This past Saturday our family had the task of filling 2 shoeboxes from Operation Christmas Child, buying 2 pairs of pajamas for our church’s “jammie drive” (of which my kids are excited to wear their pajamas to church…with my excitement stemming from the fact we might actually make it on time that Sunday), and filling a paper bag full of holiday food items for the church to make free Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for those in need. I was pretty excited to take this moment to teach my kids about giving to the poor, particularly kids their age who have nothing. So, we headed to Target and filled up their boxes with some toys, hygiene items, mittens & hats, and a few school supplies. The kids loved it…although it was a bit of a challenge to keep them on task when we reached the toy department. ;)
I think what was most exciting for me this year is a changed perspective on what Christmas *should* be about (see previous post too). I am suddenly sensitive to the Christmas commercials that tout the idea that everyone should get what they want this year, not what they need. Granted, it’s all about profit for retailers so the ads should not surprise me. But it does make me cringe a bit, considering we are still in a recession and there are people in other parts of the world just thankful to get clean water or a bit of food in their tummies. I think too that my church’s sermons lately on our “treasures” has gotten me thinking A LOT about wants vs. needs. It’s funny because some of the impetus behind these sermons is to build up support for some church expansion, but I am finding it all too appropriate for the holiday season as well. Ultimately all we have belongs to God, so why is it so hard to unclench our fists and give?? I’m thankful for a pastor who is willing to convict and remind us that, as Christians, our treasure is in Heaven and not on this earth.
It’s that time of year again. The time where you realize Christmas is just around the corner and (gasp) you need to save up money for Christmas presents. Admittedly, that is generally my way of thinking…presents and decorating before giving much thought to the reason we (Christians) celebrate Christmas. It’s funny, because I don’t think of myself as one who “forgets” that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. I mean, we go to Christmas Eve services at our church, we read the Biblical “Christmas Story” to our kids, and there is always a nativity scene proudly displayed in our home. Isn’t that enough?!
I thought it was enough…until I saw the movie“God Grew Tired of Us” (seriously, this is a must watch documentary if you want a better understanding of the horror that is happening in Sudan, and it was produced by Hollywood peeps…surprisingly). In summary, the movie follows the Lost Boys of Southern Sudan, Christian men oppressed and threatened with death by the Northern Sundanese (Islamic) Government. They are forced out of their homeland to wander parts of Africa, often settling in refugee camps that offer very little in the way of good farmland, clean water, and food sources. The movie follows a few of these Lost Boys as the American Govt. offers to relocate them to America in an attempt to better their life. In one scene (and one that has stayed with me), a Lost Boy ponders the celebration of Christmas in America. He wonders, why is there a tree? It’s pretty, but how does it represent Christ’s birth? And of course he’s also confused by the giving of gifts and consumerism…once again wondering what any of it has to do with Jesus Christ. I was deeply convicted by this. He could have easily been talking about my focus, and I was ashamed.
And THEN, I get an e-mail yesterday from Gospel of Asia, which had a link to a video from “Forgotten Christmas” (incidentally, if you go to their website there is an opportunity to get a free Christmas catalog where 100% of the funds received from it go to help those in need). Knowing that just 1% of the 460 BILLION that is typically spent on Christmas consumerism could give clean water to everyone in Nepal, Sri Lanka, and India, really gives me pause.
Here’s the video:
Pretty convicting, especially for those of us who are Christians.
I’m still thinking of what Christmas will look like for our family this year, but I can tell you it will not revolve around gifts or shopping malls. I’m even hesitant to put up a tree! And I would love to see the money we would normally spend on presents and decoration go to a worthy cause, to reach those who have yet to hear about the true meaning of Christmas. I’m going to pray about all of this because, honestly, I love Christmas. I love the decorating and the shopping. I have given in to the hype for a long time and it’s hard to re-wire my thinking.
I pray it becomes clearer to me as Christmas gets closer. I know I’ll likely start here though.
Confession #1: I rented “Tangled” for the kids from a Red Box this past week. Not a bad thing in of itself, they earned it. But I think I liked it more than the kids did. A lot more. So I bought the dvd “for the kids”. Who knew Mandy Moore would make a pretty decent Disney princess? And who knew “Chuck’s” Zachary Levi could sing…and well at that?! It’s been playing non-stop…with and without kids in the room. Aaah, the highlights of being a stay-at-home mom! ;)
Which leads me to confession #2: I might be a redneck. To buy the aforementioned dvd, I went to Walmart for the best price. It was the Walmart near our home that has been the one I avoided like the plague because of it’s general nastiness. So imagine my surprise to see that it has totally been revamped and looks like new! The layout changed and they are in the process of adding a grocery area. That makes it a future (wait for it) SUPER Walmart! Yippee! I have been wanting a grocery store on that side of town for I don’t know how long. I was so beside myself with excitement that I mentioned my excitement to pretty much every employee I came across. And did I mention that this was all over a Walmart?! Yeah, I think that officially moved me into “redneck” territory.
