Lady and Sam love getting dressed up for the holidays… Really.
It’s that time of year when we purchase stuff for others, and they reciprocate. Most of the stuff we exchange are things we don’t really need, and sometimes, they are things we don’t even want. Thus the creation of the “wish lists” and gift cards.
My daughter is having a huge fund raiser tomorrow for her mission trip, and we are putting together silent auction baskets. I was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I was able to collect around my own home to make these baskets complete. Stuff I’ve been given and purchased, and stuff I really had no trouble parting with.
Why do we collect so much stuff? Do I really need a closet full of small appliances? I’ve got enough craft supplies to keep a girl scout troop busy for years. I’m not even going to share how many pairs of black shoes I own…Really…
At this time of year when shopping is at it’s peak, I thought I’d risk a little political incorrectness, and share a top 10 list to keep in the back of your mind while shopping for others and for yourselves…
The top ten ways you might have too much stuff…
- Your neighbors call you to borrow random items…like purple construction paper and you have plenty.
- Your closet is bigger than an average bathroom…and it’s full
- You have rubbermaid in your investment portfolio… or you should.
- When pulling out Christmas stuff, you find bags of gifts from last year… and the year before.
- You have paths in room(s) through your stuff..
- When your garage is open on the weekends, people stop and try to shop.
- TLC is leaving you messages…
- You can go 3 weeks without doing the laundry and not run out of clean clothes.
- If something’s on sale, it’s a good deal no matter how many you already have…cause you can give it as a gift…
- You can make several beautiful silent auction baskets and never leave your house.
So, this time of year think twice before you buy… for others and for yourself. Be thoughtful and creative in your giving, and don’t just buy something for the sake of a package under the tree. The happiest people I know, have the least amount of stuff anyway. Really.
What was the best or worst gift you’ve ever received?
My college student, and only daughter, will not be coming home this summer. She has applied, and has been accepted, into a program through Adventures in Missions. She will leave the first of June, for a 2-month mission trip in Swaziland, Africa. Really…
My kids are all service oriented, and have experienced missions on local and national levels, and one of them has served in Mexico for 2 weeks… but none have ever traveled so far and for so long. It is giving new meaning to “letting go” for me. I thought sending her to a dorm was hard! I think my, “Top Ten Ways You Know You Have a Child Going to College
- You dream of fund raising techniques …
- You spend excessive amounts of time googling common illnesses of the region. (not recommended)
- You get your own passport…just in case.
- Praying for safety has taken on a whole new meaning.
- You have mixed emotions of pride, humbleness, fear, and faith churning in your heart.
We have had a few folks ask why? Why Africa? There is so much need right here! Spending lots of money and time to travel to a place that has no hope seems crazy! The governments are never going to allow for real change, so why bother? Well, that’s all true, but the people suffering in those places with no hope are still people. One person can make a difference. One life can be changed and we believe that one life is worth it. Our faith tells us that Christ instructed his followers to take His message to the ends of the earth, even to the places that seem hopeless. So, those that are called, go… My daughter has been called, and wild horses couldn’t stop her.
I share this with you for a few reasons; first, I covet your prayers. For her, and those she will be ministering to… Then, for her step-dad, and me, but especially for her father. He carries enough worry for everyone. Secondly, I want to share this experience with you, because that’s what good bloggers do… and last, but not least, I want to give you the opportunity to support her financially. (Refer to item 1 of my list)
You can click here
If you would like to know more about her, before you support her, here is her story in her own words…
I hope you are all doing well.
I am writing you this letter to share what has been going on in my life, and the new adventure that God has laid before me.
Many of you know, two summers ago I went a mission trip to Charlotte, NC. I had several opportunities that summer to travel abroad, in which I was most excited, but as the time came for me to make my decision, I prayed that God would show me where He wanted me to go that summer and my friend invited me to spend a month in North Carolina. My heart was in Africa, so I wasn’t even worried about going to NC but God works in mysterious ways, and all of the doors leading me abroad shut, right in my face. So Charlotte was where I went. And that summer was the one that changed my life.
