Posts Tagged ‘family’

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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It’s National Adoption Month, and Sunday November 4 is Orphan Sunday.

This video can prepare your heart to hear God’s care for orphans:

And to touch your heart for those orphans around us and far away, here are several past blog posts from friends to enlighten and encourage.

Jennifer Grant with an excerpt from her book, Love You More:  The Divine Surprise of Adopting Our Daughter:  “Happy Families All Alike? (Um..Nope)”

“A Little Red Thread that Changes Everything” by Connie Jakob

“The Prayer He Never Answered:  Our Adoption Story” by Shari Dragovich

You can read the first chapter of our adoption story:  ”I Am Sending Your a Son.

And you can ask God to give you His heart for the orphan.

What about you?  How might you meet the need of an orphan?

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Three generations sat around the table last night:   Our adopted son, Joshua; his grandparents, Mimi and Papa; his birth mother, Julie; his best friend, Jon, with girlfriend Megan; and Steve and I.

The occasion:  We were celebrating Josh’s 30th birthday—October 27.

As with any family, much joy, pain, hope and disappointment were represented at that dinner.

Mimi and Papa adopted Julie as a baby, not knowing  much about her.  As she became a teen, the usual teen identity search was magnified as it often is for adopted children.  Unfortunately, Julie’s struggle led to poor choices, including alcohol and drugs.  Her life has been hard—on the streets, in and out of jail, health issues.  She is fresh from prison and doing really well right now, living again with Mimi and Papa, caring for them.  She and i hugged, talked about Joshua, prayed together.

An early marriage gave Julie a daughter, who was adopted by Mimi and Papa to provide a stable life.   Six years later Joshua was born, and Julie was determined to raise him herself.  Eventually her addictions and life choices led to Joshua being taken from her, given to Mimi and Papa, and then to our family.

From the beginning Joshua provided challenges for us.  When he became a teen those challenges escalated into many poor choices and dangerous situations.  Most people observing would say Joshua had two possible outcomes for his future:  prison or death. (You can read his/our story beginning here.)

Yet here he is, turning 30.  A handsome young man. A good person, a good friend, a good son.  A responsible worker with his own landscaping business.  God’s grace is truly amazing.

But pain continues.  His marriage of 6 ½ years has failed.  Financial burdens are heavy.  A career path is uncertain.

Choices have consequences.  And those consequences often last many years, touch many people, impact generations.

Julie’s birth mother gave her up for adoption.  Mimi and Papa provided a loving home for her, but her choices affected her and many others: Mimi and Papa, her daughter and Joshua, our family, his marriage.

Joshua’s choices have also had far-reaching impact—painful and joyful.

So when someone says something like “It’s my life.  I can do what I want.  It’s no one else’s concern,” that is totally not true.  All of us affect others in our lives—for good or bad, for peace or pain, for life or death—by the choices we make.

Often those outcomes are hurtful.  Sometimes they are disastrous.

But sometimes our God does amazing transformations to redeem at-risk lives, to bring good from not good, to offer a future with hope.  As evidenced by the love and celebration at our table last night.

Pain continues—and Joshua has a lot of it right now.  But hope exists—and even abounds.  God says he is able to bring His good from our bad choices, from the hurt we inflict, from the reality of living in a fallen world.  His good usually looks different from what we hoped for, and never comes on our timetable, and is often a joyful surprise!

So here’s some good that could come from the pain that Joshua is experiencing right now:  As a birthday gift, would you pray for him as he seeks the next steps for his future, and especially that He would choose God’s path as he goes forward?  Thank you so much.

What about you?  Where have you seen choices bring widely felt consequences?  How has God redeemed some of those situations?

C2012 Judy Douglass

Related posts:

Chained and Imprisoned

Perspective at Any Season

Cupcakes for the Journey

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My daughter Michelle and I just put together a family tradition.

I am with her awaiting the arrival of her first child—any day now.

Her baby boy will have the privilege of sleeping in a cradle his great, great grandfather slept in.

The cradle was handmade in 1887 for my grandfather as a baby.  It rocks, with a simple locking mechanism when it shouldn’t rock.  It is still beautiful and trustworthy.

My father and uncle and my sisters and I all spent our first months sleeping there.  Since then it has traveled from Texas to Colorado and back several times, to Montana to Florida and now back to Colorado so that all of the latest generations have rested there as well.

I love this tradition.  In our very mobile world, when families have to fight to maintain connection and traditions are disappearing, this is a beautiful long line of connectedness from generation to generation.

So this new little boy will be tangibly connected over 125 years with five generations of family.

Pretty awesome!

What about you?  How do you maintain family traditions and connection?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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Families scatter.  Ours certainly has.  So my sisters—Betsy, Mary and Susan–and I have intentionally sought to keep the connection.

