Celebrating JEsus this Christmas

Celebrating Jesus at Christmas

I finished wrapping gifts at 3 am that Christmas morning.

too much christmas
image credit:Gerard Gellinger at Pixabay

I looked around somewhat in disgust as I realized that I had gone overboard once again… really overboard. There were gifts everywhere. And we only have two little ones. There has to be a better way to celebrate Christmas without making it all about the gifts.

Who’s birthday is it anyway?

We are supposed to be celebrating the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the World. But we are teaching greediness and debt. How can we find our way to Christ in the midst of this materialized world? I shared earlier that family advent devotions are one way that we can turn our attention to the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings.

How to Celebrate Jesus This Christmas

Celebrating Jesus
Celebrating Christmas ~ image credit: Jo at Pixabay

When I was small, I learned a little acronym for joy – Jesus, Others, You. We can find real joy if we serve Jesus first, then others, and then yourself. Let’s consider this acronym for celebrating Jesus this Christmas. 

This week I’m writing over on Lullaby Lark. It’s a short and sweet devotion to Finding JOY in Jesus this Christmas. Join me there today on her Cultivate Joy Series.

divider
curleque by Coffee at pixabay
legacy link-ups

There’s still time to share your Christmas thoughts on our Holiday Legacy Link-up

How do you create a legacy during the holidays? Link-up below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Thanks for participating!

divider
curleque by Coffee at pixabay

GUEST WRITERS

We are always looking for guest writers to introduce our Legacy Link-up. If you are interested in being a guest writer click here for upcoming topic ideas and then contact us to begin the process.

Mandy Farmer

Last-minute Shopping

Shop Amazon Gift Cards. Any Occasion. No Expiration.

4 Gift-Giving Ideas for Christmas


image credit:Gerhard-Gellinger at Pixabay

Christmastime with littles can be so exciting. It’s so much fun to watch them opening gifts with glee. We want to do so much and it’s easy to spend too much and buy too many gifts. Yes, sometimes, we go a little overboard with it. That is why we must be careful about the traditions that we are setting into place.

Be sure to talk with your spouse about your dreams and expectations of celebrating Christmas (actually all holidays.) Trust me it is tough to pull the reins in once you start the overindulgence of gift-giving and celebrating. It’s also too easy to end up in debt up to your gills. Placing Jesus first at Christmas needs to be our main goal.

In all truthfulness, those first few years are more for the parents and grandparents than for the child. The child really has no idea what is happening but overindulgence leads to spoiled children who will always expect large amounts of gifts which become more and more expensive.

What are you giving to Jesus for Christmas?

After all, it is His birthday. We seem to more concerned about whatever it is WE want for Christmas. I think we have it all backward. We might find if we focus on doing something for Jesus during the season He may bless us beyond our imagination

Consider these Gifts

Free photos at Pixabay

As a family, select a project you can do together as an offering to Jesus. There are many established projects you can do as an offering to God and to serve the community. Check your community for ways to reach out or give some of your time. If you can’t find a local project, select one of the wonderful nationwide projects such as The Shoebox Ministry, The Heifer Project, Angel Tree Project, or check with your pastor. Your church may have projects of this type. My own church has lists of projects that need support (like digging wells, building homes) or child sponsorship.

Invite friends to a birthday party for Jesus. Select one of the above-mentioned projects and raise the money and have each donate the gifts to fulfill the need. It would be a wonderful party and you would be helping someone out at the same time.

There is no better time than during the Christmas season to teach about caring for others. The excitement of giving can be wonderful to watch as it grows year after year in the hearts of our children.

Santa or No Santa?

I personally don’t have an opinion on this one. I don’t see a problem with it other than when and how you tell them that it’s all a fantasy. Our culture is so inundated with Santa that it’s a bit hard to remove it completely from your family. If we talk about the truth about Santa from the beginning, I believe you can include Santa with a rewarding end.

Patsy over at Insta-Encouragements linked up this “Explaining Santa to your Kids” Idea on the Legacy Linkup last month. You might want to check out what she says.

Here are a couple of other suggestions:

Book Reading and Discussion

There is a day some may not be aware of… St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 5th or 6th in the US. This would be a great time to read a book about the tradition of Santa and have a discussion with the family. A few books that might be helpful. {affiliate links}

One note, if you do not want to celebrate with Santa, be sure to explain the reasoning to your children. Also, encourage them to be understanding and to NOT spoil the tradition for those who do.

We are the Real Santa

I loved the idea I heard just last year… You and I are Santa Claus. Have each person in the family select a person and be their Secret Santa. Chose a person who has a need and then YOU secretly give them a gift without them knowing who it was from. Read the sweet story that I read here.

Three Gifts Just like Jesus

I recently heard that some families participate in this tradition. If Jesus received 3 gifts then we should only receive 3 gifts. The three gifts are based on the gifts given to Jesus from the Wise Men, a child receives:

  1. Gold (something valuable, their greatly desired gift)
  2. Frankincense (something spiritual to help them spiritually: a Bible, a devotional, worship CD, etc), and
  3. Myrrh (something for the body: clothes, perfume, etc)

See Keeper of the Home for more explanation. If I had learned of this tradition when my children were small, we might have worked toward making this a tradition.

Mandy Farmer

Legacy Link-up – Your Turn

Holiday Traditions Is Now Open

legacy link-ups

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


The Joy Of Including Jesus In Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching and if we blink our eyes we will find ourselves enjoying Christmas Day. But all our plans to include Jesus in Christmas will have been thrown out with the wrappings.

