JTC: 10 Ways to Shine this Christmas

As I think about this Journey Towards Christmas, I think about the gift that God gave us to shine.  We can shine using the power of the Holy Spirit, that not only breathed life into Jesus in Mary’s womb, but also raised Him back to life 33 years later.  Because of His gift we are called to be lights in a dark world.  Powered by none other than the power of the Holy Spirit Himself.  

But how to use this power? It is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when we try to comprehend what kind of impact we want to have on this world.  It’s intimidating.   But the pages of Jesus’ life were not only marked by huge miracles.  His life was also marked by smaller acts of kindness and words of affirmation and healing.  Big action doesn’t always equal high impact, just as a tiny act of kindness doesn’t mean low impact.  

So here are a few things we can do this Christmas, heck, all year through if you’d like.  Because acts, and words of kindness, shouldn’t be seasonal.
1. Smile often.  

You never know who needs an extra ray of sunshine on a cloudy day, and in a world full of cynicism and a lack of eye contact, a smile can go a long way to renew someone’s spirits.
2.  Send a note of encouragement.

In an age where technology is king and handwriting is not being passed on through education, a handwritten note is a rare gift indeed.  Buy a stamp and send a note today.  Or think of someone you see every day, or every week, and leave it where they’ll find it!
3.  Shovel some snow

I live in Colorado.  It is the season of snow.  And I know there are plenty of people who would appreciate a hand with keeping their drives and walkways cleared.  You have to shovel yours, so why not help someone else out? If you live in an apartment and have groundskeepers, than clear someone’s car off.  What a surpirse that would be!

4. Bake some goodies for your neighbor
When I was growing up my mom always baked holidays treats for the neighbors.  Today I don’t hardly know my neighbors.  I move around so often there’s never time it seems. I live in an apartment complex.  I’m, in theory, surrounded by people and I hardly know a soul.  I’m challenging myself to break the ice this season with something sweet.    

5.  Invite someone from Christmas.

I would be surpirsed if we all couldn’t find, or already didn’t know, someone away from home for the holidays.  Maybe they don’t have family at all.  Make some extra and invite someone over.  You could even get them a stocking and fill it with treats so they are included for the opening of presents. 
6.  Call someone.

Seriously people, how often do you actually call someone? Be honest, I think we all hide behind texting these days.  It’s less time consuming and more controlable.  Make a list of people you haven’t talked to in a while and give them a ring.   It’s encouraging to HEAR someone cares.  

7.  TIP.

I know money is tight at Christmas with presents to buy, time off, and travel expenses.  But just like you need more money this time of year, so do those who depend on tips.  Even if it’s only an extra $1 or $2 on top of 20% a little can go a long way.  Most servers make very paltry paychecks due to taxes and tip outs.  So love on someone a little extra this season. And by all means don’t tip less!
8.  Volunteer.

A homeless shelter, a childrens home, a nursing home, your church, a food bank, all need extra help this time of year offering hope to the downcast.  Find someplace you can volunteer this season and continue the service all year long. Nothing says love, or shines brighter,  like staying commited and present for the long haul.
9.  Open the door.

Seems simple right?  But how often do you see someone actually open a door and allow someone else to go first?  A little can go a long way.  It doesn’t have to stop with opening a door either.  It can be letting someone pass you in line, letting someone merge in front of you while driving,  or offering to put someone’s shopping cart in the stall.  
10. BE AWARE.
Really this entire list is simply comprised of being aware of others.  Putting them first.  Being more interested in the affairs of others than your task at hand.  Letting yourself go last and not grumbling about it.  Listening more, speaking less.  Observing the world around you instead of a back lit screen.  Being caught up with making real life connections over gaining one more social media follower.  
So this season I pray you will let your light shine on people by caring for them.  That the stress of the Holidays wouldn’t steal our ability to be patient, kind, joyful, or lovin, but would only multiply these virtues.  Let us remember that Christmas marks the beginning of sacrificial love touching earth in human form, for you and for me.  Thank God He wasn’t too busy playing with His phone to look at a dying world and extend grace. May we look up.  May we shine.

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