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21 Things I REALLY Want for Christmas as a Mom

December 12th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Family

By Laura Hanby Hudgens (source: charmingfarming.com)

For weeks now, my kids have been asking me what I want for Christmas. And I have said the thing that I am supposed to say, that I always say — I don’t need anything. I just want  all of my children to be happy and healthy.  It’s true. I don’t need anything. And I do want my children to be happy and healthy.

But they are good children, so no matter how often I say that I really don’t need anything, they will pool their money and buy me a new bathrobe or nightgown or a maybe well-intentioned kitchen gadget. And I’ll be grateful because I know they are buying me presents because they love me and want to show me that they care.

But here’s the thing. I’m lying. I don’t just want healthy, happy kids. Sure, that’s the most important thing, but there are a few other things that I desperately want. So maybe this year I will give my family my real Christmas list…

  1. I want everyone to lick or wipe the peanut butter off the spoon before dropping it in the sink. Better yet, lick it off and drop it in the dishwasher.
  2. I want never to hear the word SHOTGUN! again.
  3. I want never to open the cabinet and find a box with approximately two tablespoons of cereal left in it.
  4. I want a vehicle free of dead french fries and straw wrappers.
  5. I want all the socks in the whole world (or at least in my house) to find and keep their forever mates.
  6. I want kitchen countertops free from crumbs.
  7. I want someone else to feed the dog. C’mon, that was the deal.
  8. I want to stop pretending that the little flecks of green in the pasta are seasonings. It’s spinach, y’all. OK? It has always been spinach.
  9. I want to sit down with my coffee or my computer or my book for more than five minutes at a time before someone says, “Hey Mama! Will you…”
  10. I want to always be able to find a pen. And my scissors. And the duct tape. Seriously. Who keeps running off with the duct tape?
  11. I want to stop repeating myself.
  12. I want to stop repeating myself.
  13. I want a TV show that comes on during primetime that I can watch with my whole family and that does not involve wildlife or wild lives or people wearing camo or having sex — and that will not be interrupted by commercials for tampons, erectile disfunction or Victoria’s Secret.
  14. I want to learn how to use the television remote control, and I want the kids to forget how to use the television remote control.
  15. I want, just now and then, to arrive at church with a relaxed, well-dressed family at least 15 minutes early.
  16. I want to pray more as a family.
  17. I want to play more as a family.
  18. I want to sit down to dinner more often.
  19. I want to cook from scratch, and I want someone else to clean the kitchen.
  20. I want more nights at home with my family and fewer nights all going in different directions.
  21. I want to slow down time.

Obviously, some of the things on my list are within my family’s power to give me and some are not. But in the end, I know I will get a bathrobe or a nightgown or a kitchen gadget. And that’s OK. Because even though whatever I get might not come with a lifetime supply of spotless kitchens or perfectly matched socks, it will come with love. And besides, I really could use a new bathrobe.

Pajama Drive THANK YOU

December 12th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in News and Updates

7 Simple Ways To Raise Non-Materialistic Children

December 12th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Family

source: christianpf.com

Ironically, many children raised in wealth demonstrate the same tendencies as those who are raised in extreme poverty: depression, despair, attempted suicide, drug and alcohol use, and shoplifting.

Why this behavior?

The parents, who are often too busy making money sacrifice meaningful time with their children.

Admittedly, raising children in a world obsessed with stuff is a tough, tough job.

As savvy advertisers target these kids from early youth, and as their peers are quick to sport whatever the latest and greatest may be, the parents must be vigilant in teaching their children that such possessions do not make one happy, and, in fact, are detrimental to true happiness.

So . . . in this materialistic society, how does one go about raising non-materialistic children?

These tips will help:

1 – Practice What You Preach

If you buy cars to impress others, shop regularly just to be shopping, and “have to have” whatever the latest electronic gadget might be, don’t bother reading the rest of this article. Why? Because what you do screams to your children louder than anything you can ever say.

