Monthly Archives: December 2011

Multi-tasking at it’s very best

“Pray in the Spirit in every situation. Use every kind of prayer and request there is. For the same reason be alert. Use every kind of effort and make every kind of request for all of God’s people.”     Ephesians 6:18 (God’s Word Translation)

By: Gretchen Speer 

In the interest of complete honesty, I have to admit that I don’t particularly look forward to this time of year.  (I know, I know, I can almost hear the gasps).  Between trying to find the perfect gift for many many people and trying to keep a reign on the mounting expectations of my kids,  I usually end up pretty stressed out by the time Christmas is here.  A few weeks ago I was thinking about this and felt God working in my heart.  I started to wonder, “Had I prayed about any of these things in the past?  Had I asked God for wisdom in teaching my kids about what this season is really about?  Had I asked him to show me how I could bless the people in my life and show them how much I love them?”  I’m sure I mumbled a few quick pleas here and there as I rushed around a crowded store, but had I chosen to seek His presence in this times of stress?  Sadly, I think this is usually the time of year that my quiet times get pushed aside the most.  At least that was how it’s been in the past, this year we have been making some changes.

This year we’ve been having a family devotional every evening.  The one we are using is called 31 Family Devotions for Christmas” by MariLee Parrish.  I wanted to share with you Day 7 because it spoke directly to what I have been struggling with, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only stressed out Mom on Christmas!

And Mary said:  “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”  Luke 1:46-47

Nobody likes to wait.  As Mary waited for the birth of her son, she worshipped God.  How many of us worship while we are waiting on the Lord?  We’ll have a lot of waiting to do this month.  When you find yourself stuck in line at the mall or caught in the middle of a traffic jam, don’t get upset.  Worship.  Thank God for all His blessings to you.  Pray for your family.  Pray for the frustrated cashier at the counter.  Psalm 37:7 says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.”  Take some time to get your focus off yourself and your circumstances and just worship the Lord.

Prayer: Dear Lord, Let my spirit rejoice in You today.  Help me to think of You and be joyful when I have to wait this month.  Amen.

For me, the biggest change this year has been taking the focus off of myself!  In the past I had felt like I was focusing on everyone else in my life, but I was really focusing on all the work I had to do, and why can’t my kids be just a little more grateful.  When I got stuck in a long line at the store instead of choosing to pray for the tired cashier or the sweet family in front of me, I chose to have a bad attitude about having to wait so long.  Sometimes a bad attitude is still my natural tendancy, but I’m doing my best to choose to glorify God in those circumstances.

So, I would like to extend an invitation to you.  Please join me in multitasking at it’s very best, and choose to use our waiting time to pray for whoever God is laying on our hearts.  What mom doesn’t truly appreciate some good multitasking?:)

A Prayer for the Holidays

“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  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 1:9-13

Abba Father,

As we are oohed and awed by the beautiful lights this Christmas, please remind us of the “True Light”.  We humbly ask that you give us eyes and wisdom to recognize the LIGHT and receive Him.  We praise you for this Hoy Gift and for the giving us the right to become your children. 

In His Precious Name,

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer Card John 1—Printable PDF

 

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A Twist on Advent

 “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”  Luke 2:11

By Jennifer Mullen

The advent calendar was not a tradition of mine growing up, but I am a BIG fan of calendars!  I love marking time and planning things!  Last year we tried a calendar where you flip open a flap and read a scripture.  It was way too advanced for my two-year old at the time.  This year I am incorporating a ton of ideas from both our MOPS craft coordinator and the ideas I found on the best website for professional development for moms…Pinterest!  It’s seriously addicting, but a super fun way to search the web quickly for ideas.

I used miniature envelopes, scrapbook paper, wired ribbon, clothes pins, thumbtacks, and my imagination! I simply glued scrapbook paper to the miniature envelopes.  I numbered them 1 to 25.  Using clothes pins, I attached them to the ribbon and tacked it to the wall in our hallway.  I started the calendar with #25 ending with #1.  It is helpful for my daughter to understand the how many days are left until Christmas.  (Also, we are working on counting backwards as our math skill.)

So instead of getting little gifts, we are going to be making memories.  We already do fun things during this season, so why not add a little suspense and excitement to it?  Each day we open an envelope to see what we will be doing that day.  After nap time I put in a card with an activity written on it, because the activity I choose will depend on how well rested the kids are.  Of course, you can do some of these activities more than once such as baking, crafting, and movie night, and I will not necessarily do all these activities this year.

