The Words Your Child Really Needs to Hear

“You’re the best Mom ever!” She proclaims, as she grins and squeezes me with her small arms, and my mama heart expands to near bursting.

“Well, you’re the best daughter ever!” I smile back down at her.

And it’s true. She may be my only daughter at this time, but she is also the best.

It may sound like a simple, sweet exchange between mother and daughter, come and gone in just a few breaths. But I know better. I know these words are building a foundation in her, one sweet word at a time.

I say all the words that need telling because I know she needs to hear those words; I know she needs me to tell them to her.  I know because I need those words, too.

I need the “I love you”s, and the “you’re the best”s, and the “you’re the beautifulest mom ever”s, and the “I missed you”s. If I, a grown woman, need all the words that need telling, how much more does a child need to hear these same words?

So much more. So much more.

They are the words your child really needs to hear.

All the Words that need telling, tell kids you love them, tell people the gospel

So I tell her all the words that need telling – the words about love, the words about like, the words about her character, and the words about her Savior – because she needs to hear all of those important words. She needs to hear them often.

She needs to hear them often.

She may be little now, but soon enough she’ll be heading into her senior year of high school just like her oldest brother. And then she’ll leave for college (Lord-willing), and who will tell her all the words that she needs to hear then?

When she leaves the safety of our home to venture out on her own, she’ll find plenty of messages about how she’s not enough, how she’s no good, how she’s less than.

Those words are enough to crush a person, especially if she lacks a secure foundation.

The Words Your Child Really Needs to Hear

We’ve only a few years, friends, a few short years to speak the words your child really needs to hear.  Only a few years to tell of our love for them.  Only a few years to tell of the Savior’s love, too.

And they need to hear them because love is so central to the Gospel, so important.

That foundation of faith and love (or lack of one) can help determine your child’s life course. Such a foundation is a refuge in life’s storms, a comfort when staring down rejection, a balm when wounded.

The words your child really needs to hear develop a confidence in them that isn’t easily shaken.

Are you saying the words your kids really need to hear? They seem like simple words, simple conversations, but they build solid character. Do you speak them? saying the right words|motherhood|parenting|Christian parent|Christian women|children|speaking to kids|building up your kids|kids and confidence

Don’t be shy; don’t hesitate, friend.

Even if the words don’t come naturally to you, tell the words today, the words your child really needs to hear, because we are never guaranteed tomorrow.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deut. 11:18-19

Speak words of life to your family today, friend. Make the most of every opportunity.

Tell all the words your child really needs to hear.

Tell Love

and Truth

and Kindness

and Peace.

Don’t wait!

Jen

Letting Go When They Are Grown

It happens every time I see his name neatly typed out on mail from colleges: my throat begins to ache as I blink rapidly to stem the pending flow.

He’ll be our first to leave the nest just as he was the first to be birthed, and this year marks the beginning of that long, painful goodbye that I wish to avoid altogether.  Couldn’t time just stand still for a year or so?

Why does the letting go hurt so?

Knowing our time is limited taps into a grief that never quite left me after my years growing up as an MK (missionary kid).  My tendency is to just shut it out, pretend like it’s not happening, find comfort in denial, because that’s what I did for so many years without even realizing it. It’s easier to cut ties than to live with loss, after all.

But hiding away from loss means missing these bittersweet moments where pride and joy collide with that heavy sense of the approaching goodbye. If I let go of one, then I must let go of the other, and I don’t want to miss the joy of witnessing our firstborn take flight.

For the mama whose firstborn is nearly grown. Letting go takes all of the strength a mother can muster, but as Christian parents, we have a hope for their future that the world can't offer. Why then, is the letting go so difficult?

We’re losing little bits of him already in this, his junior year. He works hard at his high-level classes, and spends time on quite a few extra-curricular activities. Some nights we don’t even see him until after his younger siblings go to bed.

There’s this fierce, nearly primal, part of me that desires to cling, to hold him back, to draw my proverbial apron strings tighter. On the other hand, my more rational side recognizes that this is good, that he thrives on new-found independence, and that I was doing much the same at sixteen years of age.

 

And oh, have we been blessed with this boy, no…. this young man now. He’s been a firm yet gentle leader for his younger siblings, always encouraging them to do right. He loves the Lord and often willingly bears the burdens of others. He is slow to anger and respectful of authority. He’s not embarrassed to use his gifts for the Lord’s glory, either, not like I was at sixteen.

