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Tag Archives: Christian Grandparenting

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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Trust in the LORD

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“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil” (Proverbs 3:5-7).

me-and-girls.jpgIf I had only one passage of Scripture to share with my children and grandchildren, I believe Proverbs 3:5-7 would rank very close to the top.

Having years of life experiences behind me now at age sixty-one, trusting in the LORD or on my own understanding has definitely been a teeter-totter ride for me.

As with most people, it’s easy for me to trust in the LORD when all is at rest or there’s little to worry about. I’ve learned, however, that this is actually the best time to build up a reserve of trust in the LORD. For we all know that the storms of life often arrive with little or no warning.

Building a reserve of trust in the LORD

  • Set aside a specific time and place to meet with God daily.
  • Read God’s Word daily. Choose a reading plan that works best for you in the varied seasons of life.
  • Spend quality and quantity time simply being in God’s presence without any distractions.
  • Prayer is always a two-way conversation. God desires us to share our hearts openly with him, which is usually the easiest part of prayer. Then, be sure to wait in the quietness of your mind to listen for God’s gentle and loving voice to speak to you.
  • Share your prayer requests with those who love you.
  • Use a journal to write down your thoughts as God speaks to you through his word and through prayer. Record all the significant joy-filled blessings in your life, as well as the difficult circumstances that come your way. Be sure to date these, because as you look back over the years, you will see how God has faithfully been watching over you and caring for your every need. It always amazes me and strengthens my faith to see how God works out His best for me especially when the circumstances seem so overwhelming at the time.
  • Share your testimony of God’s faithfulness in your life with others.
  • “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
 

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It’s not an issue of gun control, it’s an issue of a nation’s diseased heart.

Graham at Arrowhead StadiumRecalling Rev. Billy Graham’s message when he spoke at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, 2004. He had keen spiritual insight into the way our country was headed. And sadly, he was right.

Both Graham and his eldest son, fellow evangelist Franklin Graham, linked their religious messages to contemporary issues.

“There is a great move on in this country to take prayer out of the schools, take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance, and take down the Ten Commandments,” Billy Graham said from the Arrowhead Stadium platform. “As a nation it seems we are turning away from God. But Jesus Christ is coming back, and that is the future of this world.”

Recalling how Rev. Billy Graham personally touched our lives:

Rev. Billy Graham’s message of the loving and saving grace of Christ touched our lives, especially through Decision Magazine.

Decision MagazineI’ll always remember how my husband read Decision magazine following his salvation in 1981. Decision magazine was delivered to our home back then in the form of a newspaper. Not being a Christian at the time, I started reading Decision to see what Jeff was so interested in. After seeing such a miraculous change in Jeff’s life and reading the wonderful accounts of God’s amazing love and transformational power in the lives of thousands, I surrendered my life to Jesus about six months after Jeff.

While looking for earlier publications of Decision magazine, I came across an article that touched my heart this morning. The article is titled Spiritual Heart Disease, a sermon preached by Billy Graham in 1957. I was gripped with the thought that this is truly what America is suffering from. It’s not an issue of gun control, it’s an issue of a nation’s diseased heart. And the only cure is Jesus. Our nation, once established and founded on the One True God and his guiding Scriptural principles has lost its way, and our children and our children’s children are paying a horrible price for our negligence and compromise.

May God raise up a people who will once again humbly repent of their sins (individually and as a nation), who will turn from their/our wicked and stubborn/prideful ways, and who will fully surrender their hearts to Christ our Savior and King.

We desperately need revival, a revival of the heart in America. But if not, “Jesus is coming back, and that is the future of this world.”

Rev. Billy Graham’s message, Spiritual Heart Disease, sermon preached May 23, 1957, at the historic New York crusade. (From Decision Magazine, February 6, 2018)

https://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/february-2018/spiritual-heart-disease/

And do you know the greatest stumbling block to the Kingdom of God? Murder? No. Drunkenness? No. Adultery? No, pride. More people stay out of the Kingdom of God because they’re proud than any other reason. We don’t like to humble ourselves and come to the cross of Christ, and say, “O God, I’m a sinner.”

Billy Graham

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

 

 

 

 

 
 

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Creation Vacation

While on vacation with our daughters and their families, we took the opportunity to reinforce some Bible truths during a creation trail.

