On the first day of Christmas…

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On the Christian calendar, yesterday was the first day of Christmas. The church celebrates the 12 days of Christmas, after Christmas…not before as many Americans do. You can teach Biblical truths to your children throughout these 12 days.  Here’s a little background to get started.

12 days of christmas

People often think of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas as the days preceding the festival.  Actually, Christmas is a season of the Christian Year that lasts for the twelve days beginning December 25 and lasting until January 6 – the Day of Epiphany, when the
church celebrates the revelation of Christ as the Light of the world and recalls the journey of the magi.

Every day, from December 25 to January 6, was traditionally a part of the Yuletide celebration. Dedicated to mercy and compassion—each day was noted by selfless giving and tender charity. In many cultures, gift giving was not concentrated on a single day, but rather, as in the famous folk song, spread throughout the entire season.

After some research I discovered something I never knew about the 12 Days of Christmas song.  From 1558 until 1829 the Church in England was not allowed to practice their faith openly. During that era ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas was written as a catechism that could be sung in public without the risk of persecution. ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas is, in essence, an allegory. The song has two levels of interpretation: the surface meaning and the meaning known only to members of the Church.

Each element in the carol is a word for a religious reality.  Some families give small presents each day to their children to help them understand the Biblical truths.  To start off…

The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ the most precious gift of God.

Example of a gift on day one: Start a Nativity for each child.   Start with the stable and add a new piece each year until the Nativity is complete.  Save the crèche and baby Jesus for the last two pieces.  (If you have a small child, you might give a cloth Nativity, toy Nativity, or storybooks of the Nativity).  If you continue this tradition, your children will have Nativity collections for their homes
one day.

In my book, Advent, Christmas & Epiphany Celebrations, you can read about all 12 days of Christmas and gift suggestions for each.  This week only, you can get our entire package on sale at this link:

http://www.ChristmasCelebrationIdeas.com/celebrate

The SALE PRICE will show up on the order form on the next page.  Click “Add to Cart” and you’ll see the SALE PRICE.

Advent Activities: Christmas Books for Kids & Adults

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What are you reading this week before Christmas?

Any good Christmas books for kids or adults you would suggest?

Are you preparing your heart for the celebration of Christ’s birth this Sunday?

Shepherds Abiding Jan Karon

Personally, I’m reading Shepherds Abiding, by Jan Karon. It’s one of the Mitford series books that is set during the Christmas season. I read all of the series a few years ago and am re-reading them this year. I skipped this one and saved it for Christmas time. It’s a great read and I love escaping to Mitford. I always learn something about myself and my relationship with God as I read about Father Tim.

In my devotion time, I’m reading the Gospel of John. After Thanksgiving, I was suppose to start Ezekiel, but wanted to read a more uplifting book. I read the Psalms for several days and then switched to John last week. This will keep the life of Christ front & center in my thoughts kamagra uk.

As a family (just Steve & I on the weekdays), we are reading through our Advent Reading schedule. So, we’ll read the traditional Christmas readings.

One reading that has intrigued me for the past few years is Luke 1 with Mary’s Song. Have you ever read it? Have you read it, as if you were pregnant? Mary is an outstanding young woman of faith. You can learn much from her.

What about Christmas books for kids?

Here are a few of our family favorites.

Jothams Journey

Jotham’s Journey – We read this several different years. Jotham’s Journey is the first book in a series of three. We all liked this one better than the other two. The next two books were a little more “politically correct”. Jotham’s Journey offers a good message that your kids will enjoy. The chapters are short and usually end at a suspenseful (cliff-hanger) place.

Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever – I read this many times to my public school classes. My kids enjoyed it as well. Although it is not overtly Christian, there are some great Christian lessons you can learn.

A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol – A true classic! What marvelous lessons you can discuss with your family as you read about Scrooge and his transformation. If I remember correctly, our favorite movie rendition is with George C Scott.

What are you favorite Christmas books for children or adults?

Advent Activities: Encouraging Thankfulness During Advent (& my Giveaway to you)

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Last week I began a series showing how thanksgiving prepares your family for Christmas.  Thanksgiving is one of those advent activities we should all be doing as a family.  I discussed the idea that you should encourage your children to show thanks during Advent.  The beginning of a thankful heart is prayer, praying without ceasing.  To continue this idea, you need to look for opportunities to grow thanksgiving in your children’s hearts.  (Please read to the end about our giveaway)

1.  Start with your Heart

Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Romans 1:21

This goes back to prayer.  You should begin your prayers with thanksgiving so your kids can see where your heart is.  When you tell God you are thankful, your heart can follow suit.

