Monthly Archives: November 2013

An Easy Way To Say Thanks

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Thanksgiving is tomorrow! Good luck if you still need to head to the grocery store. I went out to grab some last minute supplies for some recipes last night and it is definitely busy… but even with the crazy I was blessed to hear a lot of, “Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!” exchanges between strangers.

I personally got to enjoy an extended conversation with a cute elderly man who was searching for the perfect fresh green beans from the pile near me. He shared his grocery list with me and his wife’s perfect Green Bean Casserole Recipe which we were both charged to shop for. I cracked up at this older pair of girlfriends who also jumped into the fresh green bean pile with us. The one just started grabbing handfuls and shoving them into the plastic bag (making us look like fools for having been inspecting our green beans one by one for some time now). The other chimed in, “Mary, it’s just the two of us for Thanksgiving.” Mary responded with a, “What?! I like my green beans.” Made me smile and happy that at least the two of them would be together this year.

In an effort to make Thanksgiving about more than the food and Turkey crafts (it is unbelievable how many cute ways you can make a turkey), I was trying to find a good project for my kids and I to work on this week to help them grasp what a heart of true Thanksgiving is.

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This will be the first year we will be hosting a mix of both sides of our families and friends at our house. It is an exciting opportunity to be able to shape the message of Thanksgiving we want our guests to receive. The project I would like to come up with would double as a way to help my children understand a deeper level of thanksgiving and a way to bless our guests by showing them how thankful we are for them. 

The Bible has many verses about giving thanks. I loved this Free Thanksgiving Countdown Printable from Faithgateway.com, which had the 28 Days of Thanksgiving Verses and a question to help you break down the verses with your family. Here is just a few to get an example:

Thanksgiving Bible Verses Day 1:

1 Chronicles 29:13 “Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.” Prompt Question: What can you give God thanks for right now and how can you praise His name?

Thanksgiving Bible Verses Day 2: 

1 Thessalonians 1:2 “We always thank god for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers.” Prompt Question: Who can you pray for right now, mentioning them in your prayers?

Thanksgiving Bible Verses Day 3:

Psalm 147:7 “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.” Prompt Question: Think of a song we can sing with thankful hearts. Let’s sing it right now!

But with Thanksgiving only a few days away (when I started contemplating the idea of a Thanksgiving Project) I wanted something more tangible… and an easy way to express thanksgiving to all our guests who wouldn’t necessary all respond to Bible verses because they aren’t all believers.

After doing a lot of research, the overall message I was reading was that children (and adults too… I would suggest) need help understanding what it truly means to be thankful. A way to help them is by encouraging them to get specific. Instead of asking why are you thankful, for say… Grandma? And having them respond with a generic idea like, “I am thankful for Grandma because she is nice.” Ask the children to get very specific about what makes Grandma “nice.” What does Grandma do or say that makes her a nice person? Why else are we thankful that Grandma is in our life?

So we ran with that! We would come up with a list of specific reasons we are thankful for each of the guests that would be attending Thanksgiving at our home this year. I had to incorporate my children’s artistic abilities some how because their drawings and writings are too darn cute to pass up.

THE BLUEPRINT

This was the blueprint of the idea we came up with for a picture that we would make for each person on our guest list. We also wrote out a list of all our guests so we knew how many we would need to make.

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ASSIGNING THE TASKS

Now that we knew what we wanted to make, we needed to break it down so not one person was doing all the work… after all we all needed to participate in the process in order for the project to have its full affect.

Mommy– Would ask good questions to help the kids think about why we are thankful for the guests on our list and she would record the initial brainstorm of specific reasons. She would also buy the frames to put the finished projects in to give each guest.

Eliann– Would help re-write the list of specific reasons we are thankful for each guest on to the finished project we would give each guest.

David– Would help draw a picture of each person in a setting that reflects something we love about that person on the finished project we would give each guest.

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FINISHED PROJECTS

The finished projects are adorable and speak for themselves. We plan to hand each one out to the guests and maybe share a couple of the reasons we wrote down that we are thankful for them to the whole group. Perhaps I will let Pierce help us pass them out so that he can have some part in this fun project too. Here are some of the finished projects for you to enjoy:

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YOUR FAMILY CAN DO THIS TOO!

I share this with you because I think it is an easy enough project to pull off right now or even tomorrow morning as you anticipate giving thanks for family and friends. All you need is a little bit of time, some paper/markers and a frame. You wouldn’t even have to frame it if you didn’t have time to run out and grab frames (Target $2.99 RE Room Essentials Photo Frame 8×10). The thought put into the project is enough to bless anyone. If you are an adult making this for another adult you might consider using a picture of you and the person instead of hand drawing one… although that would be funny and cute too.

OTHER FREE RESOURCES FOR YOUR FAMILY THIS THANKSGIVING

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Is it too early for Christmas?

If you have shopped just about anywhere recently you’ve no doubt noticed that Christmas is already on the shelves ready for your consumption. In the past I have felt like they have at least let the Halloween crazy pass before overlooking Thanksgiving and heading to Christmas.

Not this year.

Target had some Christmas aisles up in October and I am pretty sure I could buy my kids Halloween costume at the same time as my fake Christmas tree at Costco as well. The Fall decor at Michaels has pretty much been on sale since Fall started and there is almost no sign of it left (unless its on clearance) because Christmas has all but invaded the store.

So… all this has left me thinking… is it too early for Christmas?