Albert Schweitzer said it well, “There are only three ways to teach a child. The first is by example; the second is by example; the third is by example.” Your first step, therefore, is to purge materialism from the person you see in the mirror.

2 – Spend Time With Your Children

Do you find yourself giving gifts to your children to make up for lack of personal attention? If so, you are instead sending the message that you think stuff is more important than a close relationship. Let the “Cats In The Cradle” lyrics resonate deeply. This Harry Chapin classic is a haunting reminder that once those child rearing years are gone, you will never get them back.

Cherish every moment you can spend with your children.

3 – Rein In Your Christmases

Somehow, someway, many parents missed the memo: “Christmas is not a license to overly indulge your children.” No matter how you justify it, overspending on your children just because it is Christmas is still overspending on your children (be sure to get on a Christmas budget). Try celebrating the true spirit of Christmas with your children instead of piling up stuff for them.

Our children, who are now grown, still have fond memories of the hours we spent together baking cookies and making homemade Christmas cards to give the inmates at a local prison. Create your own family traditions that involve time together and giving to others. Your children will cherish those memories.

4 – Help Them Prioritize Their Own Money

As your children become old enough to have their own money, help them prioritize that money. A very simple plan is to give some, save some, and spend some.

If you emphasize giving, you will be helping your child develop a heart for others. Because giving is the opposite of materialism, you need to constantly demonstrate a giving spirit.

5 – Support A Child In A Poverty Nation

Need something for that “giving” money to go for? How about supporting a child in a third-world country. Children have a natural empathy for other children, so if your kids can support a child with real needs, they will not only learn to love that child, but will also appreciate whatever material possessions they already own.

6 – Take Them On Foreign Mission Trips

I have been fortunate enough to accompany all four of my children on short term mission trips to Mexico. Three went while in high school; the fourth as an adult.

Nothing, absolutely nothing will impact kids more than seeing poverty up close and personal. Amazingly, the lesson my kids came back with over and over again was how happy those people (who had nothing) were. Talk about an antidote to materialism . . . these short-term mission trips have been firsthand proof that stuff doesn’t equal happiness.

Check out this article if you need to raise money for your mission trip.

7 – Take A Field Trip To A Dump

I borrow this idea from Randy Alcorn’s book, Managing God’s Money. Show your children all these piles of “treasures” that were once Christmas and birthday presents. Discuss how everything we own today will likewise end up in a junkyard like this one. Read 2 Peter 3:10-14 together (a passage that tells of how everything in this world will some day burn), then use this teachable moment to discuss true riches which transcend life here on planet earth.

Ask them this question: “When everything we have ever owned is someday burned, what, in your lives, do you think will last forever?”

In what ways are you helping your children avoid materialism? What could you be doing better? Leave a comment!

(recommended by Dave & Reb of “Let’s Talk Money” radio show)

What Grieving People Wish You Knew at Christmas

December 12th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Encouragement

Source: desiringgod.org
Article by Nancy Guthrie

“Happy Thanksgiving!” “Merry Christmas!” “Happy New Year!” As the end of the year approaches, everywhere we turn someone is telling us we should be happy.

But for those who’ve recently lost someone they love, the holidays can seem more like something to survive than to enjoy. The traditions and events that can add so much joy and meaning to the season are punctuated with painful reminders of the person we love who is not here to share in it. Many have wished they could find a quiet place to hide until January 2.

While those of us who surround grieving people can’t fix the pain of loss, we can bring comfort as we come alongside those who hurt with special sensitivity to what grief is like during the holidays. Grieving people wish we all knew at least five truths, among others, at Christmas.

  1. Even the best times are punctuated with an awareness that someone is missing.

I remember a conversation I had with a friend as we prepared to head out on a holiday trip shortly after our daughter, Hope, died. “That should be fun!” she said. I sensed I was supposed to agree wholeheartedly with her.

What I didn’t know how to explain is that when you’ve lost a member of your family, even the best of times are painfully incomplete. Someone is missing. Even the best days and happiest events are tinged with sadness. Wherever you go, the sadness goes with you.