We have just wrapped our third week of fun together in the past five years.  When our mother died we recognized we might never see each other if we didn’t plan to.  So first we went to Mary’s ranch in West Texas.  Next Betsy invited us to a great week in Colorado.

We are just finishing a beautiful and relaxing time together at a friend’s cabin in North Carolina.  Enjoy a few pictures from our adventure.

Judy, Betsy, Mary, Susan

Biltmore Estate

View from Biltmore

Color at Blowing Rock

Judy, Susan, Betsy

Sunset at the cabin

What about you?  How do you keep family connected?

c2012 Judy Douglass

Related post: Keeping Family Connected

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Texans are often characterized as independent, strong, loners.

Maybe that’s where I got it—growing up in Texas.  Or maybe God just put it in me.  I like to be independent.  I love to be by myself—even for weeks.  I have always had to deal with wanting my own way.

But God has refused to let me live in my independence.

He has repeatedly clarified for me that I cannot do anything all by myself.  He has created me for community and he has amplified the holes in my life so that I will be forced to let others in to fill in those many gaps.

I am so grateful for those he has put me in community with.  Here are just a few and some of the life lessons I have learned:

My family:  Steve believes the best of others—and especially me—all the time.  He always tells me I can do it—whatever it is.  Debbie loves what is right and has often called me on less than stellar behavior.  Michelle has helped me to enjoy the journey and appreciate the process.  And Josh has revealed to me God’s unconditional love, that He never gives up on me and that He loves to meet with me on my knees.

Some very close friends:  Susan floods my mind with her ideas and holds me accountable when I get too independent.  Jan has walked and worked by my side for many years, loving me and my children amazingly well.  Tricia has listened and encouraged and prayed through dark times.  Dayle has reminded me to laugh even when life hurts.  And many others…

Special mentors:  I had the privilege of working with and observing Bill Bright for 39 years.  He lived out  real faith and great compassion and a passion for excellence.  Vonette Bright has demonstrated such faithfulness and astounding energy.  In so many ways God has used them to transform me.

The staff of Women’s Resources:  They have been amazing servants and helpers and prayer warriors.  But most of all they have owned the vision to help every staff women be and do all God has for her—and have pursued that best contribution in their specific arenas.

Our mission’s Executive Team and Area Team Leaders’ wives:  These women have broadened my understanding, given me global eyes, stretched my faith, become my friends.

My prayer teams:  These warriors have held me up, interceded, encouraged, advised.  They have been faithful partners in my life and ministry.

And I’ve only just begun.  There are so many more on the job, in my church, next door, around the world.  Can I live just “me and God”?  If necessary, of course.  But God has put us in community, in His body, needing each other in so many ways.  He wants us to lean on and learn from and walk with others.

Yes, He is the source of all I need for life, godliness, ministry.  But most often His Spirit is poured out into our lives, filling our gaps, by the sisters and brothers God calls us to live among.

What about you?  Who’s in your community?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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From Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

In Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Thing Are, Max grows tired of being king of all the wild things, and he says, “I’m lonely.  I want to go back.  I want to go where I’m loved the most.”  He wanted to go home.  It’s what most of us often want to do—go home.

There are many important venues in our lives:  school, church, work and other places filled with memories and adventures.  As important as school, church and workplace are, however, home—as Max discovered—is far more important.

I have spent a lot of time talking with people—young and old, men and women—from every region of the world.   The community, the buildings, the customs will differ.  Mansions, shacks, ships, tents, apartments, houses–it’s amazing what we call home.   The size and make-up—from a couple and child, a few singles or large extended  families—vary widely.

But consistently home is usually the most significant place in the world for us, for our children, for families.  Home is where our hearts turn and return.

In my hopes and dreams, home should be. . .

Where you are loved the most. 

Though others in your life elsewhere will love you, consistent and unconditional love should always be available to you at home.  There should be no fear or threat of losing this love.

Where people know you the best. 

You should be able to be yourself at home and know that you’ll be accepted, supported and affirmed.  You should feel comfortable with being yourself here, not trying or feeling the need to be somebody you’re not.  From your earliest memories, what you feel about yourself and your life and your possibilities evolve from the atmosphere in your home.  Whether you think you’re smart or not so smart, attractive or plain, capable or incapable, a winner or a loser depends largely on what you learn at home, what messages are given you about yourself from those closest to you.

A growing place.

At home you should find the freedom to experiment and develop as an individual, to discover what you are gifted in and identify your weaknesses, to try things and feel the freedom to fail.  You need to be able to express freely, in any number of ways, the creativity that God has placed within you.  Home should be a safe place to make the attempts to define who you are.

Where relationships are important.

