December 2, 2007

Thanks For Sharing

I'd like to take a break from the cute things my kids say or the latest baby carrier you might or might not need. I want to share with you what is on my heart.

I have been struggling with just what it is I've been feeling about the upcoming Christmas. Why is it so hard for me to "get in the Christmas spirit" this season, more than before? I think I've been mistaking this so-called "Christmas spirit" for decorating and shopping and wrapping presents and consuming and wanting and that's just not what I am about right now. And that's not what Christmas is about either.

I read a post recently by one of my favorite bloggers- Sara at Walk Slowly, Live Wildly, and it really spoke to me. A Strange Dimness. I can relate to this. I feel a strange dimness over the traditional worldly things for this holiday season, and life in general. How much time and worry we put into presents and decorations and is this toy made in China? and what we'll wear to a holiday party that only lasts two hours. I am guilty of this, yes! But I don't want to continue to be this way. Honestly... do those things really matter or even last longer than a few hours or mortal days and weeks?

I am not sure how much longer I can stomach all the excess of things and want for more things and the bigger and better and newer and so on and so on. More. More. More. On the outside we have everything or are talking about how someday we'll have everything. When inside us we are empty. It will never fill us up.

And I don't mean to sound like a Scrooge, because I still enjoy giving and receiving gifts and celebrating the holiday and listening to Christmas carols, and all that good stuff. But, I have moved my focus from temporary things and am fixing it on the forever things, and this now changes my view of pretty much everything. I want my main focus to be the things that last and the things that mean something. It would be wrong of me to go on blogging every day without telling you what's really behind my words and in my heart. And of course I am just growing here- taking baby steps. Baby steps hopefully in the right direction.

So evidently, in truth, I am longing for the real Christmas spirit, wanting to put the spotlight on the birth of Jesus, His only purpose to save this world. And oh, does this world need saving...

37 comments:

  1. I've got the perfect Rx for you my deary! Nativity story was on today and there were a few parts that I just felt so overwhelmed watching and just full of love and emotion. I will be thinking about you and keeping you and your spirit in my prayers!!

    [{{(BIG HUGS)}}]

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  2. Wow Steph! You couldn't have said that better! I agree completely!

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  3. in teaching X the meaning of all the craziness that has suddenly sprung up around us, we've really struggled with this too. Separating the true meaning, the true reason to celebrate from the extra things we do for fun, for the love of being human... I think it helps that X's birthday is coming up too- he keeps asking if Jesus has a birthday party too!

    Thanks for the reminder. (and I'm a big fan of baby steps!)

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  4. It is so very easy to lose sight of Him, especially at this time of year. I will be praying that you will find peace through Jesus, this season! It IS all about Him!!

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  5. Oh I think you've pin-pointed it exactly. It's nice to read words that help me organize my own thoughts...and my own thoughts are the same. Everything we're supposed to be so "crazed" about just leaves me empty. Thanks for this.

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  6. Wonderful post... Its true. Everything that we "strive" for except the relationship with our Heavenly Father is pointless. He is the only thing that will fill up and make us overflown. Thanks for posting! I couldn't agree with you more!

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  7. Amen, and amen! God will honor your desire to put Him first this Christmas, and the result will be true joy in your hearts and in your home. : )
    Happi

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  8. I'm with you. It's hard to keep your focus where it's supposed to be and get carried away with the flow. I had to teach myself to keep things simple but it has paid off, now it doesn't take much reminding. It's not all about the decorations and getting the perfect gifts. Our children can learn from observing us that It's all about emersing our lives more in Jesus, the me stuff has to become the afterthought.

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  9. Tears in my eyes, Steph. Thanks for this post.

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  10. Great post Steph. I think we all get busy with so many things that we do loose focus of whats really important. I cant remember where it is... but somewhere in the Bible it says for us to focus on heart on things above... and I think this can be thought of in many different ways... but when I hear this verse I think about peoples hearts... and pouring our life into others hoping to show them the love of Christ... because through this we are investing into "things above.."

    I think about Jesus and how for his entire life poured his life into 12 men! Yes he reached out to others and preached to others... but he spend a lot of his time discipling these 12 men... and I think we can do the same... pouring our lives into those around us and our family.

