movie series than with the birth of the Savior.
(If you have never watched The Nativity, you should consider watching it this season.
It truly brings the Reason for the season - to life.)
(Email subscribers may need to go to my blog to see the first movie clip if it is not visible below)
Just in case you have not seen this movie, it is about a little boy named Kevin McCallister, who is the youngest child in a large family. His immediate and extended family members are all spending the night at his house, so they can all leave the next day to travel to Paris for the holidays.
His family was getting on his last nerve, to say the least. A house full of extended family, spouses and cousins is quite often a recipe for conflict, and this situation was no different. At the height of his frustration, Kevin accidentally created a mess with the pizza and drinks, and was sent to the attic bedroom as punishment. In his anger and aggravation, he wished that he would never see his family again.
Through a series of mishaps and oversights the next morning, and due to the chaos of oversleeping and the looming possibility of missing their flights, his parents forgot that he was sleeping upstairs - and Kevin was left behind, and left home alone.
Kevin and his family lived in an upper income area, which was being targeted by thieves, so he spends the remainder of the movie trying to protect his home from burglary, and regretting that he had wished his family would disappear.
Some of the borderline violent tactics that Kevin uses to protect his home makes my stomach lurch a little bit, but in the end, this movie has a wonderful lesson about the importance of family. In fact, for anyone who has ever felt as if they could not stand their family for one more millisecond, much less another holiday, this movie becomes great food for thought.
Let's be honest though....no matter how much we love our families, we would probably all have to admit to having at least one of those moments when we wished our family was different, or better, or like our friend's family, or maybe not around at all. Whether our families are blood relatives, or simply people that have become family by virtue of sharing life together, tensions and emotions can build over time, and nerves can get stepped on.
Just like Kevin, you may soon find yourself in the midst of chaotic holiday gatherings, secretly wishing that you were alone, and that everyone would "disappear". In fact, you may be dreading those pending family get-togethers already, for fear of feeling that way!
With that in mind, let's play a "what if" game for a moment....
- what if there were no more gatherings with family or friends?
- what if you could never look forward to getting together again with people you shared life with?
- what if the house was completely quiet for the entire holiday season?
- what if you were expecting no visitors, and had no plans to visit anyone?
- what if your family really did disappear?
When we consider how we would feel if those "what if's" came true, it might help us to hold a different perspective about being with those we love.
Even though the thought of being alone in peace and quiet for the holidays might seem appealing on the surface, what would life be like if it were really void of family? Would we run around the house in exuberant celebration like Kevin? Would it be all we imagined it to be? Would it be a time of joy and relief? Or....
Would our wish end up being something we quickly learned to regret? Would we long for what we once had, realizing how precious it really was? Would we wish we could go back in time, and treasure all those moments we once took for granted? Would we develop a new perspective about the value of family? Would we miss the people and circumstances who are in our life right now?
I think the most common answer would be a resounding yes. Certainly there may be exceptions, but the reality is that we often take people for granted, until they are gone.
In this movie, when Kevin first realizes that he really is all alone, and that his family really has disappeared, he is ecstatic! He has an awesome time jumping up and down on the bed, eating popcorn and rubbish, watching violent movies, and having the house all to himself - all the things his parents would never allow him to do.
But it does not take Kevin long to realize that loneliness, fear, despair, regrets and new wishes are filling his heart. Although a lot of things about his family made him frustrated and upset, he soon began to miss all the good things his family brought him, such as security, protection, companionship, affection, friendship and love.
He realizes that although his family was not perfect, he still needed them, wanted them and loved them... and most of all - he missed them.
Even though we see quite the opposite of a sweet, gentle, loving family in the movie (such as belligerent kids, sibling rivalry, the bullying brother, the nagging sister and the mean old uncle) there is genuine love for each other underneath all of that. And in the end - they miss Kevin too and regret not treating him kindly, or loving him like they should have.
As the movie progresses, and while Kevin's mother is desperately trying to get back home to him, Kevin learns a valuable lesson that we can tuck into our hearts for this Christmas, and all the holiday celebrations to come.
He learns that family can sometimes be a mess - but that mess is a precious gift from God.
Kevin thought he wanted his family gone - but when they were - his heart ached for them to return.