Confession #3: I love Dayspring Christian cards and gifts. This site has pretty much every inspirational gift you could imagine. It’s where I recently ordered a Valentine’s Day gift for my husband (and me) and it’s where you can pretty much find any gift for any occasion. As you know, Easter is April 24th this year and another favorite website of mine, (in)courage, has teamed up with Dayspring to advertise “inspired deals” or products they have selected to promote for the month. I was given the opportunity to “test drive” the by grace alone jewelry set and tell you all what I think.
The set includes a pendant necklace, earrings, and a bracelet cuff. Cute, huh?!
And since it’s always good to see it actually in use, here ya go…
The verdict? Love it! It seems that stamped jewelry is all the rage and the message on these pieces is perfect for Easter. The designer is Melissa Reagan and she has quite a gorgeous collection of accessories that carry messages of faith and inspiration, reminding us of God’s amazing grace and unconditional love. I know I personally need to be reminded of grace from time to time, when life gets overwhelming and stressful (like now with my 2 year old and her anti-potty-training willfulness)!
Right now you can purchase this this whole set for 20% off at Dayspring…or individual pieces can be purchased separately if you so desire.
If you’d like to see other fun Dayspring items being reviewed this month, check them out at (in)spired Deals, and have a wonderful Easter!
Disclosure: I received this jewelry free of charge from DaySpring, in exchange for my review. I was not compensated in any other way, and all opinions expressed in this post are solely mine.
So, I’m not really a fan of St. Paddy’s Day…meaning the holiday. The man, St. Patrick? Good Christian Saint whose death somehow became synonymous with green beer. I’m sure there is a whole history lesson in there but mostly what I remember about St. Pat’s Day is being pinched a lot for not wearing green. How mean is that, seriously?! I’m also not Irish and do not like corned beef or cabbage, so there you go.
BUT I do like the fun fun dessert-y variations of St. Pat’s Day. Today, browsing the blogosphere, I found this great ideafor those of you who actually make special treats around this holiday:
I love the idea of cupcakes in a jar, and actually tried it with red velvet cake for Valentine’s Day this year. Lesson one learned: that mason jars aren’t ideal for this project (they CAN work in a pinch though), and lesson two: the spoon tied to the jar with twine finishes the look. I ran out of time making them and wound up giving cupcakes in bare mason jars to friends who most likely thought it was odd at best. I seem to get worse at time management the longer I am a stay-at-home-mom…real world skill sets quickly atrophy when you’re home with munchkins all day. *sigh*
Anyway, instead of making anything like this, I thought I’d pass this recipe on to true over-achievers to try. And, if you get a chance, check out her entire blog, she is so hilarious! She also has some other great recipe ideas and tremendous creativity. A new fave for me.
Oh, and before I run to stop my 2yo from mowing over dog poop mounds with her toy lawnmower, check out this fabulous “Goldilocks and the 3 bears” birthday party idea. I find things like this a bit over the top, but still have to share the amazing way it all turned out. I am seriously impressed with that kind of dedication to kids who would rather jump on a bed than eat at it, and it gives me some inspiration for E’s next b-day party.
Have you heard of the book “Radical” by David Platt? It’s part of a church movement called “The Radical Experiment” which essentially challenges Christians to take a hard look at the way we live our lives. It’s extremely convicting and invigorating at the same time, and it’s definitely not for “Sunday-only Christians” (or maybe it is…who am I to say?!).
Without going much further into it (you can do that on your own), I am excited to be a part of an online read-along of Radical, put on by another blogger, Marla Taviano. The study starts Sept. 7 and will go over a chapter a week. I am so excited about this! I have read the first couple of chapters before and it’s the kind of book that really needs to be discussed and brainstormed about. Due to kids and other fun aspects of my life (insert sarcasm font here), I never made the time to finish reading. So now I have motivation! I am posting this on my blog to invite others to join along in the reading and subsequent discussions. If you have a heart for missions and (like me) struggle with Matthew 19:21-22, this might be just the study you need! Oh, and you don’t necessarily need to have a blog to participate. :)