Saturday, December 31, 2011

something has to change.

that's a great christmas post title, right? but i think it perfectly explains what's going on in my heart and my brain.

(and yes, i'm totally going to document our christmas in a later post, don't you worry. i just feel like i need to write down what's pressing first.)

lately, i feel like we're raising our children to be ungrateful. accidentally. because we're not intentionally doing anything that would teach them otherwise. when a child has so much, there is nothing left to want. and i think when a child or anyone doesn't understand that feeling of want, it does something weird to their heart.

it's doing something weird to my heart.

if i want something, i just go to the store and get it. basically. i mean, not anything super crazy. but in general, that's what i do. but there was a time when i couldn't do that years ago. i couldn't even get milk. we were just broke. it was annoying but it was so good. we have hilarious memories of "making do" and being resourceful. jimmy rigging things. scrounging for change to get ice-cream. and man, that ice-cream was really good.

that's why i still dumpster dive. and heart sales and clearance. and being resourceful and cutting coupons. and all that. that time really shaped me as a person. in a good way.

and i grew up in a family of 10.
8 children.
the girls all slept in one room and the boys in another. we shared clothes and toys and beds even.
we did not get what we wanted whenever we asked. we didn't have a lot of money. i don't remember going without but there was an understanding that things will not go your way about 95% of the time. you may get boots. but not the brand you asked for. the knock off. uhthankyou.
even at'd better get down stairs first if you want the good cereal. healthy competition. but an understanding that sometimes, you wake up late and you're eating toast. no one threw a fit. just take the walk of shame to the bread cabinet. silently glaring at the sibling with a full bowl...slurping and smiling with cereal streaming through their grin.

so yes, i remember the feeling of want. and although it was hard, it was good to feel that. because when you received something...even tiny, it meant so much.

i was grateful.

for some reason around this christmas season, things slowed down. it wasn't crazy. we did advent, and it became a time of self examination. i had more time to focus on what's been going on in my heart. identifying things that don't belong there. and hey, a lot of things don't belong in there.

i feel like i've moved backwards a little since those penny pinching days. i just have let myself go in impulsive spending. not being super thoughtful about our budget or a little debt. and we're dave ramsey lovers even. that makes it worse. i'm ashamed of myself.

nothing like public confession. ha....awkward laugh...sigh...

so anyway, all that to say, although our christmas was really great, things are going to have to change around here.  i don't know if you guys read anne voscamps blog or get her devotionals in your email. well she's pretty much blown me away with how intentional she is about shaping her children's hearts.

i sat at my computer crying sometime at the beginning december reading about how they do christmas. it was at that point, i felt the sting of conviction. their children forgo gifts for themselves and instead, spend the money they would spend on gifts and give clean water, mosquito nets, blankets, goats, etc. to people around the world in need of basic items to survive.

TO SURVIVE. and there my child sleeps with 3 blankets, 5 pillows, 2 stuffed animals, a million pairs of shoes, toys out his eyeballs. he wakes up and drinks clean water. gets milk whenever he wants. has plenty to eat. and also has no idea about malaria, starvation or anything of that sort.
now layne is a really sweet kid. he's not naughty. not a super brat. he is such a treasure. but i see something budding in his character. (and in my character. and in my husband's character. and in our family's character). and it is not ok.

Layne just got a lot of new toys on christmas and there he lays stretched out on the floor says, I'm bored. with a  heavy sigh.

and in that moment i see myself this year. sighing.
i'm bored with my old stuff.
i'm bored with my couch.
i'm bored with my kitchen.
i'm bored with my clothes.
this list goes on.

my heart has been ungrateful. you wouldn't know it. no, i hide it.
i feel a whisper saying, why do you want more and more when we you have all that you need in Christ? and i have the audacity to say with my actions and thoughts, i'm bored with what you offer me, Jesus.

no more. i repent. this year will be a process of getting back to what really matters. with being intentional about my friendships and intentional about the way we raise our children. intentional about our spending and intentional about finding those things we love more than Christ and getting rid of them.

next year's christmas will definitely look different. we aren't sure exactly what it will look like, but we are thinking that it will be one gift under the tree for each child. and the rest of the gifts that would be there will be given to others who are in need. one gift because i still want the kids to get a sense of anticipation and waiting.
(here layne and nato are playing with one of his favorite toys that i bought AT THE DOLLAR STORE! of course.)

it will be good for our hearts. and perhaps it will create a sense of gratitude for the best gift we've been given... which is a baby, Jesus, born to die for us. to save us from the mess.

and i need that.
don't we all.

no, i'm not trying to be a fun killer. and what we're doing is not the way everyone should do things. no i'm not trying to be self righteous. i hope that some of you do get mad at me for writing this and that it stirs something in your hearts. yes, i do enjoy healthy dialogue about anything i write. feel free to disagree.

here is more on what's changing.


  1. Im with you 100%. Ive been feeling alot of the same stuff lately. We have so much and yet we always need more...something different. That OTHER fill in the blank item.
    I need to re-read Made to Crave. Putting that on my to do list. I bought it thinking it owuld deal with food issues and it does, but its also about ANY-THING that comes before Christ in your life. Stuff, addiction, people, ministry,etc...
    Thanks for making me think today Jami. Happy New Year!

