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Teaching Children the Art of Giving

Between commercials and store displays, our children are being bombarded with all of the gadgets, toys, and knick knacks they need to make them happy this Christmas.

But the reality of Christmas is that God gave us His one and only Son. But rather than focusing on the gift that was given, children in general tend to relate more to the gift received. I know I did.

So how can a Purposeful Mom help her children see the beauty of giving? How can we help our children realize the heart of the season, and learn to give the way God gave to us?

How do I teach them?

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My favorite movie and book for teaching these lessons are Really Woolly: The Gift of Christmas and Red Boots for Christmas.

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Really Woolly: The Gift of Christmas is one of my all-time favorite movies. I first bought it when Addie was 10 months old, and it became a fast favorite. The story begins in the autumn (unusual for most children’s Christmas movies) when young Jacob sees a toy he really wants. After asking his parents to buy it for him (and being promptly turned down), he decides to work hard all autumn and winter to buy it for himself. When Christmas arrives, because he has spent all of his time focused on himself and his wants, he finds he has forgotten to get a gift for the family gift exchange. After his very understanding Grandmother explains to him that she has already received the greatest gift of all, Jacob decides to take the one thing he owns and loves and uses it to give gifts to his family the next day.

Red Boots for Christmas by Carol Greene is a beautiful story of a busy man who is visited by an angel and told that he will receive a special visitor on Christmas Eve. He decides to create the most beautiful pair of boots for this surprise guest. When Christmas Eve arrives, several of the townspeople drop by, and the cobbler offers them some of the fancy meal he has prepared. After they leave, the man is visited by the angel again. He becomes angry that his special guest has not arrived. The angel explains that the man’s neighbors were the guests and that he gave them the gift of friendship that evening. The cobbler realizes that the act of giving is a gift itself. He takes the beautiful boots and finds a poor, young girl to give them too.

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What next?

Take the lesson from Really Wooly: The Gift of Christmas and encourage your children to make gifts using their skills and what they have available to them.

Do your daughters sew? Can they crochet? Do they use perler beads? Are they still in the rainbow loom phase? Are they able to bake with a little assistance from you? This is perfect! Have them make a list of relatives and a few dear friends, and then have them work on some simple projects that can be given as gifts.

Does your son love Legos? Is he older and whittles (parental judgement required)? Is he old enough to handle yard work without assistance (parental judgement required)? He can make some Lego creations or create something for family members. He can even offer his services free of charge to older family members who have difficulty doing their own yard work.

For the last few years, Addie has made perler bead items for grandmas and other family members. When she was really small, she made bead necklaces for her grandmother and great-grandma. Great-Grandma still wears her necklace.

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This year, Ian was able to participate in the act of giving by using his handprint to help decorate the gift bags for his AWANA teachers. It is a simple way to get younger children started in the practice of giving.

We also include the kids in the delivery of the gifts. It is important for them to experience the joy of giving to others. I have seen the excitement in my children as they hand their gifts to their teachers, and the look on their faces as their teachers draw them in for a hug.

This Christmas, may your children learn to give, and may they receive the blessing that can only be received by giving to others.

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My Favorite Christmas Resources

Tis the season to pull out all of our favorite activities, books, and movies!

Every year, as I begin to put the Thanksgiving decorations away and pull out the Christmas boxes, my children begin asking about all of their favorites which have been hidden away for the year. Their excitement gets my creative juices flowing to find new ways to use our time-tested favorites to make new memories.

From activities to books to movies, we squeeze the most out of every moment in December with the ultimate goal being to bring our hearts to the manger as we remember that the reason for celebrating is the birth of our Savior, Jesus.

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Activities

Melk the Christmas Monkey- This little monkey visits us sporadically throughout the month of December with the express purpose of teaching us about the character of God. My favorite aspect of Melk the Christmas Monkey is that he visits us based on our schedule. It does not have to be a daily activity. Because of this, my children are still experiencing new activities because there are still lessons we have not yet learned with Melk over the last couple of years. You can read more about our experiences with Melk here. (Note: The actual monkey is not part of your purchase. The monkey I purchased several years ago is no longer available, but you can find a similar monkey here.)

