What does Jesus want for Christmas?

Every year I have the best of intentions to spend my Christmas wisely…. I tell myself to savor every moment, focus on what’s important, and remember the “reason for the season.”  Then before I know it, all good intentions aside, Christmas has come and gone in the blink of an eye.

With moving, adjusting, and getting new jobs… Christmas is approaching even more quickly this year- So I lay with my husband in bed last night and asked him, “What do you think Jesus would want from us during Christmas?”

After a few moments, we thought Jesus would want from us at Christmas-time, what He wants of us all the time.

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Service, Joyful Giving, Worship, Evangelism, and taking care of the widows and orphans are just a few things that came to mind. Surprisingly the “Commercial” Christmas can help us accomplish some of these goals.

Service & Joyful Giving

During the Christmas season there are a lot of extra ways to serve! Ringing the Christmas bell for Salvation Army, buying for Angel Tree, packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Find a way to serve that meets your passion, talents, and abilities!

Give! Give as big as you can! A lot of non-profits encourage end-of-the-year giving with matching opportunities.  Even if you can only give a little, what you can give can be doubled! ‘Tis the season after all!

Worship

Christmas is the only season where Christian music is accepted and played everywhere! Have you ever thought of that? Christmas carols are often represented among the “Holiday Playlists” at stores like Target, Walmart, and the mall.

Then churches everywhere work hard to make worship services extra special, to bring God our best in worship.

We can also take worship out on the streets with us by carrying the tradition of Caroling door to door!

Evangelism & Discipleship

Sharing the gospel just gets easier with Christmas around! Why are you so joyful when everyone else is a scrooge? Why do you love Christmas so much? How are you celebrating this year? What is your favorite Christmas tradition? All of these questions can give you an opportunity to share!

Share that God, creator of the universe, humbled himself to become a baby… to live as His creation, live as a human, to die for our sins and give us eternal life.

Remember that huge humbug over the red Starbucks cups? A friend of mine made it an opportunity to share the gospel! She shared how the Red cup was like the blood of Jesus and the white represented the purity of His cleansing power. She has a great blog that you can check out here.

Widows & Orphans

Jesus mentions the orphans and the widows all of the time in the gospels, asking us to take care of them. We may not have the ability to adopt, but there are plenty of ways to help. You can make donations towards adoption agencies and programs; cook, babysit, or give to families full of adopted children; give towards personal funds for families planning to adopt.

 

What do you think Jesus wants from you during the Christmas season? How do you give a gift back to Him?

For more ways to keep God in the center check out : One Gift You Should Not Forget To Give and Sparkle Box Progress Report

Our Christmas Story

As everyone starts making their way back to work, we ask one another, “How was your Holiday?” “How was Christmas?”  It is so hard to summarize the answer in the snippet they are really asking for, but to put it shortly: it was wonderful and too short!

The Christmas Eve service went so well that an old pastor came up and thanked my husband for his hard work, saying it was “the best Christmas Eve service my wife and I have seen.”  What a compliment!  I am so proud of my husband, who worked endlessly to pull together a team and a service to truly reflect the true Christmas story.  He worked hard to keep his focus on Christ during all of the extra practices and late nights.  Opening with a devotional and prayer, he tried to point everyone’s eyes up.  After the service we left in a pre-packed car and headed to Illinois.

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We pulled in at an early 11:30pm, with my parents and brothers waiting up.  Crashing into our beds shortly after, and waking to the traditional jingle bells in the morning, it was Christmas.  This year we slowed down our festivities to watch every single gift be opened.  It was wonderful pacing it down and seeing the excitement and joy spread on everyone’s face.

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With paper-crowns adorning everyone’s head, we had the traditional brunch .  We watched nieces and nephews open all their toys.  They cried with appreciation, and jumped with joy.  Siblings grabbed their stockings and tore open all the trinkets others had lovingly chosen.

