Part 2: Rites of Passage
Last week was the eve of our daughter's tenth birthday and I talked about things that we do to help point her to Christ. If you missed it, you can read it here.
Teaching our kids how to manage life starts in our homes. We want to teach our kids the Biblical view, so when the world begins throwing it’s view at them, they will have a firm foundation to stand on. It’s scary raising kids in the world today. We want to encourage you to be intentional with your kids and point them to Christ. It's a scary world out there and our kids should find comfort, safety and direction in their homes.
My husband has a friend that began a ministry called Parent Ministry. It's a resource for Student Pastors to help engage parents in the Youth Ministry. Through him, we were introduced to the “Rites of Passage," and we knew we wanted to implement it with our own kids when the time was right. We feel ten years old is a big deal, so we decided to start this year! My husband and I feel it’s very important for our daughter to know that she is loved and supported by her entire family and there is NOTHING she can do that would ever make the Lord or us love her any less. Here is what the Rites of Passage looked like for our daughter's tenth birthday:
Rites of Passage
This year on our daughter's tenth birthday, she requested a “fancy” dinner. The planning began; She was most excited to choose the cake that her Maw would make, then dinner reservations were made, family invitations were sent, and all of the intricate details were chosen. She picked the fanciest dress out of her closet, proudly pulled out her gold heels, her hair adorned with curls, and we added a touch of makeup...because, well, she can be a girly girl and it’s her tenth birthday!
Ahead of time, I asked our family to choose a characteristic about her and a prayer/scripture to speak over her. It’s neat how all of this played out. As we were planning to make this a special night for her, she was planning as well. She wrote a speech and picked ten Scriptures to recite, one for each year. It was a beautiful night of our family encouraging her that she is loved, she is supported and she is prayed for.
We are creating a book with each family member's picture, prayer and scripture so our daughter can always go back and remember what was prayed over her on this day. We will continue the Rites of Passage at age thirteen, sixteen, eighteen, and marriage. Every year will look different since the season of life will be different.
There is not a textbook way to incorporate the Rites of Passage. It can be very simple or as elaborate as you want to make it. Every child is different and it needs to be suited to their personality. For instance, our daughter is a major extrovert and wanted a fancy dinner with lots of people present. Another child may not like big crowds, so you may do something for them completely different. Whatever it may be, being intentional on speaking truth to their heart, and making the big milestones important and memorable, that's the ultimate goal!
I want to leave you with Scriptures that we can pray over our children. There are so many, but I am just listing a few here. Include your child's name into the Scripture:
3 John 1:4 - "I have no greater joy than to hear that ________is walking in the truth."
Luke 2:52 - May _______increase in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
Deuteronomy 6: 5-9 - "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to _________, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
By Faith She has written other blogs pertaining to raising kids to love the Lord. Be watching for more By Faith Kids Bible Studies coming soon too!
Raising Little Girls with Big Faith
By Faith Kids
May we walk well in the calling the Lord has placed upon our lives. To bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
Laura is a pastor's wife, mom to two crazy fun kids, part-time marketing director, loves hanging out in her community and building relationships...oh and loves to laugh!
The Gospel Story Inside of Easter Eggs
Teach your children the real meaning of Easter with these fun, interactive Easter eggs! Hide them, find them, and open them to reveal a piece of the Gospel story. Corresponding Scripture cards (free printable below) will guide you through the Easter story as you share this special time of hunting and discovering with your children.
Resurrection eggs are a wonderful way to engage with your kinesthetic and visual learners as you teach them about Easter. These eggs make the Gospel come to life by providing a multi-sensory experience. There is no one way to use these eggs. They can be hunted all at once or opened one day at a time as your family counts down to Easter. The Scripture cards are in chronological order and will walk you through the Easter story from the beginning to end. Eggs can be small or large (I used miniature) and can be stored in fun jars, fancy canisters, or old egg cartons. Make it your own!
Now, let's get started!
1. Perfume - When Mary poured the perfume on Jesus' head He said, "She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial." Therefore, the perfume that Mary used is the first symbol of the Gospel story because it preceded all the other events.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Mary's perfume was pure spikenard so I put a few drops of spikenard essential oil into a small glass dram and labeled it. If spikenard is unavailable, lavender is a good substitute. If you don't have a dram, ask your essential oil loving friends for one or purchase from Amazon.