The Bible has much to say about the importance of families. God provides countless verses and stories about the value of the husband and wife relationship, the relationship between parents and children, and even relationships among extended family members.
His Word teaches us that the institution of family is of divine origin, and meaningful purpose. All these things lead us to the understanding that family is valuable in Gods eyes, and therefore it should be valuable in our eyes as well.
Family - with all their quirky ways, inadequacies, craziness, difficulties, habits, mistakes, faults, differences in personalities and perspectives on life - is a gift.
A gift that may seem a little crazy, off the wall, broken, chipped, cracked, dented, imperfect and slightly used - but a precious gift nonetheless, and one that can never be replaced.
Kevin teaches us, and the Bible reiterates to us, that family really is a gift that we should treasure, even when they are getting on our last and final nerve.
Hug the ones you love this Christmas season, and love the ones you are with.
(Bonus clip: I found this hilarious, and perfectly relevant short music video about Home Alone, and I just had to share it! Watch it below and enjoy.)
Christmas is supposed to be a time that brings out the best in people. A time where we feel that extra urge to be compassionate, giving, and help those in need. A time when we should be filled with love, patience and gentleness, and all those sweet things that the birth of Jesus stands for.
But let's face it - sometimes it seems like Christmas does just the opposite, often bringing out the worst in people instead. Stress, frustration, hurting hearts and holiday chaos can cause people to react in not-so-nice ways.
It seems as if rudeness has become an epidemic of great proportion. An epidemic that is harmful and damaging to the person being rude, and the person who is the recipient of the rudeness, yet it is highly tolerated and accepted in our society - by believers and non-believers alike. In fact lately, it has seemed like there are Grinches around every corner!
A few weeks ago, I was leaving a store and opening the glass doors to walk out, and a young woman right behind me put her hands on my lower back and literally pushed me out the door, ranting and raving that I was walking too slowy. As she quickly shuffled off, I said God bless you too. She turned around and gave me "the look", and walked away murmering under her breath. I was simply amazed at her rudeness.
And just last week, I was on my cell phone on a business call as I drove to the grocery store to pick up a few groceries. I had been put on hold for a lengthy period of time, so although I had arrived at my destination, I didn't want to hang up the phone and start all over at a later time. So after pulling into the parking lot, I put my car into 'park', and sat there for a few moments, hoping to finish my call before I went inside to shop.
I happened to glance over at the car beside me, and noticed that an elderly woman, who had her windows down and was reading a newspaper, was giving me a very ugly look. I looked away, a bit perplexed, and continued to sit there minding my own business, waiting on my caller to return to the conversation. After a few more minutes, I felt as if someone was staring at me (you know how you get that feeling?), so I side-glanced over at the woman in the car again.
Just as before, she was looking at me with a painful grimace on her face, and shaking her head angrily. Out of sheer confusion, I finally rolled down my window and asked if something was wrong. She threw her hands up in the air, and said "Yes!! Your motor is TOO LOUD and it's bothering me!".
What??!! My motor? I am in the parking lot.......you know, that place where cars are supposed to be, and where cars run their motors. ?
I was so shocked at her response, that all I could do was stare back in utter disbelief with my mouth hanging open. I then rolled my window back up, while biting my tongue so that no words would slip out that I might later regret. Fortunately, I had decided that silence was the golden choice of the moment.
These are not the only times I have experienced extreme rudeness this year, and I am sure you have experienced your fair share too. It seems rudeness has become so commonplace, that people have no qualms about being rude, and have actually come to consider it a normal, acceptable behavior. It is almost as if the value of politeness and common courtesy for others has become a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, Christmas time is no longer a remedy for this widespread disease of the heart, but instead, often makes matters worse.
Christmas With The Kranks is another one of my favorite Christmas movies. I always laugh at all the scenes, even though a thread of extreme rudeness is rampant.
The storyline is that Christmas has always been a big deal for the Krank family, characterized by lots of holiday festivities, decorating and hosting an annual neighborhood Christmas Eve party.
But when their daughter Blair joins the Peace Corps and goes to Peru, the idea of a big Christmas doesn't seem so appealing anymore. So Luther (Tim Allen) proposes to his wife Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) that they skip Christmas, and go on cruise instead.
