Dear Boys, When You Compare What You Get For Christmas To What Someone Else Gets

ContentmentChristmas

“Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.”CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

Dear Boys,

It happens every year, and this year will be no different. Or the years following for that matter. Or your whole life even. Actually, as you get older and become an adult, you will still struggle with this – it will just look different.

Christmas morning you wake up to find surprises that delight. You spend hours admiring your new gifts and falling in love with these treasures that now belong to you. You find the perfect spot to keep them safe. Throughout the day you go back time and time again to play with or admire  your toys or gifts. You love your new gifts. Really love them! Until…..

Until the phone call, visit, or hanging with friends or family when you hear their list of gifts received. The stack of books you treasured moments before begin to lose their appeal. The new basketball you wanted for months suddenly pales in comparison to the new iPod someone else received. That new art set you slightly push aside in embarrassment because it isn’t as exciting as the laptop someone else received. You blush as you listen to the list someone shares with you about all the gifts they received, and you shy away from sharing what you received.

Your 5 gifts or 10 gifts or 15 gifts will always be outdone by someone else. If you receive 5, someone else will always receive 6 or 7 or 10. If you receive 10, someone else will always receive 11, 12, or 18. If you receive a pair of rollerblades you’ve always wanted, someone else will always receive a better pair. If you receive a new bat bag, someone else will always receive a better one filled with brand new equipment.

Someone will always have more. Someone will always have better. But that is not the goal of life- to have more and better than anyone else. When you begin to understand this, you are on your way to discovering the secret path to joy God has laid out for you.

His Word is a treasure map. He is the treasure we ultimately seek. In Him is found everything our hearts could ever desire. Along the hunt, we tend to forget this. Sometimes we take a path and believe the treasure is elsewhere. We begin to hunt for what appears to be treasure, but it’s not. It’s counterfeit. It’s all along the trail though. So you have to learn to know the difference in the true treasure and the counterfeit.

This journey is exciting.

I want to tell you first, that it is normal to compare what you have to what others have. It’s happened since the beginning of time. The problem is what happens when you begin to entertain these thoughts. Envy, jealousy, discontentment, lack of joy, begin to find a spot in your heart. Spots that are reserved for contentment, gratitude, and joy. Spots God wants held for His Presence.

Comparison is a robber. It’s a joy robber. Along that treasure map are robbers hiding behind trees and bushes. They don’t want you to reach the treasure, they want to steal your joy so that you forget what you are truly searching for. Comparison does this. It takes your eyes off what you have and what you are thankful for and tells you there is something better out there. It tells you that if you have that one thing, you will be happy. Once you reach this one spot on the map, you will finally discover joy. Listen, boys, this is a great lie. And we all fall into its trap from time to time. Stay the course on your treasure map. Don’t let the comparison robber take from you what God wants you to possess.

Comparison kills contentment. Jealousy fills the spot contentment once held. Jealously is the joy thief that puts you on the path to never satisfied.

It’s a tricky thing our enemy does. He is always looking for ways to get our eyes off of God and onto something else. Stuff, toys, games, these are easy things he can use to tempt us to think this is the way to happiness and fulfillment.

Christmas is an easy time of the year the enemy can use this tactic against us.

If you got everything on the list that someone else received, it would satisfy for a moment only. Eventually, it would wear off and leave you wanting more. The more you have, the more you want. It’s a cycle. Underneath this desire for more stuff, better stuff, or what someone else has is a hole that God created in you to be filled by Him and Him alone.

Most of the world doesn’t know this secret. I want you to know this is the key to unlocking the clue that will lead you straight to the real treasure.

You see the people who seem to have more than you, they have the same desires you have. And they look at someone else’s stuff and feel they don’t compare. They too, lose gratitude for what they have as they place their eyes on the ones who have more.

Here’s part of the secret. People don’t go around talking about stuff like this. So you will feel these feelings, and you will think something is wrong with you for feeling this way. I want you to understand nothing is wrong with you. This is human nature. But it’s not God’s nature. I want you to learn to differentiate between the real, true, 100% treasure and the counterfeit version.

The fake treasure will make you happy temporarily, but it leaves you wanting more. The hole that it tried to fill in your heart, it will actually grow bigger. But that hole was intentionally created in you. It was placed there for a purpose. To be filled by God and only God. He is the only thing that satisfies that longing in us. That is the true longing. It’s for full satisfaction, which only comes from Him.

