Thanks to my daughter Heidi we in the Bohnett family found ourselves pretty far out of our "comfort zone" during the Christmas of 1997. She had challenged her parents to experience a Christmas "outside the box" by joining some other families who were going down to Tijuana, Mexico for a week to build houses during the Christmas break. Some memories we still have from that trip are getting our van stuck in the mud and trying to push it out - our 8 year old Jeremy having his Sonic's cap ripped off his head by a group of Mexican boys and him foolishly running after them yelling, "Come back here you Mexicans!" (so much for building bridges of international friendship!) Then there was that moment on Christmas morning when Adam's Uncle Don throws him a candy cane, wishing him a Merry Christmas, with 12-year-old Adam sadly looking at it and sighing, "This is a far cry from last year!"
Since that year our family has made two trips to Ensenada during the Christmas holidays. The blessings of those Christmases are hard to quantify but I do know that what we experienced was far more significant for each of us than our traditional Christmas celebrations. It was during those Christmases of family service that we were able to connect to the very heart of the heavenly Father who gave not STUFF on that first Christmas morning but His SON, His very Self.
Other than those two trips we have not ventured outside of "the box" at Christmas. "The box" represents the typical Christmas where we stay close to home and exchange gifts with one another. This usually involves "overdoing it" and each year vowing the next year to downscale and simplify, but never able to really follow through on that commitment.
In the fall of "04, Cindy, during a personal retreat, sensed in her time with God that it was time for our family to venture back outside of the box at Christmas. One thing led to another and on December 3rd we head down to Nicaragua until January 14th for six weeks. We will be taking our kids out of school , house sitting in a missionary family's home, seeking to serve where and when we can. I am praying that this will be a significant time for our family to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas...outside of the box!