it's labor day. there's 112 days until christmas...which is like 3 and 1/2 months.
did i scare you?! (this was said in the dinosaur's voice from toy story)
you're like, why are we talking about christmas right now? i want to help you plan ahead, my friendlies. last year i decided that i was done doing christmas like we had always done it. my kids opened their presents and flopped around on the floor, bored and ungrateful and my heart ached. i had fed this ungratefulness in my own heart and in their hearts. i literally ached for change.
i read anne voscamp's advent devotions on how they do christmas and i just sat at my computer and cried. it was inspiring and convicting all in one swoop.
we had done a jessie tree co-op too, where some friends and i crafted 25 ornaments for whatever particular day we were assigned and then exchanged them with each other. if you're not familiar with a jessie tree, each day has a particular bible verse and then you hang a special ornament on the tree. it's a way to participate in advent, which i thought was only for catholics(ha). it was pretty incredible and it really slowed me down to think about the magnificent meaning and gift that christmas is. and the gift that Jesus is to all of us.
and in that slowing down, i wanted to commit to more. more awareness of others who are suffering, more awareness of our excessive lifestyle, and a mindfulness of our need for Jesus--who came to us as a tiny human. you know, the meaning of Christmas.
we use that phrase a lot. we say it to our kids. do you know what Christmas means? it's all about Jesus. It's Jesus' birthday! that's what everyone is celebrating at Christmastime.
i said this a lot to layne last year. but what struck me was that i was saying those words, but my actions said, it's all about you, layne. your gifts. your christmas experience. your stuff.
and so there was just this awkward tension that i had never felt before. it was very uncomfortable and it moved me to repentance and change. not because i think that people giving gifts to each other is bad but because it was doing something in our hearts that was feeding selfishness and unwise indulgence in the name of something good.
because i love christmas. the season is nostalgic and incredible. the music and the movies...the cold nip in the air and sledding and ice skating. the traditions and the treats. ohhhhhhh, the treats.
but i want there to be more for our family and more for me. can it be both nostalgic and Christ-centered? i think that it absolutely can be, but i haven't figured out how it should look for our family. i only know that i want to be obedient and that i want to start creating an awareness for my kids now. which means conversations that christmas will look different this year...that we won't be doing a lot of gifts for each other this year. that we will be giving to those in need in order to point us to our need for a savior. and in order to help generate awareness for the needs of others globally and locally who do not have food or clean water or blankets or fair treatment or heat or snacks or jackets or toys.
layne and i have watched the samaritan's purse video about sending a shoe box to children all over the world with little gifts in them for children, some who work all day in trash dumps to collect things to sell or scrounge for food.
he said, mom. that's pretty amazing.
he's 6. but he's starting to get it just a little bit.
he made a list of things to put in the shoe box so he could keep an eye out for them when we are at target over the next couple of months.
i love that his mind is bending in that direction at least.
and today, on labor day, we will watch this video from the mercy project and acknowledge the 5 year old children that have been sold as slaves to work 14 hours a day on a boat, receiving one meal a day and falling asleep in exhaustion on dirt floors every night in unbelievable conditions. layne thinks his reality is everyone's reality, so watching images like these, is extremely helpful.
(you can scroll down to turn off the music on the blog)
it is hard for me as a mother to think of my child living in these conditions. what is even more difficult is turning my face away from those children who live this horror every day for years and years. and there i stand in the target aisle deciding if layne needs just one more toy under the tree. it's unbearable to me when that $20 decision could help change someone's life in an incredible way.
i am ready to change this year.
i pray for our family, that we do not get wrapped up in our own selves this Christmas, but that we thoughtfully consider putting our resources towards a greater cause other than nostalgia. or what we think Christmas should look like for layne, lila, and penelope and ourselves. i am praying that as we lose the fuss of material things, it helps us to see Jesus more clearly and trades boredom, ungratefulness, and self centeredness with a love for God that empowers us to give generously and act as instruments of His love.
that's what i want for christmas. i want a changed heart.
and i'm not saying that to overspirutalize or make you think i'm this mother theresa-esque person. those of you who know me in real life just laughed out loud. i am saying that because i know that it will take a miracle from God to make this change in me. so i pray for that.
pray it with me. for God's eyes this year and God's heart. and God's hands. i bet it could be the best Christmas we've ever had.
(and i acknowledge that some of you think i am crazy and a spiritual weirdo who is too deep for her own good. sometimes if you say it out loud we can all just laugh about it and it makes it less awkward. or something? i don't think your family needs to do things like my family. i don't think your blog needs to look like my blog and i don't think you need to dress like i do. i do think we should be open to letting Christ change us in big and small ways however He chooses. so i'm processing through what that's looks like for me and my fam. )