2. Palm Branch - At the triumphal entry when Jesus rides into Jerusalem as King, the crowd spread out palm branches and waved them shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
HOW TO MAKE IT: I found a bundle of miniature palm leaves at Hobby Lobby in the floral section for a dollar or two.
3. Bread - At the Last Supper, "Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take it; this is my body.'"
HOW TO MAKE IT: I purchased a bag of small half wooden egg pieces at Hobby Lobby and stained it with a light stain to give it a "baked" look.
4. Towel - After the meal was finished, "Jesus...got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him."
HOW TO MAKE IT: Cut a small rectangular swatch from a white cotton washcloth or linen hand towel.
5. 3 Pieces of Silver - Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, left the Last Supper and "went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?’ So they counted out for him 30 pieces of silver."
HOW TO MAKE IT: Three dimes
6. Crown of Thorns - After His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, 'Hail, king of the Jews!' And they slapped him in the face."
HOW TO MAKE IT: This was the hardest one to make because finding a miniature crown of thorns replica was impossible. I even tried using real thorny twigs but they kept breaking. In the end, I purchased a bundle of twiggy-like skinny branches from Hobby Lobby and looped one branch around two of my fingers a couple of times. Then, one by one, I twisted metal wire around the loop to secure it and to symbolize the thorns. I clipped the ends of the twisted pieces of metal with wire cutters. Cutting and twisting each "thorn" deeply moved me as I thought about the real thorns that sat atop my Savior's head.
7. Cross - At His trial, "Pilate said to the Jews, 'Here is your king.' But they shouted, 'Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!' 'Shall I crucify your king?' Pilate asked. 'We have no king but Caesar,' the chief priests answered. Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull. There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle."
HOW TO MAKE IT: I purchased a bag of small wooden crosses at Hobby Lobby and stained it with a dark stain.
8. Nails - They "put him to death by nailing him to the cross."
HOW TO MAKE IT: Three small nails
9. Dice - "When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots." This was foretold in Psalm 22:18 - "They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment."
HOW TO MAKE IT: Dice bought in the board game section at Walmart.
10. Stone - After Jesus' body was prepared and placed in the tomb Joseph of Arimathea "rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away."
HOW TO MAKE IT: A round smooth stone
11. Cinnamon - "On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb." The women went to the tomb with their spices so that they could prepare the body of Jesus for the second time (in keeping with Jewish burial custom). Myrrh was the primary oil used in burial and can be used in place of cinnamon if available.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Cut 2-3 small pieces off cinnamon sticks
12. Empty Tomb - When the women arrived, "They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus." Glory!
HOW TO MAKE IT: A large golden plastic egg (Hobby Lobby) left empty
Store all the eggs in a container and enjoy the amazing smell of the spikenard and cinnamon aroma every time you open it! Print the Scripture cards on heavy cardstock or photo paper and laminate so that they will be durable for years to come.
And, one last thing...
When you are enjoying your Resurrection Eggs this Easter, snap a picture and tag @byfaithshe on Facebook. We would love to see your sweet kiddos with their eggs!
FREE SCRIPTURE PRINTABLE:
For other ideas on how to sow seeds of faith into your children, teach them the Scriptures, and guide them on their individual walks with the Lord, check out:
1. Raising Little Kids with Big Faith
2. Raising Little Girls with Big Faith
3. By Faith Kids
4. Who Should Teach Them?
First, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a passionate advocate of all things healthy & natural and a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.
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I am so excited to be able to announce to you the launch of By Faith Kids. By Faith Kids came about because of a desire of the By Faith She girls to teach our own children. And, we decided, why not share the love with all of you! Below you will find a free downloadable, five day Bible study, for your children.
In last weeks post, we talked about a command from God in Deuteronomy 11:18-19. It says, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; …Teach them to your children.” I gave practical tips for ways that help me fulfill the first part of this commandment and I hope will helped you too.
Today, let’s talk about how we can impart God’s Word to our children. If we continue reading Deuteronomy 11, into verses 19-20, we see God giving practical advice on how to teach our children. He says, talk about His Words all the time, in every circumstance. When you sit, and when you walk along the road. I’m guessing that could be translated today “When you sit, and when you drive through the carpool line, and to various practices…” It goes on to say, “When you lie down, and when you get up. Write them on the doorframe of your houses and on your gates. So basically, find ways to fit God’s Word into all situations and conversations with your kids. Write them out and post them where you and your kids will see them, learn them, and remember them. Be intentional by word and deed to instruct your children in devotion to God!
