Now that I have a family of my own it's time to start some new holiday traditions! It's a little challenging to do this as a military family, since we're never in our home on Christmas, so our traditions will have to take place early and "on the go."
The first one we'll partake in is reading The Night Before Christmas (something Tim's family did when he was a kid). On a trip to Galveston a few years ago, we purchased a reproduction of the original version of this classic, sold in an old mansion's bookshop. Last year we began this tradition on Christmas Eve when Addie was just six weeks old.
The second tradition we want to begin comes from the book What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, by Lisa Terkeurst. In her book, Terkeurst tells us that every year at Christmas her family gives a gift to Jesus. As soon as I read that I knew I wanted to start this tradition for our family. It's a perfect way to stay rooted in the reason for the celebration.
God has always put the needy on my heart, and I was so excited a few years ago when we learned about World Vision at a Casting Crowns concert. I quickly asked Tim if we could sponsor a child and within minutes of visiting the booth, Agnel (from Mozambique, Africa) was ours! Each year we send him the "special gift" the organization requests at Christmas, but we want to do something on top of that for Jesus.
I received an email from Dr. Dobson (a Christian radio host) asking his listeners to consider giving to Families Helping Families. It's a wonderful, simple program. Listeners in need write to his show explaining their situation and what they'd like for Christmas. When you visit the site, requests are listed by state. After you choose a family, Dr. Dobson's team contacts you with their information and then you communicate with the family directly.
I asked Tim if he'd like this to be our gift to Jesus and he said yes. We wanted Adeline to be involved, as much as she can at age one, so we devised a way for her to choose the family. I printed out a list of the 50 states, cut them up, and put them in a bowl for her to choose. She'd just eaten toast with strawberry jelly and her hands were super sticky, so the state that stuck to her fingers was the winner - Georgia!
After that, I wrote down all the assigned numbers for the Georgia families and we did the same thing again. She chose number 19 - a grandmother who is the guardian to her four grandchildren and currently unemployed. Good pick, Ads! We're ecstatic that God placed this family in our path and eager to speak with them later today! All the glory to God, as he has blessed us so we can bless other in His name!
For more information on giving Jesus a birthday gift this Christmas, check out the below excerpt from Pastor Glen's blog (lead pastor at Pantano Christian Church):
What Does Jesus Need/Want? - Give and receive gifts for Christmas and have a blast doing it. But also decide that you’ll also have some gifts for Jesus. We start by asking what does Jesus need (good first question). What does Jesus want? In terms of store-bought gifts, Jesus doesn’t really need anything. He doesn’t need an electric razor. He has to keep his beard so folks will recognize him; after all, the pictures have Jesus with a beard. He doesn’t need a big screen HDTV, after all, he sees everything in HD anyway. The need question doesn’t fit Jesus. But the “want” question does.
Give Gifts of Grace - Jesus tells us what he wants. He wants us to give gifts of grace to the “least of these” (as told in the parable found in Matthew 25:31-46). By “the least” he means those disregarded by society, forgotten, powerless, disliked and in need. He wants us to give food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, invite the stranger to join us, give clothes to those who need them, care for the sick and visit the incarcerated. He makes his desire known as clear as can be. But here’s the twist. In the parable where he makes this clear he tells us that when we give these gifts of grace to these folks in need, we do it for Jesus. Jesus is honored and pleased when we serve others with gifts of kindness and grace. These are the kinds of gifts Jesus wants. These are the kinds of gifts we want to give Jesus!
How Can You Give to Jesus? - Look around you during this last shopping week until Christmas. Look for the “least of these” around you or the organizations that serve the “least of these.” Do something tangible. See how many gifts you can give to Jesus this Christmas....
So, what gift can you give Jesus on His birthday? We'd love you to leave a comment explaining your plan for Jesus' present this Christmas season. Merry giving!