The way to have success is to plan ahead. My family always razzed at me because I was planning the next holiday before the present one was barely over. But the fact of the matter is that, if we don’t plan ahead, it ain’t gonna happen. So let’s talk about the joy of including Jesus in Christmas. After all, it IS HIS BIRTHDAY.

If you don't plan ahead, it ain't gonna happen. #preparingforChristmas Click To Tweet

Keeping Jesus in Christmas

Family advent devotions every night in December confirms that Jesus will not be left out of the celebration. As a child on the farm, each night before bed, we all sat around the coffee table which held our cardboard nativity set. Mom or Dad would read the devotion and we would learn and discuss one little portion of the Christmas story. It might have been about one character or maybe about a prophet from long before. We took turns being the one to add a new piece of the nativity each night until Christmas morning when we added baby Jesus.

Advent Devotions appeared a simple thing to do when I was growing up but as a parent, it seemed to be a huge struggle to make it happen. Possibly, you find it a challenge as well. Thanksgiving preparations can keep us very busy; we never think about the fact that the first Sunday of Advent happens just three days later. All of a sudden, it’s Advent and we haven’t found the creche nor the devotions to go with it.

Start Now, even if you’re late

First, let me say, “so what if you are late”. Get started and you will find it really doesn’t matter. Your children won’t remember that you missed the first week or a day or two in between. (I’m pretty sure it happened in my family.) Remember the saying, “better late than never”?

Include Jesus in your own way

Also, remember that you don’t have to do it just like your parents did. It’s a different age and a different world. Life is much faster and crazier. Try a different time of day. Enjoy the lesson during a meal. Breakfast could be the only time the family congregates together. Time management sources so do the most important things first in your day. So many Advent lessons should be done at breakfast rather than bedtime.

Possibly, it is just too difficult to get the entire family together at the same time every. Just select a time that the majority of the family is together and start. Make it clear that you want everyone to participate as much as possible and go forward from there.

Find a Way to Include Jesus

My greatest desire for the Christmas season is to be sure I have included Jesus in the season. The first way to do this is through your family devotion time. We need to find ways to include the Lord in all our activities of the season; however, Advent devotions keep Christ forefront and center every day.

Find a Creche Now

Once you have purchased one, you are set forever. Though you may want to change it up as your children grow. Start with something non-breakable and work yourself up to the beautiful porcelain display. Here’s a thought, once you have one, maybe you should store it with the Thanksgiving decorations instead of the Christmas decorations.

If you are creative and plan way ahead, you can go to a ceramics class and make your own pieces. Then purchase just the stable. I did this for my mother and we added pieces each year. Of course, this is for once your children are old enough to understand not to touch them. 🙂


For your preschoolers, purchase a toy set that they can play with. If you want the pretty set, go for it. Just purchase the playset for your toddler to enjoy.

Here are a few you might like:


We may earn a small commission for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support our work in bringing you spiritual encouragement and other favorite product reviews. Thank you.

The Advent Devotions

Some nativity sets will come with a booklet of devotions. However, you may need to find something appropriate for the ages of the children. Of course, you could certainly just read scriptures and have a discussion. Here’s a Bible Reading Plan from a friend of mine.

Many free advent devotions can be found online. Or search out the myriads of books you can use. If your children are small, select a few Christmas Bible storybooks.

Children love hearing the stories over and over and that would be fine. For years, I purchased a new Christmas book every year. My children had their favorites from the collection which they still seek out when they are home for the holidays.

Advent Devotions for Families

My good friend and blogger, Bettie Gilbert, offered this free Advent devotional for families on her blog this year. She said I could offer here as well.

US Advent Devotions

Otherwise, a bit of goo-gling will certainly turn up many other possibilities. Here are a few others I have enjoyed.




Other Advent Alternatives

1) Jesse Tree Devotionals – The Jesse tree is based on Isaiah 11 where the prophet foretells the coming of Christ through the “stump of Jesse”. The lessons are the genealogy of Christ beginning in Genesis through Jesse and King David and on up to Mary and Joseph. Ann Voskamp has a wonderful book your family will enjoy, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. {see above link}

2) Mary and Joseph’s Journey to Bethlehem – an alternative to the Elf on the Shelf using Mary and Joseph. I just learned of this idea the other day. But it sounds wonderful to me. Check it out here.

Some Favorite Christmas Books

Must Have Christmas Books
Photo credit Sobima at Pixabay

I made a habit of purchasing a new Christmas book every year. Some of these became favorites which we were sure to read every year. Others make beautiful coffee table decor. Find my list of Christmas books here.

The Best Way to Include Jesus in Christmas

Keeping Jesus in Christmas makes all the difference in how the season turns out. Focusing on Jesus during the season also keeps our hearts and minds set straight.

Actually, it’s something we should be doing all year long. As God instructed the Israelites long ago…

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9

I encourage you to start an Advent devotion tradition this year of including Jesus in Christmas and then continue into the New Year, focusing on Jesus every day. You will find joy in the journey.

Mandy Farmer

Your Turn … Legacy Link-Up

What are some of your favorite traditions and recipes at Christmas? Share the joy and link up below!

legacy link-ups

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


The Joy of Scaring My Brother

I am basking in sheer joy, remembering all the fun of scaring my brother Jason. How do I even convey the merriment that resulted from all the planning and plotting? The quiet moments I patiently waited in his closet or under his bed. The restraint I mustard to crawl slowly into his room to scare the wits out him. I enjoyed scaring my brother.

