Tag Archives: gentleness

Giving Joy & Gentleness

Christmas conversation promptsOur family has a Christmas activity we weave into our mealtime hubbub: answering questions from a tin of Christmas-focused conversation prompts. Even though we’ve been through these questions several times over the years, the answers vary as children get older and more introspective.

JoyOne of the recent questions was about the reason behind gift-giving during this season. The discussion included the gifts of the wise men and our gift of a Savior, then narrowed down to the mere joy of giving to others.

Probably one of the main stressors of the busy holiday season revolves around gift-giving: the generation of ideas, the investment of time and money, last-minute shopping, and eventually the late-night wrapping.

teacher giftsWhen we find something “just right” for a special person on our list and see genuine delight spread across her face as she opens her gift, we experience the joy of giving.

It’s in this moment of giving that we turn toward each other, share eye contact, and feel a closer connection to one another…we share a mutual tug on our hearts.

Imagine how much love God had for each of us as He gave His One True Gift to us by sending us Jesus. Through Christ we are pulled closer to God and may dwell in His Presence.post office drop

As I trudge through these last days before Christmas, grocery shopping and dropping cards into the mail,  I’m trying to hold onto this image of the Ultimate Giver offering His most precious gift.

This helps me let the details of the hustle-bustle fade a bit and focus on the interactions around me.hot cocoa

Being gentle with those around us and being mindful that this holiday’s joy may be smudged by loss or pain is an extension of God’s love toward others.

silver conesWhen our expectations of the holidays don’t come packaged with a jaunty red bow…

When disappointment piles up like crumpled balls of wrapping paper on Christmas morning…

When loss and grief drop around us  like pine needles fall constantly off the Christmas tree…

When rough spots in our relationships are highlighted during family gatherings…

God is with us in these tender moments, offering hope.
70s childhood ornament

boy in tuxAs as we share coffee cake with neighbors on a cold wintry night…

As we gaze at each other in the warm glow during Christmas Eve candlelight service…

As we watch eager children tear into their presents Christmas morning…

As we observe grandparents smile in remembrances of the past…

God is with us in these joyous moments, embracing us in love.candlelight communion
When stress begins to creep in again, I try to remind myself:

empty gift box

It’s not what is under the tree.

It’s who is gathered around it. 

 

It’s not what is in the box,

but WHO fills our hearts.

God is with us through it all, however this season unfolds for our families this year. Blessings to you and yours this Christmas!


“Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace…

-Luke 2:14



 

Gentleness

white poinsettiaIt’s the week of Christmas, a time of remembering Christ’s birth and celebrating with one another. Jesus came to us in the most humble and gentle way — as a baby.

Each of us has been around a newborn baby and been enveloped by the gentleness a baby evokes. Our movements slow down. Our voices soften. Our gazes are inevitably drawn in.

This gentleness is what I imagine God wants us to continue using with each other on a daily basis. To meet each other’s gaze and speak softly to one another. To soften our hard edges with one another.



“Let your gentleness be evident to all.” Philippians 4:5



Practicing gentleness may be especially difficult if we get too caught up in the stress of this season’s demands. We encounter long lines at the grocery store, post office, and retail stores. Exhibiting gentleness with the cashier or the harried shopper tapping her foot behind you may take extra effort this week, but this simple act can change someone’s day dramatically if we do.

advent boxOur children have been living the hype for the last couple weeks of school. In the myriad of Christmas programs, classroom parties, and family gatherings, how often are we slowing down to help them savor the moment? One of the ways we’ve tried to do this is by using props that are woven into our Christmas decorations and family routine in December.advent box

We’ve been attempting to do our Advent box each evening as a way to refocus on Jesus as the center of Christmas. In each opening there’s a few pieces of candy and a slip of paper with a suggested activity:

— Read a Christmas book together

— Bake some Christmas cookies

— Snuggle and watch a holiday show

— Do something nice for another family

— Wrap presents together

This year we’ve added Advent notecards to facilitate family discussion into a deeper level, incorporating scripture and a thought-provoking question to ponder. Our youngest likes to hang them up by the fireplace as a visual countdown.

advent cardsadvent cardSeveral years ago a friend gave us a cute container filled with conversation prompts. I incorporated this into our table centerpiece and we take turns drawing from it each night. These simple prompts nudge us to share about Christmas memories, to imagine specific things about the real nativity scene, to contemplate what the wise men talked about on their way to the stable, or to identify our favorite holiday food or song. These simple things cause us to linger a little longer with each other around the table and we often are laughing about what’s been shared as we move on to wash the dishes.

As parents we’ve made a more concerted effort to play games and watch holiday shows during winter break. This takes some extra energy because those to-do lists seem never-ending as we prepare for all of the extra holiday activities. Simply putting these ideas onto paper inside the advent box keeps us moving toward our intentions set earlier in the month. It helps us be gentle with ourselves in the midst of the rush, giving us permission to regroup and refocus with our family, slowing down the pace a bit.

During each of these advent activities, we gather together. We snuggle in beside each other on the couch or make eye contact with each other across the dinner table. As parents we try to add a gentle word or gesture to keep the kiddos on track, reconnecting with them in a light-hearted way.

It’s amazing how a gentle word or touch can impact the family’s overall mood. For seeming like a “meek” Fruit of the Spirit,  Gentleness sure is powerful. How might you use it today in your daily tasks or as you gather with your family?Gentleness plate

 

 

 

 

Fruits of the Spirit    Make-a-Plate Project