Friday, October 25, 2013

Christmas Challenge 2013

As the weather cools and we move into fall, many people are beginning to prepare for the holidays and get-togethers.  First comes Halloween with scary costumes and candy galore.  Did you know? Halloween is the second largest holiday for consumer spending (after Christmas).  The National Retail Federation expects Americans to spend $6.9 billion for the 2013 Halloween season!  And they are dismal about this prediction because it is lower than last year.

Then comes Thanksgiving and the weeks before Christmas.  Retail groups expect consumer spending to increase 2.4% over last year.  Exact predictions will come out in early October.

All this to say that we spend a lot of money for the holidays.  And that's not a bad thing- in and of itself. Money is not the root of all evil- the LOVE of money is (1 Timothy 6:10).  But during the holidays (and especially Christmas) money (and the spending of money) can consume our lives!  This year I want to ask you to do a few things.  Plan.  Budget.  Love. Serve. And Give.

First- you need to PLAN.  That's why I'm posting this so early.  What's your financial situation this year. What types of parties/family events are you going to host?  Start thinking early about what you want to do and what you want to do differently this year.  This will save you much stress this year.

Part of planning is a BUDGET.  You cannot spend what you do not have.  Honestly look at where you are (not where you hope to be/wish you were).  Make a realistic budget based on who you want to purchase gifts for and write it down.  Doing this NOW (instead of later will allow you to keep your eyes open for sales/deals and keep you from overspending.


The next three are all wrapped up in a bundle.  LOVE.  Seriously do you remember ANY Christmas gifts from your childhood?  You may remember 1 or 2 but most are long forgotten.  If you're like me you have many more memories of family dinners, evenings spent Christmas caroling, listening to music.  All this to say that your kids will remember the time spent with them much longer than the stuff you buy them.  Toys break.  Memories are forever.  So take a drive around the block counting Christmas trees.. go pick pumpkins from the patch and make a jack-o-lantern..create memories this year.


SERVE.  Americans (and I include myself) are so forgetful about what we do have and complain so much about what we don't have.  The average American lives like a king- indeed better than kings did just a  few hundred years ago.  This season be thankful for what you do have.  Take a sheet of paper and write 100 things you are thankful for.  Now show that you are grateful and serve others.  Homeless shelters/feeding centers across the nation need donations of food/toiletries on a regular basis.  How about serving at one for an afternoon?  Make a meal for an elderly neighbor.  Take a bag of groceries to someone you know could use it.


GIVE.  Like the family in the video above, millions cannot celebrate at all.  They are struggling for survival on a daily basis.  During this holiday season, would you consider making a donation to support Operation Christmas Love?  These food parcels and supplies mean the world to needy families and show the love of Christ and will create memories for needy families.  Another step to consider would be to co-sponsor a family year round.  $25 a month stabilizes a family's living situation and helps move a family to self sufficiency.

The Challenge

The challenge is this:  Budget what you can spend for the holidays.  Be realistic.  Then take 20% and give to those who cannot repay you.  Give to a reputable charity that uses the money wisely (like Mission Without Borders).  Plan your giving because you will be hit up around Christmas for money.  Plan your gift well, give generously, but don't give haphazardly.  Give strategically so that Christ will be exalted and the lives of people improve.

“The highest level of charity is when you can help someone get on their own feet, use their own God-given abilities to provide for their family.” Peter Greer

One way you can HELP is by shopping at Amazon this holiday season using this link,  I get a small commission which I will use to fund a special project for my sponsored family in Moldova.  The project is undetermined but I would love to be able to say that a big project (maybe garden seeds, new windows, clothes) was funded because my readers helped out! 
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