Archives for November 2012

Friday Links 11/30

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

Helping Your Children Celebrate Christ This Christmas by Cortney Whiting

With the celebrations of Hanukkah, Kwanza, and Santa Claus, it is easy for many messages to be infiltrated into the true message of Christmas.  Here are ten easy ways in which your family can remember and honor Christ this Christmas.

  1. Go to a Communion Service – if your children are too young to receive communion, explain to them what each part represents.
  2. Visit a live Nativity scene or a Walk through Bethlehem.  This allows children to experience what it might have been like on the day of Jesus’ birth
  3. Read children’s books on the story of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ.  Remind your kids that without the cross, there would be no need for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
  4. Participate in a mission’s project or let your children purchase a gift for a missionary.  Explain that missionaries tell the good news about Jesus like the shepherds did.
  5. On Christmas Day, play “Find the baby Jesus.”  Place the baby Jesus from the nativity set somewhere and have your children search for Him. Give them clues from the Bible (such as He is under the star, etc.).  Allow the child who found Him to place Him in the manger (or with the rest of the nativity scene).
  6. Sing religious Christmas carols with your kids.  This may include caroling in the neighborhood or at a nursing home.
  7. Get an Advent Calendar This allows your children to anticipate the birth of Jesus every day in a fun way.
  8. Make Christmas ornaments that incorporate Bible verses about Jesus’ birth.
  9. Donate a present to someone less fortunate in honor of Jesus. Tell your children how Jesus came to earth as a Servant.
  10. Make a birthday cake for Jesus and have a birthday party for Him.

What do you do to celebrate Christ at Christmas?

Cortney Whiting is a wife and mother of two children.  She received her ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary and now works as a Children’s Minister in Norcross, GA.

Christmas Giveaway!

It’s that time of year again! And we’d love to help you celebrate! So we are giving away some Christmas books, CDs, and DVDs to help get you in the spirit!

Up first is the VeggieTales Ultimate Christmas Collection. This features the entire Veggie Christmas catalog, including “The Toy that Saved Christmas,” “The Star of Christmas,” “Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving,” “It’s a Meaningful Life” and “The Little Drummer Boy!” Plus – this super duper Christmas collection also includes “Christmas Singalong Songs” DVD and a 25 Christmas Favorites CD! Hours and hours of fun for everyone!

Christmas: God With Us is Jeremy Camp s first full-length Christmas album, featuring both original and traditional Christmas songs. This release is sure to become a staple in many homes this holiday season and for many more to come! Jeremy will be out on the road in support of Christmas: God With Us after release, playing 14 dates this fall on The Story Tour between
November and December! The Story Tour features orchestrated arrangements of Christmas songs by today s top Christian artists, telling
the story of the birth and message of Jesus Christ.

Kutless brings Christmas cheer to your Holiday season with the classics “O Holy Night,” “Breath of Heaven,” “Lil Drummer Boy,” “This is Christmas” and more!! You will love the way that Kutless brings their own flare to “O Holy Night” and “Breath Of Heaven.” It’s a must-have for any Kutless fan as well as the perfect addition to your Christmas music collection.

This Christmas, our friends from down under, Hillsong, bring us an album full of inspiring and festive songs soon to become Christmas classics. The seasons may be flipped with December falling in the middle of summer for Australia and there may not be snow, sleigh rides or chestnuts roasting by an open fire , but there is a common love for a baby born in a manger over 2,000 years ago. God incarnate. God amongst us. The greatest reason to sing this year and every year – sun or snow. The first Christmas album from Hillsong in over 7 years features last year s popular radio single Born Is The King , new arrangements to classic Christmas hymns as well as brand new songs to help keep our minds and hearts focused on the true reason for the season.

Rising singer/songwriter Josh Wilson releases his first full length Christmas album, Noel, this October as a follow up to last year s hugely successful Christmas tour (Noel: A Unique Christmas Experience) and the #1 Christmas single of 2011, Jesus is Alive. Known for being one of the top songwriters and multi-instrumentalists in the industry, Wilson has been hailed as the future of Christian pop by media and his albums are regularly named to Year-End Top Ten Album lists. He has released numerous No. 1 hits including Savior Please and the powerful track Before the Morning, which landed the No. 4 spot on Billboard s Year-End Christian Songs chart.