I admire his resolve and his confidence in who he is in Christ.

We really couldn’t have asked for an easier teenager, not that there haven’t been bumps in the road, but he’s never derailed.

I know I have to let go of my claim on him, for he was never mine to begin with, was he?

Children are a heritage from the Lordoffspring a reward from him.       Psalm 127:3 (NIV)

Why must letting go be so insanely painful?

It’s not that I don’t trust the Lord with my boy, I do. I know our Father has great plans for his future that I can only begin to imagine.

It’s not that I’m worried about who this young man will become because I already see hints of Master Potter’s hand at work, and I’m thrilled with the molding and shaping taking place in our young man right now.

The letting go hurts because the love is deep and real, and it’s had nearly seventeen years to grow in this body of mine that was once overtaken by his tiny life growing in me.

The letting go hurts because he is me in so many ways and his father in so many others.

The letting go hurts because somehow it feels like our family of six will never quite be the same again, as if this year is the catalyst for a chain of events that will forever alter the fabric of not only his life, but our lives, as well. One part of us will always be missing.

The letting go hurts because this mothering has become so entwined in my own identity that it feels as if a small part of me is slowly dying inside. I know my son will always need me, but not in the same way that he needs me now.

I suppose I expected to be used to it by now, this slow loosening of pieces of myself. After all, we’ve been experiencing firsts and lasts for over sixteen years on this wild yet exquisite journey we call parenting.

But somehow, these firsts and lasts feel so different. So final.

I know the letting go will hurt.

It hurts already.

The best comfort I have is knowing that our Father God once let go of a Son, too.

Our Great High Priest understands. He knows what is best.

I believe He will bring joy from this pain just as He brought joy from the pains of childbirth all those years ago.

For now, I will rest in that truth.

Jen :)

 

On Raising Daughters: Beauty Queen or Brainiac?

“Please, Mommy, please!” She begged with round eyes and crinkled nose.  Her most fervent desire? To sign up for the local beauty pageant and wear a fancy dress.

It’s one aspect of mothering a daughter that I never anticipated….as a mother of mostly boys.

It’s true that daughters are different, and therefore, we worry about different things – teaching modesty and authenticity, teaching beauty that comes from within, teaching God-derived confidence and mothering skills, and a million other things I might never have considered teaching specifically to our boys.

It’s also true that one can find all sorts of conflicting advice about what is best for little girls.

Let them be princesses!

No, let them be tom-boys!  

Teach them the joy of femininity!

No, teach them to seek equality!  

We all want to raise strong daughters, but what does that really mean? Should we teach them the strength of femininity or of brain power?  Should we teach them to be princesses or tomboys?  Mothers everywhere tend to disagree on this issue. Perhaps the answer is less complicated than we have been led to believe!  Beauty Queen or Brainiac from Being Confident of This

 

When so many different opinions exist, how can we know the best advice to follow?  Which way is right?

Should we let our little girl participate in the beauty pageant or not?

 Join me over at Kaylene Yoder’s place as I share about what kind of daughters we should be raising and how to love our daughters best!

Meet you there!

Jen :)

Sharing with: Tell It To Me Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Titus 2sdays, A Little R&R Wednesdays, #TellHisStory, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Grace and Truth, Faith Filled Fridays

How We Love ~ Grace and Truth Week 5

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot about love. How we love our husbands, how we love our children, how we love neighbors and friends and even the church. The agape love we are called to is a mighty force when we see it in action. It’s a beautiful, awe-inspiring thing!  Unfortunately, we often miss opportunities to demonstrate such sacrificial love in our homes, our communities, and our churches.

At the end of last week, I wrote about loving even when marriage is difficult. So, of course, the title of Christy’s (from Faith Like Dirty Diapers) post immediately intrigued me, and I wasn’t disappointed!  This is one of my favorite lines from what she wrote: “What I built in my sinful flesh has to be dismantled by “divine power.” I CANNOT do this alone. I need the Spirit of God to intervene in a mighty way.”

Amen, sister!  I’m realizing that over the last decade or so, the Lord has been tearing down the human constructs in my marriage and rebuilding new ones based on Christ!  Be sure to stop by and read the post for yourself. You can also catch Christy on facebook.