If, as we talked about last week, you are reading God’s Word yourself, and spending time in prayer, it will make teaching your children much easier. After all, you can’t teach something you don’t know yourself. When you learn new information in your Bible study, talk to your kids about it. And with the knowledge you are saving up from studying God’s Word on your own, you will be more prepared to naturally insert God’s wisdom in various situations and conversations with your children.
MORE Practical Tips for Helping Your Child~
1. Resources -
Find resources for your child that you would like for them to use. Something age appropriate, that will adequately teach them God’s Word. My son is eleven and he loves the teen version of The Story. It is very similar to reading the Bible chronologically, but without chapters and verses. It reads like a storybook. One thing my twelve year old daughter enjoys, is reading through one book of the Bible at a time in her Journaling Bible. As she comes to verses that stick out to her or that she’d like to memorize, she gets out her colored pens and makes beautiful creations with the verse. Every child is different and learns in a variety of ways. Give your child some options on what they will use when they spend their time with The Lord.
2. Prayer -
Encourage your child to spend time in prayer as well. A prayer journal could be a helpful tool. Some children may love journaling their prayers, while others may not enjoy writing. When my daughter was very young she had some hard questions about knowing if God was real. We gave her a journal to write down prayers so she could go back and look at them every night and mark them off once God answered them. This was a huge faith builder for her because she saw proof of God’s answers right there in her journal! A journaling page is included in the Free Printable below. You are welcome to make copies of it!
3. Model It -
If your child is young or new to spending time in the Bible, start out reading them a Bible story before bed. Then model how to pray by praying out loud with them. Talk to them about how important it is to spend time with God, learning His Words to us and talking back to Him by praying. Encourage them to pray on their own when you leave the room.
4. Timing -
Help your child decide on a time to set aside to spend with the Lord. Just like us, they are much more likely to do it if they have a set time and you help them stick to it. We send our kids to bed 30 minutes early every night so that they have time to intentionally spend with God. After those 30 minutes are up we go up to tuck them in. Many nights they tell us what they read, ask us questions, we insert knowledge we may have about what they have read…and we pray together. This obviously is harder to make happen some nights, and there have been many nights it hasn’t happened. But, we only have a short time with our children and this is SO important. Really the most important thing we could teach them in our time with them. So even if it doesn’t happen every night, it is definitely a top priority. If you haven’t been teaching your kids God’s Word and praying with them, don’t beat yourself up. It’s never too late. Start today!
By Faith She knows that the calling to be a parent, grandparent, mentor… is not always easy, and we want to help. That’s why we have created By Faith Kids. We hope to chalk it full of resources for you to use for the little ones, or maybe not so little ones, in your life.
Recently, I did a study on The Lord’s Prayer. I learned so much, and I wanted my kids to be able to begin to understand some of the same truths that I was reading about. So, I wrote a study for them on prayer. It’s divided into five days of actual Bible study, and Laura has added fun pages all throughout. Today, By Faith She is including it here as a free downloadable! Click the link below.
Please remember what we talked about above. All children learn so differently! Although this is designed to be a five-day study, one days work may be too much for your child. Don’t stress! Help them break it up into more manageable pieces. Make it work for them! Maybe like me, you have a child who doesn’t enjoy writing. Don’t make them write the answers in, but let them just think about the answers. You’ll know if they are learning when you talk about it at the end of each day. The point here is not to have perfectly completed pages. The point is to
1. teach your child God’s Word and 2. teach your child how to spend time with God!
Once they finish this Bible study, your children should be able to use the last page as a follow-up with any other Bible study. It will help them pray through their day. By Faith She plans to release more resources for kids in the future, and we pray that these resources will benefit your family as you lead them toward Jesus.
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him.
Follow us on Facebook here.
My friend Cheryl is my "Friend Friday" today on the blog. I have known Cheryl for a long time…from back in our high school days, so I won't say how long that is! Cheryl and I also went to church together when we were in Kentucky. I have watched her walk through a very long, tough, hard valley with such beauty and grace. Her redemption story will bless you so much today!
Every little girl dreams. Most of the time these dreams are pretty similar. Being a princess or perhaps a ballerina. What our wedding will be like. Our knight in shining armor that will become our husband, whisking us away to live by the sea. What we will name our 2.5 children. I think we have all had those dreams as children. It doesn’t take very many years of adulthood to realize those fantasies are not quite reality. Our careers are not full of tinkerbells and seashells. Our husbands did not come and pick us up on a white horse. Life is just....hard.
