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Monday, December 15, 2014

4 Gifts We Want to Give Our Kids Before They Leave Home

With Christmas right around the corner, I am beginning to realize that the year is almost over. Out of nine children that have been homeschooled in our house, we are down to the last three, and time seems to go by faster and faster. As I wrapped gifts and prepared for the upcoming holiday, I thought about some of the truly important life-gifts we wish to see our children receive over the years. These aren’t the kind of gifts you can tie up with a big red ribbon. These are gifts that really last a lifetime. Here are four:

  1. Keep “The Code” - This one comes from my husband. It is basically “the code” for biblical and genuine people-skills. It is found in 1 Peter 2:7:  “Honor all men, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” If everyone could keep the Code, the world would be a different place. Unwrapped, this gift means the following in real life: 
  • Honor all men -  It doesn't say only honor those who believe the way we do and have the same political leanings...or who are respectful...or clean. It says ALL men (people). Yep, this can seem unlikely, but it doesn't have to be. 
  • Love the brotherhood - This goes beyond saying hello at church each week. It means that I lay down my life, my time, and sometimes my resources for the sake of a brother or sister in Christ. It means selflessness. But Jesus promised that the world will know we are his when we demonstrate this kind of love.
  • Fear God - In order to have true, awe-inspired respect for God, we must know him, and that takes effort, passion and time. It takes a discipline we choose to have for ourselves. It takes a desire to pursue God through the word, prayer and relationships within the Body of Christ. 
  • Honor the King - Today, this means honor for those in governmental authority, and not just those we “side-with” on social issues. The Old Testament hero, Daniel, demonstrated this gift without a hint of moral scandal or breach of his faith in God.
  1. Not everything that comes into your head needs to come out of your mouth... or show up on facebook... or become a text message. (You get the idea.) This also comes from my husband. “The Message” puts it this way, “Watch your words and hold your tongue; you'll save yourself a lot of grief.” -Proverbs 21:23. What we say or don’t say is so important. Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.” Obviously, our goal is to raise children who actually are wise and intelligent, but since we all are a work-in-progress, it is important to practice keeping our mouths shut more than we open them.

  1. Live so that you have no regrets. This one comes from my Grandmother. I will never forget the moment she said this, and neither will my son, Micaiah. We were visiting her in the nursing home having a nice conversation when out of the blue she stopped everything and singled out Micaiah to come over. He was about 15 at the time. He leaned down close and she looked him in the eye and said, “Make sure you live your life so that you have no regrets.” How many of us have regrets? I was discussing this with a friend and she shared how she had someone in her life that she felt she was supposed to go visit, but she kept putting it off. Unfortunately, the person passed away before she had the chance to follow through and it has always bothered her. The key to having no regrets is taking time to think before you act or in her case hesitate to act. To be circumspect and ponder what the repercussions of a decision might be. We live in a culture that reacts instead of having intentional reasons for what is done and said. We teach our children to look before they cross the street, let’s make sure we also teach them to think before they act. If we can help them minimize their regrets, we have truly given them a great gift.

  1. Don’t Forget Your Raisin’ - This one came from my dear father-in-law (a true Southern gentleman). My three older sons are all incredibly creative, and it has led them to pursue careers in the entertainment business. At present, my oldest produces commercials and corporate videos for a production company and does his own projects on the side: projects like the music video that two of my other sons just put out for their band “The Sun Cans”. Several years ago, the three of them were getting ready to make a trip to New York to meet with various people in the industry. My father-in law knew they were getting into a business that is filled with temptation. Following Jesus’ lead, he wasn’t asking them to stay out of the world, he was simply reminding them to not forget their raisin’ (i.e. "how they were raised"), and as such, to be an influence in the world without being of it. In other words, it's a loving reminder to never forget who you really are and Who you belong to.

