Archive for November 2014

A Favorite Christmas Family Tradition “How To”: Advent Candles at Home

Happy Thanksgiving!  Celebrate with grateful hearts!
Then, don’t forget that Advent starts this Sunday!

A favorite tradition of my family is to celebrate Advent by lighting our advent wreath during our devotional time each of the Sundays of December, as well as Christmas Day.

What are Advent candles?
If you are unfamiliar with the advent wreath and candles, you can read in more detail about them in this Focus on the Family article.

These are the weekly themes our family follows:
(themed Scripture and Carols further down)

1st Sunday – Light (purple)
2nd Sunday – Peace (purple)
3rd Sunday – Joy (purple)
4th Sunday – Love (pink)
Christmas Day – Christ – (white)

Candle Lighting Song: 
We begin each advent time by lighting the appropriate candle(s) and singing a modified version of Natalie Sleeth’s “Light One Candle.”

For the tune, listen to this sweet children’s choir.  To simplify things, our family only uses the melody during timer 23-38 seconds for each of the weeks.  We simply substitute the themed word for the week.

Lyrics –
“Light one candle for (joy),
one bright candle for (joy),
He brings (joy) to every heart,
He comes! He comes!”

Note: If your kids are like ours, be ready with a system of taking turns for helping light and blow out the candles, lest a holy war break out each time!

Bible Reading and Christmas Carols:
After singing “Light One Candle” and lighting the candle(s), we read a related Bible passage and sing favorite Christmas carols.  I picked these songs because of their references to the theme of the week.  See if your family can find them as you sing.   If you don’t know the words or tunes, they can be easily Googled.

John 8:12
Matthew 5:16


O Little Town of Bethlehem
Do You Hear What I Hear

John 14:27
John 16:33
Silent Night, Holy Night
It Came upon the Midnight Clear

Philippians 4:4
Romans 15:13
Matthew 2:10
Colossians 1:9-14 (Turn this into a prayer for your child(ren).)

Angels We Have Heard on High
Good Christian Men, Rejoice
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

John 3:16
1 John 4:9-11

O Come, All Ye Faithful
Love Came Down at Christmas

Luke 2:1-20
Young children might enjoy using a nativity set to play out the story while you are reading.
Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
Joy to the World! The Lord is Come





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I want my family to have a contagious thankful hearts, don’t you?!

“Honey, every day is Thanksgiving to me!” 

This is what a sweet older neighbor exclaimed when I asked her what she was doing for Thanksgiving.
She didn’t know yet when her kids or grandkids would be able to come to share a meal, but it mattered not to her!  She is one of those people who exudes the light of the Lord and joy and gratitude in Him!

The cheerful heart has a continual feast.  Proverbs 15:15b

I want to have a contagious heart of joy and gratitude, too, and teach that to my kids!
Don’t you?!

“Thanksgiving is always in our hearts!”
One of my favorite decorations and reminders –
thankful plate 5

For more on the topics of Appreciation and Thanksgiving, see Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments.

For more parenting with Scripture Thanksgiving ideas, scroll through these posts.
*Thankfulness Tree
*Grateful Hearts
*Thankful Travel Time
*Thankful Turkey


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Do my kids fight & Do I ever feel like a parent fail?

Um yeah, they’re normal kids and I’m a normal mom!

A friend asked me if my kids ever fight.
Then she asked what I do about it. 
I rattled off some techniques that usually work and the conversation moved on.

Then came the HOT DOG FIGHT!
This one may live in infamy.

Fight breaks out over last hot dog after an already rattling day.  Siblings come up with every imaginable argument.  After sitting back 5 minutes and hoping things would work themselves out, mom enters…that would be me.

Mom tries the “I want y’all to sit down and use kind words and nice tones and don’t come back until you’ve worked it out” method.  5 more minutes pass.

Mom tries the “throw in every related Bible verse in the book” method to calm things down.  5 more minutes.

Mom tries the “life’s not fair” speech.  Aaaaand, 5 more minutes.

Mom realizes that 20 minutes of her life has been spent with the unfruitful goal of her children working out a reasonable agreement over a hot dog.  Instead, there are literally tears.
Ridiculous!  NOBODY GETS THE  (tempted to curse here) HOT DOG!

A while later, one kid tries to twist Mom’s words to weasel into getting it!
Mom’s head is in danger of exploding!

Dad comes home and Mom unloads the story.

