Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Traditions...the Countdown to Christmas

Only 12 more days until Christmas!

I'm back to share another of our family's Christmas traditions. My goal is to post one of our traditions each day leading up to Christmas, but as you can see, I've missed a few days. In all honesty, I just haven't been very good about posting lately. With work and a sick baby, I've been pretty busy. Anyway, today I am going to share some things that have been on my heart.
Statistics say that during the Christmas season, more people are depressed and commit suicide than any other time of year (oh yeah, this is a joyful one. You're probably ready to click off my page right this second...). According to a doctor on Good Morning America (and whatever statistics she got it from), more people die on Christmas day than any other day. The Christmas day deaths are attributed to people being away from home and away from their doctors who know them and their health struggles and to people ignoring their symptoms because they don't want to ruin their families' Christmas (I mean, can you imagine that one? You don't want to ruin your family's Christmas by telling them you may be having a heart attack, so you die instead? Awful.).

I'm convinced that more people are depressed because of pressure...the pressure to be with loved ones but are unable to because they have lost the loved ones they were closest to, the pressure to provide gifts that they can't afford, the pressure to have the joy and perfect lives that everyone else around them seems to have. Their focus is off. Instead of focusing on what the season is about, Jesus, they are focused on what we as a society have made Christmas about. I don't know this for sure, of course, this is just my thinking.

What I do know is that I have had my days of stress, worry, and hopelessness this month too. I don't know, attribute it to my hormones (which are C-R-A-Z-Y right now), to the stresses of owning our own business in an economy which is struggling, the pressure to buy great presents and the inability to do so...I don't know. Thing is, what I've been realizing over the past few days, with much help from God, is that I am focused on the wrong things. I've spent so much time worrying over things I have no control over (and that don't matter anyway) and have taken my focus off of the glory of this season.

Through different avenues, God has gently shown and reminded me that in my lowest day, it doesn't compare to what is going on all around me. I was shown the example of things that have gone on in Sudan. Families murdered, young children left orphaned, genocide. I have been shown Angel Trees, two weeks before Christmas, filled with simple requests from children who will get nothing for Christmas if their ornaments are not plucked from the trees. I have been shown that I am so incredibly blessed with an amazing family, a family that far outshines any worry that Satan could possibly put in my head.

You see, my kids will not go without. Even if Channing and I didn't buy them a single present, they will get stuff. We are fortunate to have family that enjoys taking care of them too. It's hard for me to imagine those families that have absolutely no one. The families out there that are struggling, that want to get their children gifts just like all the other parents are doing but don't have any means by which to do it. I can empathize with them because we don't have the ability to buy some of the things that others can, yet I can't grasp the total feeling because my kids already have several gifts they're getting.

Seeing these things, my heart has been filled with sympathy and compassion for those who are struggling, the need to pray for those who are hurting, joy for all that I have been given, and the desire to know Christ even more. I want to be totally sold out for Him. I want to hear His voice when I ask Him to show me who and how to help. I want to be His vessel. I want to earn my keep the short time I'm here. I want to be known as a giver. I want God to show me creative ways to help. I am convinced that we don't have to be wealthy to be givers. We just have to have a heart to help.

I am filled with so much joy today, and my prayer is that you will be too. I ask that you join me in praying for those who are struggling. I encourage you to seek God and His guidance in how you can help someone who may need you, someone you may or may not know. Ask God to make your eyes and hearts attentive to those who may need an encouraging word, a helping hand, a little lift. Together, let's remember and serve as reminders to others what Christmas is about...HOPE! God gave us His Son, and He is going to return. Let's spread that HOPE.

Let's also be sure to remind our kids, no matter how much we are or are not able to buy, that Christmas is not about receiving gifts. We have already been given the greatest gift, Jesus Christ. Remind them of what Christmas is truly about.

And for those that enjoy Christmas traditions, my sweet friend, Donna, has a super great one on her blog. I think it is so creative and extra special, so check it out: Sweetness

If you stuck with me through this, thank you. I know it's not the fun and short posts that most people enjoy.
Blessings to you and your family during Christmas and in the year to come!!!


Anonymous said...

i love this post. nate and i are feeling so much tension as we try to establish christmas traditions with noah in our life. we don't want to get sucked into the present mania! it's seriously insane. i am glad we live in a place that FORCES us to have balance. it's easy to over indulge noah because it's just so much fun- but we are reminded of poverty right on our street with the gypsy children who rummage through our trash to find things they can salvage to either use for themselves or sale. we want to live with a gratefulness because we are blessed beyond measure in the things that REALLY matter.

i snuck a peak at your friends blog and I LOVE her manger idea!!!!! how sweet!!! I am definitely tucking that away for future use. i love making it all about serving and giving to others.

thanks for posting this!


Amy said...

Beautiful post! I so often need to be reminded of the very things that you typed about. It is such a challenge to keep the focus on Jesus instead of being stressed about the temporary things that we may or may not be able to provide.
Also, I spoke recently to a lady who doesn't have much family, as well as some difficult circumstances, and she was telling me how lonely the holidays are for her. It just broke my heart. I don't want to ever take for granted all of the amazing blessings the Lord has so graciously given to me and my family.
I always enjoy reading your perspective.

Anonymous said...

Great post. You would make an awesome minister or motivational speaker. I've been caught up in all the "things" of Christmas, but I realize I too need to step back and think of others less fortunate. Thanks for sharing.

The Hairston's said...

Great post, Annie! Jay and I were talking about this the other night when we were at the packed out mall. So many people are caught up in gifts, that we forget the true meaning we celebrate Christmas.

Brandy said...

I just want you to know-since I do not comment often-that you are a TOTAL inspiration to me and my family!

annieck said...

Wow. Thank you. That is incredibly humbling. I am so far from where I need to be, though. Thank God for His patience with me!