  2. Agreed! 100 percent! We followed Ann Voskamp's lead this year and my kids didn't even notice because they got so much from other family (aunt/uncles, grandparents, cousins, etc). We still had one gift for all of them to share from Santa because i didn't want to spoil that aspect. And they picked from the gift catalog. They chose to deworm an entire community of 10,000.

    I love this post, I love where your heart is...

  3. I love this idea! Every year I tell my husband instead of gifts for one another we need to sponsor a family (our local radio station puts this on) and make somebody else happy! We already are!

  4. i love it. praise Jesus!
    seeing others' growth and desire for more of the king encourages me to do the same! always.

    thank you, jami. i am not often able to comment, but your blog is a treat. press on, make those changes! holla.


  5. I love this! I totally agree with the feeling of discontent around Christmas. I'm guilty of it myself and your words just literally smacked me on the forehead like duh! You don't need any of those things you are knocking people over in the store to get (not that I've ever done that...) I'm so glad you shared this :)

  6. Amen. I feel like we are constantly having to evaluate our hearts and lives, especially in regards to what we give our children. We have so much, and I want them to know what it looks like to "want", but we don't really know how to do that in the culture we live in. I also cry reading Ann Voskamp's blog regularly - so convicting and good. Another one that you may or may not have heard of is Jenn Hatmaker. She also wrote a book called Seven that I am currently scared to read but think I probably need to - it addresses a lot of the excesses that you are talking about. Anyway, thanks for the words - they are good.

  7. Jami, my heart is right there with yours. In fact, this year, for our almost 8 year old (our only) I kept feeling guilt over 'how little' we got him. UUGGGHHH. I would remind myself and right my heart that if he got NOTHING he would have SO MUCH. And I would be okay with our parred down Christmas ... until I saw post after post with kids with piles of presents and again I started to doubt my son's small pile of things like, Sorry!, Operation, a book, boots and a puzzle. And again, I had to right my heart. We have the means to have gone completely 100% over the top. We could have bought him so much more. And yet, you're right, I've been feeling the conviction of not teaching enough gratitude and appreciation.

    Before Christmas my son was caught in a series of lies that all surrounded his 'greedy' heart wanting a silly little toy from the school store. We ended up showing our son his biggest gift from us and letting him know he would need to give it away. We also had him empty his savings and give it to the Lord. I know some family/friends might think it was over the top, but we do not want these seeds of greed and selfishness to take root and grow.

    Last year my 'word' to live by was "intentional" and for the most part I think I did pretty well with being intentional with my time and family, but I don't think I focused enough on being intentional with our souls ... with the long term stuff that really matters. So now I'm thinking what my word will be this year and just how I'm going to make it happen.

    Thanks for your post, I totally know where you are coming from and can relate.

    XOXO!! May 2012 be richly blessed for you guys!!

  8. I really love this post. A couple years ago my sister thought of something BRILLIANT. She said, instead of the adults in our family exchanging gifts, why don't we buy for another family. (darn! Why didn't I think of that?!) So this was our second year 'adopting' a local family and ROCKING THEIR WORLD. We get things for the kids (clothes, toys, art stuff, etc) and for the mama and daddy (Target gift cards, body wash, movie passes, etc) It makes me smile thinking of how this family could wake up to a Christmas morning like I have for so many years.I also LOVE what your dear friend, Emily wrote on her blog, how her kids get three gifts: a want, a need, and a surprise. We did this for our kids this year too. (I mean, they get SO much from their cousins & grandparents anyway, why are we breakin' the bank when they'll never go without) I read somewhere that if Jesus recieved three gifts then why would our kids need more? This seemed to all fit perfectly with the 'want' 'need' and 'surprise' theory.You have sparked my to think about what is happening in my heart about wanting more and "gettting bored". Again, great post. Thank you! Blessings to you for 2012.

  9. feeling the same over here as i take a break from bagging TWELVE garbage bags of old but new toys that haven't been touched all year. as my daughters draw with scented markers that i got at the dollar store, too. next year will be different for us, too.

  10. Well said Jami. I think self evaluation is important. Your post has got me thinking about my own heart and intentions. I get that "bored with everything" feeling too and I hate it. I think we will sit down and rethink this giving season at our home too. Well said :)

  11. I don't think this post is self-righteous in the least bit. I wish more people would write posts like this. this year I felt sick inside watching the black friday shopping recaps, listening to the stuff people 'needed', and seeing the piles under the trees. Christmas for our kids was very small, though I feel challenged (in a good way) that there is more we should have done using some of the examples you listed. It's never too late to start now. Thanks for the reminder!

  12. Wow. YES. Our son is only 13 months, and I thought I was doing well only getting him 4 gifts (one thing to wear, a need, a book to read and a want), but what I wasn't counting on is all the gifts he would get from everyone else, and oof, overwhelming.

    This really hit home with me. Thanks for writing it.

  13. I'm totally with you. Right now my husband is in Korea (has been since March) and the kids and I are getting ready to join him there in a few weeks. The movers came 2 days after Christmas so I didn't want to overload on presents that the kids wouldn't have for 2 months. I scaled down from last year big time. A couple DSi games, some books, easy plane friendly stuff.

    When my 6 year old looked under the tree at what we had she said "That's it? We had a lot more last year..." Geeze. Hello wake up call!

