Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Christmas Bliss...Focus on Others

Well, nothing says New Year's Resolutions like Valentine's Day you know. Uh, I mean... well, let's just say I didn't make any New Year's Resolution that said I would blog on time or regularly or anything really=D

Let's all think back to a little over a month ago. We were rushing around, cleaning the house, wrapping last minute gifts, going to parties, making last minute plans and of course recognizing that we forgot something or worse, someone! Just days before Christmas the anticipation was building and I could tell everyone was experiencing high stress as they were traveling house to house, visiting family and celebrating Christmas over and over again. So many people I know were SO done with Christmas by the end of Christmas day that they stripped their house of all evidence of Christmas within a day or two. Which is unfortunate because Christmas Day is only the beginning of Christmas, Christmas actually lasts until January 6th.

That's 2 weeks to bask in the glory of our Savior that was lost. All the rushing, eating and stressing causes so many of us to not live in the joy of His presence and we miss it! What a bummer. But you know what? I can't blame any of you that spent your December as I described above. I remember Christmas's like that and though Jason and I have been Christ Followers since our first married Christmas together we've constantly struggled with the competition that Christ has on His day.

We've done so much to try and de-emphasize the importance of everything but Christ and each year we were able to gain a little ground with our family as they tried their hardest to allow us to raise our children with Christ being the focus of Christmas. But every year we were left feeling the same, like we didn't honor Him fully. Well this year I think we hit a nerve because we experienced satisfaction beyond our wildest dreams. It's because we spent Christmas with the family Christ has given us here in our new home.

We missed our parents and siblings and extended family of course but there's just something that tells me Christmas isn't about your blood relatives and I understand this is a SUPER touchy subject with almost every person on earth but I think we should realize that if spending time with family on Christmas means you lose the meaning of Christmas, maybe it's not the right time to spend time together.... I really do love you family that are reading this. I'm just being honest.

So what did we do that was so amazingly awesome? We spent time with people that we love that are right here. We hosted our friends John & Ashley and their wonderful baby girl Madison as well as Ashley's parents and sister. They came to our house, we ate together, loved one another through conversation and games and then they went home, leaving us filled with the Spirit. We went through our Christmas eve routine of PJs, photos, opening Grandma's Christmas presents and then reading the Christmas Story (the one in the bible). We tucked the children into bed and began preparations for Christmas Day.

On Christmas morning everyone woke up and opened stockings (they let me sleep late which was one of my best presents). We divided the presents out and I started snapping the camera again. When the question arose about Santa not coming to our house I simply said, "look at your pile of presents, look how many people love you. You don't need Santa to bring you more things, your family sent you so much love already." They were satisfied with that=)

Then we continued our morning with our usual breakfast of sticky buns and cocoa and then played with all our awesome new toys. We cleaned up and began cooking. We were having our single neighbor over as she wasn't going home at Christmas this year and we off the cuff invited some of our new friends over. Everyone came. We played, we ate, we shared stories, we cleaned, we enjoyed each others company, we loved our children and then we realized that it's in these moments we celebrate our Savior's arrival. Not in the presents and family gatherings, but in the time we spend with each other where we are joyful and attentive to one another, loving each other exactly as we are and interested in learning more.

We learned this Christmas that celebrating Christ isn't a painful process. And it's not about who can buy the most meaningful gift. It's about giving the most meaningful gift you have to offer others and that's your time and your love.

I know some of you are still upset thinking I'm suggesting you can't offer your time and love to your family members, but be really honest most of us take our family for granted and don't truthfully enjoy their time and accept their love. We like to create drama even when there isn't any reason for drama to justify ourselves because we can't possibly see how anyone could love us, I mean really, truly, unconditionally, perfectly love us. But I promise you, that you don't need to do that. Christ loves you, and so do I.


  1. I’ve been reading your blogs, posts, and heard the family stories. Some I have agreed with and other I have openly shouted out “shenanigans.” The one thing I have notice is that you have circled your wagons. Your shoulders are full of Angels telling you that you’re doing the right thing, but their doesn’t seem to be anyone telling otherwise. Would you listen? Are you up for a little criticism and more so from someone like me? When you post, you only hear the positive, no one, at least from the comment section, ever challenges your position. I don’t think I could call myself a friend if I didn’t speak up and least argue a point or two and be John. I don’t mind being that devil on your shoulders poking you with a pitchfork saying, “wait a second.” Jason and I have been friends for over 20 years and I see us being friends for another 20 years, but then we’re through! J