A very wise friend once told me that sometimes God has to let our dreams die, so His dream for us can come alive. Those are not easy words to live by in the face of disappointment or adversity. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. During a season in my life, I sure didn’t feel like God had my best interests at heart.
After being married for a couple years, we found out that we had some reproductive issues. Several rounds of fertility drugs, three IUIs, and four IVFs left me with empty arms, a broken heart, and some pretty intense anger at God. It was after our third IVF that I really hit my low point.
It was toward the end of my two-week waiting period that follows an in vitro fertilization. It was the dreaded wait to find out whether or not the embryos actually attached. It’s horrible. Any little twinge makes you nervous. I remember this like it was yesterday. We were having a family meal after my husband’s grandmother passed away, and I got really sick. I thought it was my nerves until it dawned on me that nausea is totally a sign of pregnancy.
I rushed home and took a pregnancy test. For the first time EVER, I saw two pink lines!! They were very faint but definitely there. I was ecstatic! It worked! It finally worked! My husband, Kevin, was already talking about starting a college fund, because well...he’s just dorky like that. It was the most amazing feeling ever. God had finally heard my pleas. Fast forward to the next morning. I took another pregnancy test, knowing those pink lines should be getting darker. Well, that wasn’t the case. If anything, the lines were fainter. The following day the lines were not even visible. I called the clinic and the nurse told me that I had experienced what’s called a chemical pregnancy.
When we are in the midst of the storm, sometimes it’s so hard to see God, to hear His voice. Satan fills our minds with lies. I went into a dark place for a very long time and my heart was full of anger. How could He do this to me? How could He be so cruel to give me all that joy just to turn around and take it all away? During this time of darkness, we went on to transfer our final two embryos. In the words of Anne Frank…”I [was] ready for the end to come, whatever that may be.” It was yet another failure. I really hit rock bottom after that. I was angry. Bitter. It was hard to celebrate when friends found out they were expecting. I couldn’t bring myself to go to baby showers. I wasn’t angry at my friends for being pregnant - I was angry at God.
I cried out to Him many times to take away my desire to be a mother if He had no intention of granting it. I was miserable. Several of my friends and family begged me to consider adoption. I didn’t want to do it. I knew that I could never truly love a child that wasn’t my own. Over the period of a few months, God nudged me ever so gently that direction. Sometimes God has put us on our back, so we have a better vantage point of Him.
We completed the training to become foster parents. I had that anxious excitement again. I remember getting our first call for a placement. When the voice on the other end told me it was for a teenage girl, I was very disappointed. I explained how this wasn’t what we were looking for. The next call was for a sibling set ages three to seven, then a call for another teenager. I specifically wrote on all the papers that we wanted a baby. This went on for months. We never got a call for a newborn. It was frustrating to say the least, so frustrating that we decided to close our home. It was obvious that children were just not part of God’s plan for our life. That bitterness started to set in again. On our tenth wedding anniversary, I bought my husband a new ring with the words “Just Us Two” engraved inside. I was done...so done that I engraved it in metal. I had to move on. As much as I tried, I couldn’t, because HE wasn’t done.
After about a year, those feelings came back again. That intense desire to be a mother resurfaced. I tried so hard to ignore it, to just push it out of my mind. I tried to busy myself with this and that, but God kept telling me that this wasn’t the end. He would wake me up at night. I would have such vivid dreams of holding a baby. He put so many signs in front of me that I couldn’t ignore Him anymore. I told Kevin that we had to reopen our home.
A week before Thanksgiving, we got a call for a seven-week-old baby boy. The social worker said this was the baby I had been waiting for. They were unable to find any suitable relatives. The poor thing had a broken rib and a suspected broken clavicle. Kevin and I talked it over for a few minutes on the phone and decided to do it. We raced to Walmart and filled our cart to overflowing with everything a baby would need.
A few hours later, there was a knock at the door. Two social workers came in with the baby sleeping in the carrier and set him on my kitchen table. It was a chilly evening, so there was a blanket over a carrier. I walked over to the table and with trembling hands, I pulled back the blanket and saw Eli for the first time. He looked like an angel sleeping there. I felt the presence of the Lord so strongly in that room. The bond was instant. I leaned over and kissed his little bruised face as tears streamed down mine. This was my baby.
