Friday, December 8, 2017

18 Ways to Have a Meaningful Christmas

The holiday season is in full swing!

This year I want to challenge everyone to give your family the priceless and valuable gift of the memories of learning to SERVE and BLESS others at this special time.

There are only a few days until Christmas....if we plan accordingly there are many things we can think of doing to give our children a special legacy that they will remember for their entire life and teach your grandchildren as well.

And a quick note--don't feel overwhelmed by this list. That is not what it is meant for! Just pick and choose what idea(s) might work for you in this season of life and don't feel any guilt about how you celebrate. We just want to help inspire you because we know that some of you would love to participate in some of the ideas below.

Here they are:

1. Give your children less gifts. If you can't afford it, don't feel pressured. Less materialism, less clutter, less money spent, less self-centeredness, more appreciation for what they do receive. Remember, the gift of your love and time is way more valuable.

2. Serve at a homeless shelter. One of my favorite memories is going to a radio broadcasting center in Chicago with my family to help pass out a meal to needy people and giving gifts to their children. I felt so blessed being able to be on the giving end instead of the receiving.

3. Touch lives at a nursing home. We like to go with a homeschool group and go caroling while walking through the halls. The elderly there enjoy it and we are allowed to give them cards. My children LOVE this  and have are glowing after we do this.

4. Donate to Samaritan's Purse. Samaritan's Purse has an entire catalog/website of how to send money for food, water, homes, Bibles, medical care,etc. SP is headed by Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham. Have your children pore over the catalog and select something you could contribute to.This is highly educational as they learn that families around the world do not have the basic necessities that they need.

5. Toys for Tots--these boxes are available in many stores. You can have your children 'earn' some money by doing jobs around the house and then take them shopping to pick something special to give away.

6. Care for a widow.Is there a widow that you know that could use some company, a warm meal, leaves raked, snow shoveled or help putting up their tree?

7. Make a meal for someone in need.

8. Help a needy family. Times are tough now and many people have lost jobs, homes and are barely getting by. Single moms are another good source of families to give a loving hand to as well. You can also help military families here. 

(Extra Tip: Help your children focus on the real meaning of the season
and let them play with toy nativities. Here are several great options for them.)

9. Christmas Mitten Tree--start a Christmas tree at your church of mittens and scarves so people can hang them on when they donate. When full, collect them and donate.

10. Work with a women's shelter to help provide gifts to them and their children.

11. Work with Salvation army to distribute goods to needy families.

12. Bake cookies for unsaved neighbors/friends and attach the message of Christ's birth and gospel.

13. Visit those in the hospital and bring them a special gift or a tree to brighten up their room.

14. Bring the gospel to others who haven't heard it. Our old church liked to go caroling at a big name store. The pastor worked with the manager and our children dress up like the nativity scene in the middle of the store. We sang songs about Christ's birth and passed out candy canes with the gospel attached and our church information.

15. Start a new tradition--read a Christmas Advent devotional every night leading up to Christmas Day. There are many books out there to help--here is a good list. You can light a candle at night and snuggle by the fire and read a short story to keep everyone's heart reflecting on what the true season is about or even start a special Jesse Tree tradition. 

16. Pray for more ways to decorate keeping Christ the focus. I know many people who instead of putting up a tree invest in a nice or large nativity scene instead. I have seen people use Christmas decorations that exalt God and bring more meaning to their celebration. I am not saying you have to do this entirely but it helps the children and ourselves to remember the real meaning. Our family likes to do a mix of both.

17. Visit a live nativity event. In the past a church near us did a Journey to Bethlehem every other year and it is an amazing thing to be a part of. It included a live marketplace, and scenes acted out from the Bible. At the end they give the gospel--what a great way for a church to reach out to the lost!

18.  Open your home and heart. If you are in a season where you need to stay home more and/or just want to be anchored there instead of rushing around--open your doors and show some love to people who are in need. Remember, one of the most valuable gifts we can give others is our time and love.

The holidays don't have to be only filled with parties, cookie exchanges and shopping. We can make the holidays a meaningful time by emphasizing helping others and remembering those that are needy.

The list above are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing,-- but don't feel pressured or feel bad if you can't do them, just pray for the Lord to show you what He wants you to do and then listen to Him.

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share."

-----1 Timothy 6:17-8

And most importantly, remember to serve with your family all the time---not just once a year!

What acts of service or traditions do you do or are thinking about doing during the holiday season?

Share them in the comments below!

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

10 Child-Friendly Nativity Sets Your Children Will Love

Dear Mama, I know that Christmas has got you all in a swirl! But I also know that your heart is to teach your children the true meaning of Christmas and that it wouldn't get lost in all the hustle and bustle that the holidays bring.

Let me just say thatI am right there with you!

So as I thought about some easy ways to share how we can do that WITHOUT getting overwhelmed, I remembered how much my little daughter loved playing with her nativity set last year and would play for hours with it and she learned who baby Jesus was and had some interactive play with Joseph, Mary, and animals, etc.  So I thought I would share a few lovely sets for your children here for you in case you would like to get them one too (and also helps to protect Mom's more expensive Nativity display that she doesn't want touched)!

This one gets listed first because when she first turned three she loved it. The star lights up and makes music too so that is a fun feature for little ones. 

1. Fisher Price Little People A Christmas Story

2. Melissa and Doug Wooden Christmas Set with 4 Piece Stable and 11 Wooden Figures

This one also comes as an optional bundle set with Wooden Tree Advent Calendar too!

3. Star From Afar {Christian Alternative to Elf on a Shelf)

5. Oskar & Ellen Hand Sewn Soft Nativity Fabric Nativity Set - It's nice that these are fabric and soft for little ones to play with. 

Which one is your favorite?

I hope this list is a blessing to you!

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

27 Gift Ideas for Teen Boys

We all know that when the holidays come around sometimes it can be hard to find that perfect gift for a loved one--especially when it comes to sons! We want to get them something that will bless them and/or mold them for their future. I was looking at a gift guide for boys the other day and thought that it might be fun to share some ideas here for some inspiration.

Let's begin!

1. NIV Boy's Bible

2. A Young Man's Guide to Making Right Choices by Jim George

3. Swiss Army Huntsman Pocket Knife

4. Zip Line Fun (holds up to 400 pounds)

5. Cross Bow

6. Scripture Jewelry

7. Drone (with camera)

8. Bluetooth Speaker (Waterproof and 24 hour battery life)

9. Electric Shaver

10. Emergency Survival Kit

11. Portable Phone Charger

12. Thoughts for Young Men by JC Ryle

13. Wireless Earbuds or headphones

14. Musical Instruments

15. Sports Equipment

16. Leather Toiletry/Travel Bag

17. Manly Man Soap

18. Art of Manliness books - Heading Out On Your Own

19. Dart Board

20. Tactical Flashlight

21. Deodorant & Body Spray

22. Sneakers

23. Digital Watch (or Apple Watch)

24. Paintball Pistol Kit

25. Electronics Gift Guide over at Amazon

26. Work Out Equipment

27. Gift Cards

Boys also like food so you can also get Restaurant Gift Cards for them too!

BONUS TIP: Scripture shirts

What would you add?

Share your gift ideas below in the comments!

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