God created a heart in you that has deep longings and desires. The world will tell you it can fill those desires by giving you everything on your Christmas wish list. Or it will tell you if you have what they got, you will be happy. Don’t believe those half-truths. It’s only temporary. He is eternal.

Here’s the secret I really want you to know. If you are constantly filling up that hole in your heart with His truth and His Word, there is no hole to fill with the stuff the world will tempt you to use to fill that hole! You will be full and satisfied. You will have found joy and contentment in Him, which means you won’t be looking for it elsewhere. You will see the world around you on treasure hunts. Don’t follow their trails. Stay on the path God has placed you on. It’s the only one that leads to the real treasure.

After Christmas when you find yourself tempted by these feelings, pause and ask God to redirect your thoughts and to guide your heart towards truth.

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

The true desires of your heart aren’t for toys, games, clothes, and stuff. The true desires are for Him.

1 Timothy 6:6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Merry Christmas, my boys. May it be filled with the hope, love, peace, and joy found only in Him.

 

[box]If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. You will receive a free ornament download to accompany Seeking Christmas-Finding The True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

 

When It’s Time to Break Tradition- Why the Christmas Wish List Needs to Go Away

christmaslist

My middle son had saved his birthday gift cards and finally redeemed them for a new DS game, which arrived in the mail on a Monday. We have a no electronics rule during the week, so he knew he would look at that game until Friday rolled around. But he also is quite crafty with words. “Hey, Mom, you know it’s a tradition that when I buy a new game, I play it the same day I get it.”  He stopped talking then raised his eyes to meet mine.

“Impressive, my boy!”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you know how I feel about traditions. Nice choice of words to try to persuade my heart over my head. Well played. But no.”

Traditions are a critical part of family life. Sometimes we need to break tradition, though. Sometimes, a tradition needs to be replaced.

Before our family became intentional with keeping Christ at the center of Christmas, we would encourage our boys to make a Christmas wish list of everything they wanted. Want to create a monster? This is a good way to do it! They begin to obsess about what they want. One of my boys would become greatly stressed about having to come up with material things he wanted because his nature is not to focus on these things. It was very uncomfortable for him. Expectations became too high to meet.

Just because something is a tradition doesn’t mean we are bound to it. Sometimes a tradition needs to change shape.

So we got rid of the Christmas wish lists. We don’t ask for them. We don’t even discuss them anymore. We did replace them with another kind of list. A treasure hunting list we are keeping for the true gifts of Christmas.

Sometimes the gifts don’t appear in plain sight. Sometimes the gifts aren’t wrapped in Pinterest posed packages. Sometimes the gifts aren’t extravagant. Sometimes the gifts are quiet, subtle, unnoticeable…..unless you are hunting for them.

The Christmas season is here. In America it can’t be missed. On one hand this leaves me grateful. On the other hand, I am saddened when I see what aspects of Christmas receive the most attention, the most hype. Typically those same things are what silently robs us of joy and leaves us panting for rest, finishing the season with a big, “Whew, we survived.”

Oh, friends, my heart is filled with this passion for honoring Christ as Christmas. He didn’t come to burden us with to-do’s. He came to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves.

He came to do. He doesn’t need our to-do’s.  

Instead of filling our to-do’s with finding the perfect gifts for our kids, planning magical surprises to delight, scouring social media for the latest, newest, creative expression of Christmas magic, turn it over to him. Let go of the pressure to create magic. The magic is here. Waiting to be found. Hunt for it rather than burden yourself with creating it.

The flurry of Christmas buries the gifts of Christmas. The true gifts. The gifts of hope, love, peace, and joy. So we must hunt them out.

Though we do the elf hiding, the present buying, and the party hopping, I don’t want my boys to think that is Christmas. I don’t want them to think the excitement is in the temporary. The true magic of Christmas is less obvious. It’s hidden in the humble. It’s hidden in the simple. It’s hidden in the sacrifice.

We are hunting this Christmas season. Treasure hunting for the true gifts of Christmas. Hope, love, peace, and joy. Each day we are choosing one and hunting all day long. Today is love in our home. We are looking for all the ways we received love today. We are looking for all the opportunities we have to share love today.

We are making a list, checking it more than twice.

