holiday Posts

Make Memorial Day Weekend with Your Kids Unforgettable by Jon Farrar

Tyndale Kidsamerican-flag-memorial-day

Ah, Memorial Day weekend . . . the first three-day weekend of the summer!

If you’re anything like me, you have big plans for the weekend. Beach trip? Hiking in the mountains? Maybe, a relaxing backyard barbecue?

It’s fun while it lasts. I wouldn’t want to miss a moment of the activity—from hearing my six-year-old daughter shout for more ice cream to having a short “real conversation” with my teenage son.

If your experience is anything like mine, the weekend goes by so fast! Then, the clamor of work the next week pounds away the memories. So, let’s plan something radically different for this Memorial Day.

Memorial Day weekend is a call to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. What a great weekend to resolve to remember  better!

Before you pack your bags, before you start corralling the kids into your car, before you plug in that address to your GPS, take a moment to consider two things.


siblings-playing-together-in-sunshineRemembering is an important—even sacred—act.   One of the reasons I let life slip through my memory banks so quickly is that I don’t realize how important remembering is. The Bible encourages us to “remember the deeds of the Lord” (Psalm 77:11).

Recently, I’ve become convinced I take far too many things for granted, including those precious three-day weekends scattered throughout the year. I fail to realize that the work of God during daily life is just as important as his work during big turning points. The moments of sunshine and laughter God has allowed me to enjoy with my daughter are equally significant to anything that happens at work.

Sometimes I may consider these moments of joy as God’s small  blessings on my life—his little deeds. But, in light of eternity, God has an entirely different perspective.

Those moments are worth cherishing. They are worth remembering because they represent the goodness of God toward my family.

Resolve that this weekend you will remember the “small things.”


father-and-child-at-beachYour kids need you to remember. What you decide to remember about your life will become part of your family’s ongoing storyline. Every family has a story it tells itself. Your job as the parent is to shape that narrative and make sure it’s a life-giving story for your children. The few long weekends each year are perfect times to shape your family’s story in a profound way. It’s not hard to do. Here are some ideas to help. 

  • Choose a phrase or word for the weekend. The word could be anything from God’s gifts to hope to laughter. Ask each one of your kids to be on the lookout this weekend for a story about that word or phrase. This technique helps you and your kids filter all the events of the weekend and look for the extraordinary moments.
  • On the way home, ask your kids to tell stories about the weekend using the chosen word. Don’t let the last day of a fun weekend put everyone in a bad mood. Instead begin the remembering process while traveling home. Tell stories about the weekend, emphasizing what you want to remember for years to come—the calm walk on the beach, the intense game your family played together, the arduous hike that led to a magnificent view. Think about God’s gifts of time and relaxation. Avoid stories that put anyone in a bad light. Shape the story your family is telling about the weekend.

shells-vacation-memento

  • Create a memento. Our memories are activated by an object. That’s why the ancient Israelites on several occasions constructed a memorial altar with stones. They needed an object—in this case, a pile of stones—to help them remember God’s powerful deeds. You can do the same thing the Israelites did years ago with all types of objects. Everyone does this differently. In the cell phone age, many simply snap pictures and upload them. Others buy small physical mementos of a place. At times, I have simply picked up a large shell or a shiny stone and told a story around those objects.

You’ve worked hard for your long weekends, so relax and enjoy these special days. Memories of times spent with your loved ones are important in God’s sight. Take a moment to frame this weekend so your family will be nourished by these memories for years to come.

Your kids won’t forget it.

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.

Psalm 77:11


Jon Farrar is a senior acquisitions editor for Tyndale’s nonfiction team with more than sixteen years of publishing experience.  Recently, Jon has enjoyed partnering with Alister McGrath on C.S. Lewis: A Life, with Chuck Swindoll on Searching the Scriptures, and with Scott Sauls on Jesus Outside the Lines. Jon also manages the One Year devotional line. Before publishing, he earned a master’s degree in history and theology. Jon loves to jog on Chicago’s lakefront when he has the time to do so. Most of his time, however, is spent maintaining the Wi-Fi network for his two kids at home.


