2006 at 4:45 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
You can’t beat a good book paired with a hot drink this time of year. And I have a pretty sweet recommendation for both. For a little Christmas reading that will remind you of the significance of this holiday, look no further than chapter five, “God Incarnate” in Knowing God by J.I. Packer. This book is a “must read” that should be ordered today if it doesn’t already have a home on your shelf. I’ll just give you sneak peak to hold you over until you get to enjoy the full experience:
“It is here, in the thing that happened at the first Christmas, that the profoundest and most unfathomable depths of the Christian revelation lie. ‘The Word became flesh’ (Jn. 1:14); God became man; the divine Son became a Jew; the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, unable to do more than lie and stare and wriggle and make noises, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. And there was no illusion or deception in this: the babyhood of the Son of God was a reality. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the Incarnation….The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity—hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory—because at the Father’s will Jesus Christ became poor and was born in a stable so that thirty years later he might hang on a cross. It is the most wonderful message that the world has ever heard, or will hear” (p. 53, 63)
Now the only thing to make your reading of this chapter any sweeter is to have a cup of homemade hot chocolate in hand. My mom has been making hot chocolate for years and it is a family favorite. Oh and did I mention that it is super easy to make? Here are the directions:
Combine one 11-ounce jar of non-dairy creamer, an 8 quart size box of dry milk (will make 8 quarts when mixed with water), 1 pound of Nestle’s Quik and ½ a box of powdered sugar. Mix it all together and use 4 to 5 heaping teaspoons per cup of hot water. I like to top mine off with a huge scoop of cool whip, but marshmallows are also allowed.
Merry almost Christmas, everyone! We’ll catch ya again tomorrow.
2006 at 6:01 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Besides men (who I think are the hardest to buy for) teenage guys and girls can present a daunting challenge to the Christmas shopper. So, we thought we’d throw out a few suggestions for this demographic. Many of these would be great ideas for college students as well.
The ESV Bible
They’ve got so many fun styles, including a journaling bible the girls are sure to love. Scroll down to also see CombatZone, TruGlo, and TruGrip options.
West Coast Revival
This new cd by a group of guys in Sovereign Grace Ministries boasts great lyrics with a sound that will appeal to young people.
Humility: True Greatness
One of our favorites by Dad
Growing Up Christian
by Karl Graustein, a member of Covenant Life Church. Dad is currently taking Chad through this book and finding it very helpful.
My husband is teaching a class of Jr. High students from this condensed version of Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem.
Thoughts for Young Men
Every young man should read this classic by JC Ryle.
This fictional account of a girl growing into womanhood is by Elizabeth Prentiss
This group’s albums The Beauty of Simplicity and Eternity is Now are great music options.
Love Comes Softly Movies
Mom read these books to us when we were girls. The movies are pioneer fun in the tradition of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Love’s Enduring Promise and Love’s Long Journey follow in the series
The Blazing Center
This DVD by John Piper come highly recommended for young people.
Don’t Waste Your Life
Also by John Piper, every young person should read this book.
No list would be complete without the Josh Harris collection. Choose from I Kissed Dating Goodbye or Boy Meets Girl.
2006 at 7:53 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
A couple of slightly random Christmas thoughts…
Today was a special “girls day out.” Since Kristin, Janelle and I spend the majority of the Christmas holiday with our in-laws, we spread the Mahaney Christmas out over the month of December. One Monday (our husbands collective day off) the guys go out and exchange gifts, then it’s the girls turn, and finally we have a party for the kids on the third Monday.
“Our turn” almost didn’t come as Brian got the flu. But Mike bravely stepped in and watched the Chesemore kids and Caly. Thanks Uncle Mikey! We got to enjoy lunch and hang out and talk and talk and talk. We capped off the afternoon with Starbucks and Cinnabon (a hard to beat combo). Traditions, both old and new, are expressions of God’s goodness and faithfulness at Christmastime.
Over the weekend, Mom’s friend Julie gave her two more suggestions for Christmas reading with children.
One Wintry Night
by Ruth Bell Graham
The World of Narnia Collection
by C.S. Lewis (and adapted for little children)
Julie keeps both books with her Christmas decorations and pulls them out every year to read to her two boys. I can’t wait to read these with Jack.
Finally, as we’ve been discussing Christmas gifts lately, these excerpts from a Valley of Vision prayer seem fitting:
“O Source of all good,
What shall I render to thee for the gift of gifts, thine own dear Son…
Herein is wonder of wonders:
he came below to raise me above,
was born like me that I might become like him…
O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds,
and enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of great joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemer’s face,
and in him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child
to my heart,
embrace him with undying faith,
exulting that he is mine and I am his.
In him thou hast given me so much
that heaven can give no more.”
2006 at 9:09 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Fun Stuff Friday Funnies
Thanks to Ellie for this Christmas-season Friday Funny!
