Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Is All About the Gifts!

Let's face it; gift giving can be messy.

Each year, kids get more and more, yet still expect even more the next year.

Luckily, we're catching our children at good ages to start a new Christmas gift tradition in our home.

This year, each of my children will be receiving three, yes, JUST three gifts on Christmas morning. Laced only with a stocking full of goodies!

Now before too many people begin feeling sorry for my children, I invite you to my house at anytime to see their rooms slam full of toys and clothes! They have gracious plenty!

Besides, I'm not exactly sure when Christmas became about the amount of gifts stacked under the tree with your name on them! But somewhere between the birth of our Savior up until now, Christmas has morphed into something so commercialized it's no wonder people fail to recognize the meaning of the season! With it's super commercialization, I struggle to see the benefit of creating such expectancy for gifts in my children!  I want their expectancy to be preparation of their hearts for His return, not the world's latest and greatest toy that will be played with for ten minutes then tossed aside or broken the very next day.

Now don't get me wrong, THIS IS HARD!! The commercials and store ads work on me as well! Narrowing my selection down to three things has been most difficult for me, but we are aiming to drive home a message with our children that will stick for years to come.

Holding fast to our priorities of keeping Christ the center of Christmas in our home, we thought three gifts would be most appropriate seeing as how baby Jesus received three gifts on the blessed night He was born! In Matthew, it tells of the wise men who traveled to see this baby:

Matthew 2:7-11

7Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him." 9After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
After reading this story most recently to prepare how we would teach it to our children this year, I wanted to look up the meaning of the gifts given to Jesus.
Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. 
I've read over it so many times, but never considered the value of the gifts.

All three of these gifts were of such extreme value in these times. Only fit for wealthy adults, not a lowly child, lying His head on the hay in a stable. What were they thinking?

Gold. A gift of Royalty.

Frankincense. A valuable incense used as a direct connection with the worship of God according to Jewish customs. It's smell was so sweet when burning in the temple. A true representation of sweet worship.

And, Myrrh. The strangest gift of all. Myrrh was used for burials in that time. It was used to rub on the bodies in order to cover the stench of death. So, why would they give this to a newborn baby? Could it be that the wise men knew He was BORN TO DIE?

Though these three gifts have such new and powerful meaning to me now, I think over the years I have always failed to see the first and most important gift on that star-lit evening. This gift was bestowed voluntarily without the thought of compensation. This gift was.......WORSHIP!

Before the wise men could even manage to hand over the first of their treasures, they bowed down to worship this Emmanuel!

THIS is what I want my children to know of Christmas gifts! 

We will take the time to focus on Him and give Him these same gifts. This year we will acknowledge His royalty. We will acknowledge that He is God with us, and we have a direct connection with Him through worship. We have a "real"ationship! We will recognize that He was born on this earth to die; to die for all of us! And although He left this earth in His death, He sent His sweet holy spirit to abide with us with a promise to return one day for us. Because of all this, I can't help but first worship Him in the beauty of his holiness!

Worship Him together as a family this year! Before you unwrap gifts, spend some time in prayer together. Thank Him for your blessings of life! I don't want my children to recognize Santa as a bearer of gifts; I don't even want them to recognize us, as parents. I want them to recognize Christ from whom all blessings flow! Take the time to tell your kids about your salvation stories. They need to hear them, especially at Christmas time! What better time to share of this redemptive love! Act out the story of Jesus' birthday with the Nativity set. Buy samples of the oils at a wholefoods store and let them smell the fragrances of the gifts. Find every way possible to expose the true meaning of Christmas; it IS in fact, about the gifts! THE FOUR GIFTS! Talk about the gift that keeps on giving! Do whatever it takes this year to stray from these man evolved traditions, and hold true to meaning of this season!


*I'm sure some of you are already wondering why I'm only giving my children three gifts if I mentioned four gifts for Jesus. They will also be given the a gift of money in which they have to decide how to spend in order to give to someone else or an organization of their choice! We'll see how that goes! 
Now, tell me. What are some of your Christmas traditions of how you incorporate Christ?

Please consider linking up with us today! As long as it's an encouraging post, it will fit right in!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Long Ride Home{Link-up}

Is it Monday already?