The rollercoaster ride of IVF was nothing compared to the following months. We survived from one court hearing to the next, never knowing what the following week would hold. It was agony. Would they find a relative? Would we be losing him soon? As the weeks passed, Kevin and I fell more in love with Eli. The social workers all told us not to get too attached. How is that possible? My cold, bitter heart was finally starting to beat again, and I need to tell it not to love this baby? I knew in the deepest part of my soul that God sent this angel into my life for a reason. I needed him just as much as he needed me. He was broken and hurt - but so was I.
When I look back on that time in my life, it was so evident that Jesus was carrying me. I could not have made it. Jesus never promised that we would be spared from storms. He promised that He would carry us through them. One sunny afternoon in May, we stood in front of the judge, and Eli became our son.
There are so many truths I have learned during this journey:
God is so good.
Do you know what to say? Do you know where to start? Do you have the right answers? Do you have enough time? Are they old enough to understand? Will you push them away?
These are all legitimate questions you might ask yourself when you think about teaching your kids about God. But each one of these questions comes down to one simple answer found in Deuteronomy 11:18-19. It says, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; …Teach them to your children."
No matter what questions we have, if God commands it, then we should figure out how, and do it!
We see in these verses that there are two parts to this command. 1.) We are to fix God’s words in our own hearts and minds AND 2.) We are to teach them to our children.
This week we will cover the first part of this command. After all, we can’t teach our children something we haven’t learned ourselves.
Let me put a disclaimer right here in the middle of this post. What has been mentioned above is SCRIPTURE! It is a command from God and is something all believers should be striving to do. But, what I will mention following this disclaimer, is mostly my opinion. It is only to give you some help in making these commands a reality in your life. Ideas, plans…. Make it work for you!
WHAT are you going to need?
Are you already studying the Bible? Are you memorizing God’s Word? If you are, great job! If not, lets start there. Pick a Bible study, or better yet, get a Study Bible and read through a book of the Bible at a time. Or, in my personal opinion, an even better option is to get a Chronological Bible and start at the beginning and work your way through to the end. (Check out this post Rebecca recently wrote on what makes the Chronological Bible a good way to study.) There are so many choices when it comes to studying God’s Word, pick one that works for you! You may also want a prayer journal or prayer box if you like to write out your prayers. It helps keep me focused.
WHEN will you meet with God?
You’re going to need to set a time. If you don’t set a time and somewhat stick to it, you will most likely not make it a priority. I know, believe me, I know. You have no extra time. If your life is anything like mine, every minute is usually accounted for, from sun up to sun down. Here is what I occasionally have to do with my own schedule. I have to start over. First, I pray for a couple weeks or more and ask God to make it clear what He wants me involved in. Then, I take a blank piece of paper and list what a typical week needs to look like. I START with what time I will have my Bible Study/Prayer Time. The right time for you might be first thing in the morning. It may be after you get the kids off to school, on your lunch break at work, sitting in carpool, or it may be the last thing you do at night. Whenever it works best for you, put it on your schedule and make it happen. I look at it like this, there are a million good causes out there that I could be a part of, but if I’m not first spending time with the Lord, then everything else I’m doing is in vain. I am doing it in my own strength and in my own power, which, truthfully, is just pointless. We NEED God’s words pouring into our hearts and minds often. We need to be taking our cares to Him, before we take them to our friends and Facebook.
After I’ve established the most important appointment I have, then I fill in the rest of the activities for each day of a typical week, starting with the most important things…feeding my family, work, kids school, church activities (serving, attending…), time with family, down time, kids’ bedtime, time with my husband, my bedtime…until my schedule is full. If an activity doesn’t make it on the schedule then I have to pray about either fitting it in somewhere, or more likely, letting it go for this season. Click the file below for a printable blank calendar.
WHERE will you meet with God?
Now that you know WHAT you’re going to do during your time with God, and you know WHEN you’re going to meet Him, the last thing you need to decide is WHERE. Sounds pretty simple, right? Just plop down somewhere. But if your house is anything like mine, it’s hard to find a nice quiet spot where you can sit alone with the Lord. If I’m the first one up in the morning, I grab my Bible from my nightstand and read it before I’m even out of bed. This way I don’t take the chance of waking somebody up and lessen my chances for alone time. If need be, I get up, lock my bedroom door, and find a warm spot on my big comfy chair. This way anything I might need is nearby and I’m not distracted by having to go hunt for a pen, my Bible, my prayer journal....
