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    5 Gift Ideas for Families with Younger Children

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    5 Gift Ideas for Families with Younger Children

    Christmas will be here before you know it. And the biggest source of stress? Gift giving. Okay, that’s not scientific, I haven’t researched that. But I know this is a huge source of frustration for most of us. The list, the running out of ideas, etc. So I’ve come up with a list of gift ideas for families with younger children.

    *** Please note this list contains affiliate links. This means that, if you click a link and make a purchase, I receive a commission on the sale. But it does not cost you anything extra, and I only recommend what I think you’ll love!!*** 

     

    Teach your kids to trust God and obey Him with this Trust and Obey Hymn Study and the Heart of Obedience study which is available ONE WEEK ONLY!

    5 Gift Ideas for Families with Younger Children

    1. Rock Painting Supplies – many people now are searching for rocks throughout their community. This is an inexpensive way to spend time with the kids. Best part? It’s electronic device free!
    2. Board Games– Who doesn’t enjoy a good game night? Get the family a preschool-friendly board game, or one suitable for whatever age children they have. Throw in some snacks and popcorn, and you have a fantastic gift basket!
    3. Cookie Making or Baking Kit– One way to spend time with the kids is to cook together. And what better than baking cookies? They can decorate them any way they’d like. And this is a great time for young and old alike.
    4. Family Movie Night– Let’s face it: going to the movie theater is extremely expensive. Instead, get the family a DVD, some popcorn, soda, candy, etc. and fund their next movie night!
    5. Family Devotional– It’s hard to get everyone sitting down at the same time, especially for Bible time. Get the family a devotional, and help encourage them to read and pray together as a family.

    5 Gift Ideas for Families with Younger Children

    Hopefully, you can find something on this list that’s budget-friendly, and you think your recipients will love!

    What other gift ideas for families with littles do you have?

    Want ideas on how to share the real meaning of Christmas with your children? See this post!

    November 20, 2017

    Giving Thanks in a Selfish World

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    I love Thanksgiving.

    I love the food, the gathering of family, and the fact that many are somewhat thankful at least once a year. It saddens me to think how selfish we as a people have become. We usually worry about “us four and no more” and forget that there are others out there who are less fortunate.
    We also forget, sadly, what we should be most thankful for.
    Our lives get so chaotic and hectic. We’re so busy with work, school, activities, functions, etc. that we rarely pause and take a breath. And when we do, we seldom take the time to thank our Heavenly Father for all the blessings in our lives.
    This is especially true for me, as I sit and compare my situation to someone else’s. I see all the things in my life that I wish were different. All the choices I made I wish I hadn’t, and how another person’s seemed to have worked out for them. If I let the negative thought train go too far, I wonder just what it is I’m supposed to be thankful for.

    Giving Thanks in a Selfish World

    “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalm 118:1)

    I don’t know about you, but I read this verse again and again. And just rested for just a moment. To realize that God’s mercy endures forever. A quick Google of the term mercy returned these results: “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”

    Wow.

    Simply, we are to thank God because He is Good. His mercy endures forever. How truly wonderful and amazing is that?

    “Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:7)

    We all know what the Bible says about faith. We have to have our root system in Jesus, and our faith established, and abound in thanksgiving.

    Through the many verses in the Bible about “thanks” or “thanksgiving”, I do not see any that say, “Thank God because your circumstances are great” or “Give ye thanks to The Lord for your riches are many” or anything resembling that. At all.

    What I see are verses that tell us to thank God because HE is GOOD.

    It doesn’t matter what’s happening around us, the truth is we were extended so much more grace and mercy than we could ever comprehend, and whether you’re in a mansion on a mountaintop or a cardboard box in a valley, we should be thankful for all God has done for us.

    We cannot let circumstances or the selfishness of others dictate our thankfulness to a loving God.

    Some discrepancies arise about Thanksgiving, about when it originally began, who really held the first feast, etc. But most scholars agree on one thing: early American Thanksgiving celebrations started because people thanked God for their bountiful harvest. For provision. For their lives.

