presents or presence?

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I must say, there is irony to this post today.   I love the Christmas season.  I love a decorated home and how warm and inviting it feels.  I love to bake and cook things that I save just for this season.  I love the anticipation of Chrismas Lights Night.  I love our annual Caroling Party. I love when we used to take the kids out of school for a family day of Christmas shopping.  I love putting kiddos to bed on Christmas Eve night and know that they are going to be too excited to sleep knowing they will wake up to a gift they have been wanting.  I love our “weekend after” trips to my parents home in Lawrence.  I love this time of year so much that Steve and I got married three days after Chrismas (sorry to our parents!)  We designed some of our home to include where we would put our Christmas tree.  (true story)  I love the busyness of Steve’s work traditions with Ladies Night and Christmas Open House.  I love Christmas programs!

Traditions run deep here in our little family.  Some we will continue, some will change as the kids get older (guessing they won’t be too excited to get their boyfriends/girlfriend/spouses in pj’s to look at Christmas lights?)  And as I gather new traditions (I’ve been asking everyone to share at the Blessings Gatherings these last few weeks), we will see what fits our family best. 

One tradition that I am praying will be life changing this Christmas season is Advent ConspiracyIf nothing else, please watch this.  It is powerful, convicting, and no doubt–if only while you’re watching it—will turn your veiw of Christmas UPSIDE DOWN. The video does such an amazing job of explaining what it is that I won’t even try to do it justice here in my own writing.  But, there were a few nuggets Steve, the kids, and I took away from our worship service yesterday morning.  Besides the fact that the Christmas tree was UPSIDE DOWN take a look!
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**God is NOT a God of 2nd Chances, but He is a God of NEW BEGINNINGS!  (how true is that?  His mercies and joys are new every morning)

**Many times we model our gift giving after the Three Wisemen.  I’ve heard of that, haven’t you?  Each child gets three gifts to symbolize the three gifts the wisemen gave TO Jesus.  And there’s the kicker.  The wisemen didn’t come celebrating Jesus’ birth by bringing gifts to each other.  (You have to hear our Pastor in the way he described it—it made me giggle—but oh so true!  “Hey–look here’s a king lying in the manger—so I’m giving you a gift!” )

**We are living in a culture that is guilty of HOLIDAY HIJACKING.  We spend billions of dollars on Christmas each year, and yet all in the name of the birth of Christ?  Does that sound like Jesus to YOU?

**The mission of the church is to pursue, reach out, and be agents of love to the world.  Ambassadors of Christ.

**God gives “presence”. 

I’m not sure how we will implement Advent Conspiracy for our family.  I know we began talking about ideas on the way home from church.  I suggested we give up eating out for the Advent season.  The response I got was quite humorous.  First of all, Steve looked at me like I had just landed from Mars.  And Landon said “That’s fine, but can we start that AFTER we eat at Subway today?”  HA!

The next week we are going to be praying about how we can make a difference this advent season.  To slow down and build relationships.  To focus on giving others presence, and take the focus off of the presents.  To not get too caught up in the busyness of the season. 

As I mentioned above, yes there is quite a bit of irony in this post today as I have been preparing for Steve’s company’s Christmas Ladies Night. (which by the way, if you’re from the area–come join us for food, fun, and fellowship!)  I will say–I have definitely built a strong relationship with my kitchen.  But the family also got in on the relationship building aspect of cooking and baking together.  Who knew that trying to cut through bars and getting them the right size would be almost as difficult as wallpapering together as husband and wife??
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