Now that we have a plan of studying God’s Word for ourselves, next week we will talk about some easy ways of teaching it to our children. We have a big surprise for you with next week’s post. We are so excited about it and hope you will be, too! Check Facebook this Friday for our big announcement, or here on the blog next Monday.
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him.
What do you think is the best Valentine gift to let someone know you love them? Flowers? Chocolate? Jewelry? A wise person once said, "The best way to spell love is T.I.M.E." In today's hustle and bustle, it is hard to pin down time for those we love best. A quote from imom challenged me, "Healthy parents don’t find family time, they make time."
As I was brainstorming how to make time with my kiddos, I remembered three of my friends who gave neat Christmas gifts this year centered around time together! I thought, "We could easily use their ideas for Valentine's Day gifts!"
Below you'll find their explanation of why they did their activity and how. "The Why" will touch a familiar chord in your own precious heart. "The How" will make your job easy. Choosing which one you want to implement will be the hard part. These ideas could easily be used in any relationship you want to build and strengthen.
We have crafted a download to make these Valentine's ideas easier. If we don't have your email, simply send us your email address, and we'll zip them over to you.
Can you do us a favor? If you implement one of these tasks, please share your pictures and experiences on our Facebook page or on our Instagram page.
Adventure Box - by Darlene Howell Waller.
The Why - If we looked back on our years, we don't remember the gifts that were given or WHO gave them. But for me, time spent together are some of my sweetest childhood memories. I remember the family vacations, the Saturday trips to the grocery store, the lake and camping adventures with my family, the fun we had in the tree house that my dad built for me. But I couldn't tell you a single gift that was a "thing" that I remember receiving.
I love my grandchildren so much. One day I will be gone. I want them to have wonderful memories of their time spent with me, their Nonna. They have every toy imaginable! I just want to give them the gift of my time.
The How - Every year I try to figure out how to creatively give gift cards. This year, I found some ideas on Pinterest.
- I found a husband's letter he wrote as a gift to his wife. I just changed some words. This introduced me to the idea of "a monthly adventure for the year".
- I went to Hobby Lobby to purchase a shoe box, stickers and envelopes, but then I saw this trunk!! It was perfect!
- I found stickers that said, "Adventure Awaits". I loved the idea!
- Every month's envelope has a different experience that is pre-planned and pre-paid (mostly). The gift cards are places we go anyway: Movies, picnics, laser tag, go carts, the beach and Redneck Island, Christmas lights, pumpkin patch...etc.....I added some extra adventures, like horseback riding that I think they will absolutely love. (I can't believe I hadn't thought of that sooner.)
- We will take pictures at every outing and those pictures will go back into this box. In years to come they will have a trunk full of memories with their Nonna to fondly look back on.
Date Cards - by Denise Slater
The Why - A few years ago, my husband and I wanted to find a way to give more individual time to our kids. We live multiple states away from our families. This means we do most everything as a family, except for our date nights when we pay for a sitter. We have triplet boys, so we don’t have different times to spend when a younger child is napping, or an older child is in school. To solve this, we came up with “date cards”. They are given to them in their stockings. It is always one of their favorite gifts!
We currently give them three “dates with Daddy”, three “dates with Mommy”, and three “stay up late” cards to be used for the next year. The categories for this year are “Kid’s Choice”, “Parent’s Choice” and “Both Choose”.
The How - The first year we gave choices on the cards for different dates. The next year we gave less specific choices because we learned that some are weather related. The third year we learned to give date ranges on the cards to keep us accountable.
We have done different activities such as an escape room, the movies, disk golf, hiking, Skyzone, Chuck-e-Cheese, painting party, crafting, etc. (My husband now has a “no Chuck-e-Cheese clause for his dates. Haha!) Our “stay up late” cards are just that. Individually they get to stay up 30 min later than their brothers and pick something to do with both Daddy and Mommy. Most times it ends up being a board game or card game.
We have found that three dates per child, per parent works best for us. That is 18 different times a year that we schedule to go out, while the other two kids and parent are home. This would work easier for those parents of two kids to two dates in one night. While my parents were visiting from Michigan this past spring, we were able to do three dates in three nights while they had individual time with each of our kids also!
