4 Reasons Why You Should Memorize Bible Verses Along With Your Kids

4 Reasons Why You Should Memorize Bible Verses Along With Your Kids

Memorizing Scripture is a common Bible activity for children. Whether it’s through programs like Awana, by using Bible verses set to music, or even one of the lesson plans here on Steadfast Family – there are lots of recommendations and resources for Scripture memorization.

Once you’re a grown up, however, you don’t hear it talked about quite as much.

So, today I want to share four reasons I think we should jump in there and memorize right along with our kiddos!

1. To Be a Good Example

Kids are natural imitators. Monkey see, monkey do. Unfortunately you often realize this after they’ve imitated something you’d really rather them not. AmIright?  🙂

What better way to harness that imitator nature than by leading them to the power of God’s Word? 

I hope my boys have strong memories of their mama saying, singing, chanting, shouting, and whispering their memory verses right alongside them. And not only that, but also being able to recall scripture during the moments we need it. Which brings me to my next point…

2. To Be Able to Recall During Daily Moments

One of my favorite benefits of knowing and memorizing Scripture is the way the Holy Spirit will bring to mind these verses that you have hidden in your heart.

This is not only helpful when fielding spiritual questions from my very inquisitive four year old, but is a constant source of encouragement for me personally as well.

Just today I was pondering how badly I need more contentment in my life and I was thinking to myself “I sure do wish I could ask Paul how in the world he found contentment when he was stuck in prison!” Immediately the answer popped into my head:

For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. -Philippians 4:13

3. To Exercise Our Brains

I’m not gonna lie, more days than not you will find me in the fog known as “mom brain.” With everything I have to do and keep track of, plus the constant demands of caring for small children by the end of the day my brain is mush.

Doing brain work such as memorization is like exercise for the brain. It keeps things sharp and working smoothly. I don’t know about you, but I can definitely benefit from my brain being in tip top shape.

Want to read more about the brain benefits of memorization? Check out this article on Ten Proven Brain Benefits.

4. To Meditate on God’s Word

I love studying the Bible. I love learning about historical context, original languages, and the layers of meaning. I enjoy taking notes, reading commentaries, and listening to teaching.

However, I’m also learning that sometimes I need to put away the study Bible, and just meditate on God’s Word.

Read it just to know it. Just to let the truth sink in. To get lost in the wonder and grace of it all.

Memorizing scripture provides plenty of opportunity for just that.

4 Reasons Why You Should Memorize Bible Verses Along With Your Kids-2

These are just a few reasons why memorizing scripture alongside your children is a beneficial practice. I’m sure there are many more!

What benefits can you add to this list?

 

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Five Ways to Intentionally Disciple Your Kids Even When Life Gets Busy

Five Ways to Intentionally Disciple Your Kids

Life has been crazy busy for our family lately. Some of the commitments are choices we’ve made and some are out of our control – but one thing is for sure, the days are short and the to-do lists are long!

A while back I noticed that I was slipping in my intentionality when it came to discipling my son. We used to have plenty of time for fun Bible and character building crafts and activities (like Play Through The Bible and Hero Training), but lately I had been rushing through the day without giving much thought to activities like these.

I knew that this needed to change, but I also knew that life wasn’t going to be slowing down any time soon. I needed to find simple ways to be intentional about discipling my son that would fit into our current lifestyle.

I did some brainstorming, tweaked a few things, and I’m pretty happy with how things have been going lately. We haven’t been perfect, and I look forward to when life slows down a bit so we can do even more, but it has been working well.

Here’s what we’ve been doing…

1. Discipling In Moments of Discipline

Moments of discipline are some of the best times for pointing your child to the gospel. Little hearts are often tender and in tune with their own shortcomings and need for a Savior.

I am often reminding my son during these moments that God is the only one who does only good and that is why we need Jesus.

2. Simplifying Bible Study Time

It is very easy for me to fall into the trap of thinking that kid’s Bible time must always be fun, exciting, and special. Now, believe me, I have no problem with it being those things. In fact, I love making learning about God’s Word a fun and meaningful time for my son. However, it is okay to just keep it simple too.