I can’t remember why I started scaring my brother. Maybe it was the usual older sister/sibling rivalry type of thing. But whatever the case, mischief lay in my heart and it sought its way out through this avenue.

Plan your work and work your plan

My plan was very simple. I was to scare my brother and make him scream like a little girl. The plotting of “when” and “how” to scare my brother became my biggest challenge. These were elements which required great thought. It needed to have the biggest impact- making him screaming like a girl.

I probably picked a day when he pestered me the most. You know… kinda let all the frustration build. Like marinating meat, all day. I let the frustration marinate my mischievious thoughts. Revenge may be best served cold, but this revenge was best served in the dark.

Michele are you in here?

The five best words to hear him speak were “Michele? Are you in here?” He spoke them with a trembly voice. Mahwahahaha! I had him! Once he spoke those words, I knew the fear was in him. He knew to keep tabs on me in the evening. Watching me, seeing if I was in the kitchen, or brushing my teeth or in my bed. And if I wasn’t, it was time to be afraid… VERY AFRAID! I would make sure to get ahead of the evening’s bedtime routine. Shutting the light off in my room gave him a false sense of me being at bay.

I will start with my very best scare. I decided that I would lay under his bed, near the edge so I could watch for him. Waiting silently, patiently- for the sound of his feet padding down the hallway. Finally, I could see his feet standing in the doorway, pausing for a moment and then the words “Michele? Are you in here?”, followed by silence as he slowly entered the room. Pausing at the closet door he threw it open. But no Michele there. Silence again.

I could tell in the silence he was trying to decide if it was safe. Unfortunately, for him, it was NOT! Hardly able to contain my excitement, I would mentally tell myself to keep calm; the best part is coming! I resorted often to holding my hand over my mouth for fear he could hear me breathing, or worst yet, snickering to myself.

Scaring my brother

The pounding of my heart indicated that if I didn’t yell “Boo!” or “Rar!” soon, I was going be the first child at the age of eight to die of cardiac arrest under her brother’s bed. NO WAY! That wasn’t gonna be me.

My brother had decided the coast was clear and hopped into bed. I could hear him settle in. I slowly took my position nearest the edge of his bed, got my right arm ready, cause I was gonna swing it up and grab him! READY? Taking a deep breath in, I prepared myself for one smooth motion which would be followed by “Rar!”. SET? All systems are “go” Michele! GO! My hand swings up to the top of the bed and it hits his right shoulder as I scream out “Rar!”

JACKPOT! He screams like a girl while launching straight into the air. Blankets flying. I can hear the clatter of coffee cups and chairs shuffling about as my parent’s rocket from the living room to the hallway and then to my brother’s room. Asking him what is going on, why all the screaming?

But I am not even in his room. No, no… I already had done my “roll and run”, assuring that I would beat the parental calamity coming down the hallway. I was neatly tucked in my bed, faking sleep. So innocent. I had my mouth agape with a bit of drool trickling down to make it look sincere.

The Spanish Inquisition

Then I heard it. The tribunal coming down the hallway. I think my dad wore 4 x 6 ‘s on his feet as well as his hands. They knew the routine. They knew it was me, but they would never, EVER catch me at it. “Michele!”. “Michele, get up!”. I opened my eyes as if in a dream state, but there is no fooling mom, especially when I have such a “flair” for these events.

My dad was a big man. 6′ 7″ of him stood, looming in the doorway. Behind him, my brother, sniveling softly. Scaring my brother was totally frowned upon. He did not see well and I took great advantage of that once he removed his glasses. Somewhere I knew I felt bad, just a bit, for scaring him. But the joy of hearing him screamed outweighed whatever punishment that would await.

One Last Time, For Old Times Sake

The last scare, one of many good scares, was in our late high school years. I remember reading a book and seeing my brother come by my room and could hear him getting ready for bed. Then, like lightning, it hit me that I had not scared that boy in years! No time like a present, let’s do this one last time. Can’t let him think I’ve lost my touch!

A grin spread across my face. I wished I could have slinked out of my room, up and over items laying in the way- just like the Grinch did when he was stealing all the Christmas gifts from the Who’s in Whoville. But I was no Grinch and this was going require ninja-like moves. He was all the way across the other side of the basement.

The creature from the other side of the basement

Hiking up my jammies and putting my hair into a ponytail, I prepared for the ambush. I walked half-way slowly, one foot in front of the other, like the Indians did- not making a sound. Then as I could see his doorway, I dropped to my knees and began crawling. The same old joy began effervescing up from my mischievous heart. I had to stop a few times and put my head down to keep from laughing. Man! This was going to be epic! One last time is about all I have because we are not eight and seven years old anymore. I am seventeen and he is sixteen. He is big and fast.  I am extra vulnerable because I am crawling on the floor.

No longer having carpet to crawl on, I begin the trek across the cold linoleum. I am thinking about what I am going to say or do. But the merriment overcomes me and I let out a little snort. I freeze. Jason calls out, “MICHELE?!” I remain silent. Ah! Deep in the recesses of his mind, he remembers and then I remember all the scares, all the waiting in the closets and jumping out. All the screaming like a girl. Till finally, the hilarity of it all makes me bust out laughing and collapse on the floor.