This is where people should learn to care about others and believe the best about each other.  They should be available to each other in times of need, and should be able to enjoy one another.  This is the place where honesty and affirmation coexist to help members of the family learn how to interrelate in caring and truthful ways.  Learning to speak the truth in love should begin here.

A place of oneness.

Despite disagreements or differences, everyone should be able to say, “I’m for you, and you’re for me, and we’re all for each other.”  That is a family.  Loyalty develops here, that choice that allows you to stand by those you love no matter what the circumstances or outside influences dictate.  Commitment to individuals at this level builds unity and establishes a foundation of strength in numbers.

A place of responsibility.

Here a person learns how to live in this world, to fulfill obligations, and to be a good citizen.  It is the place where we learn to own our decisions, to accept the consequences of our choices in a safe and loving environment.

A place of memories and traditions.

We learn about our roots at home, and we establish traditions of our own that give us a sense of stability and permanence.  All our lives, we carry memories of home and of all that our family has meant to us.  It helps us understand how we’ve become who we are, and what it took us to get there.  It is a valuing of our personal history, recognizing that God wastes nothing in making us more like Jesus, whether it is pleasant or painful.  It is also the place to make safe changes to ensure a positive and encouraging legacy for the future.

A place of shelter.

It is so comforting to be able to come home when life has been difficult, when friends have been unkind, when success has been elusive, or when loving has been painful.  It is a refuge and a place to heal, a safe haven that encourages restoration and celebration, a sanctuary that allows tears and failure.

No home, of course, can be all of these things all the time or even some of the time.  No home will be perfect.   I have known—up close–a few that would receive high marks, and others that have failed miserably and painfully.  Most of our homes fall somewhere between amazing and awful.

These are the qualities we sought to grow in our home, and I pray the same for our children’s homes.  The possibilities usually increase when a home is dedicated to God and filled with people seeking to please Him and to love each other.

And home can increasingly be the place that we, like Max, can go after our days, or years, of being king of all the wild things—to find what our heart has been looking for.

What about you?  What is your home like?

This is a rewritten excerpt from my long ago book What Can a Mother Do?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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The Rumble Brothers and Maddy

It was a short visit—not even five days.

My sweet daughter and her delightful, rambunctious boys.  They have been called the Rumble Brothers.

Family time.  Backyard playground.  Old friends.

Lego Imagination Station at Downtown Disney.  Legos all over our family room.

Happy time at church, including cousin Maddy.

A very long and beautiful day at Sea World.  The best part?  As always, petting the sting rays.

A neighborhood walk before heading to the airport.

Each boy with his little backpack, their mom and I pulling the big bags.

I’m a little sad, but doing okay up to this point.

Then, at the security line, 4-year-old Aidan bursts into tears.  “I love you, Jeedoo.  I love you a lot.  I don’t want to leave you.”

Tears.  Good-bye.

Back home, I pour out my heart to Abba Daddy: “I miss them already.”

“I understand,” He replies gently. “I miss you whenever you are away.”

What about you?  When does God miss you?

c2011 Judy Douglass

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“Soccer is the best sport,” I said, and my friend replied, “Judy, you are so predictable!”


Oh no!  Distressing!  I don’t want to be predictable.   I want to be surprising!


Yes, I am predictable about some things:


Sports:  I follow the Longhorns, Cowboys, Magic faithfully.  But I like soccer best (I actually coached my daughters) and love to follow the US Women’s Team.


Texas:  I know more wonderful facts about Texas than most people, and I am glad to share them with anyone who will listen.


My mission:  to encourage God’s children to be and do all God has for them—to never settle for less than God’s best! And especially I am a champion for God’s daughters, his ezers.


My family:  I pray for, love on, spend time with, listen to, encourage, give gifts to, babysit for, shop for–my husband, my kids and their kids.


My Jesus:  I love Him, trust Him, depend on Him, serve Him, talk to and about Him.  He is my life—and I wish I did all of these things more consistently.


But after these predictabilities, I am a fan of the unpredictable.  I love surprises—especially nice ones.  I don’t want do the above in the same old way.  New ideas, new visions, new approaches.


Predictable is boring, and I consider boring a 4-letter word.  If I look for the open door, the opportunity, the surprise twist, the daunting challenge, there is no time or place to be bored.


I want to make lots of room for shock and awe– especially with God.


He is the ultimate in unpredictability.   He is master of the unexpected—sometimes I love His surprises, other times I don’t.   Sometimes He takes my breath away; other times He wraps me in comfort and peace.


But always, He has that surprise twist:  He stuns me as He achieves His perfect good through even the most difficult situations. (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28).


He tells me to anticipate His surprises:    “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”  I have no idea what He might do!


May I always be filled with wonder at the ways of God!


How has God surprised you recently?


c2011 Judy Douglass

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