Archives For Christmas

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Janet Pisors’ family does not exchange Christmas gifts....and my family does. So is one of us right and the other wrong in the way we are leading our families?

Every family that is putting Jesus and His Kingdom first place in their lives is to be celebrated and respected. Every sacrificial expression of giving for the sake of our Lord and King is to be honored. Avoiding, at all costs, the traps of materialism, hedonism, selfishness and greed is critical in our Christian walk. That is why I was deeply moved by Janet's article, even if I was not ready to imitate her exact suggestion.

My heartfelt desire is to support the Pisors family's decision. They obviously have given the issue sincere consideration and prayer. My goal is to lift up another side to this issue that is worthy of consideration. And, in the end, we may conclude that Janet and I are both right!

For perhaps the issue of whether to exchange Christmas gifts among family and friends is one of those discretionary areas where we give our brothers and sisters in Christ room to hear God's vision for their own lives. (Romans 14:5-6

In our very busy household, the planning and strategizing for our annual family gift exchange has been in high gear for several weeks. And, quite frankly, I am glad. For this is the time of the year when every one of my children is intensely focused on giving a special gift to each of their siblings and family members.

A few years ago, I considered urging my large family to start "drawing names" to cut down on the work and hassle—until I overheard one of my children talking to another, saying, "I hope no one tries to make us draw names for our gift exchange. That would be horrible! Giving my brothers and sisters their gifts is much better than getting gifts myself. And besides, I want it to be more...personal."

With ten children, two of whom are married and have children themselves, can you see why I would have made the suggestion? Just do the math and consider the mess.

But here are the top 11 reasons why I refrained from making my gift-limiting suggestion and embraced our tradition of family gift giving:

  1. It encourages generosity: I have been touched to watch my children work extra in order to give to one another.
  1. It builds relationships: Investing in others opens doors for kindness, mercy, and grace to flow in personal relationships. Our goal is to help our kids form lifelong friendships that transcend the seasons of life.
  1. It creates memories: In our family, we remember the big pile of gift treasures. We have our favorite memories that draw our hearts together with the re-telling. Like the year of the flu, when we moved all the recliners and couches in a circle to make sure no one was left out of the party.
  1. It shows appropriate value to family relationships: Companies give bonuses and friends exchange gifts....so why would I not give gifts to those who are truly my cherished relationships?
  1. It builds joy: A wise Christian counselor once explained to me what he had discovered was the highest predictor of family value transmission. He called it the "joy factor." The more joy and laughter in the home, the more children wanted to imitate their parents' values.
  1. It shows love to those who are natural gift givers: Gift giving is one of the five love languages. (Click Here to view The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts.)  Some may find gift giving annoying or expendable...simply because it is not their personal style. People tend to express and receive love the same way. So, for some, gift-giving events are extremely important!  
  1. It creates social maturity: Every person needs the experience of receiving the ugly sweater they would never wear. Learning manners and social skills creates mature leaders.
  1. It honors God: God by very nature is a giver. When we step into giving we reflect His nature.
  1. It prioritizes values: We ooh and ahh over every gift given in our family, whether it was a Dollar Tree special or a handmade trinket or an off-season clearance item. We value the love behind the gift and honor the expression of that love no matter how it comes. And (most importantly) we only have our own Christmas celebration AFTER we have spent much of the month of December working on our church's annual Christmas Operation 350, an outreach of food and gifts to 350 families in our community. Doug and I are honored to watch Op 350 Hannah 2 IMG_2002our kids mature in their personal relationships with the Lord. And we believe it when they say each year as we finish distributing the last of our 350 boxes, "That was the best part of the Christmas! Now let's get ready for ours."
  1. It connects the generations: We still have the privilege of helping our grandparents host their annual gift exchange events. It does not matter to us that we now do "all the work." We love the opportunity to connect our hearts to theirs and serve them with the opportunity to still be the fun place to come.
  1. It builds our team: A family that plays together - as well as prays together - works together.

So what do you think? Is there value in the gift exchange tradition that is important to families?

 

 

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Today, I want to reach out to those of our Frontline Moms and Dads who might be struggling at this Christmas time.

Perhaps you recently lost a loved one.

Perhaps you recently lost a job.

Perhaps you have emotional pain or physical pain.

Perhaps the kids are not in order and you just cannot pull off the holiday flair like you so desperately want.

We know what it is like to not have a very easy Christmas!

So if this message is for you, please know your Heavenly Father sees your struggle....and He cares.

In fact, He cares so much that He sent His son in the form of a baby to carry your weights and your sorrows.

Our family is praying for you today. We are standing in the gap believing that even as the Christmas glitz may not produce for you this year...the light of Jesus will still guide your heart home to the One who will never leave or forsake you.

Lisa

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Image: Jackle “Christmas Time” via Flickr Creative Commons
License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

A Cure for Self-Centeredness

Lisa Cherry —  December 18, 2014 — 2 Comments

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My husband got home from a business appointment excited to tell me a story.

He had stopped by a client's office to drop off some paper work when the man uncharacteristically invited him to sit down and chat.

Suddenly, Doug was invited into the secret world of this man's past as the stories of his family's joys, needs, and wounds began pouring out of his middle-aged heart.

