Wednesday, December 26, 2012

yep. still waving the flag.

do you want to know how it went? the christmas change-up? we didn't want a re-do of last year's ungrateful christmas twin.
(my husband and his dad looking like twins. yes...i just made an awesome pun)

if you're wondering if we were deprived from presents this year since we had the one gift rule, let the pictures do the talking here. we have both sets of family that really spoil the kids rotten. did it make me a little nervous watching them open gift after gift? yes! was i thinking...all this work we've done...oh no! they're going to become ungrateful! yes, i'll be honest, i did think that.

which is silly. because we built gratefulness this year.
and any character trait takes accumulated practice. traits of lying, cheating, manipulation, ungratefulness, jealousy, etc...are all just moment by moment building blocks that get noticed when they begin yelling...usually in a big event. adultery, scandal, getting caught.
our ungratefulness character trait yelled at us last christmas.
and we got caught!
(my getting caught face)

and so here we are.

we had talked about, repented from, worked on ungratefulness for the whole year and by golly, the kids showed some fruit this year. saying thank you and giving people hugs. we had even rehearsed what a grateful and thoughtful response looks like. laugh at me if you will.
another golden fruit bud appeared on the way home from the first family christmas gathering when layne announced that he would like to keep three gifts and give the rest away. and maybe clean out my old toys. we don't need them, it seems like. 

jumping for joy in my heart. play cool, self. play. cool.
great idea, buddy. let's think about that more later, i yell-said as penelope threw a scream fit in the car.
(my husband's side of the family having a dance competition on christmas eve. but also what my heart looked like  when i mentioned "jumping for joy". see how i did that?)

and we will have to think it through. what do you give away and what do you keep? do you save it to play with throughout the year? do you donate some? we don't have all the answers. but we'll be thoughtful about it, i know that.

and then bum- buh-duh-bummmmm, on christmas morning, everyone was thrilled with their gift. nothing felt weird or sad or anticlimactic. instead, it felt really good. to see that our house wasn't filled with junk. there wasn't a wrapping paper and random-toy-tornado-situation in the living room. there was one gift per person and it was a very thoughtful gift. when you only have one gift to give, you really think about it and pour into it.
(finishing advent before we get into gifts. penelope not really into the bible. sinner!)

there wasn't complaining. not one complaint on christmas morning. no one was bored...no one was sighing and rolling around on the floor in ungratefulness like last year. there was lego building and stroller pushing, and book reading and shoe and watch wearing(in sweat pants of course). and as we headed to yet another family christmas, i wasn't worried.

i think our hearts were full. full of God's grace and full of his gift. it wasn't an overwhelming feeling...it wasn't emotional. i think the word i'm looking for is satisfied...it wasn't too much or too less. things felt just right.

(full on cookies, full on God? no? ok.)

we were satisfied. God had worked in our hearts this year and helped us to see that there is a lie swimming around out there in the world...that we need more. that more is better. that God is holding out on us and something else will make us happy. you know, the same lie the serpent told eve back in the beginning days. we've believed that and we're still fighting not to believe it.
(another watch. you can read why a watch means so much to us here)

 i still love shopping and i still love deals. but this year i have been thinking about it more...do we need this, do we already have this, do i really love this, have i really thought about this. i don't do it perfectly and i will continue to fail. but they are small changes and i'm ok with that.

and although we sinful humans will always feel that there is more out there than what God has to offer, this christmas season, i felt like God was enough for us. it started with me and my heart and it trickled over to my husband and then down to the kids. i wasn't looking for behavior modification, i was looking for real lasting heart change. and God showed up.
(my husband is going to kill me for posting all these pictures of his "morning look")


He showed up all regular looking and not over the top. and it was the best gift ever.

