November 27, 2009

Keeping Christ in Christmas

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: 
and the government shall be upon his shoulder: 
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, 
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

At this time of year it is so easy to get caught up in the frantic pace of collecting more 
and more stuff and going to more and more events. 
We can get trapped into thinking that we must do it all ~ have it all!

How can we find peace in the midst of the potential chaos?
Focus on THE ONE Reason for all the celebrating...
But, how do we keep Christ as the central focus?

The following ideas are a few of the things 
we try to implement in our home at this special time of year.

1. We gather at the end of each day and have a family devotional centered 
around the Bible passages pertaining to the miracle of the birth of Christ.

Each night of the four weeks preceeding Christmas,
we light candles in our advent wreath and we read and discuss the many passages 
of Scripture that speak of the Lord's first coming and birth, etc. 
We are not limited to the passage in Luke chapter two...far from it! 
It is amazing how much of Scripture is devoted to this wonderful 
account of God's provision to sinful man.
This is the article that I believe first inspired us with the idea to begin 
celebrating advent as one of our family's Christmas traditions.

2. We strive to keep things simple.

I have often told the children that they can expect three things under the tree from us ~ 
we call it the "Wise Men" principle. There were three gifts given to the Lord ~ 
three gifts will be given to them. The gifts may be very inexpensive, 
but attractively wrapped and given with love. 
Our children know what to expect on Christmas morning ~ 
we have found that this "Wise Men" principle helps to keep their imaginations in check!

3. We encourage our children to think of others.

Gifts are purchased for their siblings from their own savings. 
Cards are handmade. Thank you notes are written by each child for the gifts received.

4. We seek to limit the number of things on the calendar.

Many things will compete for a place in the agenda...
we have found that we must be careful what we commit to. 
We do not feel obligated to say yes to every invitation or agree to everything! 
It is not a bad thing to decline an invitation simply because it will not work 
for the peacefulness of our home and family.
We seek to honour God in all things ~ keep things in proper perspective.
After all, it is the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ
we are remembering and seeking to celebrate.

5. My goal each year is to be done shopping for gifts by the end of November.

This helps greatly in the stress department and 
limits the number of "spur of the moment" purchases. 
December can then be kept for the enjoyment of all that the Christmas season brings.

6. I try to limit the amount of baking I do.

 I keep it to our absolute favourites...who is going to eat it all anyway??
My goal is to work ahead as much as I can and ENJOY what I do ~ 
Then I fill my freezer for the coming parties and events.

7. Might I encourage you to develop some simple family traditions? 

Maybe it will be to walk through a festive neighbourhood ~ take a drive if it's too cold. 
Bake and decorate Gingerbread Men or Sugar cookies with 
your children or grandchildren...or your Sunday School class. 
Gather up some friends and go carolling. 
Have a few friends in for a night of singing by the fire. 
Invite unsaved friends over to join you as you celebrate Advent ~
 use it as an opportunity to share your faith in the 
True and Living God and all that He has done for us! 
Attend the Christmas Eve service at your church, or, have one at home. 

You will be amazed as you look back on the wonderful memories you have made. 
Often it seems that these are the things the children remember most. 
Long after the gifts are forgotten ~ the memories live on!

8. Please join me in seeking to set aside time each day for the Lord 
and time in His presence worshipping Him.

It is amazing how refocusing our attention on what really matters 
has a way of putting everything into proper perspective.

This is by no means an exhaustive list! 

It is meant to be an exhortation to each one of us (me included) 
at this very special time of year! I LOVE Christmas and desire for it to be a blessing...
not something we dread and feel the need to "get through".

Many Blessings, Camille

**Please feel free to add to this list in the comments section.

What do you do to keep the Lord as the central focus in your family's celebrations? 
Your comment may just be the encouragement someone else needs!


Wanting What I Have said...

We do the "Jesse Tree." Our children LOVE this!!! We have a small tree that sits on our kitchen table and a little devotional book called "The Advent Jesse Tree" by Dean Meador Lambert. There is a short scripture reading as well as a short devo and recommended hymns beginning December 1st. We have a box of ornaments made specifically to tie into each devo. They begin in Genesis with Creation and carry on through redemptive history. This has been a wonderful tool for showing our children how Christ is tied into all of scripture and how scripture as a whole fits together.

We ordered the book and then I got together with a group of friends and we each brought the supplies to make a few of the suggested ornaments and we knocked it out in a morning. (The book has drawings for suggested ornaments.)