    Im not sure if anyone else mentioned since I didn't read through all of the comments but I have seen a few people doing 4 gifts each. A want, a need, a wear, and a read. I think that is awesome. Then take the rest of the Christmas budget and do something good with it. I wonder what my soon to be 7 year old will say to 4 presents next year!

  14. We find out a family at church that is in need and our kids pick gifts out specifically for every child in that family. They love doing it. I feel strongly about helping our neighbors in need. We pass our gifts on to church leaders to hand out. Or do some ding dong ditching.

    We also get three presents per kid in our own family. One from mom and dad. One that is from siblings. And one from santa (so I guess if you don't do santa you leave that one out:)

    It's important to me that my children gets presents for each other. It's win win for me. Because I get alone time with a child. And they get to spend time thinking about brother/sister.

    I have a dear friend who's family doesn't exchange gifts (extended family) Instead they have to give time to serve (however their hearts see fit). I love love love the idea. I have yet to convince my adult sibs. But I know I will wear them down ;)

  15. Yes, yes, and yes. We totally did that this year after my husband and I were both challenged. His family background was all about a surplus of gifts, period, so for him to get to this point was a major spiritual milestone for him. And he chose the family amount to donate at double what I had initially thought we would do. I was an amazing, humbling and special Christmas for our family.
    See the post I wrote on it here:

  16. Amen, sister. I can't tell you how many times this Christmas season I broke down to my husband about the obsession we seem to have with materialistic things. I think a lot of it has to do with our culture but in the same breath, we do not have to give into it. For a while there, I thought I was the only one feeling this way. But after reading your post and all the comments, I'm so glad to hear there are others in the same boat. You've just given me the inspiration to change!

  17. i absolutely LOVE this post. im going to link it next week- its beautiful!

  18. Sorry, no disagreement here! I love this. I would be happy doing something like this, unfortunately not everyone agrees with me... BUT I love this because it inspires me to remember this with our future kiddos.

  19. I love this post and it's so TRUE. It's easy to get bored when we can have anything. We do Christmas with basically one gift per person and that's it. We've always done it that's to celebrate Jesus, not to get everything we want!

  20. I love it! Great idea. And I remember when my kids were yours age many, many light years ago. $1 Dollar Store made them so happy at Christmas. (My budget, too).

    Jami, thank you for blogging. I look forward to reading your blogs when you are my age. Gray hair. kids grown and your marriage still going strong. I'm enjoying your story. So glad I found you through PINTEREST.COM

  21. I've been scaling down each year for this EXACT reason. You said it beautifully, as you always do, and you hit the head on the nail. Gosh, how many times I've had the "i'm bored with what you offer me, Jesus".. AGH! Dang it. I hate when I do that.

  22. LOVE!!!! This is an amazing post...and really what we all need. My little one is 18 mths and my hubby and I have decided together that we will get him one, maybe two things each year for Christmas. We can't control what his grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, etc. will shower him with, but we can control what we give him and teach him. We also are going to have him clean out some "old" toys each year to give to those in need. We did it for him this year..but in the future I really want him to participate so he can learn the importance of charity and most importantly gratitude. So... thank you for reminding me of what I want for my children, myself, and our lives. You are amazing! :)

  23. So glad you shared this because I felt exactly the same way this year. Especially this Christmas after my 7 year old son opened up all his gifts and said "I want more,etc". I even asked the question the next day "How are we supposed to harvest grateful hearts in our kids/family". It is nice to know others are feeling the same way!

  24. Thank you for reminding me of the gospel. I need it so much EVERYDAY. Grace to you and yours.

  25. Great post...and I'm amazed that you can type without using capital letters.

  26. I'm so with you. I feel like we do Christmas in a different way than everyone I know. My kids have far more than enough and compared to kids in Africa, they're downright spoiled. But I can hardly bear to read facebook on Christmas Day and see what everyone received for Christmas. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars spent on things that no one really needs. Sure, it's all great and really fun, but we're raising our kids with a level of expectation that just can't be kept up ... it's dangerous and it's doing them no favors. I look forward to seeing what next Christmas will look like for you. Thanks for sharing this post.

  27. I'm in that with you as far as goals for this year! I keep thinking of that Christian song thats on the Christian station a lot that says something like... "it's a slow fade that you give yourself away." that line just sticks out to me so much and I don't want to slowly fade or let our family fade! NOWAY! On another note...I'm also reading the book about the Duggars I think it's called 20 and counting and it is very interesting and really helps puts things in perspective, too! I've been thinking about larger families lately and those dynamics and how in larger families you don't have the luxuries, but you have each other and that is kind of the point! Praying for you sweet sister and all that is going on in your heart! Pray for me, too and that I would love Jesus way more than anything else! Thanks!

  28. have you ever read Chicken Sunday by Particia Polacco. SHe is one of my fav children's authors...32 pages, perfect illustrations and always a meaningful story. Every time we read it, I pause to talk to the kiddos about the longing she had for the hat in the window and what that longing is like b/c they never really have to feel it. then, when the kids in the book save up and buy her the hat, she is overjoyed...we talk about that too. you know that you and i are on the same wave length here about Christmas and gratefulness. chck out the book. you will adore it.