2.  Focus on What you Have (not what you want)

Especially true during Advent, you should be helping your kids focus on what they have, instead of what they may want for Christmas.

Unfortunately, this has been a problem since the beginning of time.  Adam & Eve were guilty of focusing on what they did not have. Adam & Eve saw the forbidden tree and wanted it.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.  She also gave to her husband with her and he ate.  Genesis 3:6

Help your children take their eyes off the toys & games they don’t have and focus on what God has given them.  I mentioned this in my first article when I suggested you keep a thankful list.  Each member of your family can keep their own list or you can make a family list of thanks.  Either way, this is an opportunity to to thank God specifically for what He has given you.

If you haven’t started your thankful list, do it today.  List 5 things for which you give thanks.  Add 1 item to your list every day.  Today I’m adding our home church & the friends we have made through this group.

3.  Interrupt complaining & Be thankful



I love this idea that I heard from our pastor, Brian Fisher.  When his kids are complaining, he will tell them to stop and find to be thankful.  Can’t you see it?  Your kids are in the middle of an argument.  You ask them to stop.  Then, you ask them to say two things they are thankful.  This can completely change the course of your kids’ conversation.

“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

Cicero sums it up here.  Being thankful is the above all virtues.  You must be thankful to show any other virtue.  You must also be thankful as you prepare your heart for Christmas.  As you prepare to celebrate Christ coming to earth to save you from your sins.  Now, that is the ultimate aspect of being thankful.

How are you teaching your kids to be thankful during this Advent season?

Please leave a comment below.  I’ll be randomly choose 1 comment to win our Crockpot Recipe ebook.  (470 crockpot recipes to make dinner time quick & easy!)

Leave a comment by Sunday night, December 11 to enter our giveaway!

—————————————–

© Kerry Beck, 2011
You have permission to reprint this article, as long as you don’t make any changes and include the bio below.
—————————————-
Kerry Beck wants to give you a free Advent Calendar Countdown to use in your Christmas & Advent celebration this year. You can also get a free webinar, “6 Clues to Put Christ Back in Christmas” at http://budurl.com/tspk

FREE Advent Calendar Countdown – Giveaway

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In case you haven’t grabbed our FREE Advent Calendar, you can do so here:

You’ll receive 25 daily ideas (by email) filled with activities you can do with your family to prepare for Christmas.  All you have to do is fill in your name & email and you’ll get our 25 Advent Countdown, completely free.

Advent Activities: Encouraging Thankfulness During Advent (& my Giveaway to you)

Advent, Christmas 2 Comments

Last week I began a series showing how thanksgiving prepares your family for Christmas.  Thanksgiving is one of those advent activities we should all be doing as a family.  I discussed the idea that you should encourage your children to show thanks during Advent.  The beginning of a thankful heart is prayer, praying without ceasing.  To continue this idea, you need to look for opportunities to grow thanksgiving in your children’s hearts.  (Please read to the end about our giveaway)

1.  Start with your Heart

Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Romans 1:21

This goes back to prayer.  You should begin your prayers with thanksgiving so your kids can see where your heart is.  When you tell God you are thankful, your heart can follow suit.

2.  Focus on What you Have (not what you want)

Especially true during Advent, you should be helping your kids focus on what they have, instead of what they may want for Christmas.

Unfortunately, this has been a problem since the beginning of time.  Adam & Eve were guilty of focusing on what they did not have. Adam & Eve saw the forbidden tree and wanted it.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.  She also gave to her husband with her and he ate.  Genesis 3:6

Help your children take their eyes off the toys & games they don’t have and focus on what God has given them.  I mentioned this in my first article when I suggested you keep a thankful list.  Each member of your family can keep their own list or you can make a family list of thanks.  Either way, this is an opportunity to to thank God specifically for what He has given you.

If you haven’t started your thankful list, do it today.  List 5 things for which you give thanks.  Add 1 item to your list every day.  Today I’m adding our home church & the friends we have made through this group.

3.  Interrupt complaining & Be thankful



I love this idea that I heard from our pastor, Brian Fisher.  When his kids are complaining, he will tell them to stop and find to be thankful.  Can’t you see it?  Your kids are in the middle of an argument.  You ask them to stop.  Then, you ask them to say two things they are thankful.  This can completely change the course of your kids’ conversation.

