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Category Archives: Holiday Traditions

Manners Anyone?

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”           (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

The words “thank you” seem so simple, but they mean so much to the recipient. Thanksgiving would be a great opportunity to thank God for all the things we so often take for granted, and a good time to thank those who mean so much to us.

While growing up with my grandparents, I recall how they modeled good manners before me. My grandfather always opened the door for my grandmother and me when walking into stores. The basic “please” and “thank you” were a given, and I wasn’t allowed to have my elbows on the table while eating a meal. At our Thanksgiving dinner, everyone remained at the table until everyone was finished eating, and come to think of it, this was a normalcy at all our meals. I especially enjoyed the conversation that was seasoned with stories of days past (the good ‘ole days) and the thankful hearts expressed through prayer.

I recently heard a broadcast from Dr. Dobson’s Family Talk, “Teaching Girls to Be Ladies.” During the broadcast Dr. Dobson references the writings of the second President of the United States. Excerpt from the transcript: “He was not a perfect man (John Adams), but he lived by a standard of righteousness throughout his adult life. In his autobiography, Adams wrote a commentary on the subject of moral behavior, which he called “manners.” Though the language is formal and dated, I urge you to listen to these words carefully and thoughtfully. They carry great meaning for us today.”

Adams wrote, “From all that I read of history and government, of human life and manners, I have drawn this conclusion: that the manners of women are the most infallible barometer to ascertain the degree of morality and virtue in a nation. All that I’ve since read and all the observation I’ve made in different nations have confirmed me in this opinion. Manners of women are the surest criterion by which to determine whether a republican government is practicable in a nation or not. The foundations of national morality must be laid in private families. In vain are schools, academies and universities instituted if loose principles and licentious habits are not impressed upon children in their earliest years,” and this is the key sentence, “The mothers are the earliest and most important instructors of youth.”

Continued excerpt from the broadcast transcript, Teaching Girls to Be Ladies:

“Obviously human nature (refer to transcript for context) has not improved much in the past several hundred years, nor will it ever. What has changed, as I have described, is that many parents have become far too distracted, overworked and stressed out to care much about teaching morals and manners to their children. Jolene Savage, who runs the Social Graces School of Etiquette in Topeka, Kansas, says society has reached an all-time low when it comes to matters of civility. Exhausted moms and dads seem not to have noticed what has happened to their children. Clearly, instruction and civility is needed now more than ever. Getting that done, however, can be a challenge.”

Dr. Dobson also shares some personal stories of his parents modeling good manners, which are then reflected in how he treats his wife Shirley. There’s also a touching remembrance of Shirley teaching their children manners at a tea party.

To listen to or finish reading the transcript from this broadcast: https://www.drjamesdobson.org/Broadcasts/Broadcast?i=4b85e9b8-f243-4a4e-ab39-5945136e91e5

Now I’m not trying to single out girls/women in this post…it just happened to be an emphasis from the broadcast I listened to at the time I was formulating this post. I’d like to recommend two books authored by Dr. Dobson: “Bringing Up GIRLS” and “Bringing Up BOYS” These and many other family resources may be purchased at Dr. Dobson’s family talk Shop: https://direct.cornerstone.cc/FamilyTalk+Shop/category/featured

Does anyone drive with manners anymore? I totally get the whole “road rage” mentality, especially when you have people rushing around, feeling spent, and distracted by social media posts. The other day I made this confession to my book club friends. “I thought this lady was going to run into the back of my car while driving to work!” I was in the left “faster” lane, already going a little past the speed limit myself, and was trying to return to the right lane, but there was too much traffic. Somehow, the lady sped up and went around me and quickly threw her hands up in the air signaling for me to return to the slower right lane. I chuckled when she realized that we both had to slow down due to the wreck ahead of us, and we both crept along far below the speed limit.

My point is this, we are hurried people with little patience, resulting in less manners. Manners definitely need to be taught, but more importantly, they are caught by parents and other adults who model good manners. Think about it!

We had the opportunity to watch three of our grandchildren for fours days while their parents got away to intentionally renew their annual family household planning, which includes their family spiritual discipleship. (They began this ritual early in their marriage and continue to use this resource: (Making a Spiritual Discipleship Plan).https://covenantheirs.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/making-a-spiritual-discipleship-plan-new.pdf

Lights shine Bright

jack with ballWhile we enjoyed lots of play time during our grandchildren’s stay, we also made a visit to the local nursing home. Our grandchildren have made some special friends who rarely if ever have visitors. One sweet lady is close to 100. She kept telling the grands how good looking they were. All the children beamed as they said “thank you.”

