During All the Gift Giving and Receiving This Christmas, Please Remember the Greatest Gift of All!

“Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.”

2 Corinthians 9:15

While we are all busy giving and receiving gifts this year, we can easily get caught up in the material aspect of Christmas.  As Christians though, it is critical that we remember and celebrate the greatest gift that was ever given to us.  God gave His only Son to us as a special gift!  The scripture verse at 2 Corinthians 9:15 succinctly sums up the reason for the season. 

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Passing on Good Values

A friend of mine told me about the non-profit organization Foundation for a Better Life and its website www.passiton.com and I wanted to pass on what I have found and learned.   I believe it will be very helpful to parents and children in learning about and promoting good values.

The Foundation is dedicated to passing on good values in our communities through public service campaigns.  Various means of communicating positive values are used such as through videos, billboards, radio messages, and the internet.  Additionally, if you are looking for an inspirational quote, one page on its website is dedicated to that as well.  No matter how you may be feeling, there is an inspirational quote for you to help brighten your day.

A quote from its website explains its mission: “The goal of The Foundation for a Better Life is to offer inspirational messages to people everywhere as a contribution toward promoting good values, good role models and a better life.”  I can’t tell you enough about how impressed I am with this organization and all that it is doing.  Please spend some time on its website – you will not be disappointed!

Teaching Biblical Financial Principles to Your Children

The concepts of handling money according to biblical principles are very important ones and parents often do not take the time to teach their children about them.  Proverbs 22:6 talks about training your child in the way he should go so that when he grows up, he will not depart from it.  Training your child also involves teaching these financial principles so that he can be a wise steward.  But, of course, you must know and follow these principles yourselves as parents.

In his online article entitled 10 Financial Principles That Are Biblical, author George Fooshee addresses principles that Christians need to know to properly manage their financial resources. Too many Christians are mired in debt and have become slaves to their out of control spending habits.  Knowing and then obeying God’s Word in regard to money management are critical to financial freedom.

The 10 financial principles are:

1. Understand that God is your source.  Philippians 4:19,  Proverbs 8:20-21, and 2 Cor. 9:8 all refer to God being our source - financial and otherwise.  The Christian walk involves putting our trust in Him to provide for our needs.

2. Tithing should be a regular part of our giving.  As Christians, we all understand that we should tithe.  Proverbs 3:9 instructs us to honor God with our first fruits.  But, do we really do it or do we make excuses and believe that God will understand why we have not tithed regularly?  God’s Word should be alive and something that we adhere to every day not just when we want to.

3. Prepare and plan.   Handling our money wisely involves preparation and planning. 

4. Save.

5. Keep out of debt.

6. Do not co-sign.

7. Keep records and set a budget.  From young, children should be taught how to budget. When giving an allowance to your children, for example, enforce the categories of “save”, “spend”, and “tithe” so they learn and put these concepts into practice.

8. Be content with what you have.  For example, if you know that you cannot afford a new vehicle at this time, do not shop for one.  Be content with what you have until you are truly able to afford a new or different one.

9. Work hard.

10. Seek Godly counsel.

As I have said many times before in my blogs, your children are observing what you do and listening to what you say every day.  Training or raising  successful children first starts with you as parents.   

To read more of this article, click here.

Have the Entire Family Commemorate Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day.  It is a day that has been set aside for us to honor those who have died in the fight to serve and protect our wonderful country. While it is always fun to dust off the grill and invite friends and family over for one of the first barbeques of the season, let us not forget the important sacrifices behind this holiday.

Teach your children about why Memorial Day is celebrated. If explaining the holiday in a child-friendly manner seems difficult for you, there are several articles online that you can use for assistance.  Also, libraries and bookstores have many age appropriate books.  Once your children understand the reasons behind the holiday, participating in activities will be more memorable and heartfelt.

Here are a few examples of activities that the whole family can participate in before or even after you fire up that grill:

  1. Children love crafts. Encourage them to make letters or cards for veterans and families of fallen soldiers.  They can then deliver them to the people whom you know, to veterans’ hospitals or Veterans Affairs offices. Feel free to join in on the fun. Crafting can be a great bonding opportunity and give parents the time to address any unanswered questions about the day and any other activities that are planned. 
     
