Advent: When your kids ask, “What is Christmas?”

Christmas, Inspire You Children, Parenting No Comments

When my children were little, I remember long days, full of diverse conversations. Invariably, mixed in with all the questions about food, friends, and fun, there were a few serious questions, especially during the holiday seasons. One of my favorite questions was related to Christmas. My children, usually around age three or four, would ask me, “Mommy, what is Christmas?”

what is Christmas

Such a great question, and one that I loved to answer.

Because for me, Christmas is not just about exchanging of gifts or eating wonderfully homemade meals, but Christmas is really about the celebration of hope, love, truth, and peace. The traditional noble ideas of Advent.

To answer such a great question, I usually took my children to the Scripture. We would turn to Luke 2 and begin to read the account of Jesus birth. While there, we would focus on each person involved and really discuss what each one must have been thinking or feeling.

We began with Mary, the mother of Jesus. She recognizes the reference to the Davidic promises, and to the virgin birth spoken of in Isaiah. And she knows that this is the promised One, the Messiah who will reconcile all things. And so her heart worships, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit is rejoiced in God my Savior, for he has regarded the lowly estate of his maidservant. And behold all generations henceforth shall call me blessed, for he is mighty who has done great things for me and holy is his name.”

And then Mary keys in on the promises of Isaiah. Those are not lost on her as well. “His mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, exalted the lonely, filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he sent away empty. And he has helped his servant Israel in remembrance of his mercy. As he spoke to our fathers to Abraham and to his seed forever.” Mary understands all the clues. She has put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

We then talked about the shepherds who saw angels for the first time in their lives. These angels tell them good tidings of great joy. Their savior has been born in the city of David.

We would marvel at how the shepherds know exactly where to go. They go straight to Bethlehem. How did they know that? Their fathers and grandfathers have passed down the clues to them.

Then a man who has waited all his life for the consolation of Israel and was told by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ, this man Simeon actually gets to hold in his arms his own God and Redeemer.

Simeon knows what this means for the world. Simeon says this child will be the light to the Gentiles, the glory of your people Israel.

And of course, there is Anna, Joseph, the magi, and so many more. It really is true that the story of Jesus’ coming and birth is full of wonder and awe. So the next time a little person, whether a child, grandchild, neighbor, friend, or Sunday school student asks you, “What is Christmas?”, take them to the Scripture. Fill their little hearts with truth that is eternal and evokes amazement and joy.

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Copyright Kerry Beck, 2010

You have permission to reprint this article as long as you don’t make any changes and include the bio below.

Kerry Beck gives free advent calendars with daily Christmas activities to prepare your family for Christmas. Pick up a FREE Advent Calendar at  http://www.ChristmasCelebrationIdeas.com.

 

30 Days – Turkey & Pilgrim Cookies

Holiday, Inspire You Children, thanksgiving 2 Comments

For years we have made these turkey cookies with our family.  I found another FUN cookie to make at Thanksgiving…Pilgrim hats with Reese’s.  Of course, my daughter loves tradition and told me she would be making turkey cookies. So, I guess I’ll be taking ingredients for both cookies to my parent’s farm for Thanksgiving.

Which one will you make?

IMG_3148 - Copy

I’m sure I’ve shared this activity before this year, but it is truly a family favorite. Since the beginning of November my kids have asked if we were making turkey cookies this year. The directions and supplies needed are below, but here is a video on how to make these festive cookies!

Open oreo and set them perpendicular (use icing to hold in place)
Place malt ball in the corner and a red hot (gobble) in front of the malt ball.
Ice the oreo that is standing up & down with chocolate icing
Fan candy corn around the maltball to make a fan of feathers.
Eat and enjoy – yummy!!!

Shopping List:
oreos
red hots
malt balls
chocolate icing
candy corn

Pilgrim Hat Cookies

Supplies:

chocolate wafers
mini Reeses peanut butter cups
orange frosting
decorating tube for frosting

Smear some frosting on the top of the Reeses.  Place it upside down on the chocolate wafer. Pipe some frosting around the base and add a buckle.  Voila!

I got this idea from Pinterest.  You can follow me on Pinterest here:
Follow Me on Pinterest

Thursday Activity: October Fall Leaves

Homeschooling, Inspire You Children No Comments

Have fun with the leaves falling around you.  October is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoor, as well as the fall leaves.  Enjoy a few ideas I found from Family Fun

• Walk a leafy labyrinth. When leaves cover the lawn, rake a twisting pathway through them. Copy a classic maze for extra credit. Read the rest…

Wednesday Words: Homeschooled Teaching Techniques #2

Inspire You Children 2 Comments

A continuation of our next homeschooled teaching technique you can use this week!
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What are you preparing your children for?  Will they simply follow those around them?  Or, will they be a strong leader?  Whatever you are doing at home right now is preparing your kids for their future.  In my first article, I discussed teaching technique 1 and the importance of instilling godly character in your kids.  Strong character traits are essential to be a strong leader.  Let’s look at the next key in your home schooling curriculum in raising leaders.