Little People Nativity– When Ian was two years old, I knew I had to do something that would keep my ceramic Nativity set from becoming an item of interest to him. I decided to purchase the Little People Nativity set. He is now six years old, and he still enjoys playing with the set. This is one set that continues to grow with children, and each year, as their knowledge and understanding of the Christmas account grows, so will their storytelling as they play with the characters.

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Books

Our family has grown a collection of Christmas books over the last nine years, and each year our collection grows by one or two books. For the last two years, we have received copies of Glenys Nellist’s newest Christmas books Christmas Love Letters from God and Twas the Evening of Christmas which have become family favorites and are on my list of “must have Christmas books.” You can read more about them here and here.

My friend, Aryn the Libraryan, who shared her list of Christmas books yesterday, recently gifted us with Max Lucado’s An Angel’s Story. It is a powerful adaptation of the Christmas account through the eyes of the angel Gabriel. My children are currently nine and six years old, but because of all of the discussions we have already had, I felt they were ready for this book. You may want to read it through on your own to decide when your children would be ready for it as it does deal with the spiritual realm.

A few of our other favorites in our book basket are:

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Movies

One of our favorite things to do in the evenings is to gather on the sofa and watch a Christmas movie while eating popcorn (for the record, my husband makes the best popcorn ever!). Movies can be a great visual for our children when depicting the Nativity or a lesson in character or love, just be sure to point out to your children when the movie has taken creative license.

The Nativity Story (upper elementary/middle and high school) is a family favorite. Although it is not an animated film, we chose to show it to our children last year. It can be a bit harsh and realistic, for example, when Elizabeth and Mary each give birth, there is nothing cute and cuddly about it. But it beautifully portrays the reality of the situation. Again, as with any biblically based movie, be sure your children know what the Bible says and can discern the truth from creative license.

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Our other favorite is Veggie Tales: St. Nicholas. (preschool/elementary) This animated depiction beautifully explains to children the truth behind the idea of Santa Claus by introducing them to the real St. Nicholas by creating a story based on one of the legends surrounding his generosity.

Other family favorites are:

As you move into the Christmas season, may the activities, books, and movies you share with your family bring you all closer to Jesus and His gift of Salvation.

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Countdown to Christmas

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This week, an adorable little monkey began creating quite a stir in the Ladouceur residence!

Who is this little Monkey?

His real name is Melchior Noel Yule, but he prefers being called Melk the Christmas Monkey. Melk’s mission in life is to tell children all about God and His great love for us.

Melk is nocturnal, so he is awake while your children sleep. When they wake up, your little ones will find out what Melk has been up to! He is never mischievous, but he is always involved in some kind of activity that your children can join in when they find him.

From making paper chains and gingerbread houses to taking family photos and making tree toppers, Melk engages your children in activities which ultimately teach them about the character of God.

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Some reasons I prefer Melk as a daily Christmas visitor

I love Christmas, but sometimes, the act of preparing so many different activities can become overwhelming. Melk is our only daily activity for Christmastime. Katie Hornor (the author of Putting on the Spirit devotional and the new book In Spite of Myself) has already done all of the planning. All I have to do is follow her directions. She has given a list of what is needed, links to the downloads of the crafts suggested, and what activity Melk should be working on when the children find him in the morning.

I appreciate that Melk is never found getting into mischief. He is always doing something sweet, fun, productive, or enjoying Christmas with the innocent wonder of a child (like the morning my children find him sleeping under the tree).

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Rather than being someone who reports back to Santa about how the children are behaving, Melk points children to God and explains Biblical truths in easy to understand ways.

Melk, the Christmas Monkey: Teaching God’s Character through Bible Lessons and Activities the Entire Family Can Enjoy is available through Amazon as a paper back book or Kindle edition. (Note: The actual monkey is not part of your purchase. The monkey I purchased several years ago is no longer available, but you can find a similar monkey here.)

