What Can We Give?

One of the questions often heard in the days following Christmas is “did you get everything you wanted?” First and foremost, it is important to remember that it is not our birthday. We are celebrating the birthday of Christ. While there is significance and importance to demonstrating our love and admiration for friends and family during the holidays, and there is joy in exchanging gifts, it is also good to do so with purpose and intention. What matters are those things you can’t buy – time spent with family and friends; experiences shared; kindness; love; patience; compassion; tolerance; sharing; service to others; making a difference. I encourage you to invest your time and energy in those gifts that don’t break, rust, become outdated or need to be returned – it will pay great dividends to you and your loved ones.
And during this time of the year that can be stressful and overwhelming, gratitude never grows old, and it shouldn’t be tossed out with the turkey leftovers. Before we get drawn into the holiday mindset of “what am I going to get?” let’s take a moment to give thanks for what we have been given, and give thanks to God and the people around you.
•    Gratitude helps us stay in the present. When we’re focused on things we can give thanks for today, we’re not living in the past or worried about the future.
•    Gratitude helps us avoid negative thinking, which when left unchecked, leads to negative emotions. You can’t be grateful and envious at the same time.
•    Gratitude increases our resistance to stress. Grateful people tend to bounce back more quickly from adversity.
•    Gratitude increases our sense of self-worth. Grateful people recognize the contributions others have made to their lives, and this transforms the way they see themselves.
•    Three ways to cultivate gratitude
•    1. Keep a gratitude journal.
•    2. Count your blessings on a regular basis. Similar to keeping a gratitude journal, without writing everything down. This can be done in the morning, in the evening, and all throughout the day. It’s the application of the “give thanks in everything” verse.
•    3. Use visual reminders.  Simple reminders, like putting Scripture verses in places we’ll regularly see them, can prompt us to be grateful. Some people like to drop notes of gratitude in a “gratitude jar.” The point is to do whatever helps us recognize and appreciate our many blessings.
In remembering God’s grace given to us through Christ, may you find much to be thankful for. Wishing you a blessed holiday season and a joyous Christmas.
Karen

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