  1. Social situations are hard.

I have never been able to figure out why crowds are difficult when you’re grieving, but they are. Small talk can be unbearable when something so significant has happened. Meeting new people will likely bring questions about family. To walk alone into a room full of couples when your spouse has died, or into an event filled with children when your child has died, can be a soul-crushing reminder of what you have lost.

If you’ve invited someone in the midst of grief to your holiday event, let them know that you understand if it seems too hard at the last minute and they have to cancel, or that they may only be able to stay for a short time.

If you’re going to an event, give a grieving person a call and ask if you can pick her up and stick with her throughout the event for support. When you come upon a grieving person at a holiday social event, let him know that you are still thinking about the person he loves who has died, and invite him to talk about his memories with that person. Don’t be afraid to say the name of the person who has died. It will be a balm to the grieving person’s soul.

  1. Extended family can be awkward and uneasy.

Grief is often awkward — even, and perhaps especially, with those to whom we’re closest.

My husband and I host weekend retreats for couples that have lost children, and the difficulty of being with family at the holidays is often a topic of conversation among these couples. They know that some family members think they’ve grieved long enough and want them to move on. Others want to initiate a conversation about the person who died but aren’t sure how. What often happens is that the name of the person who died is never mentioned, and it feels to the person who is grieving that they have been erased from the family.

Do you know a grieving person heading to a family gathering for the holidays? You might ask about their expectations when they’re with family. And if they have a strong desire for their loved one to be remembered in a certain way, combined with a fear that it may not happen, you might encourage and help them to write a letter to their family in advance stating clearly what would bring comfort, rather than expect that their family will instinctively know.

  1. Tears are not a problem.

For most of us, grief tends to work itself out in tears — tears that come out at times we don’t expect. Sometimes grieving people sense that people around them see their tears as a problem to be solved — that tears must mean they aren’t doing very well with their grief. But it makes sense that the great sorrow of losing someone we love would come out in tears. Tears are not the enemy. Tears do not reflect a lack of faith. Tears are a gift from God that help to wash away the deep pain of loss.

It is a great gift to let grieving people know that they don’t have to be embarrassed by their tears around you — that they are welcome to cry with you. An even greater gift is to shed tears of your own over the loss of the person they love. Your tears reflect the worth of the person who died and assure them that they are not alone in missing that person.

  1. It can be hard to remember why Christmas should be so merry.

In “O Holy Night,” we sing, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” Grieving people around you feel the weariness of life and death in this world and wonder how anyone around them can rejoice. They are in desperate need of the reality of Christ to break through their loneliness and despair. While we don’t want to preach at them, we do look for the opportunity to share with them the comfort and joy to be found in the coming of God himself in Christ to rescue us.

The life of Jesus that began in a wooden cradle will culminate in death on a wooden cross. But it will not be a senseless, meaningless death. It will be a death-conquering death, followed by new resurrection life. The writer of Hebrews explains, “The Son became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death” (Hebrews 2:14 NLT). The power death has now, to bring so much sorrow, will not be the way it is forever. What Christ set in motion when he defeated death at his first coming will come to its full fruition when he comes again.

This is our great hope at Christmas, and the hope we have to share with those who are grieving at Christmas — that “yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” The Christ who came as a baby and died as our substitute will one day return to consummate his kingdom. And when he does, “he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” (Revelation 21:4).


Nancy Guthrie teaches Bible studies at her home church, Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Franklin, Tennessee, as well as at conferences. She and her husband host Respite Retreats for couples who have faced the death of child. She is also the host of the “Help Me Teach the Bible”podcast at The Gospel Coalition.

This Man Hangs Christmas Lights for Families Who’ve Lost Loved Ones

December 12th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Encouragement

Source: www.rd.com

After Stewart and Debbie Wilder lost their 17-year-old son, Cameron, to suicide in 2013, the last thing on their minds was decorating for the holiday season. ‘We haven’t put anything up in three years. It has all stayed boxed up,’ Debbie told KTVB in November 2016. ‘All of Cameron’s friends come home for Thanksgiving to visit their families, and we don’t have him.’

