Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Almost everyone has treasures and traditions surrounding their Christmas celebrations.  Some of these get handed down generation to generation.  Others get left behind as children grow up, leave home, get married and make their own treasures and traditions.

These things play an important role in reminding us of family, loved ones, heritage and why we celebrate Christmas.

Here are a few of my treasures and traditions (more…)

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My grandboy Carter turns 7 in early January, and birthday gifts are an important topic.  He would love to get GI Joe action figures, a toy gun and a remote control helicopter–and anything he has asked for but doesn’t get for Christmas.

nativity from jerusalem

Of course, we are celebrating a very special birthday just a few days before Carter’s big day.  I wonder what Jesus would ask for, if we asked Him.  Last post we looked at four gifts He has clearly stated He would love to receive.  Today we consider four more gifts that would please our Savior (more…)

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What Can I Give Him?

“What can I give Him,

Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd

I would bring a lamb,

If I were a wise man

I would do my part.

Yet what can I give Him?

Give my heart.”

–Christina Rossetti

In my former church we sang this poem/song every Christmas.  It asks a great question.  At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus and give each other gifts.  It is only reasonable to consider what we might give Jesus for His birthday.

nativity ornament

He has given us some solid clues.  I will describe four of them in this post and four more in my next post.

I think Jesus would be so grateful for these gifts (more…)

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I will never forget the first time my mother came to visit after Steve and I were married.

My mother was an impeccable housekeeper.  I am not.  Everything in her home was clean, neat and in it’s place.  That might have been true in our home right after we moved in, but not since.

So I went into a frenzy trying to restore order, hide messes and clean every inch.  When she arrived I was exhausted.

At this season of Advent we anticipate the arrival of Jesus, the Lamb of God, the King of Glory.

And yet most of us scurry about getting ready for the coming of Christmas, not the coming of Christ.

Just think of it!

Jesus came to earth to be like us so we can be like Him.

Jesus came to visit us to tell us how much He loves us.

Jesus came into the darkness to shine as the light.

Jesus came walking on water, subduing the storms of our lives.

And so much more.

Every day during Advent I will post a very brief reminder of the gift to us that His coming is.

I will also be taking part in an Advent Blog Hop Series, based on Deeply Loved:  40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus by Keri Wyatt Kent.  It is hosted by Angie Mabry-Nauta.

I would also recommend you look at Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent, a “lovely, thoughtful book” by Enuma Okoro.

Most of all, I invite you to welcome Jesus into your heart and life, letting His coming be the center of your Christmas season.

And you don’t have to clean up the house—or your life—first.  He comes to you as you are.

What about you?  How has Jesus come to you lately.

C2012 Judy Douglass

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In my previous post I talked about “My Best Gifts for My Grandchildren.” Today we are looking at some even better–though rather intangible–gifts.  

So it’s Cyber Monday.  And I’m online shopping for my children and grandchildren.  I bet you are too.

In the short run, they so appreciate receiving the “things” they want.  In the long run, though, they will be far more grateful for gifts that will last their whole lives.

After all, they didn’t exactly love the clothes you got them last year.  Or that movie with a good message.  Or even the fun—and expensive—family trip to Disney—everyone wanted to do something different.

Tired of trying to choose the best Christmas gifts for your children?

They probably have more things than they need, and won’t really appreciate your gift if it isn’t exactly what they want.

And wouldn’t we rather give them something lasting and meaningful?  So even as I make purchases to give to the kids, I keep these three gifts in mind and try to find things that will contribute to their growth in each area.

When I was fairly new into parenting, I found myself making some wishes for my children.  If I could choose three things to give them that would help them have a great life, what would they be?

I did come up with three fairly comprehensive concepts to wish for and pray for and hopefully give to my kids.  So here they are:

Gift#1 A Relationship with God

Knowing God is foundational for life and the relationship that makes all others possible (1 John 5:20). A relationship with God offers forgiveness of sin, power for living, love, joy, peace, patience, wisdom, an eternal family, courage, comfort, perseverance…I could go on and on.

As I pray for my children and grandchildren, I find myself coming back to this most basic need of all: to know God.  To really know Him as Father, Savior, Redeemer, best friend, counselor.  So when I don’t know what to pray, this is where I go: “Lord, may they know You.”

Gift #2 A Good Character

A good name is to be more desired than great riches; favor is better than silver and gold. (Proverbs 22:1)

Character influences reputation, which affects our relationships with people, our confidence level, and our ability to achieve.  Character helps determine the contributions we will make in life and will contribute to peace of mind and a clear conscience.

Good character qualities to seek to grow in our children include integrity, responsibility, humility, generosity, discernment, kindness, self-discipline…and a sense of humor.