At first, they feel liberated from the expenses and hassles of Christmas, and trying to keep everyone happy. But when their friends and neighbors start to put pressure on them to conform, Luther is defiant, Nora gets upset, and the neighbors are furious, causing them to exhibit extreme rudeness and lack of consideration.
The Kranks spend all month fighting off the expectations that society and their neighbors have placed on them to conform to the traditional Christmas celebrations, but at the last minute, Blair calls to say she IS coming home for Christmas - and she will be home in just a few hours. Thus the craziness begins.
They frantically begin decorating and shopping, trying to keep their 'skipping-Christmas' plan a secret from Blair. One of the funniest scenes in the movie is when Nora is trying to get a Hickory Honey Ham because it is her daughter's favorite meal, and a part of their traditional Christmas dinner. Nora does not realize, as she innocently sets out to buy a ham, that she is about to experience some serious holiday rudeness. Take a look at this short clip below:
Poor Nora. First, a very rude woman races her to the deli counter in a fight to get the last ham, leaving her sprawled out on the floor amidst a pile of fallen groceries. Second, a car nearly runs over her in the parking lot and just beeps the horn at her, as if she didn't have the right of way. And thirdly, a man bumps into her, knocking her ham out of her hands, and then just walks off, as her poor little ham rolls down a hill only to be crushed by an eighteen wheeler. In the movie, all this rudeness is quite funny, but in real life, it is not very comical at all.
Sadly as it is, this extreme rudeness does not only happen in movies. Case in point: rude lady in parking lot who got mad because my car was running; and getting shoved out a door by a hurried shopper.
Rudeness has become an epidemic. But we do not have to catch it. We can immunize ourselves by using God's Word as our reference for how to treat others.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT) tells us that nothing else matters, if we do not treat people with love:
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
So it doesn't matter how nice we are to people we like, or how much we serve at church, or how often we read our bible - if we are rude a stranger, the sales clerk or the unfriendly neighbor.
And 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 addresses how to treat the disease of rudeness:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Most of us encounter rudeness every day, and if we fail to immunize ourselves from it, by committing to showing love to people even if they are not very lovable, then we will most likely be infected by it instead.
The Christmas season has become known for harboring an epidemic of rudeness ---- long lines of traffic... road rage.... massive crowds carelessly bumping into one another... fights over bargains... fights over parking spaces... theft of gifts... theft of outdoor yard decorations... family feuds.... yelling at cashiers...
But we can go against the current, and mirror the One who set the example we should follow. Rudeness does not have to beget rudeness, if we are in Christ.
I'll leave you with this thought. I had another example of rudeness the other day. Again, I was in my car and was pulling out of the mall parking lot. Apparently, I got in the way of a woman who was trying to turn into the mall, and I could see her spewing hatred, screaming harsh words at me as if I could hear her. I just smiled and waved at her - she looked stunned, then angered, and ended our encounter with a not-so-nice gesture.
But that's okay, at least I know that I did not allow her rudeness to infect my heart.
I challenge you today to go out of your way to be kind and loving to someone who has not been that way to you.
We may live in a cranky world, but we do not have to become a cranky soul.
Through the strength of Christ within us, we can fight this epidemic of rudeness, one heart and one encounter at a time.
James 4:17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
I am taking a break today from my December "Reel Christmas" series to focus on the devotion I have running over at P31 Encouragement For Today, called A Cup of Christmas COCOA.
If you are visiting my blog today, then welcome! At the bottom of the post, find out how to win today's COCOA giveaway which was mentioned in the devotion.
It is hard to believe that Christmas is only nine days away. It seems that it takes forever for the holidays to begin, then the whole season flies by way too quickly! So quickly, it often comes around before we have all the gifts bought, decorations put up, and cards mailed. There is just too much to do in too little time!
Unfortunately we often use this excuse of "busyness" to secretly justify that it's okay to focus all our time and energies on all those Christmassy-type things that are screaming for our attention. But deep in our hearts, we know Jesus should be our focus, and we may even feel a twinge of guilt for having an out-of-focus Christmas. So how do we change that habit? How do we get in-focus, in the midst of the holiday whirlwind?
Today's devotion talked about using the acrostic C.O.C.O.A. to help us stay focused on Christ - because COCOA is synonymous with Christmas, right?!
