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Guard Your Heart

by Christy on December 23, 2009
category: Uncategorized

holding heartAmanda’s post yesterday got me to thinking about all the things we do in our lives that seem innocent enough, but in reality can lead us down a path of destruction.  Now, having a cup of coffee or watching a little tv isn’t going to kill us, but the influences we allow in our lives (including those on tv) can be dangerous.

About five years ago, I was an avid Oprah watcher.  I loved how she seemed to have less drama and more information on her shows than other talk shows and how she was always encouraging people to be a better version of themselves.  (Now some people may get mad at me for writing this and quite frankly I was having a hard time deciding if I should open this can of worms, but my heart said I should.)  I remember watching one particular episode where she was talking about writing in her gratitude journal and something she said caught me off guard.  She started talking about God, whom she had always claimed to follow, differently… like he was just a force and how we could harness the power He had by being good people.  She stopped talking about Jesus and started talking about a spirituality that was anything but Christian.  This belief system she supported grew and grew and she started promoting this “church” on her show.  I saw how so many women in our culture blindly followed her, even after knowing the Truth, because she simply was Oprah.  I felt sick.

Our culture tends to glamourize anything that celebrities do and women in our society are the ones that do it.  We are the ones that read the gossip magazines, that watch the gossip type shows… now I’m not suggesting that all of us do it, but we as women seem to be more vulnerable to this vice.  All this to say, the Bible warns us in 2 Timothy 3:5b-7 to “turn away from such people! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  By our very nature and by the proddings of society we are vulnerable to be influenced negatively. 

I write all this to say that we have to guard our hearts like never before (Proverbs 4:23) so that we can be godly examples to our children.  Let your children see you reading the Bible, praying, doing things that edify.  Don’t let the negative influences, even the ones that society deems as positive, impact your life so that your heart is no longer guarded.  It’s easy to let your guard down when something seems to be good… even when it’s not.  And by all means, guard the hearts of the beautiful gifts God has given you to raise.  What you bring into your life, you bring into theirs also.

How are you doing your best to guard your heart and that of your children?  What negative influences have you omitted from your life in order to guard yourself?

Photo courtesy of WolfSoul

Abiding Monday – Be a Christmas Shepherd

by Christy on December 21, 2009
category: Abiding Monday

abiding monday“17 Now when they [the shepherds] had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.” Luke 2:17-20 (NKJV)

The shepherds who came to see Christ after His birth understood the importance of His birth and in essence were the very first missionaries for Jesus Christ.  In verses 9-14, angels came to the shepherds and proclaimed that they were bringing joyful news “to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  The shepherds went and saw Christ and were compelled to go share the good news of Jesus with everyone they knew.  Then to top it all off, they went back and then glorified and praised God.

The shepherds on that first Christmas are a perfect example of what our hearts should look like every Christmas and year-round… hearts that long for the world to know Him and hearts that give God praise for sending Christ for us.  Even when we are trying to focus on Christ at Christmas, it’s easy to get sidetracked from having the right heart.  Make it a point this Christmas, and from everyday forth, to share the good news of Christ’s birth, death and ressurection and then daily go back and praise God for His love and mercy to all mankind by sending Christ for us.  It will give Christmas a whole new meaning for you and maybe for someone who’s heart is ministered to by you.

Lord, please give us the hearts of those first Christmas shepherds.  Let us see Your good works and know who You are, share it with the world, and always come back to give You the praise and glory.  Let Christmas be a time of ministry in our lives and not just a time of gifts, decorations and stress.  Thank you for sending us Jesus and for giving us examples of what You want us to do.  In His precious name, Amen.

Reminding Your Kids of the “Christ” in Christmas

nativityIt is so incredibly easy to get bogged down in the traditions of Christmas, all the shopping, decorating, festivities, etc, and to forget the real meaning behind the holiday.  While I’m not a Santa-fanatic, we still get gifts from Santa for our kids and let them participate in the “fun” of it, however our focus on Christmas is Christ.

I was thinking of ways to keep my children’s focus on Jesus instead of the presents and Santa and came up with a few ideas I thought I’d share.

Teach about Jesus year-round and not just at Christmas - The more your children hear about the goodness and mercies of Jesus all year, the easier it will be for them to understand the importance of Christmas.  Daily read books and the Bible with them and encourage them to pray.  Amanda gave some great tips on teaching your children to pray yesterday.

Remember to put YOUR focus on Christ and not the traditions – Your children will see what you put the most importance on and will follow your lead.  If you are more worried about presents, they will be too.  The same goes for Santa Claus, if your family chooses to participate in that tradition.  If you are constantly saying “Santa is coming”, your children will get the impression that Santa is the reason for Christmas.

Encourage your children to have the giving spirit - Remind your children that we give gifts on Christmas in honor of Jesus.  Just like the three wise kings who brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus to show Him their love, we give gifts to those we love.  Make it more about the giving than the getting.  A great way to teach this is to have your child pick something out for another child who will be receiving gifts as part of a ministry.  Your child will get to learn that giving makes them happier than getting.

Read your children the Christmas Story – Reading straight from the Bible is always a good thing with your kids!  You are speaking truth and love over them when you do and you are ministering and preparing their hearts for their future relationship with Jesus.  Matthew 1:18-2:23 and Luke 1:26-38 and Luke 2:1-29 tell the story.  There are also many books that are more on toddler and preschooler levels that tell the story without all the “grown-up” and potentially scary details.  We currently have The Story of Christmas by Patricia A. Pingry and our kids love it.