Read the rest…

For The Children’s Sake – Living Ideas

Homeschooling, Inspire You Children, Living Books & Classics No Comments

A few weeks ago,  a friend of mine invited me to coffee at her home.  Her daughter was in town and they wanted to discuss homeschooling.  Of course, I was up for it because I love to talk about homeschooling and all the cool ideas you can do with your kids.  Her daughter has a 4yo, 2yo and infant.  We had a great discussion.  I recommend she read For The Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.

Last week I received an email from her daughter asking for some specific suggestions on using “living ideas”, a concept discussed in the book.  Here’s my quick response:

Great Question about Living Ideas…
When you read a story that has strong work ethic demonstrated, that would be a living idea that you could discuss with the kids.  Others might include:  character qualities, strong family ties, friendships (right & wrong way to treat friends)

Boy Who Cried Wolf – lying vs telling truth

Little Engine That Could  - persistence

Aesops Fables are great short stories that teach a lesson/living idea through a story

Owl Moon – father/son relationship

Lentil – Old Sneep can teach to not complain, grumble

All of these are lessons or ideas that can apply to life, thus a living idea.

If you haven’t read For The Children’s Sake I highly recommend it.  It is the only book I bought about education the summer before we started homeschooling.  I had mounds of books moms had shared with me, but I ended up buying the book that a college girl recommended to me… For The Children’s Sake .  It is well worth reading, so worth it that I think I will read it again this week.

Thursday Activity-Homeschool Art Projects

Art, Homeschooling, Inspire You Children No Comments

I found the coolest site that has art projects you can do at home.  The best part of the site is each art project has a video teaching how to do it.  Let your kids watch the video and then get to work.  Where can you find these free art projects?

http://www.dickblick.com/lesson-plans/

Let me know what you think of these projects?  Post a comment.

Get Ready for Easter in Your Homeschool

Bible, Easter, Holiday, Homeschooling, Inspire You Children No Comments

I I found this cool project last year at my Mom to Mom Bible study at church. Even though my kids are older, we made an Easter garden. I pulled mine out last night to display this year.  I’m sharing this a few weeks early so you can gather all the supplies.

This is a great project to remind your family of the events of Passion Week.

easter garden

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Materials:
Shallow tray or dish
Garden soil (or green styrofoam for the fake flowers)
Moss, cut grass or sand
Dried twigs
Sewing thread
Small Pot
Flat stone large enough to cover mouth of pot
Egg cups (or other small containers)
Small flowers
Gravel

Directions:

1. Fill the tray with soil or potting compost (or place styrofoam where flowers will be)

2. Arrange it to make a hill on one side of the tray

3. Cover the soil with moss, grass or sand

4. Make three crosses with dried twigs tied together with sewing thread & place on hilltop

5. Press the small post into the hillside ot make a cave like the garden tomb. Place the stone over the mouth of the tomb.

6. Press egg cups full of water into soil around the garden and fill with flowers. (Or put artificial flowers into styrofoam)

7. Make a path coming from the tomb with gravel, to show how the disciples ran to the tomb on Easter morning

8. Early on Easter morning, move back the stone from the tomb – showing that it is empty.

If you make one, feel free to post a pic.

Wednesday Words: 365 Thank You’s

Inspire You Children, Leaving a Legacy, Parenting 1 Comment

I just finished reading a book called 365 Thank You’s.  The author decided to write 365 thank you notes in a year to change his attitude.  He felt like his world was falling apart and thought the act of thanking others would change his outlook.  It was a quick & easy read that tells the author’s story for that year.  He includes copies of some thank you cards he wrote.

Once I began reading this book, I decided to take his challenge and write 365 thank yous this year.  I started on February 25 and have written 42 thank you cards since then.

If my kids were still at home, I’d use this as a writing activity in school.  Depending on their age, I would probably have them write 1-3 thank you’s each week.  This can help them keep their focus off themselves and look for others to thank.

Do your kids automatically say thank you around your home?

I discovered that my kids do say “thanks”.  I think their “thank yous” come from 2 sources.  Obvious and foremost, by God’s grace they are saying thank you to others.  Secondly, we thanked our kids continuously when they helped around our home.  It might be as simple as thanking them for bringing their plates back from the table. Even though it was expected of them, we still said thanks.  Or, when they finished a chore, I would tell them thanks.

My 18 yo son still says thank you for breakfast each morning as he leaves for his classes.  I don’t say this to brag but to remind all of us how important our words are & how God graciously raises our children to thankful adults.

Will you “say” thanks to your family this week?

Who will you send a card of thanks?

