Are you looking for a gift for a teen girl? I bought a subscription of BRIO magazine (Focus on the Family) for my then 13-year-old twins, and they begged me to renew it the following year. Great magazine for this age group!
When my children were younger and formulating what Christmas was all about, it was important to me that they got a grasp on the true meaning and not just the presents, food, tree, Santa, etc. I took a Cabbage Patch baby doll, wrapped him in a blue blanket, bought a wooden box and straw from Michael’s, and put together ‘Baby Jesus.’ After we decked the house and trimmed the tree, I sat them down and explained the true meaning of what we are celebrating. I brought out ‘Baby Jesus’ and told the kids that we treat Him with the utmost respect. He is indeed a gift that should be received with thanks, gratitude, appreciation, honor, and respect. They would ask to hold Him, take turns caring for Him, and would often leave their toys and notes by His manger. One year, I even heard one of them go to ‘Baby Jesus’ and ask for forgiveness for being mean. I had no idea that years later this would be their most memorable part. He is still under our tree today!
This is a great write-up from my friend who is an outstanding mother raising solid children. I agree that we cannot force our children to do anything, but we absolutely are called to create a lifestyle where we expect love, respect, and kindness from our children. It is taught, reinforced, and intentionally gone after by parents who value the process of character training.
“During this holiday season: My kids will be required to be warm and loving to all of their relatives, whether they see them often or see them a few times a year. They will be expected to behave, and though I can’t force them to *love* anything, they will be expected to appreciate every friend and family event we attend (hello, 6 Christmases). They will be given the knowledge that they are so lucky to have so many friends and family to celebrate with. They will say thank you and be grateful for every single gift that is given to them, regardless if it’s something they would choose for themselves. They will once again be taught that someone took time out of their busy life to think of them and used their hard-earned money to purchase them something and that – regardless of what is in the present – the act behind getting it is more than enough to be thankful for. As their parent, I will remember this too. Our guests can overstay, overshare, give us advice, come bearing gifts or come just as themselves with no gift at all, tell my girls they are beautiful without bringing up that they are also intelligent and immensely capable of anything they put their minds to – and even if ALL of it is ‘unwanted,’ we will smile and be grateful that we have people who care enough to do so. I keep seeing these posts about kids not being required to show love (which can be shown in more ways than just hugging) to relatives they don’t see often. They don’t have to behave at or love the events they attend. I see posts about not giving parents unwanted advice or warning about guests overstaying their welcome. I see posts about what kinds of gifts are considered acceptable, posts about how we shouldn’t call young girls pretty and should replace it with different words, and all it makes me think is, my goodness (!!). When did all of these things – compliments, gifts, friendly visits, advice, showing love towards a child, family spending time with family… things more often motivated by love than not – become things we need to put so many rules on? My kids will be taught that people show love in different and sometimes funny ways but to always look behind the gesture and see that, more often than not, it is love. As for me and my family, we will give the benefit of the doubt.
Sincerely, The odd mom out?”
What is a trigger? A trigger is when you are going about your life, and someone touches that place in you that is unhealed and has left an unresolved hurt, lie, or offense. All is fine until someone does or says something that touches that place. FAMILY is notorious for touching those places. As many are with loved ones this holiday season, be mindful of those places of frustration, irritations, and stings and allow God to bring greater healing.
Here are some great quick questions to stop and ask Him: “Jesus, what lie am I believing?”, “Jesus, why did that comment make my heart so uncomfortable?”, “Jesus, what about that situation felt so unsafe?”, “Jesus, when was the first time I felt that?”, “Jesus, what is Your truth?”
Triggers are your friends when you partner with God for greater healing and wholeness. He sent His Son so that you are free and free indeed and can be at peace in all situations. Let greater freedom come to your heart this holiday season.
It is not too late to have your children make homemade Christmas cards and send them to your local nursing home, hospice center, or VA hospital. I love the way this teaches our children to see others during this time of year and not just focus on what they want.
Have you ever noticed that December is often the busiest time of year? Does it seem ironic that in our attempt to celebrate our Savior, our children get a little lost in the shuffle? If the Kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy, then it would make sense that the best gift we could offer back to Him is keeping peace and joy in our homes all month long. The best way to do that is to STAY CONNECTED!! Call a family meeting and come up with 25 creative, yet simple ways to CONNECT. Each day your child wakes up and discovers a new opportunity to connect for that day. Trust me; your child would be happy with it written on a sticky note in crayon. You can simply print this list out, cut it into sections and create a paper chain to be opened daily. If doing something more creative is your thing, go for it, but I urge you to select a creative measure that brings you JOY and where you can remain in the place of PEACE. Each day should be created, planned, and completed as a family. You will be connecting with them as you include, empower and solicit their help. You can manipulate which card they get on which day based on our schedule, but your #1 goal is to CONNECT AS A FAMILY!
