Advent, Children, Christmas, Giving Thanks

More Jesus

Four Christmas’s ago, in the middle of the gift exchange, they stopped opening gifts because they were tired. Overwhelmed. And there was no where left to sit. We waded through the mountains of shiny paper and sparkling ribbons, trying to make sure we weren’t throwing anything away. And I frowned watching them run out of steam Christmas morning.  This is not what it’s supposed to be like.

I felt sick. The excess that year was nauseating. Since then it’s been a slow effort to change Christmas here. I admit, I love to give my kids things. I do. I love to see their faces shine when they get that special thing they have been wanting, or that super-cool thing they didn’t even know they wanted until they received it.  But as God has been working on me, and as I try to make room for Him, my joy comes differently these days. We haven’t finished this journey, it’s hard. But God is moving…

We packed shoe boxes for the first time this year. It was awesome. The kids had so much fun selecting their gifts and packing them up.  They filled out the papers and made cards to include in their boxes. And I saw that look that I love, the light shining in them, glimmers of Christ. 

We have also taken time, looking over the Compassion catalogue. My boys leaping around the table with excitement, when they discovered that you could buy a real live chicken for someone three thousand miles away. I was pretty excited myself, watching them shout out which gifts they’d like to give.

“I hope Manirakiza (our sponsored schild) gets a chicken!” one said. I told them that while we weren’t able to choose which family gets our gifts, we can certainly pray that God guides them to the right place. Because that’s what he does, isn’t it? He steers and guides all things to their proper and appointed places. Chickens, shoe boxes…hearts…..  He blesses those in need constantly, because he loves deeply.  In giving our gifts we demonstrate our love for one another. But the thing is, my kids know we love them. They don’t really need another plastic wrapped toy to prove it.  My three year old doesn’t really need another baby doll, she has at least four, and she doesn’t play with any of them.  How may plastic dinosaurs does my son need? None– because he already has enough to fill a large storage bin. We are bursting here with plenty of stuff, but what I want is just more Christ in our Christmas- just more Jesus.

What I want is for my children to feel the same.

My Christmas wish, my prayer, is just more Jesus.

For me,

for my kids,

for the whole world. 

It feels like a tall order, but God is big enough, and that’s what He does. He gives the good gifts, that we might learn to give as he gives, to give what he gives, more love, more of himself, more Jesus.

I keep counting the gifts in my life, big and small, the Lord gives them all….

Counting on to my 1000 Gifts…

661. Hand made gifts from my children.

661. My baby girl saying the ‘Our Father’ with the conviction of a pentacostal preacher, I can’t help but shout “preach it, sister!”  and smile wide.

662. laughter on raining afternoons

663. First flurries of the season, the anxiousness awaiting the first snow

664.The tiredness that sets and won’t be shaken, the rest that comes when needed

665. Dinner around the table, the six of us…

666. The learning that comes for me as I teach them.

667. Illumination of Scriptures, God breathed, inspired to inspire

668. Friends

669. Feeling insignificant, but knowing the truth of who I am in christ

670. A heart longing for more Jesus. Aching really, for just more of Him.

670. Sharing a journey with a dear friend

671. Impromptu dinner with a friend, much needed encouragement and wisdom that always comes from her  heart.

What do you want for Christmas?

Joining the community of friends and Ann in giving thanks for all things. Won’t you join in the praise?

 

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Comments

  1. I so get this: “My three year old doesn’t really need another baby doll, she has at least four, and she doesn’t play with any of them.” Yes, yes, yes to this, Kris: “We are bursting here with plenty of stuff, but what I want is just more Christ in our Christmas- just more Jesus.”

    My problem is that I get frustrated when people (ahem, extended family) continue to give these things when we’ve requested no more. But frustration isn’t always the best response I should have. 

    Like you, we never want material presents to be the focus of Christmas (or any time of the year), but instead His Greatest Gift.

    Thank you for sharing this post. (I love your kids excitement over shoeboxes and the Compassion catalog! We did a shoebox for the first time year this, too!)

