Our church is involved in a kind of…movement I would say, called “Advent Conspiracy” (see: http://adventconspiracy.org/). This movement is all about bringing the Christ back to Christmas and taking away the consumerism. It involves thoughtful gifts that cost less so you can give more both in time with loved ones and financially to those around the world without access to basic human needs.

My husband and I decided to share in this movement through Living Water Gift Cards (http://water.cc/giftcards), fair trade hand-made gifts from Ten Thousand Villages that directly benefit the creator and their families in impoverished regions of the world (http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/), and more thoughtful gifts such as time and things we know that our loved ones will truly cherish and appreciate.

I have to admit though, in the midst of trying to follow in this manner that we believe is truly fulfilling – it.is.hard. It is hard to go through Christmas focusing on Christ, truly anticipating His birth each day and not get caught up in American Christmas. The warm weather mixed with a lack of family network in Houston make for a very un-Christmas like atmosphere. For me personally, the holidays were hard growing up with lots of fighting, so even though I know my life is filled with much more calm people now, I still get knots in my stomach as this time of year approaches.

Luckily, I have an amazing husband who insists we read about the Advent story in the Bible *nearly* each day, and he is trying to help us form Christmas traditions of our own that are simple and lovely. But does anyone else have a hard time with this even though actions have been taken to take the consumerism out of this special season?

I am so excited to see family in the coming weeks and to re-learn how to enjoy Christmas. Please share any struggles/tips you may have during this season as I would greatly appreciate it! And feel free to look into Advent Conspiracy and the few organizations we trust as options for sharing with your loved ones and the greater Church throughout the world.