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Posts Tagged ‘gift’

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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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:

Books

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.

Imagination

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.

Action

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.

Experiences

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.

Time

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.

Giving

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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Today I’m sharing My Hazardous Faith Story as part of a synchroblog connected with the release of Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper’s new book Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus. See how you can participate below.

by Judy Douglass

I’m a giver.

I love to give—encouraging words, desirable gifts, needed money.  And life challenges.

I always want my gifts to please, lift, help, awaken…

God is also a giver.

He assures us that He gives good gifts.

My experience, however, has been that His gifts often have deeper purposes.

Sometimes they are truly hazardous.

The most hazardous gift God has given me is our son.

Twenty years ago God sent a nine-year-old boy from a very difficult situation to our family.  From the beginning, he provided significant challenges for us. He came with the results of his birth mother’s neglect, alcohol and drug abuse:  learning disabilities, ADD, attachment issues, no ability to reason cause and effect, incredible need for center of attention. That was just the beginning.

By his late teens, we were fully into the world of rebellion, poor choices and their consequences.

Our son took us into places we knew nothing about. Calls from the school principal were not to tell of his latest accomplishment, but about his latest escapade and the possibility of expulsion.  We became familiar with the juvenile justice system and traffic court.  Would the late-night calls be from the jail or the hospital—we got both.  He and his friends lied to, stole from, took advantage of and abused us and our home.   Drugs, alcohol, sex, accidents…

The way was deep and dark.

This was a gift?

Oh yes.  Hazardous for sure, but surely a gift.

Amazingly, this boy had a positive impact on our ministry. Because we did not hide our struggle, but lived out the journey in appropriate ways before our staff, we found new doors of ministry opened.

The greatest impact was on my relationship with God. We were helpless and therefore driven into His arms. My honesty with, trust in and hope in God all grew in amazing ways.

A wonderful online prayer community—PrayerforProdigals.com—and a June 2 Worldwide Prodigal Prayer Day blesses thousands around the globe.  It is truly my son’s ministry.  And he still gets prayed for.

God gave many other specific gifts through this one hazardous gift:

I know I am totally dependent on God—I have never been able to make his life work the way I wish it would.

I learned to pray—really.

I know for sure that God will never give up on me—and He enabled me to not give up on that boy.

I have a better understanding of unconditional love—and that it doesn’t require love in return.

I am able to attest to God’s unfathomable love and grace.  I am so grateful for that love and grace.

I am able to share hope and courage with others.  And more.

So this is where I tell you all is well, right?  We’ve weathered the storm and survived this hazardous gift.

Well, mostly.  He has become a responsible, hard-working man.  He desires to make right choices. He brings joy to me.  But he finds it hard to entirely escape the darkness. Things from his past still come back to bite.  We’re in a little bit of a hard place right now.

I wouldn’t, however, trade this gift for anything.  Sure, life would have been easier, safer without him.   But the gifts produced by struggle and pain make him a valuable gift, a priceless treasure. Plus I really love him. Thank You, Lord, for such an incredible gift!

What about you?  Has God given you a hazardous gift?

C2012 Judy Douglass

Click over to the Synchroblog.

How to Join the HAZARDOUS Synchroblog

The synchroblog starts Monday, August 27th and runs all week until Saturday.

Write a blog post sharing a personal story about a challenge you faced as a follower of Jesus. (You could also add: “I’m sharing My Hazardous Faith Story as part of a synchroblog connected with the release of Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper’s new book Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus.”).

At the bottom of your post, link to the synchroblog landing page: http://wp.me/PewoB-SN so that others can share their own Hazardous Faith Stories (Hey, you can just copy and paste these bullet points!)

Add your post to the link up section at the bottom of the My Hazardous Faith Story landing page on Monday-Saturday. Don’t forget to read and comment on at least one other post!

Tweet your post with the #HazardousFaith tag.

Include this image with your post: 400 pixels or 250 pixels width.

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On the first Monday of each month when my children were in high school, I wrote a letter to them describing a secret of success in life.  Recently I compiled a year’s worth of secrets into a small book.  Secrets of Success is a great gift for graduates.  To give you a glimpse, I posted Secret #3 here.

Secret #3:  Accept Responsibility

One of the most important qualities of all successful people is that they are able to accept responsibility.

1. Step into opportunities.

You will grow in life when you see an opportunity, step out and accept the responsibility involved.  Look at each opportunity as a chance to learn something new and challenging.