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Caroline~ I am glad you understand. It is really hard. I feel the struggle is harder for the kids because they are *used to* getting a lot fo stuff, and it is making scaling back harder… The last thing I want is for them to become materialistic little people who are all about the gifts and not about THE GIFT.  *sigh* I am just praying through it, that God would give them the heart for HIM, and that as we continue to scale down, they will not feel loss, but rather the richness we have in Christ… If your extended family doesn’t get it, have you considered donating the stuff they give you, or giving them a specific list of things your children need, like things for school, or clothes? Praying for your family, I know the struggle well 😉 God bless you, sweet sister.

      Reply
  2. Ro elliott

    I love the journey you are on…continue to let Him lead…He will take your family on the path He has for your family…
    Love #661…brought a big smile..
    Blessings~

    Reply
  3. I’ve had the same reality check about Christmas.  Finances kept me from overdoing it in years past, but then I was jealous and bitter that we couldn’t experience Christmas like so many of my friends…(sigh) when will I learn?

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Praying for you this Christmas, that you find God’s glory in everything and that you feel peace and joy in HIM as you celebrate… Blessings to you and your family,my friend.

      Reply
  4. Kelly

    We too are on this journey- this hard hard journey.  Because while my kids can say “Thank you Jesus for our blessings” the next minute they can be screaming discontent because the birthday gift they got wasn’t exactly “the one” they wanted 🙁  And it’s ugly.  And I can see just where they need to grow- but know it will take some pain and tears to get there.  And that is what love does- pushes through the pain, walks through the pain with us, to get us where we need to be.  Thanks for this post- for inviting us to share the journey with you. 

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Yes, it’s so hard when we see *that* side, the ugly unhappiness of wishes unfulfilled, when they are surrounded by blessings… I search for the teachable moments, but sometimes, I admit, I just get angry about it. I try to remember taht while they are showing their attitudes, sometimes, it is an outward reflection of my own ugly heart… May we all learn to LOVE and share Christ first… 

      Reply
  5. My kids are grown, but still we are on this journey, too.  The “growing pains” are hardest for the 19 yr. old.  They will see that Christmas is still Christmas…and more blessed yet…when there is not the distraction of so much stuff.

    Reply
  6. Operation Christmas Child is a great way to put the “pause” button on this sometimes-crazy season. Looks like you’re finding a way to slow things down, to seek more of Him, to “make room” in the inn of your heart. Be blessed this season.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Yes, it is. It was such a gift to US to join in and participate. I know this will be something we do again and again.  Thank you for your encouragement, and for stopping by to read. I follow your writing, and it is always a blessing, my friend.

      Reply
  7. As Ann Graham Lotz says, “Just give me Jesus”!  He is really all that I want, yet I still struggle with wanting other things.  I am on a continual journey of going deeper.  We love Operation Christmas Child.  For the last 8 years, our church has fed 150 people in our area who are homeless or just down on their luck and we have adopted the “shoe box” gift ideas for the children there.  It’s so much fun to be able to give back.  Thank you for this beautiful post my friend!  May you receive more of Him as you draw near!

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      That’s really neat, Barbie. I love to see churches involved in that kind of outreach. It’s critical, and makes such a difference, in the lives of those who come to be fed… and in the lives of those who are willing to feed…. Blessings to you, sister, this Advent and Christmas… may we learn to be satisfied with just more Jesus! 

      Reply
  8. Hi Kris,
    Took me a while to catch up with this post. We have been attempting that slow change of the hearts of a family regarding Christmas too. It is hard, even Jesus assumed that parents love to give good gifts to their children – we are pushing against a lot of impulses and assumptions when trying to have less stuff and more Jesus in Christmas. 

    I think one of my big learning curves is to genuinely know myself that Jesus is all I need and then to learn how to show that to my kids – will take a few more Christmases before I do this well!

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Yes, Mike. I think you said it well, perhaps when I full embrace that Jesus is ALL I need, then I can be more effective at translating this to my own children… Praying taht we learn and live this well. Blessings to you and yours, Mike.

      Reply

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