Here are some ways we’ve done this:

  • Read straight from the Word – taking just a verse or two and reading it at breakfast, talking about it for a moment.
  • Use a simple devotional – I got my son this book for Easter and we have really been enjoying reading a page or two at a time.
  • Read through a children’s Bible – snuggle up on the couch and read a story or two. This is our favorite kid’s Bible

3. Listening to Christ-Centered Music

We love listening to music around here and we tend to listen to all different kinds. However, I do try to listen to Christian music often because of how my son picks up on the message. We will be listening and he will say “they are talking about Jesus!” or “that said the cross!” and he always gets so excited when he hears these familiar concepts.

The great thing too is that Christian music has come a long way since when I was a kid. There are a lot of quality options in different styles and genres. We enjoy listening to a “Toby Mac” station on Pandora that often plays Lecrae, Needtobreathe, Tenth Avenue North, Capital Kings, and of course Toby Mac.

We actually don’t listen to a ton of kid specific music, but some of our favorites that we do listen to are Steve Green and Seeds Family Worship.

Another awesome way to listen to music that I am discovering is through your Amazon Prime account. Did you know that you can stream tons of music through Prime Music? I had no idea until recently! A lot of the above listed artists can be streamed through Prime Music for free!

Join Amazon Prime Music – The Only Music Streaming Service with Free 2-day Shipping – 30-day Free Trial

4. “On The Go” Chats

My son and I talk about pretty much everything. Even when he was a baby and toddler I would talk with him about things that were probably above his comprehension. I figured that when he was able to understand he would, so we might as well start now.

Now, as a very inquisitive four year old, the conversations continue. Because we started early making talking about God a normal part of life, I am constantly fielding questions like:

“Is God really everywhere?”

“How come I can’t see God?”

“Is Jesus going to die on the cross again?”

“Can God hear me?”

These conversations are usually short and sweet, but I love that his wheels are always turning and he feels comfortable sharing his thoughts and questions. I think these conversations are a great example of my favorite Biblical parenting advice:

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. -Deuteronomy 6:6-7

It is my goal for the Word of God to be so on my heart that we can’t help but talk about it as we go through daily life.

5. Simplify Life

I’m preaching to myself here.

Like I said, life is busy for us right now. And while some of that is just a season, I do know I need to keep looking for ways to simplify life. I don’t want to be rushing through my days, to-do list in hand, not having enough time to be intentional with the things that are priorities to our family.

If you are looking for a resource to help you live your life more intentionally, I highly recommend the eCourse IntentionalByGrace Unplugged: 10 days to live more intentionally from my friend Leigh Ann at Intentional By Grace.

IBG Unplugged

How do you find simple ways to intentionally disciple your children? I’d love to get some more ideas!

 

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Why I’m a “Lazy” Parent

Why I'm a %22Lazy%22 Parent

I am a lazy parent.

There, I said it. It’s out in the open. I’ve confessed.

Now, when I say lazy I don’t mean…

Lazy in teaching my children God’s truth.

Lazy in building my children’s character.

Lazy in spending quality time together.

And definitely not lazy in leading them to the gospel.

Okay, okay, you got me – when I said I was lazy, it was a bit tongue in cheek. So, what do I mean?

I am way too “lazy” to do things for my kids that they are capable of doing for themselves.

I recently read this great article from Kristen of We Are THAT Family titled, “Maybe We Should Stop Coddling Our Kids So Much” and I completely agree. In our house the mantra is, “we are all part of the family, so we all help out.” I’m not going to run around doing every bit of the work when there are more than capable little helpers at my side!

Note: does this mean I never do something nice, like get my son a glass of water, even when he can do it himself? No! Of course not. Part of being a family means doing nice things for each other too!

So, today I want to share with you four things that my four year old regularly takes care of on his own (or with minimal help). Especially recently I have noticed that what used to be the “help” of a toddler has started to transform into genuine help from my little man.

The purpose of this list isn’t to say that your four year old should be doing the exact same things. Instead, it is to encourage you to take stock of your own situation and see where you might need to be a little “lazy.”

Why I'm a Lazy Parent (4 Responsibilities I Give My 4 Year Old)

Learning to make grilled cheese

#1 Getting ready for day and ready for bed

Every morning, sometimes before he even comes downstairs for breakfast, K takes off his pajamas, puts his pull-up in his trash can, and gets dressed for the day. Sometimes the outfits are a little wonky and he might be wearing two pairs of socks, but it works for me!

