Take a Tip from St. Nick

Take a Tip from St. Nick

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
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As the kid’s and I were listening to an audio book called The Autobiography of Santa, I couldn’t help but think about how we all need to take a tip from St. Nick.

Take a Tip from St. Nick

You see the orphan turned bishop, who eventually turned into a larger than life mythical, jolly, gift-giving legend, started out as an innocent young man simply trying to provide for others who were in need without embarrassing them. He would sneak in, gift items to children so the parents wouldn’t be ashamed.

His goal was to give anonymously!

He did it without fan fare and did not want to claim the recognition. It is this very act of going about giving gifts that we should take as a tip from St. Nick.

In a world where every act of kindness seems to be captured and posted on social media, it’s refreshing to take on the challenge of doing good and keeping it between us and God. His love compels us to love like he loves and to give all the glory to God instead of keeping it for ourselves.

Nicholas seemed to take to heart Jesus’ word found in Matthew 6:2:

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

Anonymous Giving

Have you ever done this? Have you ever given a gift to someone and they didn’t know?

I had an amazing English teacher when I was in High School who challenged us to do good deeds and not tell anyone. I took this to heart and found that it’s like having a wonderful, uplifting experience with Jesus. It brings so much joy to give to others and since God knows all our actions, we can bask in the opportunity to share what he has shared with us with others and praise Him for letting us do it!

The Key to Giving Well

Obviously, St. Nick holds the monopoly on using chimneys. I don’t mind that much because I’m not one for small, sootty spaces. But there are plenty of ways that gifting to those in need can happen without much fan fair. One of the most important things to do when trying to meet the needs of others is listening to them.

Find out what they actually need and gift that specifically.

In this historical fiction book there is a dialog that happens between the young Nicholas and his priestly mentor, who encourages him to see the needs around him and problem solve how best to give.

Nicholas became frustrated after placing coins in a stocking so a young girl could purchase crutches, but instead the mother used the coins to purchase something for herself.  After ranting and raving about how evil the mother was, the priest simply asked:

Did you leave a note as to how to use the funds?

How were they supposed to know the money was for crutches?

Would the girl lean on the coins to go buy the crutches?

Understanding what the priest was saying, Nicholas later returned, after carving the girl a special set of crutches.

Setting Our Pride Aside When Giving

I’ve mentioned before how I have personally realized that sometimes I believe I know what someone needs better than they know their own needs. Well, I’ve been shamefully wrong before and Jesus’ example leads us to listen, provide physically, and explain how God provides spiritually.

So the key to giving well is to listen and pay attention to those in need around us.

The Gift of a Generous Spirit

If you want to get in the need seeking and gift giving mood as well as be entertained by how the adventures of Nicholas evolved into Santa Clause, then you would enjoy listening or reading The Autobiography of Santa Clause by Jeff Guinn.

It’s full of historical facts, figures, and in a beautifully entertaining way weaves in geography with the rise and fall of empires. It embarks the reader upon an adventure of understanding how December 25 became the day to celebrate as well as including other men to myth legends such as King Arthur and Attila the Hun.

Our family has had so much fun listening to it, especially since we’ve been studying many of the places and people that are mentioned.

The Gift We ALL Need

But of course the greatest gift giving book is the one that brings a joy-filled eternal life – The Bible. Through these pages and in every story, if we look close enough, we will see how God weaves his love throughout the generation to give us the best gift ever, his one and only son, who would choose to glorify God and sacrifice himself on the cross, so that we could be united in heaven with God eternally.

Jesus came into the world quietly, without a lot of fan fair. He found the ultimate way to meet our most glaring need, which was removing our sin, which broke our relationship with God. With a willing heart, Jesus did not hold any good thing back from us.

If you haven’t fully taken hold of this gift of grace that Jesus has extended to each one of us, then don’t wait any longer. Realize that his grace is for everyone and the greatest gift you could ever give to someone else is to share the story of God’s amazing grace with others.

Don’t selfishly hold it all to yourself. Don’t fear the reaction of what giving the truth of God’s grace to others might be, just give it freely. It’s THE best gift you could ever give because we all need it!

Nicholas understood this very well too and it was a gift he “fought” to gift as well. He willingly served time in prison when the Roman emperor Diocletian was persecuting Christians as well as at the Council of Nicaea.

