-1-Grace is…quality time with people who love you enough to unplug from everything to tune-in to you, seeing someone’s whole face light up when they see you, laughter, music, dancing, singing, being raised by parents who make prayer and faith a priority, being a prayer warrior near the top of people’s list to call in an emergency…
-2-Christmas Merrymaking Mishaps Series I’m not sure about you, but my family and friends have had some rather amusing and entertaining incidents that have occurred when engaging in some very popular holiday traditions such as: Christmas Caroling, Cookie Decorating, Christmas Tree selection, and Nativity set-up. Those are the first four entries in the series I’ve been doing, but there are so many I’ve thought of, I might have to do some more.
-3-Fall Asleep Counting Your Blessings The following lyrics from one of the classic songs in "White Christmas," the musical/movie seem to sum up part of what has made this Advent somewhat like the one we had in 2009:
“When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings”
The below is a prayer that I included in a reflective post back in December 2009:
Lord, help all of us to count the presence of Your Son in the world as the greatest present ever given. Open our hearts and minds to the love inherent in You sending Jesus into the world as a vulnerable, helpless baby. Teach us to center on You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who are the source of all love, joy, peace, and hope. Amen.
Unexpected Christmas Bliss Ironically enough, one of the most fun Christmas light tours/photo shoots I’ve been on in Richmond was with my best friend from high school Holly, who’s a devout Jew. At the time she was dating a Christian, so she wanted to put together a video montage of Christmas lights, sights, and carols. She called me up and asked me if I would help her. Kevin drove us around, and we traipsed through the snow and ice to snap some shots of various residential light displays on Monument Avenue and elsewhere. We had a lot of fun doing it. Normally, I’d look at Christmas lights, maybe even devote an evening to going around in the car and seeing different ones while listening to Christmas carols, but I never thought of asking Holly to join me.
-5-Name that Christmas Song As part of the Christmas video project Holly undertook, she was picking my brain for different Christmas songs. Sometimes she’d know a few lyrics of a song, but she didn’t know the name of it or anything. That made for another fun afternoon of Holly singing or saying a few random lyrics and me doing my best to name that song and find a good version of it that she could use as part of the video.
One of the most memorable requests she gave me was for “the Rum pumpum pum song” which I figured out must be “The Little Drummer Boy.” So who is it that introduced me to one of the coolest versions of this song that I’ve heard by posting it on my Facebook wall? It was Holly, of course, and during Hanukkah, no less. My friends rock!
Here’s the super-cool video Holly shared with me of the Pentatonix, a five member a cappella group, singing Little Drummer Boy:
Jesus is the Reason Flash Mob Check out this story and video. It’s an awesome story and clip of 100 college students reminding people in the midst of holiday shopping that Jesus is the reason for the season on December 7 of this year.
Give the Gift of Quality Time I’ve been reminded again this Advent what a tremendous gift it is to offer someone your full and undivided attention. It’s a gift I have come to appreciate far more than anything that can be purchased, especially in a day and time when it’s so tempting to be plugged in more and more of the time. It’s all-too-common for people to be listening to music on their iPods, while texting on their phones, and surfing the net on their computers or iPads (sometimes all at the same time). I would never do such a thing (mainly because I don’t an iPod or an iPad), but I’ve noticed how easy it is to get into the happen of spending downtime in front of the TV or computer.
For me, two practices have helped me maintain and grow in my most important relationships: 1. Unplug from everything and 2. Be fully present. In the morning, I have quiet prayer time using the morning prayer, daily readings and reflections from Magnificat and One Bread, One Body.
In order to connect with Kevin and loved ones, I will unplug from everything and be present in mind, body, and spirit to the person before me. I don’t want to forget that’s what love and quality time really mean: no headphones, TV, computer, video games, cellphone, iPad, just a human being who wants and needs your time, attention, and affection.
Try it. You’ll like it, and the people you care about most will absolutely love and cherish the gift of your undivided attention much more than anything you could ever buy or make for them. That's 100% guaranteed and it's free!