“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

Cicero sums it up here.  Being thankful is the above all virtues.  You must be thankful to show any other virtue.  You must also be thankful as you prepare your heart for Christmas.  As you prepare to celebrate Christ coming to earth to save you from your sins.  Now, that is the ultimate aspect of being thankful.

How are you teaching your kids to be thankful during this Advent season?

Please leave a comment below.  I’ll be randomly choose 1 comment to win our Crockpot Recipe ebook.  (470 crockpot recipes to make dinner time quick & easy!)

Leave a comment by Sunday night, December 11 to enter our giveaway!

—————————————–

© Kerry Beck, 2011
You have permission to reprint this article, as long as you don’t make any changes and include the bio below.
—————————————-
Kerry Beck wants to give you a free Advent Calendar Countdown to use in your Christmas & Advent celebration this year. You can also get a free webinar, “6 Clues to Put Christ Back in Christmas” at http://budurl.com/tspk

Advent: How Can You Become More Thankful…During Advent?

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Before discussing the first aspect of becoming more thankful, I want to add to my thankful list.  As I was walking & praying on Monday, I realized I had forgotten the most important thing I am thankful.  I was thanking God for Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for me.  Jesus should really be at the top of my thankful list.

What are you thankful for today?

How can you become more thankful?

Pray

Praying seems so simple, but that is what God wants you to do.  Let’s look again at 1 Thessalonians.

Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Prayer is sandwiched between rejoicing always and giving thanks in everything.  The only way you can truly be joyful and thankful is through prayer.  God wants you to pray continually.  Ask God for a thankful spirit.  Then, thank God for the circumstances in your life today.

Pray without ceasing!

The word “ceasing” has some interesting meanings.  It goes along with a continual cough.  I can truly relate to this because I’ve had a nagging cough the past few days.  It just won’t go away.  That’s the way our prayers should be to God…they just don’t go away.  We are always relying on God to be thankful & joyful.

Another connotation of the word ceasing is the regular production of fruit every year.  A fruit tree produces fruit on a regular basis every year.  Again, that’s an example of how we should approach God…on a regular basis.

To be truly thankful, you must rely on God’s strength.  It’s a fact that you will go through trials during your life.  The question is how you will handle those trials.  The only way you can rejoice and be thankful in your trials is by asking God for a joyful & thankful spirit.

During this Advent season, spend time in prayer each & every day.  As you pray, thank God for whatever situation you are in.  Teach your children to thank God for their circumstances.  If they see you model thankfulness and you encourage them to be thankful, your children will be thankful as adults.

Next time I will share my final thoughts on cultivating thanksgiving in your family.

—————————————–

© Kerry Beck, 2011
You have permission to reprint this article, as long as you don’t make any changes and include the bio below.
—————————————-
Kerry Beck wants to give you a free Advent Calendar Countdown to use in your Christmas & Advent celebration this year. You can also get a free webinar, “6 Clues to Put Christ Back in Christmas” at http://budurl.com/tspk

Stress Free Christmas

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–We take a break from our Thankful Series, to bring you Stress Free Christmas Ideas this Advent Season–

You are probably saying to yourself that I have lost my mind if I think I can have a Stress Free Christmas. Well, my mind is still here and we have had several Stress Free Christmases in the past few years. I thought I would share some of the lessons I have learned to help reduce the stress during our holiday seasons.

READ GOD’S WORD EVERY MORNING
Starting my day with God’s Word seems obvious, but sometimes gets left out. I need to hear from God & speak to God each day so I am strengthened and ready to be the mom He wants me to be. At breakfast, we have family devotions and can start our kids’ day on the right foot as well. Each of the kids know they are to read their Bible when they wake up. Of course, some need a little more reminding than others.

DON’T DO EVERY ACTIVITY THAT COMES ALONG
This seems quite apparent, but it took me about 10 years to learn this lesson. Actually, my wonderful husband helped me learn how to reduce the activity in our lives during the holiday season.

In the past, I wanted our kids to experience everything available during this season. What was actually happening was I began to harbor stress that would usually explode around Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. (I’m sure none of you have ever experienced this :o )

WHICH ACTIVITIES DO I CHOOSE
What works for our family is to choose 1 or 2 Christmas activities to attend outside our home. Anything else we do is done in our home. One of the best ways this reduces stress is that I am not “persuading” my husband to attend one more Christmas activity each week. He still spends all day working to provide for our family. Consequently, he is much happier going to a few activities and enjoying our family & friends at home.

