A Christmas List Helper for Kids

“I want, I want, I want……oh, and I want this too!”

Moms, you get this.  It is SO easy for our kids to become a little too “gimme” focused this time of year, and to a large degree it’s understandable! They are excited!  They get to ask for gifts they don’t normally receive, and the anticipation of Christmas is incomparable to most other experiences in their little lives. Yet, all this excitement can easily lead  to The Focus On The List.  The List becomes the central expectation, the hope, the culmination of Christmas Day.

What is Christmas?

Christmas is our response to God’s gift to us of His Son, and we give gifts to others in celebration and imitation of that love shown to us by God.

I have made it my mission the last several years to “reset” the true meaning of Christmas before the season even starts.  It’s like a re-wiring, so that when the media barrage starts, it sort of pings off my kids instead of seeping into their little bones.  We do this in several ways, and I have shared those in past year’s blog. Of course, our sweet Charlie Brown Christmas tree that stands in our family room seems to bulge with gifts as Christmas Day arrives, and the gift opening is joyous and wonderful, but I know (hope!) that deep inside, my kids understand it’s about more than this frenzied unwrapping of The List.

I just read a post on Facebook from my dear friend Wendy Edwards as to how she is hoping to set her kids up for the excitement of gifts while helping them to see the bigger picture of Christmas and I loved it!  With her permission granted, I would love to share her ideas with you:

POST TITLE: GUIDANCE FOR HER CHILDREN’S WISH LISTS

“Offering the children the Christmas wish list guideline again this year…their lists are always insightful…and sometimes really, really funny!”

Something you want, something you need,
Something to wear, something to read.
And something to share, for a girl or a boy,
A ball, a book, a game, or a toy,
To give to another, Christmas joy!

List

(Amy jumping in here…I asked Wendy how she implemented this list, and combined it with the scriptures below.  She said the above saying helped her children focus their list and keep it simple.  It created a framework that reduced excess.  The scriptures below were shared with the kids over the course of a week or two, so that they wrapped themselves around the physical list for perspective.  They teach that even though we all love giving and receiving gifts we can hold and touch, there is a bigger picture and a heart attitude we can all enter the Christmas season knowing).

Here are the scriptures that go with the passage above:

SOMETHING YOU WANT  (His provision is abundant, beyond our needs)

I Timothy  6:17     Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Psalm 37:4   Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

SOMETHING YOU NEED  (His omniscience He knows our need)

33   So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
SOMETHING TO WEAR (His provision/spiritual clothes)

Matthew 6:28-30    And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith?


Ephesians 6:13-16  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

SOMETHING TO READ (His word)

Psalm 119:11  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:105 Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path.

Psalm 119:45-47 I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, for I delight in your commands because I love them.

SOMETHING TO SHARE (the blessing in giving, and for the last one– in receiving )
II Cor 9:7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

So, I hope this helped you as it helped me this year.  Instead of The List becoming the central hope, expectation, and culmination, let it be Jesus!Blessings to you during this Christmas season!

~Amy

 

He Bought The Ticket

Written By Amy

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In my last post I shared about an “intentional Christmasing” time our family had together.  Today, I would like to share with you another intentional plan I had for my family this Christmas season that didn’t work out so well.  Let’s back up just a bit first. Last year, our family went to this wonderful Christmas performance at Cherry Hills Community Church called “Christmas at the Ranch.”  Maybe you’ve been.  I loved it, because it was a Christ centered event, with high quality singers, performers, and meaning.  The songs were all about the real Christmas, the focus on the birth of Jesus and the hope we have in that.  This is what I wanted to fill my children’s hearts with in the midst of all the bling and sparkle of Christmas.  I couldn’t wait to buy tickets for this year.

In my intentionality to make this happen, I was online as soon as tickets went on sale a couple of months ago, buying seats for my family (even paying a little more for better seats than we had the year before).  As the night of the performance drew closer, my anticipation was great!  I pictured our happy family, dressing up, going to a nice dinner out down by the church, and the enjoying the concert together, letting our hearts be filled with the joy of the season.   Ha ha.