A classic Christmas picture book, One Wintry Night tells the story of a mountain boy who is injured in a snowstorm and seeks refuge in a cabin. While he waits out the storm, the woman who lives there tells him the Christmas story. In a magnificent blend of a contemporary setting with the history of God’s redeeming love, Ruth Graham created a wonderful and unique version of the Christmas story. Breathtakingly illustrated by renowned artist Richard Jesse Watson, One Wintry Night is the perfect gift for the young and the young-at-heart that will fascinate both those who have heard the Bible story many times and those who know only a few details.

The biggest holiday hits sung by kids for kids. Includes some old classics like “Jingle Bell Rock,” “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

Use the rafflecopter form below to enter! Giveaway ends Wednesday November 28th at 11:59 p.m. Winner will be chosen on Thursday November 29th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Celebrating Jesus’ Birthday by Jeanie McLean

SABC HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS 122009 012
source: pd2020

In “How Many Candles Does Jesus Get on His Cake?” in the December issue, Jeanie McLean offers suggestions on how to encourage children to focus on Christ during the Christmas season. Here are some additional tips and helpful links.

  • Use a child-friendly manger scene to teach the Christmas story to younger children. They can make their own manger scene out of blocks, fashioning figures from toilet paper rolls. Or use the manger scene you already own, if there are no breakable pieces or ones that would be a choking hazard. Read the story from a children’s Bible and allow children to manipulate the pieces as you tell the story.
  • Consider telling parts of the story each day, having Mary and Joseph progress to the manger from another part of your home. Set up “Bethlehem” in one area, with Mary and Joseph in another. Read the entire story on Christmas morning, when children can finally place Jesus in His manger bed.
  • Lead children to give gifts to Jesus of their time. Are there local nursing home residents who would welcome a visit from a child? Is there a community ministry your church serves that might need help stacking cans or boxes of food this month?
  • Learn more about Lottie Moon and why Southern Baptists’ Christmas offering was named for this martyr of the faith.
  • Tell your children Lottie’s story while making her recipe for tea cakes.
  • Teach younger children about missions in Asia, including Christmas stories, music, and activities at this site by the International Mission Board: www.caravanfriends.org.
  • Show the video “Errbody in the Church Helpin’ Lottie” video on YouTube to older children.
  • Find prayer requests for international missionaries at www.kidsonmission.org.

Gifts That Give Back by Jessie Weaver

Here’s my great Christmas confession:

  • We don’t do Santa.
  • We don’t have a real tree.
  • The very small amount of gifts that my children get from us generally come from a thrift store.

It’s not how I was raised. My sister and I always received a huge pile of presents, a few of those from “Santa.” But where are those gifts now? Except for our original Nintendo, which is happily housed with my husband and me, I have no idea. A lot of those gifts got great love: Barbies, Cabbage Patch dolls, board games. But I don’t know that our Christmases would have suffered without half of those things we wished for on long lists.

Nowadays, I prefer to keep the focus on Jesus’ gift. This year, my kids (4 and almost 2) and I will be going through Truth in the Tinsel, an Advent e-book that guides them through Scripture while we make fun ornaments. We’re also opening a Jesus-focused Christmas book every night and reading it together.

As for presents, they’ll get plenty from their two sets of grandparents, being that they’re the only grandchildren on both sides. We’ve encouraged them not to overdo it, though, because our kids already have so. many. toys. Experiential gifts are my favorites, and art supplies are basically “consumables” for little ones.

I hope my 4-year-old will be able to help me pick out some gifts that give to others, too, and start to understand that others around the world have needs far greater than ours. We start impressing this idea with packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child and continue throughout the holidays.

Here are some of my favorite gifts that give to others!