    When we take a step back from what seems terrible, or unfavorable, we realize that God’s love is prevalent in our lives. And while we might not have everything we want, we are still blessed.

    I don’t have the house I want, drive the vehicle I want, and can’t afford the clothes I want. My bills don’t always get paid on time and I can’t always cook those amazing looking recipes.

    But when I stop and look around, I see that I have everything I need.

    I realize that sometimes I get caught up in the world around me, and what I think I need. So rather than focus on what I don’t have and what areas could use a little more financial cushion, I’ve begun asking God for a content heart. For Him to fill me with more of Him, His love, and a desire to serve others.

    To stop seeing what I don’t have, and focusing on what I do have. And we don’t need a holiday for that.

    November 13, 2017

    8 Ways to Share the Real Christmas With Your Children

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    8 Ways to Share the Real Christmas With Your Children

    *This post contains affiliate links. For full disclosure, see here.*

    Don’t you love this time of year?

    Fall, Thanksgiving food, college football… the list goes on and on. And then, of course, there’s Christmas.

    I love Christmas. And not “Commercial-mas” as my Dad calls it. No, I’m talking about the atmosphere surrounding Christmas. The fact that, for a few short weeks, many people put their differences aside and decide to be kind to one another. Occasionally, a stranger with pay for someone else’s food at the drive-thru. People have compassion for others and usually, try to help those less fortunate.

    And, the fact that some people argue that December 25th is not the day Jesus was born is not lost on me. And, yes, I’m well aware that a lot of traditions held now at Christmas are not about Jesus or His birth at all.

    For me, Christmas is not about when you celebrate the birth of Jesus. The fact is, His name is being lifted up, and we are recognizing that by Him leaving His throne and coming to earth we find salvation.

    8 Ways to Share the Real Christmas With Your Children

    Now that I have kids, the real meaning of Christmas shines.

    Can you imagine giving birth to your child in a barn? Or raising that child to grow up, just to die for the sins of the world?

    I can’t.

    Your children need to know what Christmas is really about. Who Jesus is, why He came, what He did and why He died. They need to know it’s not about gifts, or food, or special programs. So then how do you show your children why Jesus was really born?

    What are some ways you can share the real Christmas with your children?

    • Go look at Christmas lights. Drive around your neighborhood or one that goes all out to decorate. This was my favorite thing to do with my family as a kid. No, Christmas is not about how many decorations we have, but this time spent with family was precious. And we had the opportunity to actually talk about Christmas, what it really means. The beautiful nativity scenes, what really happened on that night. Best of all, it doesn’t cost much.
    • Participate in something like Operation Christmas Child. They take up donations for children overseas who have nothing. Things like a toothbrush and shoes mean the world to these kids. Take the time to explain to your children some have almost nothing, and toys are not their priority. Explain why you’re making this box for them, and ask your children to help you pray over each box you donate.
    • Read the Christmas story to them. If your children are really young, get a children’s Bible (this is the one my kids have). Let them ask questions, and read it more than once.
    • Look for activities on Pinterest (I am NOT that crafty, so I don’t come up with my own, I go to Pinterest for this!) While the kids are coloring, or making a craft, you can take the time to explain to them what Christmas is all about.
    • Go to a Christmas play. Your church might have one, but if not, maybe find somewhere that does. This helps the kids to have a visual to go along with what you’ve been talking to them about. Reading a story with terms we no longer use or something they’ve never seen (like a stable) won’t really register. But when they see the story acted out, it makes more sense.
    • The Veggie Tales DVDs do a great job of telling Bible stories on a child’s level. Have a family movie night and watch the Christmas stories, giving your children a chance to ask questions and discuss Christmas.
    • Bake some cookies or make a meal for someone who might need it. Maybe a widow in your church could use a friendly face and some company. Or maybe there’s a less fortunate family that comes to mind that you could bless in a huge way with a small gesture. This helps children connect a real person to the fact that we should help others.
    • Contact your local foster care agency or nursing homes to see if there’s something your family can do to volunteer or help others. The Bible does, after all, clearly tell us to look after the widow and the orphan(James 1:27), and Christmas is a great time to instill this in the littles.

