.
Maybe that makes sense.
Back to the story. Bear with me a bit…
Christmas has always kind of bothered me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the lights, the music, the Coke commercial… and It’s a Wonderful Life and A Charlie Brown Christmas.
And what I love most is the emphasis on the birth of Jesus, although it is becoming more difficult to find.
What I don’t like is the consumerism, the stress, the exhaustion, the expectations. As much as I try to stay away from all that, it still ends up finding me in some way. As a family, we have tried to establish some traditions for the season, ones that hopefully bring Him more into focus.
Last year, while I stayed in Cleveland Clinic with my husband for his heart surgery, I had a nostalgic idea. I gave our three kids the money to go chop down the Christmas tree, have the cocoa, etc., and instructions on how to take care of it before they decorated. My desire was that they would link arms during this season of traditional family things, and hunker down as a little family of their own, make their own memories together, deepening their love and affection for each other, while their dad and I toughed it out in the cardiac recovery unit at the hospital. I hoped they would bond over cookie making and tree decorating. (I thought this, mind you, even though I still don’t fully get this whole “bring a tree inside your house and decorate it” thing)…the lights are pretty, right? 🙂
In my head, sugar plums danced to the tune of “Deck the Halls” while the three of them, plus my oldest’s then-girlfriend-now-fiance, had a sweet evening together decorating the tree.
What actually happened was a little different.
Okay, a lot different.
They went to Walmart and came back with a small FIBER OPTIC COLOR CHANGING Christmas tree. 🙂
It was awesome.
I knew things could have been worse, because I saw these at some point and was sore afraid:
And I couldn’t have been happier. Our 3 kids bonded, in their own way, and it was obvious.
Ridiculous. But also awesome.
Last year, we had so much less, and so. much. more.
We were thankful for the simple. For LIFE. For blessings like eye sight, even if there was a bit of loss. For surgeons. For recovery. For insurance. For vehicles, friends, meals, and time.
And I was thankful for less.
Because Christ is really all we need, to me, so much of the rest of the “activity” during December just gets in the way of experiencing The Greatest Gift to humankind. So much seems like noise when I really want to worship The King of the Universe…
So this year, I was fussing at Jesus, saying, “So help me understand this. It’s Your birthday and I get a gift? I don’t get it.” And I knew it blessed others to get me something. So okay.
Fine. I get that part.
“But I don’t get the rest of it. What do YOU want for Your birthday this year, Jesus?” I asked Him. “How do You want to celebrate Your birthday?”
And you know what He said to me?
‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.’
Matthew 25: 40b
Then I “knew” the rest: For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. Matthew 26:35-36
*for those who think “hearing God” is crazy or complicated or both – it’s simply knowing the Bible, then listening. He speaks in a still, small voice, bringing long-ago forgotten verses to mind, and uses our circumstances, music, nature, etc., to also enlighten us, but the Bible always confirms what He’s saying. Always. More on this some other time.
So when the family asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told them about my conversation with God. I shared what I said and what He said. Just like the above.
And then I asked for chickens.
And fishing kits.
For other people.
I laid the World Vision catalog on the table.
Last year, my kids actually got me some chickens for a family somewhere else from World Vision. I received a card, and just felt thankful, happy, and blessed. Until my birthday, when I got another set of chickens. 🙂 and then I felt that way all over again.
We actually have a standing joke at our house about how “mom wants chickens but the home owners association won’t let her.” 🙂
So I get chickens vicariously, which is how it should be, since I can actually afford eggs.
Best thing about all this last year, I felt our heavenly Father smile.
And this year, for the people who really don’t need much of anything, I’m doing the same for them.
The wise men were those guys, too. They didn’t need anything, but they gave God (and us, I think) the gifts of their hope, their faith, their obedience. They were the first followers of Jesus, in a way, don’t you think? 🙂 Followed Him not knowing where He led. Putting their hope in things unseen.
I’m not sharing this with you to make you feel guilty. The last thing I want to do is add another layer of stress to your Christmas prep. If the Holy Spirit uses anything here to convict you, have at it. 🙂 Know it will be light to bear. 🙂 He’s good that way.
Honestly, last year, I was still wanting stuff for myself. This year? Nada. I’m not fully there yet, as I’ve spotted a thing I’m quietly liking, but haven’t told anyone about – this year, it’s just one thing, though. I’m praying that next year, I don’t even like something, much less even want something.
I don’t want Christmas to be about me. I want to celebrate it, mind you… wait, that’s not it, I want to celebrate HIM. 🙂 Yes. That’s it! (Charlie Brown style!)
It’s not my birthday. It’s His.
Just so you know, I’m still buying some gifts for other people. But our whole family is doing so much less – and I’m thinking we’ll get so much more as a result. I just want to be with the people I love. Have conversation. Watch their joy. Play games.
Dare you to figure out what Christmas is about for the Him-in-you this year. 🙂
And give yourself the gift of freedom from others’ opinions this year – including MINE.
Triple dog dare you to give Him your faith, your hope, your love this year. “I’ll go where you send me” style, even if that going is just out the front door to the neighbor’s house.
Know that I can toss Boot Camp into that mix as a gift that seriously gives to others, but in all honesty, I’d rather you support World Vision and Compassion FIRST. Do whatever He tells you to do. 🙂 I don’t want to take this message and turn it into a pitch for our ministry thing, no matter how much I believe in what we do. (It is where He sent me, so yeah, super-fond place in my heart! LOL 🙂 ) We support our local church and Greater Impact – in that order. 🙂 We also sponsor a child through Compassion – her name is Jerylin. I also don’t dismiss the work we do, so see me walking the narrow path here, K? Or at least trying to. 🙂
I do know that when we live to delight the Audience of One it changes everything.
What about you? What does your family do? What do you think about these things?
Love to you,
Also, Boot Camp 2016 is open for registration. Raise the Bar! (the public speaking workshop) is FULL! Enrollments in Boot Camp are limited. We are already 1/3 full – with many people returning from last year, and we’ve added 20 spots!!! Seriously, don’t wait to enroll or you won’t get a spot. Last year we took 40, this year we will take only 60.
If you feel led to be a Titus 2 woman using our unique discipleship method that leaves women forever changed, check it out.
If you are booking retreat speakers, you can contact us through the www.GreaterImpact.org website for more info. We typically book 12-18 months in advance.
And here’s the free download: The Small Group Leader’s Guide for The Respect Dare. We’d love you to support your January groups with this freebie and the videos. Our website costs have gone up, so grab them while they are $29 – in January they go up to $49.
Small Group Leader’s Guide Download Gift for you! 🙂