It’s a new kind of Christmas wish list. Forget the list of what they want. Make a list of what their souls need.

I don’t want my boys spending weeks pining away over endless wants for things. Things that days after Christmas will break, be shoved under a bed, be placed in a donation box. I want them to learn to seek the gifts that matter. I want them to learn what it means to give over receiving. But I want them to experience the satisfaction of receiving the gifts that matter so they are encouraged to give that to someone else.  All in the name of Christ.

We are seeking Christmas. Truly seeking Christmas by seeking the gifts of Christmas.

Would you join us in a new, simple, tradition? A treasure hunt of daily looking for the gifts He brings and the gifts He gives us to give back out. Treasure hunting takes practice and discipline.

Find the true gifts of Christmas this season. Hope, love, peace, and joy. This trumps any Christmas magic we try to create on our own. Because it’s real, it’s lasting. It’s eternal.

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. You will receive a free ornament download to accompany Seeking Christmas-Finding The True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

Create An Intentional Christmas

Create-an-intentional-Christmas_TheMomiverse_by-Renee-Robinson

The creaking chains of the bench swing played in rhythm to the steady pulse of the staple gun as I thumbed through a book. My dad worked at a consistent pace to secure the oversized, colorful bulbs to the roof.

Hours later my sisters and I stood back to admire his labor. Each bulb a different color from the one next to it. A few bulbs down the colors repeated. A pattern formed. During the day there was nothing spectacular about those lights. But at night. At night they would light up the house, reflecting off our faces, lighting up our hearts.

I remember the lights. Memories are like those lights…..

I’m sharing at Momiverse today. Would you join me there for the rest of today’s post?

Don’t miss your chance to win a free copy of Seeking Christmas while you are there.

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. You will receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

God Bless Our Christmas

 

meandhannah

I must start right out by telling you that Hannah Hall is my friend. Because of that, you may think my review below is biased, but really it’s not biased because…well, it’s just not, and you have to trust me. We’ve built that by now, haven’t we?

In May I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. I felt like a kid going to summer camp, both the day I arrived, and the day I left. I wrote about it here if you care to read it. Day 1 I stood in line with trembling hands and half-hearted smile. I didn’t know a soul and felt very much out of my league. Day 5 I strolled around the bookstore feeling like a kid leaving camp. Friendships formed in a short span of time orchestrated by our sweet God. Hannah is one of those friends.

Here’s the thing about Hannah. She has the best sense of humor, and you simply don’t see it coming. So when she is funny, it just takes you by surprise. That is how her writing is as well. Please do check out her blog. Your heart will go from tugging, to warming, to chuckling in the span of 3 short sentences.

Hannah’s third childrens book has just released in time for Christmas, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. In our home, we keep a box of books that only appear at Christmas. We spend hours reading these stories each season. Sweet memories created while curled on our sofa, snuggling each other with blankets and words.

GodBlessOurChristmas

 

God Bless Our Christmas is a beautiful story that I wish so badly I’d had when my boys were smaller. This book is intended for ages 1-4, but my 5-year-old enjoys it and asks for it nightly.

This rhyming story is a beautiful picture of friends, family, traditions, and memories. See why I love it so much? And at the end, it all points back to Christ, the greatest gift ever given or received. It’s a story of togetherness with family and friends through traditions and fun activities with reminders of God’s blessings throughout.

Even if Hannah weren’t my friend, I would write this post and strongly recommend you add this book to your Christmas bookshelf. But knowing Hannah makes me want to share it even more.

We are giving away a copy! Leave a comment below about something you love about the Christmas season before Thursday November 13th at 11:59 pm. Winner will be announced Friday.

May God bless your Christmas!

headshothannah

Hannah C. Hall is a blogger, speaker and children’s book author. She blogs weekly about snotty noses, marital moments (the good and the bad), and seeing God’s incredible character in the chaos at HannahCHall.com. Her first book, God Bless You and Goodnight, has been on the ECPA juvenile bestseller list for six consecutive months, and she has released two more books this year, God Bless Our Easter and God Bless Our Christmas.

Hannah, her worship-pastor husband and three children live and make a lot of noise in an otherwise quiet town in Arkansas.

