Winner Winner!

The five winners of the Unwrapping the Greatest Gift giveaway are:

Michelle La

Jenny Rapson

Jeanne Nation

Erin Fullam

Jill Anderson

Congratulations and thanks all for entering! We will be in touch via e-mail.

The Relief You’ve Always Wanted for Christmas by Ann Voskamp {GIVEAWAY}

The kids have Adore Him playing and they’re singing along and off key.

And the house wafts of sugar cookies and anticipation and names of neighbors to bless!

“You done drawing now, Mama?”

Kai’s leaning hard over my shoulder. “Can we just call it done?” And I’m thinking so, and we cut out this little hand drawn cookie envelope template. Shalom and Levi have angel and nativity cookie cutters all over the table.

And Kai cuts out these envelopes for each cookie. And Shalom slides in cookies shaped like angels and stars and a wee silhouette of that God-Baby Who came to the manger & the Cross & offers Himself as a Savior for the world — and who doesn’t need the gift of Him most, again and again?

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It’s written right there on the liner for every cookie envelope:

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,

and they will call Him

Immanuel

which means “God with us”

Matt.1:23

God with us — is the only comfort for the wounds within us.

Kai looks up from his cutting out of the verse — “Mom? God really came, didn’t He?”

And I nod — He came.

He gave up the heavens who were not even large enough to contain Him and lets Himself be held in a hand.

He forsook the boundlessness of space and confined Himself to skin and He gave up the starfields and took on shape and wore the bones.

He gave up the River of the water of Life that flows from His Throne Room to float the nine months on the amniotic waters. And He who carved the edges of the Cosmos, He curved Himself into fetal ball in the dark, tethered Himself to the uterine wall of a virgin, and lets His cells divide, light all splitting white.

The mystery so large becomes the baby so small and infinite God becomes infant.

“Yeah, Kai,” I fold one of the cookie templates, “The story of Christmas is about a baby who came — for the greatest give-away ever. To be the Gift.”

This is what I tell the kids making up Christmas packages for the neighbors — He came, love come down.

Love that gave — but not to those who loved Him.

Love that gave — but not to those who could give back.

Love that gave — to those who were the poor, the bankrupt, the enemies.

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Love that gave even to the likes of us. “And I don’t know… ” I am telling the story again now to me.

Who will give away, and with their lives? Why is the world hungry when God’s people have bread? Are bread? What is there more to be in this life than to be bread for another man?

And Hope looks up from the oven. “Remember, Mama?” She turns off the timer. “We’re calling Christmas the Greatest Give-Aways — and Jesus is the Gift!”

That’s really all we have to get ready for Christmas – our hearts. We need to get our hearts ready to welcome Jesus into every part of our lives.

And guess how you best get your heart ready for Jesus? Come to Him just as you are.

God gives Himself as the greatest Gift, and He doesn’t keep any truly good thing from you. Because the greatest things aren’t ever things!

God never, ever withholds the greatest Gift from you – Jesus!

Jesus is all good, and He is all yours, and this is always your miracle – your greatest Gift.

Jesus is the Gift and we keep giving Him away, down the road and around the corner and the world — He is the best Christmas to give — because when we share Christ, we most have Him.

And on the backside of that little verse liner, we write a Christmas note to our neighbors and tape up the back of the little cookie envelope — and tuck The Greatest Gift cookie envelope in with a little love-something for the neighbors — a hot chocolate mix, a bag of coffee, a good book, a little candle, a loaf of bread.

“Look at how many cookies we have got done now!” Kai grins from the table.

And Shalom, she counts a bit giddy, this giving away that gives the Great Gift...

 

 

 

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Weary mamas? Wound-up kids? This December? Could be The Greatest Christmas! This is the relief you’ve always wanted for your Christmas.

Open this book & your Christmas will begin where you never expected — and it will end where you only dreamed.

A book that is like your own larger-than-life Advent Calendar, opening up to 25 wondrous stories that tell the family tree of Jesus, from Creation to His Coming.

Because if we want our Christmas tree to really stand full of wonder & real meaning? The tree we need to understand & be astonished by —- is the wonder of the family tree of Jesus! Because this is your family’s real family tree, your real story.

