Archive for November, 2012

Giving MORE at Christmas

Gift Giving
Once again – I was reflecting on lots of things about gift giving for this holiday and then read something from Jen Hatmaker that was better said and even more what I wanted to live by….so…please read here: http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2011/11/29/the-christmas-conundrum
However, in addition, I offer:

My thoughts:

I had to work at Barnes and Noble for my job (non-profits can wrap presents there in order to tell people about their organization and get donations), but it was actually one of the harder few hours. I watched people buying insane amounts of things and then rudely asking me to wrap them (while making comments about how they didn’t even care if it was a good present or not, they just had to get something…or the like) and then either giving a few coins, a dollar or usually no donation to foster children who will get little Christmas this year. So, my heart was sick…at the commercialism of Christmas – about the lie around me. I want to be free from it more than ever, yet I’m a gift giver. What do I do?

First off: We’ve started making gifts in our family – it has already started and the kids are already super excited about it – working hard on their projects for each person.

Secondly: We are trying to give gifts in honor of people. My favorite gift magazines (that also give you cards to give your recipient) are from World Vision, International Justice Mission, Compassion International, and Samaritan’s Purse.

Third: I confess I am only beginning this journey of fair trade. I am embarrassed that I know so very little about it all. http://www.relevantmagazine.com/reject-apathy/magazine/archives/issue-02/statements/26153-fair-trade-churches  I have looked into the book The Better World Shopping Guide…which looks into the goods and evils of lots of companies (though not at all complete and not Christian – it is a nice little handbook on hand when I can get overwhelmed). If I am educated by my impact on the world…how I directly affect others: http://slaveryfootprint.org/, then I have to respond. I’m more than ever grossed out by Walmart and Oriental Trading Company and others http://www.dol.gov/ilab/programs/ocft/PDF/2011TVPRA.pdf  But, besides choosing to vote with my dollars to NOT buy things at some places, I can buy gifts that are both fair trade and support issues I care about:
(Easiest issues to change buying habits are in chocolate: http://www.helponenow.org/slave-labor-chocolate/  and coffee)
Besides Jen’s list…I add:
www.serrv.org
http://www.tenthousandvillages.com
http://givcoffee.com

Anti-trafficking products: http://www.justice-generation.com/ethically-produced-goods/

Resources from YWAM, Voice of the Martyrs, Compassion, World Vision (I have a wishlist a mile long from these things…as do my kids)

Also, – let us also not forget the ever green and thoughtful idea of giving used items – your favorite book, your child’s favorite toy – something you find at Goodwill that you know someone will love (I KNOW I’LL LOVE IT).

I have LONG WAY TO GO in all of this…but Baby Steps…(though the Lord is welcome to shove me once in a while).

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Advent – Putting Christ back into Christmas….and taking the crap out of it too (did I just say that?)

Dare to read some words with me: “The traditional Christmas that we have grown up with is about a feel-good, insulated, holly-jolly Santa Claus Jesus who leaves us isolated from the needs of the world.  We are detached from the servant Son of God who would not be exempt or insulated from pain, suffering, or death.  Jesus experienced the injustice and unfairness of life in its extremes when, beginning at age two, he lived with his family as refugees in Africa to escape the Judean genocide.  He was executed as a criminal of the state around the age of thrity-three.  So will someone please tell me:  Where is the disconnect between Jesus’ birthday, refugees, genocide, and Africa?”  (Mike Slaughter in his book Change the World)

So, because this quote rocks me to the core…each year we are trying to take a step closer to “putting Christ back into Christmas”, but the reality is that Christmas is to stuffed with tradition of holiday Santa movies and irrelevant expensive mumbo jumbo (all stuff I LOVE by the way) that there is no space for Jesus to fit in to my Christmas.  Sorry dude, there is no room for you at this inn … again.  Seems to be a little too cliche.  So, guess that means I have to dump my crap.  That’s painful, because it doesn’t look like crap – it looks like some serious amount of fun (and pounds) making Christmas cookies.  It looks like me not getting gifts for everyone in the world (which is my love language by the way).  It looks like I won’t be able to make every production in town of anything with “Christmas” in the title because “Hey – tis the season” and “It comes but just once a year”.