Jason lets out a scream and throws on the bedside lamp. I am on the floor heaving with laughter. Putting on his glasses, he grabs a pillow and begins to give me whop after whop. But I don’t care. It was a great scare and probably my last scare. Scaring my brother was terribly fun and somewhere I know I should be sorry, but it was just too therapeutic.  Maybe the biggest scare is this story made it to print! HA!

Michele
#surrogate mom

An Interview With A Surrogate Mom


Years ago I saw a movie about a mother who became a surrogate for her daughter who wasn’t able to conceive a child. I thought, “What a wonderful gift of love; a wonderful gift of legacy.”

What a wonderful gift of love and legacy. #surrogacy #surrogatemom Click To Tweet

Surrogacy is probably something most of us haven’t really thought about unless you are struggling with infertility. Other than seeing that movie, I know I haven’t really given it much thought. And still, I never thought that surrogacy would touch my life until a few years ago.

My nephew’s wife, after having their own three children, Chelsie decided she wanted to be a surrogate mother.

Chelsie was more than happy to share her experience as a surrogate mom. So, we will do that today in a Q & A format. If you have more questions. I am sure that Chelsie would be willing to answer them in the comments.

NOTE: There is much debate about whether surrogacy is a good thing or not. We are not here to debate the right or wrong today, but rather to share in the joy that Chelsie gets from being a surrogate mother.

So, Let’s Get Started

Chelsie thank you for talking with me today about your experience as a surrogate mother. I am excited to share it with my readers.

Tell us a bit about you and your family

I’m 32 years old. I have 3 of my own children. Morgan is 14, Braylon is 13, & Nolan is almost 12. My husband Landon and I have been married for 14 almost 15 years. He works full time, is going to college, is the football & wrestling coach for our son Nolan’s teams.

I work full time also, & am also currently take a few college classes. My favorite things to do are to spend time with my family, running/working out/hiking, traveling, reading &  anything outside.

Wow! You have a busy life! How did you become interested in surrogacy?

I first became interested in surrogacy after reading a book. It was a surrogate telling her story. I then met people through one of my jobs & they really inspired me. Landon also had 2 close friends who were experiencing fertility issues.

I looked into it when Nolan was just a baby. And I realized how much time & energy I would have to devote to it & decided now was not the time.

6 years later, I had a conversation with Landon and said that I still had been thinking about it and really, really, truly wanted to be a surrogate. Landon still to this day doesn’t understand my desire to be a surrogate. He thinks it’s a little weird & that’s okay, a lot of people do. 

I’m glad that your husband is supportive of your dream to be a surrogate mom. It’s important in any marriage to be supportive of one another’s dreams.

How many times have you become a surrogate mother?

I have been a surrogate twice. The first time I delivered twins for intended parents that live in Prague, Czech Republic. I also delivered a singleton with parents that live in Wisconsin.

Yes, I plan on doing it again. As a matter of fact, I have just started medications last week to hopefully become pregnant again. I always get my husband’s & children’s blessings before I start on the long surrogacy journey. 

So, how did you find a family for whom to be a surrogate?

I used a surrogacy agency. I researched multiple agencies. After finding the one that I liked best, I completed an online application, they responded and we made an appointment to meet with the agency.

The meeting was 6 to 7 hours long! We discussed everything you could think of. For example, how many embryos are you willing to carry, what are your thoughts on selective reduction, how much interaction would you like with the intended parents before, during & after pregnancy.

Landon & I had each took a 2.5-hour long psychology tests, verbal and oral.

The selection process to become a surrogate

After the long appointment at the surrogacy agency we waited to see if they would accept us. I got the phone call that they accepted me a few days later. We had to wait for the psych tests to come back.
Then you wait until the agency calls you and tells you that they think they have found intended parents that would be a good match with you.

Getting a Match.

They tell you about the couple & if the surrogate is interested & thinks the couple might be a good fit the agency sends the surrogate a letter the intended parents wrote along with a picture.
The surrogate tells the agency yes or no. If yes, then the intended parents would then get the surrogates letter and photo, if no then the agency would let you know when they think they might have found different intended couple.

The Match Meeting.

If the intended parents say yes to your letter and photos a match meeting date is set. The match meeting takes place at the agency. I was so nervous! There you meet & discuss everything that will eventually go into your contract.

Medical Approval.

If you agree on everything and decide to move forward, the next step would be getting medically approved by the intended parents choice of infertility doctors and clinic. Once you get medically approved and your contract is signed, a transfer date is set, your medications will get delivered, and you’ll begin your medications & set all of your upcoming appointments with the fertility clinic.

Did they use your eggs to create the embryos?

The agency that I decided to work with only works with gestational surrogates. That means that the surrogate is not using her eggs. The intended parents can either us their own egg or sometimes they have to use a donor egg. In my 2 surrogacy journeys we have used the intended mother’s egg. The other intended parents had to use donor eggs. 

I could never give up my baby, how can you do that?

It was never my baby. You go into it with a completely different mindset. I felt more pressure for my surrogate babies to be healthy than my own. The parents are trusting you with the most important thing in their lives! I didn’t take that responsibility lightly.

Do you think about the babies?

Yes, I do. I always explain the relationship as me being an aunt. I love them, I think about them, I wonder & worry about them. The most amazing part though is that then I usually get a picture or a video of them, if not I’ll text the parents.

Did you get to hold and see the Intended parents holding their baby/babies after you gave birth?

Yes! It was always the most important thing in our match meeting with the intended parents. My children must be allowed to go to the hospital and see the intended parents holding their baby. I felt it was really important for my children to be able to see the baby with their parents. We are very fortunate to still have great relationships with the families and still get to see the babies and their families.

