To Give...and Keep Giving

We had a great Christmas. We decided to play it low key. Simple decorations. Simple food.

Lots of family. And laughs. And rest.

Another thing that we were intentional about this year was giving. I prayed for the Lord to give us some ways to give. And He did. He gave us opportunities to give in ways we hadn't before. He gave us opportunities to give in ways that made me uncomfortable.

But I gave in to it. And I experienced true joy in a way I haven't before.

And I thought that was it.

Until last night.

Last night I received an email explaining how a situation has taken an unexpected turn. A situation that was not ideal to start has become more fragile.

And I want to help. I want to make it better.

And I can't. But I know WHO can.

And she is asking for prayer. She is reaching out in a way that she may not have a week ago.

She is vulnerable and hurting.

And I know Someone who heals. And holds. And brings peace.

I put myself out there and I thought I was done (though I hesitantly asked for more opportunity).

And this is where true giving begins.


Christmas Ramblings

I overdid Thanksgiving. I planned too many projects. Too much food. Too many activities. There, I said it. We were exhausted by the end of the week. Yes, it was pretty. And tasty. And I think the kids had a good time.

But I wouldn't know, because I was decorating. And cleaning. And cooking. And cleaning. And more cooking. And even more cleaning...you get the idea.

So we decided (I say we. I really mean my sweet hubby gently encouraged me...) to NOT do that to our Christmas. We are already very busy.

We are preparing for our Christmas Eve services/performances. 5 out of 7 of us are participating, so that means extra time at church and less sleep. But lots of fun.

The kids' schedules are crazy right now with end of the semester activities. I know you moms can relate...

Decorating for Christmas was interesting this year...as I was unloading the Christmas decorations, I realized we had thrown away all of our stocking holders last year. They were old and breaking. I had spent the last few years super-glueing them back together. So apparently, last year, I was done with it. And I threw them away.
After some debating, we decided to keep our eyes open for some inexpensive replacements. With 7 stockings, this is a hard task.
I finally found some for 50% off and bought them. As soon as I left the store, I felt regret. It was $95. $95! For stocking holders (okay, and new stockings too because they were pretty)!

I took them back the next day for a refund. I spent $2 at the dollar store, shopped my yard and storage room, and came up with this.

I used ornament hangers to hang the stockings from the garland that I've had for 7 years.

And I felt much better.
My prayer this season has been to keep my eyes on what's important to Him. We can use that $95 for other things...and pass along blessings to someone else.

I am almost done Christmas shopping. I was deliberate and thoughtful. I spent 2 weeks working on it. I can't wait to see my kids' faces on Christmas morning. It's magical.
But I wasn't excessive. There are gifts they won't get. We have been preparing them and their expectations to hopefully avoid any let down.

At the same time, we are open to opportunities to serve others. We are planning some ways to help the kids think of others as well.

I have found myself crying as I'm listening to Christmas music. Christmas songs I've heard for years are more meaningful as I'm sensitive to what He's saying to me. I know we've all heard "Jesus is the reason for the season".
And He REALLY IS. What He did was such a miracle. Such a gift. I don't ever want to lose that emotion. That wonder over what He did for ME. For YOU. For so many who still don't know.
My prayer for you is that this season would be full of wonder for you. That it would be full of peace and joy.

I hope we can all slow down. Spend less money. Spend more time. Give of ourselves. Witness joy. Savor this season.
May we all remember Who and why and what we're celebrating.