It's no secret that I love Christmas. I love the lights and the decorations. I love finding special gifts for friends and family. I love family traditions and yummy sweet treats.I love spending time reading our Advent devotionals after dinner. I like to get an early start on the season so I don't have to cram all the fun stuff into a short period of time. Christmas music is part of my Pandora playlist year round. Once October rolls around, I'm ready to watch Christmas movies all day. I'm such a sap for the Hallmark channel. I love their commercials almost as much as their movies.
I think what I love most is the spirit of the season. There is a focus of generosity and hospitality. It seems that kindness and caring become more widespread. People will donate to charities and help struggling families enjoy the season. For some it's the only time of the year that they slow down and look at the needs around them.
This year the Hallmark commercials have a caring theme called #CareEnough . The focus is on showing how small acts of kindness can make a big impact. Their commercials are all about ways that caring can change someone's day, outlook, life, mindset and even the world. Click here to watch the Care Enough Anthem.
Each commercial ends with the tag line "When you care enough to................... you can change the world." They fill the blank with statements like "lend a hand", "lift a spirit" , "brighten a day" and "make a difference". I love this because that's what Christmas is all about. It's about simple acts of kindness. It's about showing love to our neighbors. It's about caring for our friends. It's about encouraging our coworkers.
When you think about it, the spirit of caring is not a concept created by Hallmark. The spirit of caring is a concept created by God Himself. Caring is what it means to be a follower of Christ each and everyday. Loving others becomes the proof of our love for Christ.
We can read the Bible, attend church, and pray with our families but if we don't put love into action then we miss the point. If we use our words to spread racism and prejudice towards others then we miss the point. If we alienate people because of their lifestyles then we miss the point. If we ignore the needs of those we don't approve of then we miss the point. If we promote Christian principles with hate and condescension then we miss the point.
We are called to care for the poor, the destitute, the widow, the orphan, the lost. We are called to reach out with love and kindness to every person that we meet no matter their religious affiliation, lifestyle or political views. We must search for ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus. And sometimes that's not easy because it means we must take the focus off of ourselves.
We must combat the hate with the love of Christ. It's a love that doesn't make sense to our human logic. A love that sees the person as a soul created in the image of God. A John 3:16 kind of love. An Ephesians 4:32 kind of love. A love that many Christians have difficulty comprehending. A love that is only possible when we live fully in Christ.
Simple acts of kindness can open doors of communication and build relationships with the people in our sphere of influence. Simple acts of kindness can show a hurting and broken world that someone cares. Simple acts of kindness can change someone's view of Christians and the church. Simple acts of kindness can soften hardened hearts to the love of God.
If we choose to spend our time loving others and looking for ways to care for them then we can truly change our world.
This Christmas season, I encourage you to find ways to #CareEnough. And when the season ends and the decorations are packed up, I challenge you to carry the Christmas spirit of caring into the new year.
This year Thanksgiving looks a little different for us. For the first time in 21 years, we won't all be together around the same table on Thanksgiving Day.
I tried so hard to make it possible for all 6 of us to travel south to be with my parents and extended family. It was our year to get together for Thanksgiving. I missed last year's gathering at Christmas and I was determined to not miss this year.
I fought for most of November to get the day off of work. I was so focused on getting the day off that I forgot what this month was suppose to be about. I got wrapped up in my fight to get what I wanted and couldn't see anything else.
November has always been a time for me to focus on things that I'm thankful for. As a family we create a thankful tree that we add leaves to each year. I always love reading the leaves from previous years. It's a great reminder of how God has provided for and blessed our family. It's also fun to see the things that the kids have written.
This year I was so distracted by my quest to get the day off that I didn't even get out the box of leaves. Honestly I didn't even think about the thankful tree until tonight when I came across the box while looking for some pictures in the garage. As I looked through the leaves, I was reminded of so many blessings in my life. I have a great family, a job, food, a home and freedom in Christ.
As my kids continue to grow up and begin their own lives, I know that we won't always be sitting around the table together on the holidays. We may have to celebrate earlier or later. There will be years when we celebrate with more friends than family. I'm sure there will be years when we celebrate in another country. And there will be times when the table will be overflowing with family. Each year will be different and special in its own way.
This year my table is only half full on Thanksgiving Day because my oldest son is introducing his girlfriend to his aunts, uncles and cousins. So that means we will have 2 dinners. And that's something to be thankful for.
It doesn't matter if our table is set for 2 or 20, I will always be grateful for the ones that God has placed there.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.