Recently, it occurred to me that there was no reason he couldn’t do this same routine in reverse for bed time. Hooray! Half of the dreaded bed time routine outsourced to the one going to bed! So, every night he knows he needs to do three things: go to the bathroom, put on a pull-up, and get his pajamas on. All that leaves for me is to brush teeth and tuck him in bed.

Why I'm a Lazy Parent (4 Responsibilities I Give My 4 Year Old)

Very excited to vacuum his room

#2 Putting away his laundry

This is a new responsibility that we have been working on and it is going very well!

In K’s closet he has a dresser with four drawers. One for PJ’s, one for shirts, one for shorts, and one for long sleeves, undies, and socks. On top of his dresser is pants and sweatshirts (they might swap out with the shorts drawer if it ever gets cold enough here!). The only things that are folded are what is on top of the dresser. Nice clothes are hanged, the rest (and majority) are just tossed in the drawers.

Keeping a four year old’s clothes folded is not a battle I’m willing to spend time on.

So, lately, when I have a pile of clothes for him, he carries them to his room, sorts them, and puts them away. Amazing. One less part of the laundry pile I have to worry about. Occasionally he needs help with a large basket of clothes, or putting things up high, but overall he is doing great!

Why I'm a Lazy Parent (4 Responsibilities I Give My 4 Year Old)

Sometimes we are a little too helpful – like the time I came into the room to find him *attempting* to change his wiggly baby brother’s diaper. 

#3 Emptying his bathroom trash

Seeing that I don’t spend a lot of time in his bathroom, his small trash can would quickly begin to overflow with his nightly pull-ups and start to get… stinky.

One day, we were working on the character trait of helpful, and he decided to empty his own trash. Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that sooner? A quick lesson and now he is capable of emptying his own trash can and putting in a new liner.

Why I'm a Lazy Parent (4 Responsibilities I Give My 4 Year Old)

Helping starts early – baby J loves to “help” with the laundry! 🙂

#4 Picking up his toys

I must admit, this has always been an area of struggle with us. He is so good at dragging his feet when it comes to cleaning up his toys, that eventually I would just step in and finish up for him. However, I am trying to crack down on this a bit!

Just yesterday he showed me that he is very capable of picking up after himself, I just have to be firm about him not getting out of it!

A strategy I have occasionally used is this – I set the timer for one hour. As soon as he is done picking up his toys, he can watch TV until the timer goes off. The first day he got a whopping 8 minutes of TV time (although it only took his about 5 minutes of active work to get everything cleaned up). I am looking forward to seeing some improvement in this area!

Why I'm a %22Lazy%22 Parent

What do you think of these four responsibilities? This is not an exhaustive list, there are many other things he can do, but these are the things I wanted to share with you today. 

What things are your kids responsible for? Do you agree that we coddle our kids too much?

The Problem With Teaching Your Kids About Easter

The Problem With Teaching Your Kids About Easter

Easter. Quite possibly the cutest holiday of them all.

Fluffy bunnies, baby chicks, little lambs.

Easter baskets, painted eggs, and lots of candy.

Definitely cute. Precious even!

The Problem With Teaching Your Kids About Easter

This, however, is where the problem lies. Because, if we are trying to focus on the true meaning of Easter, what do we find?

Betrayal.

Pain.

Sorrow.

Death.

Yes, on Easter Sunday we celebrate resurrection and new life. But to get there we must travel the heart wrenching path that leads you to the cross. 

The Problem With Teaching Your Kids About Easter

The last few years when Easter rolls around, I’ve found myself dragging my feet when it comes to covering the story with my son. Sure, we talk about the gospel routinely, but there is something about Easter and the nitty gritty aspects of the story that gives me pause.

You see…

We talk about Palm Sunday and I see myself among the crowds who don’t understand Jesus.

We talk about the disciples napping while Jesus prays and fleeing while he is bound and I am confronted with my own weakness. 

We talk about the crowds shouting for Jesus to be crucified and my own hard heart is exposed.

We talk about Jesus hanging from the cross and I am reminded that it is my own sin and rebellion that nailed him there. 

It is messy, painful, and humbling. Decidedly not cute.

The Problem With Teaching Your Kids About Easter

So, what is a parent to do? Skip over the pain and death altogether? Maybe fluff it up a bit? Save the hard truth for later…for when they are more… ready?

