Christmas Treasure

I imagine that the first ever Christmas (also known as the time when Jesus was born) was hectic. The build-up and expectations of Mary and Joseph on their unborn child. Angels had communicated to them both about the baby. Literal angels. Then the travel to Bethlehem, the stress of finding a place to stay, (it’s almost as if they found the first Airbnb room, but probably would have left a scathing review) the animals, the dirt, the straw, the challenge of giving birth, learning to figure out what to do with a newborn and then the visitors.

Hectic.

But after all the initial barrage of activity subsided, after the visitors had left, praising God for what they had witnessed, there is this moment of quiet when Mary takes stock of it all.

Luke 2:19 says that Mary ‘treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart’.

Somehow, she had the ability to be present in that moment. She didn’t get caught up in the regret of how things turned out (I’m not sure this would have been in her birth plan), nor did she get overwhelmed by anxiety about the future and all the things that could happen when you are mother of the Messiah. Instead, Mary captured that moment. I imagine a still, peaceful moment. Maybe a cricket or two chirping (are there crickets in Bethlehem?), a soft breeze blowing, and the sound of a tiny baby breathing in and out as he slept. It’s enough to overflow the hearts of his parents with joy. The miracle of childbirth for sure, but more than that, it is the miracle that God would send this baby as the one who would carry out His plan to save the whole world. The presence of God, wrapped in flesh and bone, needing to be fed and changed every three hours. That sure is a lot to ponder.

So, my hope for us this Christmas, this special time of year, is that we will find a moment or two like this. Where we can treasure all these things:

  • the miracle of a baby
  • the love of a God that brought it all about so we could be in relationship with Him
  • the man that Jesus grew up to be
  • His sacrifice

…and ponder them in our hearts. May that bring you peace, joy and hope, whilst removing regret about what was and anxiety about what could be.

Merry Christmas!

Life Isn’t Short

“It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it.” Seneca, Roman Stoic Philosopher

I feel like we have been in the Christmas season for two months. There is something about the Australian culture which seems to “wind things down” for the year from mid October.

I know small businesses that work with larger firms and any conversations in the last quarter about new contracts automatically get pushed to the new year – which really means February/March.

Now, there is nothing wrong with managing your workload and recognising that things do get busier in many areas of life towards the end of the year, but the risk is we wish away our most precious and unknown quantity. Our time.

My paraphrase of the quote from Seneca above is “life isn’t short, we just waste a lot of it.” We waste it on things that are not aligned with what we say our priorities are. We waste it because we don’t spend it intentionally.

I encourage you to think about who you want to be at the start 2022. On January 1st, what will you wish you spent time on today?

What is the most important thing? Choose to focus on actions that align with your priorities.  

What can you complete that you have been putting off? Pain delayed is pain magnified.

What can you put off that you have been pushing to complete, but it isn’t a priority? Saying yes to something means saying no to something else. What can you say no to?

In the next few weeks if you are looking forward to working when things are quiet and others are on leave, embrace that and get productive.

If you are taking leave, take the heck out of that leave.

Be intentional about how you finish off the year. Finish it well. Well rested and well prepared for 2022.

‘Tis The Season

It is the season for giving.

Why is it just one season? Why is it only restricted to one part of the year?

Christmas is a joyful time (in most cases) and it’s made even better because we think about others and what to give them and how to bring them joy. Which brings us joy. So why do we restrict it to just one time of the year? (Maybe two if birthdays are a thing for you).

We know that the best way to find joy is to give to others. When we do that, when we look outside of ourselves, we receive in return. It results in us feeling better about ourselves and our world. It creates a positive experience for all involved.

If you want to be joyful all year-round, and not just in December, then think about presents that people would like to receive when it is not ‘in season’. Think about things that would put a smile on someone’s face.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for Christmas and celebrating this season, but I’m encouraging you to bring joy all throughout the year. Be that person.

4 Ways to be Generous this Christmas

Whilst every day is filled with opportunities to be generous, Christmas is a time designed for people to participate in generous acts.

Here are 4 things that you can do to be part of it…

  1. Have a generous mindset.

It may sound simple, and it is, but it’s not easy. To approach people with a generous mindset is the start of all generous acts. Especially at this time of year people around us might say or do things that we think are quite stupid and we can write them off as unintelligent or unthoughtful. A generous mindset seeks to think of the best possible reason why someone would behave in a way that we don’t agree with. Maybe they are stressed, maybe they are rushed, or feeling unwell. There could be any number of reasons that we can’t see. We don’t have to agree with them or support their actions, but we can still see them as a person who worthy of grace.

2. Look Left and Right

I don’t know about you but I don’t see my neighbours that much. Our street is tiny, but I have little to no relationship with anyone who lives in our proximity. Christmas is a great time to change that, and an easy thing to do is to drop in on your neighbours with a small gift for them. There are many people who don’t have a great deal of family or friends around them at this time of year and it can be lonely. Drop in, say ‘Hi’ and be generous with your time.

3. Give a Gift on Behalf of Someone

We all have so much stuff, and the hardest question to answer at this time of year is “What do you want for Christmas?”

Instead of buying people more things, you can purchase a gift from a Charity Gift Catalogue for a family in a developing country, like a chicken or a duck, which helps them work their way out of poverty. You then receive a card which you can pass on to a family member or a friend, and tell them that their gift is helping end poverty. That is going to feel great, and it won’t clog up your house with more stuff. It doesn’t cost much at all.

4. Donate a Percentage

It doesn’t have to be much, but work out how much you have spent/will spend on Christmas presents this year and choose a percentage of that to give away to your favourite charity.

These are simple, yet effective, and they shift our focus beyond ourselves and the amount of presents under out tree, to how we can change people’s world through generous acts.

Merry Christmas!

Fa-la-la-la-la La-la-la-la-ing

I am not a Christmassy type of person. I don’t mind this time of year, the decorations are okay, although they don’t put me in a joyful mood like they do for some people, the food is good although it doesn’t excite me a great deal, and the carols I can leave – I certainly don’t get too involved in any fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la-ing.

What does excite me at this time of year is the idea of giving. We have a special season where we think about what others would like to receive. Now, that can be stressful, but we can also look at it as a great opportunity to put a smile on the face of someone we care about. The reason it is stressful, perhaps, is that if we don’t spend much time throughout the year thinking about what others would like, it is very difficult to switch that part of our brain on in December.

Often I hear people talking about becoming the best version of themselves, something that I am striving for also and I think that we go a long way to being the best version of ourselves when we are giving. When we are generous to others and giving back.

So, use this Christmas time to be the best version of you. Be generous to those around you, give great, well thought out gifts to friends, family and people you don’t know – like a chicken, for example.