Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category.

When Christmas lyrics hit real life = Teachable Moment

You may think my 2 favorite Christmas songs are a bit odd… 
I have one silly one, and one serious one.

“Mamacita donde esta Santa Claus”
YouTube link.  You’re welcome.

So much about this song cracks me up, but my favorite is singing along with the background singers.
And, it makes me want TX MX food…which we pretty much live on here in Texas anyway!  YUM!

Side story – We were visiting friends in Florida  (NY natives) a few years ago and she said, “What are those things called again that you buy instead of bread?”  Um, that would be tortillas.  We’ve laughed about that ever since.

“God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen” – Traditional

While I’m sure this doesn’t make everyone’s top 10, it holds a special place in my heart.

I was dreading the first Christmas without my Mom.  It just wouldn’t be the same without that precious lady that all of us intensely adored and who had the magic of making the holidays sparkle even brighter.

But God gave me a beautiful refrain to latch on to…

“Comfort and Joy”

When it first started rolling through my brain, I had to stop and think which Christmas carol it even came from.
This gift from God helped me through that first Christmas and has been a blessing ever since.

We may say that “God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.”  But nothing proves that more solidly than suffering.  He IS our comfort AND joy.  What a beautiful pairing of words!

Teachable Moment:
Do you have favorite Christmas songs, silly and serious?
Are you like me and realizing you haven’t taken the time to tell you children why the serious one is special to you?

Let’s take a moment this Christmas to enjoy a family dinner or drive-time conversation about everyone’s favorite Christmas carols.  Maybe it’s not hugely emotional like mine, but rather fun memories associated with it….or even just the tune.

Talk about what Biblical truths shine through your favorite carols.  Discuss how God works through carols lyrics in our hearts and can also be a light to others.  Take time to pray for the those who don’t know Him to hear the carols in a new light this year. May the truths sink into all of our hearts and souls.







One of my dearest friends made this banner.
It warms my heart and soul every time I pull it out with my Christmas decorations.

For more teachable moments, refer to Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments.
*Comfort and Joy are two of the topics in there…God gives us lots of great verses on those!  😉

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Give the gift of praying a life verse for your child

I’m an overthinker, so when I decided to pick a verse to pray for my children, it sort of stressed me out.  There are so many great Scriptures, how would I choose?   Do I pray a different one for each kid or just pick one for both?  Should I pick a verse, passage, or even chapter?

Though I don’t allow my kids to use the “s” word, I realized I needed to KISS…Keep It Simple, Stupid!

So, I began to pray for God to show me what verse He wanted me to pray for my kids…something short and sweet and easy to remember when mommy brain fog is in full force!

A couple of months later, I was reading in Matthew and 22:35-42 stood out to me –

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Hmmmmmmmm….loving God and loving others.  Jesus, of course, is right that everything else falls under two things.  So, it occurred to me, what more could I want for my kids?! 

I decided to reword it as my prayer for my kids’ lives in this way –

Heavenly Father,
Please help my children to
love You with all their heart, soul, and mind
and to love their neighbor as themselves…
especially each other.

I added that last line because my heart’s desire is that they also greatly value their sibling relationship (their closest neighbor!) and treat each other with that in mind.

Do I pray this every day?  No, it’s not something I ever want to become ritualistic.  But it’s an overarching principle I can go back to as I pray for them, generally and specifically.  And, on those days when I can’t string two coherent thoughts together (you know those days!), I can still at least remember this!

Do you have a verse or verses you pray regularly for your kid(s)?  I’d love to hear your pick!
If not, consider giving this priceless gift.  Pray for God to reveal what Scripture(s) you should use and feel free to use mine, if He so leads.  Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments gives more ideas on praying Scripture for your child on pages 236-239.



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Parenting with Scripture through Christmas

Want fun and meaningful ideas to bring parenting with Scripture into the holiday season?
Scroll through these ideas to see our family favorites!

And, don’t forget to consider Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments when planning your gift list for friends and family.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

PWS Christmas


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“Reflecting on Christmas Memories” – Including one of mine on Focus on the Family’s daily broadcast

This Christmas, Focus on the Family’s daily broadcast aired a compilation of Christmas memories from different folks who have been in their studio throughout the year…including yours truly! 

Click here for a link to hear the broadcast (Part 1 of “Reflecting on Christmas Memories”).

Click here for a link to read a blog I wrote on the same subject.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!




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Want to add a little DRAMA to your Christmas celebration?

My mom had the gift of making every family gathering special.  When my older nieces and nephew were little, she had them act out the Christmas Bible story!

And look who got to be the donkey!  Yes, that would be the teenaged version of me!