Finally, when you see your kids really receiving, opening, and using these gifts for themselves, it is such a blessing, but I can’t sign off without sharing how we give these gifts to our children. We’ve all heard the old phrase, “Actions speak louder than words”. This is the key, and it has everything to do with our personal integrity as parents. For example, the motto of our state (North Carolina) is Esse Quam Videri. It means “To be rather than to seem (to be)”. In other words, we cannot be parents who say, ”Do as I say, not as I do,” or our children will never want to actually receive the gifts we are offering them. We have to take a close look at ourselves and ask if we are really being who people think we are, OR are we just seeming to be. Believe me, our children know the truth. So, this Christmas season, with integrity and love, wrap up your own, "collector's set" of life-gifts you wish for your children, and share the joy as they unwrap them for themselves in the years ahead.

Robin Liner is a wife, and veteran homeschool mom with over twenty years experience. She has written two picture books and actively blogs about homeschooling with an emphasis on teaching dyslexic children at crazygoodreaders.wordpress.com. Feel free to contact her at robin@crazygoodreaders.com

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

{FREE} Printable Santa, Elves, and Reindeer Masks

What a GREAT find from ItsyBitsyFun!! Have your kids put on a Christmas Play or just pretend these Christmas Masks will provide hours of entertainment for you kids.


Monday, December 8, 2014

5 Tips for Holiday Organizing: A Lesson in Generosity

Original photo by Mattbuck

I love giving gifts (and getting them) at Christmas, but one thing that I do not love is extra clutter. Every year right before Christmas (and sometimes after as well), we do some organizing and cleaning to help cut down on our toy and clutter collection. We do this for two reasons: first, to make room for the new gifts and second, to show our children how a spirit of generosity is important at Christmas and throughout the rest of the year.

Discard “Junky” Toys 

I’m not sure how, but our children collect tons of junky toys throughout the year. I always find tons of little junk toys that they play with for a day or two then get lost under the bed and are not missed. These toys are the ones often given at birthday parties and during stays with grandparents. Usually, getting rid of these is painless for both parents and children. However, if your children are particularly attached to their things, you might want to do this while they are gone. They really won’t miss the items.

 Remove Broken Items 

Anything that is broken or missing pieces I toss out. There is no reason to keep broken toys, especially when your children are about to get new ones. If the toy has sentimental value, see if you can fix it or repurpose it, otherwise, consider tossing it as well. On occasion, my children have objected to having their broken toys thrown away, but usually they are all right with it.

Donate Unused Stuff 

If there is something your child hasn’t touched in a few months, consider giving it away. You can sell it at a consignment shop or use it as a teaching lesson for helping less fortunate children. There are tons of donation centers that accept gently used toys around Christmas, which makes it the perfect time to get rid of unused items.

Photo by Sigismund von Dobsch├╝tz 

Regift High-Quality Items 

If you don’t want to give items to a shelter/don’t have the time/can’t find a place that will accept used items (a lot of our shelters prefer new items) consider regifting items that are still in good shape. Of course, make sure the items are clean and look like-new. If the item would be sold in a consignment shop, it is probably fine to regift. We sometimes set items like this aside to give to other children at birthday parties. I have also used adult items for family stocking presents, and as Christmas gifts for friends or family.

Consider Giving Something Special 

Often, what we give as donation items are things we ourselves no longer want. However, giving something that is still loved requires more sacrifice and can provide a more valuable lesson on sharing and the true meaning of what it means to have a giving and loving heart. Children (and adults, too!) may find that giving is even more fun when they give an item they still love and enjoy to someone else. This strategy obviously works better for older children who can understand the giving process.

The Benefits of Organizing before the Holidays 

 Holiday organizing provides several benefits to the family. First, you have space to put new items received at Christmas. Second, the items have more value because the gift recipient has fewer items. Third, giving away items in advance can help show children how important it is to have a spirit of love and giving to both families in need and their own circle of friends.

How do you organize before the holidays? 

 Brenda is a writer, editor, and homeschooling mom of 2 (ages 8 and 2).
As a homeschool graduate herself, and the sibling of 6 other homeschooled graduates, she offers assurances to worried homeschooling moms that it really does work out all right in the end.
Brenda blogs about homeschooling, crafts, life, and more at Schooling a Monkey.