I found a book last night that is life changing and it is my new message from the rooftop. Forgive me if you feel like I'm being pushy. I don't mean to push, I'm just excited to find a book that sums up how I feel about Christmas.
You see, about six years ago, I had a very disappointing Christmas. Seriously, the disappointment came because I didn't get what I wanted. Pathetic, but true! I had young children so I tried my best to be happy and jolly but Chad knew that he had blown it. Really, he hadn't blown anything. I had allowed myself to develop expectations that were practically impossible to meet. In my selfish state, I cried in the shower after we had opened gifts (I can't believe I just admitted to that...).
I've said this before, and I hope I say it many, many more times.... I am so thankful that God continues to work on me and hasn't given up on me! He allowed that experience to begin to change my heart towards Christmas. I had bought into the lie that Christmas is all about getting what we want rather than being all about giving and worshipping Him! Now, looking back, I am so thankful for the Christmas that I didn't get a diamond (yep, that's is what it was all about...).
A year or two later, Chad and I were convicted about our financial situation. We were in debt to our eyeballs and living on credit cards. We began a 2 year journey of living towards financial peace. Part of that journey required scaling back on Christmas. I was afraid. Afraid of what my kids would think, afraid of what our families would think, afraid of being "different". Christmas came and went and we had a wonderful Christmas with no bills in January--there was nothing to fear (for me, that is the way it usually is....).
Now, we chose to scale back Christmas so that we can help others. I thought I was doing so good in this area until my extended family's Christmas celebration this year. Honestly, we don't spend a lot on gifts. But, this year my dear sister (I hate the term sister-in-law) came to Christmas with a way to give gifts that keep on giving. She gave a gift to be used through Samaritan's Purse and she also gave a gift to be used through a micro business loan in a 3rd world country.
Susy's thoughtful gift persuaded me to do some serious soul-searching and praying of how our family of five could do something that would be giving less but doing more. Yesterday, I found the Advent Conspiracy website and was impressed enough to go out and buy the book. The book is the explanation of an American grassroots effort to change the way churches celebrate Christmas by worshipping fully, spending less, giving more and loving all.
Because I am an "all or nothing" person, anyone in my path today has heard about this book. I even called Chad and told him I think we need to buy the book for the other elders of our church. I'm so thankful for my husband. His answer, "we can suggest they read the book but you can't give them a gift to persuade them to change". He was right, again! So, instead of buying everyone a copy of the book, I'm suggesting it (sorry Nikki, no book for Christmas).
Here's a link to the promotional video. I hope you take a minute to watch it and prayerfully consider spending less and giving more. I'd encourage you to buy a copy of the book for yourself and one to give to a loved one this advent season.