We just drove in last night from a mini family vacation, and I'm feeling the drag of this Monday morning!

A typical day back from vacation with a young family: cranky kids because of arranged nap schedules, lots of laundry to catch up on, and bags stacked to ceiling in need of unpacking!

Though VERY tired, my heart is FULL!

Regardless of how crazy vacations can be with little ones, it's all worth it for the long ride home!

With worn out kids from a weekend of fun, it's always my favorite part of the trip when we head back home! Not because I like traveling, but because I just know "it" will happen on the long ride home!

Moments in time that I will always look back on!

With kids sacked out in the backseat, my husband and I are guaranteed uninterrupted time of conversation. 

Good wholesome conversation.

No laundry to throw in the wash, dinner to cook, or kids to really tend to; just me and Wesley.

It's always meaningful conversation.

Not a list of "to-do's", or run down of the week's schedule, but a chance to recapture dreams and talk about things that have true value!

So, in the midst of my circumstances today with whiny children and piles of dirty laundry, I will be refreshed with thoughts of the conversations we always share on...the long road home!

Romans 5:3-5

 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Please take the time to link-up today with us, and invite your friends to do so as well! The rules are simple: just link your favorite encouraging post from this past week! Let's encourage one another on this 'Messy Monday', and turn the usual "drab" to "FAB"!

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A White Christmas. Are You Dreaming?

I admit it.

I'm a dreamer.

Bella's devotion before school this morning was about the Bride of Christ. Relating that God's love is wondrous and powerful. Though the little stories in her devotional are great, I always add a special twist since I'm the narrator, by substituting the names in the book for names of children she would know, or even her name occasionally! It seems to be a good perk of interest 1st thing in the morning! It also gets my mind jogging.  Especially this morning!
The imagery cast was of two daughters and their mother on the eldest's wedding day. Of course I filled in the names of Bella and Marleigh. It was a fun and cute devotion and relatable for Bella, yet hours after this great time together, I'm still at home mulling over the thoughts and dreams for my daughters and their wedding days! How special I know it will be! I get a little weepy eyed even now and they are just 1 and 5! Weddings are the perfect imagery of LOVE!

Imagine it with me:

The bride is busy. Not with the usual "everyday tasks", but with wedding preparation! Today is the day. Her wedding day! Her nerves take over in a sudden panic. "Has it all been taken care of?", she wonders to herself. She's prepared for months, even years for this momentous day, but her heart's desire is for everything to be PERFECT. Though her mind's initial worry is on all the tasks, her mind takes a sudden shift to the reason for all of this preparation! The love of her life! His love is captivating and powerful! It has redeemed her and given her worth she never imagined her single life would have. As she peers at herself in the mirror, she feels like a princess all dressed in white! He has given her a sense of royalty. A belonging to an important family! The sparkles on her dress are dull in comparison to the sparkle in her eyes! This day her groom will give her his name to carry. He will come close to her and be with her FOREVER! She tries to shake her daydreaming thoughts in order to complete her preparation, but she keeps finding herself submerged in thoughts of their life together! Yes, the preparation is complete. It's all been taken care of, and every account settled. She can relax and find peace in the knowing! She is ready. Clenched tight to the arm of her father, she prepares for the walk of a lifetime! She worries for just a second about all who will watch, but then her eyes meet the eyes of her groom, and her thoughts are captivated once more by his love! Standing before him, there is only one thing she has to offer; herself. Adorned in beauty with a lingering fragrance of expensive perfume! Dressed in white, not a spot or a blemish. Offering her heart and soul; her everything! All because of a powerful and wondrous love that captivated her heart! It all now belongs to him!

I'm not sure how you felt on your wedding day, but that pretty much sums it up for me!

But alas, here we are at December 7th, and a busy calendar calls to me. My attention is shifted to the "everyday tasks". It's Christmastime. So much to do! What is this season really about? I know what I've been taught about Christmas, but I also know what I see year in and year out, and sadly the two just don't match up. If they did, I know I would feel more peace at this time of year. I would feel more love and expectancy! I would spend every little effort and drop of time on "wedding preparation"!

Our Savior's birth. Immanuel; God WITH US! 
He desires to come near to me and truly be my Immanuel!