  29. What a great post Jami - a good wake up call!

  30. Definitely agree! I do think gifts are important (Baby Jesus received gifts from the visiting Kings, after all.) We do one, sometimes two, gifts apiece. I find the less they receive, the happier they are!

  31. we're still in those 'broke' years you speak of and I spent the first part of the Christmas season feeling sorry for us....then we had an awesome opportunity to give to a party in India my friend was throwing for orphans. God sent us a check in the mail (a reimbursement from insurance co) and I just KNEW this was where I wanted it to go.....not to our Christmas, but theirs. Perspective changed immediately and I'm so grateful for all we have. Overly blessed and definitey changing some things about how Christmas is treated next year. love your blog!!

  32. This resonates. If I look into my heart, there is a lot of discontent. A lot of wants labeled as "needs." When you live life with a "needy" mindset, life becomes hollow sounding. But if we are full of Christ, and need ONLY Him, no matter what life looks like, it is always full. Thank you for this reminder. I will need to ponder.

  33. Feeling the same way...thanks for putting it in words.

  34. Mat and I just had a very similar conversation this morning. Thanks for your words - it was definitely something I needed to read to start my year off in the right direction.
    Happy new year friend!

  35. I think this is the first time I have ever left a real comment on a blog, but this post inspired me so much! I felt the same heart tug about Christmas. Thank you for so beautifully putting it into words. I shall copy you and your fam and make some BIG changes next year! Happy Holidays.

  36. dang girl, that resonates.

    wonderful post.

  37. Great post, Jami. Agreed! Love your blog!

  38. love this and totally agree. i'm always a scrooge at Christmas, could never put my finger directly on why, but i know it has a lot to do with wanting to do things differently than the rest of america at christmas. we've always only gotten the kids 3 gifts each at Christmas and other than the few gifts they get from the rest of the family {and it really isn't much} that is it. they don't NEED anything! but still i fight with the ungrateful behavior. they aren't brats about it, just a general discontent with what they DO have. drives me crazy but like you said, while it's not blatantly seen in my life, i too have a somewhat discontent heart that i model to my children. so yah, i'm doing some changing this year too... thanks for sharing. we'll have to talk more soon!
    love, jenn

  39. Okay so I am a b.
    For real. I am.
    I have read a few post (even from people I consider dear friends) that talk about Jesus and Santa and such. And I get angry b/c of the message they *try* to relay on their blogs/FB etc. They try to say what you have said but it comes out all wrong, offensive and ugly.
    Some people would say, "Well you are convicted."
    I say bs. I say no. I am not convicted b/c I know what they are trying to say, and I agree, but it is making me mad b/c it's not coming out right.
    But this.
    It came out just right.
    Not of conviction, but joy.
    Joy that someone else gets it.
    Joy that someone else shares it.
    You asked why I don't blog more.
    Well sista, it's b/c you can do it for me. :)

  40. I so loved this. it is exactly how I've been feeling, incredibly well worded. our Christmas started to look different this year, but next year it will look even more so. I pray.

    I think it'd be awesome if you continued to write about how you will take the steps to make it different for your family this year. not just christmas, but reading this I can see you mean your lives in general. teaching our children that feeling of "want" comes every day, not just christmas, so I for one would love to read/be inspired by how you do that with your own family, cause I'd like to do it with mine.

  41. I totally agree with you on this one. Last year we took $50 off each of our "budget" and bought toys for a charity. This was our first year of not doing Christmas presents at all for each other. We chose to use the money we were going to spend on each other buying toys for Affordable Christmas. Let me tell you we had a blast buying the gifts! I'm sure next year is going to be crazy with us having a little one. Hopefully I can keep in to perspective Christ is all we need even with the excitement of the baby's first Christmas.

  42. yes yes yes.
    i feel the same way.
    it makes me sick every christmas.
    it's like i don't even like christmas any more...
    how can that even be?
    i was saying some of these same words to a friend today.
    ONE present is enough.
    more than enough.
    thank you for sharing.
    i am not sure how exactly to protect my children from too much...but i am listening to the Lord too and wondering what he will reveal to me.
    sounds like it's coming to you loud and clear.
    clear direction from him is such a gift.
    praise that lord!
    happy new year jamie.
    im glad to be able to know you in a small little internet way ...

  43. Thank you...I feel the same way...especially in a world where moms visit Starbucks twice a day, 8 year olds have cell phones, and doing things like going to the movies happens every week. We don't have a lot of extra money and I try to keep things simple but I also think they old be even more simple. Best to you.

  44. I recently had a Finding Christ In Christmas Forum and for the Month of December I had guest bloggers post about what they do in their families.

    I learned so much from them. If you are interested you can find them here.


  45. Just found this post through Casey's blog, you put into words exactly what I've been feeling this whole year with birthdays and Christmas. Thank you for writing it so beautifully. We are also doing something different this year, not sure what either, but something different. Thanks so much!

  46. Well said girl! I get so caught up in finding the perfect gifts for my family that I forget about others that truly need food, clothing, water, etc. I've already decided things will be different too next year!