This has been an amazing experience to spend individual time with our boys. Giving them our undivided attention, without them competing with their brothers, brings out different sides to them. Our quiet child talks nonstop. Our boisterous child tends to be more reflective. Our creative child shows more insight. We are giving them the gift of time.
Our boys are tweens. Oh, that is hard to write the word “tween”! We are praying that these individual times invested will help us roll easier into the teen years to spend time with each of our boys. This gift of individual time has not only been great for our boys, but a blessing for my husband and me. I hope this will be a blessing to your family.
A Day to Remember - by Lesley Guilaran
The Why - The idea for our family Christmas gift ironically began in the toy aisle at Target. It was a hot August day and I remarked to my husband that this was the time of year I started to look for gifts for the kids for Christmas, since Target clearanced toys in August. He looked at me and said, “I think I’m done getting them toys for Christmas. Every year they open them, play with them for a little bit, and then they are finished. It’s just silly.” Inside, my heart was rejoicing! I had been wanting to give our kids experiences as gifts for awhile, so we began talking about that idea on that day.
At first, we thought of some grand plan to go to a different city, almost like a mini-vacation. However, our oldest son has autism, and this past fall was a difficult season. Traveling to another city seemed to be a bit too much for him to handle, so we sat on the idea for a few months.
About three weeks before Christmas, I was listening to a blog post from “The Lazy Genius”. She was discussing this very topic and the idea of giving experiences, like a family movie box filled with pajamas, special snacks, and a movie for the family to watch together. I thought, “YES!!!” This is the family gift I have been looking for! Not some grand plan, but something simple; creating a beautiful memory out of something not so fancy.
One very important lesson that autism has taught our family, is to see the beautiful in the ordinary.
So, ideas began churning in my head, and the one we landed on was to have a day in the small city we live in with our family.
The How - Each person in the family could pick one place they wanted to go. We would pile in the car and go to each place one afternoon. The funny thing was, we didn’t really go anywhere new! I chose the Old Town Spaghetti Store, my youngest chose SkyZone, my oldest chose The Green Frog Cafe (for coffee, of course!), and my husband chose to watch the sunset from a high point in our city, which just happens to be the Dairy Queen parking lot overlooking Wal-Mart!
We made a schedule for my oldest so he could handle all the transitions and off we went! At the end of the day, everyone said their favorite part was drinking our coffee or eating ice cream (depending on what they chose) and watching the sunset in the car. Our youngest LOVED it and said, “Can we do this again next year, Mom?” It was really the best; we all felt it.
The gift of time is the best gift we could have given our kids. We have all loved it. They have not missed the tangible gifts at all, and honestly, that makes my Momma heart full!
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
Create God-consciousness in your children at Christmas
In his book Parenting, Paul David Tripp tells us that God uses parents as a faithful tool to create two critical things in our children: God-consciousness and God-submission. God-consciousness is the acknowledgment of His existence while God-submission is the surrender to His authority. Paul goes on to state, "Your children have the perverse and life-shaping ability to look at the world around them and not see God. Children who don't acknowledge God will act as if they are God and will resist the help and rescue that God has provided for them... Every day is filled with opportunities to point to God."
Perhaps there is no better opportunity to create this God-consciousness in our children than at the time of year where they are most prone to become me-centered: Christmas. Christmas can quickly become a "me, me, me" holiday if we, as parents, are not intentionally impressing spiritual truths onto their hearts and focusing less on self and more on Christ. But, if Christ is kept as the focal point throughout the hustle and bustle, there are so many ways that Christmas will have a profound impact in their hearts.
One of the ways that my family tries to keep Christ as the focus at Christmastime is a nightly devotional and activity called The Jesse Tree. My family began doing this about four years ago and it quickly became a favorite tradition.
Who is Jesse and what is The Jesse Tree?
Jesse was the father of King David. And, among the many, many prophecies that the birth of Christ fulfilled is one found in Isaiah 11:1-2, 10:
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord... In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.”
A Jesse Tree is a Christmas tree (we use a kid-sized tree) that is used exclusively for hanging ornaments that retell the Biblical stories that lead up to the birth of Christ. There are a number of Jesse Tree books available that offer 25 devotions each day from December 1st to December 25th. These daily devotions trace the heritage of Jesus through the stories and prophecies of the Old Testament enabling families to engage in a more meaningful celebration of the Christmas season. Each devotional story is paired with a representative symbol that traces the heritage of Jesus such the earth, an apple, stars, an angel, etc. These symbols are represented by ornaments - a new one is hung on the tree each night until all 25 are displayed.