Hope you might look into this and enjoy! It's been such a wonderful blessing to our family!

Nutmeg said...

Fantastic post!

As J said in the previous comment, we do Jesse Tree as well and it is a wonderful way to really keep perspective during this season.

I so enjoyed this post!

Christa said...

Thank you for this post Camille. I'm sure this was encouragement to all who read it, including me. :)
I hope you had a wonderful day in the Lord yesterday.

Keeping our eyes on Him!


Unknown said...

We also limit to the three gift principal. Great post and enjoyed reading how you are keeping Christ in Christmas. The Jesse Tree that "J" wrote about sounds really interesting.

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

You are awesome! I love all of the things you do to keep Christ the focus of your Christmas.

I'll be posting soon on our Advent Tree. It gives me the excuse to go through most of the Old Testament with them.

Sharon said...

Dear Camille,

Thank you for such a wonderful post. I would have commented sooner but printed off your post and really savored it. Would you mind if I shared this with the ladies at church? The focus should always be on Jesus (Christmas or not :)). I really love you sharing your heart and your family's traditions with us. What a blessing and encouragement you are to me :)

Thank you!

Love in Christ,

Camille said...

J ~ Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. Isn't it powerful to have access to these wonderful resources that help keep all of us (not just the children) focused on the Lord?? YES...a resounding YES...The Lord Jesus Christ is in ALL of Scripture and Scripture DOES fit perfectly together! Enjoy the special memories you will be making with your children over God's Word...such blessings! Thanks again for sharing your tradition with us.

Amy ~ I appreciate your sweet and encouraging comment...thanks for your input too! How wonderful that you already are doing the Jesse Tree as sounds like a terrific resource.

Stacie ~ It is a real blessing to learn that others are striving to keep the focus on the Lord at this precious time of year...thanks for your encouargement as well. It's the Lord that must get all the GLORY...any good found in me is because of HIM!! :)

Christa ~ I'm so glad you are encouraged...I am sure you do similar things in your home over Christmas as well. Regarding the Lord's Day ~ wasn't God infinitely good to give us what we NEED? A Day of Worship and Rest is such an incredible blessing. AMEN..."keeping our eyes on HIM"...the only thing to do! :)

Jenn ~ Don't know where we came up with that three gift principle, but it really has been a blessing over the years. Fun to hear that you do it too! I agree...that Jesse Tree does sound interesting...we will have to look into it.

Sharon ~ Please do not ever feel obligated to comment...I will not be offended. Sometimes life is just too busy for all the things that demand our attention! :) Having said that...I LOVE to hear from every one of my friends and you are a blessing to my heart. Of course you are welcome to share with your friends at church...would you just mind saying who wrote it? Thanks for asking. I am humbled that you would even want to share it...may the Lord help us all to keep our focus on Him all through the year!

For His Glory!

Sharon said...

Of course I would let the ladies know that you wrote it:) Thanks Camille :)

Camille said...

Dear Sharon ~ I didn't think I needed to say that to you...but for the benefit of others who may read this down the road I thought I'd put that in there. Thanks for understanding! :)


It's me ...Mavis said...

I love your list. One of our traditions we started long ago was when the kids were little they would always mail their letter off to Santa on December 1st. They are/still only allowed to ask for 2 things. One being what they really want and the other a back up item encase the "North Pole" is out of that item. Even though they are older now... they still mail their letters on December 1st. However this year... they are not telling anyone what they are asking for AND they are mailing the letter off themselves. :) We'll see what happens :)

Camille said...

Hi Mavis ~ I sure hope you have an idea what they are requesting...that sounds like it might present a bit of a problem! :)

Have a great night!

Farmgirl said...

Thank you Camille, for this entry on your blog ~ very timely in this busy season!

Camille said...

Thanks for your encouraging comment Heather! Are you able to keep things all "in check" with all that you've got on?? Try to enjoy every minute and get REST when you can! :)


Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

I just love this post, Camille! These are the things we are striving to do this season. Some of these don't come naturally to me (like keeping the calendar less full and keeping it simply), but I'm really trying to be intentional this year to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n....

Camille said...

Jackie ~ I noticed you were keeping the number of gifts to three...oh so much more manageable! Everyone knows the limits ~ including Mum! :) I so agree with you...we all need to slow everything down and enjoy every moment of it. May the Lord give you a wonderfully peaceful and blessed Christmas!

In Him,

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Thanks, Camille! You, too!