Aside from drinking hot cocoa, and to insure that I stay focused despite all my crazy-Christmas-to-do's, I made a list of ways to decorate our hearts for Christmas. Even though there are only 9 days left until Jesus' birthday, it is never too late to get in-focus on the reason we are celebrating!
1. Display a nativity scene in a prominent place. If you don't have one, consider getting one. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors, and range from very expensive at specialty stores, to very inexpensive at dollar stores and thrift stores. Regardless of the monetary value, any nativity scene is beautiful. You can even make your own if you are a crafty type of gal, by doing an Internet search with the words "homemade nativity".
2. Read scripture each day of the month, including the Christmas story found in the gospels.
3. Attend a Christmas program, or a Christmas Eve service at a local church. If you do not have a home church, attend at a friend's church, or check your local listings. This year you can also attend church on Christmas Day, since most churches will offer regular Sunday worship.
4. Listen to Christmas music that is focused on Jesus, not just jingle bells.
5. Spending more time in prayer this month than you usually do - thanking God for the blessings of the past year, and seeking His peace and blessings for the coming year.
6. Keep a Christmas journal. Record your thoughts about the Christmas season, how God is working in your life this month, or meaningful Christmas poems or articles that you come across. You could also jot down Christ-centered ideas or activities that you have heard about from others, and consider doing them this year or next.
7. Share Christ with someone who needs to know that there really is "Something more" to Christmas, just like the Grinch discovers.
8. Step outside of your comfort zone to serve someone in a way that you would not normally do. Put aside convenience, and put on compassion.
9. Give the gift of scripture. A special way to share God's Word is through a blessing box, or a treasure box as I have often referred to it. It's a little box full of bible verses, with your friend or loved one's name inserted into the verses. This is a priceless gift, which can minister to someones heart all year round. Click here to see a previous blog post for more information and a list of verses.
10. Give a gift to Jesus. Give each family member a red note card, and ask them to write down one gift they want to give Jesus this year. It could be forgiving someone who has hurt you, surrendering a negative attitude, committing to serving others, stepping out in faith to embrace a special calling, or spending more time in His Word. It is simply a promise from our heart to God's heart. Hang the completed note cards on your tree, or wrap them up and put them under the tree, and open them on Christmas morning and pray over them.
Today's COCOA giveaway is a festive Christmas coffee cup with Romans 6:23 on it, filled with chocolate, and the acrostic C.O.C.O.A from the devotion attached with curly ribbon. It would make a great Christmas gift for a friend, or keep it for yourself!
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment stating how you keep Christ in your Christmas!
As I mentioned yesterday, I love Buddy the Elf's attitude and his sense of Christmas spirit. I love his hilarious smile and his innocent perspective on life. I love his outlook on innocence and love.
But most of all - above all else - I love his enthusiasm.
If I had to pick one scene from the movie as my very most favorite - it would have to be when the department store boss announces that Santa is coming to the store. Watch that clip below:
(email subscribers may need to visit my homepage to view the movie clip)
Hahaha! Okay, maybe something is wrong with me. I just love that clip so much! And not only because it is funny and makes a huge grin sweep across my face uncontrollably (because smiling is my favorite), but also because I long for that kind of enthusiasm - for Jesus.
I cannot help but wonder how I would react if someone told me that Jesus was coming tomorrow at 10:00am.
Even though I feel sure that a flood of thoughts would race through my mind in a flurry of emotions, I can also envision myself jumping up and down with excitement, bellowing out and screaming "Jeeeeeeeeeessssssssssssuuuuuuuuuuuuusssssssssss!!! I know him! I know him! Yeah!".
Several years ago, I kind of experienced a situation like that, when I had a dream about Jesus. I typically dream in vivid color and detail, and usually remember my dreams, and this one was no different.
On this particular night, I dreamed that I was standing alone in a field full of swaying, tall grasses and beautiful flowers, with a cool breeze blowing on my face. Off in the distance, my eyes caught a glimpse of a large Greek-style amphitheatre, like the ones that existed in biblical times.
Then suddenly, I was surrounded by hundreds of people who were slowly walking towards this venue. I began to walk with the crowd, as I meandered along, not knowing exactly where we were all going, the wind began to grow stronger, and clouds began morphing into various shapes and forms in the sky.
