“Intentional Christmasing”

If you’re like me, life whizzes by at lightening speed, especially this time of year…I mean, there are only 12 more days until Christmas and  I am still digesting my Thanksgiving meal!

It is for this reason that a few years ago I decided to slow things down for our family.  We began the tradition of a weekend in the mountains to stay in a simple but quaint cabin, without technology, and a ultimate focus on Jesus being the reason for the season.  My intention was to help all of us take a deep breath before hitting the pavement of sales, flashing lights, songs about Rudolph, and wish lists that grow each week.  If we went away, into the quiet of nature and family, maybe we could instill in our children’s hearts a perspective other than “me, me, me!”  We could talk about the gifts and talents Jesus gave them, and how we can use them to give back to Him in this life.  Stories from the bible, and crafts that reminded my children of Christ, warm meals together and maybe a Christmas movie snuck in somewhere became the agenda.

A couple of years into this tradition, we invited close family friends that we had known for twenty years.  It quickly became a standing tradition of theirs too.  This year, we all headed up to Snow Mountain Ranch again, hoping for a little breather before the race to the 25th began.

This is the view! Peaceful!

Our activities this year included…..um, a lot of this…

 

And this…(decorating cookies)

 

And this…(puzzles)

We did get out and go on a hike.  Notice the mailbox name:

On Saturday night, after filling our stomachs at a taco bar, we invited the kids to gather around for a time of teaching.  I read from The Advent Book, a wonderful story of Jesus’s birth presented in a book with doors for kids to open and beautiful illustrations.  I got this book years ago at a MOPS convention, but you can still find them on Amazon here.

We asked the kids to share what the birth of Jesus meant in their lives…it was very sweet to hear their responses.  A lit candle stood on a table, and  we shared about how we can be a light to others since we have Jesus in our hearts, and asked the kids to reflect on this each time they saw a candle flicker this season.

After we felt we had sufficiently rewired their hearts to the true Christmas spirit (he he), the kids got to do an ornament exchange–and I don’t think we had any tears this year!

 

 

Our final event of the weekend is always a Christmas tree hunt.  We bundle up and treck  through the forest, in search of the very best Charlie Brown tree.  It is a tradition our family loves.  After all the families have hauled their trees out of the woods, we serve hot chocolate to the kiddos and wine and cheese to the adults.

It’s a wrap!  We headed home with a competition.  Whoever had their tree up and lit first that night would get $50 off next year’s lodging (we won).

More importantly, we came home with hearts in the right place, as the wave of materialism and presents seemed a bit smaller than before we left.  I have named this “Intentional Christmasing,” and if I’m not on top of it, it won’t happen.  Being intentional does not easily go with the flow of life, whether it’s making a date night happen, calling your out of town family to say hello, or setting a little time aside to focus on Jesus.  But, it is worth it.

Day 1: The Gift of Perspective

Written By Amy

 

I am having a tough time maintaining perspective this Christmas season.  My crazy busy life has turned my Christmas sparkle into a list of to do’s!  This is the first Christmas in many years that I have had a job, which dramatically cuts down on the hours available to get my normal present-shopping, card-sending, cookie making, party-throwing, gift-wrapping, grocery-shopping, house-decorating, tree-trimming, calendar-making, needle-vacuming agenda done! As a result, I found myself tonight at a wonderful Christmas concert called Christmas at the Ranch (Cherry Hills Community Church in Denver) struggling to turn my brain off so I could enjoy the gift of the music and the dancing and the celebration that it was.  As I flipped through the program, I paused at four phrases on the back, which seemed to be the sermon series currently going on at the Church.  They were so simple yet so true.

Here is what it said:

All I want for Christmas is…

…to be able to smile again after a tough year.

…to be truly content with what I have.

…to be more aware of God’s presence in my life.

…to celebrate Jesus more than anything else. 

Reading this was a fresh wind to my soul.  It was perspective.  It got me back on track.  I am going to display these somewhere I can see them each and every day.

If you would like to print them out too, click here!

It is my  first gift to you!

I Love You

Written By Amy

Jen and I have big plans starting in a few days.  We are excited to share the Joy of Christmas with you in all sorts of ways!  So, like the first lick of the tip of an ice cream cone, here is the first taste of our Christmas celebrating.

You see, Christmas is about one thing.  God loving us.  It is beyond our imagination, that love.  But it is real and it is something to celebrate.  Here are Sara Young’s thoughts on this love, written as if God was speaking to us:

I love you.  Take a moment, be still and think about that.  I am the Creator of the universe, the Ruler of Time, the master of all you can see–and I love you! My love is so big that it fills up all space, time, and eternity.  I know that you don’t fully understand the magnitude of my love for you.  You see glimpses of it now–as you feel Me guiding you, drawing you closer to Me, and answering your prayers.  But one day you will see Me face-to-Face.  Then you will know exactly how wide and long and high and deep My Love for you really is.  For now, just know that My Love is so great it cannot be measured.  And it goes with you through every moment of every day.   ~Jesus Calling p.57

The greatest expression of God’s love for you and me was the gift of himself, a baby, God in the flesh, here on earth to be in relationship with us.

So, as you shop and plan and bake and celebrate, remember the reason for it all!

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