12072015_CrystalStine_GiftOfPresence

We strung the Christmas lights around the tree the weekend before Thanksgiving this year. It was earlier than usual for us, but the day was quiet and in our hearts it felt right to slowly welcome in the Advent season.

My word this year has been “savor,” and as I unwrapped ornaments and pieces of our nativity, it felt nice to allow the moments to settle over us instead of hurrying through to simply check the task off the holiday to-do list.

Without the hustle and bustle of years past, I was able to enjoy my 4-year-old’s help and wonder as she ignored my request to not put all the ornaments in the same spot of the tree. And when she asked why we decorate our home for Christmas when the holiday is about celebrating Jesus’ birth, I was able to share that for us, the lights on our tree, and the lights we put outside, and the lights on the tiny tree in her room — those are all reminders for us during the Christmas season that God sent His Son to be a light to the world.

That was and is His gift to us, and now our gift to others is to be that same special light — not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.

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Scripture tells us in Genesis 12:2 that God had a plan for Abram, not simply to bless him, but for Abram to then be a blessing to others. Yes, Abram’s name would be great and his offspring would become a great nation, but he would also be a blessing.

As I think about how I’d like 2015 to end for our family, it would be this — that we would ring in 2016 healthier and stronger than we started 2015 so that we can be a blessing. God has blessed us with so much this year, and as we sat around the Thanksgiving table surrounded by food and family and laughter, I was struck with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. The kind of gratitude that makes you want to pay the blessing forward so that others can experience a taste of what God has done for you — and will do for them.

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How can you be a blessing this Advent season? Here are a few ideas to get us started (and please share more in the comments — I’d love to hear them!):

  1. Deliver cookies to your neighbors — knowing someone is thinking of you is a blessing, indeed!
  2. Send Christmas cards in the mail.
  3. Invite a new family over for hot chocolate.
  4. Brainstorm an “Advent Intentional Acts of Kindness” challenge with your family.
  5. Smile and speak kindly when shopping — you might be the only kind person the cashier meets that day!
  6. Invite friends and their families over to make Christmas ornaments.
  7. Keep extra blankets and kits of toiletries in your car to hand out if you see someone in need.
  8. Donate to an organization in honor of a loved one as a gift (like St. Jude or Compassion).
  9. Bring coffee to your child’s daycare teachers.
  10. Give the gift of presence to your family.

We are called to be lights to the world, and what better time to shine brightly than at Christmas? Gather friends and family, savor the moments of laughter and joy, and ask God to give you eyes to see and a heart willing to say “yes” to the ways you can be a blessing this season.

We are so blessed, friends. Let’s be the blessing to others.

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Jesus is God’s Gift to us—now our gift to others is to be that same special light throughout the year. {Tweet this!}

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  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Crystal,
    First, I love the family pic :) I also love your word “savor” for this Advent season. Like you said though…savor doesn’t mean just take it all in, it also means give it out in the form of being a light and blessing to others. Great ideas on your list. Having been, at one time, a single mom with kids, I might add invite people who are single (with or without kids) to join in your family celebration. The holidays can be really hard when you’re in that situation and it’s so nice to feel like you are welcomed somewhere. Loved this…
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • http://crystalstine.me/ Crystal

      I love that suggestion, Bev!

  • Penny

    What a thoughtful post Crystal and sweet picture,

    I really like Bev’s idea as well. I’ll add a few more, Donate food, blankets or toys to an animal shelter or look out for strays. Someone suggested to my daughter to pack extra back packs (if you have them hanging around ) with useful items like kleenex, cough drops, mitts, hats, hand wipes, snacks, etc. and leave it for someone who might need it, You could include a little note too. My son wants to make star ornaments to give to elderly neighbors (you could add a plate of cookies or otherwise). Those little packages of hot chocolate have a saying on them “If you need a hug.” that could be offered as well.

    ‘To be light for others’, love this. Thank-you Crystal.

    Penny

    • http://crystalstine.me/ Crystal

      These are such wonderful ways for your entire family to be involved!

  • Lovelle

    This was so good Crystal! Thanks for the ideas how to bless people tangibly. It’s easy to forget but so important.

    • http://crystalstine.me/ Crystal

      Thanks Lovelle!

  • Nancy

    At Advent we usually make a paper chain. Each link has a name of someone or a group of people written on it. We take down a link each night of Advent and pray especially for that person or group. Last year we didn’t get to making the chain and so each night we chose a Christmas card that we had received and prayed especially for that person or family. Both ways have been meaningful to us and we have often found out later that the prayers blessed that person or family–that they had a special need that God met.

    • http://crystalstine.me/ Crystal

      I really love both ideas! My daughter’s daycare does the paper chain and prays for a different family each day :)

    • http://peacequility.com Julie

      What a great idea!!!

  • JeanneTakenaka

    Crystal, I love that your word this year has been Savor. I can imagine all that God showed you as you meditated on this word. :)

    I loved your family picture. So fun! I’m not sure I could ever get my husband to wear striped pajama pants. :)

    And, I loved your suggestions for Advent. I’ve been thinking about ways our family can be a blessing to others. I’m definitely going to implement at least a couple of them. And, I’m going to cut and paste this list so I can be more ready for next year.

    • http://crystalstine.me/ Crystal

      Ha! I can’t say my husband was excited, but he was out numbered ;)

  • Beth Williams

    Crystal,
    Great post and ideas. Loved the family pic and I know for sure my hubby would never wear striped pajamas!! Last year I made cookies for my two elderly neighbors. I thought they would enjoy them!! For many years I have done a Salvation Army tree child. It is so fun to shop for the children and pray over the gifts. Another good idea is to visit nursing homes and sing songs to them. Out church goes caroling each year. I know the residents like this. This year I’m spending Dec. 18 at an Assisted Living/nursing home. Santa will come and bring gifts for everyone-plus they get their pictures taken with him!
    Blessings:)

  • Beth Blamick

    Beautiful post…thanks for reminding us to savor the season and to bless others as Christ has blessed us!

  • Linda

    This Christmas God is reminding me of simplicity and servanthood. Yesterday I baked 60 pumpkin chocolate chips muffins and delivered them while they were still warm to faculty/staff midafternoon at the local college. It was a God-gift to see how a small item blessed people so much. I was prayerful and tried to be sensitive to where the Holy Spirit would have me deliver them one by one. It reminded me that a random act of kindess can go a long way on a God-ordained day.