Do you find yourself in this position every year wondering what to get your volunteers for Christmas that is simple and meaningful while still affordable?
Here are my top picks:
#1 Christmas Music.
Give this gift early in the month so they can enjoy it all season long. Here’s a great option for under $5. If you order online through Amazon you can email it directly to them to download. Anthem Lights “Simple Little Christmas”
#2 Wrap It Up Package
I have given this gift before and it was a big hit! One roll of wrapping paper with one disposable tape/dispenser and you are set with a gift they are sure to use this year!
#3 Wipe Off Board
This gift can be customized for each volunteer if you’d like or keep it simple and make them all the same. All you need is a picture frame, decorative paper and a dry erase marker. Insert the decorative paper in the frame and give with a dry erase marker. (Before handing out leave a message or a verse.) In the card you can let them know this can be used for anything from menu’s, to do lists, grocery lists or a verse of the day/week.
Christmas is all about the presents and the parties, right? Kids sit on Santa’s lap and share their biggest wants. They play fun games at holiday parties, look at Christmas light displays and more. But how much Christ do they get at Christmas? I know Jesus was not actually born on Christmas day, probably not even in winter, but this is the one time of year that most of the world focuses on Jesus so I believe it is a great time to remind our kids of the greatest gift our Heavenly Father ever gave us, His Son!
Refocusing My Child’s Heart at Christmas is a guided play dough lesson for kids. There is a downloadable play dough mat, play dough recipes, suggestions for reinforcing the spirit of Christmas this season as well as information on the science behind the way I teach. Kids learn best through play! I explain a little about this for your knowledge. The guided lesson is just that. I share the story of the birth of Christ while guiding kids through play dough creations to help put this message to memory. It’s fun AND they learn!
My goal is to spread the message of Christ all across America. I want every child to know God, love God and share God. Help me get the story of Christ’s birth into the hearts and minds of children by sharing this with parents, grandparents, children’s ministry leaders, bible class teachers and more. It’s free! Really! There’s not sales pitch hidden in the content. It’s just a message that everyone should hear, especially at Christmas. It’s not some professionally edited video. Nope. It’s just a low key teaching of the greatest gift ever given.
Children are being robbed of their childhood; they are growing up too fast. Unfortunately, they are growing up without God. Believe it or not, many have never even heard the gospel in America. Really? In America? I’ve been reading Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World by James Emery White. Over the next few weeks I will continue to share what I learn. It is truly eye opening and scary; but helps in paving a path for the next generation to know their God.
God’s people, the Israelites, received blessing after blessing from God yet they repeatedly turned towards false gods. Have you taken a good look at our culture today? How about just the church? Do we look like God’s people? Are parents sharing God with their children daily and making God a priority in their families? If not, how can we expect things to change?
Let me share some of the things I have recently learned about Generation Z, our children today:
12 and 13 year old girls are some of the highest paid models in America and are presented as sexually enticing adults. Our girls see this and want to be like this.
Even the children on television act like adults now in the way they speak, dress, attitudes, desires… And this is who are kids are emulating. Tracy Vaillancourt who specializes in children’s mental health at the University of Ottoway said, “Kids mirror the larger culture, from reality TV to materialism.” Kids want to be who they see. Take a good look at who and what your kids see today. Is this someone God would be pleased with?
Per proven research, teens who watch movies or listen to music glamorizing drinking, drug use or violence tend to engage in those behaviors themselves. And sexual behaviors? The more teens are exposed to sexual content in movies, the earlier they start having sex and the likelier they are to have casual, unprotected sex. We don’t want to believe it, but it has been proven.
Then there is pornography. Wow! These statistics are incredibly disturbing.
Nearly three-quarters of 15-18 year old’s have sexted
50% have sent naked or semi-naked photos/videos of themselves
84% have received sexually explicit messages by phone or email
70% of teens surveyed were sexually active with nearly three-quarters not regretting it
“It’s a social, online world our kids live in and sending these images and messages is part of the sexual relationship so it’s really a new form of courtship.”-Anne Mitchell. We cannot protect our kids from everything, but we can give them a strong foundation in Christ so they are prepared to make the tough decision to go against the grain when these situations present themselves. We have a responsibility to teach our children, to train them up in the way of the Lord.
This brings me to another alarming statistic in the growing number of parents to Generation Z who classify themselves as nones: the spiritual, but not religious. Perhaps this is why many children today have never heard the gospel. “The degree of spiritual illiteracy is simply stunning.”
I do not have all the answers, but I believe God can turn things around. He proved this throughout scripture. He worked through His people. Do you want to be one of those people? I know I do! I will begin opening the doors to my online learning opportunities for children next week, fun hands-on bible for kids. Grandparents can even get links to send to their grandchildren. It starts with a tiny seed. This is not the final answer, but it is as start. I pray that we can get Christ into all homes with children and open their eyes to see a loving God who wants amazing things for them.
