I know that it has been over a year since we posted anything to our blog but, Lea and I have been challenged to simplify our Christmas and we wanted to share our thoughts with you since we have been asked a lot of questions over the last few weeks. Probably the most popular questions I (Jeremy) have been asked have been, “are you done with your shopping” or “what did you get Lea for Christmas.” These have been wonderful opportunities to share our heart for Christmas in 2011.
From the start of our marriage Lea and I have been intentional about making decisions that align with a simple living lifestyle. By no means do we have this all figured out but we know that Jesus calls us to live a lifestyle that is different from the world we live in. Situated in North America Christmas time seems to have lost it’s true meaning, even among the Christian community. Every year we (Christians) try to make it meaningful but instead we end up with shopping, spending, credit cards, traffic jams, and crazy schedules. Somehow Christmas has become something we barely survive.
How would Jesus Celebrate? I don’t think he would be racing from one event to another, and I don’t think he would spend money on stuff people didn’t need. I think Jesus would be giving generously to meet real needs and making time for the people around Him. So what if our Christmas looked a lot more like Jesus? What if we bought less “stuff?” One less present, a few less gift cards and used that money to bless someone in need? What if we all carved out quality, uninterrupted, unhurried time to truly celebrate with the people in your life? What if worship was more important than a perfect Christmas? We all know that consumerism does not equal happiness, memories, contentment, fulfillment or meaning but when Christmas begins with worship it all becomes meaningful. SO, this Christmas is going to be different in the Denlinger house. This Christmas less means MORE; we are doing less spending and more giving, trying to slow down and not get wrapped up in shopping and running from this thing to that thing so we have more time taking the focus off of ourselves and putting it on Jesus.
A few months ago we notified our immediate families that we would not be buying them traditional gifts but instead would be make donations in their honor and asked that instead of buying us gifts they would give in our honor to a worthy cause. This experience has been rewarding knowing that we really have everything we need and out of our abundance we are able to bless others in need.
A number of you have asked where are good places to give? Here is a list of the organizations that we supported this year (in no particular order).
- Charity: water “Water Changes Everything.” Almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean drinking water. Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. We’re working to change that.
- Love 146 “End Child Sex Slavery & Exploitation” Love 146 has initiated two core program areas to combat the issue of child sex slavery and exploitation, Prevention and Aftercare.
- Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) “Relief, development and peace in the name of Christ” MCC, a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches, shares God’s love and compassion for all in the name of Christ by responding to basic human needs and working for peace and justice.
- Bethany Christian Services “Keeping families together. Finding families for children in need.”
- World Vision “Building a better world for children.” World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.
- Soles4Souls “Changing the world, one pair at a time.” Soles4Souls is a Nashville-based charity that collects shoes from the warehouses of footwear companies and the closets of people like you. The charity distributes these shoes to people in need, regardless of race, religion, class, or any other criteria.
- International Justice Mission (IJM) “International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.”