We became a single-family two weeks before Christmas when the kids were tiny. That year Santa, baking cookies, and white elephant gift exchanges felt so empty to me. I burned for my children to understand they had a Father who adored them through the gift of Baby Jesus! I wanted to see how much of the story they already understood, so I told them to go in the backroom and create a skit with Hudson being Joseph, Emma as Gabriel, Lauren as Mary, and little Ellie playing the role of a wise man. It was the most precious thing I had ever witnessed. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I heard their version of the Christmas story.
This became a parenting tool for me. I would have the children role-play, act out or give a 2-minute speech on a subject, and I did it to discern what they knew, did not yet understand, or how they saw things from their point of view. I would use their play/skit or message as a way to add more to the story and help expand their understanding. It made ‘teaching’ fun and full of joy rather than lecturing. Now that they are older, they are less thrilled with acting out a story, but I have them create a 2-minute video or speech and share it with the family. It helps them pull in deep to see what is inside of them. This has been great with topics such as drugs, slander, bullying, kindness, respect, etc. Pick any story in the Bible and ask your children to create a skit acting it out. Then add more to the story as the days roll on to help them grasp the story deeper.
How many of you will be with family for Christmas? How many will be giving gifts? Why not give the gift that will impact your children’s children and last into eternity?
Many people will be with loved ones for Christmas yet still harbor judgements, bitterness, and unforgiveness towards them. Most often than not, from legitimate hurts and pains done to them. But nonetheless, we wrap presents of material possessions that will fade away and fail to give the gift of the true meaning of Christmas.
There is a bit of irony that in honor of the Savior of the world, the One who came as a man, took our spanking and gave us every benefit of the Father and called us His own, we celebrate His gift by giving gifts that will eventually find their way to trash or local thrift store, but fail to cash in on the true Gift and give the ultimate gift of being released from accusations, judgments and unforgiveness.
I am inviting you to wrap up the greatest gift you could give your parents, sister, brother, in laws – forgiveness for being human, their shortcomings, lack of being able to give you His best. Forgive them for not knowing who they are so they could treat you according to who you are. Release them from the debt owed that they could never repay on their own. Cancel the word curses you have attached to their backs. Pull out the knives of judgement.
When you do this, it frees them up in the spiritual realm to be dealt with by God and come into greater alignment. They fell short because they didn’t have the greater revelation – few parents intentionally do things to harm and hurt their children. If the eyes of your heart have been opened, you can’t keep holding the blind in judgement for being blind. They couldn’t give you what you needed (and deserved), because they aren’t able to see. They didn’t because they didn’t know. They failed, because they didn’t understand.
Part of freedom is realizing God has redeemed you and from that place of gratitude we extend forgiveness for those who are still in the redemption process.
When I am processing big things like this, I like to make a ceremony of sorts out of it. Grab an empty box and sit by the Christmas tree. Begin to write out the things that you are holding onto against your mother and place them in the box. Do it for any family member that brings you unrest and inner chaos. Wrap up the box, like you would any other present, and place it under the tree as an act of surrender. The swaddled baby came to receive the gift of your heart; He desires to hold the aches, bruises and tenderness. Offer it to Him.
And then prophetically wrap up an empty box for your loved one as a symbol that you are giving them the gift of dealing with the accusations, judgements, unforgiveness and word curses. You are no longer going to feed your heart because Jesus now carries that part of your heart.
They may never know the gift – and all that it has cost you – of laying down what was your rightful inheritance as a child and coming humbly to the One who gave it all up so that He could adopt you as His own.
Create a special family Happy Birthday Jesus birthday party. Get a cake and balloons and write out cards to Him. Teach the children through the birthday party that Christmas is all about Jesus being born; not us, our wish-list or being in the center of attention. Christmas is a celebration that the Savior of the world was born.
Spend time as a family asking Jesus what He wants for His birthday and then create a day around that. Perhaps it is serving others, buying gifts for another family, or spending time with Him.
Many children are learning the story of Mary during this Christmas season. Continue the teaching by telling them that God chose Mary to carry Jesus in her tummy. She changed the world by carrying Him, even though it wasn’t always easy. Jesus wants US to carry Him in our hands and mouths so that we can deliver His love to others. He wants us to do things with our hands that help and love others. He wants us to use our mouths to tell others how much He loves them, believes in and is for them. When my kids were little, I would park the van and turn around before unbuckling them and remind them, “Okay, guys, we get to see people today. How does Jesus want us to love the people inside this store?” We would create an intentional plan, such as getting the empty cart from someone putting groceries in their car, or holding open a door, or smiling at everyone we saw. It was so much fun. How will you carry Jesus today?