I pray that as we go into Valentine’s weekend, we’ll be overwhelmed by the Father’s love, which will overflow in agape love towards all of the people in our lives!

Jen :)

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Welcome to the New Christian Living Link-up ~ #GraceTruth

I’m beyond excited to introduce you all to something that has been in the works for several weeks now. Faithful readers and Lofter buddies know that we’ve hosted a link-up called #TheLoft for some months now. Recently our hosting group was offered an opportunity to merge with quite a few other like-minded faith bloggers in a new, bigger weekly link-up. Although we’re sad to lose a little of the intimacy that a smaller group allows for, we are enthusiastic about the opportunities this new link-up brings for all faith bloggers.

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Grace & Truth : A Weekly Christian Link Up

Grace & Truth exists to point people to Jesus! We hope this link-up will be a source of encouragement each and every week. If you’re a blogger our hope is that you’ll use this space as a way to meet new friends within the Christian blogging community. If you’re a reader our hope is that you’ll meet new bloggers that love Jesus just as much as you do! Most of all, we hope you’ll meet Jesus here.

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How To Give Your Kids a Good Christmas

I woke up feeling a little sorry for myself this morning, sorry for my family, too.  It hasn’t been the Christmas season we expected or wanted, and I’m left wondering: how do you give your kids a good Christmas when nothing seems right in your world?

We’ve spent the entire month of December ill now.  Influenza spread slowly from one family member to another.  Several children ended up with  infections. My asthmatic lungs were hit hard and our physician threatened me with hospital time.

Thankfully, it was just bronchitis and not pneumonia.

Just bronchitis, ha.

A pharmacy worth of medicines clutters our kitchen counters still – fever reducers, cough meds, antibiotics – you name it, we probably have it right now. Or at least that’s the way it feels. :)

Is life turned upside down right now for you? And it seems so much harder because...it's Christmas? You can give your kids a good Christmas without health, without money, without extravagance. You can give your kids a good Christmas by...                  How To Give Your Kids a Good Christmas

Then, this weekend during our church Christmas program practice, our middle boy began complaining of stomach pain. By the time we had removed costumes and were ready to leave, he was on the floor curled up in a ball, crying. It frightened me because he is our tough cookie, the kid who rarely complains of pain.

So, when he started to scream that his stomach hurt, I left immediately for the closest ER!

We spent a day and a half at the hospital under observation, with many people praying – the world over. The surgeon mentioned appendicitis, but his symptoms didn’t fit exactly. Finally, his white blood cell count dropped, his pain subsided and we were able to go home.

We were overjoyed!  He talked about playing with his little brother and sister and how happy he was to come home in time for Christmas.  I grinned in the front seat, glad to have my funny, enthusiastic boy back. We were almost home.

All seemed right in the world again.

And then, suddenly it wasn’t.

Our oldest son woke in the middle of the night with an asthma attack. Then, I got sick and so did he.  On top of that, the only little one who didn’t already have an ear infection complained that his ear hurt.

I’ll admit, friends, my heart travelled straight from rejoicing to complaining because it’s almost Christmas and it just doesn’t seem fair, really.  Our children were only back at school for a week, and already ill again!

How can you give your kids a good Christmas when everything goes wrong?

How?

I know I’m not the only one struggling for joy right now.  In fact, I’m certain that many of you are experiencing trials much deeper and more painful than ours.  If I really knew the depth of them, I’d probably be ashamed of my own complaining.

And maybe you’re a mom like me who doesn’t really mind so much for herself, but for the kids!

Maybe you lie awake at night worrying about life circumstances.  Maybe you’re experiencing the pain of loss or separation from loved ones. Maybe your finances are in such a state that you don’t even know where your next meal is coming from.

Maybe you catch hold of joy for a few moments only to  quickly lose it again.

Whatever your lot might be this Christmas, know this: you can still give your kids a good Christmas.

You can give your kids a good Christmas without health, without money, without extravagance.

You can give your kids a good Christmas in spite of pain, loss, broken relationships, and whatever other trials you might be experiencing.

You can because He came.

Luke 2

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

He came!  Emmanuel, God WITH us – that’s what Christmas is really about. Christ, the Hope of the world, in human flesh, for love of our wandering hearts.

