December 21, 2012

My Christmas Wish

READY... “No more lives torn apart, That wars would never start, And time would heal all hearts.  And everyone would have a friend,  And right would always win,  And love would never end, This is my grown up Christmas list.” ~ Grown Up Christmas List, Amy Grant

AIM... Guess what?  Christmas is going to be on December 25th again this year!  Funny how that date never changes, but it always seems to creep up on us as if we didn’t know it was coming.  Seriously, if you haven’t embraced the spirit of the season yet, it’s not too late.  As we head into Christmas this week, I encourage you notice all the priceless gifts.  Enjoy the shimmer and glow of the Christmas lights.  Relish in the warmth and crackle of a smoldering fire.  Savor the smiles, laughs, and tender moments spent with your family and friends.

With all we have been seeing and hearing during this season, it seemed most appropriate to share the gift of prayer with each one of you, my loyal readers.  And so, please accept this gift that may be shared with your friends and families on Christmas and in the coming days.

A Christmas Prayer
Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds, and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
     by Robert Louis Stevenson

FIRE!   My Christmas wish for you is that you may truly recognize your blessings this Christmas.  I pray you will experience peace, comfort, and contentment this holiday week, and that these things continue as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Merry Christmas, my friends!

Be Excellent!

December 13, 2012

To Gift Or Not To Gift

READY “The spirit in which a thing is given determined that in which the debt is acknowledged; it’s the intention, not the face-value of the gift; that’s weighed.”  ~ Seneca (5BC – 65AD), Letters to Lucilius, 100A.D.
AIM…  Gift giving at Christmas is all about the thought and love behind the purchase, right?  Apparently that concept is wrong.  Today’s statistics show that it actually IS the gift that counts.  How sad that our society has become so wrapped up in materialism that a simple gift or a handmade creation is underappreciated, if not completely unappreciated. The pressure of giving the perfect gift has caused some folks to resort to gift cards, cash or eliminating gift exchanges altogether.  The following Christmas story is a great illustration of this concept…not to mention a funny situation.

Buy Your Own Present
Last Christmas, grandpa was feeling his age, and found that shopping for Christmas gifts had become too difficult. So he decided to send checks to everyone instead.

In each card he wrote, "Buy your own present!" and mailed them early.

 He enjoyed the usual flurry of family festivities, and it was only after the holiday that he noticed that he had received very few cards in return. Puzzled over this, he went into his study, intending to write a couple of his relatives and ask what had happened. It was then, as he cleared off his cluttered desk that he got his answer. Under a stack of papers, he was horrified to find the gift checks which he had forgotten to enclose with the cards.

After a horrified chuckle, Grandpa realized that many of his family members didn’t even send a card to wish him well. Was this because they didn’t receive a gift? Was Christmas really just a time to exchange “thank you” cards for the gifts his family expected?  Let’s all take away a lesson from this story; be intentional about being grateful this Christmas.  No matter what gift you receive, be thankful that someone thought enough to give you a special treat, purchased with you in mind.  And if you find yourself in a situation where you do not receive a gift you might be expecting, don’t be ungrateful, simply redirect your thoughts and enjoy spending time together and making memories.  After all, gifts come and go and eventually get donated or sold in garage sales; fond memories, however, last in our hearts and minds forever.
FIRE!   Get crazy this Christmas and give an unsuspecting person a special gift.  You can simply bake cookies or you can give a gift card for an ice cream shop.  Whatever you do, give from your heart and enjoy the happy moment shared with your recipient.

Be Excellent!

December 6, 2012

The Greedies

READY... Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” ~ Luke 12:15 NIV

AIM…  It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  I LOVE the Christmas season and everything about it.  It is such a fun time for children and adults alike to enjoy the spirit and excitement of the magic that surrounds this special holiday. 

Traditionally, Christmas is a time for giving of gifts and sharing time with loved ones.  However, for some, Christmas has become a time for making lists and checking them twice, shopping frenzies, baking and kitchen chaos, making party plans, organizing for Santa Claus and his flying reindeer, oh, and, remembering the baby Jesus’ birth.  I laugh, because sadly the whole reason for celebrating Christmas is to rejoice in the birthday of the Savior of the world. Those who came to honor him brought a few modest gifts to bestow gratitude and joy for the occasion.  Today, celebrating Christmas seems to be all about the gifts.  Children are encouraged to write a letter to Santa with a list of things they want him to bring to them on Christmas day.  We are encouraging our kids to think about what they WANT for Christmas.  As a parent who loves the spirit of Santa myself, I recognize this is somewhat of a backwards thought process.  We are sort of teaching our kids to be greedy; however, we have help.  Advertisers have joined the greed fest.  We have gone from non-stop political ads to non-stop ads for toys.  Our stores are packed with all kinds of fun things for our kids and society just injects the air with the desire for more.  You just can’t help but get “the greedies” at Christmas. 

What you can do, however, is be aware that those desires are going to surface and make a plan to help counteract some of the effects that greed may have on your children and your family.  The best suggestion I can offer in order to stay grounded during this time of year is to be generous to others.  One of the most effective ways to show your family the true spirit of giving is to find a way to be generous to someone who may be less fortunate than yourselves.  You can take your children to serve in a soup kitchen, have them purchase and wrap gifts for an adopted family in the community, drop your change into the Salvation Army red buckets, give supplies to the animal shelter, offer to bake cookies with a neighbor who is alone; invite him/her over for a night of games.  The ways to be generous are endless.  Best of all, you should ultimately make an effort to spend less money and instead spend more time together this Christmas.  Let’s face it, we all have enough stuff!

You control the focus and temperature of the holiday attitude in your realm.  Is it about all the gifts, or is it about loving each other and sharing your love and kindness with others?  This Christmas, you decide if you want the greedies in your home or if you want to start teaching a lesson of love.  I’ll leave the decision up to you.

FIRE!   Take time out from the busyness of Christmas to enjoy the true gift of the season!

Be Excellent!