Monthly Archives: December 2011

gift from God

Christmas…

It’s Christmas week! How are you doing? Are you enjoying the season? Are you frazzled and stressed about all the things that “must” be done? Maybe your heart is dreading the emptiness of waking up on Christmas morning without a loved one. Maybe you’re experiencing a mixture of all three! Christmas brings out a myriad of emotions… it makes me tired just thinking about it! Here are some ideas to help you navigate the week:

Don’t neglect your daily time with the Lord. It’s easy for me to crowd God out during this week. How crazy is that? Christmas is supposed to be about celebrating our Savior’s birth and yet I pass Him by on my way to Christmas parties, Christmas baking and Christmas wrapping… hmmm…something is wrong with that picture.
During your daily conversations with Him, ask God what He wants you to do that day and what things you can cross off the list. I’m continually amazed by the things He encourages me to do and the things He says aren’t necessary. Filling this week with His priorities will give you a daily list that’s actually doable and memories that will be priceless!
Ask the Lord if there are lonely people He wants you to encourage or ask to join you for Christmas. Even if you are lonely yourself, ask Him to give you the strength to reach out to someone else. The enemy of our souls works overtime to isolate God’s people during Christmas. Helping others is a Christmas blessing to everyone involved and he knows it.

Martha Stewart’s daughter wrote about Christmas in her house growing up. Her mom may be the queen of the “perfect” Christmas, but the memories she has of those celebrations sound full of bitterness and regret. Perfect decorations, perfect food and perfectly wrapped gifts don’t make a perfect Christmas. However, a mom who pursues the peace of Jesus rather than the perfect Christmas will give her children the gift of Christmas memories they’ll cherish for a lifetime.

The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:4-5 NLT

Christmas presents

Giving an unexpected gift…

We did it! In my last blog I told you about the unexpected gift my family received. On Tuesday the kids and I went to Panera Bread to give someone else an unexpected gift!

We prayed in the car, went inside, ordered a snack for ourselves and purchased a gift card. Sitting at a table with a view of the cash register we signed the gift card: From someone who wants you to know God loves you. I asked the employee at the register to give the card to the 2nd or 3rd person who comes in and let him/her know it’s a gift to help pay for their order. I emphasized that we didn’t want the person to know who gave the card. The girl at the register was surprised and confused, but said she would love to do it.

The kids and I enjoyed our snack while they did homework and we waited to see who God wanted to receive the gift. I have to tell you, it did not go according to plan! We never saw the girl give the card to anyone. Maybe her manager told her not to give it away. Maybe she didn’t want to do it while we were there. Maybe she wanted it for herself… We talked about it and decided to leave without asking her.

Although the result was disappointing, it provided a wonderful “teachable moment”! We talked about the fact that God calls us to be faithful to do what He asks us to do and leave the results to Him. He is in control of the gift He asked us to give and He will make sure it gets into the right hands.  It may be that the employee is the one God wanted to bless!  Sometimes He lets us see the results and sometimes He doesn’t but either way, we can be sure the gift is not wasted!

Teaching our children to give to others without trying to control how God uses the gift will free them to become generous givers for a lifetime!

gift bow pic

Unexpected Gift…

I’m going to do it with my children after school today and I can’t wait! It started back in July…

We had breakfast plans with friends at one of our favorite restaurants. Finances were extremely tight and I woke up in the middle of the night worried about spending the little money we had on a luxury like eating out. Laying in the dark I talked with the Lord about it. “How are we going to pay for breakfast and cover the other expenses of the day? Should we call our friends and cancel?” There was no voice from Heaven, but I did have a quiet sense that He would take care of it and that we were to go to breakfast.

The next morning I debated, ‘Should I just order coffee and keep the bill down?’ Again, the quiet voice spoke to my heart, ‘I said, “Go to breakfast” not “coffee”!’ I gave in and ordered what my taste buds had been dreaming of, a Vern’s cinnamon roll, 2 eggs and coffee.

I’m still in awe of what happened next. The waitress came to tell us that a man had just paid our bill! We couldn’t believe it! An anonymous person (or couple) paid for all eight of us! To this day we have no idea who the gift giver was, but we will never forget the lessons learned.

• I was willing to settle for coffee when God wanted to give me one of the best cinnamon rolls in America! When God tells us to trust Him we can be sure He has a plan for providing what we need. I would’ve missed out on His blessing if I ignored His voice and only ordered coffee.
• Our kids saw God provide in a unique and totally unexpected way. I wish you could’ve seen the look on their faces! They’ve seen Him provide for our needs many times, but this gift was simply because He loves us and wants to give us good gifts. It reinforced the reality that God is a Personal God and He is intimately involved in our life.

Today my kids and I are going to a local pastry hangout and asking the Lord to show us who needs a gift from Him, through us. We’re so excited! I’ll tell you how it goes!

What about you? How are you giving gifts of God’s love this Christmas?

For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16  NLT

Santa kneeling 3

Christmas and Santa…

My daughter spilled the beans about Santa. She was in 2nd grade and a group of girls were huddled on the playground talking (rapidly) about their Christmas wish lists. One friend giggled her excitement about Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve. My daughter felt she needed to set her straight.

“You know that Santa’s not real.” She announced with stern authority.
“Yes he is!”
“No he’s not!”
“Yes—.” You get the idea. Her friend had the last word, however. Just as the recess bell rang she said, “Rush Limbaugh says that anyone who doesn’t believe in Santa is stupid!”

When I picked her up after school my daughter blurted out the story and asked, “I’m not stupid. You said Santa isn’t real. He isn’t is he?”

What do you do about the ‘Santa’ thing in your house? It was a tough one for us. We like the fun and excitement of the Santa stories and the anticipation of his coming. However, we were deeply concerned about two issues. First, we didn’t want the message of Christ’s birth to get lost. Second, we didn’t want to lie to our children.

It’s tempting to get rid of Santa altogether for fear of watering down the Christmas message, but we decided to enjoy the traditions of Santa and use them to point our kids to Jesus. We talked about the first Santa, St. Nicholas. God used him to help needy and hurting children. (Did you know he went to jail for standing firm in his faith?)  We talked about the fact that if Santa were real, he would probably be one of the first to bow at the manger and give his heart to Jesus.

We chose not to lie to our kids about Santa. We didn’t want them to ever doubt that their parents tell them the truth, especially about important matters like Santa and Christmas. We decided that, when they asked if Santa is real, we would tell them the truth, “No, Santa isn’t a real person, but we have a fun time pretending. Daddy pretends to be Santa when everyone is asleep. We can still pretend.” We kept on pretending… ash footprints on the hearth, cookie crumbs left on Santa’s plate, and presents mysteriously appearing under the tree.

My kids are teenagers now. Their faith in Jesus is strong and their love for Christmas overflows. Weaving Santa into the celebration has equipped them to use the Santa traditions to point people to the real hero of Christmas Christ the Savior of the world. An extra bonus: many happy Christmas memories!!
“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of darkness, a light will shine.” Isaiah 9:2 NLT