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Tag Archives: Christmas Family Traditions

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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Christmas leads to the Cross….

Hello Blogger Friends,

I recently came across this video, from Billy Graham.  The Cross, a message of hope.

The Cross and the ManagerAs my heart readies for the celebration of Christ’s birth, I’m reminded of the reason Jesus first came to earth. I encourage you to pause and take a few minutes to watch this video. For Christmas truly leads to the Cross….and our Savior’s glorious resurrection.

Click on link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bba2Dqaw6SI

Merry Christmas!

P.S.  If you’re still looking for a new Christmas tradition to begin with your family, please check out this blog site from my friend in the Lord, Sharon Glasgow.  Bringing Good Tidings of Great Joy to the Brokenhearted

 
 

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What, no “real” Christmas tree this year?

churchBreaking tradition is difficult for me, especially when it comes to family. For as long as I can remember, there has always been a “real” Christmas tree in all my homes. My earliest memory of this tradition actually flashed into my mind just the other day. My grandfather, who was a Shriner, helped sell Christmas trees at a local grocery store. The proceeds went toward the Shriner’s Crippled Children’s Hospital. He would bring home a tree for us to decorate. Fast forward to my married with children days. My husband and I began our own family tradition of packing up our kids in the car and heading to a Christmas tree farm, where we picked out the most “perfect” tree on the grounds and then we cut it down. Some years, however, the trees were not so perfect, like the one in Colorado. The trunk was so crooked it caused our “perfect” tree to tumble over in our living room (every time we were away from home). Oh my, fun times!

Well, this year I’ve been struggling in my spirit with the issue of buying gifts with money we really don’t have to spend. Going through some difficult transitions with job changes and playing catch-up with some financial obligations, the money just hasn’t been there to buy “all” those gifts to put underneath the tree. What tree? When it comes right down to it, going to the Christmas tree farm and cutting down a real tree isn’t cheap. This is what we’ve done, though, with our kids and now grandkids. Not this year!

While thinking of ways to cut back on spending this year, but still capture some favorite family memories, this idea came to me.

Family Church (4 Generations Collage)

Family Church (4 Generations Collage)

Several years ago, my husband, Jeff, inherited a wooden church that his great-grandfather made as a carpenter; he was also a Baptist pastor. This beautiful wooden church has been passed down from generation to generation (now to the 4th generation). One of my most favorite memories of this church is when Jeff’s grandparents had it. They always had an artificial tree sitting in the chimney of the church, decorated with old-fashioned bubble lights. That’s it! This year, we will sit the church in our living room, where our “real” Christmas tree normally sits, and possibly we will put an inexpensive little tree in the chimney. Since we receiving the church, I purposefully display my hand-made nativity set. My grandchildren love to play with the various pieces, especially placing baby Jesus in and out of the feeding trough.

It never ceases to amaze me how God cares for even our little family traditions. My God is the Master Creator!

This year, we may not have a “real” Christmas tree, but we will focus on Christ. Instead of placing our gifts under a tree, we will place them around the church. And on Christmas day, Pappy (Jeff) will share the story of the greatest gift of all—Jesus, by reading the Gospel accounts of His birth from Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 2:1-11.

  • What are some of your favorite, or new Christmas traditions? Please share some in the comments.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2013 9: 12 pm - in Christian Family Traditions, Christmas, Seasonal Celebrations

 

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Christmas White Dove

Dove 3Instead of opting for the familiar White Elephant gift exchange, our family has a White Dove gift exchange on Christmas day.  The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17). This is the first clear expression of the concept of the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).

The Holy Spirit is God, just as the Father and Son are. The Holy Spirit now makes His home in every believer’s life, enabling communication with God through prayer. The emphases of the White Dove gift exchange is Prayer.

White Dove Selection  Each family member selects a personal item that holds special meaning. For instance, one year my husband selected a hand-written note that he had given to his mom as a young teen. He had found the note tucked away in his mother’s cherished possessions following her death. The carefully selected item becomes the White Dove. It is gift-wrapped, labeled with the giver’s name, and awaits its recipient on Christmas day. (Note: The item (White Dove) may remain the same each year, or a new item may be selected.)

We later changed our White Dove exchange from Christmas to our Family Legacy Day.

White Dove Gift Exchange Each person passes their White Dove gift around to all participating family members. This may be done by reading the Christmas story (right/left game), or by listening to a favorite Christmas song. The exchange concludes when the story or song ends and each person is holding a White Dove gift. From youngest to oldest, everyone takes a turn opening their White Dove gift and discloses the giver’s name. The owner of the White Dove then may choose to share the reason for selecting their item. After everyone has had a turn to open their White Dove gifts, a prayer is offered for each family member.

