Debby McCuiston, the “Queen of Clutter-Free”, does a segment for us each Sunday on simplifying our lives, getting rid of “clutter”, and focusing on what’s important. We look forward to her words of wisdom each week & hope you enjoy it too! Take it away Debby….
In case you haven’t noticed Christmas is only 2 weeks away. If just reading that line makes your stomach turn and your last nerve go off the deep end, I can almost bet you are not enjoying the holiday and missing out on a lot of Christmas cheer.
Several years ago we completed a financial workshop at our church called “Financial Peace” by Dave Ramsey. At that time we were in serious trouble in our personal finances and it seemed our life was spinning out of control. For years I thought I could handle it, needless to say I couldn’t! Because of the financial chaos in our home, Christmas was the most stressful time of the year. Bills went unpaid to make sure our kids had plenty under the tree and our friends received a gift to show that we cared. Needless to say during this time of year I was stressed to the max and did not feel much like celebrating our Savior’s birth. I had allowed the world to dictate what Christmas was all about for me and I had lost focus of what really is important.
I will tell you it was not easy to get our finances in order, in fact it took several years of resetting our priorities to dig our way out. There were some Christmases that there wasn’t a lot under the tree and our friends received baked goods instead of store bought gifts. During those tight days I shed many tears and felt like a failure as a mom. I thought that my kids would be disappointed in me and may not love me as before. Needless to say, looking back those were the day that I learned the most about my family and friends. I now know that it isn’t the gifts that make someone love you; it’s the relationship that grows during the day to day time spent with those we love.
Now that we are more on track with our finances, we can look back and see the progress that we have made and can clearly see the lessons we have learned (and continue to learn) because of God faithfulness.
One of the major things we learned was the time we spent baking together was a wonderful memory making time. Now that the kids are gone and they aren’t here for the baking adventure, my husband and I look forward to the official Christmas baking day. We really have a lot of fun in the kitchen, we aren’t the “next great bakers” but we love to give these gifts because they are an outward expression of how much we care for our friends.
Over the past few years we have learned that the gifts we have enjoyed giving the most are the ones that we have made with the receiver in mind. Now I must say that we have given gifts thinking that the person on the receiving end would be so excited when they unwrapped it, but as human nature would be, some of the homemade gift weren’t welcomed with the raves and reviews we had expected, you know those comments: “oh, how nice” or “so, you made this” but the worst is the silence. Needless to say those “friends” have been moved to the “naughty list” and now receive a Christmas card. Most of the time our family and friends have loved the gifts we have given to them and understood that it was made and given with a lot of love and celebrates the special relationship that has grown because of who they are and not what they have.
The “heaven made” gift that was given over 2000 years ago wasn’t received with a million people cheering. It was given in the simple wrapping of hay in a manger. It was given with the single intent to touch our heart and show us how much we are loved by our heavenly father. To an outsider it was just another baby born in a world of poverty, another mouth to feed, another number on the census. But to those that truly understood the gift, it was the gift that would change our life. A gift that went beyond our earthy need and meet our eternal need, the need for a savior to save us from a life condemned to hell to pay the price for our sins. Wow!! A gift so tiny, so pure, a gift that once received can change the most hardened heart in to a heart that believes
the promises of God. I am not sure I will ever really understand the depths of this love; to me it’s like going into the prison that holds the worst of the worst and offering my son’s life in order to free the most unworthy. Never in a million years would I be able to do that, give my son’s life, a life lived without breaking any laws, being a person that many have loved and lives to make difference in the lives of others, give his life for the life of someone that deserves to be dropped into the pit of hell, no I know for a fact I wouldn’t do it. But my heavenly father loves me and you more than we can even understand and was willing to send His precious son to pay the price for our sins and to give us a home in heaven and the to be able to counted as a child of the King.
When we dig through all the “stuff” of what we have made of Christmas and get down and look into that humble little manger and see a tiny baby that came to change the world that is when we will understand the meaning of Christmas and allow that little one to change our heart. Without His presence in this world there wouldn’t be hope and pure unconditional love, a love that truly passes all understanding.
So as you wrap those special gifts, handmade or store bought, take time to thank the Lord for the role each person has played in your life. Pray the Lord’s protection over them and guidance as they travel through life. Take time to listen to what people are really saying from theirs hearts this year. Maybe this will be the year to bless others instead of blasting others, may the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heart be pleasing in His sight!!
Hope you are able to spend some time in the kitchen making memories with those you love! Don’t worry about the mess, the memories are more important than anything you will do at this special time.
Love you to Jesus,