This Christmas has challenged us more than ever to really consider how we celebrate. We still don't have all the right answers, but we want James (and our friend's kids for that matter) to really associate Christmas with the birth of Jesus and to know how that changes everything in all our lives. It's challenging for a little baby to make a big splash amidst all the red and green explosions and winter wonderland distractions, so we thought, why don't we just have a big party--who doesn't love a party??--but this one's going to be a birthday party for Jesus.  

We opened it up to loads of kids and their parents, knowing most of the festivities would be in our front yard since our house is about the size of a manger. Shortly before the party, a torrential rain began (seriously, the 2nd rain we had in 2014). Despite this unexpected turn, we squeezed about 85 people in our house for ornament-making and treat eating, face painting and balloon popping.

Then, like a Christmas miracle, the rain stopped, and we all spilled outside. We read the Christmas story--Jesus Storybook Bible style--then sang carols in the front yard led by guitar and mandolin. Cars slowed as they drove by. A woman on a walk unabashedly filmed the scene with her cell phone whispering, "you just don't see things like this anymore".

Of course, the night ended with a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. Candles were blown out, icing was devoured, and children likely stayed up all night on a sugar high, but at least they'll never forget that it was all for Jesus' birthday.

{P.S. - To keep things in the "hoping it forward" vein, we partnered with Campus Crusade for Christ's (CRU) inner city youth development program (run in LA by our friends, Tom & Shannon Norris) and had the Jesus birthday party goers bring presents for the youth in the program to give to their families for Christmas. The Wolf family got to join in the fun a few days later by hanging with the youth and helping wrap presents at the "CRU Christmas store". Watch a video on this amazing ministry at the bottom of the post!}