    What it really boils down to is talking to your children about the true meaning of Christmas.

    Let me reiterate here I am NOT crafty, but made a quick printable of the candy cane, and some ways it shows Jesus. You can download that here. Enjoy!

     

    October 16, 2017

    Why Christians Should Not Celebrate Halloween

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    Why Christians Should Not Celebrate Halloween

    *This post contains affiliate links. This means that, if you click on the link and make a purchase, I make a commission on the sale. It does NOT cost you anything extra, and I only recommend products I love and think you would, too!*

    I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve been asked about Halloween.

    “Why don’t you take the kids trick-or-treating?”

    “What’s wrong with costumes?”

    “You know it’s really a Christian holiday, right?”

    Why Christians Should Not Celebrate Halloween

    I really, to be honest, did not have solid answers for these questions for a long time. I knew that our parents raised us to not celebrate Halloween. We did the church fall festivals and whatnot, but these didn’t involve costumes or knocking on a stranger’s door.

    I guess this surprised me about myself, that I’d never really dug into the subject. Normally I like to have my list of facts, from credible sources, ready to spout off to anyone who questions my stance on a topic.  Go ahead – ask me anything about a beta fish.

    But for some reason, I hadn’t really dug into Halloween. Never really looked into WHY, exactly, we didn’t do these things. Sure, I knew we needed to stay away from evil in any form, and dressing up as a witch is obviously not okay. But what’s wrong with a Captain America costume?

    So, this year, I did some digging. And I wanted to know the real meaning of Halloween. Is it really a Christian holiday? Is it okay to celebrate as long as you stay away from the evil stuff? Am I somehow depriving my children of a fun experience?

    The truth about the origin of Halloween

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve always heard that Halloween actually had Christian roots.

    My first place to look was the Bible, which speaks out pretty plainly against evil. We, as Christians, are to have no part in evil. But, because Halloween wasn’t celebrated then, there’s nothing really clear about costumes or candy. Or its real origin. What I decided I needed to figure out was, is this holiday really evil? And can something potentially beginning as evil become good? Or have a positive influence?

    So because we don’t have encyclopedias or real books to research anymore (just kidding, I know we do!) I went to the World Wide Web. I like to pick on my older sister because she “researches” things and then comes back with some completely off the wall garbage. And I’m like, “Crystal, where’d you hear that?” to which she always responds, “The internet”.

    I wanted to make sure that the sources I found were somewhat credible, and not just a post of someone’s opinions only. Seeing as how millions of results come up for “origins of Halloween” Google search, I picked a couple places that seemed legit.

    So between this History Channel article and an interview from a Boston University publication, I gathered a few things.

    Halloween did not, in fact, begin as a Christian holiday. Many years ago, Celtics (located in what is now Ireland, UK & Northern France) celebrated Samhain – a time of celebrating the dead. They left out treats for spirits and ghosts, so the spirits would leave them alone.

    In later years, when the Romans took over the area, they celebrated Pomona, who was a goddess of fruit and trees. Many believe this is where the harvest feast and apple bobbing came from – a tribute to her. Also, Feralia was the celebration of the passing of the dead.

    These traditions sort of merged together, all celebrating spirits, ghosts, and pagan beliefs.

    Eventually, the Catholic church decided that, rather than be outdone by the pagans, they should come up with their own celebration. You know, if you can’t beat them, join them. The Church already celebrated the Christian Feast of All Saints on November 1st and All Soul’s Day on November 2. So the pagan tradition became known as the Eve of All Saints, or All Hallow’s Eve.

    When the holiday came to America, it wasn’t as wildly popular as it is today. But in true American fashion, we decided to make it super commercial and many people make lots of money. Different traditions developed and made the holiday what we know it as today, Halloween.

    The costumes aren’t anything new, however. When the pagan holidays were celebrated, they believed if you went outside after dark, the spirits would recognize you and attack or attach to you. So, they wore masks to not be recognized. Often, these masks disguised them as animals.