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My most-surprising gift came from the most surprising person, my 16 year old nephew, Noah.  Noah worked at DQ over the summer and saved his money up to buy me a very big and special present.  He handed me a large box and I immediately thought of the times he spent teaching me how to long-board.  I once mentioned to him that I’d buy his board if he ever upgraded…. But as I began to open it, it wasn’t his board inside.  It was a beautiful sandy blonde board that looked just like a retro surf board, one I had spoken of before.  He had bought me a brand new board, with custom trucks and my favorite colour turqouise wheels.  He picked each piece and put it together himself.  The hand-me-down would have shocked me, but this selfless thoughtful gift had made me cry.  I am so very thankful for the relationship I have with Noah, and I wish I could be closer to be the cool aunt he could come run to when he needed advice.  Although I am states away, his selfless gift told me he was close to me anyways. I am pretty sure I cried at the overwhelming love I felt, and I am holding back tears now.

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I can’t wait to move closer to my family that I love so much.  I want to longboard with my nephew, have sleepovers with my niece, to do karate with my brother… Someday that will be my Christmas gift.

IMG_7716IMG_7712But just look at all these happy faces!

How To: PineCone Elves

pineconeelf

What You Need:

  • Hot Glue Gun & Sticks
  • Pinecones
  • Small Jingle Bells
  • Felt
  • Sewing Needle
  • Finetip Sharpie Marker Pen
  • 3/4 inch Round Wooden Bead
  • Clear Monofilament String or Fishing Wire
  • Scissors

Everything You Need

Steps

  1. Cut hat and scarves from felt
  2. Wrap hat around bead head
  3. Mark where felt overlaps, hot glue together
  4. Glue hat onto bead
  5. Glue jingle bell to the tip of the hat
  6. Glue bead to pinecone body
  7. Glue Scarf to back, & criss cross the scarf & glue again
  8. Draw face on bead
  9. Sew Clear thread through top of hat, tie knot
  10. Hang, and enjoy

 

Sparkle Box Progress Report

This year we started a new tradition- to fill a Sparkle Box full of presents to Christ for His birthday (you can read about it here).  On Saturday, we sat down and read a few scraps of paper of the things we did for “the least of these” this month.  It was great to focus on Christ, and know that not all the presents were for ourselves.  However, my hope is that this one tradition grows each year.  For our first year, I’ll admit, we weren’t perfect.  We often forgot about our goal to give a gift to Christ.  We ran out of time or money to do some things that we would have loved to do, and should have done.  Part of me feels bad, because I know that these are cheap excuses that our awesome God doesn’t deserve.  I am humbled by His perfection, His patience, and His unyielding love and time for all.

What gives me hope is that we don’t have to give back to God just in December… This was just a beginning to a wonderful tradition, full of worthy intentions.  And, just like my mom starts shopping for Christmas on December 26th and goes until the following December 25th, I think we will try to fill our Sparkle Box in the same way.

If you need ideas to fill your sparkle box, I found this great blog called The Shine Project.  Check out her entry on 51 Holiday Service Projects and get started with your Sparkle Box now.

How have you done with your Sparkle box? Do you have any great ideas and ways to fill it?

One Gift You Should Not Forget to Give

Have you read the book Sparkle Box by Jill Hardie?

Last Sunday, we had a children’s moment during the service.  All of the kids sat cross-legged crowding the stage, as someone read Sparkle Box to them and the whole congregation.  The story is about a little boy who is eager to open the Christmas present wrapped in a sparkly box.  His parents have to tell him that he must wait, because the box is not ready to be opened.  As he waits, the boy watches and helps his family in various service projects in and outside his community.  When Christmas approaches, they reveal what is inside the box and it is just a few hand-written notes.  However, each note captured something the family or the son did for someone else in need.

In the story, the parents say that the Sparkle Box represents their gift to Jesus.  Anything they did for someone in need was a gift to God.

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:40

Each family concluded the service by making a Sparkle Box of their own.  Their challenge is to fill that box as a family, and present it to their loving Savior on His birthday.

Tap and I have decided to take this challenge as well.  It is important to remember that everything we have is not earned, but is a gracious gift from the Creator.  He has given us soo much, it would be good to be intentional in giving back to Him.