 

 

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. You will receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Hands-On Way To Teach Children The True Meaning Of Christmas

DSC_0916a

 

 

The green and red plastic totes from the attic made their annual appearance in the family room. Artificial garland peeked through the cracks of those worn boxes in need of replacing. Opening each one was like finding my favorite sweatshirt, coffee mug, and fuzzy blanket. Comfort and familiarity enveloped us. Treasures of memories with our children each year were stored away awaiting their opportunity to do it again.

I wanted to stay parked there. Right there. At nostalgia. But pulling me away was this racing list in my head of everything that needed to get scheduled, bought, planned, packaged, shipped, decorated, baked, and wrapped.

As I picked up my pen and began jotting notes, I heard 2 of my little boys exploring the memories hiding in those boxes. “Oh, remember this, Zachary!” “I remember this!” “Look at this one!” “Remember when….”

The energy escalated with each discovery. They began rattling off all their favorite things about the season. Setting down my pen, I silently observed my 4 and 6-year-olds discussing the magic of Christmas. Not one gift made the cut. Not one material possession was cited. Not one extravagant display or party was credited. It was all the tiny, simple moments, the traditions that had been taking place year after year of their little lives. Nothing had come from Pinterest. Nothing about the super cute teacher and friend gifts I stressed about.

What did they remember? Paw-Paw calling to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. The scavenger hunt daddy sends us on that ends with hot chocolate and a Christmas movie. Looking at Christmas lights in pajamas. Spending the day decorating the tree together.

Time together. As a family. Celebrating what Christmas is all about.

Stop! Wait! Pause time! I wanted to capture this……………

To read the rest of this post, hop over to my friend, Courtney DeFeo’s, blog.

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. You will receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

25 Advent Calendar Days Of Memories and Experiences

DSC_1075

The Christmas season blows in hard doesn’t it?  We feel behind before it ever begins. When the season actually arrives…like right now, even though it’s only the beginning of November….if we aren’t intentional in our planning, we will find ourselves feeling little joy and much stress.

We want to create memories for our families. But does that sometimes feel like one more to-do? Do we feel the pressure of adorable Pinterest pins and Facebook posts of our friends who have teams of elves entering their homes every single night making Christmas magical? Do we wonder if we are making Christmas special enough?

I’ve found a secret to fighting this type of Christmas stress.

Simplify.

With our advent calendar, we have simplified our Christmas, while making our season more meaningful and intentional. It only takes a little extra planning the first year, then each year that follows, you will thank yourself for making your holiday less stressful and more memorable.

My kids love an advent calendar. They love opening the doors and counting down the days until Christmas. I love it too, and I thought, why can’t we use our advent calendar to create memories, to experience times of togetherness, and to do some of the things on our Christmas to-do list or Christmas bucket list?

Do you remember this post where I listed 18 ways your family can serve others at Christmas? Well, using an advent calendar is a great way to make sure your service projects actually happen. Also, each day in Seeking Christmas, there is an activity that ties into the lesson. When I know the days we will be doing those lessons/activities, I put that in the advent calendar. For me it is accomplishing 2 things at once by simplifying. But it is also about becoming intentional with the fleeting moments of Christmas. Intentional to spend time together, to create memories, to experience moments together, and to serve others.

It’s easy for an advent calendar to become just one more ways kids are given a message that it’s all about them. It could potentially be one more way they run to see what they get that day as they countdown to the day they get even more. It doesn’t have to be that way. Kids love time together. Kids love the surprise of opening the door. Kids will cherish these memories. And one day, they will have a heart that thinks a little more of others and a little less of themselves. We pray, right??

So here is the list we use in our house. Many days I duplicate activities. I usually have several days that the activity is reading a Christmas story together, or watching a movie, or enjoying a cup of hot chocolate together. Don’t feel the pressure to come up with 25 different activities. Some activities will want to be repeated. This list is to give you ideas. I left off many that you might want to include for your family, such as going to a tree farm or decorating the tree.

To simplify even further, I got Christmas card stock, used a gift tag punch, and created these advent activities to use each year. Now I don’t have to think about it. I just pull it out with our other Christmas decorations. And like any tradition, my kids anticipate what lies behind those doors.

25 Advent Days of Memories and Experiences

1-Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate together

2-Enjoy a Christmas movie together

3-Look at Christmas lights

4-Be a secret santa to someone

5- Make cookies

6-Random act of kindness

7-Christmas craft

8- Bless someone in some small way

9-Enjoy a candy cane

10-Sibling exchange shopping

11- Gingerbread houses

12 -Make ornament

13- Choose a Christmas book (we keep a shelf of Christmas books that only come out once a year.)