We have to let go of this expectation of holiday perfection and embrace the reality that human life is flawed, messy, painful, even at Christmas.

Christ came right into the midst of that mess, born in a stable – there’s nothing clean about that.

You want to give your kids a good Christmas?

Let go of the worry.

Embrace Christ.

Is life turned upside down right now for you? And it seems so much harder because...it's Christmas? You can give your kids a good Christmas without health, without money, without extravagance. You can give your kids a good Christmas by...      How To Give Your Kids a Good Christmas

Show them Hope, Love and Peace.

Teach them of the Savior who willingly left Heaven’s splendor to suffer alongside us here on Earth. That’s a Love like no other, my sisters in Christ. He chose us. He chose pain. He chose death, so that we might experience life in abundance.

He did it for you, for me, for them.

He did it “for all the people.”

The wonder of Christmas has little to do with presents and food and fun.

The wonder of Christmas is the keeping of a thousands-of-years-old promise, hundreds of promises, really.  The wonder of Christmas is Christ.

Romans 8

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves,waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

Do you feel it, friends?

The joy of Christmas is spreading right through us.

It cannot be contained. The whole of creation leaps with joy – He is born! Promise fulfilled, salvation at hand, redemption nigh. Hope in human flesh.

How to Give Your Kids a Good Christmas, Is life turned upside down right now for you? And it seems so much harder because...it's Christmas? You can give your kids a good Christmas without health, without money, without extravagance. You can give your kids a good Christmas by...

Here’s how to give your kids a good Christmas: tell them the story of Jesus.

It’s the only thing that truly matters.

Clinging to hope and joy along with you this Christmas season,

Jen :)

Also sharing with: Monday Parenting Pin It Party, Mama Moments, Mom’s the Word, Wholehearted Home, Missional Women, Tell It To Me Tuesdays

All the Words That Need Telling

“You’re the best Mom ever!” She proclaims, as she grins and squeezes me with her small arms, and my heart nearly bursts for the joy of hearing it.

“Well, you’re the best daughter ever!” I smile back down at her.

All the Words that need telling, tell kids you love them, tell people the gospel

And it’s true. She may be my only daughter at this time, but she is also the best. I know she needs to hear those words; I know she needs me to tell them to her.  I know because I need those words, too.  I need the “I love you”s, and the “you’re the best”s, and the “you’re the beautifulest mom ever”s, and the “I missed you”s.

So, if I, the grown up, need those words to be told, how much more does my little five-year-old bundle of sweetness crave those words?  So much more. So much more.

So I tell her all the words that need telling – the words about love, the words about like, the words about her character, and the words about her Savior – because she needs to hear all of those important words. She needs to hear them often.  She may only be five now, but soon enough she’ll be heading to high school just like her oldest brother. And then she’ll leave for college (Lord-willing), and who will tell her all the words that need telling then?

We’ve only a few years, sisters, a few short years to tell all the words that need telling.  Only a few years to tell of our love for them.  Only a few years to tell of the Savior’s love, too.  And they need to hear them because love is so central to the Gospel, so important.

Don’t be shy; don’t hesitate.

Even if the words don’t come naturally to you, tell the words today, all the words that need telling.  We are never guaranteed tomorrow.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on

your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,

when you lie down and when you get up.

Tell Love

and Truth

and Kindness

and Peace.

And do it today!

Jen :)

It’s Five Minute Friday and after taking a few months off, I’m so happy to be joining my sisters in Christ over at Kate Motaung’s blog.  We gather there ever Friday (some of us on Thursday evening) and write a fast and furious five minutes on a one-word prompt.  No planning, no editing, no second-guessing.  Just the written word.  Come join us!

I’m also sharing this post at:

Missional Call, Essential Thing DevotionsMissional WomenMom’s The WordA Mama’s Story, Monday Parenting Pin It PartyCornerstone Confessions

Fighting Fear With Pre-approval

In just two days time, I’ll be bearing a bit of my heart here on this blog.  I’ll be sharing my story, my part of the Thursday series – Verdict on Value.  And once again, I find myself a little afraid. :)

It happens sometimes when you write, especially when the subject matter brings up conflicting emotions. You may feel confident at first, but then you begin to doubt and fear. You face your own insecurity.