Each day’s story has its very own ornament, one for each day of Advent — all unwrapping a bit more of a story that’s far better than the greatest fairy tale you’ve ever read —- because this story is all true. So come Christmas day — your kids, and your Christmas tree with all 25 ornaments, will be telling the full love story of Jesus’ coming, right from the very beginning!

Full colour, vibrant 2 page spreads. Romping, shimmering words — for every kid from ages 4- 94.

Known through the ages as the Advent tradition of the Jesse Tree, named after Jesus’ ancestor, Jesse, the father of King David, this is one Christmas experience your family will never forget — that they will be passing down from your Christmases to their Christmases — because this is the gift we all want.

What better gift to give the whole family this Christmas — than the wonder of the full love story of Jesus?

Check out all the Free Resources available, free ornaments, free cookie envelopes for the kids, free Jesse Tree ornaments for the kids, all over at www.TheGreatestChristmas.com

Ann Voskamp is a farmer’s wife and homeschooling mother to 6 children. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling book One Thousand Gifts.
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Want to win a copy of Ann’s new book for Advent, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift? Enter using the Rafflecopter below. (Subscribers may need to click through.)

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Why Making a Mess Can Help Your Whole Family Learn God’s Word {GIVEAWAY}

Kids are the ultimate doers.

They come home from school with a backpack full of papers they’ve colored, figures they’ve drawn, and crafts they’ve made. Before their bags have even had time to make an impression on the couch, they’ve raced to the backyard or to the park with their friends where hours pass as they build castles out of sand, rainforests out of monkey bars, and as-yet-unseen worlds seen only with the eyes of their imagination.

When we grow up, it’s easy to look back at all of this activity and dismiss it as childish play—fun, certainly, but not educational. By middle school, we come to believe that real learning comes from sticking our nose into a book until knowledge mysteriously transfers from the ink-splattered pages into the recesses of our brain. The problem is that this simply isn’t true.

Don’t misunderstand: book-learning is good and necessary for a well-rounded education. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise to Christians that learning through doing is equally as important for adults as it is for kids. After all, Jesus taught with hands-on lessons and illustrations.

Of course, the Gospels tell us that Jesus was a stand-out student of the Hebrew Scriptures, and He would frequently quote or paraphrase those Scriptures to His followers in order to reinforce or remind them of what God has said. But just as often, Jesus chose to teach those around Him by doing.

He walked on the water. He broke bread and fish into thousands of pieces. He raised Lazarus from the dead. He cleared the Temple. He died and rose again.

Even when Jesus taught with His words, He often used parables, metaphors, and illustrations instead of simple statements of fact. He created mental playgrounds for His followers where they could feel the surroundings and circumstances of the characters. They could feel the outrage of the older, faithful brother when their father welcomed his repentant brother home and celebrated with a feast.

It will always be important to read Scripture. But as Jesus demonstrated by His own teachings, it is equally important for kids and adults alike to do Scripture.

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That’s what makes the Hands-On Bible so special. The Hands-On Bible uses this same type of experience-based learning to communicate God’s Word in an active, understandable way.

With hundreds of fun, memorable activities, the Hands-On Bible is packed with activities and experiences that invite kids (and maybe even their parents!) to crawl inside the Scriptures and do God’s Word! There are over 102 Hands-On Bible Experiences, 52 Key Verse Activities, and 16 Bible Bonanza Experiences that serve as jumping off points to learning God’s Word by doing.

Whether you use it for family devotions or for your kids’ not-so-quiet time, the Hands-On Bible is the only children’s Bible that teaches and reinforces the lessons of the Bible in the same way Jesus taught—by seeing, experiencing, and doing. As James says, “Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says,” (James 1:22, NLT).

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Want to win a copy of the Hands-On Bible, newly revised by our friends at Tyndale House? We have FIVE copies to give away. To enter, just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below.

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The One Year My Princess Devotions Winners!

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Congratulations to the winners of our book giveaway from last week. The five winners are:

  • Krista Landenwich
  • Mary Byrd
  • Cindy Martin
  • Peggy Dela Cruz
  • Amanda Wheeler

We will be in touch soon to get your mailing information!

The Value of Devotions by Karen Whiting {GIVEAWAY}

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Devotions with little ones formed the framework of my mothering years. I am still seeing the benefits of taking time in God’s Word with my five little ones who are now grown. For that reason I am passionate about devotions for children, especially preschoolers.

