Editor's Note: This article is adapted from Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World by Kathi Macias. To purchase Beyond Me, click here.

Even in the Southern California desert where we live, there is a chill in the air now—and after a long, hot summer, it’s a welcome one! But as we watch for an occasional red or yellow leaf (there aren’t many out here in cactus country!), our thoughts inevitably turn toward Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Of course, with stores beginning to sell tinsel and lights in August, it’s a natural progression to move from grilling hot dogs to planning a turkey dinner. And who doesn’t love the holiday season? As the year draws to a close, it seems an appropriate way to bid it farewell by celebrating a day of Thanksgiving to God, followed by the Christmas celebration of the greatest gift ever given. In addition, it’s the perfect time to draw together with family and friends and simply enjoy one another’s company by sharing meaningful activities.

But do we? In the midst of an increasingly materialistic, secular, and busy culture, are we able to maintain a grateful attitude as we focus on the Source of all our blessings? Or do we give in to the clamoring voices and grasping hands that repeatedly chant to us in the words of an oft-aired commercial: “I want it all—and I want it now”?

A few years ago I took Brittney, one of my granddaughters who was a pre-teen then, on our annual back-to-school shopping trip. We no sooner walked through the department store doors than she made a beeline for the cosmetic counter, where she spotted a new line of cosmetics designed especially for her age group and tantalizingly named “It’s About Me.”

I was stunned. Could the world’s siren call to serve self (and fork over the cash in the process) be any more blatant? And how were we as Christians supposed to combat this anti-biblical message with that of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, epitomized by serving others?

The more I considered the problem, the more I realized it wasn’t just children and young people who were taken in by this all-about-me message. Adults too—and yes, even many in the church—were also caught up in it.

Taking it to the next step, I became aware of the fact that it isn’t simply in the amassing of “things” that our self-serving attitude threatens to overwhelm our Christian witness; this is an ongoing problem in nearly every area of our lives. Out of that realization came my most recent book, Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World. However, I’ve learned that it’s often easier to write a book about a God-given revelation than it is to live it out. And nowhere is that more apparent than within our own immediate families.

I remember one December in particular when I reflected on the year that was nearly at an end and sought God for direction in the one about to begin. I was surprised to sense these seven words in my heart: “Somebody has to set up the chairs.”

What was that supposed to mean? Quite obviously it was a call to serve others, and I understood that much—but wasn’t I already doing that? What else could God possibly have in mind?

A couple of days later, it all came into focus. My almost-ninety-year-old mother lives with us, and I am her primary caretaker. I also work fulltime (often more than forty hours a week) as a writer, editor, and public speaker, making for a full and often exhausting schedule, with little time left over for myself. As I wrestled with my ongoing juggling act, needing to run an errand for my mom and therefore interrupting my already too full work schedule, I heard myself grumbling—and I didn’t like the sound of it one bit.