Wednesday, November 26, 2008

You're invited...

It's Thanksgiving Eve as I write this, but my thoughts are going to Christmas. The truth is I've struggled with Christmas for quite a few years. I grieve deeply that what should be a sacred season set apart for remembering the birth of Jesus and worshipping Him, has turned into a religious ritual of buying stuff nobody needs or wants.

Why do we do it? How did we get so far from the true meaning of Christmas? Wouldn't it be incredible to slow down, ponder the birth of our Savior, spend time with each other, and serve people like Jesus did?

Take a moment to ponder with us...

As you can imagine, our life has changed dramatically over the last six weeks. And Christmas will be different too. Yes, we will miss our family and some of the traditions we have enjoyed. But this year is an incredible opportunity to take a step back, to re-evaluate - and to do something different.

Here at the Bendickson Bus, we've been talking about Christmas for the last week or so - all four of us, that is. It's interesting how living in a small space helps to change our perspective. We all agree - we don't need more stuff (and we don't have room for it). So what about Christmas gifts?

We would like to invite you to participate with us in celebrating Christmas a little differently this year. First, we're going to give each other presence instead of presents. We're going to get creative! Second, we are taking the money we would normally spend on gifts for each other and giving it to people who really need it. There are many wonderful places to give - we had a hard time choosing where to help. But we have narrowed it down to three organizations.

One is a Minnesota-based organization called Feed My Starving Children. Volunteers assemble food packets which are then shipped overseas to hungry people. Our family has packed meals as volunteers at the Brooklyn Park facility two or three times and were very blessed to be part of this ministry. It costs 17 cents for one meal which means $30 can feed six children for a month. $62 will feed one child for an entire year! And the food is really good - we've tasted it!

We also want to help support a village in Haiti called Lougou where our dear friends, Tim and Michelle, recently visited. They saw for themselves the incredible need - but also the incredible hope that is prevalent in this village. The ministry we are supporting is called COFHED and their unique approach is to come alongside the community to empower them to find a sustainable path to poverty alleviation. When change comes from within, it gets rooted and established and it lasts.

And we will also participate in funding clean water through Living Water International. Nearly half of all people living in developing countries suffer from water-related health issues. Can you imagine not having access to clean water? We take it for granted here in the U.S., but it's a huge problem for people around the world. Just $10 can provide one person with a lifetime supply of clean water.

We are so excited how this has come together! We didn't plan it this way, but there is a theme running through all three organizations: Haiti. If you look at the websites, they all have a special section on Haiti. It is a country in great need and all three organizations are helping in different ways.

Would you like to celebrate CHRISTmas with us this year? Our hope is that you will ponder and pray about how you and your family might take one step toward more presence and less presents.

Please leave us a comment and let us know how God is leading you to make this Christmas special.

P.S. For more ideas, please visit

1 comment:

The Godwin Family said...

My wife and I have been married for over 11 years and have never officially exchanged gifts. Not for Christmas or birthdays. Our entire family (except the kids) decided over 5 years ago to stop exchanging gifts as well. So we don't have to go through the stress of making gift purchase decisions for each other.

I will admit I didn't like Christmas very well for a long time. The stress of having to pick out gifts for people that already had everything or had the means to buy it if they wanted it. Our new way of doing things is much better.

In exchange for buying gifts for family we will usually donate to a charity or do some of the Angel trees you see around town. This feels much better and makes the holidays enjoyable again.