That’s awesome that your children can have a part in the whole process.

What is the best part of your surrogacy experience?

This is my favorite question that makes me get tears in my eyes! Seeing the parents holding their babies. Then as they grow, just watching them with their children. It makes my heart melt. I love that I’ve taught my children it’s okay to do something different and that not everyone agrees with.

Chelsie, thanks for opening up your heart with us today. This has certainly helped me understand more about surrogacy. And I feel it has for others as well. We wish you well on this next journey of surrogacy you are beginning.

I’m happy to share with you. If you have questions please ask. I am sometimes amazed at what people think surrogacy is. “I know I have made a huge impact on so many people’s lives.”

“I know I have made a huge impact on so many people’s lives.” #surrogacy #surrogatemother Click To Tweet

To learn more about surrogacy, go to Hope Surrogacy. Or feel free to asked Chelsie your questions in the comments. She will be glad to respond.

Mandy Farmer

There’s Still Time to Link-Up

New Legacy Through Adoption #legacylinkup #infertility #adoption #surrogatemom
Click here to Link-up your Adoption and Surrogacy Stories Here until August 31, 2019

#bullies #tickandstones #attitudeofchrist

Bullying: Sticks And Stones Crush our Hearts

School Time Troubles

It’s time to send our children off to school. And we all know that going to school can be pretty stressful; not just due to studies, but also peer pressure and social stresses. I thought this would be a good time to talk about how to help our children deal with bullies.

These days we hear so much about bullying, so much that it seems we are majoring on the wrong-doer and maybe we are not teaching our children how to deal with bullying when it happens. I don’t mean to make light of bullying, because certainly, I have been on the receiving end of it myself, as a child and as a mother having to comfort my children.

Bullying can crush our hearts. Bullying is not an acceptable way to act and often someone needs to step in and intervene. But how can we help our children through these times? Running straight to the principal may not be your best option, at least not your first option.

Steps For Dealing With a Bully #bullies #schooltime Click To Tweet
#bully #meangirls #roughandtoughboys
free image from Pixabay

Preparing Our Children to Deal with Bullies

What we must teach our children is that in this sinful world, bullying will always be out there. As Christians, we’re given that promise…

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…. If they persecuted Me they will persecute you… for they do not know the One who sent Me.”

John 15:19-21

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

That promise is a bit harder to claim in comparison to the ones we choose to claim, isn’t it?

Along with the promise that “we will have troubles” we should remind our children that God always goes with us through whatever we may face. Talk about men and women in the Bible that face dire circumstances but God walked with them through it all. Just a few to start with are Joseph, David, Daniel, the Hebrew children, and Jesus, himself. Introduce and help them memorize verses like this one from Isaiah 43

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
    O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

First, When Your Child is Bullied with Words, Ask This

1. Is there any truth in what the person said?

I’m reminded of an episode of Little House on the Prairie. Laura had been in an altercation with Nelly ‘again’. Upset that Nelly had called her father a smelly farmer, she finally told her father. Charles asked Laura, “Well, it is true, right?” Then he explained why he smelled like a barn and sweat. Because he worked hard and that was something to be proud of.

a. Become Better, Not Bitter

If there is truth in what was said, then we should correct what can be corrected. Use the situation as a tool to improve ourselves. Let it make you better, NOT Bitter. Just as a test shows us what we haven’t yet mastered, our trials show us areas in our life that need improving. Yes, criticism is hard to accept, but it can make us a better person if we allow it too. 1 Peter 1:6-7 instructs us …

” So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold-though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

In the Little House episode, Charles can’t help it that he gets smelly while he works. He can try to improve by bathing or changing clothes when he goes to town but even that may not be practical. So he needs to be proud that he has a job and that he is a hard worker.

Focus on the good stuff. Don’t dwell on the negative thoughts that were expressed. Make a list of all your good qualities. Review them over and over in your mind. Remind yourself that you are not defined by that one negative aspect in your life. This is not so that you can downgrade the bully by telling him you are better than him. This is self-talk to remind yourself that God made you

Secondly, Whether there is Truth or Not

A. Be Encouraged

If there is no truth, Be encouraged! because we know that through our struggles and weaknesses, we are strong in Christ.

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
—2 Corinthians 12:10

B. Forgive and Forget

– Again we must forgive and forget. Think of the times that Jesus was wrongly accused, even on the cross He said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do“. ( Luke 23:34 ) And later in Acts 7:54-60, we see that Stephen, forgave his persecutors even as they stoned him to death. So shouldn’t we do likewise? Aren’t we taught in the Bible to forgive as we are forgiven? Ephesians 4:32–5:2. Our actions show others how much Christ loves them.

C. Respond in Love

– We must respond in love. Remember that the bully probably does not yet know Christ. We need to show them the love and mercy of Christ by how we react to them. Remember, that we are the only Jesus some people will ever see. Responding in love will also, many times, dumbfound your accuser because they will be expecting you to hurl insults back at them. When we react with love and mercy, it will many times silence them.

Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

Psalm 8:2

I recall a time in my life when I was first out on my own. I didn’t have laundry equipment and had to take my clothes to a laundromat. Finding a dryer with time left on it, I placed my laundry into the empty dryer.

I was later folding these clothes, a woman came into the laundromat and began accusing me of stealing her clothes from the dryer. I replied that there had been no clothes in the dryer and that she was welcome to go through my stacks of clothing to find anything that might be hers. She continued to accuse and yell, backing me up against the dryers and hitting me in the face. But when I would not retaliate, she finally, gave up and walked out.

