Rachel Yang Posts

7 Ways to Keep Christ at the Center of Christmas

Tyndale Kids

nativity-scene-christmas

Are you ready for Christmas? It’s one of the most commonly asked questions this time of year, and can be answered a multitude of ways. We talk about the presents we have – or have not yet – bought. We expound on how busy we are with church and other activities. We express our gratefulness for the ability to spend more time with our family during the season. We often even mention in passing that we are thankful for the manger and all that it represents to our lives.

All of the things listed above are great, but what if we considered answering the question in a different way? What if we marked our readiness for Christmas by the state of our hearts, not the number of presents under the tree? Have we, in our hearts, spent time at the manger pondering on the incredible gift God gave us over 2,000 years ago? Do we teach our children what Christmas is really all about?

I’d love to share some ideas to help you prepare yourself and your children for the miracle of Christmas.


wonder-of-the-greatest-gift-advent-devotional

1) Find an advent book or devotional to go through as a family. I highly recommend The Wonder of the Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp. Based on her bestseller Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, Ann Voskamp expands her presentation of the timeless Advent tradition of the Jesse Tree with this beautiful keepsake that can be handed down and enjoyed for generations. Click here to watch a video that further explains how this beautiful pop-up book works!


toys

2) Encourage your kids go through their toys/clothes and choose some that are in good shape to others who might be in need. This helps them to focus more on giving to others, not just receiving gifts at Christmas.


3) Schedule a family night to serve at a shelter in your area. Seeing others in need helps to put our own abundance into perspective and reminds us of the many blessings we have been given.


4) Throw a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Eve. Every year, our family makes a cake for Him, we sing to Him, and make the night all about celebrating our Savior.


family-bible-reading

5) Consider reading the story of Christ’s birth as a family Christmas Eve, Christmas morning – or both! We use the account in Luke 2:1-20. Take turns reading verses so that everyone feels like they are a part of the moment.


6) Attend your church’s Christmas Eve and/or Christmas services together as a family. Worshiping together will help to forge a special bond between your family members?


7) Invite someone who does not have family in the area to join you for Christmas. We have done that many years, and it has ended up being as much a blessing for us as it was for the friends who joined us.


Merry Christmas to you and your family! Thank you for being part of our Tyndale family. We are grateful for each of you, and we pray God’s blessings on you and your families over the next year!!


Linda Howard is Associate Publisher for Kids and Youth products at Tyndale House Publishers. She has been with Tyndale since 2007.

Spiritual Weaving – Guest Post by Author Kristen Gearhart

Spiritual weavingPlant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both. –Ecclesiastes 11:6 (NLT)

Fall 1983. My siblings and I zigzagged around apple and pear trees at a family friend’s orchard, in search of fallen fruit to grind into cider. I remember the day so vividly because we played with a gigantic apple-eating black lab and gulped the crisp fall air eagerly waiting for the special autumnal juice.

Summers 1983-1987. Unless it was raining, we played on the swing set and built cities in our sandbox until dusk, knowing that when Mom called us inside for the night, she would read to us in our parents’ toasty waterbed before we drifted off to sleep in our own beds.

For as long as I can remember. Worshiping together at church on Sunday mornings, we sang hymns and heard stories about Jesus (it wasn’t just about the cookies and punch we’d enjoy during fellowship time before Sunday school!).

These are the memories that shape your children’s future as adults. Spending time together as a family, among siblings, and as a church family help create who your children will become—and how they will interact with other family members, friends, and the world.

Attending church and Sunday school regularly as a child certainly helped develop my own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I learned the stories of Jesus through storytelling, sure. But it was more than that. My parents, pastors, and Sunday school teachers helped foster an understanding of how much Jesus loves me through colorful and creative activities, special snacks, and heartfelt lessons and discussions. Engaging children’s five senses helps solidify key biblical messages to stay grounded for the rest of their lives.

But it was more than the Sunday and Wednesday gatherings. Reading devotions every day as a family brings together messages learned in church, and ways to share activities at home, in the car, or on vacation. This is your opportunity to weave the entertainment of storytelling with family time and learning about God’s Word.

And now as an adult, while I don’t have children of my own, I enjoy watching the children at church (a few of them are my nieces and nephew) as they learn about the Gospel. Seeing the wonder in their eyes as they learn about God’s love makes my heart soar. As a writer and an editor, creating content that shares the Good News with children compels me in a way that no other work does. I feel God at work when I write a new product proposal or edit stories that are biblically based—because these types of stories for children were so uncommon when I was young.

I encourage you to pick up a children’s devotional (I can recommend a few if you need some ideas!) and start reading with your kids. Creating loving memories while learning about Jesus Christ will instill values in your family like no other lesson curriculum can.


Kristen Gearhart is managing editor of Keys for Kids, a daily devotional for children and their families. You can learn more about the products they produce and publish at keysforkids.org.

GIVEAWAY: Summer Survival Kit

Trying to survive summer with the kids at home? We’ve put together the perfect kit to keep your kids busy and learning! Enter now to win this great giveaway!

Summer Survival Kit Giveaway (2)

Prizes:

Love, Lexi
Love, Lexi
is a unique combination of a fictional story combined with a devotional and journal to allow readers to watch Lexi learn to seek God first above all else, while writing their own letters to God. Love, Lexi draws young people into Lexi’s life as they contemplate their own place in God’s eyes.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Audio CD
Fully dramatized and produced with cinema-quality sound design and music, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is the second of seven audio dramas in the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre production of The Chronicles of Narnia. Hosted by Douglas Gresham, stepson of C. S. Lewis, these timeless adventures are brought to life by a cast of talented actors, including award winners Paul Scofield and David Suchet, and were recorded in London.