Will the words really matter?  Will others understand?  Have I handled this subject fairly?

And the worst of all fears. What will people think?

That’s really what it boils down to: how others might receive those carefully penned or typed words, some that brought forth smiles and fond memories and others that brought forth tears and sorrow.

I’ve been learning my whole life it seems how to let go of that pressure, the pressure to be perfect.  And not that anyone ever told me I had to be, because they didn’t, but that I convinced myself it was necessary, like so many other undesired sacrifices.

I wanted to be the good girl, the best girl, and if I’m being really honest there is still some little part of me that wants this, too.

How do we fight back against this fear that we are not "enough"?Lately, I'm realizing how early it starts, this yearning to be approved by this world when we are already approved by the Maker of this world.   Even from those early toddler calls of "Look at me, mommy!", we want to be seen, to be valued, to be approved.  identity in Christ, Christian Women, seeking approval of others, women of faith, believing what God says about us

I see it now even in one of my young sons.  He yearns for praise.  I often catch him bragging because he yearns for others to see how wonderful he is.  And truly, he is wonderful (especially in this mama’s eyes), but it hurts me to see him striving so at such a young age.

At the same time it reminds me that I still struggle myself.

So, how can I help him to see the truths that I’m still learning to recognize?

I can only hope that being honest, taking down the facade, and admitting my own fear and insecurity will help him to recognize that we all fall short, we all do.  Ever since the days of paradise and a forbidden apple eaten, we all fall short.

I can only hope that teaching him of a Savior who turns those weaknesses into strengths,

who has a plan for him,

who loves him just for who he is and not what he does,

who cherished him even before he was born,

who welcomes him with open arms when he fails – I can only hope that such knowledge will sink deep roots into his young heart much earlier than those truths began to sink into mine.

I’ve been reading Jennifer Dukes Lee’s posts about our Love Idols, and I’m realizing how early it starts, this yearning to be approved by this world when we are already approved by the Maker of this world.

Even from those early toddler calls of “Look at me, mommy!”, we want to be seen, to be valued, to be approved.

 “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God?

Or am I striving to please men?”

Gal. 1:10 (a)

Sadly, some of us Christ-followers, will spend our entire lives chasing that approval, all the while fearing that we just aren’t good enough.

We’ll miss the irony that we are already pre-approved by the most powerful Person in all of creation because of His Son!

If we could only grasp that early on and not waste precious years searching for something we already have in our possession.

fear, approval, self-worth, identity in Christ, worth in Christ

But we can, friends.

We can begin right now.

We can ferret out those love idols in our lives and hand them over to our gracious and loving Father.  We can cling to the hope of imperfect progress and proclaim the bold truths of Philippians 1:6!

We can share with others what we are doing and ask them to do the same.  We can speak truth to our children about this pre-approval, bought at the price of a one and only Son.

I’m asking the Lord to help me lay down my fear and insecurity, my need for human approval and perceived perfection.  I’m asking Him to work in the hearts of my children, that they will learn early on what it means to be cherished by the One True God, King of Kings, Sovereign Lord, the Most High.

I’m asking the Father to open their eyes wide to these truths.

And I’m asking for you, too, my friends, that you will see how fearfully and wonderfully made you are in the eyes of your Creator.

We who’ve been painted red that we might be white as snow.

I’m banishing fear for tonight in favor of truth.

Join me, will you?

Jen :)

For more information on the Love Idol movement, check out the facebook page!

I’m sharing this here:

 The Time Warp Wife, Rich Faith Rising, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Wholehearted Home, A Little R&R,

Woman to Woman,Titus 2 Tuesday,Cornerstone Confessions,

 

More Than a Visit

It’s Five Minute Friday, and the word for this week is “visit.”

Visit.

He came into the world squalling, screeching more like it – his cry so sharp and loud that it was unmistakable, our long-awaited, second-born boy.  When we brought him home, we quickly learned he would be nothing like his even-tempered older brother.  This one, this tiny red-faced infant, would make his demands known.  He would be a challenge to our previous parenting prowess.

