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James 1:17 probably is not the first verse that comes to mind when you think of the Christmas season. Most people thing of the story of the birth of Jesus as told by Luke or Matthew. However, during this time of gift giving and receiving it can be so easy to lose sight of the true gift of the season. Sure we know that Jesus is the reason we celebrate, but do we really live that out both in our hearts and our actions?
I want to spend the next week really focusing on all of the gifts and blessings that are in my life. We celebrate not just because Jesus was born but because he died for our salvation. No matter the stresses and frustrations of today, the gifts not yet wrapped, the child who is sick, the dinner that isn’t going to cook itself, the house that still needs to be cleaned; we celebrate because Jesus became flesh and was born to a virgin in order to die for our sins. When I put things into proper perspective there is so much for which to be thankful and joyful.
For many of us the next few days will be busy and it may seem that we do not have time to ‘be still’ but I encourage you to try very hard to carve out a bit of time each day to focus on Him. Sing hymns as you travel to visit family, read the story of the birth of Christ together on Christmas morning before you open gifts, pray over each person with whom you exchange gifts. You may not be able to hide away and have thirty minutes of uninterrupted time but you can still take a few minutes to focus on the reason that we celebrate.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17 (NIV)
Sometimes our best laid plans just don’t happen. We had some fun times and did some great things this week, but other things did not go according to plan. On Friday my four year old woke up with a fever. This is never a good thing but was made worse by the fact that Friday was supposed to be a fun day out with friends. After much deliberation on my part, he stayed home with my husband and I took the other three to meet up with our friends. This time of year can be hectic and it was nice to spend an afternoon hanging out with friends and enjoying fellowship with no obligations. We tried a new burger place, had some yummy cupcakes, and then spent a couple of hours at the aquarium where most of us have memberships.
It would have been very easy to decide not to spend the day with our friends due to all the things on my to-do list. I could have said that I was too busy to go and no one would have argued with me, but sometimes we need to put the lists aside and just spend time with our people. My first priority in ‘be present’ is my family, but I also need to take the time to pour into my friendships as well. Friday we were able to ‘be present’ not only as a family but with our friends.
We have not yet done our graham cracker nativity scenes because I want to wait until my son feels better so that we can do them together. We did do some more puppets because he has decided he is really into the puppets. Another activity that we did this week with our 4H club was a five senses activity with these blooming tea balls. It was fun for all ages and simple to do. It is also easy to adapt for one child or a group of children. I simply unwrapped one of the tea balls and had them look at it, feel it, smell it, and listen to it. Then we dropped it into a pitcher of very hot water and they watched it bloom. Once it had steeped they were able to taste it. It would make for a nice low key activity this week after the hustle and bustle of Christmas.
If you didn’t finish all the fun crafts and activities that you wanted to do, do not despair Tuesday is only the first day of Christmas. I have found that the days following Christmas often bring a slower more relaxed pace and we can enjoy those activities without the pressure of long to-do lists hanging over our heads.
Take some time this week and ‘be present’ with your immediate family and if you can with extended family. If you are not close enough to visit for the holidays maybe you can spend time with neighbors or use technology to virtually visit those that live far away. Take the time to bake the cookies, get on the floor and play with the new toys, read the book, or just sit and chat.
How are doing with this challenge? I pray that it has blessed you and brought you closer to God and your family. I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. While this challenge may be wrapping up, it is my hope that you will continue the habits of ‘being still and being present‘ into the New Year.
Be Present Resources:
Free Printable Nativity Coloring Pages
Hands on As We Grow (If you have young kids and struggle to come up with easy activities to do with them, this maybe a great resource for you. She has some free challenges, e-books, and a membership plan full of great activities that are easy to implement.)
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Deals and Freebies!
Amazon is doing it again! $5 off $20 Book Purchase. Use Code GIFTBOOK18. If you aren’t sure what book to buy you might want to check out this new book by Sally Clarkson that is on pre-order right now: Girls’ Club.
Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week! They are coming out with a full color edition of levels 1-4 All About Reading and to celebrate they are hosting a $1,000 giveaway! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.
My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.