Thursday, December 8, 2011

service and giving

At Christmas time we all tend to try to figure out ways to give.

To help others.

To make a difference.

Because something about having that Christmas tree twinkling in the corner of our eye all day long as we make dinner or calm fighting children or correct mistaken notes being plunked out on the piano in the next room makes our hearts softer...more in-tune.

I love that the simple symbols of Christmas can do that to us, and change a whole society to reach outside of themselves a little bit more. We are quicker to forgive. We are (hopefully) more likely to sit down and enjoy each other. And the thought of giving to others brings us joy.

Each year I try to figure out how to help bring home that feeling of service, joy and pure love to my children in a more poignant way. If I can get my act together we will be sending some good things to our Indian "brother" (more about him here) and maybe we can get our act together enough to do some service for a homeless shelter. I'm trying to debate in my mind whether we can pull together something like this to raise money for this horrible famine a reader made me aware of here.

There is so much I want to do in the world, but I need to remember that life is long. AND I need to remember that sometimes, as good and grand as all those reach-outside-of-yourself things are for families, the best thing we can do is just hunker down with those we love and "be there" as we shine with the stillness that the true spirit of Christmas brings.

Sometimes the best service we can do is strive to make our own family happier by working on our relationships. I love that my brother-in-law and his wife are starting a new venture to help people discover ways to be more deeply happy. They've got some really thought provoking things on their blog here. More background and info. in this specific post with interesting videos to explain the concept. I love this article that my brother-in-law sent...all about making our relationships better and how that will bring more happiness to our lives. {If you are interested in this concept and would like to be part of it's feedback group click here.}

Sometimes the best gift we can give is just to listen. Really listen. Being the multi-tasker I am I am often quite horrible at that. I've realized this lately more than ever since I've made a deal with my girls that if I am distracted while they are talking to me I owe them 20 push-ups. I've gained stronger muscles as well as better listening skills because man alive they're good at making me follow-through :) My life is so much more full when I listen better.

May we all find joy and happiness more fully than ever this holiday season by reaching outside of ourselves, whether it is reaching out to others in acts of service or just simplifying the hoopla of Christmas (click here and here for inspiration that I cannot say better myself on that) so we can really focus on what's most important in life: our God, our Savior and our families. May we be more quick to forgive others and realize that everyone has their own signs that may or may not be readily visible from the outside.

May we remember that everyone around us could use a little good cheer to rub off on them, whether they're starving in Africa or right in front of us at the dinner table.

7 comments:

  1. I needed this post today. Thank you.

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  2. Lovely post; so much to think about it :)

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  3. Just what I needed to hear. Overwhelmed with another Christmas season passing where I am not nearly as prepared as I'd like to be, it's good to be reminded that simply enjoying the blessing at hand, without overly planned hoop-la, is good enough.

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  4. We have an adopted boy through Rising Star as well. We adopted him in the spring and haven't has a christmas with him yet. What do you send your adopted son? do you send actual gifts? or just money so the program can buy gifts for everyone? I am not sure how it works.

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  6. This is the first time I've read your blog...but it won't be the last. It is inspiring and uplifting and I absolutely loved your "disclaimer" - you pretty much put it perfectly. I know life's not perfect, but I sure do love your optimism and appreciation for it that is super apparent. And may I just say...please tell your children to keep smiling because I'm pretty sure those smiles are making the sun shine! WOW - you all have GREAT smiles - you kind of sparkle!!

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  7. you rock shawn. what great reminders here! i need to be reminded of what this season is about like every five minutes. thanks for all the great links.

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