SO – my first LOVE of this challenge is from Advent COnspiracy:  http://youtu.be/eVqqj1v-ZBU

Free Advent Study from World Vision:

http://www.worldvision.org/content.nsf/learn/advent-2009?Open&lpos=lft_txt_Advent-Resources

LOADS of cool ways to make is practical (know lots of cool ideas from different families from random acts of kindness to more extreme giving/serving)

Other awesome advent calendars in general are:  http://www.serrv.org/product/advent-calendar/divine-chocolate  or  http://www.lifesongfororphans.org/blog/2012/10/celebrate-advent-love-orphans/

Let us just recall what it is all about (I gotst me some Charlie Brown up in here)

http://youtu.be/e5TF4U36GFg

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Why it is so Important to Teach Children how to Worship (Thanksgiving)

The Children’s Ministry Director at my church has been focusing on Worship for a couple months with the kids. I confess that I thought it was great and all, but only just recently got how INSANELY powerful Worshiping/Adoration of God is. Though I probably had some of this insight before in my Christian experience (I tend to have insights and then forget them for years only to think it is a new insight when I have it again). There are likely a million reasons why worship of God is so essential, but the one that clicked for me anew (beyond just the basic – God is a holy, amazing God and the only one worthy to worship & the fact that we were MADE to worship) is this:
Worshipping WHO God is different and longer lasting than thanking Him. I am really good at thanking God. I consider myself to be a pretty thankful person. My kids are usually thankful people. I think thanking God for the things He has given us and done is really big and not something we should stop doing. It reminds us of what we have and where it came from. However, In the ACTS idea of prayer (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication) – I lacked the most in Adoration. I would kind of say, “God you are great” or “God you are powerful”, but I didn’t meditate on it. I could, however, dive deep into confession, cry in thanksgiving and excel at giving my requests to God. However, I realized how much the rest rely on the first – Adoration (or worship of who God is…His names, His qualities).
If my kids look at me and say, “Mom, thank you for being kind to me today” – that is nice and good, but if they say to me, “Mom, you ARE kind” – that is not only more honoring to me, but it also suggests something that they believe for themselves. They don’t just think that my kindness is a day to day thing, but that it is part of my character and that they can rely on it. Similarly, if I worship God by not just saying “thank you for providing for us this month” (not that we shouldn’t, but I think we need to go beyond to also say) “You are my provider”. This is more. This is bigger. It is telling God who He is to the universe. It is reminding my own soul that not only did God provide this month, but he will the next month – because it is WHO HE IS!
What is we raised our children to worship God…not just in thanking Him for what He has given us (for those things fail and can leave us quickly), not just thanking him for one day of something He has done (for we need Him the next day too), but for WHO HE IS? Would we live differently? Would we want to know this person we know the qualities of more?

Consider:

God, You are my protector – not only do you me today, not only did you do it yesterday, but it is WHO YOU ARE. I can rely on your protection because you can’t deny your own qualities.

God, You are my forgiver – not just because you did it once on that small sin, but because you forgive. That is what you do. Apart from me and my sin – that is who you are. I can come to you for forgiveness.

God, You are THE Comforter – not only have you been there for me in the past for a hard day, not only do I need you now for struggles, but you are waiting for comfort – you are always there.

ETC…

The hope is that later in life – when we aren’t there to guide our children’s interactions with God – that they wouldn’t crave a particular response from God – something to thank Him for, but crave HIM. He is Good. He is Eternal and Knows all. If I can view the experiences He allows me to have through that lens, it is different. Actions of faith also pour from that.

We can always make God even bigger to realize that He is worshipped and glorified all over the Earth. Our God is WORTHY of Worship. He reigns over the WHOLE EARTH. That is a big comfort in the midst of Hurricanes, Elections, Diseases, etc

http://youtu.be/OwM6meAVWqc
http://youtu.be/6zQl48L4M0s

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