Everyone should experience these 50 things sometime in their lives during the Christmas season. I have already experienced some of these, but some are things I hope to experience.
50 Things to do during Christmas:
1. “A Christmas Story” marathon.
2. Sit in Santa’s lap for a picture. It still counts if you cry your way through it.
3. Adopt a child (or 2 or 3) from the “Angel Tree” at church, buy gifts for him/her, and deliver them.
4. Cut down your own Christmas tree.
5. Decorate a Christmas tree with ornaments that have memories attached to them. Never waste your time making the tree look pretty or having matching ornaments.
6. Sleep way more than you should.
7. Cut and decorate Christmas cookies with colored icing, sprinkles, red hots, etc. (Or just eat the ones your Aunt makes.)
8. Build a fire in the fireplace (yes, even if it’s 80 degrees outside) and read the Christmas story as a family.
9. Let the kids unwrap one gift on Christmas Eve, but make sure they get that same gift every year so there’s still no surprise.
10. Be intentional about spending some time reflecting on Emmanuel (God with Us) – Jesus. Here’s something I wrote about Him. Consistently Emmanuel
11. Participate in a live nativity.
12. Spend at least 100 hours placing exactly 6 colored stars on tree cookies made of green tasteless dough which you will sell to the nearest Christmas Tree Farm to make $$ for Christmas gifts. (This was for you, Laurie.)
13. Go Christmas caroling.
14. Be surprised when someone kisses you under the mistletoe.
15. Attend a candlelight service with your family.
16. Incur some kind of injury Christmas afternoon as you play with your new toy. (“You’ll shoot your eye out kid.”)
17. Give a memory to someone. Experience something together.
18. Unwrap “the ball” with your family. (It’s a tape ball with small gifts wrapped inside. The ball gets passed around a circle and you get to keep what you unwrap. You keep unwrapping until the next person rolls a 6 with a pair of dice.)
19. Watch the greatest Christmas movie ever made: Die Hard
20. Leave cookies out for Santa. Eat cookies left for Santa.
21. Dress up as Santa Claus so that a child believes at least one more year.
22. Instead of buying gifts, give $$ to your favorite charity.
23. Go to the trouble (in spite of the traffic) to take the kids to see some spectacular Christmas lights.
24. Go on a hayride.
25. Obtain an injury and get frustrated as you ignore the instructions and attempt to assemble the things Santa left your kids.
26. Take family pictures.
27. Re-gift. Or use gift cards to buy gifts for others.
28. Watch the eyes of someone you love as they open a special gift.
29. Play football in the yard with the whole family.
30. Put pumpkin pie on your shoe, pretend you came in from outside, and then when someone notices the “poop,” wipe it off with your finger and eat it. (My brother’s idea – and it was hilarious! My grandma is the one who noticed.)
31. Use an advent calendar where you get to do something (Ex: eat a chocolate, hang an ornament, etc.) each day leading up to Christmas.
32. Arrange for your children to play “Jesus” in some sort of local Christmas production. Bonus if you are Mary and Joseph.
33. See Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb of God” Christmas production (or at least listen to the recording each year.)
34. Wake up way too early as your kids anticipation gets the best of them.
35. Secretly open a gift, seal it back up, and then act surprised on Christmas morning.
36. Display a nativity scene in your house and teach your children about the characters. (One year, my 3-yr-old son Kasen, told the Christmas story with our nativity. http://stevecorn.com/2010/12/kasen-tells-the-christmas-story/ )
37. Watch the “Nativity Story” movie.
38. Use baby powder to leave footprints from the fireplace to the place where Santa left the gifts. (But make sure you make the footprints go back too – my parents missed that last part.)