  47. This has been tugging at my heart too. We did a much simpler Christmas this year but I feel the need to spread that across every part of our lives. And can I just say, growing up I always asked for the Reebok high tops with the double velcro...and I always got the "pro-wings" from Payless. And I turned out just fine ;)

  48. I definitely get this. We travel every year for Christmas and my son gets so many presents that we cannot transport them all home in one carload. In fact, it takes another family member, with a larger vehicle to bring the second load. And it is frustrating. Here is this child who already has more than he could ever need and he has family members hauling heaps of stuff to our home where there is no room for it all. There has to be a better way. There will be.

  49. I am with you! We struggle with this in our family and we have been so broke with my husband being out of work. (which is a blessing, like you said). We did three gifts under the tree for the kids each and I felt like it was too much. We don't need it. I am always donating toys to goodwill because my kids get so much and they just want want want! I love Ann's blog too and I really want to be intentional about molding my kids hearts. I struggle because I am so exhausted at the end of the day meeting their basic needs. It's hard because I feel like they want so much right now and take so much for granite when kids all over the world have nothing.
    Thank you for convicting me!!! I need to repent too!

  50. Hey there, new to your blog, and funny thing is is I have a parenting blog, but I don't keep up on it like I do my other blog

    My parenting blog's tagline is about raising our kids with intention. SO much, all of, parenting is or any relationship is about living with intent.
    I raised my daughter mostly as a single parent, so ALL I COULD give her was my time and intention. I couldn't lavish her with material things, and I didn't believe in it anyway. I spent and still will spend this last year and a half with her (she's 17) shaping her heart. We can give them the best godly foundation as possible, and give them all we have, and confidently send them off to college knowing we were intentional with their hearts b/c that is how they will survive in the world, is with godly hearts. They have EVERYthing if they have that.
    Thanks for the great post, I am so happy to see other moms living with intent.

  51. beautiful, heartfelt, powerful thoughts on this so important topic. thank you for sharing as always.

  52. Great thoughts. I grew up in a similar way to you... minus 8 siblings. We never had excess, just enough to survive. I sometimes wish my kids could have appreciation for what they have... music lessons, playing sports... we never could do those things bc we didn't have the money.
    We do something you want, something you need, something to play with, something to read. It has helped tone down Christmas. Not sure if we'll do it as our boys get older bc the things they want will be more expensive. But I like that you're thinking about just one gift. We have grandparents that give a lot, and we could get by with much less.
    Thanks for writing this. I read Ann's blog about this awhile ago. So convicting. Yours and hers.

  53. Love your honesty. You are so right. *after I just pressed "Purchase Now" on my Amazon order of TOYS for my girls!* HA! ;)

    We take so much for granted living in America. Even those of us that are considered "poor" live like KINGS compared to most of the world! (Have you read "Radical"?) Anyway, great post and you've given me a lot to think about. :) Happy new year! God bless!

  54. i just love reading your blog posts, jami. not only because you're asian ( you're not), you are so real. as i was reading through THIS post i felt you wrote everything i was thinking. i told ben after this christmas that we needed to change up OUR christmas a bit. i want my children to know that there are kids their age who would be so happy with just a toothbruth.

    as you know somewhat, we've been sort of homeless for 6 months. 6 months is a long time but i know it's no accident. during these months i realized out of everything else in this world, i 'want' my own home again. just a shelter for us five. i don't want anything big, fancy. i'm ok with just a 2 bedroom apartment! then God provided. more on that later. i want to email you.

    anyway, good post, jami. really really good.


  55. I think 3 gifts at Christmas is ideal. That's what the Christ child received.

  56. I'm completely with you on this one. I've been battling this feeling of discontent for awhile. I never seem to be satisfied with anything for very long. We lived in a crappy apartment with crappy management and no home church. God blessed us with a home out in the country with a great landlord and a home church not even 2 minutes away. Yet, within a year I found myself complaining about our home and unsure of our church. I'm trying to be more aware of being discontent and learning to be grateful for what we have. It's certainly a struggle when society has programmed us to want not just more, but bigger and better.

  57. I've been feeling the same way lately. God's been opening my eyes to different areas that I have been ungreatful.. I got One Thousand Gifts for Christmas, and read a bit of it this morning.. this excerpt has stuck with me ALL morning "Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other."

    Thanks for sharing!

  58. Hi Jami,
    I found you on Casey Wiegands blog. I am so happy she shared you with her readers. This post brought me to tears because it verbalized exactly how I have been feeling. My kids have so much that they didnt even know what they wanted for Christmas. It was a major frustration to say the least. I wish I would have read this before Christmas. Thank you for sharing your heart.
    Love, Jennifer

  59. Well said! I don't think our daughter even has a clue which toys we got her, since she received so many...most of which are put away, since she did not handle the overstimulation well :-) We will bring out a new one once or twice a month, only to do it all again next year!
    I am trying to be more aware of what I have and model gratefulness in front of her, also, but I am often not sure I am doing a good job

  60. This Christmas was different for us. We didn't celebrate Christmas with all of our children together. We are a mixed family therefore our oldest two daughters were in California with their biological Dad and family. In January 2011 my husband and I (after selling almost every possession we owned) moved from Southern California to Tulsa Oklahoma as a leap of faith, to follow what God had pressed upon my Husband's heart. And now, one year later with a small church plant starting in our home we celebrated Christmas with our family in Christ. In worship, in study of His word, and then in fellowship with one another. There was no expectation of gift giving. We were celebrating Christ. Because of our financial situation (4 children, 1 income that doesn't cover all the bills (but God somehow does) and a stay-at-home homeschooling Mom) we did not purchase our children gifts, and told them as much leading up to Christmas. But we told them that God is always faithful and always provides for our NEEDS, and sometimes because we are His children, he blesses us with our WANTS.

