#908 - Merry Christmas!

We want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! We sent out just a few Christmas cards this year, so in this digital age we hope you'll accept a "card" via the blog. We love you all and are so grateful for our Lord Jesus allowing us to love and serve Him another year. We pray His blessings on each one of you as you celebrate His birthday!


#909 - A New Perspective

As many people in our culture, I grew up thinking Christmas was about me. I can remember greatly anticipating Christmas morning because I couldn't wait to count how many presents were for me. My parents were always so careful to be sure my brother and I had the same amount of gifts because they knew it would be a big issue if we didn't.

I. was. spoiled.

Lots of people told me that then, and I can freely admit it now. Yes, I knew Christmas was a time to celebrate Jesus' birthday. Our family always participated in an advent calendar together that was provided by our church. We always went to a Christmas Eve service. We loved singing Christmas carols, and most of the ones we sang pointed to Jesus. But, when I think back, my mindset at Christmas time for most of my 34 years was on myself and how I would benefit from opening presents on December 25.

Now it grieves my heart to see that in so many ways, I missed it. I missed out on the true meaning of Christmas because my focus was on self and not on Christ. I, in no way, fault any of my family members for this. They all did the very best they knew how and were so very generous. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that promotes self above everything and everyone else. I hear well-meaning people asking my children all of the time, "What did you ask for for Christmas? What's Santa going to bring you? Have you been good this year?" And the list goes on. Riley and I even had a conversation the other day about gifts at Christmas. Having small children has shown me how EARLY our selfish natures rear their ugly heads. Ella's still pretty clueless about Christmas and all that it entails. Riley, on the other hand, has experienced several Christmases so far, and he knows what's going on. So when I told him Christmas was just a few weeks away the other day, his response was: "Well you need to buy me presents then!" It hurt a bit to hear this immediate response because I realized WE had taught him this mentality. The past few Christmases he has been so showered with gifts that he assumes it will happen again this year.

It was time for a serious talk. I turned this one over to the man of the household. :)

Daniel sat down with Riley (Ella and I joined them, too) and explained that Christmas is not about receiving, but about worshiping Christ through giving. He then pulled out the Samaritan's Purse catalog and told Riley that this year we were going to begin a new tradition in our family. Instead of buying presents for Ella and Riley, we were going to let them look through the catalog and pick out anything (and as many things) they wanted to give away. Whatever they picked out, we would then give to Samaritan's Purse in their honor. Riley really got into this, and it was awesome to watch his compassionate heart take over. Daniel explained each of the 43 options with him, and he got to work picking out the ones he wanted.

So far, this has been my favorite part of the Christmas season. And it will for sure be an annual Bramlett tradition! I have loved watching how the Lord is transforming both Daniel and me during this time. He's using not only His Word but other people to confirm our convictions. Just two days ago I was reading an advent devotional called, "Joy! to Your World! A Countdown to Christmas," and here's what I read...

 Most of us go through the Christmas season focused on self ... on what we want and desire and deserve. Some people want a new house ... or a piece of great jewelry ... or for our children to come home for the holidays. Some folks emphatically believe that they deserve a Christmas bonus, a tree-laden with gifts or someone to clean the house for the holidays.

If these are your desires, you are missing it! You have Christmas all wrong! You are missing the hard lesson that the life of Mary teaches all of us today:

Our plans pale in comparison to His interruptions! The most significant desire that you will ever embrace is to ask God to interrupt your life with His love and His plans.

Mary learned, as we all must, that Christmas is not about me. Christmas is about dying to self, to preference and to normalcy. Christmas is the clarion call that none of us is able to live for human purposes ever again. We have all been embraced by the call of Christmas that resounds from Mary’s heart to our world today, “Live for His purposes! Live for Christ alone!”

Christmas is about the intervention of God into our ordinary lives; it is about Christ being born into our disappointments and failures.

Christmas is not about me - it is about Christ revealing Himself in me and to me! Now that’s something to celebrate!


#910 - Sibling Photo shoot

I in no way claim to be a wonderful photographer. I have a very basic digital camera, but I love to take pictures! Daniel makes fun of me all of the time for how many pictures I take. My response? "One day you'll thank me!" :)

A few days before Ella turned two we had a gorgeous day in the 60's. The trees were beautiful. I knew it was time for an amateur photo shoot of the almost-2-year-old and her big brother.

I sure do love these two! They are bigger blessings than I ever imagined possible! I'm thankful He entrusted them to us!