Dad calls kids into the kitchen where  the table is set with two plates and the hot dog halved on them.

Kids think they are getting to share the hot dog (though they are still fighting about who really should get the whole hot dog)!

Dad says they are going to learn to “honor one another above [them]selves” (Romans 12:10)….

BRILLIANT!  Perfect logical consequence!

Lesson for the defeated me?
Sometimes we parents try every trick in the book and still fail…and you know what?  That’s ok!

This was several months ago and we can all now laugh about it.  And, I did obtain their permission to share this picture and story.  I am very careful to protect my children’s privacy and am conscious that everything I post will be forever “out there.”  Therefore, I try to limit or avoid the posts that could embarrass or undermine my kids.  Please know that we are not a perfect family by any means.  I’m bumbling along in parenting with the rest of you and my kids, husband, and I all make mistakes, do dumb things, etc.  So be encouraged…We’re all in this crazy world together just doing the best we can with our faithful Father’s help!

hot dog

For more Scriptures and ideas from the topic of Self-Centered,
see Parenting with Scripture: a Topical Guide for Teachable Moments.

Aren’t you glad to remember that every family is “normal?”  Whatever “normal” is!  Ha!  🙂 


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10 Ways to Meaningfully Involve Your Child(ren) in Operation Christmas Child

Maybe you’ve heard about Operation Christmas Child and even done boxes in the past.
But has your family ever heard a personal story of how it impacted someone?

Tears streamed down my face as I was walking the dogs down our street last fall listening to the Focus on the Family podcast, “Serving as a Family this Christmas.”  A lady from Bosnia shared her testimony of how one of the Operation Christmas Child boxes blessed her both physically and spiritually years before when she was a poor child in a war torn country.

Until then, my family had more or less been going through the motions of doing the boxes every year.  We enjoyed the tradition and vaguely knew it helped people.  We had even read some of the follow up stories from the mailings we would get from Samaritan’s Purse after the deliveries.

However, there’s nothing quite like hearing something first person!  This lady’s story had the beautiful result of tenderizing our hearts as we shopped, wrapped, and packed our boxes. 

I intend for our family to listen to this again before we get started on the shoeboxes this year.
You can hear the story by going to this Focus on the Family link and clicking the “Listen Now” tab.  The portion I’ve referred to is at counter 16:30-26:10.

If you listen, please keep in mind that it’s a 2013 broadcast.  The correct dates and information for 2014 giving can be found here.

10 Ways to Meaningfully Involve Your Child(ren) in Operation Christmas Child :

  1. Use the Operation Christmas Child website to explain how it works, if your family is unfamiliar with it.  There are clear instructions and fun, age-appropriate videos showing the packing process.
  2. If your child is old enough, listen to this audio mentioned above or look through these videos on the Operation Christmas Child website.
  3. Encourage your child to use some of his allowance to help purchase gifts.
  4. Take your child with you to shop for the items.
  5. On the way to shop, pray out loud that God will give you wisdom to pick out exactly what the recipients will love and need.  Share with your child how cool it is that God already knows who is going to receive your family’s boxes!
  6. Let your child have input (within reason) as to what to purchase for the boxes.  (This is challenging for a control freak like me, but God can work through it!)  We try to balance fun things with necessities.
  7. Consider having a “packing party” with families from your church…Or, if anything, just with your family.  This is one of our favorite events every year with our Life Group!  All the families bring their own boxes, items to stuff, wrapping paper, tape, and scissors.  The families spread out across the floor of the living areas and get to wrapping and packing.  Yes, it can be a bit crazy…Christmas music is blaring, it’s noisy with all the kids, we continue to struggle with the “best” method of wrapping those cantankerous boxes, and we must all be on guard our for roving toddlers and preschoolers trying to pilfer items that look fun!   But that’s all part of the charm!
  8. Again, pray over the boxes for the children represented by them.  Brainstorm ways to pray for the kids that will receive them: health, food, water, safety, positive influences in their lives, their future, to come to know and/or grow in Jesus.
  9. Consider creating and putting a “Gifting Gift” under your tree to help you remember to continue to pray for the children who will receive these boxes.  See
  10. Discuss with your family why we take time, energy, and money to do things like Operation Christmas Child.  You can easily find applicable Scripture under the topics of Giving, Ministry, Sharing, Charity, etc. in Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments.

Pictures from our Life Group’s OCC Packing Party 2013!



 Any other great ideas related to Operation Christmas Child?  Please Share!






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