Thursday, January 1, 2009

christmas traditions

If you read this blog or know Blake and I, you know that we are passionate about taking care of the poor. Our passion mostly stems from our understanding of the Bible and God’s command to take care of his people- especially the poor, orphaned, and widowed. But it also stems from our gratitude for what we have and desire to give out of that. We truly feel so blessed and unworthy of all that we have. It is painful for us to see others living in poverty wondering where their next meal will come from and how they will stay warm at night. So, we give.

Leading up to Christmas, we noticed that our children seemed to become a little ungrateful for all that they have and pretty greedy about what they wanted for Christmas. They were concentrating on what they were getting instead of what they could give. They were focusing on what Christmas would bring them instead of how they could use Christmas to bless others. Every year we have a few Christmas traditions to encourage our kids to give. One tradition is that they go through their toys before Christmas and pick out toys to give away. Another tradition is done through our church- the giving tree. Different needs are listed and we pick out 4 children in need, go shopping, and buy a present that they are asking for this year. In the past, we felt pretty good about ourselves for doing these things and thought that we were really teaching our children about giving.

This year, as we were discouraged by our children’s attitudes and hearts, we realized we had been missing a key component of giving. Sacrifice. Our giving required no sacrifice on our children's part. It was easy and therefore had not taught them much. So, Blake and I decided to add another tradition. Each child had to pick out a present that Santa brought him or her to give away (and Santa only brings them two gifts). Some people may think that it’s a little cruel to give our children a brand new gift and then take it away. We believe that it is ok, even necessary, for our children to know sacrifice. Following Jesus is costly. While we want to shelter our kids from the hard stuff, the life we live requires us give up the things we desire in order to honor God. To whom much has been given, much is required. We cannot sit back and enjoy our Christmas morning knowing that too many people are barely surviving right now.

We are raising our children in a frighteningly consumeristic society and know we will have to work hard to instill in them thankful hearts. Our family decided that the best gift that we could give Jesus for His birthday was to take care of His people in need. To make this lesson even more tangible for our kids, we went with our church to deliver groceries to people living in motels (because they have no home). The kids brought the gifts that they had chosen to given away and personally handed them to their new friends. We had a great afternoon of playing and coloring with these kids. We plan on going every month now to be with our new friends.
Ford giving his toy away.

Brady giving a book to a little boy. Brady was really excited about it.

Riley's new friend- Faith. Riley is looking forward to seeing her next time (although we hope that she is able to find a home).

Even Tyler got in on the action- in her sling!

3 comments:

Mark, Jamie & Hazel Thrash said...

you guys are awesome. love to see you following Jesus as a family

Breanne said...

this is of infinite value and i don't tell you this enough, but i have so much respect for the way you raise your kids. thanks for paving the way :)

Chipper said...

I trully love that tradition. I will discuss it with my wife and perhaps we will do something like that with our daughter and hopefully our future children. It would be great to talk with y'all sometime to see how you explained it to your kids.