Have a tremendous weekend,
for Carolyn, Kristin, and Janelle
The following was in a Christmas letter last year from some dear friends of ours. The husband is writing:
It all started with Lisa asking me what I wanted for Christmas. I said, "It sure would be nice to wake up on Christmas morning to find something on the driveway that goes zero to 200 in 6 seconds." She said, "I’ll see what I can do." Well, on Christmas morning I ran out front to find a small package nicely wrapped on our driveway. Now I was really curious to see what she had bought me so I tore it open. It was a scale! She said, "Stand on it…it will go zero to 200 in less than 6 seconds."
2006 at 12:31 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Not sure what to get those men in your life—dads, husbands, teenage sons, grandfathers, brothers, friends—for Christmas? We want to help! So we asked CJ for some book recommendations for men, and he provided us with the following suggestions. These books cover a broad range of interests so you’re sure to find something for that special guy on your list.
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
by Bill Watterson
Overcoming Sin and Temptation: Three Classic Works by John Owen
edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor
Comrades: Brothers, Fathers, Heroes, Sons, Pals
by Stephen E. Ambrose
by David Halberstam
Johnny U: The Life and Times of John Unitas
by Tom Callahan
The Gospel for Real Life
by Jerry Bridges
The Terrible Hours: The Man Behind the Greatest Submarine Rescue in History
by Peter Maas
The Punch: One Night, Two Lives, and the Fight That Changed Basketball Forever
by John Feinstein
Meet the Puritans: With A Guide to Modern Reprints
by Joel R. Pederson and Randall J. Beeke
April 1865: The Month That Saved America
by Jay Winik
Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam
by James M. McPherson
The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, and the Birth of Modern Golf
by Mark Frost
Letters from a Nut
by Ted L. Nancy
Cinderella Man: James Braddock, Max Baer, and the Greatest Upset in Boxing History
by Jeremy Schaap
Jonathan Edwards: A Life
by George Marsden
by David Hackett Fischer
The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope
by Jonathan Alter
The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept
by Mark Dever
Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg
by James M. McPherson
The Meaning Of Sports: Why Americans Watch baseball, Football, and Basketball and What They See When They Do.
by Michael Mandelbaum
Seeing With New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture
by David Powlison
2006 at 2:39 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
When my girls were little, one of my favorite activities was to read aloud to them before bed each night. At Christmastime, I collected stories from books or magazines related to the season. It became a special tradition to pull these well-loved stories out one time a year and read them together.
Unfortunately, I misplaced my folder full of Christmas stories somewhere along the way—otherwise I would share them with you now. But the memories we made reading together can never be lost.
Yesterday Nicole suggested some Christmas gifts for children. If you’re also on the lookout for Christmas traditions for little ones, I can think of few better than reading stories to them that reinforce the gospel message of the season.
I recently found a Christmas story in a magazine that has been put online. The graphics are simple and there is no audio track. However, this story points clearly to our need for a Savior. So let me encourage you to read “Not What I Deserve” with your children tonight. Oh, and it’s even more fun if you light a fire and enjoy some hot chocolate with marshmallows.
P.S. Two other Christmas stories you may want to check out are The Something Wonderful by Karen Hill and the story of Jesus’ birth in The Big Picture Story Bible that Nicole referenced yesterday.
2006 at 7:22 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
I have a hard time deciding what to buy people for Christmas. I want to find the perfect gift, for the better than perfect price for every person on my list. But I’m not very creative (no homemade gifts from me!) and I couldn’t spot a bargain if it appeared in human form and stopped me in the store.
Given my severely limited Christmas shopping abilities, I rely heavily upon other sources for ideas—my mom and sisters, girlfriends, magazines, and the pre-packaged gifts baskets strategically placed at the end of store aisles. I’m especially excited when I run across a list of gift suggestions.
So, for all those of you out there like me, I want to offer a few gift suggestions of my own (mostly stolen from my sister Kristin). If you have a kid in your life—a child of your own, a niece or nephew, brother or sister, or someone your reaching out to, here’s a list of gift ideas that are worth far more than you’ll pay for them!
Hide ‘Em In Your Heart Vol 1 and Vol 2—these videos and audio cds are full of Scripture songs set creatively to music. Jack loves the one we own so we bought him the other one for Christmas this year.
Awesome God – In line at Target today, Jack was singing (loudly) the following words from this cd: “Jesus came to earth, He lived a perfect life, He died upon the cross, Then He rose from the dead.” I’m so grateful these gospel-words are running through his mind.
The Chronicles of Narnia Radio Theatre – Kristin and Brian bought these dramatized stories for Andrew (age 6) last year for Christmas and he’s still loving them.
The New Amplified Pilgrim’s Progress - Andrew also enjoys this updated classic tale on cd.
The Big Picture Story Bible – I’ve been reading this to Jack recently and have found myself freshly grateful for God’s gracious plan of redemption.