  2. Visit monuments of fallen soldiers. Some of the most famous in the country are found in Washington D.C.  However, if visiting the nation’s capital is not an option, you can always find graveyards and memorials in or around your town to visit.
     
  3. Carry flowers to honor the fallen.  One of the most appropriate flowers used to pay homage are poppies. In the poem In Flanders’ Fields, poet John McCrae venerated the sacrifice made by those who lost their lives in service during the First World War.  He wrote about poppies being in the fields.  The flower has been associated with war and remembering the fallen.  Explain to your children the history behind the flower and take some to a veterans’ graveyard, memorial, or even to a veteran.
     
  4. Go see a Memorial Day Parade.  Parades can be such fun to watch.  They are not only an excuse to get out of the house, but also a wonderfulopportunity for the entire family to experience a town, city or county coming together to honor and commemorate truly extraordinary people, people who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
     
  5. Observe the National Moment of Remembrance. Since December, 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance has been set to begin at 3 p.m. wherever you are in the country. This is a time to for you to stop whatever you are doing and pay your respects.

There are countless other activities that can be done today.  What is important is that you participate in them together as a family and give honor to those who first honored us.

Teaching Kindness and Compassion To Our Children

Galatians 5:22-23 lists kindness as one of the fruits of the Spirit that we should develop.   In this fast paced world and with all the negative information on television and the internet, it is even more important that we cultivate kindness and compassion in our children.

What are kind acts?  Jesus modeled kindness through such acts as healing the blind and eating with sinners. There are those acts that you can do in your neighborhood or community and those that you can do at home.  One of the acts of kindness that I have done over the years is to help feed homeless persons, not only during the holidays, but also during other times of the year.  Even when I travel, I try to spend time volunteering in some service capacity.

Once I was on a trip to attend a conference in a certain city and arranged for dinner with a friend who lived in that city.  After he picked me up and we were driving to the restaurant, I expressed my concern about how many homeless people were in his city as I felt there were many more as compared to other places I had visited.  My friend commented that I was the only person he knew who actually noticed homeless persons.  I was shocked by his statement.  

Parents can cultivate kindness by having their children volunteer to participate in many activities in their community.  Cleanups in specific areas of town, mowing the lawn for an elderly neighbor, babysitting for a single parent – these are all acts of kindness and compassion.

At home, parents are role models as children imitate them.  Parents should not expect their children to be kind if they are not.  Acts of kindness and words of kindness should be a regular part of a family’s daily ritual.  These include helping carry in bags of groceries; thanking each other for a thoughtful word or gesture; and assisting with a chore or a task.   

As the poem in today’s blog states, kindness and compassion never fail, whether in our communities or in our homes.  It is up to parents to nurture and develop those attributes in their children.

How to Choose a Bible for Your Children

Do you have a Bible for your children?  Many parents buy story books for their children with stories out of the Bible because they do not believe that their children will be able to understand the Bible.  I continue to encourage parents to buy an actual Bible for their children so that they can begin to read God’s Word for themselves.

In the online article Choosing a Child’s Bible, writer T. Capps provides some excellent guidance in selecting the right Bible for your children.  Important considerations are:

1. Make sure that you purchase a Bible that is the right reading level for your child.

2. Buy a Bible that is the complete Bible, and not just one part.  That way, your children learn from young about the Old and New Testaments.

3.  If the Bible has pictures, ensure that they are accurate and not cartoon characters or scary.  The Bible is not a cartoon book, and children should not think of it as such.

4. Purchase a Bible that has maps and other information to help your children learn more about the time periods.  Maps, timelines, etc., offer assistance to children and make the Bible more understandable.

5. Make sure that the Bible is durable and further consider a cover for it so that it can last many years.

The author makes many more helpful suggestions.  Spend time considering what Bible to purchase as it will be a prized possession for your children for many years. To read the entire article, click here.

