Loving Others Without Going Crazy
 – John 3:16

This blog was supposed to be posted last week – yes, the Christmas madness still somehow found me, even with being somewhat Covid quarantined. No, I don’t have Covid, but I am trying to do my part to follow the guidelines our governor has suggested at this point in time. Hope you enjoy reading in spite of my tardiness!

This time of year can be busy between decorating, shopping for that perfect gift and keeping your kids entertained while still trying to work. How can we get back to what Christmas is all about? How can we love others without going crazy. That is a question that I’ve been pondering a lot lately. How can I love others and not allow helping to overwhelm and consume me and my family?

I love showing compassion for others and yet recently it seems like the need is so great. All around the world there are opportunities to show compassion and let our light shine by giving to organizations that offer relief to people who have been displaced by natural disasters or who live in extreme poverty. There are organizations that help people with medical problems such as cancer or veterans who are disabled. Then there are community organizations that help our first responders – all worthy causes and yes, I would love to give to all, but I can’t. The church I attend, helps many of these organizations so it’s easy for me to give to my church’s mission focus and know that I am helping in a small way. but I realize that’s only scratching the surface. What about helping my neighbors/friends and family who have needs?

I have friends right now who are going through a variety of things, health issues, cancer, loss of family members, depression and simply the joy and exhaustion of having a new baby in their home along with other children to care for. How can I help? I love cooking so making soup to share seems like an easy way to help, but then how do I get it to them? Between my students, writing and of course my own family, sometimes the need just seems greater than what one little ol’ me can do especially when we are supposed to be social distancing! Can anyone relate? Forgive me if I’m ranting here. I really do love helping others and I so appreciate it when others help me, but how do I lighten my schedule in order to make room to love others without going crazy? I don’t have answers and even if I did, I think maybe the answers are better when you discover those answers yourself. What I’m trying to do though, is this… (Yes, some of these answers are going to be a lot like last week’s answers. Sorry about that.) I’m trying to ….

*Walk slowly, focusing first on Jesus and then on the people around me. I want to slow down and value people.

* Do the most important things first and remember I don’t have to say yes to everything. I so recognize how prone I am to get stressed, waste time and simply make poor decisions, so I begin my day by asking God what He wants me to focus on that day. I literally ask Him to order my day and help me prioritize..

* If I know someone who needs help and I can’t do it, I try to connect them to someone who can help them. So much more gets done when we team up with others.

* I can’t do everything, but I can do something. I’m learning to do what I can and let go of what I can’t do. I

To recap, how can I love others without going crazy?
1. I will choose to walk slowly and spend time with Jesus.
2. I will focus on people and not stuff.
3. I will do the most important things first and say no to that which isn’t important.
4. I will ask God for help and team up with others.

Hope you too, find time to enjoy the holiday, focus on Jesus and love others.
Merry Christmas!

PARENT PRAYER:
God,
Thank you for sending Jesus to earth to walk among us, to give his life for us. You truly loved us. You loved enough to give your very best. I want to give my best. Help me to focus on those things which are most important. Help me to love you and to love people above all else. I don’t know how to do that God. I’m not always sure how much to give, how much to help and how much to let go of, you gave everything. I do know that I can trust you to show me each day how to show compassion. Guide my steps and when I mess up, like a loving Father, pick me up, guide me back to the right direction and infuse me with your love. Help me, help us all, to walk slowly, to love you above all else and to let go of all the crazy things that seem so important. Remind me of what Christmas is really all about, God entering our world and living among us, dying for us and bringing us new life. That is Christmas and that is what I want to share. Amen

HELPING YOUR CHILD DEVELOP AN AWARENESS OF GOD AND OTHERS

* Let your kids hear you talk to God throughout the day. Include your kids in the conversation by saying one-sentence prayers together. EX: “Thank you God, for Jesus.” “I love your Jesus. Thank you for loving me.” “Wow! God, the sunset is beautiful tonight.” “Help me at school today, God.” “God, I scraped my knee. Will you help it get well quickly, please?”

* Read or act out stories from the Bible together. The Bible Ap for Kids is a good way for kids to learn about God’s Word too. Take time to talk about these stories too. Our grandkids, who are school age, wrote a play to perform on Christmas Day. I can’t wait to see them collaborate on this creative venture.

* Attend church together.

* Ask questions that would get your child thinking about God such as, “Why do you think God loves us so much?”

* Let the sights and sounds of Christmas remind you of what Christmas is all about.

– Lights – Remind us that Jesus is the light of the world.Candy Canes – Remind us of the shepherds.

– Bells – Remind us of the good news that God sent His Son to be with us and forgive us.

– Cookies – Remind us that God gives us good, sweet gifts. His best gift is Jesus.

I know we are social -distancing right now, but we can still show love, common courtesy and kindness towards others. How about, letting someone go in front of you at the grocery store or calling someone just to check in with them. Of course there is always the old-fashioned note sent through the mail to let others know you care. Send someone an e-mail prayer or drive and drop off a plate of cookies at their door. Take some supplies to your local food bank and while you are at it, drive around and look at the lights with your child.

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH YOUR CHILD?

THE MAIN IDEA: John 3:16
KNOW: God made me to thank Him.
TALK ABOUT: God cares for me. I am important to Him.
MEMORIZE: Psalms 150:6 – (Hold hands as though holding a book.) Let everything – (Spread hands out to the side.)That has breath – (Take a deep breath.)Praise the Lord – (Wave arms above head.)
ASK: Who made you? God made me.
AND DO… Praise & thank God.

STORY: God Loved The World 
Jesus said, “God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son.” – (Give yourself a hug.)

Who is God’s Son? Yes, God’s Son is Jesus. God loves you and me so much that He sent Jesus to earth as a baby. – (Pretend to rock a baby.)

This is a special week. Do you know what we are celebrating this week? We are celebrating Jesus’ birthday. Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. Jesus came to be with us and to save us from our sins

Even though you’re little, you can love God and thank Him for sending Jesus. God loved the world so much that He gave us Jesus. – (Hands out as though giving a gift.)

God loves you and me and He loves boys and girls all around the world. Let’s think of some ways we can help others. We can ask God to help us show love to others this week as we get ready for Christmas.

PRAYER:
Dear God,
Thank you for loving me and sending Jesus as a baby. I love you. Help me to love others. Jesus, I want you to be my friend forever. Amen

FUN IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK:
* Make and frost cupcakes and thank God for who He is Thank Him for all He created. Thank Him that He made you, you belong to Him and He cares for you.