Ahhhh…… Christmas Day is here!
I. Absolutely. Love. Christmas.
Even before I gave my life to Jesus it was my favorite holiday. As I sit here, my heart is so full of gratitude. I am overwhelmed by what Jesus has done for me. I am immensely grateful for His birth. I can’t even imagine who or where I’d be without Him.
I’m also so grateful to be here in Brazil. I’m grateful to spend Christmas with our friends and church family here. Grateful. Grateful. Grateful. You get the point.
As I’ve stated in many of my post….being a missionary has been such a blessing in so many ways. Being in Brazil has been such a blessing. Knowing the Brazilian people has been such a blessing. Seeing lives changed by the gospel has been such a blessing.
Isn’t it true that any time you strip all the “extras” from your life you’re left with what truly matters; Jesus, family and friends? Simplicity….ahhh, say it with me my dear friends. Simplicity. Let’s be honest America is full of extras. Don’t get me wrong. I love those extras; I miss those extras…a lot. I love receiving those extras in the form of care packages in the mail. wink! wink! BUT sometimes where you are in life forces you to enjoy life without them. And you don’t need to leave the country to be in that position. I’ve been broke many of times and been forced to choose between an attitude of ungratefulness or contentment. So be of good cheer! It’s possible!
We definitely miss our family and friends more during this season. It can be quite difficult. However, we have some wonderful people to spend Christmas with and some don’t have families themselves to spend it with for other reasons so… It’s a blessing for us as much as it is for them. Christmas is a wonderful time of year for us but sadly, for some, it’s a time of loneliness. The church here is growing and we’re blessed with people to share the holidays with.
We had our Christmas Party and it was a blast. We played some Minute to Win It games and had so much fun. Here’s some pictures.
I had some fun video but “format not supported” is showing so I couldn’t post them…Grrrr!
click here to go to YouTube and view the last two videos posted.
One of my favorite things about the culture in Brazil is that it’s a culture of inclusion. There’s no need to ask for permission to bring someone to a fellowship. All are welcome. No one is intruding. It’s a beautiful thing. Especially when you want to bring that person who has no family to spend this holiday with.
So I encourage you, look for that person who’s alone and invite them to spend Christmas with your family. You never know how much it’ll mean to them.
No matter where we’ve been in our lives, one thing we didn’t want is for our kids to see themselves as suffering, missing out, or deprived. Especially as missionaries. One way we try to accomplish this is to teach them to be grateful and to count and acknowledge all the blessings they have. (Especially during those times when it’s hard to SEE your blessings!) Another way is to teach your kids to look for those in need and be a blessing to them. Teach them to think outside themselves. Giving can solve a multitude of issues!
Someone is always going to be in more need than we are at one point in their lives. This constant “life is about me” attitude that we see in kids today is worrisome. I believe even when we are struggling we all still have something to give and it brings us to a point of proper perspective. Another win-win situation.
People here are very charitable. There’s so many homeless people in our city (as in most large cities). When they approach someone for a handout people here always give something. Whether it’s their change, leftover food or just the bottle of water they’re carrying but haven’t finished, it’s given. Given freely… Without hesitation.
This has rubbed off on us. Especially my son. He always gets our leftovers put in a box so he can give them to someone living in the street.
We all try so hard to instill compassion (and other many good things) into our children. It’s nice when they put it into action. Inside, we give ourselves a quiet high five and thank the good Lord they’re thinking a little less of themselves.
There’s so many programs in our cities that we can use to help us teach our kids to be giving at this time of year. We should take advantage of them.
Our kids will remember THOSE Christmas memories more than the year they received that bike they always wanted. There’s also so many ways to give without needing money. Just spending time with or welcoming that new family/person in your church is blessing enough.
Christmas in Brazil is definitely not as affluent as a Christmas in America. Trust me.
It’s funny that here in Brazil people get annoyed with how “commercialized” Christmas has become. I think…. My goodness! This is nothing compared to America! Nothing compared to our streets and streets of decorated houses (our city here decorates ONE plaza) and there’s 2.5 million people living here NOT counting the greater Belo area, nothing compares to the US’s “every color under the sun” options for Christmas decorations such as, ornaments, the little villages you have on your counters, etc. Nothing compared to the piles of presents we feel like we HAVE to buy. Or what about those presents you feel you have to buy for people you don’t even like…? And every year we say “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” but why is it so hard to not get caught up in it all…? Me included! Oh, what a tangled web we weave…
Before we had our kids I read an awesome tradition one family had in a Focus on the Family publication. They only gave their kids 3 gifts each at Christmas time. They labeled each gold, frankincense and myrrh. They hoped it would prevent their children from being ungratefulness if they knew how many gifts they’d get ahead of time. I guess if 3 gifts are good enough for Jesus… Why not our precious lil angels? I thought this was a cool idea, for the same reasons and my own and since our first was born we’ve adopted this as our tradition as well. It’s worked for us thus far!
Our daughter was talking to someone in our church recently and was showing her pictures of her Christmas tree (she has her own in her room). The girl told her she’s never had a Christmas tree. Our daughter said she felt so spoiled. She couldn’t believe it! She said God spoke to her that you don’t need these things to feel blessed. Then she had the idea that we could use the money we’d spend on one of her presents to buy her a tree instead. She saw her presents as what they were….just stuff. Stuff she doesn’t need to be happy. Blessing someone else was more important.
I know she’s making the kind of memories that will last. The kind of memories that we say represent what Christmas is really all about. The kind of memories that let people see Christ in us.
That’s the gift that keeps on giving!
Of course, blessing each other with gifts is such a sweet way to show our love and appreciation for each other, so the point of this blog isn’t to encourage you to give your kids less for Christmas but to teach them to give, to be thoughtful individuals and to give as Christ gave to us. To give them the opportunity to feel the joy of giving in a way they’ll remember forever. Even if that means giving sacrificially.
This Christmas has been very special for us. Each of us has grown this year. Our hearts have been enlarged. Things that we’ve seen and gone through have brought a new perspective to our lives and hearts. Hopefully we’ve become a little less self absorbed. Hopefully we’ve learned that teaching our kids to give is better than buying them extra gifts to fill voids in their lives. Giving is a way to show Christ in us. What could be more important at this time of the year?
Wishing you a very Merry Grateful Christmas from our family to yours!