Creation BagArriving near the top of Hot Springs Mountain (Arkansas), everyone hopped out of their cars and quickly located a shady spot with some large rocks to sit on. I quickly handed out small brown bags with these words written on them: Creation Vacation, “In the beginning God created…” (Genesis 1:1).

After sharing a brief devotion about creation and the significance of Sabbath, I asked everyone to look for special finds along the trail that remind them of God’s creation. They later amazed me with all the unique items that filled their bags.

Their remarks:

“The red berry reminds me of the blood of Jesus.”   Butterfly wings

“Butterfly wings, an awesome find!”

“This fern sprig will remind me of our special trail with our grandchildren.”

It is extremely important to teach our children and grandchildren God’s Word, beginning at an early age.

In Old Testament times, the primary purpose of education among the Jews was the learning of and obedience to the law of God, the Torah. The word Torah can refer to all Jewish beliefs, however, it commonly refers to the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

The home was considered the first and most effective environment in the education process, and parents were considered the first and most effective teachers of their children.

The trailDeuteronomy 6:5-7 gives clear instruction into how parents are to teach their children about God:Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Parents are instructed to use various ordinary activities of life as avenues to teach about God. All of life permeated by spiritual meaning and teaching about God can flow naturally from life’s everyday activities as parents choose to be intentional in training their children.

Basic means of imparting spiritual knowledge to children is by example, imitation, conversation and stories. Parents can utilize the interest aroused in their children by actual life observances (birth of a child, holidays, illness, death, marriage, Sabbath, vacations, and so on).

If we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to.

emy new cross heart

 

 

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Teachable Moments

Jack & Julia at batWhile at our grandchildren’s ballgame the other night, I observed my son-in-law seize a teachable moment. My husband and I had front row lawn chairs, as we watched Jack, who is seven, play against his sister, Julia, who is five. It was the “big game”and Jack had already set the stage for a win against his sister’s team. Funny, at this level, they don’t even keep score.

We watched and cheered, along with other family members, as Jack and Julia both hit the ball at their at-bats. Jack slugged the ball deep into the outfield twice, and boy was he excited, and so were we.

As Jack slid into home plate, he proudly paraded by the fence as his fans applauded. As one grandpa put it, “He’s show-boating.” We later found out from his mother that Jack was just imitating his favorite ball team, the KC Royals.

Jack’s dad took this moment to quickly pull Jack aside and explain to him about having a humble spirit, and not to draw so much attention to himself. I’m not sure what all was said, but I can tell you one thing, our grandson loves and respects his earthly father, who is teaching Jack and his other two children to respect their Heavenly Father.

In the parent study, Effective Parenting In A Defective World, the author, Chip Ingram, instructs parents to keep their focus clearly on the bulls-eye (Jesus and God’s principles), rather than carelessly missing the target by following the world’s standards.

I am thankful that my son-in-law is training his children to become like Jesus; in this instance, humble.

Philippians 2 (NIV)

Imitating Christ’s Humility

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

 

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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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God’s Word…Life and Truth

 Joy in the Journey

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. (Psalm 16:11)”

joy in the journey

Anticipating beautiful fall foliage in Minnesota – JOY!

A professor once told me, “Don’t miss the joy in the journey.”

He was right!

Awaiting Jeff’s graduation from Bible College, we explored the

Colorado Mountains…cheered at volleyball games & homecoming courts…made new friendships…and experienced God’s presence.

By the saving grace of Jesus, I anticipate my eternal home with gladness, and thank God for granting me joy in the journey of life.

Facebook Friends, May the Psalms draw you close to God.

“Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.” The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them! Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods. I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names of their gods.

Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!

I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. 10 For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. 11 You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever” (Psalm 16, NLT).

Faith at Home Moment:

Living for Jesus brings great joy into our lives. Yes, at times we have sad and lonely days during our days on earth, but praise be to God, His presence is with us, filling us with hope, peace, and eternal joy in the journey of life. Our children need to see the joy we experience by living for Jesus. The Gospel is Good News! Take a few minutes each day reading through the Gospel of John with your children. Pray that God will fill you with His joy even in the midst of struggles. An oldie but goodie song to sing along with children: Joy, Joy Down In My Heart – http://www.psalty.com/track/687853/joy-joy-down-in-my-heart?feature_id=140418

 

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