There are a number of ways to do The Jesse Tree - all the way from totally crafting it out with homemade ornaments, to kid-created hand drawn laminated paper ornaments, to the easy method of store-bought ornaments (what I prefer), to a mixture of all three. The store-bought route may take longer to accumulate all the ornaments as you search for the right ones. It also requires a little out-of-the-box thinking. For instance, for Rahab's Scarlet Rope, we use a red braided cord as garland. For the Coat of Many Colors, we use colorful miniature glass balls. I also had to get a little crafty with ornaments such as wheat and baby Isaac. We are still missing a few but it's fun to hunt for them!
While Scripture is read and discussed every night when the ornament is hung, reading a short devotional to go along with it is optional (and based on your children's attention spans, ha!). One of the books that we have is The Advent Jesse Tree which is a short and sweet read but not very visually appealing for wide-eyed imaginations. The second book is Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp which is visually stunning but is long-winded and heavy on the author's interpretation of Scripture. We usually skip the author's writing and concentrate solely on the Scripture and pictures. My children are also at the ripe age where I can ask them questions or discuss ways they can apply the verses to their lives. Or, if you want to purchase a book that includes ornaments, Ann also has a newer interactive book The Wonder of the Greatest Gift: An Interactive Family Celebration of Advent that includes paper ornaments and a three dimensional Christmas tree.
Another (and important) thing we do is repetition, repetition, repetition! Every night, we go over each ornament in order, connecting the events of the Bible into one big story. We talk about the earth that God created represented by the earth ornament. Then we talk about how sin entered the world when Eve bit the apple represented by the apple ornament. Then we talk about how God sent the flood to cleanse the earth and how He saved Noah and his family represented by the Noah's Ark ornament. Then, the promise to Abraham that God would give him descendants as many as the stars in the sky represented by multiple star ornaments...and so forth. We move from ornament to ornament and retell the story, the greatest story, leading all the way up to our greatest gift - Jesus. It's a beautiful time where my children connect visible, tangible objects to the events that lead up to the birth of Christ. And, they love to see if they can remember the correct order. It's also a great learning tool for mom and dad, too!
I hope that you will consider the ways that you can celebrate Christ with you children this Christmas. Whether it's a special tree, a nightly reading of Scripture, baking cookies to take to neighbors...whatever it is, don't forget to tell them the bigger story, the greater story, on why we do these things and WHO we do them for.
The Jesse Tree - 25 Days of Advent
December 1 - Tree/Tree Stump, Isaiah 11:1-2, 10
December 2 - Earth, Genesis 1:1-5, 26-27
December 3 - Apple, Genesis 3:6-9
December 4 - Noah's Ark, Genesis 6:5-8
December 5 - Stars, Genesis 12:1-7
December 6 - Isaac, Genesis 21:1-7
December 7 - Ram, Genesis 22:1-14
December 8 - Ladder, Genesis 28:12-16
December 9 - Coat of Many Colors, Genesis 37:3-4, 50:15-20
December 10 - Ten Commandments, Deut 5
December 11 - Scarlet Rope, Joshua 2:1, 8-18
December 12 - Wheat, Ruth 1:6-9, 16
December 13 - Shepherd's Staff, 1 Sam 16:6-12
December 14 - Candle, Isaiah 9:2, 6-7
December 15 - Fire, 1 Kings 18:18-24
December 16 - Whale, Jonah 1:1-3, 17 2:10, 3:1-3
December 17 - Bethlehem, Micah 5:2-5
December 18 - Crown, Esther 4:10-16
December 19 - Tower, Habakkuk 2:1, 3:17-19
December 20 - Angel, Luke 1:6-8, 11-17
December 21 - John the Baptist, Matthew 3:1-3
December 22 - Mary, Luke 1:28-35, 38
December 23 - Emmanuel, Matthew 1:20-23
December 24 - Nativity, Luke 2:1-7
December 25 - Good News, Luke 2:11-19
For another fun way to create God-consciousness in your children at Christmas, check out Laura's Wisemen tradition - a great alternative to The Elf on the Shelf!
First, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a passionate advocate of all things healthy & natural, an even 50/50 split of introvert/extrovert, and a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.