A Christmas Challenge and a Favorite Family Tradition

As I was purging the house in preparation for hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year I was amazed yet again how many items, clothing and toys we’ve accumulated.  There are seven people in our home and I feel like between birthdays, seasons, etc. I need to go through things quarterly, if not MORE to stay on top of it all!  I was feeling overwhelmed by all the “stuff” and was reminded of the verse in Matthew 6:21

  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

 I feel like where we find our treasure, is also where we find our time being spent.  The more things you have, the more you have to manage them and frankly my heart isn’t into all this “stuff” management.  I was starting to get a bit paranoid thinking about Christmas approaching.  Of course Christmas is about Jesus and the beautiful beginning of the gift of the gospel, but traditionally and culturally it also means gifts.  The last thing I want to do is feed the greed and entitlement in the hearts of my children, or make the caring of their rooms or things an overwhelming burden.  Less truly IS more.

In the gospel of Luke Jesus was telling the parable of the rich fool.

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15 ESV)

Now you may be reading this thinking, but we aren’t rich so this isn’t applicable to me.  But compared to third world countries, America is very rich indeed.  The next commercial, Facebook add, or Amazon deal of the day temps us to covet the things we don’t have, or overindulge in an abundance of new possessions.  (Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE scoring an amazing deal on something I know our family will love and use.)  But just buying another new kitchen gadget or new trinket is not a need and will only eventually take more of our time for “stuff” management.

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

As I sat there going through toys, kitchen cupboards, and worn out clothes I remembered something I had heard years ago.  Truly a genius idea that I’d love to implement and I think will help us in the area of “stuff” management.  I’ve got a challenge for you this Christmas and I’m taking it on as well.  Only four gifts with a bonus!  Instead of buying a bunch of gifts for each child and then a million stocking stuffers, what if we narrowed it down to only four gifts?



The first four are pretty self explanatory, but your bonus is a chance for your kids to get involved!  A way that they can bless and serve others and give to those in need.

Every year our family has a special stocking that we hang with all the others on the fireplace mantel.  We call it our Jesus stocking.  We work, save, and pray that God would show us a special need for this Christmas.  The kids get so excited looking for stray change, asking for extra chores to earn money for the Jesus stocking, and even have done little jobs for Dad and Grandparents.  We fill the stocking the best we can (even Mama & Dad tuck things in and give).  The best part is as we pray in anticipation, God always reveals a need in our extended family, church family, or in our community that give us the opportunity to give in Jesus name.  This has been one of our favorite family traditions.

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:3-4)

As we approach December, my prayer as Eternally Minded Mamas is that we can help in not feeding the greedy and entitled hearts in our children, but cultivate hearts of giving and serving that reflect the greatest gift of all, Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (Ephesians 2:8)

I’ll take the gift of less “stuff” management and more time to pour out in love and hospitality any day.  What is your most favorite Christmas family tradition? So, what do you say? Will you take me up on the four gift challenge plus the bonus?  Let me know below…

Love, Janell

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