    That's what happened. Our Pastor is a Night Shift Supervisor at the local John 3:16 Homeless Mission, and one of the homeless men gave him two small gifts and asked our Pastor to please bless a child that would not be getting a gift this year. So the homeless man wrapped these two small gifts, and they were given to our youngest two boys on Christmas. It was a small toy they each got, but they were so excited, and blessed by it. While my husband and I were blessed that God blessed our boys with a love gift through the hands of a homeless man with an obedient heart and love for the Lord. God is GOOD!

    We will be celebrating Christmas with all 4 of our children this coming Friday night when our oldest daughters get home. And there are gifts that each has received from Grandparents. Because they are children of God just as much as we are, and he blessed them greatly this year. This Christmas changed the "tradition" of Christmas for our family.

    This year, because we have no financial means to do otherwise at this time, we are rejoicing in every NEED that God will fulfill, and praying fervently for our WANTS for 2012. Which are: #1) Our little modest home to be used mightily in touching people's lives for Christ, making disciples, and being faithful in declaring, preaching the Gospel, and teaching the Word of God, simply. That is our church's aim. Simply teaching the Word of God, Simply! #2) A successful vasectomy reversal for my husband (which God provided the $1700 and the Ministry for us to be able to do this) and hopefully becoming pregnant with our precious gift#5 this year! #3) An open door for my husband to go back to school and get a nursing license in order to have the flexibility in schedule, ability to provide for our family anywhere in the world, should God call us elsewhere! #4) An open door to a private adoption. Any extra income my husband receives will be going toward paying down our debt (lawyers are VERY expensive, and we maxed out every credit card possible paying lawyers fees in the court battle for custody of our oldest two girls leading up to the move from Ca. to Ok.) Then, we will seek every opportunity to invest ourselves, time, talents, and treasure into discipling others (for me my children, and any other young woman, mother the Lord brings into my life as Titus 2:3-5 commands)

    God is good ALL the time, and I can't wait to see what he has in store for our family this year as we seek to be faithful and obedient to HIS word, and His Word ALONE!

  61. Loved this post. Love your blog. Thanks for sharing this, and I am happy I found you! Beautiful photos.

  62. Well you hit the nail on the head!!! Thank you for sharing that message we ALL need to hear! Also I had a friend tell me that she only does 3 gifts b/c that is what the 3 wise men gave! Ohhh I am going to use this next year. I read Christmas jar a couple of years ago and we leave a jar of change on a persons step that we know could use the money a couple of days before Christmas. This year we collected $67! My children LOVE this and I pray that they will continue the tradition.

  63. I don't have kids yet, but I totally agree with you. Even now, my husband and my brothers-in-law, they get so many presents. It's the whole morning of opening presents. It's just too much. I remember when I was a kid, we would get one or two presents and be super excited about them. Now kids have endless lists and get bored with their toys easily. My mom always reminded me and my sister that she and her siblings had to make their own toys. I think it's great you realized you were not being the best you could be about it and decided to change!

    Happy 2012!

  64. Amen Sister, the world is in a state just because we all want more. It is a sad reality that we all need to face.

    Thank you for sharing Jami, this is a beautiful post.

    Ngaio May xx

  65. Jami, you are spot on! I am working on trying to teach appreciation and gratefulness to my step-son. I look forward to any additional ideas and suggestions you come up with throughout the upcoming year.

    Have a blessed 2012!

  66. Omgosh you read my mind today. I want to print this out and plaster it in every room so I don't forget. And then send it to all my family.

  67. thank you so much for sharing your heart, jami; the Lord really used you and your willingness to write with authenticity and truthfulness to stir my heart and force me to continue the conversation in my head that i've been having with myself. my pastor has been talking about the need for "a different kind of Christmas" throughout the advent season, and i bawled when i read ann's blog post, too. thanks so much for forcing me to continue thinking about all of this.. especially now that Christmas is over. even though this time of year has come to a close, we can still process through what it looks like to be grateful, what it looks like to truly GIVE of ourselves, what it looks like to walk with Jesus in a radical way that others would long to know Him.


  68. Can I just say I agree! But for some reason I always feel like I don't get them enough, they already have so much though. BTW I just discovered your blog today and wanted to tell you I love it and how open and honest you are. I stayed up way to late reading through all your old posts:)

  69. Amen and amen. We don't go overboard on Christmas, my kids have so much less than most kids, but they appreciate their toys and really hate it when they are ungrateful. Which they still are sometimes! Great post!