The devotions gave us a sense of purpose, and I made sure days revolved around what we read and also made sure we’d do one each day. If we didn’t get a devotion done before bed, then we skipped desert, as I’d say, “If we don’t have time for the sweet Word of God, we don’t have time for other sweets.” That really helped my children remind me to have some of God’s sweet words!

Benefits

Let’s mention some benefits. It’s easy to realize it helps children get into a habit of reading the Bible and communicating with God to nurture their spirit. However it surprised my husband and me to realize how it also gave them a jump-start on learning. Listening and talking about a Scripture increases a child’s listening comprehension, and that promotes great reading comprehension. We also noticed they could talk with us about any topic through the years because the devotions touched on all aspects of life. They more easily conversed with adults. The Scriptures also increased their vocabulary. Thus, devotions promote cognitive skills.

In activity-oriented devotions like My Princess Devotions, the themes cultivate character development and promote motor development. I placed hospitality in May as part of a theme of tea parties. Planning and hosting teas help little girls learn to greet people, be gracious hosts, and serve others and also helps foster good manners. Other months include generosity, compassion, trust, honesty, and cheerfulness.

The gross motor development comes with activities such as praise walks, dancing, and exercises that are part of various daily devotions. I planned to emphasize using a different body part each month (i.e. feet in October, hands in February). Small motor development is promoted with craft and cooking activities in other devotions. A variety of activities help children realize God cares about all aspects of their lives and helps develop various learning styles.

Tips on doing devotions

  1. Be open-minded. Open hearts to God’s guidance and children’s thoughts. If children stray from the meaning, reread God’s Word or look at another passage on the same topic to enlighten them!
  2. Be consistent by setting up a routine and time for devotions. Choose the best time: early in the morning, after school, or in the evening.
  3. Be enthusiastic. It’s catchy! Praise your child for participating.
  4. Avoid distractions. No eating, no phone calls or TV during devotions.
  5. Plan a reasonable time limit. Ten minutes is good for growing children. When the time is too short to cover the lesson, carry it over to next time!
  6. Don’t be afraid of silence as you wait for your child to respond to a question you ask.
  7. Make Dad a part of the devotions. Choose a time Dad can participate in person or by phone/ internet call.
  8. If Dad travels often or is deployed in the military consider buying a digital copy for him to read along.

Devotions and Your Child’s Personality

Children are different and respond according to their temperaments. An outgoing child likes to act out Bible scenes and share what they learn. A shy child may prefer to do devotions in an intimate setting and will like to journal or draw but may not want to share verbally as much.

Set the stage for success by responding to your child’s personality. For the outgoing child, make it a fun time that can include visiting friends. For a child who is a natural born leader and likes to take charge, let your little one help choose the place and time to do them and also let your child have extra time to discuss the topic. For a little one who is more relaxed and would rather sit and not do things use some encouragement and follow devotions with a snack or reading another book. For the shy child, make it a special parent-child time alone and be patient to wait for the child to think and answer questions.

If you want to do devotions as a family, make sure to include everyone in discussions. A talking stick might help where you pass the stick around for each person to have a time to talk.

Results

I believe that making God part of daily life fosters a sense of purpose and helps children mature. It may not change their IQ, but I thank the Lord that my children are kind, considerate, and serve others. They have remained close to one another and to the Lord. That’s what we want the most as parents.

We can still talk about anything. I am also thankful that one son who experienced twelve years of a 24/7 migraine was able to cling to Scriptures with hope. The Lord healed him last November so we are also thankful for that.

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GIVEAWAY

We have five copies of Karen Whiting’s book The One Year My Princess Devotions to give away here at ParentLife Online. Enter using Rafflecopter below.

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Giveaway: Dear Son by Dave Bruskas

DearSonToday’s culture doesn’t encourage men to grow up. Everyone from pastors to op-ed columnists have described a crisis of masculinity, fostered by a media culture that uniformly make men the butts of jokes. Men are much more likely to give up on life than women. One indicator of this is the large gender difference in suicide rates — men are four times more likely than women to drop out of life. This points to a profound lack of effective mentoring of men, especially in the church.

