And his name shall be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
A friend posted that her 6 year old had a tantrum over the Christmas present he thought he would be getting this year. In the first world we are focused on getting instead of giving, eating instead of fasting, consuming instead of simplifying our lives. How can be change that?
One of the things I have done over the last few years (since my daughter, then aged about 9, asked for a World Vision child sponsorship as her Christmas present) is to give goats, and fish farms, and cataract operations and mosquito nets as presents. Perhaps the cataract operations weren’t such a good idea. I gave them to my husband and he had his own cataract surgery (with complications!) the following year! It’s fun to try and choose an appropriate present. MissN was given mosquito nets (the mozzies always bite her!) My niece usually gets school supplies or sports equipment for third world kids.
Here are some places you can buy the kind of gifts that bless you, bless the recipient of the card and bless the recipient of the goods. You can’t beat that for giving!
Gospel for Asia – a weaving loom, a rickshaw, an outdoor toilet, a camel?
World Vision – soccer balls, a fish farm, a stable full of animals?
Compassion- toothbrushes, veggie seeds?
Tear Australia – tree seedlings, a smokeless stove?
Christian Blind Mission – glasses for children, a wheelchair?
There are a vast range of organisations which you can purchase from. There are some good ideas here. And here. Karma Currency enables the recipient to choose where their gift will be donated. And the wonderful Kiva organisation (just made my 20th loan!) have gift cards, which enable your gift recipients to loan to someone in the third world. And keep on loaning, once their loan has been repaid.
Let’s make giving the essence of Christmas this year. And giving to the least fortunate, those who haven’t been blessed to have been born into our affluent societies.
A new year, and a resolution to blog more frequently!
And what better way to begin 20011 than with a Skywatch Friday photo or 2… or 4…
We spent two weeks in Tasmania in December – our first visit. It was special for many reasons, not least of those is that we nearly cancelled the trip 2 days prior because of some health issues I am dealing with. But – we went, it was wonderful and we hope to visit again soon.
As well as Hobart, Cradle Mountain and Barnbougle golf course, we had 4 nights at Freycinet Lodge in Freycinet National Park. On Christmas Day we drove up the coast (in the hopes of getting mobile phone reception so that we could call MissN who was in China on exchange) to picnic at Binalong Bay at the southern end of the Bay of Fires.
Our lunch was a picnic comprised of fruit and pastries from breakfast, cheese and a bottle of pinot noir we had bought at Freycinet Vineyard a couple of days before, and chocolate from the Christmas stocking (we didn’t exchange gifts this year). We watched some locals dive for crayfish and abalone and later drove as far north as the Gardens. (This area has been affected by flash flooding – the same weather system that has devastated SE Queensland, northern NSW and western Victoria – this week). We did manage to get to speak to MissN on our way home (there is reception at Bicheno). She was waiting (in the cold – it was about -2C there) to get a table at Pizza Hut in Tianjin with her exchange buddies. A very different Christmas for her too!
Dinner was at the Lodge – a rather uninspired buffet. But we had the view.. and the sunset.
Here are a couple more.
A blessed day.
I got this in my email today (thanks Lilian!) and had to share it. I don’t know where it originated. It has an American theme but it’s applicable to all of us.
Letter from Jesus about Christmas
It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don’t care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn’t allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn If all My followers did that there wouldn’t be any need for such a scene on the town square (or in the mall) because there would be many of them all around town.
Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you andwhat each of our tasks was. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1-8.
If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:
1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.
2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don’t have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.
3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don’t you write and tell him that you’ll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up… It will be nice hearing from you again.
4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can’t afford and they don’t need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.
(and my addition: teach them to reach out and bless others by giving to those less fortunate. Some ideas are here and here and here. One of my proudest moments was some 5-6 years ago when MissN said that what she wanted for Christmas was for us to sponsor another World Vision child in her name. She picked out little Refiloe in Lesotho and it’s proved to be a gift that keeps on giving).
5 Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.
6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don’t know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.
7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren’t allowed to wish you a “Merry Christmas” that doesn’t keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn’t make so much money on that day they’d close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families
8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary–
especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.
9. Here’s a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no “Christmas” tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don’t know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.
10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don’t do things in secret that you wouldn’t do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.
Don’t forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I’ll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I’ll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember :
*I LOVE YOU,*
No, that isn’t my Christmas day menu!
I posted some links a couple of weeks back of organisations with catalogues that provided us with the opportunity to purchase needful things for those who are most needy instead of us privileged ones giving each other more stuff we don’t need, and often don’t even want. I was really pleased when Christian Blind Mission responded with a comment here.
Gospel for Asia has some really neat ideas – chickens and rabbits for A$12.50 a pair, and how about a water buffalo for a$540 or a well to provide clean water for A$1250, if we could afford to give that amount? Blankets for A$6.60? That’s two soy chai lattes I need to forfeit (or just one – I had a really expensive one in Chinatown yesterday! A$6.05…) Or one magazine! Kinda puts it in perspective, doesn’t it? If you have family or friends who just don’t “get” the whole concept of buying them this kind of “virtual” gift and need something tangible to be assured that you love them, what about an Indian shoulder bag for $20?
Can I challenge you to watch this Christmas video and rethink your Christmas gift budget?
We forget how very blessed we are to have an abundance of good, healthy food to eat every day. Please take a moment to read about the “dump” people in Honduras on Trey Morgan’s blog.
We are in the lead up to Christmas. I am being inundated by snowmen on facebook. The shops are tinselly. Luckily the Christmas music hasn’t started – yet. Can I challenge you to cut back on the excessive Christmas spending we do (do any of us actually NEED anything?) and give some presents that will make a real difference to people who have very little?
I was going to give gifts from the Christian Blind Mission International Gifts of Life Christmas catalogue this Christmas but the goats and chickens- what I was going to give- have sold out already! Last year I gave C an adult’s cataract operation from CBM. That proved rather prophetic as he had cataract surgery this year, followed by more surgery for a detached retina. So we know firsthand how precious that surgery, and eyesight, is.
Other catalogues are:
World Vision Smiles Catalogue (chickens for A$6, goats for A$39, piglets are A$47)
Gifts of Compassion – Global Food Crisis Gift catalogue
Tear Australia Useful Gifts (fish farming for A$5 would be a cool present for a kid!)
Let’s make a difference to those who need it, and not waste money on more stuff and clutter we don’t need. We can give chickens or fishfarming for the price of 2 coffees! What a blessing those gifts will make to the families who receive them. And it will bless us in giving them too.
Matthew 25: 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.