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.
Hi all, Janelle is doing a photo shoot for a friend’s newborn baby this afternoon, so she asked me to post the Christmas tradition ideas. It was so hard to pick from all your creative entries, but here are a few of our favorites. I lam trying to figure out how I can add all six of them into my family’s Christmas traditions this year! Ok, that might be a bit much, but at least one or two. Or three. Hope you enjoy these as much as we did. And check back later for 52home—Janelle said she might post one of her pics from today’s photo shoot.
May the wonder of Immanuel—God with us—bring you comfort and joy this weekend.
Nicole for the girltalkers
Cinnamon Roll Giveaway from Emily
Every year I make dozens and dozens of cinnamon rolls to give out as gifts and to enjoy with our family Christmas morning. The really fun part is getting all our kiddos together (5; ages 8,6,4,2&1) along with my husband, bundling up in our pjs and winter coats and going around to our neighbors, delivering our rolls, christmas carols and our family christmas letter. Our children LOVE to do it and we have to hold them off Christmas morning, until a reasonable hour. It has been a way we are seeking to live on mission in our nieghborhood and redeem the emphasis on getting to giving.
Christmas Clues from Susan
My husband grew up doing “clues” every Christmas. In addition to stockings the kids would get one big family present. But they had to find it. His Dad would prepare “clues” and when they figured them out and followed them they would find the prize. Dad used everything from crossword puzzles to Hangman and picture riddles.
This is such a highlight in our family history that we have started doing it too. Here’s a recent example. Last year when we got the kids a Wii we had four clues for them. Each was taped to the bottom of a Little People Nativity character and hidden throughout the house. Each child was given a room to search in and when they had found all of the clues they had to come together and try and figure out the meaning.
The first clue was a picture of our babysitter (“Nan”); second the Roman Numeral X (“ten”); then a picture of a female deer (“doe”) and finally a picture of a child going down a slide with a speech bubble (saying “whee!”). Nan-Ten-Doe-Whee.
The extra time invested in preparing the clues (which usually means a late night after all the presents are finally wrapped) has been so worth it. Not only have their detective skills improved but they have learned to work together and have fun!
Christmas “Services” from Patti
When my kids were young, I started a tradition that I hoped would focus their hearts on Christmas day back from all the gifts they received, to serving one another. My inspiration was that God so loved us that “he gave”, and I wanted to create a means for them to do the same for each other. So on Christmas Eve, we secretly drew names with all those that were sharing our holiday. We each had to think of a way we could serve that person by the end of Christmas Day, and we wrote it down on a given piece of paper, which went into a small envelope amd nestled into the branches of our Christmas tree. For example, if I drew my daughter’s name, I would think of a way to communicate sacrificial love to her in a way that would touch her heart, like drawing her a bubble bath, complete with candles, music, and a hot towel for Spa Time, or relieving her of her dishwashing duties after the big Christmas meal. After gifts are opened on Christmas morn, we pass around the envelopes so our secret is revealed, and everyone serves their person at some point in the afternoon or evening. Now my children are grown, but when we share Christmas together, we still do our special tradition, which we simply call ” Christmas services”.
“I thought of you…” from Dava
On Christmas mornings ever since my now six foot tall sons (3) were little, we GIVE our gifts. The pile by each person has the gifts they are giving, not getting, and “I thought you could use this Dad” or “I thought of you the minute I saw it” can be heard instead of “it’s MY turn”.
Book Game from Ava
We have an annual “book game” on Christmas Eve which works well for a family full of bookworms. My dad picks out books for everyone in the family and wraps them up without putting anyone’s name on the books. Then, everyone has to guess and take which book might be theirs. After everyone takes their books, Dad tells us who guessed correctly. Everyone else has to do another round until everyone has the book that is for them. Then, we all open our books. The books are always so thoughtful and tailored really well to our interests. We love it!
Christmas Notes from Amy
When I married my husband I found that his family has a wonderful tradition that we now continue with my in-laws as well as with our own 3 kids. Each person writes every other person a note to put in their stocking. On Christmas morning when we open stockings (along with the small gifts inside) we have several notes from family members. We read them and then put them back in our stockings so they are there the next year as well. That way, each year we are able to read our current letters as well as past letters. After a few years the stockings get really full and the letters get moved to a box to store them in. Each Christmas eve I love sitting down and writing a special letter to each of the members of my family. I love that when my kids are older they will have a whole box of letters from my husband and I going back to when they were infants. I also never get tired of reading the past letters from my husband to me.
Recently one of my favorite authors, Randy Alcorn, blogged about a new video series for kids from Veggie Tales creator Phil Vischer. What’s In the Bible? is a 13-DVD series designed to walk kids and families through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. After watching the first video with his grandson, Randy Alcorn wrote:
I was impressed with the depth of biblical background and commentary on God’s great drama of redemption. Yet it’s so engaging to children and adults (namely me) that it remained fun and entertaining throughout. My grandson Matt retained a great deal of the material, bringing it up days later. What a remarkable combination of entertainment and biblical substance. I envision parents learning God’s Word right alongside their children, leading to spiritually significant conversations, and heightened interest in Bible study, something we desperately need. I applaud Phil Vischer’s efforts, and eagerly look forward to watching more of “What’s in the Bible” with my grandchildren…and when they’re not available, maybe by myself!
