It’s been almost two months since my book was released and it’s been quite an active time since; from being invited onto radio shows, Facebook lives, international podcasts to book signings and I’ve even preached a few times too. In that time, I’ve also lost 16 kilos (since July), walked 10 kilometres a day, started at the gym, renovated my home and I’ve started writing my next book. I think I’ve got a good chance of winning the national plate spinning competition, don’t you?  So needless to say, I’m in need of a bit of downtime.  

The run up to Christmas, however, only seems to add more tasks to the to do list on top of the already hectic daily grind.  What is meant to be a wonderful season of generosity and focusing on the family can become a troublesome time of stress and pressure. Then of course there’s the battling other people around the shops – hands up if you’ve seen that cheesy Christmas movie ‘Jingle All The Way’ where Arnold Schwarzenegger is going out of his mind in search of the perfect gift for his son. We know the drill that happens every year.

It’s apparently the season of goodwill but it feels more like the season of ‘Good Will Hunting’ – another great movie about a guy with an overactive mind that never shuts off.  Sound familiar? I’m exhausted just thinking, it must be time for a cuppa.  

Thankfully for me and my family and a bunch of friends, today is the day that we finally get to enjoy some down time before Christmas as we head off for another adventure holiday in the Great Barrier Reef.  Only downtime on this trip actually means down deep in the ocean on an adventure to swim with sharks.  I know, I know, I can hear your mind boggling with what am I doing? I’m way ahead of you with that one.  Yet adventure seems to be my drug this year and it’s been quite a year of swimming with whales, throwing myself out of perfectly good aeroplanes and now swimming with the Mack Daddy of the ocean.  You’ll have to wait for book number two to hear all about these adventures.

However, there is one thing that is most important not to forget in amongst this crazy life, particularly at this time of year.  It’s the thing that really makes Christmas magical, it’s what gives us the fuzzy feel goods and what our focus should really be upon – Generosity. I think Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said, “It’s far better to give than to receive”, and I can honestly say this has been my experience too.  I love the excitement on Christmas morning, but it’s not about seeing what others have bought me.  I can’t wait for them to open their gifts and see what I have for them.  I love that look of surprise on their faces as they see generosity in action.  It’s priceless wouldn’t you agree?

Generosity, however, isn’t just about gift giving, it’s about putting others before ourselves, it’s about turning our focus to ensure we acknowledge and appreciate the importance of the people in our lives. It’s also taking time to pause and consider others who we may not even know.  I don’t know if you know, but apparently God loves a cheerful giver, and I’d hate to disappoint God, I’ve seen what happens in Bruce Almighty when he takes revenge on a colleague who got him fired!  

So may I encourage you today, as you prepare for your downtime, to start adding generosity into your daily routine and to do it with a smile.  It could be a simple invitation for a friend doing it tough to share in your Christmas festivities, or it could be helping your elderly neighbour mow their lawn.  Perhaps, buying a bunch of groceries for the family struggling to feed their children or preparing a shoebox filled with goodies for kids in crisis, or maybe a simple “Hello and Merry Christmas” to someone you walk by or speak to at the check-out. Be intentional about your generosity and see how it can touch and change people’s lives and bring you joy in the process. Life is not what we make of it, but what we give to it.

Hmmm…. Normally, my blog would finish and that awesome last statement. As I ponder those words, however, I do see the irony as this week I am certainly making the most out of life by diving with sharks. Let’s just pray I’m not giving anything to it.

Have a wonderful Christmas filled with love, kindness, generosity and focusing the greatest gift of all, Jesus.

Angela x

Proverbs 22:9 He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.