Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Advent/Christmas traditions

What are your favourite Christmas traditions? Either ones that your family did when you were little, or ones you have started (or continued!) doing with your own children.

As I previously posted, one of my favourites is participating in Operation Christmas Child. Unfortunately it's seems so far away from Christmas so it hardly feels like a Christmas tradition.

We always attend our church's Christmas Eve service done by our choir. Often the children sing in it as well. We also normally go out for supper afterwards, and it often takes a few phone calls to find a restaurant open Christmas Eve!

We try to drive around one evening in December just to go look at Christmas lights.

But, I'd like some more ideas.

My friend Chelsea is going to be posting her ideas of celebrating Advent with littles - you can check that out Part 1 here. I'm definitely going to be rounding up all our Christmas books!

I also found a blog dedicated to Christmas Traditions so I'm going to have to review that a bit.

One thing I'd like us to try doing this year - there is a church that sets up a live nativity "play" that you walk through. I've heard really good things about it, so maybe we'll try that this year.

If you have any ideas to share, please let me know! I'm especially looking for new ways to focus the kids towards the real meaning of Christmas (celebrating the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ), and away from the secular meaning of Christmas (presents, presents, and more presents).

Friday, 6 November 2009

Operation Christmas Child!

I love the ministry of Operation Christmas Child.

Filling shoeboxes with gifts for children living in desparate situations - what a great way to get into the Christmas spirit!

Though it still feels like Christmas is a long way off, this is definitely one of my favourite family traditions.

Our church generally donates the Sunday School offering from Sept - Nov to Operation Christmas Child as well, so our kids are well familiar with this project!

Each year we pack one shoebox per child (Jacob isn't quite old enough to understand this, we'll do one for him starting next year).

I already purchased a bunch of school supplies to put in the boxes when we shopped for school in the States - such good deals!

Today I took all 4 kids (yes, another day off school - craziness!) to Dollarama to pick up the last of the items. It definitely would've been easier for me to pick them up when I was at Dollarama on Tuesday with just 2 kids, but I wanted the girls to be able to pick out the stuff themselves - they're much more invested in it that way, and they love doing it!

We pack for kids the "same" as our kids - so we have boxes for 3 girls ages 4, 6, 8. They all got virtually the same items. After I assembled the boxes (which I picked up from our church - very handy that they're doing the same project), each girl got to pack their own box. I had to help rearrange them so everything would fit - those stuffed animals can create some problems! LOL

Here's what we packed in each box....

pencil crayons
paint set
pencil sharpener
writing booklet with cute butterflies on the cover
bag of marbles
small bouncy ball
stuffed animal or animal puppet (depending on what our girls picked)
hair ties
a homemade Christmas card from the girls

I think that's it - a lot of practical stuff, and a few fun things thrown in too. Hopefully they'll enjoy them! I know we had a blast putting it together.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

True Treasure

Sometimes when going through times of difficulty, we need to be reminded that God has not abandoned us and that He cares about our hurts - personally.

During some recent blog reading I found an idea for a treasure chest full of personalized treasured verses, and I decided to put one together for a best friend of mine who is going through a really tough time right now.

I typed out some 2x4 cards with the paraphrase of the verse including my friend's name in large cursive letters (like a note written to her personally from God), followed by the exact verse and reference from the NIV. I put them into a little treasure chest box I picked up at the dollar store.

I found a great website with 365 promises of God and all together I filled my friend's treasure box with 59 personalized treasured verses.

Here are some samples if you're interested in making one of these for yourself or for a friend.

If you feel like receiving a "hug" from God - substitute your own name as your read through these verses....

Tammy, I will heal your broken heart and mend all your wounds.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

Not one of My promises will ever fail you, Tammy.
You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. Joshua 23:14

The good things I have planned for you, Tammy, are too many to count.
Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. Psalm 40:5

You can trust in Me, Tammy, for I am your strength and your song.
Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Isaiah 12:2

I will be the voice behind you, Tammy, guiding you in the way you should go.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21

I will protect and carry you, Tammy, all the days of your life.
Even to your old age and grey hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

For you, Tammy, are honoured in My eyes. I, your God, am your strength.
For I am honoured in the eyes of the Lord, and my God has been my strength. Isaiah 49:5b

If you wait for me, Tammy, I will work on your behalf.
Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. Isaiah 64:4

My plan for your future, Tammy, is filled with hope.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Tammy, I will bless your life and keep watch over you always. I will be gracious to you and give you My peace.
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

Tammy, I will give you peace at all times and in every situation.
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

I will never abandon you, Tammy.
God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5b

Come close to Me, Tammy, and I will come close to you.
Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8a

Cast all your worries on Me, Tammy, for I really care about you.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Tammy, I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

You can trust in My faithfulness, Tammy, because My Word is true.
For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all he does. Psalm 33:4

Tammy, I will restore and refresh your weary soul.
He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Psalm 23:3

Even when you are weak in your faith, Tammy, I will remain faithful to you.
If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

One day, Tammy, I will wipe away every tear and take away all your pain.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4

I see all your hardships, Tammy, and I care about your suffering.
I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. Psalm 31:7

Tammy, I will turn your mourning into dancing and surround you with joy.
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothes me with joy. Psalm 30:11

Call out to Me, Tammy, and I will show you wonderful things you do not know.
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

I know what you need before you even ask, Tammy.
For your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:8b

Be courageous, Tammy, for I am with you and I will never fail you.
Be strong and courageous....for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

God loves you so much!!


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