It turned out that this situation for me became a blessing in disguise. When my church family heard the story, a lady came to me and said, “You will no longer have to go to a laundromat. Bring your dirty clothes to my house every Monday and I will wash them for you.” She not only washed them but made any repairs needed as well!

D. Pray for your Accuser / Abuser

Be a Prayer Warrior. We must Pray for our Accuser. 

“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you

Matthew 5:44

There is usually a reason someone lashes out at us. They may have a bad situation at home, they may be grieving a loss, they may be jealous of you, they may be under conviction of the Holy Spirit. Look for these things and pray for them.

Then look for ways that you can reach out to them as a friend. Find out what their interests are and give a gift or strike up a conversation about their interests. Be a friend.

See if you can find out why they want to lash out. You might be amazed at the results. I’ve heard of “enemies becoming dear friends” because one of them reached out in love.

E. Remember God is With You

Be Encouraged… God is with you and God will be glorified!

Our true purpose on earth is to glorify God. There are times when our trials can bring glory to Him because of the way we react. Others will see Jesus in us when we respond as Jesus would.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

2 Corinthians 4: 8-11

F. Endurance Brings Reward

Be Encouraged .. You will be rewarded!

We can be encouraged when insulted or persecuted because our reward in heaven will be great.

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11″Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12″Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12
Prepare Your Child for Trouble at School #bullying #parenting #school Click To Tweet

Additionally, Here Are A Few Ways to Prepare Your Children in Advance for Bullies

The temptation is to encircle our children and prevent any harm from coming to them; however, this may only make things worse. Our children need to learn to stand up for themselves and to resolve conflict on their own.

They don’t need Mommy running to their defense all the time. This makes them feel and seem helpless. It could also cause them more harm because a bully is likely to retaliate when their mischief is reported.

Rather parents should prepare their children for troubled times by discussing real-life situations and Biblical accounts that reveal how to respond when troubles come.

1. Study the Scriptures Together

1 Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.
2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.
3 They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.

Psalm 119

Each morning before you send them to school, read the scriptures together. This doesn’t need to be lengthy and drawn out. Read the scripture and talk about what it means in our own lives. Just one or two verses could do the trick. Here are a few places to start.

  • The Proverbs – Proverbs discusses character and lends itself to discussion. Plus Proverbs has 31 chapters. Chose a verse or two for the chapter that correlates to the day of the month. Read chapter 1 on day 1
  • Bible Story Book – There are many storybooks available. I like Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping The Greatest Gift. While this is an Advent book, it can easily be used throughout the year. It begins with Adam and Eve and relates each lesson to the genealogy of Christ. Talk about the character of each man or woman. How did they respond to adversity? How can we relate that to our situation?
  • Sunday School Take-Home Papers – Some Sunday School curriculum comes with take-home papers that give scriptures to read at home during the week. This would be advantageous because it will correlate with what they are learning in Sunday School.
  • Look for More Ideas in Gladys Hunt’s Honey for a Child’s Heart and Honey for a Teen’s Heart.
Regular Family Bible Study Makes for School Success. #schooltime #studies Click To Tweet

2. Memorize Scriptures Together

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Joshua 1:8

I cannot emphasize enough on the importance of scripture memory. If you want to be encouraged by the Lord throughout the day, memorize scripture. It’s the only way God can bring it to mind in the middle of your trouble. Here are a few ways to help your children memorize.

  • Start with Sunday School Materials. That aforementioned S.S. paper has a memory verse on it. learn it together as a family. Write it out and put it on the refrigerator. Recite it aloud every time you go through the kitchen. Ask each other, “What is this week’s verse?” (NOTE: I’m not averse to giving awards for scripture memory)
  • Make little verse cards that fit into your pockets. Then review it all day long. It will surprise you how quickly you learn.
  • Memory Apps – I enjoy Scripture Typer which is available online, or on your phone or kindle. It keeps track of what you are learning, helps you review, and you can add your own scriptures in your preferred version.

As an added bonus, did you realize that the more you use your brain, the better it works? My cousin, now a surgeon, wondered how in the world he would learn and memorize all he needed while in medical school. His father told him, “Memorize Scripture”.

What?

More memory work?

Yes! It works too!

The more you use your brain the better it works! #scripturememory #successinlife Click To Tweet

3. Pray Together

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Matthew 18:20

We never let our children set foot on the school campus before praying together. The old adage says that a family that prays together stays together. I think more than staying together, you become one. It creates a bond not easily broken. This bond is a force that reminds us that we are not alone. Our child will know that you are cheering for him and also that God is fighting for him.

Prayer has a way of helping us see things from one another’s points of view. Hearing another pray causes us to feel his pain. It also helps us celebrate big wins that might otherwise go unnoticed. It’s also training for adulthood when they may be asked to pray in public.

Praying Together Creates a Team Bond. #praytogether #bondingtogether Click To Tweet

I hope that this will be a help for you as it was for me and my family.

May God bless you.

Mandy Farmer

Do you have other suggestions that you implement with your family? Share with us in the comments.

adoption changed my legacy

Adoption Changed My Legacy & the Legacy LinkUp

Adoption Made Me A Momma

So MY legacy changed. And, of course, my kids’ legacy changed when we brought them into our family and received paperwork that said they officially belonged to us.

Likewise, God chose me.