  70. i'm in total agreeance with you.
    agreeance... is that a word?
    my computer is putting a squiggly red line underneath.
    well, you get it, i'm sure.
    this year we sorta did that.
    we bought our girls one gift and a few stocking stuffers.
    however, it didn't go over as good as expected only b/c the grandparents still went hog wild.
    so i feel it's something we need to work on as an extended family as well.
    but yeah, your post stirs in my personal heart too.
    i have those same feelings...
    wanting more, not satisfied with what i got, etc, etc.
    and embarrassing... considering we have so much already.
    it's really about being intentional.
    i'm so addicted to sales.
    i see the sign, "SALE" and i just think, "wow... i'm being frugal... i'm being good."
    but what good is it if i'm still spending $ on things i don't need?
    even if they are on sale.
    it's hard.
    sometimes i just want to whisk my children and husband away and sit on a deserted island.
    no distractions... no "stuff"... no want.
    just doing the stuff you need to do.
    but i just thought i'd let you know that God is shaping my heart in this area too.
    so thanks for sharing!

  71. there is something happening in hearts i think... i think you nailed it here. what i think happened was way back when-- when an orange impressed your kids because they wouldn't see another all winter parents tried their hardest to make christmas the most special day of the year to show them the extravagance of love that christmas really is--- but NOW. our kids aren't impressed with the extravagance of our love...they aren't even all that impressed with that wii. i think we have a different job in this generation. digital high five for being brave. i'll tell you -- it is amazing.. but you have to silence the whispers that you are a joy stealer. a magic slayer. but you tell those whispers to shut it-- gratitude takes longer than one morning to unwrap but it lasts forever. :)

  72. Wow. I think I might just link my next blog post to your blog and say "read this - it's exactly what I'm feeling & thinking." After the mess our family has been through this past year (uhthankyou for listening to all my emails on the subject BTW) I know the Lord is saying "I AM Enough, I AM all you need." And yet this Christmas I found myself wanting stuff - and sickeningly would catch myself feeling like I "deserve" more because of the mess. Like, I'll worry about other people next year after I get through this first Christmas after the mess. Yuck. Some serious heart issues going on. Thank you for writing this Jami. And, thank you for the link to Ann Voskamp's blog. I have started her book but had no idea that she had a blog. Can't wait to read it.
    You are awesome. xo from pdx

  73. Wow.. God is talking is talking to me too girl (i call everone I feel connected to girl (as in friend)). I am a new member to Kasey's blog and I fell in love with Anne's blog reading another blog I love (blue eyed bride) and this is another confirmation of how I need to "continue" to mold my precious little people and Christmas will also be different in my home next year.

    Very well spoken and more importantly, thanks for sharing it.

  74. One of the many reasons I'm glad you're my flat-out keep it real. Thanks for making me think about the hard stuff, the real stuff. I love you lots, my dear.

  75. we have tried to keep Christmas giving super simple and show the boys that we also need to hold things loosely - that we can and will give our toys freely to others who need them. then we go to my parents house and it is teeming with gifts and my four year old turns to me and says, 'where's my next present?' and i feel all is lost. not sure where to go with it when it comes to the way others shape our kids. that's a hard one. NOW, all that being said, i am completely convicted by what you said about yourself, because i for sure am that girl who tells Jesus with her actions that she is bored. and that is the worst. thanks for sharing your heart. you are definitely impacting so many. peace to you and happy new year!

  76. I've never seen your blog until now but found this post thru pinterest - and I COULD have TOTALLY written it about my family also ;(
    I do read Ann's blog (<3) and her book and need to also take a hard look at things around my home and family
    Thanks for the courage to speak up !

  77. We did this this year. It is our hope that they realize that they have too much and others have nothing. But we know they won't get that from us just telling them, they need to learn that. So we try to lead by example. We sponsor kids at church - one for each of our children. For the last two years I have requested no gifts for myself, but that my intended money would go somewhere else. Our children got one gift. (One from Santa, one from us, one from each set of grandparents.) And maybe they didn't ask us to spend money on other people BUT, no one complained that they only had three presents to open. And, in my opinion, the best part was there was not a pile of gifts still unused when they returned to school. For the first time ever I was not upset by what we'd spent and felt like it was all wasted. With one gift, you have to be a lot more intentional about what you are giving. It was way more fun this way. Good luck on your year of change.

  78. ummm, I love you? I mean love this post. So right there withya. New follower. You're a keeper for realz yo.

  79. I know exactly what you mean. I didn't come from nothing, but I didn't come from much either. My parents were able to take care of the necessities, and anything else we wanted we had to buy ourselves...through saving. I see so many children these days -- even the ones that come from nothing -- that get whatever they want and have no respect for what they have. I tried my best not to go over-board with Christmas gifts for my son -- saving for his education is much more important.

    I read somewhere about what one lady would have her child do: for every toy her child would receive -- be it for a birthday or Christmas -- they would have to choose one toy to give away. This is probably what I am going to do because it is already what I do with my clothes and other things around the house. If it hasn't been used or thought of in a while then it's donated to charity!

    Every Christmas we also choose a child to play Secret Santa for. I look forward to the day that my son is able to help and understand why we do it -- so that a child can feel as excited and happy on Christmas Day as he does.

  80. Just read this and wanted you to know that we made the voskamp-inspired change (my kids were 10, 8 and 6) at Christmas 2010: from over-the-top Christmas to 3 gifts for each kid plus an amount of $ for each kid to spend in the catalogs: heifer international, compassion, samaritan's purse, etc. they choose the items while they look through the catalogs on christmas morning. we gave them a heads-up like in Feb. of 2010 and talked about it a lot... about whose birthday Christmas really was, what would happen if everybody came to your b-day party and no one brought you a gift..., etc, etc. we also pretty much took out all the talk of santa and lists and reindeer, all that. i didn't like the feeling that we were making it all up. blech.

    you can do it!! make this change while your kiddos are young and it will really change y'all for the good.

