Monday, December 3, 2012

the change.

last christmas, there was a stirring in my heart for things to change. i was over it. i was over the stuff and the excess.  i was over hurrying and being stressed through the season of christmas. i was grossed out by myself and by my family, as i saw children needing clean water and blankets and food TO SURVIVE and here my 5 year old is wallering around on the floor saying i'm bored. on christmas. with new toys coming out his nostrils.
i was over everything.
but i was mostly over the ungratefulness.

i saw it proudly shining through my children, but the arrows stung me because it was shining in my heart too. i wanted the light shining in the dark corners of my heart to shut off. it was embarrassing and gross.

but it was on purpose. God was holding the flashlight.
hey, look what's in here.
it wasn't loud. just a subtle, piercing whisper that called me to change.

when i was young, maybe 8 years old, i remember opening the door on christmas morning and there was a pile of gifts on the front porch. i grew up in a family of 8 children, so you can imagine that things were tight around the holidays. we had already had christmas and i was wondering why we were getting more presents.

the funny things is, i was perfectly happy before we opened the door with what we had already received that morning. because when you have nothing, the smallest, tiniest gift is a treasure. i remember not understanding why someone would give us more gifts. i think it was the first time i started to figure out that we were poor. it's strange to describe, but i thought it was funny that people were giving to us when already had so much.

i was grateful. at my poorest.

this year, i have prayed that God would help me be more grateful. that it would start with me. i knew this is where it must begin. not in my children, but in me. my children did not get ungrateful by chance. no, they learned that somewhere. perhaps one of their greatest influences?

and so the answer to my prayer was that God made me poor. not in our actual finances, but in my spirit.  i began to see my need for God in a new way this year. how i am nothing without him and i how i need him from moment to moment...i am constantly failing as a mother and wife and friend and sister. the promise that stuff and things would make it better didn't help my problem of inadequacy, it only made it worse. the promise of having more or being more became slavery.

luckily, or should i say, very purposefully, Jesus came for those who are failures and know they are sick with only one hope.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. matthew 5:3

or revelation 3:17 cuts to the chase.
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

oh. that's was me. drowning in the tornado of wrapping paper and boredom with the gifts. pridefully saying, i need nothing from you, baby Jesus. this story is boring. it's not enough... i want more.

i needed to be 9 again on monroe street, standing in my pajamas. i needed the smallest, tiniest gift to be a treasure. the God that humbled himself and came as a tiny baby to save the world. i desperately needed to be poor enough to see the greatness of this gift.

and he showed up.

a simple prayer last year after christmas and it changed my year. it changed my parenting and my conversations. it changed things that i have pursued in the past and made them look foolish. it is changing tangibly in the amount of gifts we are giving the kids and each other and how we celebrate Jesus' birth. but it doesn't stop here.

not that we are there yet, but that it has begun.

if you want to read more about what our christmas actually looks like, you can go here. 


  1. Love this I can clearly remember reading your post last year. Your words have such meaning to me. Thank you!!!! I love JESUS!!!

  2. This really touches me. It's been years since we have made Christmas a huge, big deal. We've moved on to giving our kids just a few gifts. Sometimes those gifts are needs and sometimes they look a bit more like wants. we try to make the season about simplicity, love, gratitude and above all- the birth and life of Jesus.
    I really appreciate this post. I appreciate others seeing (and feeling) the true beauty, (even the painful and uncomfortable parts along the journey to beauty) and I am so blessed that I got to read about yours this morning!

    1. i look forward to the years to come when things look very different! i guess it's small steps every year that actually = a big change.

  3. I love this post! I had a similar Christmas a few years ago... I was just so over it. One trip to Ethiopia (now four trips) changed my heart and my life forever. Christmas holds so much JOY now that I let go of expectations and excess. We do it simple around these parts and just truly enjoy each other and dwelling of the greatest gift of all... a baby names Jesus.

    Thank you for reminding me of how wonderful it is to have a changed heart!

    1. perhaps i should go to ethiopia too. and take my kids while i'm at it!

  4. Amen. I've been praying the same prayer for a while now. And deliberately trying to impoverish this family a little bit more each month.

  5. Praise the Lord who answers our prayers! Thank you for your words.

  6. this is such a great post, very convicting- thank you for the reminder, my girls are very young and just barely starting to understand the "present" aspect of makes me nervous when i start to see tiny sparks of greed in their eyes, i've been contemplating similar thoughts this christmas season and your post helped to sort out swirling thoughts in my head i couldn't quite but together...thank you! i needed this.

  7. i love and cherish your words. hallelujah that we have a savior worth losing everything for.