You can follow our family’s Melk adventure on Instagram.

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Redemption of the Picture-Perfect Moment

With Halloween over and the Christmas season beginning basically the next day, it means I have to mentally prepare myself now for the supposed “picture-perfect moment.”

For all you Dads out there, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Everybody is having a great time, the kids are content and you finally have a moment to sit and relax. Out of nowhere, you hear the words, “Alright! Time for a picture!”

If I’m your typical guy, I gladly volunteer to take the picture of everybody else. If I get stuck in the photo, I reluctantly give a half-hearted smile and rush to get it over with leaving everyone a little frustrated.

But what if you could redeem the picture-perfect moment? What if there was a way to take the typical guy response and transform it into a moment for the purposeful dad?

Here are three things to help you get through the infamous picture-perfect moment.

  1. Prepare yourself ahead of time. Mentally prepare ahead of time knowing you will have to take some pictures as a family. Be proactive and be ready to take the picture. Ask your wife ahead of time when the photo will happen so you can plan accordingly.
  1. Smile and have fun with it! If everybody smiled, posed and participated for the picture, it would literally be over in less than 90 seconds. Have fun with it! Think of something fun to say that’ll make the kids laugh. Tickle your wife (after the good picture was taken!) and have a blast with your family. Don’t let a picture get you down or ruin the rest of the day. Let the kids see you having fun… this may even condition your kids to be okay with taking pictures!
  1. Think about the picture-perfect future. This last one is the most important one.

In the age of social media, I originally titled this post, “The Curse of the Picture-Perfect Moment.” I feel like almost anything we do has someone’s smartphone capturing the moment rather than being in the moment. The five minutes following are spent on creating the right caption with the perfect filter. Then, I realized it really isn’t a curse after all.

Just a couple weeks ago, I pulled up old pictures on my phone and my 4-year-old daughter started looking at them with me. She would laugh and look at specific photos more than others. Anytime Halloween costumes came by, she would snicker and talk about how much she loved her outfit that year.

As we continued looking at pictures of our family, (you know, those picture-perfect moments that drove me nuts at the time?), my daughter looked up at me and said, “Daddy, I love our family!” Does she remember what we did that day? Probably not. Does she see our family having fun together? Absolutely.

Redemption! It all made sense now. She now associates those pictures with the love for our family and the time we spent together. All because of a “picture-perfect moment.”

That’s when I discovered my purposeful dad perspective on pictures.

The pictures weren’t for benefit in the present. The pictures were meant for the picture-perfect future. A future looking back on the past and remembering the good times we had as a family.

And that’s why, as a Purposeful Dad, I choose to be a part of the picture-perfect moment.

This post is a part of the Purposeful Dad series. If you know someone you can encourage with this post, feel free to share!

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Rise and Shine!

“She rises also while it is still night, and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens.” Proverbs 31:15

Do you ever wish you had a bit of a head start to your day?

There have been mornings when I have woken up and opened my eyes to a little person standing at eye level to me with a huge smile on his face. And when his mouth starts to move, the words that come out are not, “I love you,” as one would hope, but instead the words are, “What’s for breakfast?”

It’s moments like that which make me wish I had woken up early.

For the woman of the home, whether you are a single, wife, or mom, it’s important to wake up with plenty of time to give you a margin of breathing room before it’s “go time” or to get the basics done before the rest of the house starts moving.

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When does your home start stirring?

Figuring out when your family begins to stir will give you an indication of when you need to wake up to give yourself a head start. For example, my son is the earliest riser in our home, so I take his wake up time and wake up an hour before he does to give me the time I need in the mornings.

If you don’t have kids, base your wake time on how long it takes you do everything in the mornings that you have to get done: exercise, pack lunch, maybe clean one room so you don’t have to when you get home from work, dress, and do your hair.

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What can you get done in the morning?

