Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

"No person was ever honored for what he received.
Honor has been the reward for what he gave."
~ Calvin Coolidge

Rick and I entered this Christmas season with a desire to bless others and to teach our children how to bless others. We took one idea from my blogging friend, Courtney, and adapted it to fit our family. We called it our "Birthday Party for Jesus." After all, He is the reason that we celebrate Christmas each year.
One of my favorite decorations, our Swazi Nativity
We hope this will become a tradition that we live out each year. We are basing it off the Scripture in Matthew 25: 31-46, focusing on verses 35-45 that say,

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

By blessing those in need, we would be giving Birthday gifts to Jesus. In November, we received a catalog from Samaritan's Purse, an organization that is doing work around the world to help those in poverty. In this catalog are items that range in cost from $5 to thousands of dollars that you can "purchase" for a family in need. We gave the kids an amount of $15 each to "shop" for their Birthday gift to Jesus. Each one chose their gift and told only me about it. They were then challenged to find something to represent that gift to wrap for the night of our Birthday Party. I ordered the items online ahead of time and we received cards to use along with our gifts.
Our party started with a yummy meal together with our
"Happy Birthday, Jesus" plates and napkins
Rick and I took some time to talk to the kids about all the ways during the month of December that our family has chosen to give to others. Those things range from putting change into the Salvation Army's red buckets outside of stores, baking bread for our neighbors, buying stoves for families in Haiti, etc. We were actually surprised when we talked about everything, how much our kids have done on their own as well. It was neat to talk and encourage them to continue even when it is not Christmas. We really want to be a family that is known for giving to others.

After dinner, we were ready to open the gifts. We drew names from a hat to decide who would open each gift for Jesus. Throughout the process, we discovered what each person has chosen to give and took the opportunity to read in the catalog about each gift and how it would impact people around the world.
Laila chose to give blankets which fits her so well.
She loves her blankie!!
Sam, Lauren, Abby, and Isaiah all chose to give milk to feed a baby for a week.
Cody opened Lauren's gift which also included food for a baby for a week.
Cody chose to help a child learn to read and write.
Along with a book, his package included this paper:
It says, "The Needy Child that Couldn't Write."
Rick gave soccer equipment to children and
I chose to give prenatal and postnatal care to Mothers and babies.
We sang "Happy Birthday"
and ate some yummy cupcakes.
We ended the night by watching the show, "A Home for the Holidays." It focuses on stories of foster care and adoption and has many celebrities that have been impacted by adoption in some way. It really was the perfect addition to our evening.

It was so much fun to start this new tradition. I hope that next year, we can expand on the idea of blessing others very intentionally during the Christmas season.

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