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From a marketing/consumer stand point the answer is simple… NO. The more Christmas is on your mind the more likely you are to shop now… and then later… whether you intended to spend that much this time of year or not.

We can get cynical about the consumer driven crazy of the holiday season… or we can get smart and use it to our advantage in order to allow us to have more time to fully worship Jesus this Christmas. 

Wait, what? How can I turn the shopping frenzy into anything for Jesus?

So here is where I would like to share some of my ideas and some notes I jotted down from Mom’s Inc. today about how to plan for Christmas so that it doesn’t make you crazy. With the help of the Organizing Pro. Marcia Ramsland we learned how to plan the time between Halloween and Christmas so that you can fit in your Thanksgiving planning, gift shopping and wrapping, Christmas parties, Christmas cards, decorations, and have some time and sanity left for remembering the real MEANING of the season.

The main thing you should take away from this post is to PLAN AHEAD!

Which means NOW. 

BUYING GIFTS

I want to speak to buying gifts verses making gifts or re-gifting, because when it comes to shopping and spending, that is where I think people really end up losing sight of the meaning of Christmas… and let’s be honest, we probably all end up buying some kind of gifts during this time of year.

First off… Is it bad to give gifts to others at Christmas time? I don’t think so. The wise men were the first Christmas gift givers as they each gave their generous gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus. Furthermore, Jesus is God’s gift of salvation to the world. So through gifts we can bless others and be reminded of Christ this holiday season.

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Being consumed, however, by gift giving and receiving is what detracts from our ability to experience Christ fully during this time of year. Check your heart. Have you been guilty of worshiping the idol of gifts in the past? Do you go into debt over gift giving that you remain in bondage to bills well into the new year? What, if anything, may need to change about how you shop this year? Here are some ideas you may want to consider:

  1. Make a list early of who you would like to get gifts for this Christmas.
  2. Put Jesus at the top of your list! Keep your heart open to ways God may use you this season and serve Him as your gift to the King.
  3. Can you limit the number of people on your list? It’s okay… you can do it. If you need to tell people ahead of time that you won’t be sending gifts this year, then do so… but don’t feel a slave to gift giving because God loves a cheerful giver.
  4. Remember shopping can be as stressful as you want it to be… you really are in control as the gift giver. Instead of shopping for something different for every single person worried you may not be getting them exactly what they want… it may be helpful to do something like buying in themes. All the ladies in the family get new robes and all the men get a favorite book. Or perhaps you organize family wishlists and remind them to update them (Amazon wishlists are great and allow you to add items from other websites to their lists). Whatever the trick, help yourself make shopping for others easier… let go of unnecessary expectations about giving gifts that are burdensome to you and your wallet.
  5. Consider the Three Gifts Rule… like the three gifts given to Jesus! Instead of bombarding your family (especially children) with more gifts than they could ever need, confusing the meaning of Christmas, consider just giving them three gifts. Remember they’ll typically get more gifts from other people too so it’s not like they are getting jipped.
    Every family that adopts the ‘Three Gift Rule’ has their own philosophy about what the gifts should be. Some families go by the idea of it being a gift they want, a gift they need and special gift you want to give them. I like the way Wendy Willard explained how her family breaks down the Three Gift Rule as being something of great value, something that brings us closer to God/closer together as a family and something personal. To read more about how she does this with her family and the biblical reasoning for these gifts you can read Wendy’s full post HERE.
  6. If you can’t afford it, DON’T BUY IT. It sounds crazy to say, but it’s true. People will understand if this is not a season you can bless them with gifts… and if they can’t that is their problem, not yours, so don’t carry that burden. Consider more creative ways to give gifts if you still feel inclined to do something. Give the gift of time and service (give a hand made coupon if you still want to make it tangible). Make your own gifts, re-gift or re-purpose things you already have.

WHEN TO BUY GIFTS

I would like to pitch out the idea that NOW (all year really if you want the best deals) is the time to be buying gifts. In which case, the fact that stores are already geared up for Christmas works to your advantage! There is a little lull for most of us between Halloween and Thanksgiving that could be used toward planning a shopping ahead.

Why you ask? Because waiting until after Thanksgiving, which is later this year, is a pitfall you can avoid. There are only three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. Think about when all of your Christmas events land… during those three weeks! Think of Cookie Swaps, Christmas Plays at the kids school, attending a Homeless Outreach, Christmas Work Parties, Christmas Concerts, Ugly Christmas Sweater Fun, Driving Around to See the Lights and Gingerbread House Making… all things you want to do and enjoy during the glorious month of December. Having to shop for your entire list during those three weeks, on top of all the obligations we have, is stress that you can avoid.

Think about it… being done with shopping early free’s you to fully worship Christ during the month of December. Being done allows you to attend the Children’s Choir Performance without thinking… I wonder if I could sneak back and grab little Suzy as soon as she is done singing so that we can leave before the show is over so we don’t get caught in church traffic and still have time to make it to the mall before _________ store closes. I mean who hasn’t had a thought like that? Undermining the time of worship you could be experiencing with Christ.

So do yourself a favor and start making a plan now. Start with your list, make what you can, save where it’s smart (like waiting until Black Friday if that is your plan), wrap your gifts early… but don’t rob yourself of the joy of experiencing the true meaning of Christmas by leaving it all these things to the last minute. 

Do what it takes to make sure your time and your heart is available to what is most important at Christmas time… worshiping Christ, building precious memories with family and friends and serving others!

What do you think about this idea? Could it help you worship more fully? Do you do something completely different that works? I’d love to know so please share!