The Christmas Gift My Boys Never Forget

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“I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.” Psalm 40: 12

Driving through the maze of crowds, and bumper to bumper traffic during the Christmas holidays was a true test of my mama patience. I had an agenda and evidently the world did not know what it was because everything was slow on this particular day.

My boy’s chatter, loud noises and vying for attention was particularly irritating when I was stuck in a traffic jam with time ticking away. 

 “Mama, he hit me.”

“No I didn’t, I just tapped him.”

“You did not, you hit me!”

Finally, we got off the freeway, made it to the main intersection of the mall I was seeking, when Joel piped up, “Mama, look at the poor man with one leg and one crutch. He has a sign that says ‘I’m hungry!’. Don’t you think since it is Christmas, we should stop and get him something to eat?”

It just happened I was reading the boys Psalm 40: 12 (“I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy”),  just the day before. We had talked about the need to have compassion on those less fortunate, the poor, those who were sick, the downcast.

Nathan shouted out, “He is one of the poor and needy ones, mama, don’t you think?!”

The Lord gently put his finger on my heart and said, “Let go of your expectations, now! This is a moment to impress compassion on your boys’ hearts because this is a moment they are open to the Spirit and what they have been memorizing with you.”

Taking a deep breath, I slowed down the car and said, “Boys, I know a fast food burger place near here. Why don’t you roll down the window and ask the man what he likes best—a chicken sandwich or a hamburger.”

The two boys almost crawled out the window yelling at the top of their lungs, “Hey, mister, do you like hamburgers or chicken sandwiches best?”

Hamburger and coffee it was. So we drove to McDonalds and I supersized a cheeseburger, French fries and coffee order.

When we drove up, the little boy faces filled with pride, “Merry Christmas, mister, we thought you might want this for lunch.” They took out each item from the bag and handed it to the crippled, gaunt man.

When they were finished, the weather worn man practically leaned into the car and shook the boy’s hands fiercely.

“My name is John. What are your names?” the man asked in a gruff voice.

‘”I’m Nathan.”

“I’m Joel.”

A smile from someplace deep in the man’s memory slowly crossed the lines of his face.

“God bless you, boys. I have been here all day and no one has stopped. But because of you, today I will not be hungry! I will thank God for you tonight when I find a place to sleep.”

Suddenly as we drove away, silence fell upon my boys, as they pondered what had just happened. Deep little boy ponderings crossed their eyebrows.

Each night for over two weeks, the boys fervently prayed for “John with the one leg,” to know Jesus and to find a home before we went to bed at night.

As Christmas came to a close and we were putting up the tree and cleaning up the house, Joel looked over at me and said, “Mama, you know what the best present to me was this year? It was when John with the one leg smiled at us and thanked us for his meal. It made me feel big and good inside. I think that was the present that will stay with me all year.”

“Me, too, Mama!”

And then I knew that taking one moment to show my boys a little of heaven was the best gift I could give, and it also gave back to my mama heart, as I realized that my little boys had a deep longing to do something great in their worlds, but that it is the wisdom of a mama that draws it out.

Blessings to you,

Sally

Sally Clarkson

For over two decades Sally has championed Christian motherhood in North America and in many foreign countries. She trains and disciples mothers in ministry, and leads a local Bible study that draws up to eighty women into her home each month. She loves discipleship.

5 Things I Want My Kids to Experience This Christmas {and a giveaway}

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Much like you, I have deep desires for my two girls. I yearn for them to experience WHO I know vs WHAT I know. I have noticed my children learn so much quicker through laughter (experiences) over lectures.

As we rush around town and pick up gifts and head to the next party, here are 5 things I want my girls to experience this upcoming holiday season.  Try some with me!

1. He is real.

As the decorations go up and traditions unfold, I pray there is just the right moment or occasion for me to remind my girls that Jesus’ birth was real. It happened in history and it changed everything. I’ll be looking for many chances to point them back to the reason for our season.

2. You are loved.

I am often laser-focused on OTHERS during this time of the year and ask my girls to do the same. I hope that I will have the courage to say “no” to some of the busyness so they feel loved and heard. I am not buying loads of toys out of obligation, but I a few things that will touch their hearts.