 

Tips for Memorizing Scripture in the New Year by Kathryn O’Brien

Tyndale Kids

The thing about New Year’s Resolutions is, well, they get old pretty quickly. No matter how resolute we feel on the first of January, most of us seem to lose that resolve by the time February rolls around. We should probably start calling them New Year’s Considerations. Or how about New Year’s Not Very Likelys!

With so many worthy resolutions out there, from getting healthy to getting organized, from spending less money to reading more books, why do we lose our drive? Why do we give up? Why do great intentions that start with such sparkle end up fizzling so fast?

Even the most worthy aims, the resolutions that would have the most valuable consequences for our families, can get lost in the busyness of a new year, new activities, new stress. One such goal, one that is bound to have significant implications on our children, is Scripture memory. Committing to learning and memorizing Bible verses is a resolution that goes far beyond dropping a dress size or growing our savings account; it’s a goal that could have an impact on the rest of our kids’ lives.

Knowing how slippery those New Year’s resolutions can be and that some goals, such as Scripture memory, are worthy of our very best effort, consider these ideas as we head into 2018. They are tips for making Bible verses stick the whole year through.


Make it a family affair. Instead of announcing Mom’s good idea or declaring that Dad made a decision, invite children into a discussion of valuable goals for the new year. Ask them for input, which will provide accountability for everyone involved, then write a resolutions list together. Suggest Scripture memory as one of the family goals, and together list reasons why this is a worthy task. Open the discussion, and lead your kids to think about the value of learning God’s Word.

Keep it simple. Instead of the huge, sweeping resolutions that tend to get overwhelming and eventually left behind, make Bible memory happen in small, doable, and therefore, more realistic steps. Especially for younger children, be sure to choose a reasonable list of shorter verses (I suggest one per month to start), rather than a multitude of lengthy or extensive Scripture verses. Looking for a place to begin? Check out Psalm 46:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Ephesians 4:32, Luke 6:31, and Proverbs 3:5.

Plan it out. A great idea fades quickly without practical steps to put it into action. So the next time you’re out, pick up a 2018 monthly calendar then pull out the colored markers. Ask your kids to help you choose one color for marking the introduction of a new verse, another color for practice, and a separate color for checking progress. Add some variety to the schedule by reserving a few dinners each week for practicing together, or save the weekends for solely reviewing past verses. As they say, a goal without a plan is just a wish!

Get a helping hand. There are many ways to make the commendable goal of memorizing Scripture a bit less daunting and a lot more lasting. Kids can create personal reminders by making Bible verse bookmarks or posters for the fridge. Use seasonal progress charts to keep track of the family’s progress. (Tyndale House Publishers offers several darling designs.) Ask relatives or friends to assist with accountability by checking in regularly. And be sure to reward all growth, big or small, with a fun family outing or a special meal.


So this year, let’s hear it for resolving to keep our resolve in keeping a great resolution! And instead of letting our desire for Scripture memory disappear with the melting snow, guide your kids in hiding God’s Word in their hearts for a lifetime!

To help even the youngest children get their first start on memorizing Scripture, check out Kathryn O’Brien’s Sit for a Bit series from Tyndale, coming soon in board book version!

 

Start Your Year with a Powerful Non-Resolution by Stephanie Rische

Tyndale Kids

It’s the beginning of another new year, and I might as well make my confession now: I am terrible at resolutions.

Oh, I might make an impressive list of goals with corresponding sub-points. I might write them down in a pretty journal and even color-code them with fancy pens. But don’t be fooled. Before the Christmas decorations have had time to gather any dust, I will have forgotten all about my lofty aspirations and bullet-pointed lists.

So I’ve made a new resolution: No more New Year’s resolutions! Instead, I’m shooting for the “New Year’s for Dummies” version of goal-setting and choosing a word of the year instead. That’s right—no lists, no striving after a bunch of unattainable ideals, just a single-word theme.