Gift #3 A Useful Life

What is a useful life?  One that utilizes gifts, abilities, talents and opportunities for the glory of God and the benefit of others.

Why is this important?  God has created each of us for a purpose.    He has given us what we need to fulfill that purpose, and he expects us to use those gifts, multiply them, be a good steward of them.  (Matthew 25:14-30).  So we need to help our children discover who he has made them to be and what he has designed them to do.

As our children grow into useful lives, they will sense their value, enjoy life and know they are contributing something significant.

My children are all grown now, with children of their own.  Though they continue to grow—and I continue to pray—there is plenty of evidence of wishes come true, of gifts received and lived out. I am grateful.

What about you? What gifts are you hoping to give your children?

c2012 Judy Douglass

Related article: My Best Gifts for My Grandchildren

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I love gifting.  To most anyone, but especially to my grandkids.

You won’t, however, usually find me giving the latest toy or “must have” item.

I want my four grandboys and one grandgirl to enjoy and appreciate the gifts they receive for me.  But I also want them to have real value for their lives.  So my presents to them usually fall in one of these six categories:


My first gifts—new babies, showers, every birthday and every Christmas—are always books.  I offer variety—old favorites, classics, new releases.   Board books, picture books, beginning readers.  Topics change:  trucks, tractors and Star Wars always win with the boys.  Grandgirl Madison has moved from princesses to horses.

I love reading to my grandkids, then letting them read to me, and finally just watching them reading on their own.  Books provide amazing adventures, take them to exotic places, introduce them to real heroes.


This is a broad category.  The boys love building and constructing; recent gifts have included Star Wars Legos and Lincoln Logs.  Jewelry kits and cooking always please Maddy.  Music of every kind is a hit. And I give art supplies galore—appropriate for every age, using every medium. The boys especially love painting dragons and cars and dinosaurs they can then play with.

Hand puppets play a key role in our frequent storytelling—lions and kangaroos and mice and koalas—and the all-time favorite is a realistic alligator.  Costumes allow them to be superheroes or knights or ninjas or cowboys, or the latest pre-teen idol.  A sand and water table has given the grandboys hours of wet fun on hot days.


One of my best gifts was the backyard playset—swings, a glider, a slide, a climbing wall, a fort–in my backyard. They have spent hours playing together there.  Our own bounce house has been a favorite, plus a slip-n-slide, bikes, a spring horse, even a pogo stick.

And sports equipment.  So many balls of every kind, shoes and practice shorts for soccer, soccer goals, a punching bag.  They burn up some of that incessant energy, strengthen their bodies and grow their skills.


I love to take my grandkids on fun outings.  Books stores and pet stores are always fun, the zoo is amazing—except I can’t keep up with them—and any place with a train or a carousel delights.   Science museum, children’s museum, even Chuck E. Cheese—we do it all together.  And the beach—can’t forget the beach.

I used to teach horseback riding, and a friend has been willing to give some lessons to all of my grands.  This is Maddy’s favorite—at 10 she is getting pretty good.

Living in Orlando provides so many attractions.  Gatorland was a big hit—we have pictures of them on an alligator and draped in a python for a real memory.  One year’s Christmas gift was an annual pass to Sea World for all the local family members.  This past year the Indiana group got passes to a climbing gym, which the boys love.


Any of these gifts can fall under the Time topic—if I do the different activities with them.  But sometimes Time means a trip to Chick-fil-A or watching a movie together, or playing games on my I-pad.  I love to just be with them.

I also give them Time they don’t really know about:  I pray for them all the time.


This last category is one I did with my children, and am now beginning to do with the grandkids:  Giving.  I love to help them choose toys or clothes to give to someone else who can use them.  I also give to Angel Tree in their names—providing gifts for children whose parents are in prison. Maddy and I together support a Haitian girl through Compassion—she loves writing to her.  I hope to expand this category more as the kids are old enough to understand their own giving.

Do I ever give a gift just because they want something?  Sure.  And I buy little trinkets and snacks when I go to visit them.  But most of the time I seek to give life-expanding presents that keep on giving.

And so far they all still love their Jeedoo (which is what they call me).

What about you?  What are your favorite gifts for the children in your life?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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In a church I used to attend, at Christmastime, we often sang  “What Can I Give Him?”

Christmas is, after all, a celebration of Jesus’ birthday.

Here are a few gifts I think Jesus will like:


Jesus talked often of the power of faith—of believing who He is and what He is like.  He tells us to have faith.  He asks, “Where is your faith?”  He tells us that nothing is impossible to those with faith.

Author Brennan Manning, in his wonderful book Ruthless Trust, describes trust as faith in action.  When I put feet to my faith, my belief in Jesus, I entrust myself, my life, my needs, my fears, my hopes and dreams to Him.  He gladly receives that gift, and gives amazing gifts in return.


