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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Advent Conspiracy

Merry Christmas! Bacak Christmas pics will be up soon, but I wanted to link this article in the Houston Chronicle Religion section featuring my brother,and his church, Ecclesia. Check it out! Advent Conspiracy has been something inspiring to Rusty and I both this Christmas! Giving more, spending less, worshipping the most!
I definitely wouldn't say we've arrived yet, but this Christmas has been closer to that than ever. I will share.
We spend a LOT less on gifts for the kids, and my living room is still littered at this very moment still with gifts. The kids bought each other gifts at the 99cent store, and that was great! I don't think they really know the difference between $10 gifts and $1 gifts! A wrapped up toy is a wrapped up toy, and they bought and wrapped them for each other personally with their own money! They loved that!
We focused on giving through our project that was already up and running, selling salsa for Living Water. (Read more about Living Water if you haven't already!)My parents also decided to challenge us with the $50 project. They gave each family $50 and asked us to come up with our own ideas to raise money for the Child Survival Program through Compassion International (an unbelievable program saving lives of little ones, enriching the lives of babies and mothers, and sharing the gospel in doing so; check into it!) My brother Brian works for Compassion, so he has his hand in some of these amazing projects around the world! Our idea was to sell water and hot chocolate at the mall where people board the buses for the A&M and UT game the day after Thanksgiving. Hundreds of fans board there over a two hour span, and we set up our table at the mall, on the busiest day of the year, right in front of them. Good idea, hu? We had our kids helping, with pictures of the children from Ethiopia that we would be helping. We made signs, a huge dispenser of hot chocolate in styrofoam cups with lids with labels we made on them, and iced water bottles. (A lot of work! Rusty did it since I was doing my annual shopping trip with the girls in my family. Go Rusty!) However, we only profited $96. We were a little disappointed, but we worked hard as a family, and that's what we were supposed to do. You should check out my brother Brian's blog where they had a 12 hour walk in their neighborhood and raised $900!!!! Wow! They are also in the process of adopting children from that very area of Ethiopia. I just love my family!
We made homemade gifts for family members. For example, I'm way into making cute bookmarks with my awesome new laminator! (Thank you Shelby! It's one of the greatest things ever given to me!!!) I know, you're thinking homemade gifts...stinky! But for my parents' gift, I am making frozen meals for them. It's just the two of them now, and they tend to get home late, not wanting to cook. So I have frozen two meals already for them; Chicken Pot Pie and White Chicken Chili- definitely in my top 10 meals we have! I gave them everything they need to go with it. The rice, measured out with directions on it, a block of cheese to grate over it, etc. I have one more meal to bring to them. But the gift of homemade dinner and NOT cooking is meaningful to them (I hope). We are looking for ways to use our talents, time, and resources to give, while spending more money on our giving endeavors, like our church, missionaries, Living Water, etc. The whole Seay family is in on this. It's pretty fun!
We are also spending more time doing ministry as a family. I think I have written about our weekly visits to Crestview Nursing Home. We love it there! We are praying for our sick friends, sharing Jesus, and just loving on people who are lonely. We were there yesterday, and one of our elderly friends told us "Christmas is lonely when you're old...some people don't realize that." I told her we did, and that's why we were there! The kids and I so look forward to going. This particular woman has told me she was a school teacher for 50+ years. I just want to sit and soak up the knowledge! There are so many interesting people there! It was unusually crowded with visitors yesterday; some visiting their relatives for Christmas, and some just making a friendly Christmas visit. I think that's great, but I want to be mindful that we don't just do ministry during the Christmas season, and then go back to living for ourselves the rest of the year. I always find it a little hypocritical to give to needy families, visit nursing homes, etc. JUST at Christmas time. I know people have particular needs or feel especially lonely at Christmas time...I understand that. But shouldn't we be doing those things all year? So this is something we are committing to do as a part of our lives. BECAUSE of Jesus, our Christmas gift, we strive to live like Him, and focus outward in the ways He leads us.
PLEASE KNOW...we are learning how to do all of these things. I am learning and being challenged by so many of you! I'm sharing, because when you guys share, it encourages me, spurs me on, prods me to do what I know I should. So realize, we have not mastered these concepts, but are in the learning process, both failing and succeeding as we go. But praise God for the learning journey!
Merry Christmas! It's 1:40pm, and I'm still in my PJ's. That's the kind of Christmas I love!


Kathryn, Michael & Alex said...

It has been so wonderful this year to truly put all of the focus on Christ this year.

We loved giving presents to less fortunate kids and reading Luke 2 before even opening a present.
I do pray that we keep this focus all year and continue to make ministry a lifestyle, not something that we do.
Merry Christmas!!
Love you,

The Vann's said...

Yay for all day PJ's on Christmas. Carissa and I did that this year, even amongst family and i am pretty sure all of her family have decided to make it a tradition. ITS GREAT!!! Enjoyed the blog!