With an endorsement like this, we were eager to let girltalk readers know about these videos and participate in What’s in the Bible? blog tour: 12 Questions of Christmas. Today we present video 11 of 12. Check out www.whatsinthebible.com to find the location of tomorrow’s video (as well as previous videos) in the series.
Who is Immanuel, and what does he have to do with Christmas?
The kind folks at What’s in the Bible? have graciously given us four copies of video #1: “In the Beginning” to giveaway to girltalk readers. Contact us before 10pm today and tell us (in one or two sentences) about the child(ren) you’d like to give this video to, and we’ll announce four winners tomorrow.
We here at girltalk headquarters (four girls with our lap-tops in our kitchens) thought it would be fun to get some Christmas tradition ideas from you. I treasure the memories my mom provided for us at Christmastime, and I want to do the same for my kids now.
So here is what we want from you…flood our inbox with your favorite Christmas Eve or Christmas morning traditions. It could be one that you are currently doing with your family or one of your favorites from growing up. We will choose some of your fabulous ideas and post them by the end of this week so that you can actually use them this year!
Sounds like a great plan, I know! Contact us, and here in our kitchens, I mean, at headquarters, we will get busy.
It’s the first day of December and the Christmas rush is upon us. But we don’t have to get caught up in Christmas craziness. We can choose, instead, to make it our first duty of each day to seek God through His Word and prayer. Last year we ran a series, “Sitting Out the Holidays”, and I’ve reposted the links below (or you can download and print this pdf file). We hope these articles encourage you to make your Christmas season full of sweet communion with the Savior.
Even though we’re all busy preparing for Thanksgiving in two days, December 1 is only a week away. Since so many of you have asked, I’m re-posting some advent calendar ideas from last year. Apparently both the links were broken, but they’ve been fixed below. Enjoy!
A few years ago, Mom bought each of our families a wooden advent calendar. My children love to open a new door each day to find a piece of candy and a Scripture about the Christmas story. Steve reads the verses aloud while the kids listen attentively, their mouths full of chocolate and nougat.
In the past, I’ve used this simple Christmas countdown and references. This year, now that Jack’s older, I’m adapting this schedule of longer readings that begin with the Old Testament prophecies. As the days march toward Christmas, I want my kids to connect, in some small way, to the centuries of longing for the Messiah.
I’ve also pulled Nancy Guthrie’s Come Thou Long Expected Jesus off the bookshelf and placed it in my basket of quiet time stuff. I didn’t mark it up, as I do most of my books, so I can enjoy the daily readings afresh each year.
For my children, and for myself, I don’t want “the busyness of [the Christmas season]…to crowd out a quiet anticipation of the wonder of incarnation.” I want the glories of God become man to illuminate and outshine all our Christmas joys.
With little Hudson arriving on Friday, we girls were busy making all our Thanksgiving plans today. We were back and forth on the phone talking pies and potatoes and fun activities for the kids.
Our purpose behind all this planning is well-expressed by Noel Piper:
“Although we can’t bequeath God to our children, we can help them know him and understand him in ways that prepare them to believe in his name. ‘Everyday’ and ‘especially’ traditions in a family are an important part of that teaching, of picturing who God is and what he’s done in our home and in the world. Traditions are a vital way of displaying our greatest treasure, of showing what—Who—is most important to us.”
For more on our simple family traditions, check out our Thanksgiving Countdown. This ten-part series includes thoughts on how to prepare your heart, your menu, and some memorable moments for your family.
May your efforts to show your family and friends WHO is most important to you, be truly blessed!
In case you hadn’t noticed, we get excited about the change of seasons here at girltalk. I guess it’s because Mom—who grew up in Florida—never got over the wonder of how different each season is in Maryland. Some of that delight must have rubbed off on us girls. And we haven’t lost it yet.
So as each season changes, we find ourselves writing about it on the blog. In fact, we started girltalk in June of 2005 and before the first week was up we wrote about—you guessed it!—summer!
We love summer because, as John Piper says, “Jesus Christ is the refreshing center of summer. He is preeminent in all things (Col. 1:18), including vacations, picnics, softball, long walks, and cookouts…. The summer sun is a mere pointer to the sun that will be: the glory of God. Summer is for seeing and showing that.”
In all you do, may you see and show the glory of God this summer.
Meditate on this truth today and rejoice in the faithfulness of God:
“The incarnation is the supreme example of fulfilled prophecy, the supreme example of God’s faithfulness to his promises….
What God did when he sent his Son into the world is an absolute guarantee that he will do everything he has ever promised to do.
Look at it in a personal sense: ‘All things work together for good to them that love God’—that is a promise—‘to them who are the called according to his purpose’ (Rom. 8:28, KJV).
‘But how can I know that is true for me?’ asks someone.
The answer is the incarnation.
God has given the final proof that all his promises are sure, that he is faithful to everything he has ever said. So that promise is sure for you.
Whatever your state or condition may be, whatever may happen to you, he has said, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee’ (Heb. 13:5, KJV)—and he will not. He has said so, and we have absolute proof that he fulfills his promises.
He does not always do it immediately in the way that we think. No, no! But he does it!
And he will never fail to do it.”
D. Martyn Lloyd Jones from Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, ed. by Nancy Guthrie