    Trick or treating stems from the poor going around and begging for food or money. In exchange for a pastry, the less fortunate would agree to pray away the spirits that might attack that home.

    Now knowing where the holiday came from, and how popular traditions we now hold started, I still wondered if Halloween was truly evil. If you aren’t a witch or demon, then is it okay to dress up?

    And if you aren’t openly professing Satan, then is it still evil?

    In sharing his testimony, John Ramirez talks about going from a high-ranking Satanic priest to a relationship with Jesus Christ. I read his book, Out of the Devil’s Cauldron and he talks about Halloween.

    People who walked on the dark side say to have no part of Halloween.

    After looking into Halloween’s history, and seeing that some could still be unclear, I looked at the testimony of John Ramirez. Someone who was literally in a relationship with Satan himself has absolutely nothing positive to say about this holiday.

    In a radio broadcast, Ramirez speaks bluntly about Halloween and says that Christians should have nothing to do with it, at all. He goes so far as to say that putting pumpkins on your doorstep invites in the spirit of Jezebel. (Side note: I don’t know about you, but I’d rather Jezebel’s spirit stay far, far away from here!)

    He explains that costumes are a way of masking your identity and that the devil loves nothing more than to steal your identity in Christ. Most Christians don’t even know who they are in The Lord, and anytime the devil can add to that confusion, he does.

    He points out that we are to affect the world, and not be affected by it. And for someone to say they celebrate Halloween but love Jesus is like saying you’re married and love your spouse but have an affair with a prostitute. It makes no sense. Celebrating the holiday opens gateways and portals into the spirit world that most Christians are completely unaware of.

    If you want to listen to the whole broadcast – which I recommend that you do! – you can find it here.

    I also found a video by a former witch, who talks plainly and openly about what types of sacrifice happen on Halloween. And she says that, while not everyone partakes in these rituals, why would you want to celebrate murder and abuse? She also has a blog where she shares her testimony and talks in depth about spiritual warfare. But her post on Halloween can be read here.

     

    So, what’s my take on Halloween?

    Glad you asked! I cannot pretend that I delved into the spirit world, or see all the forces of evil. But I know what scripture says. Ephesians 5:16 says to redeem our time because the days are evil (paraphrased KJV). John 15:19 says that we are not of this world, He chose us, so the world hates us. Jesus says in John 17:16 that we are not of the world.

    The first thing Christians need to understand is this: we are not like the world. We have to stop trying to live as though we’re the same. Even celebrating a holiday that is evil, and calling it otherwise, is not okay (Isaiah 5:20).

    I know the argument some have (especially non-Christians): Christmas and Easter have pagan origins. To those, I say: don’t worry, I’ll write about that, too.

    But, here’s the difference: when you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, Satan has no part in that. More importantly, when you celebrate the death – and resurrection – of Jesus Christ, Satan cannot stand it. Because without the Resurrection, we Christians have no life.

    These holidays might not be celebrated when the actual events happened, but they’re also not celebrating the enemy of our souls. These are not days that evil specifically tries to seduce men and women into ritual sacrifice and abuse. They afford us the opportunity to share with our children about Jesus.

    The bigger question about why Christians should not celebrate Halloween could better be phrased, “Why do Christians want to celebrate Halloween?”

    So, to all my friends and family who might wonder, no, we are not taking the kids trick or treating because my house is covered in the blood of Jesus Christ and I do not want my children to go around begging for potentially poisoned candy.

    My children do not need to wear a costume to protect them from evil spirits. Primarily because that wouldn’t work anyway, but also because I pray for them. For God’s protection over them. And that goes further than any disguise. I also do not want them confused about who they are.

    No, it’s not really a Christian holiday. And any holiday where babies are murdered will not be celebrated in this house.

    Lastly, if you think I’m a fanatic: good. I am. Fanatical about Jesus. And the last thing I want is to displease Him.

     

    Why Christians Should Not Celebrate Halloween

     

    September 16, 2017