I love how Proverbs 31:15 says “and gives food to her household and a portion to her maidens.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have “help” if the form of a maid or outside help that comes in to relieve me of any of my duties, and you probably don’t either.  We do, however, have other “maids.”

I love looking at my washing machine, dish washer, and coffee maker as my “maids” and putting them to work. Change your view of what “help” looks like in our modern world and find ways to put them to work during the early morning hours.

Mornings are a great time for:

  • Devotions
  • Putting the coffee on
  • Getting a load of laundry started
  • Folding a load of laundry
  • Cleaning one room in the house
  • Preparing dinner (taking food out of the freezer to thaw or put it together for quick preparation later in the day)
  • Getting in a cup of coffee with some early morning reading
  • Completing your morning routine without interruption

By getting some time alone in the quiet of the morning, we are able to get in some much needed alone time which will help us mentally prepare for the day ahead and possibly help us get some of our responsibilities out of the way.

Memorize Proverbs 31:15

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A Morning Routine for Moms and Kids

Have you ever found yourself repeating what you have already said a million times?

“Get dressed.”

“Did you brush your teeth today?”

“Why isn’t your bed made?”

Getting our children (and ourselves) into a routine will not only teach them discipline, but it will also keep your life sane.

Mental fatigue happens when too many choices have to be made in a short amount of time. When our body is trained to function without having to think through each action, our minds are ready to take on the real tasks of the day.

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Right now is a great time to start a morning routine

If you have been wanting to start a morning routine but haven’t known when to start, right now is a great time. We have just entered a time change which has given us an extra hour. If you’re anything like me, your body is programmed to wake up at the old time, which is now an hour earlier. Why not use that extra hour to begin getting into the habit of your routine?

This next step is the most important part.

Discipline yourself to establish and stick with your morning routine

No matter how hard it is, or how much you don’t want to stick with your routine, don’t give up! If you want your children to stick to their morning routine, you need to set the example. Just remind yourself over and over again how much easier your mornings will be once you and your children are set in your routine.

What to include in your Morning Routine

Grab a piece of paper and pen, and write down all of the things that must get done before you head to work, take your kids to school, or begin your homeschool day. Things as simple as devotions, brushing your teeth, putting on the coffee, cleaning up after breakfast, and so on need to be on your list.

Then, write down all of the things your children need to do before heading to school or before their homeschool day begins.

Write it out or type, print, and laminate your list and your children’s list, and begin following it faithfully every day. Pretty soon, you will find yourself automatically “going through the motions” and saving your mental energy for more important decisions.

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A Morning routine example

Sometimes, getting a look at someone else’s morning routine helps in deciding what to include in your own morning routine. Below is the routine I have created for my children and myself. Remember, I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, so my routine reflects the time I have available to me and my children in the mornings.

Morning routine for kids

  • Read the Bible
  • Brush your teeth (be inspected by Mom or Dad)
  • Get dressed (and put clothes in the hamper or fold and put away)
  • Make your bed
  • Brush/comb your hair

Morning Routine for Me

  • Get up a little before everyone else
  • Basic morning bathroom routine
  • Quiet time
  • Make coffee
  • Throw a load into the washer
  • Pack Brian’s lunch
  • Make breakfast
  • Send Brian off
  • Clean up after breakfast
  • Get dressed
  • Devotions with the kids
  • Prep dinner
  • Make sure house is in order (quick clean)

Once you and your children are settled into your routine, you will find that your are not asking the “did you” questions as frequently as you once did.

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May the Sales Be Ever In Your Favor | Proverbs 31 Series

“She is like the merchant ships; She brings her food from afar.” Proverbs 31:14

Shopping can be fun! But sometimes (especially during the Christmas season), it can feel like you are participating in some warped version of the Hunger Games. How many of us have gone out on Black Friday and prayed that we would be the one brave warrior to make it home alive?

Shopping doesn’t always need to feel like we are entering the arena, especially now that we have officially entered into the holiday, gift-giving season. Not only are we trying to survive the crowds, but we are also trying to get the best price on our merchandise. Make it home alive and lose as few of our resources as possible? Is that realistic?