The problem with this plan is where the fluffy version of Easter may be light and happy, the way of the cross is the way of depth and meaning. Yes, it is the way of pain, but it is also the way of ultimate joy.

The suffering of the cross is the path to the joy of Resurrection Sunday. The empty tomb. Humanity redeemed.

It is a difficult path. But it is a path forged by our Savior.

So, I face my own sin and I lead my children down that same path.

They may not understand the full depth of the betrayal, the crowds, the thorny crown, and the forsaken Savior. But their small hearts are open wide and ready to know of this God who loved them so.

The Problem With Teaching Your Kids About Easter

Looking for resources on sharing the Easter story with your children? Try Resurrection Eggs or this round up of easy last minute ideas. I also loved this post from ohAmanda on talking to kids about the hard parts of the Easter story.

 

Four Last Minute Ways To Make Easter Meaningful

Four Last Minute Ways To Make Easter Meaningful

In my post on Resurrection Eggs, I shared that somehow Easter always sneaks up on me. I go in with grand intentions of doing all sorts of amazing activities starting at the beginning of Lent. However, every year I find myself scrambling at the last minute, trying to find a way to make Easter meaningful.

The good news is – Easter is already incredibly meaningful. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ don’t need a lot of fancy hullabaloo to make them more noteworthy. Even if you find yourself scrambling at the last minute, all you need is something simple to keep the focus on Jesus.

Here are some of my favorite ideas I’ve found to make Easter meaningful

1. Resurrection Eggs!

I know that I’ve already shared about these, but I think it bears repeating. They are great. And SO EASY. We have had a super crazy week, but we’ve managed to do two of our eggs still. If you’re a little behind on getting started, no worries. It is super easy to just double up on the eggs each day. In fact, my son would love that – he is always begging to do another one anyway!

DIY Resurrection EggsPlusExstension

2. Printable Book and Flannelgraph

I found these super cute little printables and knew they’d be perfect for K. I think I’m going to print them out and let him have at them tomorrow. He will love coloring the little book and he’ll have a lot of fun playing pretend with the little flannelgraph guys.

4 Last Minute Ways to Make Easter Meaningful

3. UnEaster Baskets

This will be our second year of doing unEaster baskets. I first read about the idea from ohAmanda and immediately fell in love. Leigh Ann from Intentional By Grace has a great post on a similar idea, here.

It was an amazing experience last year and I can’t wait to do it again! I love using simple moments like these to share the gospel with my kiddos.

4. Easter Music Playlist

The week leading up to Easter, I love to play songs that especially highlight Christ’s death and resurrection. I love doing it as a way to keep my own heart focused on the season, but I have also noticed how much my son picks up from the music we listen to. Music is a great way for the whole family to direct their focus to Christ.

I like to use YouTube to create custom playlists for times like this. Here is one I made for Good Friday, but it is great for the whole week too!

Another Easter music tradition we have is going crazy to the Hallelujah Chorus! One year (before kids) we even stayed up all night and played it loud at midnight. I think that would be fun to do again when the kids are older.

What are your favorite Easter traditions?

Resurrection Eggs and Easter Countdown Calendar (Plus FREE Resurrection Eggs Printable!)

Somehow Easter always sneaks up on me.

Every year I go into the season with good intentions of going all out and making Easter really memorable and meaningful. Then, every year, a week or two before Easter I’m left thinking “Whaaaaat? Where did all the time go?!”

This year was no different. However, just because we weren’t able to focus on Lent this year or even countdown the month before Easter doesn’t mean we can’t make this important holiday memorable and meaningful.

This year the main way I’ve chosen to do that is through a simple tradition that I remember doing with my family as a kid – Resurrection Eggs. 

DIY Resurrection EggsPlusExstension

Resurrection Eggs are a really simple idea. Fill twelve Easter eggs with twelve different objects that each symbolize a part of the Easter story. Every day on the twelve days leading up to Easter, open one of the eggs and read a verse or two to go along with it.

If you do a quick Google search for “Resurrection Eggs DIY” you’ll see that they are pretty flexible. Change up the symbols or the verses. Spread out the days you open eggs or even do them all on one day. You can even buy pre-made kits!

Resurrection Eggs plus free printable!

Here’s how I set up our Resurrection Eggs!