39. Count the number of Jesus figurines you can find at grandma’s house.
40. Ask your grandma/grandpa about how they remember spending Christmas as kids.
41. Eat monkey bread.
42. Enjoy a “White Christmas” and do some sledding, have a snowball fight, or build a snowman.
43. Take the family skiing over the Christmas break.
44. Take the family to an old barn and read the Christmas story there among the animals and smells.
45. Bluebell Peppermint Ice Cream – it’s only made during the holidays.
46. Search the sky for Santa’s sleigh.
47. Get stranded due to icy/closed roads in some random west Texas town on the way to a ski trip. End up having to sleep with the animals ’cause there is “no room at the inn.” (It was Quanah, TX and the people of First Baptist Church were very gracious with their gym. They even let traveling pets sleep there.) Here’s a post about this experience: No Room at the Inn
48. Drive all over the country trying to see all your relatives and in-laws on Christmas Day.
49. Snack on Homemade Chex Mix, peppermint bark, and peanut clusters.
50. Celebrate Emmanuel!!! (Jesus = Emmanuel = “God with Us”)
Things not to do:
1. Get so busy trying to do the things on this list that you forget #50.
“It is more blessed to give than receive.” These are words that we hear often during the Christmas season. However, whenever I hear it, I usually have this little “cringy” sort of thing in the back of my neck. (No. “Cringy” isn’t a word, but it’s the perfect adjective for my feeling.) Here’s why I feel this thing:
James 1:16-17a – “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.”
Ultimately, Jesus is the only giver. We can’t be givers ourselves, unless we have received from Him first. We must first be receivers before we can become givers. Anything I can give to someone else, well…anything that’s worth giving, in some way first came from Jesus himself. Maybe this is also part of why He made this statement. He understood that anyone who is a giver has already received from Him. We become “more blessed” when it all comes full circle and we begin to reflect who He is as the giver.
Psalm 23:1 – “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
If we are in Christ, we are given all that we need. There’s nothing we need that He will not provide. This is the meaning of the phrase “shall not want.” It means He will provide and we can live satisfied and confident that we will be given all that we truly need. As people who have all that we need, we are in the perfect position to share. . . to give. When we realize that most of our stuff is just stuff and the things we truly need can not be taken away, it becomes much easier to give. Not only is it easier to give, but giving actually becomes a natural expression of the love we have for others. We also begin to reflect the character of Christ to others as well. At that point, we also become more grateful to Christ for all that we have been given and ultimately, we worship and glorify Him.
So, I’m in agreement with Jesus. “It is more blessed to give than receive.” But I’d like to point out to the world that we can’t give until we have first become receivers of the greatest gift in the world – Salvation in Jesus Christ. That alone is the greatest blessing, but we become EVEN MORE blessed when we begin giving to others out of this abundance. Our primary position is one of “receiver” and then our goal should be to become a “giver.” Or maybe the better way to say it is that our primary position should be to “give” good gifts understanding that the only way to do that is to receive from Christ first?
What do you guys think?
PS – I don’t think this has any real bearing on my previous thoughts, but it’s interesting to me that these words of Jesus (“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”) are not recorded in the Gospels. They are recounted by Paul (Acts 20:35) as he speaks to the Ephesian elders. There are many things that Jesus said which are not recorded in the Gospels themselves, but this is the only one which is referred to by Scripture itself.
We met under the cover of night. We slipped into our cars and cautiously veered around the road blocks – careful not to draw attention to ourselves. We communicated quietly or with our eyes so as not to make much noise. We handled the goods with care as we swiped the merchandise from it’s location and transported it to the designated area. By the time we had finished, we had relocated all the goods without any issues. Everyone had done their job flawlessly. The cops didn’t suspect anything. The items were delivered and we were safe in our homes celebrating a successful mission.
I love my Community Group! We successfully completed the mission described above last night. We delivered Christmas gifts to a needy family. For now, they live in a duplex that will be torn down in the next couple of months and so their streets are blocked off. We were able to bring a little joy to this family and even share the Gospel with them.
Thanks Jennifer! God needs more people scheming on His behalf! I’m happy to be a criminal for God’s glory! Thanks for the opportunity.
