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!

Have Your Children Participate in Holiday Planning

Three major holidays are soon approaching – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Typically, parents plan all the activities and children enjoy the fun, including days off from school and eating lots of sweets.  This year, have your children actively participate in the planning of each day’s activities to help them build organizational skills and appreciate what needs to be done.

For gifts, get suggestions from your children on what should be purchased or handmade.  Family members usually enjoy receiving personal, handmade items from children.  If your children are artistic, encourage them to think of presents that they can make.  There are many websites as well as stores that have ideas for projects.  The key is to plan ahead and make sure that you and your children have  time to make each gift.

If you decide on buying some gifts, encourage your children to come with you to select the gifts.  You can build fond memories looking for the perfect item for a grandparent, for example.  The gift recipient can be told that the child helped to select the item.  Oftentimes, that makes the gift extra-special.

Each holiday will need a special menu for meals prepared.  Ask your children to participate in building the menus and then grocery shopping and cooking with you.    They will learn about selecting meals and obtain hands-on- knowledge of ingredients as well as learn your cooking secrets.

Decorating the house for each holiday should be a planning activity too.  Many families have already accumulated decorations over the years that are kept in storage until the time to put them out.  Consider adding some new, special touches to this year’s decorations – some that your children select.  For example, one of my nieces wanted specific Christmas decorations in their front yard one year.  She and her parents discussed the decorations, arrived at an agreement on what could be purchased, and then went shopping for them.  Everyone assisted in putting them up.  The new decorations turned out to be an extra-special touch for their yard.   

Children love to be included in planning activities – it shows them that they are truly appreciated.  They can learn so much by doing so too! 

This Christmas - Allow God’s Light to Shine Through You in Everything You Do

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”
Matthew 5:14

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!  As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus, it’s important to remember that He was the light of this world.   When Jesus was born, the wise men saw His bright star and followed it from the east to find Him.  Matthew 2:2.  Then, when they were in Bethlehem, they continued to follow the star and it led them directly to the house were Jesus lived.  Matthew 2:9. God is light and as His children, He passed that light down to us.  God does not want us to hide the light He gave us - He wants it to shine brightly, as a star, in and through us. He wants us to display His light in ways that are pleasing unto Him.

Consider using your gifts to serve the Lord and shine brightly.  God has blessed each one of us with our own unique talents and abilities, but it is up to us to choose how we use them.  There is no better way to be a light to this world than to use your gifts to honor Him.  If your talent is singing, join a church choir or sing songs that give glory to the Lord.  If you are a writer, write creative and informative books or stories or other written works based on biblical themes, characters and histories. There is so much that you can do!

Being a light in the world also involves volunteering to assist those who are less fortunate, and I have written about that before.  1 Peter 4:10 states, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” Our gifts were bestowed upon us to be a blessing to others in the same way that God has blessed us.

Passing on His graces and mercies is the ultimate expression of His love for us and what He continues to do in and for us. God’s light is life and we should use the life He gave us to light up the world - as He intended it.  And, just as the wise men followed that bright star to find Jesus, others will follow us to Him.

Raising Thankful Children

I came across this quote and was taken aback by how simple yet forthright and impactful it was.  Saying “thank you” is such an important part of our relationship with God, our Father, yet how often do we truly do it during our busy days?  How are we teaching our children to be thankful for all that He has given us?  1 Thessalonians 5:18 states “Give thanks in every circumstance for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

It’s the day after Christmas and I’m certain that we all had a lot of gifts to open and indulge in as well as scrumptious meals to enjoy.  We should be thankful for all that He has given us, not just for these physical, worldly gifts, but most importantly, for the intangible ones - our lives, our health, our family, etc., etc.  I could go on and on naming what we can be thankful for each and every second of each and every day.  

Whether we like it or not, we are role models for our children.  If we are not verbally expressing our thanks and showing thankfulness through our actions, the likelihood is that our children will not either.  To raise thankful children, we must first be thankful as parents.  Try expressing thanks out loud each day as part of the family routine, such as when you are driving them to school.  Make it fun and playful.  Point out how they can thank each other for simple acts of kindness.  As a parent, you can thank your children for things that they do, and they should be thanking you as well.  Nurture a thankful spirit within your children and they will be kinder and more loving to you and others. 

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. 

 

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

As Mothers, Do We Know the Importance of the Children We Gave Birth To?

    This Christmas season, one of my most favorite songs is “Mary, Did You Know?” written by Mark Lowry.  In that song, Mary is asked whether she knew how great her child Jesus would be.  Did Mary know that her son would walk on water?  That he would calm the storm with his hand?  As she kissed his face, did she know that he had come to save us?  That he was the Lord of all creation?  The questions continue throughout the song.

    I love this song because I wonder what Mary thought about her son as she caressed him in her arms.  She was chosen by God to fulfill this critical role.  And as a mother, I think about my own sons.  I believe that I too was chosen by God to be the mother of my sons.  Do I truly know how important my sons are to God and how important they will be to their generation and generations to follow?  Do I expect greatness and importance out of them?  When they were babies, I held them in my arms and loved them as only a mother could.  And, yes, I do expect great things from my sons, because of who they are in Christ.  I know that God has great destinies for them.  

Author Soraya Diase Coffelt