Now this feels like Christmas

 

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

I was outside grilling chicken. It was a busy day full of preparation and I had just checked everything off a  “honey do list” from my smokin’ hot wife. As I stood at the grill daydreaming of holidays with family I noticed the chicken was becoming a bit over cooked.

I never thought I would miss home very much. Something about not missing what you have until it’s gone. Katie and I have had some hard days being in Mexico during the holiday season –it’s not all sugar plums and rosy cheeks over here. We had a great Christmas as a family, filled with presents, hot chocolate, runny noses, and a couple meltdowns from three sick babies.

For us, the holiday season can be overwhelming, even back in the States. Planning a couple days worth of visiting many different families can be stressful and tiring. We miss that for sure. But, in the hustle and bustle, it’s easier to miss God’s heart for Christmas.

Think about why we give gifts on Christmas. Have you ever truly explained it to your children, family, or friends? Yes, Jesus died for us and God gave the ultimate gift. So, in celebration of Jesus, we give gifts. Oh how we have dumbed down one of the greatest days on this planet. Go ahead and dig deeper, truly allow God to penetrate our materialistic hearts to understand why…why do we do this?

We give gifts, time, life, and love because Jesus wants to create this habit in our lives. We give not just to give. But, we give as a practice of our hearts saying, “Jesus create in my heart, my children’s hearts, and our families hearts, a sacrificial motivation to give our best.”

We want our children to understand that we give, not only because we have been given so much, but also because we want every encounter to facilitate God’s love and speak life into another’s heart.

This attitude can turn a stressful Christmas into a day that reminds us that not only are we giving presents, but time, an arm around some one’s shoulder, a hug, a listening ear. These days, we give our eyes, ears, and hearts to the needs of many. Our hearts begin to say, “Jesus how many people do you want us to welcome in? How can we do this with joy?”

I took the chicken off the grill and walked back inside. My sorrow turned to joy as I saw Mario sitting quietly with our son Elias while he ate dinner. Then Ruby sprinted by me with Joah on her back and Lucas in tow giggling uncontrollably. All of a sudden, Leo jumped out from behind the wall and started throwing fuzzy snowballs. It was all out war. Kevin was in the kitchen mixing Gatorade to perfection and my beautiful wife was creating a home not filled with sorrow…but filled with joy…filled with kindness…filled with God’s love.

In this moment my heart leapt for joy and melted with God’s love. I was reminded of God’s heart. I was reminded of why we NEED Christmas.

God wants our hearts to long for His people to hear the Good News.

God wants our hearts to cry out.”Thank you Father for your gift, now move in us to give so much that it hurts, just as you did!”

Now instead of Christmas being just about our family and our traditions, it is about who we can invite and involve and welcome in to experience God’s love on Christmas.

We invited some of the teens we love over for Christmas dinner and family time. There was a lot of laughter, joy, silly games and the night ended with full bellies and full hearts.

My eyes met my wife’s above the craziness on many occasions during the night and we couldn’t help but smile, “Now this feels like Christmas!”

Our hearts felt at home.

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