There are ways to survive the crowd and find the best prices and deals to maximize our dollar, but sometimes it means being willing to drive to that out of the way store that has the best prices even if it’s not an all-in-one-stop shop.

What does this look like in real life?

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Grocery shopping

One of the most important methods to saving money on groceries is meal planning.

Meal planning, simply stated, is the process of planning your family’s meals so you aren’t left wondering at 5:30 p.m. what you are feeding your family for dinner that night.

It begins by looking through your pantry, fridge, and freezer to see what you already have on hand. Once you have decided which meals you can start with the supplies you already have, make your list based on what you still need. Fill in with breakfast and lunch staples and few snacks (or better yet, try making your own), and you will be surprised at how little you spend… if you stick to your list.

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Christmas

Black Friday is know for its great sales, but many times items end up in the shopping cart just because they are on sale, not because they are things that would have purchased anyway. Instead, start early in the year, and take note of what your family members are actually interested in. Then as you begin to notice items go on sale, you can pick them up.

In our home, we ask the kids to write down or tell us items in four categories:

  • something they want
  • something they need
  • something to wear
  • something to read

They can write down or name as many items as they want under each category. They know they will not receive every item on their list, but at least we have a better understanding of their interests and expectations for Christmas. It also gives us a head start on looking for gifts they actually want instead of spending money on items just so the base of the Christmas tree looks full on Christmas morning.

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Clothing

In style clothing is something that all women want, but who says you have to pay full price for them? Early on, my mother taught me to shop the clearance racks before checking out the retail priced racks. Shopping clearance racks for children is also a great idea. Rather than purchasing clothes in their current sizes, purchase clothes in the next size or two up. You will save a significant amount on clothes if you aren’t having to purchase them at full price.

Couponing websites and apps

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Another way to save, which takes a little extra effort on our part but is completely worth it, is to use coupon apps. Not all stores participate in these apps, but the ones that do help us save significant amounts of money. Ibotta is my go to app. Just for making a purchase, I can earn $0.25. If I purchase items that have rebates in the app, I can make significantly more. The money earned back can be turned into gift cards for a whole host of stores, and if you use your gift cards to purchase items with rebates on the app, you can not only earn more money back, but you can do it without spending a dime of your own money.

As we add Proverbs 31:14 to our memorization list, let’s think of ways to stretch our dollar, save on groceries, keep our Christmas expenses low, and use technology to our advantage. And may the sales be ever in your favor.

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Teaching Thanksgiving

When the 1st of November hits, our attention moves to Thanksgiving. Facebook is flooded with people giving their thankful thoughts each day until Thanksgiving, beautiful, harvest themed memes reminding us of our blessings, and arts and craft projects to do with our kids.

However, we are missing something if our thoughts only go towards the warm, fuzzy side of Thanksgiving, and we skip over the historical aspect of where Thanksgiving actually came from.

Our children need to learn the story of the Pilgrims, how God protected them as they travelled across the ocean, how God came to their defense when the sailors verbally attacked them, and how he allowed their ship to be blown off course causing them to land in Massachusetts instead of Virginia. They need to know that the first winter was not easy. In fact, half of the Pilgrims that came over on the Mayflower died during the first winter. They need to know that God allows trials to happen in our lives to bring us to a place where we can be a blessing to others, as in the case of Squanto.

Our children need to see that although life can be hard, God gives His people hope.

They need to see that the first Thanksgiving was a celebration of Thanksgiving to God for his faithfulness to them during their first year in the New World. Our children need to see a more realistic view of the first Thanksgiving instead of the caricature we tend to present with our perfect dinners, backdrops, and craft projects.

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If you are looking to give your children a more balanced approach to the story of Thanksgiving, here are some ideas to get you started.

Scripture References

The Psalms are filled with references to giving thanks to God. In fact, you can even find verses that specifically say Thanksgiving. Why not pick one and memorize it with your children this month?

Psalms 69:30 “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.”

Psalms 26:7 “…proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.”