    I agree, during the holidays, family is so hard to deal with and it would be so much easier to just stay within our circles. I have talked to Alicia about every couple of years, doing a “just us” Christmas and leaving the family out. It’s a good idea but then again, all my family lives within 20 miles of me. It is a “super touchy” subject when comes to dealing with family. In my opinion, that is what the holidays are about, Family and Friends. However, not all of us view the Christmas season as you do. For my family, religion doesn’t play a huge roll in the day. It did in the past, but I no longer walk in those shoes. I would think if you want people to accept your view on the holiday you should accept theirs. I don’t understand how the lifestyle of others takes away from how you honor your religion. You say it happens, but you don’t really explain how. Not everyone is Christian, or religious and we should accept everyone’s view of the holiday. Well, we can dismiss the scientologists and Westboro Baptist Church. It may not be a shared view, but isn’t that a wall you face being a missionary? Isn’t this an obstacle that He has put before you to over come? Keep your faith sound around those who think you’re “insane?” It’s nice to keep around those who share our view, but taking on the calling of what you speak means that you are going to come across the John-Paul’s of this world who do not share your view and will tell you when you ask, “have you found Jesus” that they have indeed found him and he’s locked in the basement. Those who will tell you the way you value your family by pushing them out during the holiday isn’t Christian at all. (Not my view just an example).

    You talk about giving the best gift of your time and love but only to others who share your view? Isn’t your goal to give that to everyone, but isn’t the holidays the best time to give it to family and help them to understand what your family is about? I feel in the end we must do for our families what is best, but we have to be ready to deal with the regrets that may come down later in life. Our children not knowing our families and spending the time with the people we love not just tolerate. There is always going to be family conflicts and there is no such thing a Beaver or Huxtable family. After 8 years of meeting families, I can tell you it doesn’t exist. We all have our drama, but how we deal with that drama is what defines us as who we are and what we’re about. Wanting to share your beliefs with others will only be strengthened by surrounding yourself with those who do not. If you can survive family, you can survive anything.

    Oh, and on this Santa thing, don’t’ get me started. Santa has become the same as Valentines Day. Just a Hallmark hero and completely takes away from which Santa Claus, aka St. Nicholas, was really about.


  2. WOW! I'm impressed with your response and I welcome the comments, even if they are devilish=P

    I disagree with your idea of acceptance of others views of Christmas. Acceptance and tolerance are different things. And either are possible as long as the differences are mutually exclusive. I mean to say that if spending 2, 3 or 4 days running from house to house like chickens with heads cut off, indulging in the over-commercialization of the holiday doesn't allow one to spend time with God and set and send the desired example and message to the children they are raising, then the two types of holiday celebrations cannot coexist and each actually ruins the other. I think it’s unfair to expect others to accept something that ruins Christmas for them.

    Being a missionary does allow me to face the wall of interacting with others that have different beliefs and that's what I was sharing. We have things in common with our new friends but it was exciting to offer them our Christmas celebration because we are loving them and it would be exciting to be invited into theirs in the future. But the point isn't to make others celebrate Christmas the way we do. The point is to obediently love others, and sometimes that might be people with the same beliefs (because at times they can actually be harder to love) and like is our case, people with little or no beliefs. Meeting more JPs could be overwhelming at times true, especially when we have the 'All JP Party' but again, like you've pointed out, this is a challenge we've signed up for.

    Please see however, that our intention is not to quiz you on your life, though I am very interested in finding out more of your own story as I too had Christ in the basement at a time in my life. Our intention, our assignment if you will, is to love. Simply love. We are to love unconditionally, always and without question, we are to love. I think one of the things that has made it easier for me to sink into this role is experiencing my love received. So yes, I will hit an unimaginable wall when my love isn't received, but hopefully I'll have courage enough to continue and not give up.

    But John, I'm not sure if the holidays are the 'best' time to give our time and love to the people who have it everyday (our extended family). Wouldn't it theoretically be the 'best' time to give it to others who are without? It very much is a difficult decision but for us it was a breakthrough this year, doing it differently. It wasn't about blocking our family out, it never has been. We've attempted to limit their desires of giving in the past, but we're learning that it's best to not interfere with their desire to give love to our children. It gives us ample opportunities to give to others and teach the children about giving as well.

    You're smart to bring up the point of regrets, we've had to acknowledge the ability to feed and house our children as well as allowing Jason to see them was a problem we solved by moving to Texas. This required the sacrifice of moving even farther away from our extended family and that is still hard for us even today. But one of the things we'll regret most later in life is giving our children too many reasons or opportunities to put Jesus in the basement and not enough real life examples and experiences offered as reasons to bring Him out.

    /Laugh about the Santa thing. He is part of Christmas for us, he just doesn't actually bring us gifts. And we tried explaining St. Nick to Xander at age 3, he then told his also 3 year old friend that he was poor because Santa came to his house... yikes!