Walking along side the children I helped there made me realize my passion is in showing the unloved, that they are loved, and not only by me, but by the Creator.
Now, I have started my first year in college and have been given the opportunity to, once again, go to Africa, and more specifically Swaziland. And this time, the Lord as opened the door wider than ever. An organization called Adventures in Missions has welcomed me on a team traveling to South Africa, to help in an orphanage this summer for the months of June and July.
I applied for the program, had an interview, was accepted, paid my commitment fee, and now I am in need of your help.
First and foremost, your support in prayers is what I desire the most, but I am also in need of a little financial help. The total cost of my trip is $4,985. If you would like to support me, you can make a tax-deductible donation through the mail at: Adventures In Missions, PO Box 534470, Atlanta, GA 30353-447 and be sure put my name in the memo.
Thank you so much for your support, and I’m really excited to bring you along this new journey I’m stepping into!
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NIV)
Have you had a child go off to Africa? How did you do?
This seems to be an on going debate this time of year. I’m a Merry Christmas person, because I am a Christian. This is the time of year designated for the celebration of the birth of Christ… for Christians. But it wasn’t always that way…
Christmas, in it’s earliest days, was many different things. It was a celebration of longer days for the Europeans, most commonly called the winter solstice. It was a perfect time to celebrate in Scandinavia because most cattle were slaughtered, so they would not have to be fed through the winter. Folks had plenty of meat and, in addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally ready for drinking. The Germans were busy honoring their pagan god, Oden, during this time of year, huddling inside their homes in fear. In Rome, a holiday called Saturnalla, in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture was underway. They kept busy for a month with eating, drinking and turning the Roman social order upside down. During this time they also celebrated Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome, as well as the birth of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun.
As far as Christianity had been concerned, the main holiday was Easter. Period. It wasn’t until the 4th century that the church decided to celebrate the birth of Christ. Even though it is most likely that Christ was born in the spring, Pope Julius I chose December 25th and it was first called the Feast of the Nativity.
By the middle ages, Christmas celebrations were primarily drunken, carnival-like parties, much like Mardi Gras. Finally, by the 17th century, religious reform moved in and changed the celebration drastically… temporarily. It was even cancelled for a time.
With the beginning of America, in 1620, Christmas was boycotted once again. It had gotten so bad, that the holiday was actually outlawed in Boston from 1659-1681. Then in 1828, NYC police responded to the first Christmas riot, which many think was the catalyst to reform of the celebration. It wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870. Over the next hundred years, Americans constructed their own Christmas traditions. It was built with bits and pieces of many other customs from many different cultures and time periods.
The bottom line is this; Christmas is an invented holiday, that means many different things to many different people. For the Christian, it is the chosen day to celebrate the birth of our Savior, as the story is told in the Holy Scriptures. For the Hebrew, it is Hanukkah. For the pagan, it’s the winter solstice. Greek and Russian cultures are celebrating the Epiphany or Three Kings Day, which is the day they believe the wise men found the manger. There are many other types of celebrations all around the globe… and around your neighborhood.
If Christians really want to keep Christ in Christmas, I think we should stop worrying about the well wishes of others and look at ourselves. Instead of rushing the stores at 3AM with ill intent to the person snatching the last Elmo, lets visibly practice patience, kindness, self control and gentleness. Instead of stressing through long to-do lists, let’s count every minute as a gift from God, and visibly demonstrate peace and joy. Giving should be 365 days a year, not just though the holidays. We should be donating clothes, food, and gifts frequently. Let’s invite friends, family, and neighbors, to dinner regularly. Send cookies to people just for fun a few times a year. Tip your service people well – all the time, whether they are good or not. Seriously.
The Word says, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:44-47
The Lord added to their numbers because of how they lived, which was different than everyone else. Being mad and offended is not being different. Being stressed and rushed and consumed with shopping and decorations, is not different. Christian’s can keep Christ in Christmas by being different – Galatians 5:22-23… Against such things there is no law…
Whatever your traditions are, stop worrying about what others are doing and saying and be at peace this holiday season… that is something I think we can all agree on. Really.
So, how do you celebrate on December 25th?