I wish I had pictures of the kids making these to go along with the Pumpkin Prayer! They had more fun than I expected.
This month has been all about taking Halloween and turning our focus towards God. Yesterday the kids sat in a circle while they listened to the Pumpkin Prayer and watched as the Jack-O-Lantern was carved. I cheated. Before getting with the kids, I had already cut the top off and cleaned out the inside leaving just enough to pull out for that part of the prayer. If I had thought about it, I would have roasted the seeds and let the kids eat them while listening and watching. I cut the eyes as we talked about “opening our eyes” to see God’s love and cut the mouth as we talked about “sharing” God’s word. You get the idea. And at the end, I placed a flashing LED light inside for the kids to see our lights shining for God in all we say and do!
Then it was their turn. No, I was not too comfortable with the idea of handing a bunch of elementary kids sharp objects… so I passed out miniature pumpkins and these awesome acrylic paint markers so the kids could draw their Jack-O-Lanterns to take home with the Pumpkin Prayer. (And down the road they can use the markers to make prayer rocks or story stones.) Then I emailed the Pumpkin Prayerto the parents suggesting that as a family they carve pumpkins as they go through the prayer. We will see how many give it a shot!
Do you have parents reaching out to you for ideas? Are they looking for ways to raise their children with God included regularly? I remember as a young parent, I sure was! I wanted my kids to grow into fine young Christians, but was not quite sure how.
I was recently given a book called, “Around the Word in 60 Seconds,” a tween devotional book. My kids have grown, but man I could have used this! There are 52 weeks of stories about things tween’s deal with in life. Each week you will find a scripture followed by a short story that a tween can relate to. There’s even an action item and prayer. Then, each day of the week there is another verse and a question to think over helping kids think about how God’s word applies to them instead of them feeling like they are not ready for God.
I am providing a link if you are interested, but honestly, there are many options out there. Parents just need to dedicate 10 minutes a day with their kids to talk about God in their lives. Just 10 intentional minutes a day will go a long way. And let’s be honest, in this culture, we need to arm our children with the Armor of God more than ever before.
Why is it that God’s timing seems to be so different from ours? We have such grandiose ideas and if God would just bless them now, then I could do great things for Him. As I pondered this thought, I turned to the scriptures for answers. I must admit I was not thrilled at the answer, but I was comforted.
God loved Abram. He was a good man, but he and his wife could not have children. And we all know that in that culture, this was highly frowned upon. No children, yet God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, the father of many, and promised him he would have so many descendants they could not be counted. They would be as many as the stars, yet God had not even given them a single child to date. Instead of trusting God to keep his promise, they took matters into their own hands. How often do we try to do this too? And problems came from that calamity of errors; however, God worked through it and eventually blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son, Isaac. This led to a long line of descendants making him the father of many. If we stick with God’s plan, things will be simpler, but God is bigger than our faults and can bring about good in spite of ourselves. Just remember, the path may be bumpier.
Later in scripture we read about the Israelites. They disobeyed God so He allowed them to become slaves in Egypt for 400 years. Wow! That’s a long time. But God promised them he would rescue them and eventually, He did. He sent Moses to present the 10 plagues until Pharaoh let God’s people go. They crossed the Red Sea and were free. Of course, they complained. What God provided at that point was not good enough in their opinion. They were impatient. We know the story; God was not finished yet. They suffered some consequences but God gave them beautiful land, land flowing with milk and honey. We need to be patient and trust God’s plan for our lives.
Now let’s take a look at Joseph. He was living the good life! He parents were in love and Joseph was his father’s favorite son. Then one day his jealous brothers sold him into slavery. What an amazing attitude Joseph had though. He trusted God and God took excellent care of him. The Pharaoh trusted him with everything! Then because of someone else’s lie, Joseph ended up in prison. From there, Joseph still appears to have had a good attitude, trusting God. It took years, but God worked him back into a position above all but the Pharaoh. Joseph went through some very troubling times, unfair times. He did not say, “It’s just not fair,” and quit. No, he simply continued to trust God’s plan. We are God’s hands and feet on earth and need to allow God to work through us for His purpose.
I could go on and on with examples of God providing for His people… in His time. I have so many things I want to accomplish for His church; so many children I want to reach with His word. I will continue to pray for speedy results, but I find it comforting knowing that God has a plan and will bless His ministry the way He chooses in His time. I just need to be ready when He calls. I need to be prepared to be His hands and His feet. Remember, the hands and feet are not the brains. Let’s let God do His job and work through us.