Gifts or Chickens?

What does Christmas bring to your home? Crazy schedules, cleaning, cooking, baking, “holiday stress”, spending money most of us don’t have…

I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas and what it meant about 2000 years ago and what it may or may not mean now, in 2011. I’m saddened to realize that even though I may think of myself as a frugal person, I do believe the true meaning of Christmas may have slipped from my grasp a little.

Christmas is really about someone’s birthday…Jesus’ birthday. What do you do for  birthdays? At our house we cook up a special meal with the menu being the birthday person’s choice and buy a small present for the special birthday person. It’s nice and we have fun doing things for each other and truly love giving gifts. So I’ve been thinking that, while it’s great that we extend giving at Christmastime to each other and to others, I’m not sure if I’m really giving Jesus anything “extra” for His birthday.

I had the pleasure of meeting a dear missionary friend for coffee the other day. She’s been ministering to the people in the Philippines for almost 7 years now with only a few months of visiting back in the states. Since she’s been living outside of the states for some time I asked her what the most disturbing thing is that she notices about the American culture when she comes back. She hesitated and said, “How people waste their money”. Wow. I wasn’t even sure what to say. The unwanted human selfishness in me wanted to defend myself at first saying, “but we’ve been so tight financially for so long and we’re careful with our money and we don’t live extravagantly!” While this may be true to some degree I was quickly reminded of just how much I still have as she showed me pictures. The dear children she works with were beaming with smiles on a picture as they had just been given a few school supplies for the first time in their lives-they were probably 1st or 2nd graders. Another picture showed them playing with a ball made out of plastic grocery bags and bats made of bamboo sticks…again, the kids were grinning from ear to ear. Now they may have been happy to have their picture taken but I do believe they were having a blast playing with their homemade ball and bat!

A couple of things alarmed me through this conversation. One, that she referred to the money as “their money” which has me thinking that this is exactly how we look at money…like it’s ours. Hold on, you may feel shock…it’s not yours! It’s God’s money!

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Yes, we work for paychecks and it may be blood, sweat and tears at times but in the end even a stressful job that gives a paycheck still results in a blessing from God. How then have we come to think of it as “our” money? I know it’s easy for it to happen…God gives it to us to manage and use and it’s a necessity to function here, unfortunately. I know I’ve lost perspective when things get really tight or even when there’s a little extra. I have to admit that my first reaction is not always to talk to God about where the money should go.

In light of the Christmas season and extremely sparse finances in our home we decided to skip the shopping this year and I’m quite alright with it. The less I have at times makes me realize just how much I do have and how little we can survive on but even with the small perspective I have in this area, it’s nothing to what these dear little children in the Philipines have.

So, while we’re not giving gifts in our home we decided maybe it’s time to look at giving gifts elsewhere. Giving extra to God’s Kingdom this Christmas instead of each other. I immediately think of chickens because I love chickens and they have so much to give! 🙂 You need a rooster and a couple of hens and you’ve got eggs, baby chicks, a bigger flock, meat, eggs for your neighbors and chicks to start another flock! So our gift of a couple of chickens to someone else may be food for them and many others as the chicks are passed on! How wonderful is that?!

I think I may enjoy Christmas more this year than any, knowing that while we enjoy Christmas dinner and may not have a tree or gifts, we can also give someone else food for months with only a little of the money that is not ours in the first place to give.

Just think about it. Consider it. Talk with your family about it. Pray about it.

What if all of us would just give up our stockings? Only a small portion to give to someone in much greater need. Do you not think we could change the world a little and take back a little part of America for Jesus?

Besides, whose birthday is it anyways? Have you ever asked Jesus what He wants for His birthday?

I pray you have a blessed Christmas with family, friends, good health and a new perspective on HIS birthday that inspires you to give to HIM this year!

If you need a few suggestions of places to buy chickens, cows, ducks or clean water, look below. You may be surprised to see your children excited to buy chickens for other children who have nothing! 🙂

Compassion Catalog

http://www.compassion.com/catalog.htm

Samaritans Purse Catalog

https://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/Giving/gift_catalog

World Vision Catalog

http://donate.worldvision.org/OA_HTML/xxwv2ibeCCtpSctDspRte.jsp?section=10389

Harvest of Hope Catalog

http://www.harvestofhope.org/browse.php

Gospel for Asia Catalog

http://www.gfa.org/gift/

Mennonite Central Committee Catalog

https://donate.mcc.org/giving-catalog

Christmas Decorations on a Budget

Christmas Decorations on $10

…and a few scrapbooking supplies.