The idea is that throughout the year, my heart and mind can settle on that one word and be open to what God wants to show me on that topic. This is a relief for a recovering perfectionist like me, because it offers a lot of room for grace. My yearlong quest won’t be about succeeding or failing; it won’t be about how many boxes I check off or how far off the mark I find myself come December. It will be about anticipating the transformation God is going to do inside of me in the year ahead.

As this new year begins, I’d like to invite you to join me on this adventure of non-resolutions. Whenever you can sneak in some moments of quiet—in the morning, while you’re in the car, or over a cup of coffee, ask God if there’s a word he wants you to focus on this year. And then, once you’ve settled on your word, jump in with both feet.

The beautiful thing is, there’s no wrong way to pursue your word. Maybe you’ll write the word on a sticky note and post it on your mirror or your refrigerator to recalibrate your thoughts throughout the day. Maybe you’ll read the Bible with an eye open for what God has to say on the topic. Maybe you’ll meet with a friend each month to share how you see this playing out in your life. Maybe you’ll find a book that speaks into this topic or tells the story of someone who lived out this word well. You might even have a family meeting and decide on a word of the year for your whole family.

If you’re not sure where to begin, here are a few ideas to get you started, along with some books that go along with each theme. Some of the books are for you, some are for your kids, and some are read-alouds for the whole family. I trust that they will be good company as you pursue your word of the year.


 

story-travelers-bible-tracey-madder

 

breaking-cover-michele-rigby-assad

 

treasure-island

 

jungle-book-rodyard-kipling


 

the-giraffe-that-was-afraid-of-heights-amy-carlson

 

under-the-cover-of-light-carole-engle-avriett

 

the-red-badge-of-courage-stephen-crane


 

wow-dandi-daley-mackall

 

so-close-to-amazing-karianne-wood

 

loving-luther-allison-pittman


 

give-thanks-board-book-kathryn-obrien

 

long-days-of-small-things-catherine-mcniel

 

little-women-louisa-may-alcott

 

great-expectations-charles-dickens


 

one-year-book-of-bible-trivia-for-kids-kathy-cassel

 

oy-book-of-did-you-know-devotions-for-kids

 

chronological-life-application-study-bible


 

i-can-be-kind-amy-carlson

 

daily-acts-of-kindness-devotional

 

love-kindness-barry-corey


Once you decide on your word for the year, we’d love to hear from you. What word did you choose? How do you hope to see it play out in your life and in your family in the year ahead?

Happy 2018!


Stephanie Rische is a senior editor and team leader at Tyndale House Publishers, as well as a freelance writer for publications such as Today’s Christian Woman, Christian Marriage Today, and Significant Living magazine. You can follow Stephanie’s blog at www.StephanieRische.com.

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.

The Secret to a Stress-Free Christmas

Tyndale Kids


Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.


girl-praying-at-sunset

She became a space.

Mary—she opens her hands and she nods.

And the promises come true in the space of her surrender—the pod of the Most High God lodging within her willing yes.

Beneath her heart—in one yielded space—beats the thrumming love of God.

There is no need to produce or perform or perfect—simply become a place for God. That is all.

Now, here, in this juncture of time and space, God chooses the inconceivable—grace.

And conceives Himself to deliver grace into the world.

Conceive: it’s not passive, but an active verb. Its root in Latin means nothing less than “to seize, to take hold of.” When grace conceives in you, you take hold of God.

woman-praying-in-field

When you are a space to receive whatever the will of God is in this moment as grace, you take hold of God. You most take hold of God when you simply receive Him in this moment taking hold of you.

Taking hold of your unsure hand.

Taking hold of your unseen needs.

Taking hold of your unknown stress.

He wants to take hold of you, to be with you. He wants to carry you, to be carried by you, to have relationship with you.

The being with is always the gift, not merely the doing for. Because God knows: relationship is the only reality; there is nothing else. The way He lives in Trinity, the way we are tethered to Him, to His Body. The way He is with us and in us; the way we make space for Christ to grow us, unfold Love in us; the way the life of Christ stirs amazing grace within.