As I looked up into the bright blue sky, squinting and shading my eyes with my hand, I saw a cloud slowly transform into the shape of a shepherds staff. Then, it appeared that the staff was gently bobbing up and down as it grew closer, as if an invisible hand were grasping it, raising it up each time they took a step forward.
As the staff grew closer and larger than life, I heard people around me begin to yell out with excited voices, "It's Jesus! It's Jesus! Jesus is coming!" Everyone was overjoyed and in awe that Jesus was about to arrive.
Even though it was merely a dream, I can vividly remember the overwhelming enthusiasm and excitement that bubbled up in my entire body, causing my heart to feel as if it were overflowing with uncontrollable joy. I even remember my face feeling red and hot, and my heart beating fast, thumping hard in my chest.
I felt so overcome with the joy and anticipation of seeing Jesus, that I could barely breathe. I had the urge to spastically jump up and down and scream at the top of my lungs, just like Elf did in the scene about Santa, and chant "I know Him! I know Him!", but in my dream state, I felt speechless.
Then suddenly, and way too abruptly, I woke up. The dream was over. But my heart was still beating rapidly, and the experience seemed acutely real.
For a few solemn seconds, as I lay there in the quietness of a dark house before daylight, I tried desperately to go back to sleep; to transport my brain waves back into a deep slumber, in the hopes that I would see the beautiful vision of Jesus right in front of me. Yet, I was wide awake.
My heart felt heavy. Jesus was coming - I was almost close enough to touch Him, but I didn't even get to see His face. I longed for the experience that I missed, even though it was only a dream.
This dream had such an impact on my heart, that I will never forget it. And every time I watch this comical movie clip from Elf, I am reminded about how exciting it will be when Jesus really does return, or when I meet Him face to face in heaven. I cannot wait to exclaim that "I know Him!"and hear Him say, that He knows me too.
Knowing how wonderful it will be makes my heart ache even more for all those who do not know Jesus; all the people who do not believe that they will one day meet Jesus face to face.
I feel sad for people who celebrate empty Christmases, filled only with presents and decorations and parties - without ever acknowledging why tthere is a celebration in the first place.
Yesterday I focused on the positive attitude of Elf, and today my focus is on his enthusiasm, and how our spiritual enthusiasm for Jesus should be inward and outward.
Inward enthusiasm for Jesus is necessary, before we can display an outward enthusiasm that is contagious to others, just like our attitude. After all, what does it matter if we put on a fake smile every day, but miss out on the true joy that Christ offers? Will people "catch" our spiritual enthusiasm, if we don't live out loud for Jesus?
This is a wonderful time of year to contemplate how important our faith really is in our life. A time to do a self assessment, and rate our own spiritual enthusiasm.
In the spirit of Christmas, and the spirit of enhancing our walk with Christ as we celebrate our relationship, lets put ourselves to the test:
- Am I really, genuinely enthusiastic about my spiritual journey?
- Am I still overwhelmed with gratitude for Gods gift of life, or have I begun to take it for granted?
- Do I really make Christ the center of my Christmas, or have I inadvertently become more focused on the commercialization about Christmas?
- Have I become so caught up in dealing with life, that I have buried the enthusiasm that I once held for Christ in my heart?
- Is my spiritual enthusiasm being fueled by ALL of my heart, soul and mind?
- Do I really KNOW HIM, or just know about Him?
- Does He really know me?
- How would I feel and react if I met Jesus face to face tomorrow?
Matthew 22:37 says “Jesus replied:‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment." (NIV)
If we truly love Jesus with ALL of our being.... seriously.... we would not be able to contain our enthusiasm! We would be jumping up and down with the same level of excitement as the Elf was about Santa! We might get a few stares and smirks, but who really cares!
At the very end of this movie, the narrator says this: "So Buddy managed to save Christmas. And his spirit saves a lot of other people too."
His enthusiasm for Christmas was contagious to the people around him, and he 'saved' them from themselves. Only Jesus can truly save in real life, but our enthusiasm for Him can open to the door to the hearts that need the saving.
Christ is coming!!!! Are you excited?! Are you showing it?!
Make smiling your favorite this Christmas!! :)