The apostle Paul encourages you to make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:16 and Colossians 4:5). The popular phrase carpe diem–“seize the day”–should be your motto.

2. Own your actions and choices.

Like everyone else, you make choices and take actions. When your actions have positive results, it is easy to take credit and compliments for what you’ve done. That is appropriate to do, as long as you receive praise with humility and are aware that God helped you.

However, “owning” your choices and actions that don’t turn out well is much harder, isn’t it?  Yet if you are to grow, learn and earn respect, you must be just as willing to accept responsibility for failures. It is easy to blame others or circumstances for your own wrong choices or inadequacies, but the Bible instructs you to take responsibility for what you do or don’t do (Proverbs 19:3, 8 and Proverbs 27:23, 24).

3. Learn from failure.

Hopefully your life will be full of many successes. But all of us have times when we fail. You may make the wrong choice, fall short of the standard, or not fulfill your responsibilities. You may get discouraged or down on yourself, or even give up. But these failures are often the best stepping-stones to future success. If you will welcome them as teachers, you can grow and achieve greater success in your next effort.

God has great plans for you!  He will provide many opportunities for you in your life.  My prayer is that you will step into each one and allow Him to use both successes and failures to help you become the person He has created you to be.

c2011 Judy Douglass

 You can order Secrets of Success in the US from New Life Resources.  In Asia, you can order from CCC Mass Media.

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She had beautiful brown curls halfway down her back.

Soft, 8-year-old hair that had never been cut.

And my grandgirl decided it was time.

Not just to cut off her lovely tresses—but to give them to Locks of Love.

To help provide a wig for a child with cancer.

So we took Madison to the hair salon, where they measured the required 10 inches.  We all held our breath as the scissors did their work.

She said good-bye to her curls, as the stylist held up the length of hair in a ponytail, then packaged it to send off to Locks of Love.

Madison said her new short style suited her perfectly—light and easy to care for.

It’s hard, isn’t it, to give up something we treasure, something that has become a part of us.  It’s a little easier when we know it will benefit someone else.  And of course hair grows back.

But giving away the things of our lives—even something we treasure—is exactly what God loves for us to do.

Most of us have far more than we need, and decluttering our lives is good for us.  Of course, giving to benefit another feels good to us.  And what a blessing to provide help and hope to someone in need!

One more benefit:…your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  (2Corinthians 9:11-12)

I’m seeking to give away at least 100 things of mine next month.  Lots of clothes.  Food.  Décor.  Books I’ve written.

How about you?  Is there something—even a treasure—the Lord would have you give to benefit another?  Your very own Locks of Love?

c2011 Judy Douglass

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By definition, unconditional love doesn’t require love in return.

Of course, I know that.  God loved me first—long before I loved Him, when I was definitely living in my sins.  And even after I responded to that love and accepted his gift of salvation, I haven’t always loved him well—you know, by obeying Him.  But he has never quit loving me.

Parents learn this early. Even before a baby is born, they love her/him.  And the moment they see her, they are head over heels in love.  It’s a good thing.  Because that baby demands everything and gives no love in return for the longest time.  Fortunately they grow up and learn to love.  Unfortunately, when they become teens, sometimes they break our hearts with words like, “Leave me alone! I hate you!!

“You’re not my real mother!”

My son has been God’s gift to me to help me begin to comprehend what it means to love someone unconditionally. He came to our family just before he turned 10, from a very difficult early childhood.  His birth mother couldn’t care for him, and he was hurt and confused.  He couldn’t call me Mom and he couldn’t love me—that would be betraying his “real” mother.

As the years passed, I grew to love him deeply.  But as he grew, he had lots of pain to work through.  He made lots of negative choices.  He was trying to figure out who he was, and loving me was not a priority for him.  And sometimes that was very painful.
I would ask God, “Would it be so hard for him to be able to say ‘I love you’ to me—just once?”  And the Lord responded so clearly: “Unconditional love doesn’t require love in return.”

No Matter What

So I kept loving him.  No matter what.

I will never forget the day he said, “I love you.”  Those words came from a painful situation of his own.  I was so grateful that day and I am grateful that now they come easily off his lips and are proved in his actions day after day.

And I thank God that He used this boy–now man–to teach me about the real meaning of unconditional love.

c2011 Judy Douglass

en español: ¿Es Posible El Amor Incondicional?

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