Before returning to their home, my granddaughter repeatedly came up to me and said, “Thank you Nana, for all the great food (ice-cream, nightly of course!), and for all the fun we have had with you and Pappy.” During all our meals together, each child took turns praying, expressing their thankfulness to God in such humble and genuine ways.

With Christmas coming up quickly, I asked our daughter what her son had on his wish list. She said, “He told me that he doesn’t want anything because he got everything he wanted last year!” I’m thankful for his gratefulness and honest spirit.

Looking for a good holiday movie to watch? Here’s my recommendation: Christmas for a Dollar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqjTIOAZLrU

Advent begins Sunday, December 1, 2019 – There are lots of great family devotionals to use. Here’s one and where to purchase. Creative Communications: https://www.creativecommunications.com/

And from Family Life: The Twelve Names of Christmas Ornaments https://shop.familylife.com/p-3931-the-twelve-names-of-christmas-ornaments.aspx

 

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The Sparkle Box

sparkle box picWith the busyness of the Christmas season, I was determined to read The Sparkle Box book to two of our grandchildren last night. I’ve read it to all our grands the past few years and each time it helps me to stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas—the birth of Christ and sharing the love of Jesus with others.

The story depicts a little boy, Sam, who anxiously wants to open the sparkle box that sits on the fireplace mantle. His mother tells him that they must first fill the box up before opening it on Christmas day.

Unknowingly to Sam, his mom begins writing down acts of love their family offers throughout the Christmas season and puts the slips of paper into the sparkle box. There are several, but not to give the whole story away, here’s the one that touches my heart (and the heart of our grandchildren) the most.

“Mittens and candy bar given to a man in need.”

While driving back home from dropping off some blankets and other items at the homeless shelter, Sam noticed a man curled up and lying on a park bench. Sam’s mom said, “That’s someone who might get one of our blankets.” A few days later, while shopping with his mother, Sam bought some mittens for the “mitten tree” at his school and a candy bar for himself. But as they were leaving the store, the man they had seen lying on the park bench entered the store. Immediately drawn to the tired-looking man, Sam ran by him sticking the gloves and the candy bar into the man’s hands as he and his mom left the store.

To read The Sparkle book online, you may go to this website https://www.thesparklebox.com/ It is free to read through December 31. 2018.

After finishing the book, our grandkids said that they would like to go by and visit their friends at the nursing care facility and take them some Christmas gifts. Emy recalled that her friend enjoys ceramics, so she said she’d like to buy her a paint set. And Max said he’d like to take his friend some sugar packets because his friend loves lots of sugar in his coffee.

lights shine brightOur grandchildren’s ministry, Lights Shine Bright, makes routine visits to a local nursing care facility. Each grandchild has been assigned a special friend who doesn’t receive many visitors. They (Lights Shine Bright) will present the Tale of Three Trees at the nursing care facility during the Christmas season.

I am thankful for the time God gifts to me, to intentionally spend time with our grandchildren, as we live out a love for Jesus and others.

Reading books to children and grandchildren can be a cherished memory. Our daughter started a Christmas tradition of reading 25 Christmas books with her children throughout the Advent season. One-a-day!

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2018 2: 01 pm - in Holiday Traditions

 

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Your Life Has Purpose

max-jack-muddy

Max and Jack

 

I received an early Christmas gift from our five-year-old grandson Max. Though he didn’t realize it at the time, his gift will never wear out or lose its value.

Intentionally nurturing our grandchildren’s faith in Christ is my greatest passion and joy. That’s why this exceptional gift from Max blessed me so deeply.

After reading Advent stories and making a craft, I set my grandkids in front of our television to watch the Christmas DVD, The Crippled Lamb (by Max Lucado). The older children fondly remembered the story from past Christmases and our grandson Jack proudly announced he’d read the book the night before.

As my daughter and I warmed ourselves under blankets, we observed the children’s attentiveness to the story.

crippledlambAt the conclusion, I seized the opportunity to discuss the movie’s theme. I told my grandchildren that God has purpose for everyone’s life, including people with disabilities. Initially, the crippled lamb felt useless and left out. Then on the night of Christ’s birth, the little lamb realized his purpose as he laid next to baby Jesus, warming the Savior of the world’s tiny frail body.

During our conversation, Max stated, “Yes, just like Leo who can’t hear.” Leo is our ten-year-old neighbor who was born deaf. I said, “Exactly, God has a purpose for Leo’s life just like He does for everyone.” Then Max pronounced, “I think we need to all make a circle, hold hands, and pray!” So we did, but before I had time to ask Max what he wanted to pray about, he simply spoke to God, asking him to heal Leo “so she could hear better.”