 (unlike these shoes, which are...well, a little over the top. boom.)

and not everyone will understand it. perhaps i do look like a religious fanatic of sorts. i think i'll be ok with that after what i've seen happen in our home, under our tree, in our hearts this year. so i'll keep waving the flag over here. the don't-buy-the-lie flag and the Gospel-is-enough-to-satisfy flag.
the-work-is-worth-it-flag and the it-doesn't-have-to-be-this-way flag, not just at christmas but all year long.
(on our chalkboard, currently. perhaps it should stay all year.)


36 comments:

  1. Beautiful!! We are with you in waving the flag! God is working on us...showing us its all about him and that our fulfillment only comes fom him! Merry Christmas!

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  2. if you're waving the flag... i'm twirling the baton. or banging the drum. or maybe can i be the girl in mini cowgirl boots with a fringe skirt and big hair??? please?? anyway off subject.. i ditto that. arianna said before we even went to extended family christmas-palooza "i think i will say thank you for my gifts...i'm going to give them to salvation army." uhhhh no. please don't say that. so THEN we had to have the talk of receiving in love while maintaing an awareness that we already have all that we need. level two gratefulness baby. level two. ;)

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    1. fringe boots! yes! thanks for being with me in this.

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  3. LOVE. I needed this as this year was meager for us. And I found myself feeling "bad" for it even though I spent all year talking about how Christmas was about giving and others and not the amount of presents under the tree but the "presence" of God in our hearts and family in our lives. Low and behold if my children weren't satisfied with their few gifts and even voluntarily shared (thereby quadrupling their gift amount). Sometimes our words and example do sink in.

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    1. isn't it silly how we feel bad for not giving enough gifts to our kids? we have so much, it's absurd. but that's the lie we're believing. :/

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  4. love the gold shoes with sweatpant look. classy.
    layne and nato look like twins.
    i got too many present this year. sigh.

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    1. you are such a brat.
      although i want to go to nordy's rack at some point. when i NEED something. lol

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  5. so. i love this to high heaven. because of high heaven. does that make sense, not sure i care.

    i love this testimony!! HE IS SO GOOD.
    your family is darling. your husband looks jam in the morning, tell him to fret not.
    and your shoes. pretty damn fancy, i say.

    jami nato. merry christmas!

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  6. Oh precious that this is what God wanted you to do and you did it.....and you did it with a happy heart.
    I am so blessed by this that my husband and I are considering doing this from now on, too.
    Each year the kids (we have 5) are only allowed to ask for 3 gifts, period. Even the grandkids are are only allowed to ask for the same amount. We tell them that they may get 1 or 2 or 3, but that whatever they get it will be enough to make them happy with their 'prize'.
    However, next year the limit will be 1 (one).
    Thank you for such a wonderful idea.
    God bless you.

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  7. Loved the "follow up" to your posts about being grateful. So beautiful, not your husband's bedhead, but your Christmas!

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    1. thanks for your encouragement and support. i'll let nato know you love his bedhead look. haha

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  8. i love this jami. so, so much. this has been in my heart a lot lately but we didn't make any changes this christmas...still thinking about it. people think i am crazy but i kind of fall into a depression every christmas season and wish we could just skip ahead to the new year... i think we need to make some changes. i loved reading this, thank you.

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    1. good. think about it and pray about it and don't do anything under compulsion. you're at a great place! just looking in the direction of change is a good thing.

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  9. Jami, I love the one gift idea. I've always thought quality over quantity is key in gift giving. But I love it mostly because it allowed you and your family to have your hearts filled with the reason for the season; to celebrate the birth of the Savior. I totally agree, Christmas, that is the spirit of Christ, should abound ALL year round!
    Thank you so much for this meaningful post!

    Jamey

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  11. This post is so encouraging to me, Jami! A grateful heart truly does lead to a transformational lifestyle and I love how you got to see some of the fruit from working towards just that. Merry Christmas!

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  12. I think it is beautiful and inspirational how you are celebrating Christmas. Good for your family!! This is our first year really giving gifts to our kids (one 2 year old and one 7 month old). They don't even know what to play with because I think we went overboard. We will change that next year. Love your blog...keep writing!