Advent Activities:

  1. Go to a Christmas parade
  2. Go Christmas shopping with Mom late at night
  3. Make holiday treats
  4. Make Christmas cards for friends/family
  5. Movie night
  6. Drive around to see the Christmas lights
  7. Write a letter to Santa
  8. Unwrap a new book/ornament (See article on Operation:Focus on Jesus)
  9. Do a Christmas craft…if you need inspiration check Hobby Lobby or Pinterest!
  10. Go to the city square to see the Nativity Scene
  11. Shopping trip for food bank
  12. Shopping trip for Angel Tree Project
  13. Decorate a gingerbread house
  14. Visit Santa at the mall…again 🙂
  15. Read the Legend of the Candy Cane and share a candy cane
  16. “Tea Party” with Hot Chocolate
  17. Get an e-mail from Santa. Click here to find a super fun website where you can upload pics and some info about your child and Santa will send you a cute personalized video.  I think my kids thought they were Skypeing with Santa!
  18. Birthday party for Jesus
  19. Travel to see family for the holidays
  20. A day full of random acts of kindness
  21. Go to a Christmas program at a church
  22. Go see a Christmas play at a school
  23. Go ice staking

As with all things, you can use any of these activities to teach about the LORD. Be creative. Remember Deuteronomy 6: 7: “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.”

If you have any additional ideas, PLEASE share.  I would love to add them to my list!  Have fun making memories with your family this holiday season!

 

 

 

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Operation: Focus on Jesus

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3

By: Jennifer Mullen

My daughter LOVES Santa!  Really…she is a fanatic!  Among the tutus, fairy wings, and crowns in her dress-up chest is a Santa costume.  She dresses up like him in the middle of summer.  She has him on speed dial on her play smartphone.  Well, it’s more like a direct line to the Kremlin.  She calls him whenever she finds a toy she wants, and then hangs up to tell me Santa said “OK”.  She was disappointed this year when she saw him the second time at a second mall and he did not remember her.  She even copped a little attitude and said, “It’s me ___________.  Remember? I am your little helper.”  I don’t feel like I feed into it THAT much; it’s just she has a vivid imagination.

She also LOVES all mascots.  She has a mascot collection:  the Chick-Fil-A Cow, a HOG, Strike from our local minor league baseball team, and an Otto from Syracuse.  She doesn’t understand that there is someone inside of the costume.  She thinks that mascots are just a different species…you know there are dogs, cats, horses, and mascots. We do tell her that fairies, monsters, and aliens are not real, but it is fun for a three-year old to go on thinking that mascots are real.  After all, she has seen and touched them and even got a few of their autographs…who could argue with that? 🙂  Someday she will figure it out, until then we want her to have her fun.

My concern is not that she will believe something that is a fantasy that she will soon outgrow, but that she will not believe something that is truth that will last a lifetime!  Therefore, my stance is that Santa is Jesus’s mascot.  It is something that she can grasp. Someday she will understand that the mascot is not the main attraction.  Until then, I have purposed in my heart to teach her the truths that I want her to know about Christmas.  I have am calling this purpose Operation: Focus on Jesus.  Here are just a few activities that we have done or plan to do to shift our focus from the mascot to the main attraction:

1) When decorating for Christmas, we read from the “Big” Bible the story of Jesus and put out Mommy’s Willow Tree Nativity set.  Then we read from the children’s Bible and set out the Fisher-Price Little People Nativity set.

2) We adopted the practice that Kerri refered to in her last blog post, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, of giving three gifts to symbolize the gifts from the Wiseman and one gift from Santa.  This has really helped with the issue of materialism.  Every time my daughter asks for something new, I remind her she only gets four gifts.  She says, “Oh yeah, oh yeah.  I really want a dollhouse, not …”

3) The first day of advent my daughter got a letter from Santa, a book, and an ornament . In the letter Santa reminded her to focus on Jesus and to do all she could do to learn about Him.  The book is titled A Special Place for Santa: A Legend for Our Time. It is a cute story about the history of Santa intermingled with a fictional story of Santa kneeling at a nativity scene.  The ornament is a figurine of the Knelling Santa pictured to the right. (I got both the book and ornament from Hobby Lobby.)

 

 

 

4) We hosted a birthday party for Jesus.  My daughter had three of her friends over for a playdate.  We read the story of the birth of Jesus, made an ornament, and had birthday cake.  It was so sweet hearing the kids sing,  “Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus” before they all blew out the candle.  I found some really cute party supplies for this theme at Hobby Lobby.  They has plates, napkins, cupcake holders, and party favors! 

 

 

 

(This is the simple craft we did at the party.  Hot glue 5 popsicle sticks together to create a stable.  Color a picture of the nativity and glue onto the back.  Stick a star at the top.  Use a yarn to make a hanger or an ornament or a stick magnet to jazz up your fridge.)

 

Every family has their stance on Santa.  Some embrace him. Some forbid him.  Some hesitantly incorporate him into their traditions to keep the peace with in-laws. Some focus on the historical St. Nicholas.  Upon questioning my friends about Santa, despite their various positions they all said they same thing…they don’t want Santa to drown out the truths of the season.  Like I said, these are just a few ideas to help focus our children.  I would love your input.  What are your traditions/activities you use to teach your kids about Jesus during Christmas?