Because He chose me, glorious grace is poured into my everyday life and inheritance is prepared for me. My life and legacy would be different if I didn’t recognize my identity in Christ and follow Him.

Ephesians 1:11 from The Message:

“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.”

Ephesians 1:11

Other translations of that verse say

  • we were chosen (NIV), we are
  • united with Christ (NLT),
  • we were made a heritage (ASV),
  • and we have obtained an inheritance (ESV).
God adopted me and changed my legacy! #adoption #familyofgod @kristinhtaylor Click To Tweet

God made our family possible.

Consequently, His legacy gets to continue through us to our children. I didn’t grow my three kids in my womb, but my husband Greg and I prepared for them and embraced them from the beginning. We named them and prayed for them before we held them in our arms.

Adoption Changed Their Legacy & Mine

HIll Family
Kristin’s family

Our legacy is shaped by them and their legacy is shaped by us. Cate, Ben, and Rachel to do anything to be our children. They’re named in our will and called daughters and son long before the court recognized that truth with new birth certificates. We chose them in the beginning and we have chosen them every day since – even when they’re loud and wild and grumpy and inconsiderate and obviously still learning like we all are. Adoption changed their legacy!

We chose them in the beginning and we have chosen them every day since. #adoption @kristinhtaylor Click To Tweet

God Chose us

Likewise, God chose me in the beginning and still chooses me today – even when I stumble. Jesus says people will know we are in His family by our love. Of course, sometimes I don’t do a good job of representing my eternal family name, but this truth is my foundation and I want it to be my family’s legacy.

God chose me in the beginning and still chooses me today – even when I stumble. #adoptioninChrist #adoption @kristinhtaylor Click To Tweet

Just like Greg and I gave Cate, Ben, and Rachel our last name, God calls us His own. Just like we welcomed our kids into the responsibilities and privileges of being in a family, God welcomes us into His home.

Yes, there are glimpses of His kingdom here on earth,

God Adopts Us into His Family
image created by Kristin Hill Taylor

but there’s also a promise of the eternal home Jesus is preparing for us. Because…

  • we are God’s.
  • our names have been changed and our covenants sealed.
  • we serve a God who believes in life.

We adopted our children because the God who gives us all life made that possible – and, thankfully, our legacy will never be the same.

Kristin

Our Legacy will never be the same. #adoption #familyofGod @kristinhtaylor Click To Tweet

Thank you, Kristin, for sharing a piece of your adoption story.

Lastly, this month we are focusing on adoption. Adoption changes our Legacy. How has adoption changed your legacy? It’s time for the Legacy Link-Up. Come and tell your adoption legacy story.

New Legacy Through Adoption
Image credit: free on Canva.com Modified by Mandy
  • Have you received a new legacy through adoption?
  • Do you have the pleasure of being an adoptive parent?
  • Did you create a new legacy for your child through adoption?
  • Family of God?

We want to hear your legacy story. Please share it here on the link-up.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


A Different Legacy ~ Adoption

A man and woman in love. 

They get married, experience a positive pregnancy test. It’s an exciting time! A well-planned “gender reveal” on Instagram or Facebook. Pictures of the growing belly, a baby shower, or maybe two baby showers. The baby makes their appearance in the world. The posts continue chronicling the life of this tiny human as they grow into toddler-hood, grade school, high school and more. Hopefully, the baby is loved and cared for in a way that nurtures them to grow into strong, responsible adults. But that doesn’t always happen.

Imagine a different story.

Unexpected Pregancy.

In contrast, a young man and woman enraptured by love find themselves tangled in a relationship far beyond where they meant to be or maybe they did mean to be here but thought themselves immune to pregnancy. Her period is late. She takes a home pregnancy test, the lines appear as she was hoping they wouldn’t. Boy dumps girl. The girl is alone and afraid. A girl born in China. A child removed from their home because of suspected neglect or abuse. A child can be brought into the world of adoption in many ways.

Adoption ~ A Different Legacy

God’s perfect plan even from the beginning. He knew Adam and Eve would choose to eat from the tree. God knew Jesus would die for the sins of the world and he knew that Christ would make it possible for people from every tribe and tongue to know His saving grace. He planned for his people to be adopted into his family because of His son, our Savior, and brother. Of course, in a perfect world, Eve would not have even been tempted to eat.

In a perfect world, marriage first and parents excited to grow their family. We don’t live in a perfect world and that makes adoption necessary and beautiful for those of us in relationship with our Heavenly Father through the blood of our adopted brother, and for those children that need a forever home. A legacy changed by adoption. For every tribe and tongue and for children born in imperfect situations.

We are “Back to the Future” fans.

boy future
image credit Rubylia at pixabay

In the movies, what Doc and Marty do in the past changes the world ahead. Adoption changes the world ahead for a child. Hopefully, each adopted child has a better chance at a successful life than they might have had with their biological parents. I believe that is the hope for all parties involved with adoption, if not, what would be the purpose of adoption?

I am an adoptive mom.

It’s never at the forefront of my mind because this is my family and this is my normal. Our four kids are ours and I truly can’t imagine my life any different. I do know that these four children would not be ours had it not been for loving birth mothers. Yes, especially in the world we live in today, my opinion is that any mother that chooses life for their child is a loving mother.

Any mother that chooses life for their child is a loving mother. #adoption Click To Tweet

Adoption changes the trajectory of life to a different legacy

Each of my children’s legacy is different than it would have been because their biological mother chose life.  Every adopted child’s legacy is different than it would have been.