Lost in my dream world, I wonder;

Is everything ready? I've prepared to meet my groom(Christ) for several years of my life on this earth. I hope I've made every effort to prepare everything just perfectly! Then my mind shifts. All of this preparation, this life that I've lived; it's all for Him! He is the love of my life! His love is wondrous and captivating! (Psalm 17:7). This love has redeemed me (Ephesians 1:7) and given me great worth! I am royalty!(1 Peter 2:9) My only heart's desire is to be beautiful for Him. I do not know the day that He will come rescue me, and take me to paradise with Him forever, but I will be ready! Working on every last detail! Our eternity together will be worth any price I may have to pay here on this earth(1 Peter 1:6-7). I will not worry about those who may look and watch! My eyes are fixed on Him(Psalm 141:8). My gaze is captivated by this strong love, and the sparkle in my eyes is radiant (Psalm 34:5)! Every account will be settled and I can relax in the peace of knowing(Luke 2:14)! I AM READY(Revelation 19:7)! Adorned in beauty, with a lingering fragrance of being in His presence! Offering my heart and soul; my EVERYTHING! I stand before Him DRESSED IN WHITE!

Though just a dream for now, I am promised of this reality! My heart cries, "Maranatha!". COME, LORD JESUS!

Are you dreaming of a WHITE CHRISTMAS?
In the midst of all your Christmas plans, don't forget the preparation plans for that great day!
He is Immanuel; God with us! Not the far away God, but GOD WITH US!
Your Christmas gift is already here! He's not under a tree; He died upon a tree for you! He's been with us since that great day He became flesh, just so we could rid ourselves of every spot and blemish. Just so we could have a WHITE CHRISTMAS!

I pray your Christmas season will truly revolve around this one thought.
Go ahead and dream. His desire is to be with you; even now!

Isaiah 7:14
14 The Lord himself will give you a miraculous sign. 
The virgin is going to have a baby.
She will give birth to a son. And he will be called Immanuel.

Monday, December 5, 2011


My son ran to me in a panic. He was screaming in pain.

He and his cousin, Xander had been playing so well together, but even in the midst of having fun, they had a collision and Nate got hurt. Nothing severe, of course, but he thought it was intentional and he came running to tattle (and get a little sympathy)! Xander ran in the opposite direction for fear that I would side with my 2 year old, but I needed him to clear things up for me. After he filled me in on the details, I explained to Nate that it was just an accident, and Xander eagerly apologized immediately.

I couldn't "make" Nate forgive him, but it's just a practice in our house that when someone apologizes, the offended person needs to respond with, "I forgive you". Nate knows this practice, but needed a friendly reminder.

Me: "Nate, tell Xander, 'I forgive you'".
Nate: (reluctantly) "Okay....I FORGET you!"

With all my strength, I tried to maintain my motherly demeanor, but instead I burst into laughter. In fact, we all did. His little 2 yr old brain and mouth fumbled on his words!

Oh my! How often this happens to us all. Someone hurts us or our feelings and we come running to God. Sometimes it really is unintentional, yet other times we're justified in our hurt. Regardless, His answer is always the same gentle reminder; FORGIVE them! 

If you're anything like me, it doesn't come easy! I want some sympathy for my hurt. I want to tattle! But I'm always reminded that I too, have needed forgiveness from time to time! Even times when I didn't deserve forgiveness! Oh, amazing grace! It sure would be much easier just to mark our offenders off our list, nodding goodbye, screaming, "FORGET YOU!" Yet, He asks that we "be kind and compassionate to others, forgiving one another just as Christ forgave us!"(Ephesians 4:32)

I'm so thankful for that forgiveness extended to me. How amazing it truly is! 

So, as bad as you may want to FORGET someone, FORGIVE instead!

Colossians 3:12-14

New International Version (NIV)
 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 

Messy Monday Link Up
Each Monday, we host a linkup here at The Evatt's Beautiful Mess!
Fellow bloggers may link up one of their favorite post from the previous week.
Monday's are usually a dreaded day, but our goal is to share encouragement on this seemingly gloomy day, thus making it beautiful!
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Let's share from the abundance of our hearts and rejoice with one another.
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