  1. For $100, you can give a family in need a goat and two chickens through World Vision. This provides a family with goat’s milk and eggs – and the families that receive them are asked to pass along chicks to other families.
  2. For just $9, you can feed a hungry baby for a week through Samaritan’s Purse. It’s Gift 40 in their catalog.
  3. Any donation is appreciated through Compassion’s fund to help provide education fees for children in need.
  4. These fun paper bead necklaces are $25, hand-crafted by women in Kenya, and help support Mercy House Kenya.
  5. Buy an adorable cupcake bib for $6 on Etsy, help support relief efforts from Hurricane Sandy.
  6. $25 from each $50 plate purchase of this cute, recycled glass plate goes to support City Harvest in NYC, an organization that raises money to feed those in need.

Do you have any favorite gifts that give back?

Turning Holiday Service into Gospel Opportunities by Tobin Perry

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source: alessandropinna

The holiday season is undoubtedly one of the best times of the year to serve others. Your family will have no shortage of opportunities―whether it’s within your church, a local service organization, or another community group.

Yet it’s also an easy time to meet physical needs and ignore spiritual ones, if you are not intentional about sharing Jesus. Here are a few tips to help your family take advantage of gospel opportunities when you serve.

  1. Pray. Ask God to open up opportunities to tell people about Jesus―and expect Him to answer your prayer! Gather together as a family to pray for several nights before the service opportunity.
  2. Talk with your kids about your desire to see people come to Christ. Let your kids know the ultimate goal of holiday service is to introduce those you’re serving to Jesus.
  3. Work hard. When serving others, your family’s first witness comes before you ever open your mouth. What does your family’s effort tell others about the God you’re serving?
  4. Be a listener and be observant. Pay attention to those you’re serving and those you’re serving with and listen for opportunities to share the gospel. Model this for your kids.
  5. Know your story. In the spirit of 1 Peter 3:15, try to make sure each member of your family (in their own way and at their own level) can answer this question: Why are you serving us in this manner? Be ready with the story of your journey with God. Service opportunities aren’t typically the time for full-fledged apologetics discussions, but they are perfect opportunities to share your testimony. Be ready to share a short version though (maybe as short as one minute), so you’re not spending more time talking than serving!
  6. Serve freely. Never be so boorish about sharing the gospel that those you are serving think you are doing so in order to win them to Christ or invite them to church. Just be ready for the opportunities God gives you. He’ll provide!

Turning service opportunities into missions opportunities for your family doesn’t have to be scary. Just keep your eyes open!

Tobin Perry serves as the online editor for On Mission magazine at the North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, Georgia. He and his wife, Charissa, live in Woodstock, Georgia, with their three children―all under the age of 6!

Friday Links 11/16

I’m bypassing good parenting and going straight to Thanksgiving this week for links. So, please share! What’s your favorite Thanksgiving recipe?

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

Witnessing Miracles by Ellen Stumbo

talkative little girl closeup
source: zen

I watch as my daughter struggles to walk. Slowly, she takes one-step and catches her balance, then the other foot comes forward, dragging a little behind her. When she finally reaches the couch in the living room, she throws herself on the soft seat. She looks up at me, beaming, “I did it mom! I did it! I walked all by myself!”

So I laugh and cry, clap and jump, and say between the sobs and the laughter, “You did it! You walked!” And she stares at me confused because it is possible her mother lost her mind.

“Mom, are you happy, or are you sad?” she asks tentatively.

“I am so happy that I am crying. I have tears of joy Nina!”

My daughter’s body is tight from cerebral palsy. Simple things, like walking, are not simple for her. I know that sometimes she wants to give up. Her mind fights her body and her body fights her mind. So we cheer her on, we tell her she can do it, and we believe in her full potential. And she tries once more. Then, after years of trying, she finally takes those precious first steps that bring out the tears and the laughter, all mixed together in one ball of emotion. I feel so proud!

Yes, sometimes having a child with special needs can be difficult. Having a 6-year-old child who needs a wheelchair to go for a “walk” can be challenging. But then there are those magical moments. The milestones that are no longer typical, or expected, because they become like miracles. Those are the moments that make all the hard work pay off. In this journey of special needs, we celebrate fully, with abandonment, and with great joy.