    I realize lately I dont pray for my children enough..
    Their young now.. and safe... and I know have ahome in heaven... but when the day comes they have understanding and dont know Christ... I pray they would come to know him at an early age... and I should pray for this daily! but lately dont.

    Im on a tangent... HAHA im loosing my train of thought.. any how. Great post...

    I think its important to enjoy the holidays... and that there is nothing wrong with getting into the holiday spirit enjoying decorations.. cookies, gift giving, treats... but I do agree its important to celebrate the birth of our savior and why this season is so important...

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  11. I think it's so interesting that you posted about this particular topic right now, although I'm certain many individuals feel the same way you are feeling right now.

    Yesterday, our sermon at church was about just what you are feeling. Essentially, it was said that no matter how much shopping you have left to do, no matter what station is playing Christmas music, and even if you don't feel like you are in the Christmas spirit - the time of Advent begins and leads us to what is truly important. That no matter what kind of pressure we put on ourselves to do everything right, Advent, if you allow it, will lead you to what truly matters, despite what else is going on during the holiday season.

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  12. What you describe is what I have been in past years, but this year is different for me. I have been studying my scriptures each day since Thanksgiving and it's given me such light. We don't even have our decorations up yet, and I feel Christmas more strongly than ever. I hope you find what you are looking for in the coming weeks.

    I agree that watching the Nativity Story will make a difference. It's so honest and beautiful.

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  13. Amen. I heard a sermon this weekend where the pastor addressed the difference between 'presents' and 'presence' - they sound like the same word, but entirely different meanings indeed. Thanks for sharing this post!

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  14. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your thinking. It's something I think about a lot myself. I'm in love with this new song by Eddie Vedder called "Society" from the Into the Wild Soundtrack - his own poetic view on consumption... take a listen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVQEsKDcl2A

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  15. Thanks for sharing your heart. Kevin's words yesterday brought me to this same point you are describing. When your heart is focused on Jesus instead of the things in this world, you honor your husband and teach your kids an awesome example. They are so blessed by you.

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  16. AMEN, SISTER! You know I have blogged about where our focus should be. Couldn't agree more!

    Lori

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  17. I, too, am feeling a disillusionment with all the stuff, the wanting more, more, MORE. I'm very convicted of my own guilt in this area but unsure of how to get out of the muck and the mire. And harder yet, how to teach my kids that there is so much more to life than STUFF.

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  18. I'm right there with you Steph, I wish everyone could feel this way and what an amazing Christmas it would be.
    Strange how we feel like scrooge because we want the true meaning of Christmas not the commercial Christmas, shouldn't it be the other way around???

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  19. I am thinking God is implanting something different into us lately. SO MANY people have felt the same way this season.

    My husband is a scrooge and hate what Christmas has become.

    Last year we started a tradition of 3 gift for each kid,(to symbolize
    the 3 wise men who brought gifts) We buy 1 toy, 1 practical gift and one educational gift. (I always cheat and fill their stocking full). This year we didn't fell it was enough, our kids are going to learn what giving is all about. We will be do a number of gifts to different organizations etc. We will incorporate family as much as we can, and most of all JESUS.

    We even changed out "friends" holiday party. We will be drawing names and buying that person a gift that portrays them sarcastically, comically or for real, and then when the party is over we will donate all the gifts!!

    And although these things are little I pray it will bring more and fresh ideas from the Lord on how we can get this holiday back to being about HIM!

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  20. A quiet wondering is festive too.

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  21. We've been moving in this direction this holiday season. In years past I've actually disliked the holiday season because all the shopping, baking, decorating, etc. stressed me out. We are scaling back considerably this year, Ella is only getting a couple presents and Bob and I aren't exchanging at all. We simply have enough stuff, don't wait to buy things for gifts for holidays and events so anything that would be bought for Christmas is excessive.

    Incidentally, I just re-read the entire Little House series. Those children were so happy to just get a simple cup, doll or piece of candy in their stockings! I don't want Ella growing up with a sense of entitlement that people (especially us, as her parents) are going to fulfill every material desire that she has. I don't want her placing her self-worth as a human being on what she has or owns. The quest for things leads to an empty life. It is unhealthy and frankly, I think the focus on consumerism is rapidly ending the ability for human beings to survive on planet Earth via global warming. We've got to change and learn to focus on friends, family, kindness and charity instead of the quest for more, more, more.