Making Luke 2 come alive!
Christmas 1993
Christmas Nativity Play

No prep or costumes necessary, but the costumes did add to the fun!
(Simple instructions are further down, if interested)

Mom had a set of these that she used over and over with her 3rd grade Sunday School class and 4 year old preschool choir.  You can imagine how many Bible stories those costumes jazzed up!  She taught both of those classes for over 50 years, by the way!  I love thinking about all the children that were blessed by her amazing gift of serving the Lord through her passion of teaching kids about Him!

Depending on how many kids you have, you could go all out with shepherds, angels, etc or just stick to Mary and Joseph and use a baby doll for Jesus.  Adults and teens can have fun filling in where needed.

Tell the story or read it from the Bible while the kids are acting it out.  You may even want to throw in a Christmas Carol or two for the whole group to sing.  No need to complicate the script or feel like it has to be an all out pageant!

Keep it simple and have fun! 

Bible Costume Instructions:
Tunics:  Strips of cloth with holes cut for the head.
Head coverings:  Scarves or cut material held on with stretchy rings of cut pantyhose legs.
Sashes:  Cloth belts, strips of cloth, or scarves.

Are you inspired to create a little drama at your Christmas gathering this year?

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Where are your nativity set Wise Men?

True or FalseThe Wise Men were there when Jesus was born.


The Wise Men came from far away.  Following the star, it probably took a couple of years.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusale and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  Matthew 2:1-2

Growing up, my mom let me put our nativity set’s wise men on the other side of the room.

My kids always remember this bit of Christmas trivia and I was amused to see how our magnet nativity set appeared on the fridge this year.

It’s kind of hard to tell in this picture, but the wise men are “far away” in the upper left!

wise men- edited2

Those with young children might enjoy the “Wise Men” song.

Tune -Here we go ’round the Mulberry Bush
 Motions -Pretend to carry gifts
The wise men came from far away, far away, far away

The wise men came from far away, bringing gifts to Jesus.

Where are your nativity set’s Wise Men?
Now you and your kids can be OCD like me and itch to move any
that are nestled near the stable with baby Jesus!

Still shopping for Christmas?
Don’t forget to consider
Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments.


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8 Creative Ways to Celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas!

Want to get the focus back on the true meaning of Christmas and add more spiritual depth and richness to your family’s celebration of Christmas season? 

Here are 8 creative ways! 
(After scanning through this post, Click here if you wish to quickly scroll through all of these complete blogs at once, rather than clicking each individual blog link below.)

Want a media related teachable moment as you watch the classic White Christmas  with your family this season?
See “Bing Crosby’s yearly reminder to count our blessings!”




Want to help your child gain appreciation for our beloved Christmas carols through learning about their meaning and having fun with a craft?
See “Christmas Carols:  Meaning and Craft”

Want to extend the teachable moments of your Christmas giving opportunities?  Create a special present under your tree to help you remember to pray for the people represented by those donations.
See “The Gifting Gift”
christmas box

Want a meaningful Christmas gift that supports a good cause and that your child will treasure forever?
See “Nativity Set Tradition
Christmas Decorations - '12

Want a resource and fun method for your family’s Advent devotions?
See “Christmas in July”

Want a creative way to help your child see how your family lends a helping hand?
See “Christmas Traditions:  Helping Hand Tree
Christmas Decorations - '12

Want a fun way to help your child learn and interact with Luke 2?
See “Christmas Traditions: Luke 2 Memorization & Scavenger Hunt

Wondering what to do with all those Christmas cards?  Enjoy praying for those people.
See “Christmas Card Prayers

What’s your favorite meaningful Christmas Tradition?
Please Share!

If you need a meaningful Christmas gift,
don’t forget to stock up on
Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments.

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Need a meaningful Christmas gift? Stock up and check one more thing off your list!

Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments  makes for a meaningful gift! 
(Click on the blue title to go straight to the Amazon Link.)
Stock up now and get one more thing checked off your Christmas list!
Who are the moms, dads, or teachers in your life that would appreciate this great resource?
*Family members
*Pre-school or School teachers
*Sunday School, Awanas, or church choir teachers
*Baby presents – Who just had a baby or is due in the next few months?
*Remember those folks who have birthdays around the holidays, too

Idea for what to write inside along with your personalization
“May God bless you with wisdom as you continue parenting/grand parenting/influencing children with Scripture!”
You can incorporate this into the wording on the inside title page.

Click here to order through Amazon.

gift idea
If you are local, I’m happy to sign them for you!

Stay tuned for next week’s post: 8 Creative Ways to Celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas!

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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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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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