Like Erma Bombeck said, having a child with special needs means you witness miracles … and you know it.

Ellen Stumbo is a writer and speaker. She is the mother of three daughters: Ellie; Nichole, who has Down syndrome; and Nina, who was adopted and also has special needs. She is wife to Andy, a pastor.

Fun Traditions and UnTraditions by G.G. Mathis

19/52 Tristan
source: edjohnson841

The November issue of ParentLife declared independence on tired and tedious holiday traditions in the article “Freedom From Tradition.” Families were encouraged to celebrate meaningfully and playfully in ways that create lasting memories, not lasting fatigue.

Need some ideas for an out-of-the-ordinary way to observe special days at your house? We’ve compiled some of our favorites:

We bought two tiny Christmas trees, one for each of our sons to put in his room. The boys were allowed to decorate the trees any way they liked. Some years, the decorations would change daily—action figures one day, paper chains the next; even socks and underwear!

Instead of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, we stock up on take-and-bake pizzas the night before. We bake them, eat from paper plates, and spend the day playing games together, not cooking!

We decided that a bunny visit on Easter Sunday detracted from the message of Jesus’ resurrection. So at our house, by mutual consent, the Early Bunny visits on the Saturday before Easter, leaving Sunday for worship and family time.

Nobody in our family cares much about football. So we plan a special dinner out on Superbowl Sunday evening. The restaurants aren’t crowded!

In our family, Roses Day (October 1) commemorates the day I received a dozen roses and a clue to the identity of the man I eventually married. Roses Day was such an important part of our family tradition, my daughter was puzzled after school one October first: “Mom, nobody at school has ever heard of Roses Day!”

Instead of a huge birthday present blowout that’s over in 10 minutes, we leave small gifts for the birthday boy (or girl) in unexpected places all day long.

We have a Thanksgiving tablecloth that comes out of storage every year. With fabric paint, each family member prints something for which he or she is thankful. It’s a great way to remember how God has cared for us over the years.

G.G. Mathis teaches preteens at Forest Park Baptist Church in Joplin, Missouri.

Dad’s Life with Carey Casey: The Importance of Modeling

Claire made me breakfast in bed!
source: escapist

Need a weekly nudge in your efforts to be the kind of dad your kids need? Here’s what worked for one dad.

Rick has two young children. He told me about some lessons he has learned, with help from the Fathers.com weekly e-mail. I think we can all probably learn something here.

Leading up to Mother’s Day one year, Rick’s wife was going out of town to visit her parents with their 2-year-old daughter and newborn son. So with her gone, Rick thought he was “off the hook.” He’d get her a card and give it to her when she came home.

Then he received our weekly e-mail. It suggested that he do something big to honor his bride and get the kids involved, because it’s important to set an example for them and show honor for the role of mothers.

When his family came home, he involved his 2-year-old daughter in choosing a special gift for Mom. Then, on the next Sunday, Rick and his daughter got up early and made a special breakfast together for their mom—including Eggs Benedict. It wasn’t the best-tasting meal, but his wife said it was the best Mother’s Day ever.

Another story from Rick reinforces the lesson: At Valentine’s Day last year, it was a busy time and he was planning to get a few simple gifts to bring home for his wife and his daughter. Once again, our weekly e-mail reminded him that he’s setting an important example—both in how he shows love to his wife and showing his daughter how she should expect to be treated by boys.

So Rick raised the bar. He made arrangements to take his daughter to a daddy-daughter dance. He dressed up and left the house so he could arrive at the appointed time to pick up his daughter for their date. He took her out to dinner and then they had a great time at the dance.

Dad, recognize that you’re always modeling behavior and character for your kids—whether you’re serving your wife, going to work, fixing something, or just hanging out. They’re always watching and learning from you, and like Rick shows us, it’s never too early to start.

 

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Carey Casey is Chief Executive Officer of the Kansas City-based National Center for Fathering and author of the book Championship Fathering: How to Win at Being a Dad.

Through his work across the country, Casey has earned a reputation as a dynamic communicator, especially on the topic of men being good fathers. He’s known as a compassionate ambassador, particularly within the American sports community.