So take this tip from St. Nick: Give anonymously to the needy and share the Gospel Truth with others! 

 

 

The Sparkle Box: A Christmas Tradition

The Sparkle Box: A Christmas Tradition

Kristin J

I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
Kristin J

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Last year I wrote about a tradition I grew up with called, the silver box. The idea behind it is that with our friends and family we exchanged words of kindness. Our words were like a gift, wrapped up in a silver box with a silver bow, edifying and encouraging. Our sweet tradition came from the book Silver Boxes by Florence Littauer. You can read more about this idea here: The Tradition of the Silver Box 

The Sparkle Box: A Christmas Tradition

Last year for Christmas my mom gifted our family with a precious book, The Sparkle Box as a way to continue the tradition with my husband and daughters. It was written by Jill Hardie and the beautiful illustrations are by Christine Kornacki.

In The Sparkle Box we meet Sam, a young boy who learns about the needs of others during the Christmas season. As his family helps others, they write these moments down and place them in a sparkle box. On Christmas morning Sam opens the box with his parents and they talk about their gifts in honor of Jesus’ birthday.

Tucked behind the pages of the story is a sparkle box that you can put together and use with your family.

We have assembled our little sparkle box and have it placed in our living room. We are already excited as we talk about our gifts for Jesus. Sponsoring gifts for a child through our church, bringing a hot meal to a busy family, cards for someone who could use some cheer, quarters in the red bucket outside of Hobby Lobby, donations to a local thrift shop where those in need can shop for free. These are just some of the ideas we’ve thought about for our family to do. I am also excited to blend this new tradition with our silver box tradition by acknowledging that our words of love and encouragement are also because of love for Christ.

The scriptures that inspired this story are:

“You are the light of the world- like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see.”- Matthew 5:14

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”- Matthew 25:40

It is such a blessing to discover opportunities to honor Jesus throughout the holiday season. I’m so glad that our family will be using the sparkle box as a way to focus these festive weeks on the sort of love and kindness Jesus wanted us to show others.

To learn more about this fun tradition visit TheSparkleBox.com and read the book for free online through December 31, 2018! The website also has gift ideas and activities. This sweet story can also be purchased on The Sparkle Box

I’m going to close this post with the opening note from the book:

“Dear reader, you are the light of the world. Make it sparkle.”

Recycling Christmas Cards for a Heavenly Purpose

Recycling Christmas Cards for a Heavenly Purpose

Kristin J

I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
Kristin J

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The holidays for 2017 have come and gone. If you are like my family, you’ve already put away most of the Christmas decorations and your usual routine is beginning again. For me personally, one of the hardest parts about cleaning up the festive decorations is knowing what to do with Christmas cards from friends and family. The giver of each beautiful card put not only their money, but also their love into the card they’ve sent. I usually save pictures from a few of them, but many are doomed for the trash. It feels wrong to just throw them all away, at least so soon. Some of my friends cut pictures from them to use for future gift tags, which is a great idea. But I find myself wanting to appreciate my Christmas cards for a little bit longer.

I recently heard of a wonderful idea for recycling your Christmas cards and extending their joy throughout the year. Place them all in a special box or basket in your kitchen and every so often at dinner, take out a card, talk about the family you received it from, and pray for them. How lovely is that? Talk about how you know them, a memory you share with them, or why you are thankful for them. You might know specific issues in their life that need prayer, or you might give thanks to the Lord for putting them in your life. You could choose to pull out one card a week and pray over that family all week long or perhaps daily until you’ve gone through them all. It’s up to you!

Prayerfully remembering the ones God has placed in our life is a wonderful way to continue the spirit of the holiday season all year long! 

Father God,

We thank you for the people you put in our lives to find love, family, and community with. We praise you for those who help us know you better and encourage us in our walk with you. For those we love who do not know you, we ask that you use us to help them see you. May we see the ones who need life spoken to them and offer them your word. You are so good and we love you.

In the name of Jesus we pray,

Amen

 

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

Gift of Weakness Unasked Prayers Spiritual Discernment Thanking My Husband

Angels We Have Heard on High – The Piano Guys

Angels We Have Heard on High – The Piano Guys

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
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Making the Ordinary into the Extraordinary

This creative rendition of “Angels We Have Heard on High” by The Piano Guys is a wonderful way to enjoy the Christmas season! The five members of The Piano Guys take one instrument and turn it into several different sounds.