Visit, New Baby, Motherhood, baby won't sleep

Sleepless nights turned into weeks, and eventually months, the worn carpet in the hallway testifying to the demands of our newest family member.  We loved him dearly, but sometimes we just wished for peace and quiet or that he would nap longer than thirty minutes.  He never slept “like a newborn” and even today, no matter how late he stays up, he wakes at the crack of dawn.  His Grandad affectionately nick-named him “The Raptor.”

At that time, Daddy had a second-shift job and little time off. He worked hard and long.  And we did, too, trying to just survive that long and lonely winter.

Aside from prayer, it was Grandma’s visits that got us through.  She’d often call at the end of her workday just to check in because she had a squalling, colicky baby once, too – me.  I was known as the baby who cried. all. the. time.  According to my aunt, she once came to visit us only to find my mother sitting on the front stoop crying while I lay peacefully in her arms, worn out by hours of fussing. My mother knew the frustration of the long nights and even longer days of mothering a cranky baby.

“How’s it going today, Jen?”

On the good days I answered, “Fine.” And then I told a story of something new one of the boys learned or something funny the oldest said that day.

On the bad days my silence betrayed me, a silence born of threatening tears.

Knowingly, she asked, “Want me to bring McDonald’s for supper?”

Gratefully I gulped out, “Yeah, that would be good.”

fussy baby, motherhood, colic

And so we waited, the five-year-old boy, and the fussy baby, and me.  We waited for the visit, for the promise of another set of hands and the comfort food they brought.  Her presence itself calmed me as the fear that so often comes with loneliness slowly ebbed away.  When it was time for her to leave, we wore smiles once again, determined to face the challenges of the evening with faith and hope for better days ahead.

brothers, cranky infant, baby

it gets better, new mommy, tired mommy, fussy baby

She always called when I needed it most, it seemed.  She often still does today.  I have no way to explain her uncanny awareness except to say that she’s close with the Lord, and I guess He must let her know when we’re in need. :)

I’ll never forget those supper visits, nor the time she gave willingly to be the hands and feet of Jesus to my weary-mama soul.

It was just a visit,

but to me it meant the world.

Matthew 25

34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me;I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

John 13

34 Anew commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jen :)

It’s Five Minute Friday, so I’m linking up with the brave and creative crew over at Lisa Jo Baker’s place.  She gives us a one-word prompt and we freewrite for five minutes (-ish). :)   No planning, no editing, no stressing.  Come on over and join us if you like!

You may also find me at any of these lovely places.

The Christmas Adventure Box ~ Kid-friendly Advent

The Christmas Adventure Box

~ an easy, kid-friendly advent for the whole family!

*This post makes use of affiliate links. For more information, please visit Being Confident of This’s About page.  Thank you for supporting this blog!

My husband and I purposed to combat the commercialism of Christmas and cultivate true Christmas spirit in our home many years ago. We looked for resources to use for our young and growing family.

We invested in Veggietales dvds about the true meaning of Christmas and a kid-friendly nativity set.  We participated in Operation Christmas Child, and we worked at local outreach events.   We read the Christmas story from the Bible on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.

But we still felt like our children needed to be better educated about why we do some of the traditional things we do at Christmas time. Enter the Christmas Adventure Box – a family Advent activity.

The Christmas Adventure Box is a fun, frugal, and kid-friendly activity for advent that will teach your children the true reason for celebrating the Christmas season!  Learn the spiritual significance behind some of our favorite Christmas traditions, such as Christmas trees, lights, stockings, and even candy canes!

 

 

My friend  and fellow blogger Lana introduced us to the Christmas Adventure Box, a family advent activity/program that she developed for her own family.   The idea of the box is to complete daily (or several times weekly, for us) advent activities to help us remember the Greatest Gift of All, Jesus.

It was an immediate hit with our oldest two boys, especially with the word “adventure” in the title!

I know the last thing we all need during the Christmas season is yet another item for our “lists” of things to do (so please, please don’t feel pressured).

However, this family advent plan takes literally less than an hour to organize and the activities can take as little as five minutes or as long as 20-30 minutes depending on how involved you wish to make it (or how long your four year olds will sit still…)

It really is a simple, but fun way to focus on the reason for the season! :)

Update: it’s even easier this year because I’ve added FREE printables that you can attach directly to the items in your box! Just click the link. :)

Lana has created a blog specifically for the Christmas Adventure Box which you can find here.  If you want a full 25 day advent list, then I recommend visiting her site.  It’s very detailed and even has a lesson-plan type of format that would be particularly helpful for those who homeschool, teach children’s church, etc.

