Hello Friends! Just wondering, now that Thanksgiving’s past and that Christmas décor’s been up since Halloween (in some stores that is, surely not in this household!), if you have a KICK in your step while shopping, or if you are SLIP-SLIDIN’-AWAY, Scrooge-like?
Don’t even talk to me if you’re done with your Christmas shopping. And don’t even look this way if you’ve shopped and wrapped.
Christmas isn’t happenin’ today, the way Jesus intended it to. For that, I’m certain. Every single year I try to think of ways to “taper down” on the gift-giving, think of the less fortunate, donate to new charities/ministries, and yet I still wind up looking more like Santa’s helper/enabler than a child of God. Big sigh.The commercialization of Christmas makes me say “Bah humbug”…and I’m determined to NOT let it get the best of me. Lord, please help us to focus on you. Matthew 6:33 reminds us: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
So, now that the Christmas season’s officially “on”… no thanks to some poor souls opening up on Thanksgiving Day (really?), Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc., I’d like to give you one prescription sure to bring a smile to your face, and a cure for any “Bah Humbug” attitudes trying to surface.
I am beyond blessed to have a very fun cousin. Her name is Bonnie, but we in the family call her “Martha”, as in Stewart. She’s one of those creative types: she can whip up the most gorgeous bow you’ve ever seen. Friends now recognize them sayin’, “Now THAT’S a “Bonnie Bow”!!!
Bonnie will also try any new recipe. She’ll paint a room an entirely new color when the mood strikes. Furthermore, she will absolutely, positively, do anything for anyone, at any time, just for starters.
A few years ago, Bonnie came up with this fabulous idea… She invited a group of our friends, a/k/a “the Butter Babes” over for a gift wrapping party. Soup simmerin’ on the stove, Christmas music in the air, pool table covered as our wrapping station, and we move in for the day.
What’s great about this is she sets the date way ahead of time (novel idea!) so we know when our deadline is…as in if you want to wrap a pretty package, you’d better have done some shopping and have packages in tow!
The five of us man our stations and the wrapping begins. (Did I mention her endless supply of reams of paper and enough ribbon to extend to the moon?) Oh, but the conversation around the table is the best. You’re wondering if there’s a message here! Or what’s so spiritual about a wrapping party?
Well, you’ve got to know these Butter Babes. These are some serious Bible study students and teachers. These are some very close friends and mentors. These are some serious prayer warriors. They share meaningful Scripture. They share prayer requests. They share answered prayers. They have lived a lot of life. We laugh. We cry.
One of my favorite verses depicting this friendship journey is found in Proverbs 27:17 which says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (NIV) It’s a huge blessing simply doing life with the help of dear friends who teach you to ultimately lean on the Lord.
Nary a “Bah Humbug” erupts from this bunch. Nope, the Butter Babes would flat have a meltdown if such a phrase surfaced. (Oh, I could have fun with that last phrase…)
Proverbs 27:7b says, “A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Refreshing it is to be surrounded by such sweet sisters. No Scrooges allowed!
Let me show you one more favorite verse to go along with our prescription: Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. “
The “sure cure” for a Bah Humbug attitude can be found straight out of the three above phrases I’ve italicized:
Spur one another on: This means we cheer each other on toward the finish line…as in our Heavenly Home.
Not giving up meeting together: Keep regular gathering times with your friends. How many times have you heard “friends are cheaper than therapy”? It’s always nice to have something to look forward to.
I have another group of friends which includes a retired school teacher. (Several actually, but one in particular is the glue that holds us together.) Periodically, Jayne will shoot us an email with the tagline being: “Random Dinner”. She randomly picks a night and we show up to catch up. Try it. You’ll like it.
Encouraging one another: This goes hand in hand with spurring one another on. All three of these are great fuels for fanning the flame of friendship.
Kelly Minter’s most recent Bible study on Nehemiah—A Heart That Can Break offers a PERFECT DEPICTION of what I’m attempting to recommend to you regarding friendship. She opines*, “The world doesn’t need more wealth, strength, power, or skill as much as it desperately needs trustworthy people. My heart is never more at rest, my soul never more at peace than when I am in the presence of a person of integrity.
I find relational serenity in never having to second-guess what the person really meant, not having to dodge gossip or duck drama. When I have the assurance that a person’s word is true, motives pure, and intents just, I have found a rare treasure indeed.”
Look again at those two above paragraphs. Did you see that cool phrase, “relational serenity”? What a sanctuary! What a safe haven!!!
Whether it’s a wrapping party, or a lunch out somewhere, or a Starbucks rendez-vous, I pray you’ll set a date with some of your friends and sail cheerfully thru’ this Christmas season, in relational serenity, sans any “Bah Humbugs”.
Purposefully celebrate Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (KJV) Remember Christ’s Birthday.
Savor God’s gift. As Liz Curtis Higgs said, “Let’s be forever grateful for the One whose birth changed everything.” (Click here to see an interview with her…)
‘Til next time!
(This December post is happily dedicated to my long-time friend, cousin-by-marriage-who’s-more-like-a-sister, partner-in-crime in shopping, encourager extraordinaire, Bonnie Johnson. May blessings be abundant to you and your sweet family this Christmas season!!!)
*Lest you think I toss out unique words frequently, this one, “opine,” was a new one to me. Can’t believe I haven’t discovered this word ’til now. I’m practically a professional at offering my opinion! May we all opine with tact.
I ran across it twice in two days in two different books! Both worth recommending: one by Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God and the other by Robert J. Morgan called Angels—True Stories—What Angels Do For Us.