But in December 2016, the house was lit up like, well, Christmas, with strings of white bulbs cheerfully lining the roof and eaves. It wasn’t the Wilders who’d finally made the house twinkle, however. Instead it was a stranger, 30-year-old Carson Zickgraf, who hangs lights professionally through his business, CZ Enterprises LLC. The Treasure Valley, Idaho, man is on a mission to brighten the lives of families affected by suicide, especially during the difficult holiday season—and it works. ‘I started crying,’ Debbie says about seeing the lights for the first time. ‘It was really special.’ 

Zickgraf has been donatin his light-stringing services since 2015 and has decorated the houses of more than two dozen families so far. They are mostly strangers whom Zickgraf learns about from Not One More Suicide, a support group. When Zickgraf arrives at a home to hang lights, he’ll knock on the door to tell the family his plan, but if everyone is away, he’ll put up the lights as a surprise. At one of the surprise houses, he began to work without realizing the owner was home. When she discovered what Zickgraf and his crew were up to, she ran outside—and gave them all hugs.

Zickgraf started the project by chance. He was hanging lights on a client’s home when the owner mentioned that some neighbors were having a hard time that holiday season because their son had recently died by suicide. On the spot, Zickgraf had an epiphany. ‘I sent my crew there to decorate that house too,’ he says. The family was delighted.

Zickgraf realized that he’d found a kind of calling. In fact, he had two friends who had died by suicide, and he’d always wished he could ease the pain for their loved ones. Now, he’d found a way. ‘You can mow their lawn or take them for a meal, but you always wish you could do more,’ says Zickgraf. ‘There’s something special about Christmas lights. They warm the spirit.’

After he gets the names of families from Not One More Suicide, Zickgraf often hangs the lights himself with help from a friend, Sean Miner. When he sends his paid crew members to do the job, he doesn’t tell them the backstory out of respect for the family’s privacy, though the workers sometimes figure it out. ‘A few times when my employees have found out we were doing lights for suicide survivors, they stopped the clock and wouldn’t take pay.’

The lights go up around mid-November and are taken down after the New Year. Each job takes about an hour, though Zickgraf often prepares before arriving at a home. If he speaks to the family before starting, he asks what color lights the deceased would have liked. But when the job is a surprise, he takes the matter into his own experienced hands. He reads online memorials and obituaries to get a sense of the person, then picks the color he thinks would have pleased him or her. Zickgraf knows his efforts can’t completely lift the veil of grief from these families, but he can make the holidays a little cheerier. ‘I wish I had a bigger company so I could do more houses,’ he says.

Reverse Advent Calendar

December 12th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Family

Many families use fun Advent Calendars to help countdown the days until Christmas. Each day you receive a chocolate or a small gift… A Reverse Advent Calendar helps you to GIVE rather than receive.

Join us each day from December 1st through 24th as we add an item to a basket or hamper to give to a local shelter. Read more for a list of suggested items.

Follow along to see what we’re including in our hamper for Restoring Hope Ministries….

Facebook.com/CHRIradio for daily posts and Advent reading.

Click here to download a printable list of items.

Suggested items:
December 1 – Granola Bars
December 2 – Hot Chocolate
December 3 – Water Bottles
December 4 – Men’s Boxers
December 5 – Women’s Underwear (sizes M & L)
December 6 – Deodorant
December 7 – Q-Tips
December 8 – Herbal Tea
December 9 – Toothpaste
December 10 – Toothbrush
December 11 – Face Cloth
December 12 – Towel
December 13 – Lip Balm
December 14 – Gloves
December 15 – Socks (for men)
December 16 – Socks (for women)
December 17 – Cough Drops
December 18 – Vapor Rub
December 19 – Cookies
December 20 – Fruit Cups
December 21 – Jell-O Cups
December 22 – Women’s T-Shirt
December 23 – Men’s T-Shirt
December 24 – Band-Aids & Gauze

Creative Christmas Cookies

December 12th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Videos