  81. Hi there! You don't know me, but I found you via Casa de Lewis, whose entryway (inspired by yours) was features on Young House Love not too long ago. I too am a blood-bought child of God, and I soooooooo relate to these sentiments. Thank you for posting this. So well-put, and I pray that the Lord changes my actions and attitudes in response to His love shining into & through me.

  82. Hi there! You don't know me, but I found your blog through Casa de Lewis, whose entryway (inspired by your entryway) was features recently on Young House Love. Anyway, I just read this "Christmas" entry, and want to say that I sooooo can relate to that struggle for contentment vs. ungratefulness. I too am a blood-bought child of God, and I pray that He continues to bring my heart back to Him, in response to His love and goodness to me. Thank you for posting this!

    Btw, great music! Any way to see what the names are, of the songs that play on your blog?

  83. Oopsie, may have posted twice... feel free to delete one, if I did. (and this note too) :) Thanks!

  84. I'm sure you don't get too many male comments, but my wife sent this to me and I just want to say thank you. I have been stressing about Christmas this year because things have been "tight" lately. I feel like I am not being a good provider for my family because I can't buy them a ton of gifts, and they will be lucky to recieve one or two, gifts. What I realized is that we have EVERYTHING we need, a nice house, 2 cars, food, more clothes than we can wear, and I need to be providing for them spiritually more than buying them a mountain full of gifts. It struck me when you talked about being bored with the, couch, or the kitchen etc... But most of all when you spoke of being bored of what Christ has to offer. I realize that this may be where my heart is. My kids need to know how important it is to understand that the greatest gift has already been given, and that, Jesus' birth was the beginning of that.
    All that being said thank you for the reminder of what I need to be focussed on and that even though I may not be doing it on purpose, I am raising ungrateful children.

  85. I'm sure you don't get too many male comments, but my wife sent this to me and I just want to say thank you. I have been stressing about Christmas this year because things have been "tight" lately. I feel like I am not being a good provider for my family because I can't buy them a ton of gifts, and they will be lucky to recieve one or two, gifts. What I realized is that we have EVERYTHING we need, a nice house, 2 cars, food, more clothes than we can wear, and I need to be providing for them spiritually more than buying them a mountain full of gifts. It struck me when you talked about being bored with the, couch, or the kitchen etc... But most of all when you spoke of being bored of what Christ has to offer. I realize that this may be where my heart is. My kids need to know how important it is to understand that the greatest gift has already been given, and that, Jesus' birth was the beginning of that.
    All that being said thank you for the reminder of what I need to be focussed on and that even though I may not be doing it on purpose, I am raising ungrateful children.

  86. Hi Jami! I was first introduced to your blog by Jones Design Co. I loved your blog from then on. Today she wrote about this post in her post and I knew I just HAD to read it (even if it's a reread). I am over the moon that you've posted this. SERIOUSLY it was like you were writing about me and my family of 6. Thank you so very much for sharing this with us all. It has hit home and there is going to be a BIG change in our home this year. Praise and thank God for convicting you... which led to my conviction and by the comments here... many others! I PLEAD GUILTY... there I said it. Have a blessed day today and everyday this Christmas. Let's keep our eyes on the Lord...He is good all the time, He is true and faithful! Gotta love Him! ;)

  87. This is just beautiful. And a perfect reminder. Love this so much there is nothing to really add to it, but how relevent it is as we head into this Christmas season. A huge thank you.


  88. I agree that spoiling kids is not good. Children should not get everything they want.

    I don't share the opinion that all of a sudden you need to cancel giving gifts at christmas. I don't think Christmas or birthdays are the problem.

    We can do all the charity projects we'd like--nets, wells, watter, shoes, the list would never end--to help others in need in the world.

    We should do charitable acts of service and giving.

    I don't think; that has to mean children don't get a nice gift at christmas. Why is christmas such a special time? Its because of christ, yes but also because there is a spirit of giving and YES as a child the excitment of what Santa will bring you.

    There is nothing wrong with that. You just need to be sure you don't spoil children by NEVER saying NO to ANYTHING. Its ok to say YES during Christmas as long as you don't take it overboard.

    1. boan, i'm not sure where you read i was cancelling gifts for the kids. regardless, this is a journal of our family and how we're changing and growing. i understand that every family will not do the same things we do, nor do i expect it. this post was about excess. too much! way too much! i will write about what we're doing for gifts this year in an upcoming post and perhaps it will help you see what it's going to look like tangibly for us.

  89. AHHHHH.... THANK YOU for writing this post! So encouraging! Really really blessed to hear this from someone else. I would hug you if I could! haha :0) We are doing the same thing this year (kind of) but more because we are having to that choosing to and yet in the middle of it I felt my heart convicting me that this season should be more focused on JESUS anyways. I go between feeling sad I can't do more for my kids this year and then also feeling like this is a good season for our family to do without so that we appreciate the little we have. Anyhoo... I could go on and on but I wanted to say a big THANK YOU for writing this! Merry Christmas!!


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