1-Year Prayer Commitment  The White Dove is taken home and placed in a prominent viewing spot, where it serves as a reminder to pray daily for that particular family member throughout the new year. Family members are also encouraged to contact the person who has their White Dove when they have a specific/personal/urgent prayer request. I have found that texting or leaving a voice message about a specific prayer request works well. I often sense God’s peace, knowing that I am being prayed for by my White Dove caretaker.

Praises  Prior to each year’s White Dove gift exchange, each family member has an opportunity to praise God for answered prayers. They may also choose to retell any significant times of prayer (received or offered).

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:6-7.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2012 3: 12 pm - in Christmas, Faith At Home

 

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Advent

Advent, a season providing Christian families an opportunity to prepare their hearts for the celebration of the coming of the Lord into the world through the birth of Jesus Christ. The season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas. The word “Advent” is a Latin word meaning “the coming.” I believe that many families find it difficult to experience the true joy of Christmas due to unrealistic human expectations, which is often driven by the secular media. The oldest lie of Satan, “Look and see what will “really” make you merry.” Well, enough of the negative. Let’s share some ideas of how to focus on the truest and purest meaning of Christmas–Jesus and His love for all mankind.

The Advent Wreath:  One of the most recognizable symbols of Advent. The wreath can be made by using various materials. Traditionally, the wreath is made of a circle of evergreen branches laid flat to symbolize the endless nature of God’s love for his people. Four candles stand in the circle. Three of the candles are purple and the fourth, the “Joy” candle is pink. Blue candles may also be used to emphasize our hope in God’s promise fulfilled in the Nativity. One candle is lit during the first week (Sunday) of Advent, two during the second week, three during the third, and four during the fourth week. The candles remind us of the light of God coming into the world, and the light from the candles grows brighter as each week comes closer to Christmas.  ** Different colors may be used to signify other characteristics of Christ; and a white candle (Christ candle) is placed in the middle of the wreath and may be lit the Sunday closest to Christmas or on Christmas Eve.  The Christ candle represents Christ Himself–pure and blameless, and without sin. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” 2 Corinthians 5:21.
For younger children, make miniature Advent Wreaths: Have little hands mold clay into circular wreaths, and then add birthday candles into the clay.

Devotion:  When lighting the Advent candles, be sure and share a Scripture reading and or Christmas devotion. You may also want to sing some favorite Christmas carols. Pray together, asking the Lord to keep your hearts and minds focused on the true meaning of Christmas–JESUS!

Suggested Advent Resources:  Connect!  Dec/Jan/Feb 2012-13 Produced by: WordAction Publishing Company  http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/itempage.jsp?itemId=CON-DJF%2012&nid=srch&catalogId=NA&catSecCd=NA&subCatSecCd=NA&subSubCatSecCd=NA     Creative Communications for the Parrish also offers a nice variety of Family Advent devotions (Protestant and Catholic) at: http://www.creativecommunications.com

Littlest Angel or Good Elf Game — Countdown to Christmas while teaching children to do acts of kindness throughout the Advent season. Begin by reading some familiar passages of Scripture that denotes acts of kindness toward others. Suggested Scripture readings: The Good Samaritan–Luke 10:25-37, The feeding of the 5000–Matthew 14:13-21, Fruit of the Spirit–Galatians 5:22-23. Two Variations for playing this game:

1.  Ask children to be intentional in showing acts of kindness each day. Tell them not to reveal the nice things they have done until someone asks them, “Did you make your sisters bed?” Then they can reply, “Must have been a good elf or little angel.” 2.  Have children make an Advent chain from construction paper. After cutting 25 strips of paper to make the chain, ask the children to write down one act of kindness on each strip of paper. Example: Clean my room. Make a special Christmas card for my teacher. Tell a friend about Jesus. Etc. Then connect the links together to make a chain. The child will select one link each day and complete the act of kindness noted on that link. To make a Family Advent Chain, simply write out acts of kindness that the whole family may take part in. Example: Make cookies for a neighbor. Donate food to the local community food pantry. Babysit for a friend. Invite a family over for a meal or movie night. Etc. Be creative!

Nativity Scene — Instead of setting up all the nativity pieces at once, add a new piece each day. For instance, begin with the stable or an empty manger, then add a cow, a lamb, camels, the straw in the manger, the shepherds, the angel(s), Joseph, Mary.  Then on Christmas morning, add baby Jesus to the manger. Variation: Set the three wise men across the room from the stable, and each day move them a little closer until they reach the manger scene on Christmas day. Each day read small portions of the Christmas story from Luke 2:1-20 and Matthew 1:18 – 2:11.

 

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2012 9: 50 am - in Christmas, Faith At Home

 

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