Christmas Is For Nobodies

I spent two nights in New York City with my man this past weekend, celebrating 20 years.

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It was my first time there and it was magical.

But nothing makes you feel quite as small as a big city at Christmas.

We pressed through crowds on the streets, in the subways, in the stores.

There were people everywhere: nameless faces, a melting pot from all over the world.

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Terrell and I are people watchers. We wondered at the homeless man’s story, the girl crying on her phone in an alley, the stiletto-heeled lady in front of Saks 5th Avenue, the waiter in Chinatown and the Muslim taxicab driver who chatted with us about long work days in a place like New York City.

In a crowd, it’s easy to feel like a nobody.

But I was reminded that’s exactly who Christmas is for. The nobodies.

I couldn’t help but think about  the question my youngest asked before we left for the airport, “Is it Christmas everywhere? Even in Africa and New York City?”

Yes, Christmas is everywhere.

Because He came for everyone.

He came for the huge masses. He came for little you.

We’ve been studying our way verse-by-verse through the book of Nehemiah at church. Nehemiah, cupbearer to the King, was the son of a nobody. His dad was unknown. He came from a long line of regular, insignificant people.

And he was cupbearer to the King–not because it was a secure job, but because it’s where God put him.

He had a dream and yet he served faithfully, quietly.

Sometimes we think waiting is meaningless.

Sometimes we think in order to do something great, we have to be somebody.

But Jesus became a nobody at Christmas–a helpless, dependent babe-to show us He came for the nobodies.

God used a nobody like Nehemiah to rebuild and reestablish the city of Jerusalem, in the perfect time.

Because the place God puts us may not be the place we would put ourselves and we may not like where we are or who we are, but He doesn’t waste any of it.

And this Christmas Eve, wherever you are, whatever you’re feeling, whatever you’re waiting on, it’s not a mistake. It takes faith to look past our present circumstances and see God has us right where you are for a reason.

God came to a stable as a nobody, so we could be somebody in Him.

Merry Christmas!

Dear Neighbor:

Driving around looking at Christmas lights is one of our favorite family traditions every December.

And we love the houses with Nativities the most!

Last year, we started a new tradition. Every time we saw a house with a Nativity in the yard, we put a note on their door. My kids loved sneaking up and blessing our neighbors with an anonymous thank you. Yours might too!

It’s a great reminder to our kids to keep Jesus the reason for the season and it’s really fun trying not to get caught.

Go, ahead, try it.

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Click to print letters of your own and start a new Christmas tradition today.

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Let’s Give Differently This Holiday Season | 3 Ways to Change Christmas

Last week I had lunch with two women from Azerbaijan, an oil-rich, but oppressive country situated at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

They have heartbreaking, but hopeful stories and use their testimonies to work with women who are escaping violence and oppression in the Middle East. We talked about partnering together.

It was humbling to sit with these former Muslim women who daily risk their lives to follow Jesus.

It made me want to live differently, so I can give differently. 

With the gift-giving season around the corner, I want to encourage you to think and shop differently this year. Dad doesn’t want another tie and mom has enough cardigans. For the same amount of money, you can give a unique gift and change someone’s world.

Here are three ways to give differently this season:

1. Give a gift in someone’s name:

Rehema House Gift Catalog-Mercy House supports impoverished moms and babies at Rehema House in Kenya. Not only can you impact lives in Kenya, you can also do so in someone’s name. For every gift you give, you can have an e-card sent to the person of your choice. [Gift options start at $10. For example, you can gift this for $10 in  your teen daughter’s name and this for $50 in your grandma’s name.]  It’s an easy way to change the world. Check out the Gift Catalog here.

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Compassion Gift Catalog-I love Compassion and I believe in what they do. I have seen their work behind the scenes in Kenya and elsewhere and they change lives.

2. Give a gift twice:

Fair Trade Friday-Fair Trade Friday is a fun monthly subscription club (with more than 500 members) that delivers 3-4 fair trade items to your door. The items are created by impoverished women all over the world who are supported by your purchase. Join the Club or give a Fair Trade Friday Gift Box to someone who’s been extra good on your list. Get $5 off a one-time Fair Trade Friday gift box with this code:  5off 

The Refugee Project-Gorgeous hand knitted and crochet items are always on everyone’s list! Every purchase benefits a refugee who has been relocated to the USA from a refugee camp, struggling to make ends meet in their new home. I spend my Friday’s with these beautiful ladies.

the refugee project

No. 41-When you buy a lovely sewn burlap and kitenge bag from Rwanda, it not only supports the young lady who created it after she’s aged out of an orphanage, it also feeds one child, one meal, every day for one year.

