A few years ago, our family had a serious discussion about Christmas. It started when we began to take a look at what we gave each other, what we already had, and what the world around us needed. This got us asking some serious questions about what we thought God would want us to do. Now, keep in mind, this was a conversation about the Barrons–not anyone else. I believe that what we decided was something God wanted us to know about ourselves, not something we wanted to expect anyone else to do. Slowly, we began to make changes. Instead of our kids buying something for everyone else, they drew names to focus on just one of their siblings. They would go with their grandparents shopping. This required them to know their brother or sister, their likes and dislikes. It helped with swirling a family. It gave them a chance to talk about things that mattered.
A year later, Lisa and I decided to quit buying tons of gifts for each other. Instead, we picked one thing that our spouse had a passion for and made a donation in their honor. That first year, I gave money to an organization that digs fresh water wells for third-world countries (if you know my wife, you know how passionate she is about her water). In return, she made a donation to help a single man with his payments for treatment down at Vanderbilt. He didn’t even have the gas money to make the trips for his treatments. Lisa took care of that for him knowing my heart for wellness and healthcare.
Slowly, we’ve been moving to de-emphasize the getting and emphasize the giving for our family. Also, we’ve focused more on those who have real needs at Christmas and how we could bless those who fit that category. Surprisingly, there has been no revolt from our kids. They are on board and they seem to be getting it. That does NOT mean that they aren’t like typical kids who want things they see and wish for things they don’t really need. But in a world that says you deserve it all, I think ALL of the Barrons are learning we don’t deserve any of it. Instead, we are blessed to have what we have.
So, in the continuing trend, two years ago, we decided to stop sending Christmas cards. There were a few reasons. First, Lisa and I are blessed to travel all over the country with what we do. In those journeys, we have been given some incredible friends–far more than we could count or send cards to. Secondly, the cost of doing these cards just seemed to be not very good stewardship of what God had given us. There seemed to be something better or longer lasting we could do with the money that it took to buy cards, print photos, buy envelopes and pay for postage. Thirdly, with social media being what it is today, if you want to know what the Barrons are up to you simply have to visit our Facebook pages, our ministry website or follow us on Twitter. That is far more up-to-date information anyway. I tell you all of this to simply say we started a new tradition that year. We gave money to organizations in honor of our friends and family. This year, we made it even more personal for us by asking our kids to name projects that were a part of their passions–things they really cared about. So, here it is. Our 2012 Christmas picture and our gifts to honor you. My prayer is that you will find among the ones listed, something that you have a heart for and you might join us in making a difference for those who have far less than us.
Best Buddies International (works with those who have intellectual and developmental disabilities), Downs Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Goodwill, Kidmia (works with orphaned and vulnerable children in Africa), Mercy Ships (provides free medical care to the nations of Africa), Police Protective Fund, Samaritan’s Purse (specifically their disaster relief arm of their organization), Second Harvest Food Bank, Souls 4 Soles (provides shoes for disadvantaged families), USO (for our soldiers overseas), Wycliffe Bible Translators (working to translate the Bible into every language)
God bless every single one of you. As friends, family and neighbors, you have filled our life with great joy and love this year. The Barrons would all like to wish each of you a very merry Christmas. We pray that you may know the Christ of Christmas this season and that He will be your constant companion through the year ahead.