Day 1 – Leaf (Mark 11:8-10 / Palm Sunday)
Day 2 – Coins (Matthew 26:14-15 / Judas Betrays Jesus)
Day 3 – Bread (Matthew 26:17-19, 26-28)
Day 4 – Paper Towel (John 13:4-5 / Jesus Washes the Disciples Feet)
Day 5 – Picture of prayer (Matthew 26:39 / Garden of Gethsemane)
Day 6 – Rope (Matthew 27:2, 26 / Jesus is Bound and Beaten)
Day 7 – Thorn (Matthew 27:29 / Jesus is King of the Jews)
Day 8 – Cross (John 19:17 / Jesus Carries His Cross)
Day 9 – Nail (Luke 33:33 / Nailed on the Cross)
Day 10 – Cloth (Matthew 27:59 / Jesus is Wrapped in Cloth)
Day 11 – Stone (Matthew 27:66 / Jesus is Placed in the Tomb)
Day 12 – Empty Egg (Matthew 28:6 / He Has Risen)

I love how the eggs are great for including multiple ages and they provide a tactile experience as you take out the object and handle it while listening to the reading.

DSC_5364

To add a little more to the Resurrection Eggs experience, I created a simple, low to no prep activity to go along with each day. Kids learn so much better when they totally get to experience something – so I love finding ways to extend the learning.

Although it is pretty easy to wander around your house to find objects to put in your eggs, I wanted to make it even easier for you to do Resurrection Eggs this year! If you’re anything like me, you’ve waited until the last minute and you want something you can quickly pull together so you can get started right away.

If that’s the case – never fear! I turned to my favorite place for simple images (www.nounproject.com) and pulled together a set of printable images that you can use to fill your eggs!

DSC_5358

You can get the printable with the images, the activity ideas, and discussion questions (great for journaling!) completely for free!

You don’t even have to subscribe to get it – although you totally should anyway because there are so many more awesome subscriber freebies just waiting for you (you can subscribe by clicking on the “Family Minute Newsletter” in the side bar)!

Just click here to get it ———> Resurrection Eggs Printable

You don’t even need to have Easter eggs to use this printable. I also printed the images, cut them out, and pasted them onto quarters of construction paper to make this simple Easter countdown calendar. Just flip over one a day to reveal the picture. Super easy!

Simple Easter Countdown Calendar + Free Printable

Has your family ever done Resurrection Eggs? How did you do them?

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The Hidden Blessing of a Full Life

The Hidden Blessing of a Full Life

As I flopped into bed, exhausted, I lay there thinking of all the things a left undone. Yet another day had passed, busting at the seams. Filled with highs and lows. Responsibilities, routines, and even some excitement.

I sighed, trying to figure out what I would need to prioritize tomorrow. “Life is crazy,” I thought. “Will it ever slow down?” My days felt like a never ending to-do list.

I was frustrated. I am someone who generally prefers the slow, simple life. However, this kind of life seemed to have disappeared lately. Replaced with early mornings, late nights, and a whole lot stuffed in between.

Frankly, in that moment, I had a little bit of a bad attitude.

But, then it hit me, life isn’t just this crazy mess I was portraying to myself. Yes, our days were full. Very full. However, they were bursting at the seams with good. And if I looked close enough, I just might see what’s really there…

The Hidden Blessing of a Full Life Days full of baby snuggles, interspersed with the delight of a child over a simple tower of blocks or a splash in a rain puddle.

Time that was sacrificed for friends. One helped to move across town. Another over for dinner last minute. Plus lots of spontaneous playdates among the kids.

Meals were cooked with little hands alongside. Walks around the block were taken, with stops every 20 feet to look at the scenery.

Small hearts were shaped through tantrums and chores, kisses and hugs, and silly giggles. And, of course, lots of pointing to Jesus.

Hidden Blessing of a full life

Sure, the bathroom (still) didn’t get cleaned. And routines were once again derailed, though my intentions were there. Lunch was mac-n-cheese from a box.

There may have been moments of anger, frustration, and exhaustion. There were moments I wish could have been skipped and time I wish I could reclaim.

But still, life is so rich. So good. So full of the sweet moments. Moments that will pass you by without a second glance if all you are doing is focusing on the crazy and wondering if you’ll ever get to take a nap again.

The Hidden Blessing of a Full Life

It is these moments I want to keep my focus on. Because, yes, times of peace and rest are so important, but how we view the other, not so peaceful times of life is what determines how we feel about our days. And even the hard moments can be bittersweet and full of good, if they cause us to lean more heavily on our Savior.