Psalms 147:7 “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!”

Psalms 95:2 “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”

Psalms 100:4 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!”

Books

thanksgiving resourcesAffiliate links may be used in this post. You can view our full disclosure here.

My absolute favorite book for teaching Thanksgiving to my children is Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey. As I mentioned in this post:

This is probably my favorite Thanksgiving book. Barbara Rainey has written it with the entire family in mind, and it can grow with your family throughout the years. She has written it to be read one of two ways- the larger print is to be read to preschoolers and younger elementary students, and the entire book to be read to mid elementary and above.

The book I purchased also comes with a music CD filled with beautiful instrumentals based on beloved hymns of Thanksgiving. It truly makes the atmosphere feel like Thanksgiving.

Because my daughter is reaching an age where we are encouraging independent learning, I also have several books for her to read on her own: Squanto: Friend of Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla, Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas, The Mayflower Adventure (The American Adventure Series #1) by Colleen L. Reece, and Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims: Time-Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans by Rush Limbaugh.

These books teach the reality of Thanksgiving. Squanto is my favorite Thanksgiving personality because his life teaches us that although we encounter trials, hardships, losses, and unfair treatment, God can use those parts of our lives for His ultimate glory and to bless others. That is the story of Thanksgiving our children need to see.

Activities

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From pumpkin muffins and ice cream cone teepees to thankful trees and huge, obnoxious Mayflower hats, the activities are endless! The most important thing to remember about the activities is to pace yourself and chose ones that will fit your purpose in doing them.

Because we were focusing on being thankful, the Pilgrims, and Squanto, we have made the Thankful Tree, which you can read more about here, Mayflower hats (pictured above), and Thanksgiving Teepee Cupcakes. We have also gone into the yard to find leaves (okay, we pulled them off the plants… we live in Florida… leaves don’t actually fall here until January…) and made little leaf men. For us, crafts need to be quick, easy, and make very little mess, and these crafts fit the bill.

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We want our children to experience the warm fuzzies of the season, but let’s not forget to share with them the reason for the Pilgrims’ dangerous journey across the ocean, the hardships they experienced, or the life of Squanto.

Let’s teach our children to be thankful for God’s many mercies to them and those who came before.

Let’s teach our children Thanksgiving this year by sharing the hard times in our own lives that God has brought us through.

Let’s teach our children Thanksgiving by looking back in our own lives and showing how the journey God has allowed us to walk was not only meant for us but was also meant to ultimately be a blessing for others as well.

Let’s teach our children Thanksgiving by reading to them the Thanksgiving Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln and show them that Thanksgiving was created to be a day where our hearts and attention turn to God Almighty.

Let’s teach our children Thanksgiving this year and make this a Thanksgiving that will be foundational in their faith and lives.

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Work with Willing Hands | Proverbs 31 Series

“She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.” Proverbs 31:13

Sometimes, it is so easy for us to get hung up on the words and miss out on the spirit of a verse. This is one of those verses for me. I used to look at this verse in such a literal sense. But when I began looking at the overall meaning of this passage, it opened up a whole new world for me.

If we think back to the time period this verse was written in, we would see a society based in shepherding and farming. Wool, which was produced by the sheep being raised, and flax, which was a byproduct of the plants being grown and could be turned into linen, were materials easily available to women. They could seek out these materials and turn them into usable goods to benefit their families.

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We may not have access to the same raw materials these woman had access to, but we have access to so much more.

We have computers that give us access to so many online jobs and outlets for us to use the talents God has given us.

Some of us have a musical instrument and the training in order to be able to teach that instrument from home, allowing us the ability to earn some extra money or providing a livable  income for ourselves.

Some women have an amazing talent to use their hands to create beautiful yet functional items based on a need they themselves have experienced.

As I began preparing this post, one young woman came to mind immediately.