However, for our family, I’ve found that it’s less stressful to schedule only a few nights a week of kid-friendly advent activity.  So with permission, I’ve modified the Christmas Adventure Box to fit our schedule and even added in a few items that were important to us, such as spending one day on global missions.

That’s the beauty of this family advent activity – you can tailor it to fit the needs or even the traditions of your family! :)

Here’s how to get started:
Choose which activities you’ll be using (from the list below or from Lana’s site) for your family advent and wrap the according items.  Don’t forget to download and print the cards to attach to each item! Put all of the items into a large box (The Christmas Adventure Box) and wrap it as well.   Each day that you plan to use the Christmas Adventure Box, you’ll unwrap one (0r more) of the items and complete that day’s devotional/activity.

The Greatest Gift  –  read John 3:16 – unwrap the Christmas Adventure Box.

This will be the first activity on the advent list because it sets up the whole idea of the Christmas Adventure Box.  However, once you’ve completed this day, you can do any of the following days in whichever order you choose.

First, bring out the large, wrapped Christmas Adventure Box.  Explain to your children that you will be unwrapping an item a few times a week in order to learn more about Jesus this Christmas season.

Read John 3:16 and talk about how Jesus is the greatest gift of all.  You can also read prophecies from Isaiah about the Promised Deliverer.  Feel free to share the full gospel with your children and pray together as a family.

The Christmas Adventure Box is a fun, frugal, and kid-friendly activity for advent that will teach your children the true reason for celebrating the Christmas season!  Learn the spiritual significance behind some of our favorite Christmas traditions, such as Christmas trees, lights, stockings, and even candy canes!

 

Joseph and Mary – read Luke 1:30-33 - unwrap Joseph and Mary from your nativity set.

We purchased a fisher price little people nativity set several years ago when our twins were born, which makes it easier to let them “play” with the figures.  If you have littles in the house, be sure to choose a non-breakable set to work with.

On this day, you’ll read the story of Jesus’ parents learning that Mary was with child!  Discuss the prophecies fulfilled by Mary and Joseph found in Isaiah 9:7 and Isaiah 7:14.  Talk about promises God has kept for your family and pray together.

Baby Jesus – read Luke 2:6-7 – unwrap the baby Jesus figure from your nativity set.

Today you can discuss once again that Jesus was a gift, not only to His parents, but to the whole world.  Talk about the birth stories of each one of your children – how you planned for them, waited for them, and the joy of experiencing their birth.

Ask your children to find similarities and differences between their births and Jesus’ birth.  Pray together as a family, thanking Him for each family member and most of all, for the gift of a Savior.

Shepherds and Angels – read Luke 2:8-20 – unwrap the shepherd and angel figures from your nativity set.

Discuss a time when your family had exciting news to share.  Think about how the angels and shepherds must have felt sharing such important news.

Talk about how important it is that we continue to share the story of Jesus with anyone who hasn’t yet heard and pray together, especially for any unsaved relatives or friends.

The Wise Men – read Mt. 2:1-2, 10-11 – unwrap the wise men from your nativity set.

Talk about how the wise men had never heard about a Savior being born, but they still knew to follow the star.  Discuss the ways that God reveals himself to us today.  Pray together as a family that your knowledge of God’s ways would increase.

The Christmas Adventure Box is a fun, frugal, and kid-friendly activity for advent that will teach your children the true reason for celebrating the Christmas season!  Learn the spiritual significance behind some of our favorite Christmas traditions, such as Christmas trees, lights, stockings, and even candy canes!

Light of the World – read Mt. 5:14-16 – unwrap a notecard that says “Christmas Adventure!” on it.

Discuss light and dark.  Ask your children how Jesus is the Light of the World.  Then, pile everyone into your vehicle and go on an adventure to see some Christmas lights!  (You can continue discussion as you travel).  Be sure to pray together as a family.

*I try to schedule this night on a weekend so that we can allow the children to have  sleepover by the Christmas tree.  It’s one of our boys’ favorite traditions.

Legend of the Candy Cane – read Isaiah 53:5 – unwrap a candy cane.

Read your children a brief version of the legend of the candy cane and discuss why we use them in our Christmas decorations.  And yes, Pray together.

