Friday, December 21, 2012

Compassion at Christmas

Christmas is in four days. By now the tree is trimmed, the stockings are hung on the mantle, and the gifts are nearly wrapped under the tree.


Not at my house either. The tree is up, but the gifts haven't been wrapped just yet. Heck, who am I kidding? There's still more gifts to buy.

And I'm ok with that.

Christmas is more than a tree. It's more than stockings filled with candy, cheap perfume, and gift cards. The reason we celebrate Christmas is beyond the gifts we exchange with family and friends.

Christmas is and always will be about Jesus. Immanuel, God with us. He dwelled among us, walked and talked with us, helped and healed us, loved us.

He fed us.

Clothed us.

Freed us.

He had compassion on us, extending grace and mercy.

And, in turn, He asks us to do the same.

Christmas is the perfect time to give gifts. Not just to family and friends, but to folks around the world who need a helping hand. Folks who need to see Immanuel, God with us. Folks who need fed, clothed, set free.

You can give a gift this Christmas that will have a far greater impact than you can imagine.

Will you consider purchasing a gift that will change lives? Compassion International makes it easy. All you have to do is look through their gift catalog and pick a gift of your choosing. You can buy seeds that enable families in Africa to grow their own food to eat as well as sell for income. You can buy medical services for families who would otherwise go without. You can buy goats and chickens. Education and career opportunities, HIV testing, and parasite treatment.

Click here to browse the Compassion gift catalog------>

Compassion has asked me to raise $100 to help them reach their goal of $20,000. If just 10 of my friends would give just $10, I would reach my goal.

Will you be the one to give?

If you give, please leave a comment below. Thank you!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Jolly Jingle

Today I have the honor of being a guest at my friend Tim Gallen's blog - The Daily Gallen. Tim is a gifted writer who challenges me both in my faith and in writing. His "fiction Friday" posts are exceptional, and I won't be surprised one bit when he becomes a published author.

Tim invited me to share as part of his 12 days of Christmas series. I'm excited to share with you one of my favorite Christmas memories: Jolly Jingle. Click here to hop on over to Tim's blog to read my post!

Giving Used to Be Simple

This is Monday, but in place of my normal "Manic Monday" posts I am partnering with Compassion International's #ItsAboutGiving blog campaign. Hope you enjoy!

Glue sticks. Construction paper. Glitter. Cotton balls. Pine cones. Magic markers. Pipe cleaners.

These were the tools of making the best gifts as a child. Simple. Cheap. Made with love.

I vividly remember creating Santa's beard out of cotton balls by gluing them onto a paper plate. His eyes, nose, and mouth I carefully drew on the plate with magic markers. Then I painstakingly cut his hat out of red construction paper, using caution to make it just so. To finish, more cotton balls were glued to his hat to make Santa more festive.

Giving as a child was simple and sweet. The gifts were made with care out of ordinary, every day items. There was no stressing out or worrying whether mom or dad would like the gift. Gift giving was easy because each gift was made with love and given joyfully. Mom and dad would accept the gift with tears and treasure it forever, saving it long after the cotton balls had yellowed and the glue stopped sticking.

Gift giving today has become much more difficult. There's the constant stress over who to buy for, what to buy or make, how much to spend. The list of who to buy for seems to get longer each year as families grow and we make new friends. The items to buy changes from toys to games to clothes to electronics. To make things easier, the thought of buying gift cards crosses the mind, but quickly disappears as Christmas is supposed to be personal not impersonal.

What happened to the simplicity of gift giving? What happened to giving a gift that will be treasured long after it's been given?

The greatest gift of all came in the form of a baby. Born in a barn, surrounded by dirt and filth, God gave us His son - Jesus. In turn, Jesus gives each of us the gift of life, of grace and mercy, of love. Simple yet profound. Incredingly meaningful. Gifts that last all of eternity.

This Christmas, let's bring back the simplicity of giving gifts.

Will you consider giving a gift that is simple yet meaningful, one that will be treasured for a lifetime? Check out the Compassion gift catalog and consider giving the gift of food, water, or medical care.

What will you do this year to make gift giving simple yet meaningful?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Giving Means Everything

Today is most definitely Monday. But I'm foregoing my typical Manic Monday post for something different. Today I'm partnering with Compassion International and their #itsaboutgiving campaign

Compassion's Christmas Gift Catalog

'Tis the season for twinkling lights. Strands of garland. Shiny glass balls, paper snowflakes, snowmen made from cotton balls.

'Tis the season for fresh baked sugar cookies. Peppermint bark. Hard tack candy. Hot chocolate.

'Tis the season for slow dancing in the living room lit only by the tree and stealing kisses beneath the mistletoe.

'Tis the season for remembering. For celebrating. For giving.

We remember the angels telling Mary how she would soon give birth to the Savior. We remember Mary and Joseph leaving home for a safer place to live. We remember the innkeeper saying their was no room for them. We remember the smelly, animal-filled barn where Jesus was born.

We celebrate the gift of life, of hope, of grace, of love.

We join with the Magi who gave. We join them in giving to family, to friends. We join them in giving to the poor, the needy, the lonely, and the forgotten.

Giving means everything.

John 3:16, the most quoted Scripture of all time, reminds us of why we give - because God gave. God gave His one and only Son, the best gift anyone could receive. He gave all of us the gift of life, of hope, of grace, of love.

Christmas comes around once a year, and it is good and right that we should remember and celebrate.

But giving? Giving is a lifestyle.

Giving means collecting food, clothing, school supplies, etc. throughout the year for those who are in need.

Giving means cooking a meal for a neighbor, leaving a generous tip for the waitress, or volunteering at the local crisis pregnancy center.

For me, giving means serving at a local soup kitchen on a regular basis. But it doesn't stop there. It means getting to know the folks I'm serving. It means sharing a meal with them, listening to their stories, praying with them.

For me, giving means sponsoring a little girl in India through Compassion International. It means so much more than supporting her financially. It means encouraging her to learn and grow. It means being able to share Jesus with her and her family.

This Christmas will you join me in making giving a lifestyle? 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Calm after the Crazy

Hello, Monday.

You didn't fail to live up to your name.

Manic Monday.

Despite the mania, there was peace. There was calm after the crazy. Home became my refuge, a place of peace in the midst of the madness.

Dinner with my husband is my good for the day. Precious time with my beloved is always good, but far too rare. Tonight's fare was simple, our conversation light. Quiet and peaceful.

Tonight I'm thankful these little things.

Tell me, friends, what are you thankful for this evening?