What will you be thankful for?

Wednesday Words: Are You Eating Meals with Other Families?

Inspire You Children, Keeping My Home, Moms, Parenting No Comments

Last time, I encouraged you to eat meals together as a family.  Family meals are essential in raising your children.  Family meals help you slow down and enjoy what is most important during this season of your life:  your children.  If you don’t spend time with them now, they will be gone before you know it.

Not only should you spend time together as a family, Scripture tells us to spend time in each others’ homes.

So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.  Acts 2:46-47

In Acts 2, we are reminded of the importance of breaking bread together, sharing meals with other believers.  There are several ideas to note.  Eating a meal with other believers brings gladness. When we have friends over for dinner, there is a special feeling of satisfaction when they leave.  Not only did we enjoy food, we enjoy conversation.  We are encouraged, relaxed and exhorted at times.

Are you eating meals with other Christian families?

Next, your meals do not need to be elaborate.  Luke reminds us that these meals were eaten with gladness and simplicity. Most moms feel like they need to create a gourmet meal.  This is not true!  Some of the easiest and simplest meals will satisfy everyone.  Here are some easy meals you can make.

Crockpot Chicken
Crockpot Roast – Beef or Pork, both are delicious
Chili
Burgers or Grilled Chicken (in the summertime)

Find recipes that you like AND are easy for you.  I like to include my kids when I’m getting ready for guests.  Depending on their age, they can help you alot.  A few things I’ve had my kids do to help are:

Bake dessert
Set the table
Cut flowers from the yard for the center of the table (a centerpiece is not mandatory, but young kids like to cut flowers)
Clean the bathroom
Vacuum
Wipe down the kitchen counters

Finally, I’d like to suggest the meal Luke is mentioning in Acts 2 takes place in your home, not a restaurant. It is lots of fun to go out to eat.  However, there is a special atmosphere at home that is not found in a restaurant.  Friends let their guard down at the dinner table.  Kids can go play after the meal, allowing parents to visit among themselves.  When eating at the dinner table, we linger and talk about God’s work in our lives.

Are you inviting other Christian families to your home for a meal?

If not, take a few minutes and make a list of 5 families in which you would like to spend more time.  Invite one family each month until summer.  If you don’t schedule it, you probably won’t do it.  Plan and schedule it now.  Invite each family at the beginning of the month.  You will have an impact on your own family, as well as many other families.

Valentine Ideas for THIS WEEK!

Holiday, Homeschooling, Inspire You Children No Comments

Valentines Day is one week away.  Now is the time to plan and be ready.  This week is the perfect time for you and your kids to have fun in your homeschool and show love to each other.

Here are a few ideas you might like to try:

Fireside Valentines
We’ve always celebrated Valentines Day as a family…because that’s what my family did growing up.  Steve & I go out by ourselves on another night.  You might want to try this for a Valentine’s Dinner:
The greatest gift for Valentine’s Day would be a picnic dinner on the carpet next to a roaring fire, with soft music playing in the background and candles lit all over the room.

Another idea with the kids:
Hide Valentine cards & notes throughout the house.  Color code them for each child.  Pink-child 1, red-child 2, etc
Add a “sweet” to each one.

Video Valentine
Mom & kids make a video for Dad telling him why he is so special and how much they love him.  Have it sitting on the table at dinner.

Hot Valentine
Send your honey a bottle of Tabasco or other hot sauce? Tack on a note which says “I think you’re really hot!!!” and put it somewhere sure to make them smile!!

If you’ll be out of town for Valentines, here’s an idea:
Write a short note for every day or for special dates, you will be gone, and place each note in an envelope.  Write the date you want your spouse to open the note on the front of each envelope.

A little homeschool history lesson:
Scotland Valentine Tradition

Valentine’s Day is celebrated as a grand festival in Scotland. Equal numbers of young unmarried men and women participate in the festival. Each of them will write their name on a piece of paper. The names are placed in two different hats as one for men and the other for ladies. Both of them may end up with two different valentines but the rules states that the young man should stick to the valentine who has chosen him first.

After the group split into couples, gifts are given to ladies.  The ladies then wear the name of their valentine in their heart or on their sleeve. This festival usually leads to marriages or romances at the end of the day.

If you liked these ideas, you’ll love the ones in our Val Pac.  I can’t list them all here, so I compiled them in our our Val Pac right here:

Valentine Idea Pack

Our Val Pac includes hundreds of ideas including:

-How to use paper airplanes to make a memorable Valentine
-Games & Crafts to celebrate Valentine’s Day
-Food ideas throughout the day…just for your Valentine
-More Fireside Valentine Ideas

Blessings,
Kerry Beck

ps.  This week I’m posting an article about the MOST important thing you can do for your kids as they grow up.  Watch your inbox for it.

Valentine Idea Pack

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