2006 at 2:44 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
When I go to the movies (which is rare these days due to the lack of anything appropriate to see) I have a hard time deciding which I like better—the popcorn or the movie. I’m happy to report that my most recent movie-going experience found the movie finishing far ahead of the popcorn.
Mike, Chad and I set off this past Friday night to see the new movie, The Nativity Story. My expectations were set low and I prepared myself for a complete misrepresentation of this amazing story. We waited outside until the previews were over (something my dad taught me long ago—thanks, Dad!) consuming half of our popcorn and candy before the movie even started. As soon as it was “safe” we snuck in and found our seats.
I won’t give anything away (like Nicole always does), but I will say that this was one instance where I found myself quite happy to be wrong. To borrow the words of Dr. Al Mohler from his review: “The movie faithfully presents the main thrust of the Christmas story. That is no small achievement. The movie, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, takes some liberties with the biblical accounts found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Nevertheless, the invented scenes and dialogue do not distract from the biblical storyline.”
The Nativity Story also proved to be very moving. It only took about thirty seconds before I was wiping my eyes. I found myself affected once again by the events surrounding my Savior’s birth. He entered this world with a glaring absence of celebration and fanfare: “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7) It’s a rare occasion when a movie provides such a sweet reminder.
So, consider viewing The Nativity Story if you have time this holiday season. I think you will enjoy what you see.
P.S. Parents, as always, please review this movie yourself before taking your kiddos.
2006 at 12:28 pm | by Kristin Chesemore
No, we’re not talking about finances (although the holidays are a wonderful opportunity to give to those in need). The investing we’re talking about is in the lives of unbelievers. Yesterday our church provided some creative ideas for reaching out to others this Christmas. Hope you find these thoughts helpful:
INVEST THIS CHRISTMAS
Take advantage of the Christmas season to invest in the people God has placed in your life.
Here are some ways you can purpose to build relationships in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Make your friends a part of your Christmas activities. Invite them to:
- Join you in shopping for a Christmas tree or Christmas gifts
- Come over to wrap gifts or bake cookies
- Go to any other Christmas activities you may already be attending (concerts, plays, etc.)
- Take a ride with you to see neighborhood Christmas lights
- Come over for coffee or dessert befor or on Christmas Day for lunch or dinner
Here are some questions you can ask to show care and initiate spiritual conversations:
- What are your holiday traditions?
- What is your best memory from a past Christmas?
- What does Christmas mean to you?
- What are your hopes for the New Year?
- What do you believe about the birth of Jesus? Who was he?
- (If appropriate) How can I pray for you in the New Year?
2006 at 9:45 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Fun Stuff Friday Funnies
First, another book club update: a kind husband who ordered several copies of Elizabeth Prentiss for his wife and her friends wrote to inform us that the book can be purchased for a somewhat cheaper price at Cumberland Valley Bible Book Service. Click here to order.
This week’s Friday Funny is appropriate for December 1 and the beginning of the Christmas season. It’s from our good friend Pat who sent CJ the following email about his young boys:
Charlotte and I just asked Joe & Will to make a Christmas list of gifts they would like. Joe’s list is a page long single spaced. Will’s list is the following:
GiFT CarD To: CHris Be crEam
The man knows what he wants.
We’ll be back on Monday with more Christmas fun.
for Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle
2006 at 4:06 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
This past week a friend emailed and asked me for the details of Chad’s school schedule. Then I remembered—oops, I never delivered on my promise to post his school-year schedule on the blog. Many of you requested it after I posted his summer schedule during our RoutineTalk series. I’m sorry it has taken this long! You can download it here. But first, it might help to read this brief explanation of the schedule I sent to my friend:
I have attached Chad’s schedule that I work from. I actually print him a new schedule each day because I often need to change a time slot for one of his school subjects. (For example he may need more time that day to study for a Physical Science test so I will omit or cut back on one of the other subjects.) Also, he usually has practice or a game in the afternoon so I will include the specifics of that on his printed schedule for that day. He arrives home from practice or game in time for dinner. I usually have him start homework about 7:30 in the evening. He goes to bed between 9:30 and 10:30 (except Friday nites—he often stays up till midnight).
Chad’s weekends vary significantly due to church events, family activities, or sports. I have tried to incorporate a work project on Saturdays but that has not been happening very often. This Saturday I have plans for him to pull up the fall flowers in the garden and rake leaves, but it’s been awhile since he’s had a project like that. I trust this is all not too confusing!
Now I realize that my thirteen-year-old son’s schedule may only be interesting to a handful of you. However, Friday Funnies are coming up soon and we hope you all will enjoy this week’s laugh!
2006 at 9:52 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Series Girltalk Book Club
As some of you have brought to our attention, Amazon isn’t able to ship our upcoming book club selection—Elizabeth Prentiss: “More Love to Thee”—for several weeks. Don’t despair! We’ll wait until everyone has had a chance to receive their book. In fact, you can actually order it directly from the publisher, Banner of Truth right here. Hope you’ll join us as we learn from this godly woman’s life.