The way anywhere you make space for someone, you become a womb for God.

woman-comforting-child

He comes to you as the exhausted man over a plate of cold food, the brushed-off kid in the hall, the loud woman peppering your patience with a thousand questions. When you slow and let your eyes fully receive theirs or your words nourish small things—anytime you’re a safe place for another soul or you open and conceive grace—you become a womb for God. Nothing is impossible with Him.

Christmas is conceived in your world when you simply receive it—however Christ and His will comes to you. When we think we’re the ones who will have to produce Christmas, we only half-wrap the notion that we think the saving of the world begins with us. There is a name for this, and it is called idolatry.

No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven,” says the one who is preparing the way (John 3:27, emphasis added).

Hear it like an echo of the heavenlies: Christmas can’t be made, like people can’t be self-made, like dreams can’t be force-made. Everything is given from heaven. Everything is gift. Your life becomes a masterpiece the moment you see it as a gift of grace to willingly receive.

woman-with-arm-outstretched

It is more blessed to give than to receive—and it may be more of a struggle to receive than to give. Christmas humbles: we are not the givers we long to be. Nor are we the receivers God woos us to be.

Mary kneels before us this first Christmas not as a woman producing, performing, or perfecting but simply bending before a God who has all the power to dispatch angels, enfold Himself in embryonic cells, choreograph the paths of stars—a God who quietly beckons every man, every woman to simply come, bend, make a space, receive.

This is the chronology of grace, the chronology of Christmas: before we’re called to give, we’re called to receive.

This can be the hardest. We struggle to receive. Sometimes we are better givers than getters. Grace? For me?

woman-staring-at-mountains

I don’t have to bring anything? I don’t have make anything, produce anything, perform anything? What if someone sees . . . how empty I am? How I am not enough, how my gifts are not enough, how giving all I’ve got is never enough? How there are empty places in me, gaping places in me—all these hollow, starving places?

And Mary nods to you in the last days of Advent. Only one thing is necessary—be a space for Love to come. You simply have to receive Love. Let yourself be loved.

Will you let Me fill all your emptiness with Love? Receive my Love? Conceive My grace?

It’s for you.

“Nothing is more repugnant to capable, reasonable people than grace,” writes John Wesley.[i] And nothing is harder for capable people at Christmas to simply come and receive.

Don’t let this be the gift you refuse. The grace is for you.

Your greatest gift is not your gifts, but your surrendered yes to be a space for God.

woman-praying-in-snow

The miscarriage of Christmas begins when anxieties crowd out space within simply to carry Christ. Make room; be a womb. Be a womb to receive Christ everywhere, and it is He who delivers everyone.

So you let the last of the trimmings go.

Cease the pace to do, buy, produce more.

Find the calendar and erase.

Somewhere make space.

And you can feel the space become a sanctuary. Sanctity stilling the crush. Glory overshadowing everything else.

And time holds its breath, and the whirl of this old whirligig world holds for half a blink . . . and God comes in the fullness of His love into the willing space.

And time exhales relief, and the angels dance joy, and the velvet hush of grace received falls over this place like a coverlet over a waiting child.



Take ten today. Ten minutes. Make five minutes of space and stillness and silence just with God. Then make five minutes of space in your day for someone else, and let that person fill all your attention. Invite God and His love to indwell you today.



[i] David L. Larsen, The Evangelism Mandate: Recovering the Centrality of Gospel Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1992), 155.


from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp.

2014 “Christian Retailing’s Best” award winner!
In what is sure to become an instant holiday classic, Voskamp reaches back into the pages of the Old Testament to explore the lineage of Jesus via the advent tradition of “The Jesse Tree.”

Beginning with Jesse, the father of David, The Greatest Gift retraces the epic pageantry of mankind, from Adam to the Messiah, with each day’s reading pointing to the coming promise of Christ.

Sure to become a holiday staple in every Christian home, The Greatest Gift is the perfect gift for the holidays and a timeless reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.


Learn more about exciting new ways to celebrate this Advent season with your family! >>