    Great post, Steph.

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  22. You said it all Steph..I loved reading everyone's comments too and agree. Jesus IS the reason for the season...

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  23. Great post, Steph! Thanks for being honest, and sharing yourself. It is very hard to not get wrapped up in the world's idea of Christmas. It's in our faces ALL the time.
    I find that it helps me to step back, and just think about Him and why He came. It also helps that I can teach this truth to my class. I've been focusing my lessons all around "Jesus' Birthday", and telling my students that is why the whole world is excited...even if they don't understand the full meaning. It helps me keep my focus where it belongs. So many kids think Christmas is just about Santa and cookies and presents. While all those things can be fun, I like to tell them the truth about why we celebrate.

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  24. God works in great ways. You are listening to your heart, he's their telling you that it's not all about those other things.
    Wonderful post. I think we all get to this point at sometime. I too have gotten there this year.

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  25. Amen . . . This world DOES need saving! Steph, my sentiments exactly!

    Love you,
    Aunt Diane

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  26. I think so much of the Christmas spirit is about learning to wait... to sit in anticipation of the wonderous gifts that God has for us and the amazing gift He gave us on that first Christmas. Too often Christmas is rushed. Trees and lights and sales before Thanksgiving is even done. It takes away that feeling of waiting, the build up of excitement and joy. That childlike heart full of wonder at what will be under that tree or will it snow. Beyond the importance of focusing on Christ during Christmas, I think we need to bring back the waiting and anticipation, the wonder and joy at what is to come.
    Blessings!!

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  27. I am getting ready to do a post similar to this. I really want to be a true minimalist. Lately, since we have no money, I am more aware of buying needless things. I have been downsizing even more than ever and have decided to give away the equal amount in clothes that I buy from now on..buy a shirt, get rid of one. This is the first Christmas where we are really struggling financially. My kids won't be getting as much "stuff" and I'm not even decorating because we are in such transition. I'm trying to make memories in other ways...making our own crafts to put around, watching childhood Christmas specials...and such. Really trying to remember that this holiday isn't about the junk, but like you said...Jesus.

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  28. I'm with you this Season. We too are learning everyday to turn away from the things of this world, to be set apart and not be of the world, though we live in it. It will be a challenge but of course a rewarding one. I know our decision to not buy gifts this year will turn some heads and make some waves, even within our own household (my 17 year old stepson) but I pray for courage in the face of opposition and grace as well.

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  29. It's funny, I was thinking this same thing only today. So, I started reading the book of Luke and it changed my whole perspective of this joyous season. That remembrance is so important in a time when people are fighting over a $5 gift card at Best Buy and searching desperately to find that latest toy no matter what the cost because their child just "has" to have it. Christmas, and life in general, is just so much bigger and more meaningful than that. This world really is in need of saving. Thank God for Jesus Christ.

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  30. I like to think of this season as advent...as we wait. It makes me feel more peaceful. The "Christmas season" makes my heart rate speed up as I think about trees and decor and gift-buying. But the "Advent season" conjures up images of lit candles, Christmas services, reading the story of Jesus' birth in the Bible, and so on.

    It's just semantics but somehow it helps. Christmas is about SO much more than the gifts. They pale in comparison to the REAL GIFT: that God gave us His son!!

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  31. Casual Friday EverydayDecember 03, 2007 8:26 PM

    We have gotten so far away from the real reason for the season, as a country. It is quite sad. They want to remove Christ from everything and that even includes Christmas. :(

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  32. Thank you, I needed to read that today.

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  33. Wow, I just posted a blog a couple weeks ago on materialism where I shared similar thoughts. My heart is also longing for the true Christmas spirit. Thanks for your post it confirmed some things in my heart too.

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  34. Hi. I love your blog. Can you make a post about what your thoughts are on all the recalls? I'm not sure what to think or do. It's so disappointing and scary. I want to purchase a Fisher Price Medical Kit for my son, but do I have to be concerned? This is crazy. Yahoo this morning has some good articles about it. Please post your thoughts.

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  35. Thank you for sharing your feelings! I feel very much the same way and just posted about a similar topic yesterday!

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  36. Beautifully said, Steph. I feel just the same way.

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