(I am breaking my mini series on finding JOY in our kitchen to add this Christmas wish...and a link to a wonderful friends blog.)
The tree is up. The stockings are hung. The house is decorated, and each kid has a small bin in our room with their name on it. The wishing has begun. Soon traditions will fill our home as we make the treasured family cookie recipe, hang cranberry and popcorn strings on our trees outside, having a big christmas morning breakfest, and "secertly"decorating our table christmas eve night leaving a special gift for each one by their plate to open when its time to eat...
But you see this year is going to be different....a few days ago a sweet family at our church has challenged us (through her blog) to ask a simple question this holiday season..."What if..."
~The ornaments on our trees reflect God's Grace in our family?
~We took the time to explain to the kids how they can be the light of the world whenever we see christmas lights?
~We redifined our traditons to reflect MORE of Christ and LESS of the culture?
~What if our holiday traditions and everyday life radiated the love of Christ to all who came in our home or met us as we "walked by the way?"
~What if we became radically in love with the things God loves and use our time, energy, and resources for His kingdom?
My family and I have many things on our to-do list in the next few weeks and many things on our wish list. Thinking of these questions has helped me evaluate both. There are many things I wish for my kids to focus on this holiday season....things I should focus on as well. Here are just a few from my friends blog....(These are questions I am asking myself)
(you can find the full article over at http://www.growinggraciousguys.blogspot.com/ )
"What if my children love others more than things and learn to start browsing the Compassion and World Vision gift catalogs in November so they can choose what they give on Christmas morning to children in poverty?
(What if my husband and I did this also)
What if the department store catalogs made my children sad rather than greedy?
(What if I stayed away from those and was content with what I have)
What if my husband and I forgo what we would normally do for our children and instead bless others in their names?
(What if our kids were just as excited about THOSE gifts and not sad about the toy they didn't get?)
Pretty sure someone out there is yelling that I'm sucking all the fun out of Christmas. But what is Christmas? The celebration of the Greatest Gift. We've been given freedom, salvation, sonship, power, grace, mercy, justification, redemption, eternity! Our response: give as it has been given to you. "
(What if we didn't care about what others thought and decided to be "Set apart?")
All I want for Christmas this year is redefine normal....redfine my reactions to the simpliest of things like the christmas ornaments, lights, and the crowds. To the more complex things like how many presents do we give each child, what will those gifts be, what kind of gifts to give others.
This year we are starting a few new tradtions-ones that focus on the eternal and the needs of others...and not soo much on the deals, and wish lists. Again I was challenged by my friend..."How do the little and the big things we do around the holidays share our unspoken values to our children?" We are not going to take away all of our holiday traditions but refocus them on Christ. Look at them through the eyes of the Gospel and see if there needs to be any change.
Some of the new changes I am excited about are starting this year are "The Jesse Tree Devotional" which you can find over at Ann Voskamps Blog. (you can find the printables at the end of her devotional here: a http://www.holyexperience.com/free-advent-devotional. And we are going to open up the World Vision Catolog and find some ways we can give. We are also going to have a prayer tree...one that we hang prayer requests on to keep our focus on others' needs this year. This tree is simple to make (using sand, a vase/container,and a few sticks in the yard) and will sit in the middle of our kitchen table. These "new" tradtions I hope to continue on throughout the year, keeping our focus on others' needs as the prayer tree will continue to stay, doing a in depth study on the lineage of Christ (as the Jesse Tree emphasis'), and keeping our eyes on Compassion and World Vision catologs so we can give throughout the year. I am hoping our tradtions will not only add to our holiday season but will continue in our home and hearts throughout the year.
All I want for Christmas this year is to fill my childrens hearts and our home with more ways we can love the things God loves.
I leave you with one more quote from My friend," The goal is not to get rid of all the traditional Christmas practices but to redeem each one in a distinctly Christ-honoring way. "
I pray as you go about your day crossing off your to-do's and looking over your wish list that you will take time to pray and see if maybe, just maybe, God wants you to redeem the season, in a small way, or a big way.