3. You aren't too little to change the world. 

Each year, I invite my girls to a random act of kindness program called “Light ‘Em Up” to simply remind them that they aren’t too young to change the world. One simple act of kindness can ripple out into a community. We have seen it happen. We are already making our plans this year.

4. Words are powerful gifts. 

As we think through our list this year, we are going to start with “what do they need to hear” and then pick the gift. If Grammy needs to hear “we appreciate your help and support” – let’s create that card and then a gift to match that sentiment. If Daddy needs to hear, “thanks for working so hard” – let’s tell him and give him a gift that shows we appreciate that.

5. We can do something.

Last year, we served coffee and donuts to some of our homeless neighbors downtown. It wasn’t much time, money or effort at all. It was amazing. Our girls experienced that serving others is powerful. And gave us proper perspective for all that we have. I will be praying for God to prompt our family to the needs of our city. We can’t solve homelessness in Orlando – but we can do something.

As you make your holiday schedule, be sure to include some fun ways for your kids to experience the goodness of Christ. And be sure to ask their ideas!

Blessings,

Courtney DeFeo

Courtney DeFeo is a popular blogger and creator of ABC Scripture Cards featured on “The View.” She is a graduate of Auburn University and has worked in marketing for Chick-fil-A. Courtney and her husband, Ron, are the parents of two children. To connect with Courtney, visit CourtneyDeFeo.com

Today we are thrilled to give away 3 copies of Courtney's new book:

This book is so delightful! Every mom should have a copy!

Enter to win in the rafflecopter below!! 

Why I'm Giving Gifts to My Children This Christmas

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His eyes are the eyes of a thousand sleepless nights and I’ve never seen such shadows on a four-year-old boy. “Who is that?” I whisper to Trent while the children’s choir sings and the church is decked out in holly and ivy and Jesus in a manger.

“That’s one of the *Fritz boys,” he tells me, and I turn back to the boy with the tired eyes and I’m crying. He and his brothers and sisters lost their mama recently, and mothers make Christmas, and I want to run up front and pick them up and rock them happy. Forever.

So instead I turn to my boys and kiss their fat cheeks harder than I’ve ever kissed them and hold them until they squirm.

And I will wrap presents when I get home. For the boy with the tired eyes. Eyes that never close for searching for her, eyes that will never stop looking for his mother this side of heaven.

And then I will wrap gifts for my boys, too.

For I don’t know how long I have with them. And while I’m with them, I want to give them everything I can.

We give to others year-round. We do the World Vision thing every December, and the Operation Christmas Child boxes, and now my own non-profit, The Lulu Tree—sponsoring mamas in Uganda—but why would I give to someone overseas if I’m not going to give to those in my own home?

Why would I deprive my children the joy of opening a gift on Christmas morning?

I have friends who believe in giving up gifts for Christmas, and I truly believe these women have noble intentions.

Yet I fear we’re turning infants into martyrs. I fear we’re over-spiritualizing Christmas and missing the simple joy of tearing into paper and seeing the knowledge of being loved spread across a child’s face.

Yes, it is Jesus’ birthday. But Jesus is alive and well and living in our children, so by giving gifts to them, we are in fact, gifting Him, and he is the one who says, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)

We need not give many. We need only give a few, but in giving those few, we are delighting our children and teaching them the joy of receiving. So they, in turn, can be cheerful givers.

And so, I wrap. With trembling fingers. For the boy with the tired eyes, and for the boys God has given me.

For, come Christmas, we are all children in need of the greatest gift. Grace.

 

(*name changed for privacy reasons)

Emily T. Wierenga

Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, and the author of five books including the memoir Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). All proceeds from Atlas Girl benefit Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree (www.thelulutree.com). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. Visit her at www.emilywierenga.com, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.

10 Beauty Stocking Stuffers for Under $10

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These products are tried, tested and beauty blogger approved, and will most definitely make the perfect little gift for the ones you love!

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I think perhaps I tend to think of joy as "happiness" but it's not. There are many times when I'm honestly not exactly sure what joy looks/feels like.

Lately, however, as I combat an underlying spirit of anger and anxiety, I'm asking God more and more to show me what true joy is, because I'm obviously confused.

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