Zambia Soap Company -THE PERFECT STOCKING STUFFER -Scented Organic Handmade Soaps and Lipbalms (Families harvest organically grown herbs. Workers distill the herbs to make essential oils for soap, while women widowed by the AIDS epidemic weave gift baskets and attach labels.all overseen by local Zambian churches)

3. Give a gift that provides for a future:

The Mercy Shop-A large percentage of every purchase from the Mercy Shop goes into an account for each of the Rehema House residents who created the items. After graduation, she will be able to use that money to provide school fees for her baby (while Mercy House continues to pay her school fees). So, every purchase helps provide for the future of the babies that Mercy House supports!

the mercy shop

Caring for Korah- We believe in child sponsorship. We just added our 11th child to the family (besides 3 of our own). Our dear friends are saving lives in Ethiopia and you can give a child a future this Christmas.

Let’s change Christmas this year.

10 Ways to Incorporate Gratitude in Our Kids’ Every Day Lives

Ice cream for dinner.

This weekend my kids were overcome with gratitude when I said those four magical words.  I think I shocked them. They couldn’t stop saying thank you.

The next day I reminded them to do their chores and the huffing and puffing didn’t sound much like the thanks giving from the day before.

It’s easy to be grateful when we get what we want.

It’s a lot harder to be thankful when we get what we don’t want.

I want my kids to see the two are connected. One without the other makes us entitled.

But teaching our kids thanks giving doesn’t happen because we eat turkey and watch football on one day of the year. It is a lifestyle. It’s thanksliving. Here are 10 ways to create an atmosphere of gratitude in your home.

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1.  Create a Space for Thankfulness | DIY Thank You Bank

Make room for teaching gratitude in your home by putting a jar in a high traffic area as a constant reminder to be kind and grateful.

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2.  Create a Habit of Gratitude | Family Gratitude Jar

Focus on gratitude daily by putting a gratitude jar on the kitchen table and writing down your highs of the day. It’s great reading material later.

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3.  Create a Place for Appreciation |Printable Thank You Notes

Keep a stack of cute thank you notes in an obvious place and take time to write them to people in your lives.

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4.  Create an Opportunity for Perspective

Sponsor a child and display their photo on your refrigerator.Frame a picture of a child and pray for them as a family.  Fill a shoebox for a child through Operation Christmas Child. This practical, tangible way to give will start a great conversation.  Sometimes it’s just the reminder we need to give us perspective. You won’t just be helping a child in need, you’ll be helping your own.

Operation Christmas Child

5.  Create Room for Reflection |Faith-Based Books on Thankfulness

Ages 2-5 The Blessings Jar: A Story About Being Thankful by Colleen Coble *affiliate link

The Blessings Jar

Ages 6-10 |Every Day a Blessing: A Year of God’s Love (one year of devotions on gratitude) *affiliate link

Every Day A Blessing

Ages tween-teen | Make Every Day Count – Teen Editionby Max Lucado *affiliate link

Make Every Day Count

6.  Create an Environment for Gratitude | A Thankful Heart Activity

Sometimes the best way to teach thankfulness is to exercise thanks giving.

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7.   Create an Example of Thanks

Without a doubt, the best way to teach gratitude is to consistently give thanks in front of your kids. Let them catch you writing thank you notes to friends, adding your blessings to a jar or journal. In the classroom of gratitude, there is no greater teach than you.

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8.  Create a Memory of  Gratitude | Thanksgiving Time Capsule

It’s too easy to forget the simple daily gifts in our lives. Write them down.

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9. Create a Viral Thanks Giving Lifesyle |Random Acts of Kindness

Gratitude is contagious. When you give thanks to others and show kindness to someone, the natural response is to pass it on.

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10. Create Time for Service | 100+ Ways to Make a Difference As a Family

Gratitude is born in service to others. We were created to share what we have-whether time or money or both. Nothing creates a grateful heart like doing something for someone else.