Sometimes saying, “I’ll pray for you.” just isn’t enough. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Our friends have lived out this passage and I want to tell you about it:
We had an incredible experience last night!! A bunch of friends (both old and new) surprised us and showed up at our door Christmas caroling. It was Nov 20th. We gathered the family to hear them and when they finished singing, they explained that they knew our year had been tough (with my unemployment) and wanted to come “be the church” to us. They handed Miranda a gift bag and then (like the movie) one by one filed by and dropped $$$/gifts in. We were all in tears. In addition, we received tons of cards and beautifully written notes from people who were unable to come as well as financial gifts both large and small. Some of the small ones are incredibly touching too – from students and people who really don’t have much to give.
Their presence, encouragement, love, and gifts could not have come at a better time. Although God has carried us through this past year, we have had discussions lately about how we’d make it through the next few months. We’re learning to trust Him more and these incredible friends were the faces of God’s provision for us last night. I can’t describe how much of a blessing they really are. My friend Josh said that God could have just given us the $$, but instead, out of His goodness, He decided to bring His people together so we’d receive both $$ and encouragement. God knew what we needed. He is an incredible provider!! He is good!! And we are blessed!!! It’s truly a Wonderful Life!!! I am grateful, humbled, honored, and probably most importantly: I know the LORD and His character better because my friends and family have represented Him so well to us.
I’d also like to say a great big “THANK YOU!!” to everyone who played a role:
Those who came.
Those who sent messages or $$ or both.
Those who organized and planned.
Those who were sneaky and lied to us so it’d all work out.
Those who got the word out.
Those who drove such long distances to be with us.
Those who prayed.
Those who cooked.
We are especially grateful to God for bringing these people into our lives, for providing us with $$ and encouragement, and for motivating them to “be the church” to us.
Here are the videos and pics:
I just wanted to post some of the tools that I use when I teach about spiritual gifts. My favorite assessment is the “Motivational Gifts” Assessment. It focuses on only 7 of the spiritual gifts and so it’s a little less rigorous to understand. It’s also not a “blind” test and so you’re able to line up the qualities with that particular gift. This makes it much easier to recognize the gifts of other people as you begin to see those particular qualities in them. These 7 are considered “Motivational” Gifts. These gifts are permanent gifts that tend to motivate everything else that someone does. (Ex: Administration, Teaching, Exhortation, Perceiving, Serving, Giving, & Compassion) This inventory does not test for the “Manifestation” gifts which are the gifts given by the Holy Spirit temporarily for a specific purpose. (Ex: Faith, Healing, Tongues, Prophecy, Interpretation of Tongues, etc.)
Here’s a link to download some of the tools I have gathered over the years:
– A Motivational Gifts Assessment (normal and blind)
– A Motivational Gifts Teaching Worksheet with answers
– A different blind Spiritual Gifts Inventory (includes many other gifts)
Some other personality tests that are fun to combine with a Spiritual Gifts study include:
– DISC personality assessment
or even the Love Language Assessment for Husband and Wife
I had to post this video of Kasen and Kesleigh. He was so excited to get the “tractor” he had been asking Santa for. He also thought h was such a big boy when he got to take Kesleigh for a ride. She loved it too.
I also thought I’d post a link to our Christmas pics. There are still more to come, but this is where you’ll find ’em. http://cornphotos.shutterfly.com/5641
Tomorrow will be my 2nd official Father’s Day. My first with 2 children. Miranda was asking me what “Kasen and Kesleigh” could get me. (I put “quotes” around their names ’cause they have no concept of Father’s Day yet.) I really didn’t have a clue. I have everything I really need. I’m truly blessed beyond anything I ever imagined. I’ve been thinking about how I could answer her though. What do I want? Well, I’m not sure she can arrange for Kasen and Kesleigh to get it for me, but here’s what I want.
First and foremost, I want my children to grow up to be madly in love with Jesus.
I want my children to be “arrows” like Psalms 127:4 describes them – arrows attack the enemy in his territory and work to expand and advance the kingdom.