Decorate your house with more Christian items than “holiday” decorations – We currently have two nativity sets out that our children love to look at and talk about.  We also made a construction paper nativity that takes up an entire wall.  I did the major cutting out and my 4 year old drew faces on Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus and the Angel.  He also glued the pieces together and helped me hang everything on the wall.  We also have the scriptures from Luke telling of the birth of Jesus printed out and on the wall above the nativity.  Having a toy nativity, like the one Fisher-Price has in their Little People brand, is a great way for kids to learn and interact with the story.

How do you keep the Christ in Christmas with your kids?

Photo Courtesy of Loci Lenar

Bye Bye Binky

by Christy on December 9, 2009
category: 1 – 3 year (toddler)

pacifierAs our daughter’s second birthday approaches at the end of this week, I keep thinking how much she needs to get rid of that little baby thing… the binky!  Neither of my kids took a pacifier as babies, they preferred Mommy and I was ok with that.  Our oldest transitioned well after weaning, but my daughter, weaned at 17 months, had a much harder time.  I thought that offering her a pacifier might help the transition, but now I wish I had never started down that path.  What I thought would be a helper during naptime and bedtime has turned into a constant obsession with the “beep beep”. 

I thought about using the “Paci Fairy”, but as smart as she is, I think it might be a little over her head at barely two.  I thought about just throwing them away, but that just seems incredibly cruel.  So, now the goal is to keep them up and out of sight during waking hours and only bring them out for sleep times.  Basically, it’s like weaning from the breast all over again, just without the physical pain for me.  Hopefully in the next month, we’ll be totally binky-free. 

This is just what we chose to do, but here are a few other prevalent ideas out there for saying “bye-bye” to the binky:

Binky/Paci Fairy - Have your toddler collect all their pacifiers in a bag and hang them in a tree or put them in the mailbox before they go to bed.  Explain to them that the fairy comes and gets all the old pacifiers so that the new babies can have them and in return the fairy leaves a special toy.  (Personally, I’ve only had one friend have success with this one, but her little one was almost three years old when she tried it.)

Cold Turkey - Like every other definition of cold turkey, this method involves just taking the pacifiers away all together with no prize or reward. 

Pacifier to Toy Swap - This is an interesting method that involves having your toddler gather all of their pacifiers and taking them to a toy store to use their pacifiers as money for wanted items.  Let your toddler pay for their toys with a bag of pacifiers while you slip the cashier the cash.  (Similar to the Paci Fairy, except it’s a direct exchange that the child has some control over.  This could be very useful for independant children.)

Weaning - Basically, this was my method of choice.  Slowly offering or allowing the pacifier less and less until it is no longer wanted or needed.  This may be the slowest method, but makes it a little less traumatic for the toddler.

How did you say bye-bye to the binky in your house?  Did you try any of these methods without success?  Any advice for us novices?

Photo Courtesy of timsamoff

Other Fun Days To Remember in December

by Christy on December 2, 2009
category: Fun time & Toys,Humor/Random

dec 2009While Christmas is by far the most important holiday in December, there are a few other fun days you can observe with your kids during the month.  Participating in these days and observances can add a few extra ideas for crafts and learning projects.

Read a New Book Month – So this one is pretty self-explanatory.  Pick up a new book and read it with your kids.  If they are old enough for a novel, choose a classic, like Charlotte’s Web.  Or better yet, find a great Christmas book to share with your kiddos.

National Cookie Day (December 4th) – What a great way to have fun… bake and eat!  Even the littlest member of your family can help decorate cookies and you can teach the older kids about measurements by letting them measure out sugar and flour. 

Saint Nicholas Day (December 6th)Saint Nicholas Day is a fun way to talk to your kids about the generosity of others and to teach them about how Santa Claus came to be.  Have fun reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas  (or originally written as A Visit From St. Nicholas) with your family to give them an even more fun idea of Santa. 

National Poinsettia Day (December 12th) - A fun way to teach your children about this particular species of plants is to visit a nursery where they can see the different colors that poinsettias come in.  They can come in orange, pink, pale green, white and cream as well as the traditional red.  Create craft projects to decorate your house for Christmas or buy some real plants.  Just remember, if you do use the real kind, keep them away from your pets and children’s reach, as they can be poisonous.

Wright Brothers Day (December 17th) – Teach your children about the history of aviation by telling them of the adventures of the Wright brothers.  Visit the official Wright Brothers museum site for more information.  Craft ideas can include making paper airplanes, putting together a model plane or just coloring or painting them. 

First Day of Winter (December 21st) – Don’t forget to explore all the wonders of winter on the first official day of the season. 

Visit the Zoo Day (December 27th) – If you live in the south, take advantage of the nice cooler weather to visit your local zoo.  December 27th falls on a Sunday this year, so most likely your family could all go together as a big family outing, grandparents included!

While I absolutely LOVE Christmas, there are definitely times when I feel like my kids can get “Christmas’d out” and that it’s a good idea to mix things up a little!  Have fun, explore the history behind some of these days and take the time to enjoy the month!

Do you celebrate or observe any of the above days?  How do you do it?  Do you have other specific days that you remember and honor? 

Photo Courtesy of redstamp.com

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