14 – Family service project

15 – Write a Christmas poem or story together (we do this every year and I love looking back at what my kids have written)

16 – Wrap gifts (you do this anyway, so make a memory and have some fun with it!)

17 – Write a Christmas letter to someone (compassion child, a relative,a friend)

18 – Choose your activity (each person can choose an activity…a story, movie, etc)

19 – Christmas outing (ice skating, a local town parade or festival, etc)

20 – Christmas scavenger hunt

21 – Make a Christmas blessings list (where today did you see hope, love, peace, and joy?)

22 -Christmas campout- Set up sleeping bags under the Christmas tree, watch movies, make popcorn and indoor s’mores, and snuggle up for an indoor campout under the lights.

23 -Prepare, create, wrap teacher/friend gifts.

24- Christmas Eve church service

25 – Jesus was born – our greatest gift ever (we have a tiny porcelain baby Jesus that fits in our Advent house)

Additional ideas we have used :

  • a surprise gift – a small something you have chosen for each person
  • call someone to simply say I’m thinking of you and Merry Christmas
  • Birthday Party for Jesus
  • Special Christmas programs, performances, or musicals you plan to attend

 

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. You will receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

18 Ways Your Family Can Serve Others At Christmas

 

DSC_3831-1

 

I want my kids to understand that Christmas is about more than the gifts. At the same time, I want them to see the gift inside of them they can offer to others. We can practice generosity and service all year long, but Christmas provides a unique opportunity to model a giving heart.

The Christmas season seems to blow in like a blizzard and bury us with piles of to-do’s. The key for me is to plan ahead just a little. To determine before life gets too hectic what our family will do.

Serving can be so fun when done together as a family. It’s an easy way to create new traditions that bond your family while giving to those in need. Here is a list of ways your family can serve others at Christmas.

