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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Books on Praying for Children

parents book of prayers

 

On November 1, B& H Publishing Group released A Parents Book of Prayers by Tony Wood. This padded hardcover volume is a daily devotional, filled with Scriptures and prayers to pray over your children. Wood is an author and songwriter who has touched many, and this book has received accolades from the Christian community. It would make a beautiful gift this Christmas for a parent you know, or the perfect addition to your quiet time!

Recording artist Francesca Battistelli says, “Tony is one of the most prayerful and thoughtful people I’ve had the privilege to know and work with over the past decade. I’m grateful to call him a friend and thrilled to recommend this beautiful book of prayers for parents.  As a busy working mom, this is a God-send!”

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Here are some other titles to pick up if you’re interested in learning how to pray for your children:

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!

Raising a P.R.I.N.C.E.S.S.

RaisingAPrincess_CVRWith the success of the movie “Frozen” princesses are back in the spotlight, and much is made about raising daughters to be a princesses, but what does that really mean? Former Alabama defensive back John Croyle, and founder of child safe-haven Big Oak Ranch, believes the answer lies in Proverbs 31: “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in her gates” (vv. 28-31).

In his new book, Raising a Princess (B&H Books, May 2014), Croyle walks through the importance of raising young women in a biblical, strong, and compassionate manner. Touching on themes of unconditional love, failure, and trust, Croyle offers nearly four decades of wisdom in raising a godly woman from a dad’s perspective.

“A hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of house we lived in, the kind of car we drove, or how much money we had in the bank,” says Croyle, author of The Two Minute Drill to Manhood, which looks at what it means to raise godly young men. “But the world may be different because you and I were important in the life of a child.”

In The Two Minute Drill to Manhood, he tackles the necessities of equipping young men in the most pivotal moments of their adolescence. However, in Raising a Princess Croyle writes with a different end in mind: womanhood. The end is a Proverbs 31 woman and Croyle provides parenting techniques to help the reader raise their princess to someday be a queen. Croyle’s specific approach to raising young women is spelled out through the acronym P.R.I.N.C.E.S.S:

Praiseworthiness – A princess understands she is worthy of praise simply because she is made in the image of God.

Righteousness – She lives according to God’s normal, not the world’s normal.

Initiative – A princess makes good things happen.

Nurture – God built into girls and women an instinct to nurture that boys and men simply don’t have in the same way.

Character – A girl of character knows what her deepest desires are and chooses accordingly.

Empowerment – Your princess needs to understand life isn’t just something that happens to her. She has the power to choose.

Servant-Heartedness – A princess finds purpose not in being served, but in serving others.

Stability – As stability is provided for daughters, they will grow into the kind of people who help create stability for others.

John Croyle was an All-American defensive end at the University of Alabama during apic_administration4 renowned title run under Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Croyle declined a career in the National Football League and instead went on to found and develop the Big Oak Ranch for Boys. Over the next few decades they worked to start the Girls’ Ranch as well as the Westbrook Christian School. He and his wife, Tee, together have raised hundreds of young men and women, including their daughter and Big Oak child care director, Reagan Croyle Phillips, as well as their son and former NFL quarterback Brodie Croyle. For more information, please visit www.bigoak.org.

Are You Ready for Summer?

Believe it or not, summer is right around the corner. Have you planned your summer adventures yet? Check out these helpful products to help you and your family stay safe (and have fun) this summer!

  • BabyBanzBaby Banz Sunscreen Lotion Spray — Baby Banz has made it easier than ever to protect your little one’s skin from the harmful rays of the sun. They have created an amazing sunscreen perfect for young ones ranging from crawling toddlers to growing teens! The sunscreen is formulated with SPF 50 UVA/UVB protection and is PABA free for peace of mind! Simply point and press and the convenient spray emits a continuous, angled spray for maximum coverage. It’s never too early to establish good skin care habits!
  • Baby B’Air — The FAA-approved Baby B’Air Flight Vest is a safe solution for lap-held children while traveling in an airplane. The Baby B’Air is the perfect solution for all babies, securing them safely to their parent so that both the baby and parent are comfortable and there is no squirming or potential for baby falling. The Baby B’Air is worn by the infant like a vest. Constructed of 100% cotton and comfortable to wear for baby, the Baby B’Air is used by simply connecting it to the seat belt of the adult. The baby can then be held, fed, and even changed while both parent and child remain securely fastened in their seat. For more information, visit babybair.com.
  • PuddleJumperPuddle Jumper Life Jackets — The fun lasts longer for kids in the water with a Stearns® Puddle Jumper® Life Jacket. The comfortable design allows children 30 to 50 lbs. to move and swim freely in pools and lakes and at the beach, without the life jacket riding up around their necks. Each PFD is Coast Guard-approved and can be used as a learn-to-swim aid. They come in lots of different colors and styles.

What are your family’s must-have summer products?

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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Great solution for kids!

SPI

The Kid’s SPIbelt™ (MSRP $16.99) is sleek, expandable, secure, and does not bounce. It can hold any phone, keys, identification and many other small personal items. Perfect for children who need medical supplies such as inhalers, insulin pumps or epipens, SPIbelt™ won’t ride or shift while participating in vigorous activities. And parents can relax knowing their children’s items such as house keys and medical supplies won’t be lost. www.spibelt.com

Christian Parenting DVD Series

As we gear up for fall – in school and at church – maybe your church is looking for a study to help its members be better parents. Or maybe you and your spouse are simply looking for something to study at home. (Or just you! Single parents, military spouses … we all need help.)

Here are some great studies to help you in your endeavors.

 

The Parent Adventure is a study from Rodney and Selma Wilson. Selma Wilson is the current president of B&H Publishing Group and has been married to Rodney for 37 years. They have two grown daughters.

This 7-session study helps encourage parents to guide their children in the spiritual disciplines, seeing their role in their children’s lives as a great adventure. It offers biblical guidance for all stages of parenting.

5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Son and 5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter  are Vicki Courtney’s responses to our changing culture and come from experience raising a daughter and two sons in recent years. These studies are well-suited for parents of teens and tweens, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the difficult questions you’ll have to face while raising kids.

 

 

Raising Boys and Girls helps parents, teachers, grandparents, and other caregivers explore the differences between the sexes. Helps adults focus on being Christian role models for those in their care. This study is six sessions with 30-minute teaching videos.

 

Have you done any great parenting studies you’d like to share with us?

Hey God, Can I Get Off the Ark? Reimagining the Noah Story.

getofftheark

 

Released in May from B&H Publishing Group and author Troy Schmidt, Hey God, Can You Stop the Rain … helps children see Noah’s story from a different point of view: that of a raven on the ark.

Oh sure, we’ll all heard the story of Noah’s Ark a hundred times. But have we heard it from the perspective of other living creatures who witnessed the history-making event? Hey God, Can You Stop the Rain so I Can Get off Noah’s Stinky, Smelly Ark?  imagines how a certain raven from the story might recount those forty days and nights, helping kids ages 4 to 8 discover Noah’s epic voyage in a whole new way. The “Parent Connection” feature will help moms and dads take the story further with scripture references and tips on how to talk with their children about what really happened. There’s even a free online app to make this bright retelling even more animated and interactive.

Troy Schmidt has writing and video production credits ranging from assignments with Disney (The Mickey Mouse Club) and Nickelodeon to Max Lucado’s Hermie franchise. He is currently the lead writer for The American Bible Challenge hosted by Jeff Foxworthy on the Game Show Network. Troy and his wife have three sons.

You can purchase Hey God … from LifeWay, Amazon, ChristianBook.com, among other book retailers.