“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.

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!

Devotional: Laughing At Troubles

Written By Amy

I wanted to share with you a devotional from “Jesus Calling” for kids.  When I read this to my kids, I often think how simple and true the words are for me too.  Before you read it, answer these questions:  Do you laugh freely?  Do you find joy in each day? Or, is your smile and joy buried beneath heaps of worry and troubles?  Here’s words for kids, and us, from Sarah Young:

She is clothed with strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come.   Proverbs 31:25

Learn to laugh at yourself and the world.  Instead of getting bogged down in the mud of worry and fear, laugh and be happy because I am by your side.  Just as parents delight in the laughter of their children, so I delight in hearing you laugh.  I feel happy when you trust Me enough to enjoy your life.

Don’t let worrying over troubles–especially things that haven’t even happened yet–keep you from laughing.  Live each day to its fullest by being full of My Joy.  That doesn’t mean you won’t ever have any problems.  It doesn’t mean you won’t ever be sad.  But it does mean that when troubles come, you can still have Joy because the Creator of the universe is right there beside you–helping you with your problems.

So learn to laugh at your troubles….and you’ll find that they aren’t nearly so troublesome.

Jesus Calling, 365 Devotions for Kids, p. 176

Challenge: Are You Worshiping the Wrong Things?

Written By Amy

I am reading a great book called Real Moms…Real Jesus.  Jill Savage, the author, writes about how we tend to worship the wrong things in life instead of worshiping God.  God had been speaking to her heart about her addiction with pride and control…and how that was an act of worshiping another God in her life.  Here’s a bit of the conversation she was having with God:

“Over the next few days, God took that conversation a little farther.   He took me to Exodus 20 where you can read the Ten Commandments.  The first commandment is “You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me” (verse 3).  I have read that verse many times before but this time it struck me differently.  All of a sudden I saw pride differently.  I never thought of it this way before, but it is actually the worship of ourselves.  We begin to think, often subconsciously, that our ways are the best ways–even better than God’s ways–so we move our eyes off of God to ourselves.  We worship the wrong thing.”  (Page 38)

She goes on to share other things we have set up as “Gods” in our life:

*Worry is The Worship of Our Circumstances

*Unforgiveness and bitterness is The Worship of  Hurt Caused by Someone Else        (Page 40)

I’m adding some others:

* Jealousy is the Worship of Others

* Discontentment  is the Worship of Want

* Impatience is the Worship of Me and My Schedule

* Control is the Worship of Things Going My Way

* Judgement is the Worship of Self Promotion

Me and I just seeps out of those phrases doesn’t it?  God wants us to take the focus off of ourselves.  He lovingly knows that when we stop worshiping ourselves and focus on him, life falls into perspective.  Here’s what I mean:

Peace is worshiping God and trusting Him with our life

Contentment is worshiping God and  believing what He has given us is more than enough

Patience is worshiping God and trusting in His timing

Hope is worshiping God and knowing He is always good

Grace is worshiping God and understanding we can extend grace because we have been given grace.

Forgiveness is worshiping God and having strength to forgive because we are forgiven by Him

Where is the focus of your worship?  How is the scale tipped…you vs. God?   I don’t know about you, but I will be thinking twice when I get impatient with how long my kids are taking to get in (or out of) the car, or when I get a little bent out of shape because my husband doesn’t do something the way I would do it.

Less of me, more of God.

 

 

 

 

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