The Hidden Blessing of a Full Life

So, instead, as my head lays on the pillow, I choose to redirect my thoughts. I lay aside the mental to do list for the night and thank God for the good he has surrounded me with. Thankful for his grace, once again, carrying me through another day.

Welcome to Steadfast Family!

Steadfast Family-2

Hello Simple Life. Messy Life. readers! Welcome to the new site!

I’ve known for a while that I wanted to rebrand but for the longest time couldn’t quite put my finger on what direction I wanted to go. So, I decided to just keep moving along with the status quo until I was sure of the changes I wanted to make.

Then, one day it hit me and a word popped into my head. Family.

Family is where my passion lies.

My heart’s desire is to help build strong families – both as a whole and individual members.

And that’s really what I had been trying to do all along, with series like Play Through The Bible and posts like this.

So, after some intense brainstorming sessions, Steadfast Family was born.

Why Steadfast?

I love the strength of the word. I love the idea of having a steadfast family, even when the world around may be crumbling.

In Helps Word-studies, two of the Greek words for steadfast really stuck out to me. While reading through it, I knew it was definitely something I wanted for my family! Here are some excerpts:

bébaios – “properly, solid (sure) enough to walk on; hence, firmunshakable; …absolutely dependable, giving guaranteed support (security, surety).” (literally, “what can be tread upon”) then refers to what is fully dependable, i.e. worthy of confidence because on “solid footing.” This describes what is fully secure (stable), and therefore can be trusted to give full support.

Read more here…

proskarteréō – “…consistently showing strength which prevails (in spite of difficulties); to endure (remain firm), stayingin a fixed direction. […”to continue to do something with intense effort, with the possible implication of despite difficulty – ‘to devote oneself to, to keep on, to persist in'” …]”

Read more here..

Is that something you want for your family? I sure do! 

I do hope that you will stick around as we work to build Steadfast Families together!

On the new site you will see a lot of the same type of content as before: encouragement, practical tips for family building, and ideas/activities for discipling your children. I also would like to bring you more content on marriage and adult Bible study!

I have several eBook’s that are in the works as well – I can’t wait to release them for you!

You can read more on my new about me page.

So, take a peek around the new site! There is still a lot of work to do, but I couldn’t wait any longer to show it to you!

I hope to resume publishing regular content next week. If you haven’t already, I recommend subscribing to be sure that you don’t miss a thing (the newsletter is also undergoing a makeover). Just enter your email address below!


“What was your favorite Christmas memory from childhood?” {60 People Reflect Back on Their Childhood Christmases)

This year as I made chocolate covered pretzels with my four year old son, memories of my own childhood Christmases came flooding back to me. I was transported back to my own small hands dipping pretzels and sprinkling on the red and green sprinkles. It brought back fond memories of setting up the Christmas tree with the toy train buzzing around it, wrapping presents for the family, and watching Christmas movies in our new jammies.

Yes, gifts were always a part of Christmas, but when I looked back those were not my biggest or most favorite memories. As I pondered this it got me thinking and it led me to wonder what others thought as they looked back on their childhood Christmases.

So, I asked this question:

What was your favorite Christmas memory from childhood?

Want to know the answers I found? It might surprise you!

What's Your Favorite Christmas Memory From Your Childhood? -- Find out what these 60 people had to say!

I asked 60 people from varying walks of life this simple question. The results were amazing, heartwarming, and even a little tear inducing.

Here are just some of the responses…

Putting on a Christmas play with my siblings/cousins. We practiced in front of my aunts and uncles before performing in front of my aunts and uncles. Year-to-year, our roles never changed. They saw us do this at least 40 times in the 90s. – Brenda

my whole family making christmas cookies .. batches and batches … all types … and then spending weeks eating them … – Elizabeth

Decorating the tree while watching Charlie Brown Christmas and drinking hot chocolate (a tradition my kids also look forward to and love!) – Holly

Waking up early a few days before Christmas and sitting next to the tree with my sister, whispering about how excited we were. – Heather

Caroling to shut-ins around our rural area with church group. Taking turns with siblings opening little gifts each night of advent. Mom’s secret numbered gift list, no one knew which gifts were theirs (5 siblings), we took turns opening after reading the record of Jesus’ birth. – Betty

My mom transforming our home with her decorations, getting to set up the carolers on the church steps, getting a baby CHRISTmas tree when I was 5 and going to my Grandparents with ALL the family there. Loved it. – Scott

Did you notice a theme? There are many more responses with lovely answers just like these. What did people think of first as they reflected back upon their childhood Christmases? I’ll give you one clue – it definitely wasn’t the gifts they received.

