Thursday, December 19, 2013

Four Gifts

Have your heard of  4 gifts for Christmas?

About a month ago, I was riding back from a mother/daughter retreat with a friend and our daughters when we started talking about Christmas shopping, presents, and budgets.  She said this year she was going to give her children 4 gifts each... a want, a need, a wear, and a read.  I had read about this on different blogs and after talking with my friend, I decided to jump on board.
For birthdays, our children know it is about them and things they want; at Christmas, it is about Jesus and giving to others.  Still, I would run myself ragged at times trying to get their gifts together.

Boy oh boy, had I known how wonderfully this four gifts idea would work on so many levels, I would have done it a lot sooner.  My husband and I told our kids our plan and they each gave us a lits of things they may want in each catergory.  I can't share what we got them since it is not Christmas yet; but let me say, it was fun shopping for them and so easy.  My stress levels went down and our budget stayed intact.  I even found free printable tags at Jones Design Company.

I just cut them out and glued them on red scrapbook paper... 
a hole punch, string, and reinforcements were the only supplies I used for these tags.  

It is now 6 days before Christmas and I am done shopping.  This is a wonderful feeling.  

If you are still in the midst of Christmas shopping and feeling overdone... try this idea.  You will not be disappointed.  

Praying you have many blessings and much joy!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It's Ironic, Isn't It?... Christmas Ponderings

It’s Ironic Isn’t It?

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus, I watch as the people I encounter run around in a frenzied state.  Stress levels  are increasing, tempers are short, budgets are tight and stretched, expectations rise, disappointments grow, and advertisers tell us we can get something for everyone on our lists… including ourselves.  I find myself joining in all of the craziness.  And then I stop.  It’s ironic, isn’t it?  Jesus loved us so much that He came in to us… in a humble stable, the form of a helpless babe.  In my preschool class, we talk about Christ’s birth.  I ask the children to image a stable… the sights… the smells… the sounds, the animals.  We’ve been to a farm as a class, so we know what some of those smells would be like; we’ve been on a hayride, so we know how scratchy that hay is.  We’ve seen animals eat their food… no fine china there… and let’s not even talk about their dental hygiene.   But this is what the book of Luke describes the birth of Jesus as this…

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Among the muck and mire of this world, there He comes to us in a meager setting.  He comes not with fanfare, not with riches, not with a high station.  Rather, He comes in such simplicity; in a lowly state.  This inconceivable plan messes with us in our understanding of how things should be.  Isn’t that just like Jesus?  His love and ways are radical.  He loves us in a way that knocks out status, prestige, wealth, position.  He simply comes for us.  And, here we are readying ourselves for Christmas… the celebration of His birth, running around stressed and frazzled… trying to do more, to buy more, to be more.  And that is where the irony lies.  All He asks is that we open our hearts to Him and let Him in, just as we are.  He comes into the muck and the mire of our lives… not the shiny, lit, prettily wrapped packages we like to present.  
So come and adore this precious babe… the Prince of Peace, Immanuel God with Us… for that is what He wants… just us, just as we are.  The gift He offers is free.  Take some moments to sit and ponder this.  Make room for Him… this One born in a stable and laid in a manger because there was no room for Him at the inn. 
Praying you have many blessings and much joy!