    1. and what we're "losing" seems so silly when compared to Him!

  8. This post is so good, Jami. It's interesting to think about the sacrifices we make that at times can seem so large, but in comparison to what Christ did for us are really so small. He is worth it all.

  9. Your words bless me Jami. So often I struggle with putting thoughts and emotions together into something tangible. Once again you have articulated pieces of things that have been fluttering round my brain, and I am thankful for the clarity. May we all receive new hearts and new perspective this year!

    1. thanks for your sweet words. great prayer for a new heart. :)

  10. Jami,
    I think it would be cool if you could share, in a specific way and perhaps an advent sort of way how this is playing out each day this month? I would LOVE to hear about what the Lord does through this repentance what the fruit looks like. I am sure it will be helpful to me...i felt that same stirring a couple yrs back.... This is silly, but i really down sized on the decorations last yr including the tree... One of my tighest holds was the idol of sentiment and how it distorted my view of Christ's birth and life.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing!

    1. i do plan on writing some more tangible ways we're doing this this month. of course, it's not just the month that we're making changes but people are in tune this month to make why not? :)

  11. great post! Amazing to hear how God has changed your perspective throughout the year.

  12. I'm so inspired by momsof young children, like you, who are trying to do Christmas differently. i'm due in June with my first child, so I've been thinking a lot about what Christmas will look like in our family, and I just don't want to do it the typical way that always seems to result in ungrateful children (and parents, of course). i'm really looking forward to more posts like this!

    ps. if you haven't already read Jen Hatmaker's post about this same subject, check it out:
    I think you'll love it.

    1. people have been telling me to read jen hatmakers perhaps i shall!

  13. Thank you so much for sharing this Jami. I can honestly echo many of your (old) thoughts. I'm so glad this year has changed for you...I pray Jesus will also change my heart and help me be more grateful (and realise HOW MUCH I already have...that more stuff will never ever fill the gap!). I really appreciate your honesty :)

  14. How refreshing. Christmas has always been over the top around here. I can totally identify with the story of your childhood. This year I've cut down on what I buy my own child drastically and had a heated dispute with my mom regarding her choice of gifts this year to him. Ugh. We had 4 kids stay with us who had been seeking shelter in a motel for months and recently found themselves on the street. Here four kids were well behaved and appreciative and happy with a $2 basketball from Walgreens. My son meanwhile complaining about his iPod battery not holding a charge. He's 7. This was eye opening. He's a great kid and he doesn't get everything he wants. He does chores and is kind and respectful. But this year we are focusing on others. After having these children in our home he told me that we didn't need to buy him anything for Christmas. He just wanted us to be together and have a happy Christmas. Maybe this is the year we all pause and be a bit more grateful.

  15. Jami, this is so so good. I swear, I can tell a difference in your writing since you prayed that prayer a year ago. There's less reticence and more humility in your words. Not that you weren't honest before, but I can tangibly see how your heart for Him is growing bigger and your desire for MORE of Him is changing you. And I love love love it. You really do inspire me toward pursuing Jesus more passionately, girl. That is such a gift! XO

  16. and he showed up.

    that's the deal isn't it? we need him, so desperately, and he comes. shining that light into our dark, festering hidey holes of self. i'm grateful for you, and this testimony of change. the lord is good!
    i love you, girl! xo

  17. you are speaking my language with this post.
    i felt the same way last year.
    just felt so jaded by the holiday.
    and i hated it!
    like there was no more "magic" left.
    but i think it's b/c i was looking for that magic in all the wrong places.
    the magic IS in the story.
    of how christmas came to be.
    this year my heart is in a very different place.
    and it'll definitely show under our tree...
    just a few little gifts.
    we're trying to focus whole heartedly on advent and the promises for a KING.
    we're trying to not make it about the gifts... but about the ONE TRUE GIFT.
    i'm failing... and i'm passing in different ways.
    thank the Lord for grace.
    thanks for sharing your story... we can all affect each other with our words.

  18. Jami, I feel like I am reading my own words in your post. Thank you for sharing you heart!

  19. LOVE it Jami! This very thing I have been feeling in my heart. Even more as I read 1000 gifts. The need to be thankful and full of Joy with what we have. The need to teach my children to be greatful. Truly greatful, down to the core. It's a life change, and I think it's something we have to work very hard at in this country. Because even at our poorest, we are soooo rich indeed. Thanks for sharing your heart of hearts with all of us.

  20. what a beautiful, beautiful post. thank you for making us think, or rethink, Christmas and blessings and gratitude. merry christmas, in the richest way, to you and yours.
    patty @


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