While reading through the responses I received, four trends stuck out to me.

Making a memorable Christmas 2

1. Time with Family

Whether it was the cozy feeling of just your family on Christmas morning or the fun craziness of getting to see your extended family – being with family was the number one commonality in the responses I received.

It’s not just the fun things we do that make Christmas memories – it’s the people we do them with. It’s baking cookies with mom, eating lunch at Grandpa and Grandma’s house, and having special play time with cousins and siblings. It’s the people we care about that make the holidays so special.

I woke up at an insane hour at my grandparents house. My parents and grandmother were still asleep. My grandfather sat in the floor with me at their house and played with a racecar track and set that Santa brought me. It’s THE only time I ever remember playing with my grandfather. – Janeen

Going to my grandparent’s house on Christmas Day for Christmas lunch. It was the only time I ever saw my extended family and we did a gift exchange. It made me feel like I belonged somewhere – Arabah

Christmas is my brothers birthday I remember waking up super early and my brother would already be out in the living room. I would sit next to him on the chair and watch the twinkling christmas lights and we would sing happy birthday together. He is 8 years older than me. – Darla

Making a memorable Christmas 3

2. Generosity Coming to Life

Multiple responses were centered around an act of giving. This wasn’t surprising. That joyful feeling you get when you give to others is a memory that sticks with you. On the other end of this was the responders who mentioned someone giving to them to be one of their lasting memories. It was the generosity of another, given to them when they were in need, that gave them a life long memory.

One year a friend of my mom’s husband had lost his job and they were scraping to put food on the table with no $$ for gifts. My mom talked to my brothers and me and we put together a basket of gifts and food for them. We dropped it off and ran away. They knew it was us but it is still a great memory. – Tammy

A couple women showed up at our door to give us a tree because they heard we didn’t have one. We were sworn to secrecy to not let anyone know we couldn’t afford a tree. How they found out, I don’t know. It meant the world to me that someone knew and cared. -Kymberlie

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3. Simple Christmas Traditions

Decorating the tree. Baking cookies. Looking at the lights. There were no mentions of Pinterest perfect Christmases, just simple traditions done with the ones they loved.

Christmas morning with my dad making breakfast, my mom hung out with us drinking her coffee while we played with our stocking goodies. And decorating Christmas cookies! -Malynda

Baking. My favorite memory was baking with my mom and my kids always tell me that their favorite holiday tradition is all the cookies we bake. – Heidi

Decorating the Christmas tree. It was always so much fun pulling the ornaments out of the box and hearing the stories behind them. -Rachel

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4. Meaningful Gifts

Although the vast majority of people did not mention getting gifts as their favorite Christmas memory, there were some that did. However, as I read their responses, I noticed something interesting. The reason the gift was so memorable, wasn’t because of the gift itself, but the meaning behind it. It wasn’t the price of the gift or how many gifts there were under the tree – it was the special thought behind the gift, the person it came from, or the memories surrounding it.

My favorite Christmas memory was actually a gift I got twice. When I was about 11 I really really wanted a birthstone ring for Christmas. My parents thought maybe I wasn’t old enough for actual jewelry but took a chance anyway. I wore it all the time. And then one day I lost it. I was so sure I only ever wore it or kept it in the box but I couldn’t find the box either. It was just gone. I was heartbroken about it. Several years later there was a small flood in the basement when the water heater broke. My parents sorting through cardboard boxes to see what was ruined found the ring box. And yes the ring was inside. They saved it until that Christmas and I got it all over again. I don’t remember what other presents I got that year but that ring was like a real life example of Luke 15:9. And how God will restore to us what was lost. -Kat

Apparently I was one of those that would snoop, shake and even unwrap/rewrap presents (I could get the tape off without tearing the paper). One year I wanted a stuffed animal. It would have been obvious so my parents put silverware and bricks in the box along with some other things. I think the box was even double wrapped. Every time I shook it or moved it they would get this look on their face that I had broken something. Needless to say I was quite surprised to open my very large box to find the stuffed dog that I really wanted. -Kim

The year our parents got us a puppy. Every year on Christmas eve, we’d go drive around and look at lights. This particular year, we drove a lot longer and to a rural area with very few lights. My dad claimed to be lost and went to knock on someone’s door “for directions” , and came back with a puppy. (It was all planned out.) -Beth

What's Your Favorite Christmas Memory From Your Childhood? -- Find out what these 60 people had to say!

