Wednesday, December 28, 2011
The Christmas Post
Well, if I could blame this past weekend on a man in a red suit with a long white beard, I would say that I must have made Santa's naughty list bigtime. Fortunately, I know that all events are orchestrated for a higher purpose...to sanctify me and glorify God in heaven. So here's a recap:
Christmas Eve was a blessing. We spent it with some friends from Bible Study. The kids were amazingly well-behaved which was an answer to some desperate prayers from this worn out mom. We had a great lunch, watched a movie, played with friends, and did a gift exchange.
Christmas Eve night, my internet went out while skyping with Darren and the Edwards family back home. Bummer. Christmas Eve our neighbors behind us had some kind of shin-dig complete with fireworks and very loud music. Great. Went on until midnight. Christmas morning my internet was still not back. The kids opened their presents and we started to clean the house for lunch. I was supposed to be having very important last minute guests who flaked an hour after they were supposed to be here. I had spent Christmas Eve working it out with a friend to have enough food as having guests was a pretty last minute decision. She gave me a chicken from her freezer so that I would have enough meat...only to realize the next day that I had prepared WAY too much food for myself and 2 toddlers. However, I decided that we would have a joyful day celebrating in the Savior's birth anyway. It was very hot and didn't feel like Christmas. I read a book while the kids played outside for a good part of the day.
So when Darren was awake and opening his Christmas gifts (5 p.m. my time) I missed his first call and when we could finally talk my phone kept cutting out. The kids suddenly started misbehaving and after wanting to cry all day I finally did. I just kept wondering "why?" I know my life could be SO. MUCH. HARDER. But I couldn't understand why after everything else that seems to be going wrong God would take away my "lifelines" back home. The things that help me retain my sanity over here...on CHRISTMAS!!! Then as if smacking me in the face it was like He was saying, "So that I can be your lifeline!" Commence breakdown and intense time of prayer.
So Monday we went out to the orphanage. Monday was FILLED to the brim with it's challenges as well. Finally, Monday night I was able to get some good sleep. By Tuesday morning my skype was back but my web pages weren't loading. Finally last night, my internet was back completely and I felt so blessed to see all the sweet e-mails and messages waiting for me. It felt like being underwater and then coming up for that awesome breath of air. Most of all, it was nice to talk to my husband via skype again. Have I told you that I miss him?
We had friends over for pizza and swimming yesterday. Again, it was super refreshing just to have some company and kids for my kids to play with.
I have really mixed emotions about this Christmas. I relished in the simplicity of it. The rampant idea of American consumerism that permeates our lives back home can really cloud the true joys of Christmas. I was able to see and experience those deeper joys even though I had a hard time. It is sooooo hard to find that balance, though. Where is the line between enjoying the gifts God has blessed us with and giving our "children good gifts" in reflection of our father in heaven VS. teaching our children that Christmas is about what we get and buying people things they don't need just to keep up?
I used to think that the only people who would question a good, typical, American Christmas were the same people that only wear ankle length dresses and no make up and believe that TV's were invented in hell. I always figured those people drew some kind of strange happiness from giving up being normal and appearing better than the rest of us.
I have to say, though, that my heart has undergone some radical changes in how I view Christmas. I'm not saying I've got it figured out and I certainly would not try to tell anyone else how to run their Christmas festivities, but ya'll there are people around the world in actual REAL need. Don't you think it's a little wrong that people have been TRAMPLED to death fighting to shop for Christmas gifts they and the ricipients don't need? I'm not saying I'm giving up Christmas traditions or gifts or any of the things that I actually MISSED not having this Christmas. I'm just saying...look around. Don't you think we just get a bit silly sometimes? We tend to drive ourselves crazy spending money on gifts we had to rack our brains over because we can't really think of anything that person "needs" right now, rushing from this party to that party, buying clothes to wear to the parties, taking our kids here there and everywhere so they don't "miss" out on anything only to breathe a sigh of relief and say "Whoa...I'm glad December's over. Now I need to go on a diet because I ate too much." And I've talked to so many people with "Christmas guilt". They want to do things differently, but it's hard to break the patterns you were raised in (plus what would our families think if we put a limit on incoming gifts to our kids. Would they think we are ungrateful?) and so they just keep doing what they've always done and the season keeps them so busy it's hard to focus on what's important. I also think it's possible to be "too hard" on yourself or other people. As Americans, there are so many ways we are all greedy consumers from time to time. I believe in enjoying our blessings from heaven and I also believe that we should be teaching our children life values (the Christmas stories, sharing with others, not loving money) all 12 months of the year so if we're weak in this month of the year, we should look to Christ for strength and guidance and not become consumed with guilt. I think our decisions about how we spend, give, or save should be made with passion AND humility. I just think we all need to evaluate WHY we do what we do in light of the Bible and pray for peace in our decisions.
I haven't all the way decided in what ways I'd like our Christmas holiday season to look different next year, but I will definately be praying and discussing with Darren about ways to glorify God more in the way we celebrate. I want my children to see the "giving" part of Christmas first in terms of God's gift to us in his Son, secondly in our gifts to the world (sharing the Gospel, tangible acts of kindness and monetary giving), thirdly, giving gifts to our loved ones, and LASTLY our giving of gifts to them. I don't want them to have "my toys" centered Christmases. Do you guys have any suggestions on how to simplify and most of all how to serve God and others during this time?
Posted by Darren and Jacky Lewis at 1:03 AM