As our family left the neighborhood that night, I had a joyful heart–a night out with our whole family together is a rare and treasured event.  About 15 minutes into the drive my children started arguing…and because we were in a two-row car that night, their close proximity escalated the situation.  Jon and let them work it out for a minute or two, and then attempted to de-escalate the situation.  They settled down for a bit and then out of no where a push from one, a smack from another.  Now I had two children crying (this would be more palatable if my youngest wasn’t TEN!).  I struggled to keep my spirits up as the kids settled into a quiet simmer at each other.  In the midst of this, traffic came to a slow crawl, and my hopes of our sit-down dinner were slipping away.  By the time we reached the area of the church, most of our moods were sour, we were hungry, the kids were mad at each other, I was mad at the kids for being mad, and we couldn’t decide on a quick restaurant to grab food (sit down out of the question at this point).  We spotted a Chipotle, and swung in there.  Somehow on the way from Chipotle to the church, Jonathan and I had a tense discussion between the two of us, which completely tanked any happy spirits I was holding on to.  We walked into the church a stressed, grumpy family.  I am not proud of this, but it took until the second half of the performance for me to find any joy as a mom in this situation.  I prayed as I sat in my seat that God would help me have a joyful heart in the moment.  I looked over at my family, and two of my children were asleep.  Wow.

I then had a woe is me pity party.  “Why as a mom do I put in all this effort to teach my family the real meaning of Christmas and this is what I get? Why did I spend all of this money?  This was a total waste of time.”  I was able to scrape my mood off of the floor by the end of the night, but would I do it next year?  Not so sure. I know now that I had overdone my expectations quite a bit, and that I had obviously put too much hope in this one experience for my family.  I also know this story above is real life.  It is what happens more often than the picture perfect scene I was hoping for.   I can even laugh about it now!

Here’s the amazing tie-in to Christmas.  In hindsight, had I known how the evening would turn out, I would have never bought those tickets.  However, God, in all of his intentionality, did know how sending his one and only Son to earth would turn out.  He knew it would end disastrously for his son. Yet, he still sent Jesus, in the form of a tiny fragile baby to this earth.  God sent his son, in the most vulnerable state possible, to lead the world into a relationship with him.  After 33 years on earth, Jesus would be hung on a cross in a brutal death.  Great suffering, anguish and pain.  And yet, God went through with it.  He still sent Jesus to teach, love and set an example for us.  He still sent his Son to die, redeeming us of all our sin, for all those who put their trust in Him.  God had hindsight, and foresight, and decided, because of his great love for us, to still buy the ticket.

Christmas is about love.  I am going to remind myself of that during this stressful time, filled with expectations that most likely won’t be met.  God bought the ticket because he loves me,  and that’s all that matters.

 

 

“Intentional Christmasing”

If you’re like me, life whizzes by at lightening speed, especially this time of year…I mean, there are only 12 more days until Christmas and  I am still digesting my Thanksgiving meal!

It is for this reason that a few years ago I decided to slow things down for our family.  We began the tradition of a weekend in the mountains to stay in a simple but quaint cabin, without technology, and a ultimate focus on Jesus being the reason for the season.  My intention was to help all of us take a deep breath before hitting the pavement of sales, flashing lights, songs about Rudolph, and wish lists that grow each week.  If we went away, into the quiet of nature and family, maybe we could instill in our children’s hearts a perspective other than “me, me, me!”  We could talk about the gifts and talents Jesus gave them, and how we can use them to give back to Him in this life.  Stories from the bible, and crafts that reminded my children of Christ, warm meals together and maybe a Christmas movie snuck in somewhere became the agenda.

A couple of years into this tradition, we invited close family friends that we had known for twenty years.  It quickly became a standing tradition of theirs too.  This year, we all headed up to Snow Mountain Ranch again, hoping for a little breather before the race to the 25th began.

This is the view! Peaceful!

Our activities this year included…..um, a lot of this…

 

And this…(decorating cookies)

 

And this…(puzzles)

We did get out and go on a hike.  Notice the mailbox name:

On Saturday night, after filling our stomachs at a taco bar, we invited the kids to gather around for a time of teaching.  I read from The Advent Book, a wonderful story of Jesus’s birth presented in a book with doors for kids to open and beautiful illustrations.  I got this book years ago at a MOPS convention, but you can still find them on Amazon here.

We asked the kids to share what the birth of Jesus meant in their lives…it was very sweet to hear their responses.  A lit candle stood on a table, and  we shared about how we can be a light to others since we have Jesus in our hearts, and asked the kids to reflect on this each time they saw a candle flicker this season.