The gift Max gave to me was one of eternal value. One that came wrapped with love, compassion, and sincerity.

 Scripture says:

15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:15-17)

Dear Heavenly Father, please keep our hearts tender toward the Gift of your Son, Jesus, at Christmas and each day throughout the year.

Be sure to keep watch for the everlasting gifts of Christmas.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:8-14)

The early Christmas gift from Max will remain in my heart forever.

This Christmas, may you know that your life has purpose, and is of great value, just because…

God created you…to have fellowship with Him and to share in His love through Christ with others. (Genesis 1:27, 1 John 1:3)

Our ultimate purpose is to give our Creator all the glory that is due Him. Like the little crippled lamb in the story, we may feel useless and left out from time to time, but please remember, God does have a plan and purpose for everyone, including you.

God’s plan is for everyone to receive salvation (from and sin and death) through His Son. If you have never accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, please take this moment to consider praying right now and asking Jesus to come into your heart.

The Bible clearly states that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). And the Bible also tells us, God provided a way for us to have our sins forgiven and to restore our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Salvation is a free (but costly) gift offered to all who will receive it. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Receive the greatest gift this Christmas, the gift of eternal life.

Pray to receive Jesus as your personal Savior: (Pray in your own words and from the sincerity of your heart.) The simplest prayer (like my grandson Max’s) will be heard and answered by the Creator of the World.

Dear Jesus,

I’ve tried to live my life without you, but this has left me feeling empty, lonely, and sad. I know that my sins have separated me from you. Please, God, forgive me for living a life of pride. I have committed many sins against you, and I have also hurt others. I am so sorry, God.

I now want to ask Jesus into my heart, so I can live for you, God, and spend eternity with you and all my loved ones who put their trust in you.

I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and that He was raised on the third day from the grave, and is now in Heaven preparing a place for me.

So, dear Jesus, please come into my heart and give me new life.

Thank you, Father, for loving me and giving me purpose. With the help of Your Holy Spirit, I will do my best to live a life that honors and pleases you.

The Bible says: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

 The Bible also says: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Wow! You are now a new person in Christ, and that means you are a child of God.

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13).

To help you grow in your new faith in Christ, I encourage you to locate and start attending a good Bible-teaching/preaching church. I recommend checking out The Church of the Nazarene. There are other good churches as well; I only recommend the Nazarene Church because I’ve been a member of the Church of the Nazarene since 1985 and have grown deeper in love with Jesus through the teachings of the Bible through the Nazarene Church.

I also encourage you to begin reading the Bible, starting with the Gospel of John.

Other Recommended Reading:

The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren

The Crippled Lamb DVD & Book, Max Lucado

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2016 12: 03 pm - in Christmas, Eternal Life, Faith in Jesus

 

Joy in Death?

God’s Word…Life and Truth

A Merry Christmas

A Christmas card from a long-ago neighbor arrived with sad news.

Her beloved husband of fifty-seven years went home to be with Jesus.

Our family lived next to Bud and Iris for ten years.

Bud was kind and friendly to everyone, including our rambunctious children.

I think it appropriate, learning of Bud’s passing through a Christmas card.

He and his sweet wife know Jesus as their personal Savior.

There is joy in death, when we know our loved one is in the loving arms of Jesus.

May the Psalms draw you near to God.

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).

 

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2015 2: 46 pm - in Christmas

 

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Who is the King of Glory?

12919-Jesus_Hands_Resurrected_400w_tn“1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.

Who may climb the mountain of the Lord?  Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.

Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle. Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. 10 Who is the King of glory? The Lord of Heaven’s Armies—he is the King of glory” (Psalm 24 – NLT).

As I shop for just the right gifts for our family, as I lay awake pondering on all the activities of the season, as I decorate our home, as I recall loved ones who have passed,…there’s a longing in my heart to simply be with Jesus. Do I give the King of glory full entrance into the innermost and uppermost place in my soul? In all the “pomp of external ceremonies,” is there room for Jesus?

Matthew Henry Commentary

This psalm is concerning the kingdom of Jesus Christ, I. His providential kingdom, by which he rules the world (v. 1, v. 2). II. The kingdom of his grace, by which he rules in his church. 1. Concerning the subjects of that kingdom; their character (v. 4, v. 6), their charter (v. 5). Concerning the King of that kingdom; and a summons to all to give him admission (v. 7-10). It is supposed that the psalm was penned upon occasion of David’s bringing up the ark to the place prepared for it, and that the intention of it was to lead the people above the pomp of external ceremonies to a holy life and faith in Christ, of whom the ark was a type. A psalm of David.

