Joy Comes From Giving

“Mom, I know the truth about Christmas.”

“Ummm, what do you mean?”

“I know you and Dad are Santa.”

“Does that bother you?”

“No, Christmas is about Jesus. Santa has always been just for fun. I want to help be Santa this year, though.”

This was a conversation last year with my then eight-year-old daughter. Who let the cat out of the bag? No one at school. She recognized my handwriting. Our Santa is not very smart over here.

And so, she helped me pick out and wrap all the presents for her younger brother. We had a blast! On Christmas Eve, after he was all cuddled in bed, we put out the presents and she enjoyed the milk and cookies!

A couple days after Christmas, she said, “That was the best Christmas ever. I was more excited to see him open his gifts than to get mine. I loved seeing his reaction.”

A life lesson … joy comes from giving.

We have our fun with Santa and even this crazy Elf we’ve adopted (for the sake of staying focused on the real meaning of Christmas, though, I’m not going to address the debate about this controversial Elf other than to say — let’s agree not to judge each other). But seriously, NONE of it matters.

We wouldn’t even celebrate CHRISTmas without the little baby, given to the world by an innocent virgin, a young first-time mom. Jesus was the most perfect example of giving. He was born. He served. He healed. He gave His life for you. For me.

Focus on Him. On Christmas Day, we read Luke 2:1-20 and “The Tale of Three Trees” (this is a precious story about Jesus’ cross). We also make a special birthday cake, add candles & sing to Jesus!

Model His giving. This year, we’ve added some new traditions. We:

  • Surprised our kids on Thanksgiving with a gift. There was cash inside. We explained that it was their “Bless Others” money. My son donated to Toys for Tots and Jaxon’s FROG Foundation (our friends started this foundation after their five-year-old passed away from brain cancer last year, My daughter has decided to send a care package to a little girl who is going through chemotherapy; and
  • Filled Ziploc bags with bottled water and non-perishable food, then loaded them in our car. When we see homeless people, we’re ready to give. The first time my six-year-old son gave away a bag, that sweet homeless man looked deep into my son’s eyes and said, “God bless you, little boy.” And when we drove away, my son said, “That felt awesome. I feel tingly inside.”

“You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’” 2 Corinthians 9:7

I would love to hear your traditions. How do you teach your kids about giving to others?

Replacing Judgment with Love

It was an adulterous encounter. Dishonorable, wrong and sinful, then interrupted by several men. Imagine the embarrassment and shame. She was caught in the act of adultery so we can assume she was minimally dressed, if any clothing at all. I’m sure she did not go willingly. A brutal and humiliating scene as sin was exposed.

She was taken by the religious leaders and brought in front of a group of law-abiding citizens, where Jesus was teaching.

Let’s pause here. I would die! I mean, to be caught in the act of adultery and brought before a crowd. And to top it off, Jesus was there. Think about an embarrassing sin you’ve committed. What if you were caught in that sin and presented to your church? That thought is mortifying!

In John 8:4-5, the religious leaders said to Jesus, “This woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

If I didn’t know Jesus, I would expect a huge reprimand here. I mean, she did break the law. No question, she was caught in the act of adultery. There’s no gray area, she sinned.

Jesus stayed calm. He bent down and wrote in the dust with his finger. Complete silence. Can you imagine the tension? And, then He had an amazing, loving and surprising response.

“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

One by one, the crowd walked away. Only Jesus and the adulterous woman remained. In verse 10, Jesus said, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

She answered, “No, Lord.”

Now, in this moment, Jesus could’ve thrown the first stone. Jesus was the only person who lived a sinless life. He was “justified” under the law because stoning was a consequence for adultery. But, He didn’t.

Jesus replied, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Another life changed by Jesus. He replaced rightfully-earned judgment and condemnation with love. He substituted guilt and shame with a story of redemption. He is a God of second chances.


The religious leaders wanted the woman stoned and humiliated. Jesus was more forgiving, He showed compassion, mercy and love. Jesus forgave and transformed her life. In only eleven verses, we learn a major life lesson – don’t throw stones at others. Judge less, love more.

“Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34