We enjoy having others in our home, so we capitalize on this. Our children help us clean & cook, so our work is reduced and I am not stressed when our guests arrive.

ENJOY YOUR HOME
I will always have more activities for us to do than we have time for. This past Thanksgiving weekend I decided which activities will wait until next year.

REMEMBER: YOU CAN’T DO EVERY THING, EVERY YEAR.
I try to choose activities that encourage my children to think of others, instead of themselves during the holidays. One of the activities we used to do is raising money for a missionary family. My children would take orders for small loaves of pumpkin bread and chocolate chip cookies. After baking and delivering the goodies, they would pay me back for the supplies.

The rest was their profit which was used to buy games and toys for a missionary family friend.

This year I plan to babysit some young kids so their moms can do some Christmas shopping alone. Other years, I’ve hosted a Christmas card stamping party for younger kids.

I have some other ideas that are included in Celebrate Advent, Christmas & Epiphany
http://tinyurl.com/kbadvent

MAKE CHRISTMAS YOUR SCHOOL 
Drop some of your formal academics and enjoy the season. There are plenty of math, writing & reading concepts we practice as we bake, shop and prepare for Christ’s birthday.

At our house, we read aloud each morning and then work on a Christmas project. This may include handwork type crafts or other quiet projects.



DO YOU FEEL STRESSED DURING THE HOLIDAYS?
Take a moment right now and prioritize all the activities available to your family. Choose only 1 or 2 activities that the entire family can enjoy and pass on the rest.

Enjoy your family being at home. Have another family over to roast marshmallows and enjoy the fellowship. Most of all, keep your eyes focused on Jesus Christ. Without His love for the world, you would not be celebrating the true reason for Christmas.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

—————————————–

© Kerry Beck, 2011
You have permission to reprint this article, as long as you don’t make any changes and include the bio below.
—————————————-
Kerry Beck wants to give you a free Advent Calendar Countdown to use in your Christmas & Advent celebration this year. You can also get a free webinar, “6 Clues to Put Christ Back in Christmas” at http://budurl.com/tspk

6 Clues to Put Christ Back in Christmas & Win Our Christmas Package

Advent, Christmas, Holiday 3 Comments

I’ve been posting some articles about preparing your heart for Christmas by using your Thanksgiving list in Advent.  You can read some of those articles below.  I have a few more I’m still writing.

In addition to these articles, I will be offering a free webinar to share “6 Clues to Put Christ Back in Christmas”.  I’d love for you to join me.  Here are the details:

***************************************
“The 6 Clues to Put Christ Back in Christmas”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011
8pm EST – 7pm CST – 6pm MST – 5pm PST
Study guide provided for those who register.
***************************************

You can register right here:

 

I’ll also be sharing:

  • 4 tips of reaching outside your family during the Christmas season.
  • Why Jesus is the reason for the season
  • 3 steps to putting Christ and “His Story” back into your Christmas celebration!
  • the dangers of America’s Christmas celebration
  • Christmas around the world activities & ideas
  • Symbols of Christmas and their Christian meaning

Please share this webinar with your friends & family.  They will thank you for it.

Blessings,
Kerry

P.S.  I’ll be giving away one of our Advent & Christmas packages on the webinar.  If you want to win, just post a Christmas tradition below.  I’ll randomly choose one comment to win.

30 Days-Thanksgiving Changes Our Perspective On Christmas

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Yesterday I began a series about Thanksgiving, Advent & Christmas, showing how they should be connected.  The Thanksgiving holiday sets up Advent & Christmas.  One way we can refocus our family’s Christmas season is to focus on being thankful.  Being thankful focuses on God’s gifts to me, instead of what I want.

What else will my thankful list do?

My thankful list takes my eyes off the tribulations & stressful situations of Christmas.  Let’s take a look into history and see how thanksgiving can help us overcome stressful situations

Martin Rinkart was a Lutheran pastor during the Thirty Years War.  During the height of the war in 1637, Rinkart performed 50 funerals a day and as many as 4000 that year, including his wife.  Not much on the outside to be thankful.

However, it was at this time that Rinkart wrote the hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God” with the following words:

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

How can a man in the midst of overcrowding, deadly pestilence & famine, pen those words?

Rinkart had the right perspective on life.  His focus was wholly on God Almighty.  He wasn’t looking at the tribulation here on earth but on the eternal reward, the love of His Savior.