I want more time to be with my family and I want to have great experiences together.
I want to be able to provide for my family in physical, emotional, and spiritual ways.
I want to live as an example to my children by being a man of character who chases after God even if it seems crazy.
I want to laugh, play, and enjoy my bride and children by being truly present with them in everyday life.
I want my bride and children to know how much they are loved.
I want God’s grace to continue to grant me favor. I want to become an awesome husband and father and I understand that it’s truly a never-ending journey!
My list could go on and on, but I’ll stop here. I think I’ve communicated the main thing I was trying to say. Besides, I’ve gt the most amazing bride and children in the world. Is there really anything more I could want?
Another assignment was to write about how we can more effectively use our gifts and God-given personality in our lives.
I should begin playing guitar and singing more often around the house. Maybe even write some songs for Kasen. Miranda has been after me for years to play more often and specifically wants me to play for Kasen. I’ve just gotten lazy about getting the guitar out, so this is one area that I could easily make a change in.
I use my gifts and talents all the time in church. I teach Bible Studies, lead groups, step out in faith on certain projects, and I lead the congregation in worship on Sunday mornings with the musical abilities God has given me. My personality comes out in everything I do. I often wish I had more opportunities to teach outside of the youth program. I could certainly be more effective in using my gifts if I could arrange for some other people to help in the areas where I’m not gifted. This has been difficult, because volunteers are hard to come by, but I will make it my goal to find some help with attendance, finances, organizational/administrative stuff. This would free me to do the things I’m gifted in – looking into the future with faith, teaching, leading/training others, thinking creatively, etc.
As a youth minister, church is my work.
OK – So evidently in class the other night (while I was in the hospital) Dr Ayers, gave a journal entry assignment to write a letter to God describing how we feel about our spiritual gifts and what areas we should improve. Here we go:
Gosh, that’s not near enough of a salutation, but there aren’t enough words to truly give You the greeting that You deserve either. I want to take a moment to express my gratefulness for the spiritual gifts You’ve given me. Growing up, I would never have guessed that I’d be the man I am today. Your presence in my life has truly been transforming and the gifts You’ve given me have been a huge part of that work. I was the kid who hid behind the curtain in elementary school, and now You’ve got me in front of groups of people telling them the good news! In this latest assessment, it seems that You’ve given me the gifts of leadership, teaching, and faith. Although I’d never taken this test before, I’m not surprised by the results. When I looked at the results, they resonated in my soul. You have truly made me this way and in discovering these gifts, it’s as if I had known them all along – like uncovering something that was already there. I’m so excited and feel so blessed that You have given me the privilege of being a steward of these things and I’m excited to see how they will be used. What places will You carry me to use them? How will You craft them inside of me so that they will become sharper instruments in Your hands? Lord, help me to completely surrender to You. I do not want to be a bad steward. I would love to one day see You and hear the words “good and faithful” used of me in regards to how I used these gifts. Lord, it may be strange, but I also want to thank You for giving me the weaknesses that I have. I am clearly not very good at serving, giving, or compassion and so those are great opportunities for me to grow. They will also be areas where I can learn to trust in the body of Christ and grow by watching them. I understand that these areas are probably areas where I will get myself in trouble, areas where I will fail, and be criticized, but these are also opportunities. I will be able to demonstrate my love for You by being obedient in these ways. These may very well be the greatest demonstrations of my love for You. It’s my prayer that I will be able to honor You in all of life. I want to honor You by working within my giftedness and efficiently serving You, but I also want to honor You in the ways that make me uncomfortable and probably don’t come as easy to me. Allow me to bring You glory with how I live. Thank You for breathing life into my bones and giving me these opportunities. It’s a privilege to be by Your side and to serve You. It’s an amazing honor for a finite sinful man like me to be given such beautiful opportunities to make eternal differences by being a steward of these gifts. I don’t want to let You down, but I’m gonna need Your help. I also trust that You will help – so Thanks for that too.
Luv ya! Steve