Helpful and Hopeful Links For the Holidays

There are some things you read that just hit home. Words that walk right through the door of your heart and startle you with God’s honest truth.

Below are links I found this week that both wrecked me and warmed me. I hope they will bless you as well.

The first deals with issues revolving around our relationships. All year long we struggle to understand one another, and maybe especially so at Christmas.

1. This humorous post is convicting but encouraging –  How to Overcome an Offense.

The second is a response to the Sandy Hook tragedy. Sometimes there are no words. But sometimes there are a few that are just right.

2.  There is comfort to be found in this Beautiful prayer written by Max Lucado.

Finally, I told you last week that I would share more thoughts on giving. This is something I struggle with each year. How to do it the right way and make the gift exchange more meaningful.

3. This is one way to turn Christmas giving upside down – 7 Ways to Have More Grateful Kids

4. Here is another cute idea that incorporates the Gifts of the Wise Men

5. And when you read this short article, Just in Time, you’ll see why you and I have been blessed for such a time as this – to give the gift of hope, to meet real needs. 

Sometimes we look at all that’s wrong in the world and we feel helpless, overwhelmed. But when we do something for another person, we allow God’s power to flow through us and we can actually overcome evil with good!

Maybe it’s as simple as offering a smile or a kind word to our neighbor next door. Or maybe we can order a life-saving gift for a neighbor living a world away through this Compassion Catalog.

But, whatever we do, let’s waste no time doing it. Because if we want to see change in this world we need to let the startling God’s honest truth settle in and move us to change.

 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

Restore The Joy – It’s About Giving

My husband and I attended a dinner last week where we met this nice couple who began talking about their four kids and how they wish they could turn back the clock and do Christmas differently.
In fact, they said they are trying to simplify things this year and preparing their kids to enjoy the holiday more – with less. But they are running into opposition from the younger two who say that it’s not fair that their older siblings have been able to get more over the years. Sigh.
Those parents are struggling. And I feel their pain. Right or wrong, it’s hard to untie the traditions we have established and grasp hold of new ones. But we have to try.
Because this is Christmas. And we have to get this right. Not only for ourselves but for the little eyes watching and learning from us. 
The Bible says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
So we tell them this about Christmas. It’s not about how much you can get, not about greed. It’s about giving. And that is true, but we need to share with them about the receiving part as well because the two go together.
Through the symbolic giving of our gifts to one another, we celebrate the most precious gift of all – Jesus. Immanuel. God with us.
And when we open our hearts to receive from Him, we are filled with joy.
Because He brings us what we desire most. Life. Hope. Peace.
Gifts that never disappoint.
Gifts that will last forever.
Gifts that humble us because we know we have been given
something we don’t deserve.

And the result is, or should be, that all of this blessing turns us from grateful receivers into grateful givers.

So why do we sometimes get so wrapped up in the trappings of the holidays that we forget it is a holy day? Does joy have to be something we just sing about but have little acquaintance with during this stress-filled season?
Many of us are tired of watching the true meaning of Christmas get tossed around in that mangled mass of shredded paper torn from treasures we bought on November 26th and the credit card company still owns on December 25th. It hurts to see ribbons of regret running all the way through our self-made piles of twisted expectations. 
We know what we have to do. We have to stop draining our bank accounts hoping to fill the empty spaces, these hidden holes in our hearts that cannot be named or seen, only felt.
Mary Hunt wrote a book out of her own painful experience called How To Debt-Proof Your Christmas. She talks about what she learned in this interview. Here’s an excerpt.

“We want people to love us. I’ll be honest. I wanted my children to love me and have the best memories and to be the parent of the year and for my friends to think i was wealthy. All of these crazy things. It was about me, wasn’t so much about them.”

“It was about me.” Those words keep ringing in my head like a Salvation Army bell, demanding my attention. I have to ask myself what I’m doing to keep Christ at the center of Christmas.
To put Him first, and others before myself.
Maybe it’s as simple as this. If we keep our focus on how Jesus paid our spiritual debt we will not feel the need to acquire more monetary debt.
Because we’ll realize we really do have everything we need.
I believe it’s possible to change. To do Christmas differently than we have in the past and enjoy more with less. It might not be easy. We might meet with some resistance. But God, the Great Giver, will show us the way and grant us grace in the process.
 Lord help me remember that when I light the candle of gratitude, greed melts away, the flame of joy burns bright and I learn again what it really means to give. Amen!
Next week, I will be writing more on this subject and sharing unique ways to restore the joy in our gift-giving this season.
Meanwhile, here is one fun idea –
Go catalog shopping with your family and pick out a gift to give to someone in need!

“Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you. ~ Deut. 16:17 #itsaboutgiving

Can You See Me?

I woke up this morning thinking today would be no different than the day before. That I am just a poor boy that no one sees. I was wrong.
I am a small child.
But my heart is big.

Big enough to feel sad when I see my mother cry. She does not speak of it but I wonder if I am the reason for her tears. Because there isn’t much food to eat and I am always hungry. 

A small child.
With a big appetite.

My father works when he can and I try to do my share to help out but it never seems like enough. And sometimes, when I don’t know what to do, I go to this church in my village. There are people there who tell me about a God who cares and I got your letter saying you care too.

It got me thinking.

I may only be a small child.
But God is big and he can make me strong.

Maybe one day, when I grow up, I will travel beyond the grass walls and dirt floors of my home. Maybe I will be a Compassion sponsor myself. And when I come across a little boy like me, hungry for hope, I will tell him not to give up. Because he is not invisible. His life counts for something. He matters.

Until then, I will go to sleep tonight happy. Because I can close my eyes knowing that God sees me.

A small child. 
With big dreams.

What you have just read is my response to a challenge from Compassion International to write a letter from the perspective of my sponsored child. 

Please watch this inspiring video from Sara Groves and pray for the children who are waiting for someone to tell them they are seen. Sponsors are still needed. CLICK HERE if you would like to be one.

Big News – I’m a Pinner!

Well, it is official. I am now a Pinner! It was bound to happen sooner or later. I kept having people ask me if I was on Pinterest and my answer each time was “Not yet.” 

The motivating force behind my joining the site was for the Compassion child my husband and I are sponsoring. 

You see, there’s this contest going on until September 23rd and for each repin of My Sponsored Child I get entries that could result in a monetary gift for this sweet little boy in Bangladesh.

How awesome is that? And so easy!

Even if you don’t feel you can sponsor a child yourself right now, you can still get involved by sharing the story of Compassion and children in need. 

All it takes is one little click. Will you take a second to do this right now? I would be humbled and grateful.

Click Here to see My Sponsored Child on Pinterest and Repin It!

Linking up with:

and 

My Letter to God

Sponsor a Child

Dear God, 

I took one look at that picture. One look and instantly I started thinking back to when I was a little girl, remembering how the world seemed like such a big, scary place and wondering where I fit in.

I especially recall being afraid of the dark.
 

Sometimes, if I was feeling courageous, I would jump out of bed at night and go running to my mother’s arms for protection from imaginary monsters. 

But most nights, I cowered beneath the covers, calling out her name knowing she would come right away to comfort me.

When I grew up, I grew out of my fear of imaginary monsters. But I found other fears to take their place. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failing. Fear of being misunderstood. The list goes on. 

Then I learned about you, God.
 
I found out you are my Heavenly Father and that you are always watching over me, protecting me from harm, both real and imagined.  

I read the promises in your holy book. The words you wrote to comfort me and tell me that I was never alone. That you are close enough to hear my prayers and come to my rescue when I call for help. And that you will never leave me. Never forsake me.

You taught me that you loved me so much, you sent your son Jesus to take away my sin and give me eternal life and chase away the shadows of fear. And I believed. 

And now I know why.
Because it is your desire for those who have seen the Light to share the Light.

Lord, help me share your light with this little one. And may all those who know you consider how they might share too. Because every child in the world deserves to grow up knowing that there is hope. That they are loved. And that, with Jesus by their side, they will never have to be afraid of the dark.


Compassion Blog Month Update:
I am so thankful today to know that so many have responded to the September challenge. There are now 2,271 children needing sponsors down from 3,108 just a week ago!

 Click here to see who is still waiting.

Linking up with Thought-Provoking Thursdayand Thankful Thursday and Faith Filled Friday