All of our children were raised in a safe, loving environment with imperfect parents that love and serve Jesus. Adoption has given them stability and allowed the best of their God-given traits to shine through. They all love Jesus and are thriving where God has them.

  • One still has a mother, and a father too. She has had a thriving online business because she taught herself the skills necessary to do it and is currently moving up the ranks in a job she loves. She is fierce yet gentle and is the underdogs biggest fan.
  • Another is rising in the ranks of leadership and has traveled the country working with a ministry that uses state government to teach kids leadership skills.
  • The third spent 10 years running track and cross country and has amazing friends from the time he spent with his team.
  • The last survived and thrived. Living in this country will give her opportunities that never would have been possible if she had stayed where she was born.
Every adopted child's legacy is different than it would have been. #adoption #legacy Click To Tweet

Praise God for Birth Mothers

birth mothers
image credit free at Canva

The fact is, none of these things would be true if they had been raised with their biological families. We have a pretty good idea what would have happened to them and are fairly certain it would not have looked anything like it is today.  Praise God for that truth.  Praise God for birth mothers that chose life.  We praise God for birth mothers that chose adoption. Above all, we praise God that we have been blessed with a beautiful family that God chose for us.

We praise God for birth mothers that chose life. #birthmothers #adoption Click To Tweet

Has adoption always been easy?

Not at all. Raising kids is hard. Adopted kids deal with grief and loss that they often don’t understand when they’re young. Walking that with them can be difficult. But let’s face it, parenting any child is hard. Maybe our struggles were different, but family is family. God is not surprised! Every child is a child wanted by God and every child is fearfully and wonderfully made in His image.

In conclusion, adoption makes it possible for every child to have a different legacy.

Christy Richardson
Christy Richardson

Thank you Christy Richardson for sharing your adoption story.

August Legacy Theme is Adoption

legacy Linkup Adoptions
Link-Up Opens August 12

Hey friends! Let’s talk adoption this month… Natural and Spiritual. Do you have an adoption story? Are you adopted? Did you place you child for adoption? Have you adopted a child?

We would love for you to link-up with us next week! Kristen Taylor will be our guest writer sharing her story. You will be able to link-up on that post. Can’t wait to read it.

In the Meantime,

Have you found the Better Together Show on TBN? They come on at noon-ish every weekday. You need to check in with them for some awesome Christian encouragement.

Watch this Better Together Christian Women Talk Show on TBN. They discuss, “Why is adoption a reflection of God’s love for us?” Let’s talk -natural and spiritual adoption.

Christ in Christmas

How to Keep Christ in Christmas

Luke 10:41-42 The Message (MSG)
41-42 The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

How Do We Keep Christ in Christmas?

In our anticipation of Christmas, we often become stressed and over-worked planning and preparing for this most blessed holiday. Somehow, in the mix, we end up forgetting what it’s all about. I want to do whatever it takes to find Christ in Christmas so that others will see Him too.

Here are a few ideas I have that will help us throw out the unnecessary and help keep the focus on Christ this year.

First of all, Limit the Decorations

SImple Christmas

We’ve found that we can get in the spirit with very little decor. We’ve limited our decorations to a small tree, a wreath on the door, and one special seasonal spot in the living room (the mantel if you have one.) We have a little cubby in the entertainment center which used to hold a TV. My hubby installed a mirror in the back of it and this is now our one place to put some seasonal decorations.) We have little or no cost and little or no headaches getting it done! Make you decorations things that will remind you of Christ such as a nativity scene.

 

How about a family tradition decorating the tree. Try this idea :

For every ornament placed on the tree be able to relate it to Christ somehow or a prayer for a person or nation.

Secondly, Limit the Activities

Choose Christmas activities that include the whole family and that keep Christ in Christmas. Attend a religious Christmas concert or presentation. Participate in selfless projects where you are showing Christ to others. Such as serving at the homeless shelter or even caroling. My family went caroling to friends and neighbors every Christmas Eve and delivered Cinnamon rolls. What fond memories I have of this annual event.

We had a family friend who limited attending Christmas parties to ONE for the season! Some activities are unavoidable, such as school concerts or workplace events, but think of the time and money saved if you stop attending every party for which you receive an invitation. Give your regrets and move on.  This will give you so much more family time and reduce all that rushing around trying to get places.

In Contrast, Add Family Advent Devotions

When I was growing up, we always took time for advent devotions. We added a piece of the nativity each night through Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, We read the final devotion and placed baby Jesus in the creche BEFORE passing out gifts. This is still a vivid memory for me. I do my best to read advent devotions with our family every year.

Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift {affiliate link} is a wonderful book fo advent using the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree teaches us how God had a plan from the very beginning of time. You will read about the people in Jesus’ ancestry beginning with Adam and Eve. The theme uses the scripture from Isaiah 11 “Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot.”

Ann gives the scriptures and beautifully tells the story with family discussion questions and an activity for the day. If you do these activities, Christ will certainly be kept in Christmas.

Join us as we  Keep Christ in Christmas!

Following the Truth

3 John 1:4

Photo credit: Guenther Dilligen @Pixabay Modified by Mandy Farmer

Following the Truth

I woke this morning and read this scripture. And immediately thought “THIS is what makes me most grateful.” That all my children are following the Truth.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth Click To Tweet

In a world where truth is whatever you think it is, I thank God that somehow Michael and I have managed to lead our children to The Truth and they have chosen to follow it. It is only by the grace of God and prayer.

 

What is Truth?  Continue reading