In our relationships, we often look for proof of love from others in their actions.  “If you love me, you will….”

Jesus also looks for action that demonstrates that our love is true:  “If you love me, you will obey my teaching…” (John 14:23).  His teachings provide the how to’s for life and health and joy and meaning, and our obedience says “I love you.  I trust you.”  And it brings Him great joy, and amazing benefits to us.


The greatest commandments we are to obey?  Love God with your whole being, and love others as yourself.  When our greatest love belongs to Jesus, He is pleased.

But He desires that our love for Him leads to love for others:  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

How did He love us?  He laid down His life for us.  He wants us to die for people to show we love them?  Perhaps.  But the primary ways was lay down our lives in love is by giving time or help or money or encouragement….  Jesus really likes this gift, and we often receive more than we give.


Scripture is pretty clear about this gift: “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Say thank You in everything?!?  That makes no sense.  How do you say thank You for tragedies?  Betrayals?  Losses?  Disappointments?  Even the smaller pains of life?

Because God is God and God is good.  Saying thank You is one more way we express trust in God—that He cares about us and will work even terrible things for our good.  Another gift that gives back.

And of course, the best gift, the one that makes all the others possible, finishes the song:

“What can I give him?  Give him my heart.”

What will you be giving Jesus this Christmas?

C2011 Judy Douglass

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If I really stop to think about Christmas and what it means, I am truly in awe of my God.

He loved me—and you—so much He was willing to be “incarnate,” to become a human being.  He so desired to be with me—and you—that He called Jesus “Immanuel,” God with us.  Jesus lived among us, healed,  taught, modeled—and died.  And He rose again.

Advent is truly just the beginning.  And we only truly experience Christmas when we receive His gift to us, and we crown Him as King in our hearts.
Day 22:  Jesus comes healing—our bodies, our hearts, our minds, our emotions, our pasts, our relationships.

Day 23:  Jesus comes seeking the lost—those who know they are lost and those who don’t.

Day 24:  Jesus comes as the Resurrection, triumphing over death and grave, now and forever, and raising us with Him.

Day 25:  Jesus comes as the LIFE, offering us eternal life with Father, Son, Spirit and all of us together who believe, and abundant life today on this earth.

Day 26:  Jesus comes as Messiah/Savior, saving us from sin and from ourselves, reconciling us to our God!

Christmas Eve:  Jesus comes as Immanuel, promising, desiring to be with us.  God living with us!

Christmas Day:  The King has come!  He humbly awaits His crowning in our hearts!

May we daily make Him King of our lives!

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“Josh has cut his head open with a chain saw!”

These words from Josh’s wife, Brandon, sent chills through me.  Horror.   Fear.

Josh was trimming a shrub for a client.  The chain saw kicked back on him, right into his forehead.  Blood gushed.  Pain seared.  Josh managed to hold his head and call 911.  A passing driver stopped to help him.  The paramedics rushed him to Trauma.

Brandon arrived.  Family came.  I got there.  Many called and visited at the hospital.  Twitter and Facebook prayers.  Love and care.

It was not life threatening.  It missed his eye by a fraction of an inch.  Only a chip from the skull.  No brain damage.  Yes, a deep and ragged gash, requiring many stitches by a plastic surgeon.  Weak and achy.  Ongoing pain.  Living with a life-long scar.

Beautiful reminders:

Josh’s word to God:  “Thank You, Lord.”  (1 Thes. 5:18)

Josh’s word to me:  “I just don’t want to miss what God has for me in this.” (Rom 8:28)

Josh’s word to Brandon:  “I haven’t had time to get you a Christmas gift.”  Her response:  “You are my gift.  You are alive!”

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I am loving pondering the ways Jesus has come to us, the reasons we celebrate the Advent Season.

Here is the third week of my reflections on “Jesus comes as…”  For each one, I am asking God to reveal its meaning for my life today.

Day 15:  Jesus comes as the Son of Man, fully human, understanding and identifying with us, imparting and imputing His righteousness to us.

Day 16:  Jesus comes as the Son of God, dependent on the Father, holy, righteous, eternal.

Day 17:  Jesus comes to set us free from slavery–to sin, to selfishness, to our fears and insecurities.

Day 18:  Jesus comes as a servant, washing our very filthy feet.

Day 19:  Jesus comes bringing good news to the poor, inviting them to His banquet and promising them the Kingdom of God.

Day 20:  Jesus comes bringing freedom and hope to prisoners and the oppressed.

Day 21:  Jesus comes giving sight to the blind—opening physical eyes and spiritual eyes.

As we approach the birthday of our Savior, may He come to you in the place of your deepest need.

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