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    1. ya, just think through it. it doesn't have to look like my family. lots of family's do the gift thing differently but all have the same heart.

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  13. hi! just popped over from hannah knechts blog :) which i JUST found out she had. she needs to blog more ;) do you live in fort collins/ i LOVE your blog! did you start following me on instagram? i just saw your ig name after i fell in love with your blog. can't wait to read more! xoxo

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    1. hey! hannah needs to blog more for sure.

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  14. What a blessing. I've just found your blog. I think I'll keep reading all year. I'm seriously considering this change-up for my family. Or maybe we need to work on some other character trait.

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    1. you're sweet. thanks for your encouraging words. and thanks for reading.

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  15. I came across your blog while performing my endless click-click-click through links on other blogs, and I am so glad I did. I read your post last year about the excess on Christmas morning and then to read this year's post about how only one present went, and I am so refreshed and encouraged. As I stared down at my son's 10 or so presents this year, I lamented to my husband that it didn't feel like *enough*. How incredibly silly. It was more than enough, too much even. Perhaps we will take a much needed lesson from you - one (maybe two) gifts next year. Give away the rest. Thanks for your inspiration. I look forward to following along with you blog and catching up on some of your past posts.

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    1. ya everyone does gifts differently. and they all have the same heart...so figure out what's best for you! for our family we were working through a lot of excess so it seemed like one gift worked the best for us. pray about what will work for your fam. :)

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  16. Dear Jami,
    I look forward to your posts - I'm always moved and challenged.
    My kids are grown and I have 10 grandchildren, ranging from 7 months to 15 years. They are the light of my life. I take very seriously the opportunity I have of speaking Jesus into their lives, of affecting their outlook.
    I took your advice and bought the book, "Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story", for each of the families. I gave it to them on Christmas Eve and asked that they read it right before going to bed. It was wonderful for all of them!
    Not only that, but I read the story during our church's Christmas Eve service.
    Thank you for writing as you do. Your honesty is refreshing.
    May you continue to listen intently as God speaks and guides your family.
    Blessings.

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    1. that's such a great idea!! we loved that book for advent.
      maybe next year the jesus storybook bible??it's great all year and i secretly cry when i read it. it's the best children's bible out there. the link is in my resources tab at the top of the website. :)

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  17. Oh, was I ever you... Watching the kids open the extended family gifts. Another one from Grandma? Oh, wow. Really??! Inward freaking out. But, I just watched the kids... Listened to their words... Observing... Watching outward signs of inward realities. And it turned out okay. Both sets of grandparents bought about 3x more than I knew about beforehand... But it turned out okay.

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  18. The miracles that occur when Jesus shows up in answer to prayer are ledgendary. I can't tell you how encouraging this testimony is. As a mom of a 2.5 year old (soon to be 3 yrs and a newborn) I so often feel overwhelmed with the weighty responsability of training them up in the way they should go. Thank you for reminding me that when we call, He answers, that heart miracles happen and that greatfulness and enough are real and possible. Glory, glory, hallelujah amen.

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  19. Love this so much. We also scaled way back...and it was almost anticlimatic to open gifts because the Advent devotions had been so wonderful! Thankful that the gospel is, indeed, enough!

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  20. Keep waving that flag{s}.
    Wave it for all of us that know that less is more. Gratefulness trumps envy. Christ wins this world. Giving is more than receiving ever will be.

    Yes.

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  21. Thank you for this. I have been struggling since having kids (the little man is now 2 1/2) with the excess of Christmas. I want my kids to be grateful and satisfied, but how do you combat the excess????!!! We have VERY generous family and it's so hard to walk into the chaos and keep your eyes focused on Christ. I want to shepherd my kids' hearts and it's just so hard to know how to approach Christmas they way it is now. At this point, we stash things away for birthdays and other special times, but as our kids get older, we're not going to be able to sneak things away without them remembering. This was really helpful and thought provoking. It's going to be an ongoing discussion in our house, but it's so good to hear how other families are dealing with all the stuff.

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