Christmas is often a trying season for many.

  • You may be stressing over your job and making ends meet each month.
  • You may be agonizing over finding a little extra money to buy a special gift for your kids.
  • You may be grieving over your marriage.
  • You may be burdened over your kids’ walk  with the Lord.
  • You may be worrying over “keeping up” with the other homeschoolers in your area.

So many different areas of your life can take your focus away from Advent and your preparation for Christmas.  My suggestion to you is to change your perspective to one of thanksgiving.  As you read I Thessalonians 5, we are reminded that thanksgiving is prefaced by rejoicing always.

Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18

When you rejoice in the Lord, you choose to change your perspective from worry to rejoicing.  The natural result is thanksgiving.  As you give thanks each & every day of Advent, your perspective will become more Christlike.

In closing, I don’t want you to think I am belittling your worries or tribulations, especially during what can be an extremely stressful time: Christmas.  Christ says “in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but  be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)  Christ recognizes the fact that you are going through trials while you walk on this earth.  However, you can rejoice in your trials because Jesus Christ has overcome each & every one of those trials…He has overcome the world.

If Martin Rinkart can give thanks to God, in the midst of performing 50 funerals a day, surely you & I can give thanks in the midst of our trials.  Thanksgiving will truly change your perspective during Advent and prepare your heart for the grand celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth in a few weeks.

What are you thankful for?  Add 1 more item to your thankful list today.
I am thankful for a warm, beautiful home.  It may not be as big & gorgeous as those on pinterest or in the magazines, but it is our home that I love & can make “warm & cozy” for those who enter each day.

What else will my thankful list do?

(More in tomorrow’s post)

This post was inspired by Brian Fisher’s sermon on November 27, 2011

http://www2.grace-bible.org/downloads/sermons/sermons.asp

—————————————–

© Kerry Beck, 2011
You have permission to reprint this article, as long as you don’t make any changes and include the bio below.
—————————————-
Kerry Beck wants to give you a free Advent Calendar Countdown to use in your Christmas & Advent celebration this year. You can also get a free webinar, “6 Clues to Put Christ Back in Christmas” at http://budurl.com/tspk

Put Christ Back In Your Christmas

Advent, Christmas, Holiday 8 Comments

Did you know Thanksgiving is only a week away?

Soooo…Christmas is right around the corner.

Are you ready?

Do you have a plan to keep Christ the focus of your Christmas celebration?

I continue to be concerned with the commercialism of Christmas in America. I’ve been making some notes and want to share how you can put Christ back as the central focus of your Christmas celebration.

I am hosting a workshop to discuss how several REAL LIFE families are putting Christ back into Christmas. I’ll be discussing “The 5 Secrets to Rekindling the True Spirit of Christmas”.

During the live workshop, I’ll be showing you some examples of commercialism in America’s Christmas and then provide our REAL LIFE examples of families who have successfully
overcome America’s crass commercialism.

***************************************
The 5 Secrets To Rekindling The True Spirit of Christmas”

Thursday, November 17, 2011
2pm EST – 1pm CST – 12noon MST – 11am PST
Study guide provided for those who register.
***************************************

You’ll need to register to save your spot and discover those 5 Secrets.
We have 200 spots available and I’m sure they will fill up quickly.
http://tinyurl.com/kbadvent

I can’t wait to meet you on Thursday and share:

4 tips of reaching outside your family during the Christmas season.

- 3 steps to putting Christ and “His Story” back into your Christmas celebration!

- the dangers of America’s Christmas celebration

Christmas around the world activities & ideas

- Super-Easy Christmas craft idea, even for the craft-challenged mom!

- and as many other ideas as I can squeeze into 60 minutes.

http://tinyurl.com/kbadvent

See you Thursday, Nov 17

You can also win a copy of our Christmas & Advent Package.  Just post a family tradition idea here on my blog.  I’ll be randomly choosing one to receive my package during the webinar on Thursday.

In conclusion you need to do 2 things right now:
1. Register for my webinar
“5 Secrets to Rekindling the Spirit of Christmas”
http://tinyurl.com/kbadvent

2. Post your family tradition here for a chance to win my Christmas package
http://www.CurriculumConnection.net/blog

Blessings,
Kerry Beck
Director, Christian Parenting Assoc.

ps. I spent so much time preparing this important information & tips about celebrating Christmas, I decided to include a study guide for those who register. Mark your calendar right now. Thursday, Nov 17

http://tinyurl.com/kbadvent

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