Dave Bruskas seeks to fill in this gap with his book Dear Son. Two decades ago, Dave lost his only infant son to a congenital heart defect. That devastating loss fueled his desire to provide effective mentoring to young men. Dear Son contains the guidance and insights Dave would have given his son if he had lived through the milestones of growing up: from first dates to first jobs, from weddings to births, from friendships to funerals. Dear Son contains heartfelt wisdom for life’s journey, especially for guys — and for those who want to strengthen them.

ParentLife has five copies of Dear Son to give away! To enter, simply leave a comment below. But hurry … this giveaway ends on Friday, June 27th!

Giveaway! Explore the Bible

etb-logoThis just in! LifeWay is giving away one year of their new Explore the Bible series! Have you heard about this great new small group product? Keep reading … and be sure to enter to win below!

Explore the Bible is a book-by-book Bible study for small groups and Sunday School classes of all ages that takes participants deep into the context of God’s Word and challenges them to live it out in their own context. From preschool to adults, Explore the Bible presents a rich, age-appropriate study experience that pursues biblical context through:

♦ A balanced study plan

♦ Archaeological and historical background

♦ In-depth Bible commentary

♦ “Context passage” that reveals larger biblical context

♦ Engaging group discussion questions for every book of the Bible

Explore the Bible also challenges participants to live out biblical truths in their own context through clear application points in each session and shared memory verses for groups and families in each session

Visit the website to watch a trailer and get more information as well as to preview one month for free. Be sure to stop by the Explore the Bible: Kids page to see more age-specific information!

Click here for your chance to win one year of Explore the Bible for your church!

Giveaway: The Jesus Film

Have you ever seen, The Jesus Film? Billions of people all over the world have! Did you know that it’s the most-watched film in history and has been translated into 1,197 different languages? Check out this trailer!

Maybe you’ve thought about watching the movie as a family, but you were afraid it would be too graphic for your kids. Great news! The movie shares a biblical version of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection in a kid-friendly way, suitable for all ages. It shows an accurate portrayal of Christ’s death, but in a way that is appropriate for a younger audience, which the film’s G rating reflects.

In honor of the movie’s 35th anniversary, it has been remastered in high definition with a new musical score and is being released on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 1st  (that’s tomorrow)!

We actually have three copies of The Jesus Film to give away! Use the form below to enter for your chance to win! 

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Giveaway: Teen Slimline Bible

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The slimline New Living Translation text Bible is the perfect size for busy teens to carry with them wherever they go—now available in new trendy TuTone designs. Classic reference features include a dictionary/concordance, end-of-Bible helps, full-color maps, a ribbon marker, presentation page, and gilded page edges.

ParentLife readers have the chance to win one of five copies! Enter through the form below (giveaway only open to residents of the U.S.)

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Giveaway: Bible Drill App

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See information for giveaway at the bottom of the post!

A new Bible Drill app has been developed by the Georgia Baptist Convention which will help students and their leaders study God’s Word on their tablets or smartphones.

Developed as a general discipleship tool for children, students, adults, and families, the app allows drillers to review books of the Bible and current verses through different activity and study options, according to Maria Brannen, State Missionary in Discipleship/Spiritual Renewal.

“Kids are digital natives and this is a great way for them to have an opportunity for study at home during the week,” Brannen said.
The app provides a tool for children, youth, and high school drillers to study in a variety of styles the Scriptures they are memorizing. It includes options such as a bubble game, flash cards, a Scripture memory game, and pick-a-verse. The app is pre-loaded with three translations used by Bible Drillers—King James Version, Holman Christian Standard Version, and English Standard Version. Students and adults also have the option to share a verse they are learning via social media.

Because it is not specific to Georgia’s Bible Drillers, anyone can download the app for 99 cents in the iTunes store. “It’s a great home study tool where students can learn even if no one else is around,” Brannen commented. “We hope to have a whole new generation of children who will have a passion for studying God’s Word.”

Brannen said that the app can also be used by Christian parents who want their children to memorize Scripture, facilitating a faith connection at home where activities can be done as a family. The app can also be used as a learning activity on an iPad in Bible Drill classrooms at church.

We have three of these to giveaway to ParentLife readers! Leave a comment on this post to be entered to win. Giveaway will end on Friday December 20th!