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Let this song remind you how God can take something ordinary and do extraordinary things with it!  Think back to that day when He chose an ordinary young girl to bring an extraordinary Messiah into this world. Look back at the wonder of the star the wise men followed. Picture the awe the shepherds must have felt as the angels appeared in the heavens, singing their praise to the newborn King.

Luke 2:8-14

 

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!

Angels We Have Heard on High

While we don’t know exactly who wrote the song or when, it was translated into its current English form in 1862. The lyrics are simple yet profound; the melody is so full of joy. It’s easy to understand why this song has endured the test of time! When you listen to this song, can’t you just imagine the joy all creation felt as they welcomed and worshiped the newborn King?

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plain
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strain

—Chorus—:

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be?
Which inspire your heavenly songs?

Chorus

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ, the Lord, the newborn King.

Chorus

See Him in a manger laid,
Jesus, Lord of heaven and earth;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
With us sing our Savior’s birth.
“Christmas is Here” — JJ Heller

“Christmas is Here” — JJ Heller

Kristin J

I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
Kristin J

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Christmas is Here!

I love Christmas music! From Thanksgiving to New Year’s it’s the only kind of music I want to hear. This year I got started a little early though, thanks to JJ Heller’s new album, Unto Us. She released her lyric video for “Christmas Is Here” in October and I’ve been blaring it through our house ever since. The song itself is soft and sweet but the message of the song is so powerful.

 

Here are my favorite words:

Join in the chorus, sing to the baby

Sleeping beneath the stars that He made.

Light in the darkness, hope for the hopeless

His love will never fade away .

Heaven came down from earth

To bind our wounds and wash our sins away.

Let us adore him,

Lift up your voices.

Sing it out loud,

Sing it out clear.

Christmas is here. 

Who can resist the urge to praise God for the moment that our maker came to earth to love us in the flesh? Adoring Him. For my family, that is what Christmas is about. The gifts, Santa pictures, lights– those things are all fun–but the heart of it all is celebration for all that Christ’s birth meant. Celebration for his life here on earth.

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The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Music is a great way to adore Jesus this Christmas season! In the car, at work, around the house–Christ-centered music can help our hearts be full of worship all the time!

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My family is loving JJ Heller’s new album, Unto Us and we think you will love it too!

What are your favorite Christmas songs?

 

 

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Strange Way to Save the World – Michael Crawford

Strange Way to Save the World – Michael Crawford

Lana W

I’m Lana, a native Oklahoman. Married 17 years to the first boy I ever dated. Mama to two amazing, darling girls. I’m a coffee-drinking, book-reading, home-educating night owl! An accountant in my life B.C. (Before Children), my dream job would be getting paid to read all day.And if you’re into Meyers-Briggs personality tests, I’m an ISTJ. Most important of all, I’m a follower of Christ.
Lana W

Joseph’s Reaction to Mary’s News

Don’t you wonder what Joseph thought when Mary told him she was going to have a baby? I can just imagine his shock at the news. I’ve always thought he must have been hurt and disappointed at first, maybe even angry. Matthew tells us that Joseph’s first reaction was to divorce Mary quietly. If Joseph had divorced Mary, how drastically different the story of Jesus would be! Once he accepted the news as God’s plan for a Savior, don’t you think he must have thought it was a strange way to save the world?

Fortunately for us and for the rest of the world, the Bible tells us that “while Joseph considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream” and gave him the rest of the story, so to speak. Aren’t you glad Joseph followed the angel’s instructions and married Mary despite his first doubts?

Have you ever considered that Mary might have had doubts about what the angel told her as well? Luke 1 says that Mary was greatly troubled at the angel’s greeting. And although she had questions for the messenger, she seemed to quickly accept what he told her.

Knowing our human penchant for questioning and doubting is one of the reasons I like this song so well. If I were Mary, I don’t know that I could have accepted the angel’s message as easily as she seemed to. But it seems to be part of her personality to reflect and carefully consider everything she observed concerning her son who would be the Messiah. (Luke 2:19; Luke 2:51).

May we all have a simple faith and an obedient trust like Mary did!

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

Colossians 3:16

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