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Her name is Stephanie and she owns the Easy shop Emmy and I Designs. As a former teacher with a knack for sewing, she began preparing for baby by making beautiful clutches to be used in diaper bags or on their own, depending on her need for them. She also designed and created beautiful bibs, burp cloths, and simple dresses for her soon to come little girl. As she told me, her shop has been an unexpected blessing and has allowed her to stay home with her beautiful girl. Stephanie is a great example  of someone who has taken raw materials, worked with willing hands, and turned a hobby into a blessing for her family.

We live in an amazing day and age. As women, there are so many ways to use our talents and abilities, not only as a financial blessing to our family, but simply to bless them.

I remember the Christmas when I was seven, my mother made me a life-sized doll and sewed a dress for me to match my doll’s dress. It was one of the best, most remembered presents I ever received from my mother.

Is there something that you are able to do with your hands that can bless your family. Do you have a hobby that you absolutely love and enjoy? Is there a way for you to take that talent and turn it into a blessing for yourself and your family? This week as we memorize Proverbs 31:13, ask God to show you how you can take your hobby and turn it into a way to bless your family.

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Operation Christmas Child | A Family Christmas Project

We may only be in October, but Christmas is in the air in our home because of Operation Christmas Child.

I’ll never forget the first time I participated in Operation Christmas Child. I was very pregnant with my daughter, and the Christian school I taught at was participating. Brian and I chose to make a box for a 2-4 year old girl in our daughter’s name.

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Four years later, we took our daughter to the store to fill her very own box for another 2-4 year old girl. When we reached the cashier, this woman had a huge smile on her face. “I couldn’t help but feel so happy as I heard your little girl trying to pack the entire store into that little box. Who is this for?” And we were able to share with her about the ministry of Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child.

When I served as interim Children’s Ministry Director at our church, I had the privilege of heading up the Operation Christmas Child drive for our congregation, and this time, both of our children were able to participate in helping to serve. We not only built boxes, stuffed them, and organized a packing party, but we were able to help take the boxes to our local drop-off location. We also chose to pay for our shipping online in order to track where our boxes went to really give our children the global perspective of the impact their shoeboxes were having.

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What is Operation Christmas Child?

Operation Christmas Child is a ministry through Samaritan’s Purse which  provides a shoebox filled with practical and fun items for children around the world through the donations of people like you and me. When children around the world are given this gift, they are also presented with the Gospel, providing them with the greatest gift they could ever receive.

Operation Christmas Child is a beautiful way to encourage the hearts of our children to think of others before thinking of themselves. Because Operation Christmas Child kicks off before the Christmas season does, it causes our children to think of others before their thoughts have a chance to turn to what they will receive on Christmas morning. Operation Christmas Child gets our children thinking beyond their own four walls to children around the world and gives them a hands on way to put into practice Matthew 25:40, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

How can I get involved?

Many churches and Christian organizations around the country are participating in Operation Christmas Child. If your church is not participating in Operation Christmas Child, don’t worry! There are still ways you can participate.

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Where can I get my shoebox?

Many participating locations will provide a cardboard shoebox free of charge, but you can use a large shoebox from your own recent shoe purchase or purchase a plastic shoebox from the dollar store for longer durability. Hobby Lobby sells official plastic Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

What can I put in the boxes?

If you have participated in the past, be aware that this year, candy and toothpaste are not allowed for customs reasons. Otherwise, Samaritan’s Purse has a list of suggestions which are allowed, such as a “Wow” item, personal care items (no liquids), clothing (think t-shirts and socks), crafts and activities, toys, and a personal note.

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Where do I take my shoebox when I’m done packing it?

If you are looking for a drop off location, you can find the nearest one to you here, but you need to be sure to drop your box off (with your $9 shipping enclosed) during National Collection Week, November 13-20, 2017, in order for your box bless a child.

Most importantly, don’t forget to add $9 for shipping in your box, either in your box or by paying online and attaching your tracking label to your box so you can find out where your box ends up.

Operation Christmas Child is a tradition in our home, and our children look forward to as just as much as I do. It is a great way to kick off the Christmas season and simultaneously be a blessing at Christmas time to another child somewhere in the world.

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