The Gigantic Coloring Book of Bible Stories
Coloring fun with familiar Bible stories from Genesis to Revelation. Over 380 pages of coloring fun covering 45 favorite Bible stories with a Bible reference on each page.

Summer Survival Giveaway

14 Ideas to Keep Summer Boredom at Bay by Kathryn O’Brien

photo-1436699005328-ac3965e80aa7

As much as we moms long for the summer season, a lull from hectic schedules, a respite from nightly homework, a nice pause from dragging the kids out of bed each morning, there’s another part of us that completely dreads the upcoming lazy, hazy days. After the initial excitement wears off, along with the rising temperatures, summer break also brings those two dreaded words that spill from our kids’ mouths like sand from a bucket… “I’m bored.”

If the idea of seeing your child on the couch with a remote control in his hand or a computer in her lap for the next ten weeks makes you sweat, read on for some hot ideas to keep your summer from burning out.

Put some purpose in your pause. During the school year, our To-Do lists usually revolve around Must-Do’s. But summertime is the perfect time for our Should-Do’s. Make it a goal with your children to regularly help others. Turn it into a never-miss event by calling it Ministry Monday or Think-About-Someone-Else Thursday!

  1. Write letters to troops to let them know you’re praying for them and their families.
  2. Collect canned goods and drop them at a local food pantry.
  3. Deliver sweets to a retirement home, along with pictures and paintings to brighten a senior’s day.
  4. Offer to take a friend’s dog for a walk or help put away an elderly neighbor’s groceries. The abundance of free time in the summer allows a great opportunity to teach our kids how to be a blessing to others.

Sharpen school skills… secretly. Every teacher will implore you (myself included) not to allow two and half months to roll by without refreshing, reviewing and even expanding on the knowledge children have recently acquired. Math worksheets and reading packets are fine, but involve them in even more learning by disguising it as fun!

  1. Ask your child to summarize a favorite book by writing it as a play, then act it out.
  2. Go on a Number Hunt each day… how many circles are in the house? How many red things are outside? How many flat things can you find?
  3. Practice letters or review spelling words by writing them in sand, shaving cream, pudding or rice.
  4. Do math problems outside with sidewalk chalk or washable soap. Shhh… don’t tell them they’re doing schoolwork!

Make a Bored Book. A surefire cause of the summer doldrums is a lack of ideas. By the beginning of July most moms are fresh out of new options to offer. So take some time in June helping your kids create their very own personalized “Bored Book.”

  1. Brainstorm suggestions and research online for some favorite pastimes… building a card house, pulling out the play-dough, reading a book, calling Grandma, cutting out paper dolls, watching a video, playing catch, tossing a Frisbee, running through sprinklers, making ice tray popsicles, jumping rope, making a hopscotch grid, blowing bubbles…
  2. Now illustrate a page for each activity. Don’t forget a cover and a title page for your book. If siblings or pals can’t agree on what to do, take turns choosing one at at time, then set the timer for thirty minutes. Everyone wins!

Don’t put it away! Why not rearrange things, just for a while? Summer is all about a break from strict schedules and school rules. It’s a perfect opportunity to let loose at home as well. While I’m not suggesting complete pandemonium, I am encouraging making activities readily available in order to keep kids’ choices in plain view.

  1. Set up a card table for ongoing jigsaw puzzles; don’t take it down till September.
  2. Let the kids make a Summer Reading Fort in one of their rooms, filled with beloved old books and new books from the library each week.
  3. Create an art space that makes markers, paper, glue and craft supplies continuously accessible.
  4. Fill a laundry basket with board and card games and keep the basket in the family room or kitchen, not tucked away in a closet. It may seem more cluttered than you’re used to, but it’s only for a season!

Just like the occasional summer storm, the boredom blues will inevitably pass through your home a few times during the upcoming months. Hopefully these ideas will keep your kids off the couch and engaged in playtime, education, friends and fun. Got any other tried and true ways for us moms to keep the kids engaged? Share them here!


kathrynKathryn O’Brien has been published in numerous parenting and teaching magazines, and is a member of the writing team for HomeFront Magazine. An educator for over twenty years, as a former elementary school teacher & current Director of Curriculum & Instruction, Kathryn continues to write on education and family topics. She is an award-winning author of five children’s books, including the Sit for a Bit series (Tyndale) and I’d Be Your Princess, winner of the ECPA Christian Book Award (Best Picture Book). See her most recent articles and blog posts at www.kathobrien.com

The Ultimate Road Trip Giveaway!

Fasten your seat belts and settle in for a road trip adventure with the folks from Odyssey. Whether it’s surfing with Rodney Rathbone in Hawaii, running from a mad bull with Eugene Meltsner in Mexico, or chasing down a family fortune with Wooton Bassett in Alaska, you never know what will happen next! Along the way, the Barclay family learns about family togetherness on their best vacation ever, the Washingtons solve a mystery while stranded in a long-forgotten ghost town, and Bernard Walton discovers a map to an underground river of gold! Don’t miss the on-ramp to more than six hours of nonstop action and character-building fun for the whole family in our Ultimate Road Trip collection!

 

 

 

Enter below to win this collection for your next big road trip!
Ultimate Road Trip Giveaway