  1. Have a hot chocolate stand and donate the proceeds to your favorite charity. – My kids love having lemonade stands. In the summer, they will host a stand and donate to Blood Water Mission to provide clean water for Africans. I’m amazed at the generosity of the people who stop when they know they are giving to a good cause. People will pay $5 for a cup of lemonade. So how about hot chocolate at Christmas? The kids have fun making signs and setting up the stand. They work hard and keep none of the money but know their efforts have the potential to save lives.
  2. Pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child– This is one of our favorite traditions. Each of our boys likes to pack their own shoebox. Many Chick-fil-A locations even have a day to drop off boxes in exchange for a free sandwich coupon.
  3. Purchase a gift for Angel Tree Prison Fellowship -Many children have lost a parent to prison. This is a way to provide a gift to a child whose parent is unable to give them a gift.
  4. Visit a nursing home– One year we visited the nursing home and just walked around visiting the residents while they ate lunch. This was very uncomfortable for me but totally comfortable for my husband. He didn’t hesitate to hug people he didn’t know, and I couldn’t believe how open and receptive the residents were. They loved seeing our boys. Andrew was about 2 at the time, and he easily hugged the necks of strangers and they hugged him right back. Other times we have purchased small gifts such as slipper socks and warm hats to hand out to the residents.
  5. Adopt a family– Many local charities offer ways to adopt a family in poverty that cannot afford to provide gifts at Christmas. This is a wonderful way to lessen what you might spend on your own family and allocate to a family in need. Children can be very involved in this by selecting the gifts, making cards, and wrapping presents.
  6. Host an orphan, or donate to help other families host an orphan. 2 years ago we hosted an orphan at Christmas and explained to our children that rather than use our money to buy gifts, we were going to bring a child who has no parents into our home, love on him, and model to him what family looks like and show him the love of God. This experience changed our family forever. We have now hosted twice, and God has caused our hearts to desire to care for the fatherless in tangible ways.
  7. Pack military boxesBrave men and women serve our country so we can enjoy the freedoms and safety we enjoy. They sacrifice their lives for us. For many in the military, they will not be with family like we may be. Sending a little care package is a tiny way to say thank you for all they do for us.
  8. Blankets to homeless – Purchase blankets and visit an area of town where homeless men and women are likely to lay their heads at night in the cold. Pass out blankets. And pray over the blankets you will place in the hands of ones in need.
  9. Ornaments or craft projects to friends and neighbors – This isn’t a project of serving the needy, but is a way to continue to think of others over ourselves. It’s a fun way to love on the ones we love. The craft store has so many inexpensive projects that kids love doing. Pinterest not required! Just grab a few ornaments, paints, and stickers, and let the kids use their own creativity.
  10. Cookies and apple cider to homeless shelters – Take jugs of cider and plates of cookies to a homeless shelter and pass them out. It might be the brightest moment of someone’s week or season when you enter into their world even for just a moment to love on them.
  11. Provide a meal for a hospice patient – This has become a tradition for our family, which we started about 3 years ago. Contact your local hospice and ask if they have a volunteer list for donating a meal. Our hospice offers the option for Thanksgiving or Christmas and the option to provide a cooked or unprepared meal. In the past we have delivered a cooked meal on Christmas Day. Providing a meal is an obvious act of love and one that is so easy to get the kids involved in. It’s a way to remember that while some of us are in seasons of joy, others are in seasons of grief and pain. We can pray over the meal we prepare and pray for the mouths that receive it.
  12. Serve in a soup kitchen (most have age requirements, so this doesn’t work for young children). Our kids have not been old enough to do this yet, but I look forward to the day we can.
  13. Invite someone you don’t know over for dinner and practice hospitality. Is there a neighbor you don’t know very well? A widow nearby that could use the company? Don’t worry about how clean the house is, don’t worry about the decorations. Open the door wide, invite them in, and love on them through kind hospitality.
  14. Deliver treats to community service workers. Drop cookies at the fire stations, police station, teachers lounge, library help desk, garbage men. We are served all day long by many different people. Our kids need to be reminded how hard others work on their behalf. It’s a small thank you.
  15. Choose a gift from the Compassion or Samaritan’s Purse catalogue – The gifts from these catalogues are so inexpensive when you see the life-changing effects they have. Andrew selected a soccer ball as a gift item one year. Our boys take for granted they can go to a store whenever they want and buy a new ball. To realize some children don’t have a simple ball to play with was shocking to them. One of my boys chose the gift item that provides medicine. And one chose clean water.
  16. Random acts of kindness– everyone loves this, especially kids. It’s a fun way to be a secret santa. There are hundreds of random acts of kindness you can find online.
  17. Dedicate a day to the “little” ways that bless big – We often look for the obvious ways to serve, the soup kitchens, the shoebox packing, but we can’t overlook the little ways we can bless big. Make it a game of finding every chance to bless someone by serving them hope, love, peace, or joy. A child that normally fights back when offended by a brother chooses to disengage, he gave the gift of peace to the family. A child that saw an elderly in the produce aisle and offers to push her cart while she picks her produce, offers the gift of love. A child who sees a sad expression and tells a joke, or offers a giant smile, gives the gift of joy. We have the opportunity to serve constantly. While it is important to look for big ways to serve, it’s equally important to practice serving in the less obvious ways.
  18. Day of prayer– choose a day and a charity or need that God places on your heart and spend the day praying. Prayer changes situations more than anything we can ever do. It shouldn’t be overlooked. Prayer is the best act of service we can offer, and this is something we can model no matter the age of our children.

With all of these ideas (and the many I didn’t cover), we can’t forget to discuss with our kids why we are doing what we are doing. We aren’t trying to gain recognition. We aren’t trying to be super christian. We aren’t trying to gain favor. We are giving the gifts of Christmas. We are showing the love of Christ when we allow Him to use us to offer love, hope, peace, and joy to another.

Everything we do is an offering to Him. Every act of service is an act of worship.

One beautiful way to keep this visual in your home is to wrap up these “gifts” as gifts back to the Lord in honor of a season that is a celebration of His birth. This can be done by keeping a stocking for Jesus where you write notes on scraps of paper of all the gifts of Christmas you gave in His honor and fill His stocking. Or you can let the kids wrap up notes or packages addressed to Jesus that tell of the gift given for Him. Christmas morning unwrap these gifts to Jesus in celebration of His birth.

All in remembrance of the gift He gave for us. The gift of a son, born to die for our sins, so that we could have eternal life through Christ. The ultimate Christmas gift.

If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. You will receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.