Joy to the World – read Mt. 28:19-20 – unwrap a small globe or picture of the world.

Tell your children about things we have in America that help us to know who God is (a Bible in our own language, churches we can attend, freedom of religion, etc.).  Discuss how other countries may or may not have these items.  Explain the importance of reaching the whole world with the Good News about the Greatest Gift.

Pray as a family for most unreached people groups of the world (if you need an easy way to pray for the most unreached peoples, use the T.H.U.M.B. method here.)

The Legend of Saint Nicholas – read Gal. 2:10 – unwrap socks or a stocking.

Read a brief version of the Legend of Saint Nicholas to your children.  Talk about ways your family can pass on the gift of Christmas to others by being generous.  Watch the Veggietales video, Saint Nicholas:  The Joy of Giving. (Hint: many Veggietales videos can be found on Netflix.  No need to purchase!)

Pray together for a generous spirit during this season rather than a coveting spirit.  *This would be the perfect place to include a service project such as Operation Christmas Child or serving at a local soup kitchen.

The Christmas Adventure Box is a fun, frugal, and kid-friendly activity for advent that will teach your children the true reason for celebrating the Christmas season!  Learn the spiritual significance behind some of our favorite Christmas traditions, such as Christmas trees, lights, stockings, and even candy canes!

Christmas Caroling – read Rev. 5:12 – unwrap a note that reads “Christmas Adventure!”

Talk about the importance of singing God’s praises.  Take the whole family for an adventure in Christmas caroling and spread some cheer to your neighbors or even shut-ins from your church.  Local nursing homes usually welcome carolers, as well!

Pray together as a family.

The Baker’s Hand – read Isaiah 64:8 – unwrap cookie cutters.

Make and decorate sugar cookies (if you have small or impatient children as I do, it’s a good idea to make the dough ahead of time).

While you are working, discuss how God shapes us according to His purposes and how we are each uniquely created and uniquely gifted by Him.  Pray as a family, asking the Lord to help each one remember that they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

The Christmas Adventure Box is a fun, frugal, and kid-friendly activity for advent that will teach your children the true reason for celebrating the Christmas season!  Learn the spiritual significance behind some of our favorite Christmas traditions, such as Christmas trees, lights, stockings, and even candy canes!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – read Thessalonians 2:15-16 – unwrap a nativity story dvd or a “Christmas Adventure!” notecard.

We have two different takes on this day’s advent activity.  In the past we have used one or the other, or sometimes both!  The first is to watch a dvd about the Christmas story, such as The Nativity Story. The second is to attend a local candlelight service, if you have one near you.

Both options will work to help you review what you have learned throughout the month of December and to celebrate this special evening.  Our family also has a tradition of an evening meal of summer sausage, crackers, cheese, and hot cocoa.

I know it sounds weird, but most of those items were obtainable when we lived in Papua New Guinea during my MK years.  I have such fond memories of making the most of Christmas in a tropical country that we decided to continue it once we were married. :)

Christmas Day – read Luke 2:1-20 and unwrap a Bible

(Shhh – don’t tell, but this year we plan to get preschool Bibles as gifts for our twins!).

Read the Christmas story together. Today, enjoy family and gift-giving and fun all within the context of celebrating Jesus’ birthday! :)

The Christmas Adventure Box is a fun, frugal, and kid-friendly activity for advent that will teach your children the true reason for celebrating the Christmas season!  Learn the spiritual significance behind some of our favorite Christmas traditions, such as Christmas trees, lights, stockings, and even candy canes!

That’s it!

The Christmas Adventure Box is a simple, kid-friendly advent activity to emphasize Christ in your home this Christmas season.

The best part?  It doesn’t cost a dime!  Just pick the days you wish to use or even add a few of your own, wrap up the necessary items, and you are ready to go.

Remember, I’ve only included my favorites here, so if you want a full list, visit Lana’s site.  Don’t forget to print out the free printables!

 

Enjoy!

 

Jen :)

If you are looking for additional Christ-centered Christmas resources to use in your home or at your church, check out Buck Denver’s Asks…Why Do We Call It Christmas?

Also sharing with: Beauty Through Imperfection, Missional Call, Mom’s The Word, Wholehearted Wednesdays