The holidays are behind us now and unfortunately that is a relief to many of us. The stress and hassles that come with Christmas are really a shame. One major source of stress is deciding on, buying and wrapping gifts, not to mention mailing or delivering them to each person on your list and trying not to leave anyone out. In years past I have felt the joy of Christmas diminished because of the pressure to find something thoughtful for each person on my list without going way over budget.
Well, two years ago my husband and I tried something radically different! We decided that since it was Jesus' birthday we should give Him something He would like! So we decided to take the money we had saved throughout the year to buy Christmas gifts with and instead give it to a ministry who would use it to help the poor and show them Jesus. We believe it is God's heart to love and care for those in need and most importantly introduce them to Jesus. So we wrote a letter to all of our friends and family letting them know what we were doing. We asked that they partner with us and send any money they would have used to purchase gifts for us to the ministry we choose or one of their choosing. That year we selected a ministry that was drilling wells in Africa and this past year we selected Iris Ministries who also ministers in Africa to orphans. It was so very rewarding to send a check to these ministries who are saving lives and saving souls. We so appreciated everyone who partnered with us.
On a much less eternal note, it really made my Christmas less stressful. Although I did not miss receiving gifts at all, I did miss the fun of giving (at least giving to the people who are easy to buy for like my mom, sister, girl friends, etc!). We did not go over budget and were able to spend more time together, less at the mall or in traffic. I don't think we will do this every year but once in a while it is a great way to honor God and have less on your to do list! How do you keep God first in your celebrations? I would love to hear your ideas!