Doug, I am still believing our family can recover what we have lost. It has been a rough road, eventhough mom and dad gave all nine of us a good foundation with God in our pastor's family home. But....I can look back and point to where some things went wrong. One of the big things that caused us to drift is when we quit giving each other Christmas presents....

That last statement got Doug's attention.

At our house for the last several weeks the kids have been very busy buying and wrapping Christmas presents for each other. That is no small job when you have a lot of siblings...not to mention nieces and nephews!

I have watched all the hoopla and wondered if we should cut the process down and "draw names." But every year I make the same conclusion: leave them alone. What they are doing is important.

This is the time of the year that they go out of the way to sow into each person's life personally.

They do extra chores, save up from odd jobs and then shop for the perfect gift that will bring joy to their sibling.

Some of them make their treasures. Some of them have even been known to "regift." And everyone knows that very few items in our mound of presents were bought at anything less than bargain clearance. But that is fine. It is not the size or expense that matters. It is the thought and the expression of care.

Perhaps this man's observation is correct. I remember the years that we "swapped token gifts" with an extended family grouping...a tin of popcorn or a box of candy or cookies was an annual tradition.

But then one year we agreed to stop the exchange. And somehow as I crossed them off my annual Christmas gift list, something unfortunate happened. I crossed them out of my remembrance. I didn't mean to; life just got busy and we began to drift.

It seems that is the way with relationships. They never stay still. They are always moving...either closer or more distant.

So while we are completing our holiday plans, maybe we should all ponder this man's wise observation. It seems biblical to me. Giving is what our Lord did best! Celebrating the ones we love is worth our focus and thought.

I am asking myself some questions today....

Who has God placed in my life that I need to nurture and invest in? Who would find my expression of love a blessing (even if the treasure is small and non-valuable by the world's standards)? How can I encourage my own family to discover the joy of giving as they step out of the bondage of coveting?

I'll leave you with this verse to meditate on:

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" Acts 20:35

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Image: Rachel Stahl “wrappings” via Flickr Creative Commons
License: Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Christmas presents under the tree

By Lisa Cherry

Perhaps you're like me and several of your kids are asking for electronics for Christmas.

But perhaps you're also like me and you’re dreading the fallout from them acquiring more.

Safely managing and supervising children and teens in this crazy era of technology is surely a parental nightmare for most of us.

And even as the gifts are already under the tree, I figured it might be good to review five quick tips to avoid pain in 2014:

1. Maintain ultimate ownership: All electronics that live within my house are subject to the rules of anything else that live within my house. They are under the stewardship and leadership of the parents in charge. Let your kids know this upfront!

2. Pray: No one can tell you exactly how to manage your home. But the Lord knows exactly how to keep your kids safe and maintained in proper balance. Pray and ask Him for advice. And then listen for His instructions and obey what He says with courage!

3.  Set rules: It's best to give a gift with limited access and then be able to expand, access rather than to have to take the access away

4. Keep active: Getting  a new electronic piece is much like getting a pet. You can't stick it in a corner and forget about it.

5. Get Covenant Eyes.... They are the experts in internet accountability!

Merry Christmas!

Image:  Alan Cleaver,  Christmas presents under the tree via Flickr Creative Commons
License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Here are a couple of posts on this issue for your further consideration:
“You Don’t Trust Me”…Responding to Teens on Internet Use
A Double Life: 13 Ways to Detect if your Child is Hiding Something
Do I Need to Have the Porn Talk?

Gratefully linked to
Making your Home Sing Monday
Modest Mondays
Mama Moments Mondays

house lit for Christmas

By Lisa Cherry

Time to face it. There are only five days left until Christmas and some of your Christmas plans are just not going to get done.

At least not without fussing and stressing and fuming and barking. Just so everyone can have some quality family memories.

It's time to retire the unrealistic. Gracefully and cheerfully and quietly. Remember, you were likely the inventor of that expectation anyway.

I love the holiday season as I get to practice this tip in an obvious way, so that long about February I will hopefully remember it when it is not so obvious.

Lisa...relax those unrealistic expectations! You and your kids will thank you!

Image: Micheal Gil: “Lights Of December: December 3, 2011” Flickr Creative Commons
License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

It is our heart at Frontline Family Ministries to bring healing, hope, restoration, training, and creativity to the spiritual life of families.  We speak at conferences throughout North America, start and support local parenting groups, create resources for parents, send out a weekly e-newsletter, and maintain our websites and blog. Our prayer is that you would consider becoming a financial partner with us as we seek to make a lasting impact on families.   Would you remember us in your year-end giving?  Please visit Frontline Family Ministries and click on the “Donate” button.

This post is part of my series about potholes-- pitfalls that can really jerk your car off the parenting road. These are road hazards that I can personally testify about, because I have fallen into some of them myself!  Here are the other posts in this series:

Avoiding Parent Pitfall #1: Too Much Too Soon
Avoiding Parent Pitfall #2: Flattering Your Child

Avoiding Parent Pitfall # 3: Assuming They Get It
Avoiding Parent Pitfall #4: Cookie Cutter Parenting

Gratefully linked to
Fellowship Fridays
Women With Purpose
Faith Filled Friday