Who is the King of glory? (Matthew Henry Commentary)

He is Jehovah, and will be Jehovah our righteousness, an all-sufficient Saviour to us, if we give him entrance and entertainment. He is strong and mighty, and the Lord of hosts; and therefore it is at our peril if we deny him entrance; for he is able to avenge the affront; he can force his way, and can break those in pieces with his iron rod that will not submit to his golden sceptre. In singing this let our hearts cheerfully answer to this call, as it is in the first words of the next psalm, Unto thee, O Lord! do I lift up my soul.

May we simply be with the King of glory this Christmas season.

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2015 11: 32 am - in Christmas

 

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God’s Word…Life and Truth – “No Complaining” Thanksgiving Challenge

gas sign

On my commute to work this morning, $1.88 per gallon caught my eye.

Rarely pumping my own gas, I don’t take too much notice of gas prices.

I do recall, however, complaining about the nearing $4.00 per gallon.

So, I am thankful for lower gas prices

and a thoughtful husband who fills up my gas tank. smiley 2

I’d like to propose a “No Complaining” challenge this Thanksgiving.

I’ll be the first to admit, it’s more common to complain about something/anything, than it is to be grateful.

If you’re up for it, “like” on Facebook for “No Complaining” Thanksgiving challenge.

Facebook friends: May the Psalms draw you near to God.

Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too.

Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,  or he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care.

If only you would listen to his voice today! The Lord says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness. For there your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw everything I did. 10 For forty years I was angry with them, and I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’ 11 So in my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest’” (Psalm 95 NLT).

 

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2015 10: 37 am - in Holiday Traditions

 

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God’s Word…Life and Truth

Do you know that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday?

Lord, out of the mouth of children___This week I asked my grandchildren what they wanted for Christmas. Before they had time to answer, Max, our 4-year-old grandson, looked up at me and said, “Do you know that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday?” Touching my heart deeply, I responded, “Yes.” Then I asked Max what kind of gift(s) he would like to give Jesus. He instantly replied, “A heart box.” I said, “Oh that sounds very nice; I think Jesus will like that.” Pausing for a moment, Max continued, “How do we get our gifts to Jesus?” “And does Jesus have a cell phone?”

I believe Max’s question requires some introspection.

As we busy ourselves with gift-buying and endless holiday gatherings, let’s remember to intentionally celebrate the birth of our dear Savior, Jesus.

Max’s Heart Box for Jesus

Nana’s Instructions

Help children make a Heart Box. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, fill the box with special “gifts” for Jesus. Place the box under the tree and open on Christmas morning. Family members take turns reading or sharing the gifts given to Jesus.

Suggested prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for coming to our world. These gifts are for You, in honor of Your Birthday. For You taught us, whatever we do for those in need, we do for You.

For similar ideas, see the “Sparkle Box” story at: http://www.thesparklebox.com/

Gift Ideas for Jesus:

  • Showing love to others.

  • Sharing.

  • Obeying parents. (Picking up toys, not fighting with siblings, etc.)

  • Helping others in need. (Purchase a gift for a needy child.)

  • Give canned goods to a local homeless shelter. / Serve at a homeless shelter.

  • Donate new or gently used toys to the Salvation Army, etc. / Volunteer ringing bells for S.A.

  • Pray for the special needs of others.

  • Visit a nursing home or shut-ins, taking homemade cookies.

  • Tangible items (Younger children: rocks, colored pictures, birthday cards, etc.)

  • Make a card for Sunday school/school teachers, etc.

  • Be creative! And let your child come up with his/her own gift ideas.

Store the heart box in a handy place, so that you can get it out every Thanksgiving.

HEART BOX FOR JESUS

Materials Needed:
Wood box with latch (Michael’s or Hobby Lobby), or make own.
Wooden heart
Paint (Various colors, including red for heart.)
Picture of child
Shellac or Mod Podge
Glue
Typed label or handwritten (FOR JESUS) under the heart.

 – Paint the wooden hearts and the wood boxes.  Let dry.

– May choose to decorate boxes with markers, etc.

– Glue picture of child on hearts.

– Shellac (Mod Podge) pictures / and if desired, the entire box. Let dry.

May the Psalms draw you near to God.

“LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants…” (Psalm 8:1-2 NIV).

 

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