After we felt we had sufficiently rewired their hearts to the true Christmas spirit (he he), the kids got to do an ornament exchange–and I don’t think we had any tears this year!

 

 

Our final event of the weekend is always a Christmas tree hunt.  We bundle up and treck  through the forest, in search of the very best Charlie Brown tree.  It is a tradition our family loves.  After all the families have hauled their trees out of the woods, we serve hot chocolate to the kiddos and wine and cheese to the adults.

It’s a wrap!  We headed home with a competition.  Whoever had their tree up and lit first that night would get $50 off next year’s lodging (we won).

More importantly, we came home with hearts in the right place, as the wave of materialism and presents seemed a bit smaller than before we left.  I have named this “Intentional Christmasing,” and if I’m not on top of it, it won’t happen.  Being intentional does not easily go with the flow of life, whether it’s making a date night happen, calling your out of town family to say hello, or setting a little time aside to focus on Jesus.  But, it is worth it.

Free Melted Snowman Printable

Written by Jen

HI!  I was asked to bring water for the class party this year.  Easy enough.  My girl friend saw a melted snowman label to put on the water bottles.  I loved the idea so I made one of my own.  All you do is print the labels.  Cut them.  Remove the original label and then replace the label with the adorable melted snowman label. I wanted to share it with you so you can print them and use them too if you like!  Have FUN!!  Click here to Print.

Christmas Eve: The Final Gift

Written By Amy

On this Eve of Christmas, I wanted to share a gift with you all.  It is the sweet gift of Jesus this Christmas, from a perspective that will touch your heart.  It is from Max Lucado’s UpWithWords daily devotional.  Here it is, enjoy!

Tiny Mouth, Tiny Feet

God. O infant-God. Heaven’s fairest child. Conceived by the union of divine grace with our disgrace. Sleep well.

Sleep well. Bask in the coolness of this night bright with diamonds. Sleep well, for the heat of anger simmers nearby. Enjoy the silence of the crib, for the noise of confusion rumbles in your future. Savor the sweet safety of my arms, for a day is soon coming when I cannot protect you.

Rest well, tiny hands. For though you belong to a king, you will touch no satin, own no gold. You will grasp no pen, guide no brush. No, your tiny hands are reserved for works more precious:
to touch a leper’s open wound,
to wipe a widow’s weary tear,
to claw the ground of Gethsemane.

Your hands, so tiny, so tender, so white—clutched tonight in an infant’s fist. They aren’t destined to hold a scepter nor wave from a palace balcony. They are reserved instead for a Roman spike that will staple them to a Roman cross.

Sleep deeply, tiny eyes. Sleep while you can. For soon the blurriness will clear and you will see the mess we have made of your world.

O eyes that will see hell’s darkest pit and witness her ugly prince … sleep, please sleep; sleep while you can.

Lay still, tiny mouth. Lay still mouth from which eternity will speak.

Tiny tongue that will soon summon the dead,
that will define grace,
that will silence our foolishness.

Rosebud lips—upon which ride a starborn kiss of forgiveness to those who believe you, and of death to those who deny you—lay still.

And tiny feet cupped in the palm of my hand, rest. For many difficult steps lie ahead for you.

Rest, tiny feet. Rest today so that tomorrow you might walk with power. Rest. For millions will follow in your steps.

And little heart … holy heart … pumping the blood of life through the universe: How many times will we break you?

You’ll be torn by the thorns of our accusations.
You’ll be ravaged by the cancer of our sin.
You’ll be crushed under the weight of your own sorrow.
And you’ll be pierced by the spear of our rejection.

Yet in that piercing, in that ultimate ripping of muscle and membrane, in that final rush of blood and water, you will find rest. Your hands will be freed, your eyes will see justice, your lips will smile, and your feet will carry you home.

And there you’ll rest again—this time in the embrace of your Father.

 

Our last gift to you will be this book, Christmas Stories, by Max Lucado.  If you are a subscriber by email, Google Friend Connect, or Facebook, you will have your name entered for a drawing of this book. 

Jen and I wish you the MERRIEST CHRISTMAS!  We are going to take this next week off from our blog (except to post the winners from this book and the Jillian Michael’s DVD) to spend time with our families and gather our thoughts for GraceFULLhome 2012!  God Bless You!

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