Help Your Children To Be Gift Givers and Not Just Gift Receivers

As we approach Christmas Day, we, as parents, spend a lot of time thinking about and planning what to get our children for Christmas.  We want our gifts to be very special for them.  But consider this: God gave us His Son Jesus as the greatest gift for mankind.  God loves us so much that He is a giver!  During this holiday season, what about spending just as much time and effort teaching your children about being givers of gifts?  

Gift giving involves quite a bit of caring and planning.  First, select someone for whom your children can purchase a gift this Christmas.  That person can be a relative or someone who does not have a family.  Or is there someone in the hospital?

Second, have them find out what the person would like as a gift.  That involves getting to know the person deeply, not just in a casual or random way.  What are this person’s likes and dislikes?  If the person enjoys music, find out what specific kind of music.

Third, gift giving involves taking the time to find and purchase the appropriate gift.  Where can that special gift be purchased?  Is it available online or do you have to actually go to the store to purchase it?

Fourth, the gift should be wrapped with festive paper and ribbons, to make it look colorful, attractive and appealing.  This also takes time to select the specific paper and other ornaments to go on the package and then to carefully and lovingly wrap it.

Fifth, have your children add a special name tag or card to the gift.  Encourage them to use their creativity in creating and drawing the images.  This can be a whole project in and of itself.

Sixth, set aside that special time when your children can give the gift.  Make it unique.   And, remember to carefully observe the response of the person receiving this gift and the tremendous joy it brings.

Your children will remember these exceptional times and gifts.  They will also learn to be generous and to love and care about others, rather than just focusing on themselves.  

 

When Planning What Gifts to Buy Your Children This Christmas, Remember This: Your Presence is More Important

As parents, we often spend much of our time planning what presents to buy our children, particularly as Christmas approaches.  Another video game? Another DVD? Music lessons?  Dance lessons?  The newest fad watch?  The list can be endless.  For this holiday season, stop and think about the fact that your children would much rather have time with you than with a gift.

Consider instead planning an activity that will become a family tradition.  Your children will have life long memories of all the fun they had with the family rather than the gift.  Such family traditions can include having the entire extended family over for a meal; or volunteering time together to help the less fortunate; or attending church together.

What about planning a family trip together?  You can select a different location each year.  One Christmas, my sisters and I planned a family trip to a popular theme park.  We rented a large home and our parents and all our siblings and their spouses and children came.  We had such a wonderful time and made enduring memories.  

Also be sure to include some relaxed time.  What about simply going outside and looking at the stars?  Or trying a new recipe for a special desert? Or playing fun games with them?  When was the last time that you were the horse and they rode on your back?

Spending time with your children requires planning.  But, these plans will be the most important and life changing plans you can make. 

 

Throw a Fun Book Swap Party for Your Children and Friends

    Book swap parties have become popular events for children and promote reading at the same time.  They are simple to organize and fun to participate in.  And, they are a wonderful way to add new books to your children’s collection without having to pay the cost.

    If you’ve never been to a book swap party, here’s how they usually go.  Pick a date that will work for you, your children, and others.  Have your children select the books that they have already read and would like to swap with other children.  Be sure to explain to them that once the book is swapped, it no longer belongs to them but to the other child.  That way they understand that the book will have a new home. 

    Encourage your children to write a couple of sentences on an index card or post-it note as to why they liked those books.  This will encourage other children to read the books too.

    The children who are invited should also bring their books to swap.  Plan refreshments and snacks, just as with a regular party.  During the party, the children look at all the books and swap for the ones they want.  For those books that are left over, donate them to your children’s school’s library or the public library.

The Greatest Christmas Gift of All Time

As we are busy making our plans and buying gifts for our friends and loved ones for Christmas, let us not lose focus about why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.   As Christians, we believe that Jesus was the greatest gift ever given to mankind.  God gave us His only son Jesus so that we could have eternal life.  Why did God do this for us?  John 3:16 gives us the answer: because of His immense love for us.  

The true meaning of Christmas is found in its name: “Christ”, who is Jesus and “mas” which is a celebration.  Christmas is an extremely special day for us.  I encourage you to spend time worshiping Jesus and thanking Him for all that He has done for you and your loved ones.   From my family to yours - have a blessed and peaceful Christmas!

Author Soraya Diase Coffelt