So, we’ve moved and due to our small living arrangements at this time, I had to leave all our Christmas decorations in storage for this year. I was a bit sad at first since Christmas is coming up in a few weeks and my family is coming to visit. Of course I wish for it to “look” like Christmas, whatever that means anyways. Christmas here in America can be so overrated when it comes to decorating and the things we do. We so easily lose sight of what we’re really celebrating. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas! I love the time with family, the special productions, concerts and events, the treats and goodies that are shared and it’s a great time to do these things but it’s not what Christmas is all about.

Christmas is about celebrating Jesus’ birthday! Funny how we give gifts to each other when it’s HIS birthday! Again, there’s nothing wrong with giving gifts, it’s a great time to share but I so easily forget why there’s so much hustle and bustle in November and December!

So, this year with an empty box of Christmas decorations and no “extra” resources I decided to get creative. I gave myself a $10 budget and I’m doing pretty good!  I do have my scrapbooking supplies to use along with a little scrap paper to add in as needed.

I’ve created some of these little ideas already and others will have to wait as the time gets nearer.

First winner is the wreath for our door! Yes, I googled things but that’s what it’s for! 🙂 The local library has a little bookstore where they sell used books for a very small price. Don’t tell the librarian but yes, I bought an old songbook and it’s being torn to pieces but for a good reason I promise! 🙂 My wreath is made with song pages of worship and praise music. Quite fitting I do believe!

Go to: http://sewspoiled.blogspot.com/2009/11/gift-idea-2-paper-wreaths.html for a few instructions for this super easy craft!

My husband helped me make a nice little selection of paper snowflakes from music pages and I hung them with sewing thread from the ceiling near our double glass doors. The sun catches the few glitter coated snowflakes and it’s very festive! Thanks baby for your help! 🙂 I’m not sure what I will do with the remaining song sheets I have…we’ll see!

I found a few strings of Christmas lights on sale on Black Friday so my kitchen and our dining room is sparkling with warmth! We have a great big mirror on one wall next to our dining room table so I used a water based paint to sketch the nativity scene so we do not forget the reason we’re celebrating.

 

 

I can’t wait to decorate the table for Christmas dinner! Fresh pears with a little name tag will serve well for dinner and we’ll have fresh fruit for breakfast the next day! And quite possibly individual gift boxes made from recycled cards with a homemade peppermint patty for our after dinner mint! Oh I can’t wait! I’m so excited!

Budget of $10

Lights $5.76

Songbook $1.00

Paint $1.49

Poinsettia $2.99

=$11.24

I was hoping to score a poinsettia on sale as we near Christmas but I’m not sure my budget will fit even a small one, oh well…I’ll have to get creative with what’s left! 🙂 Maybe a single red rose in an elegantly modern vase with cinnamon sticks incorporated (I have those on hand). I’ll share the results! 🙂

Update: We found a poinsettia on sale! $2.99 so I’m over my budget by $1.24 but I decided that was acceptable. 🙂 A few evergreens snipped from trees=free! The scent is wonderful! I bought cranberries for a dish and they were on sale buy one get one free so I have a little leftover of my “free” bag. A little sprig of greenery and a few cranberries make a darling little decoration on my kitchen cabinets!  As for the remaining cranberries… they’ll garnish dishes and the table!

We’re almost ready! Today is full of food prep and baking desserts! A few gluten free and dairy free and a few just organic desserts that contain a little gluten and dairy for those of my family who are not allergic and prefer a few grains and cows! 🙂 I love having the vegetables all cut up and ready to eat with fresh hummus or homemade ranch dressing. It’s a healthy “go to” snack when there’s sweets around this time of the year!

More to come….

 

And here is our dinner table decorated on a budget for Christmas! Paper trees, mason jars, handmade napkin rings and pears graced with a name card for each person.

 

So pretty and easy and fresh fruit for snacks! Voila!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrabble tiles displayed  helped to add to my low budget decorations.

 

 

Twas a wonderful Christmas making memories and being thankful for all the blessings God has given!