Christmas Memories that Matter

So, this Christmas I want to challenge you (and myself!) to put a little less emphasis on the gifts and the Pinterest perfect moments. And instead, squeeze your kids little tighter, let them be spoiled by their grandparents a little longer, and don’t worry about getting frosting and sprinkles all over the kitchen.

My kids are only 4 and 7 months and I can already feel the years slipping through my fingers. I know that it will be like a blink of an eye before they are all grown up and these moments are only memories. I want to spend as much time as I can doing the things that count.

Are you looking for a simple and meaningful Christ-Centered Christmas tradition? Try Names of Jesus Advent Ornaments! Get the free printable here.

Now I’d love to hear! What’s your favorite Christmas memory from childhood?

Advent Snacks (A Truth in the Tinsel Supplement) Days 19-24

Advent Snacks for Kids

In order to extend the learning while doing Truth in the Tinsel, I wanted to come up with a simple supplement. After doing some brainstorming, I came up with Advent Snacks! They are simple snacks, themed after each day in of Truth in the Tinsel, that you can easily make with stuff you probably already have lying around.

These snacks are most definitely not food art! While I think those crazy awesome snacks and the people that make them are amazing, that is not something in my skill set – or time allotment! This is food that you’ll be able to whip together in a few minutes, making it so you can continue to nourish their spirits at the same time as you do their little bodies!

What if you don’t have Truth in the Tinsel? No problem! Christmas is Christmas, and you can just as easily use any or all of these snacks without the TNT eBook. However, if you haven’t given Truth in the Tinsel a shot, I highly recommend it! (You can read my review here)

Previous week’s snacks:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

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Alright, are you ready to see this week’s snacks? Let’s get started!

Day 19 – Shepherds

 

Advent Snacks day 19 - shepherds

To make a shepherd snack I had the idea to make a shepherd’s crook out of a soft pretzel. I was making these pretzels for a get together, so I figured it would be perfect to use a bit of the dough to make the crook. Well, it turned out a little plump! But it still worked out okay. You could also use homemade or store bought bread dough. Hm, breadstick shepherd’s crooks.. mmmmmm.

Day 20 – Temple

 

Advent snacks day 20 - temple

This temple snack was made using crackers for the base, pretzel rods for the columns, and string cheese for the roof.

Day 21 – Star

 

Advent snacks day 21 - star

To make this star snack, you’ll need one or two star cookie cutters. If you don’t have a star cookie cutter, I highly recommend this cookie cutter set. You get 101 cookie cutters for under 20 bucks. That’s what I call a deal! We use these cookie cutters for way more than just cookies! Snacks, play doh, art projects – there is a lot they are good for!

Anyways, that was a side note. To make this star plate I cut the white stars out of thinly sliced apple and the yellow star out of a cheese slice. Simple!

Day 22 – Wise Men

 

Advent Snacks day 22 - wise men

Most of the snacks so far have been at least fairly healthy, so I thought today we’d throw in a sweet! I cut this crown shape out of a cookie, adding a few gum drops for gems. It didn’t turn out the prettiest, but K recognized what it was right away so I’ll chalk that up to a win!

 Day 23 – Gifts

 

Advent Snacks day 23 - gifts

It took me a while to figure out how to make a snack to represent the gifts of the Wise Men, but I thought it ended up turning out pretty cute. The “gift” is made out of two club crackers and the ribbon is made out of string cheese.

Day 24 – Cross

 

Advent Snacks day 24 - cross

For the final snack to represent the cross, I was trying to think of something that would be a really cool snack. However, I finally decided that simple would actually be better in this case! So, all you need to make this cross snack is a few pretzel rods. If you want to serve more of a snack, you can make the two thieves’ crosses as well.

That’s all for Truth in the Tinsel snacks! I hope you had fun eating these yummy snacks with us!

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