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Baby Jesus

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“Indeed the very hairs on your head are numbered…” Luke 12:7

As Christmas approaches, I wanted to share a cute story with you.

Baby Jesus

Each Christmas our family places a manger in our yard which include Mary, Joseph and Jesus. My husband and nine-year-old son handcrafted a barn and manger.

At night, our children couldn’t wait for their dad to plug it in to see the charaters glow.

Three days before Christmas, my seven-year-old daughter’s best friend noticed something strange, “Alicia, where is Baby Jesus?”

“Mom, Baby Jesus is missing,” Alicia shouted!

My jaw dropped. “Where could it have gone?”

Saddened, we prayed that Baby Jesus would be returned.

The next day, we searched for Baby Jesus. One neighbor greeted us, “Hi. Whatcha looking for?”

“We’re looking for Jesus,” I mused.

“You’re looking for what,” she chuckled.

We told her the story and she got angry. She fashioned a poster which read, Whoever took Baby Jesus, please return it!

We left our manger up an additional week. Unfortunately, it didn’t show up.

Two months later, on the way to school, Alicia looked out the car window and asked, “Hey Mom, isn’t that our Baby Jesus over there?”

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I glanced and couldn’t believe my eyes. Baby Jesus was propped up in front of our neighborhood liquor store.

I whipped into the parking lot and ran inside. The clerk finished with her customer’s transaction, “Can I help you?”

“Ma’am is that your manger scene out front?”

She looked at me puzzled, “Nope. Someone just left it there.”

“I’d love to have it, because someone took ours a few days before Christmas.”

Her eyes widened, “Wait, someone stole Jesus? That’s not good. Yes, please take it.”

I thanked her, smiled and grabbed Baby Jesus. “Here you go Sweetheart.” She giggled.

When I returned home, my husband and son were resting on our couch. I tapped on the window and pointed to Baby Jesus. Their faces lit up. “Where did you find that,” Randy asked. “Wow, that’s cool,” Austin said.

Strangely, the next year Baby Jesus went missing again. We kept our eyes peeled for several months following without success.

In August that year, we sold our house and rented back until the end of October.  We then moved into a rental property in the same town. One day in November, and our old neighbor, Mabel, called us to say, “Randy, you are not going to believe this! I found Baby Jesus on your old front yard! So, I asked the new neighbor if I could return it to you guys, and they happily agreed.”

We jumped in our car and raced over to gather our Baby Jesus.

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As I write this blog, he sits between Mary and Joseph once more; only he has a little road rash.  Amazing!

Prayer: Thank you God for being involved in the details of our lives.

What are you thankful for this Christmas season?

 

 

Guest blog by Shannon Upton/Book Review

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I was approached by fellow Blogs by Christian Women Author Shannon Upton to review her new book, Building Your House.

In it, Shannon incorporates organization with faith. She shares great practical advice to build your Christ-centered home and de-clutter physically and spiritually.

My favorite chapter is #10 where Shannon gently reminds us to walk in faithfulness. She sprinkles helpful suggestions throughout such as playing inspirational music, lighting a candle or hanging encouraging scripture on the wall.

As a result of reading Building Your House, I believe my home will look and feel more inviting, peaceful and less cluttered.

Disclaimer: No compensation was received for this book review; just passing on a Good Read.

Shannon Upton is a Christian author, blogger, and speaker.  Her goal is to help women use a little organization to clear out  their spiritual clutter so they can make room for peace and joy! She’d love to serve you (and by extension, your children) through her two books; the second being Organizing You. Feel free to stop by Organizingjesusmoms.com  to discover great resources she has for you there. organizing

Please welcome Shannon!

Blessings, Rebecca

 

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Intentional Influence

“Shannon, did you just call yourself ‘homely’? Don’t you ever say that again!”

When I was in seventh grade, my Sunday School teacher gave us lists of adjectives and asked us to circle the ones we thought applied to us. I knew that the lesson was on self-esteem, so I circled things like “smart,” “friendly,”…and “homely.”  At the time, I thought that “homely” simply meant “plain.”  It was the choice after “beautiful” and “pretty,” but before “ugly.”

What I remember about that moment isn’t how my teacher said that I was a very pretty girl (she had to say that, didn’t she?), but how shocked she was that I’d circled “homely” in the first place. She was downright offended on my behalf!

When I looked at her, I saw a woman who was very well-dressed and put-together. She obviously knew what it meant to be attractive… yet there she was saying that I was beautiful.  I was startled into a realization: I was a child of God and He would never want me to think of myself as “homely.”  Ever.

Today, I’m still under her influence. I have the habit of complimenting the appearance of others, admiring a pretty blouse, cool shoes, or a warm smile.  I even give a scripturally-based talk about how to organize your wardrobe!  It’s not that I think outward appearance is all that important, far from it.  But my Sunday School teacher taught me that God sees us as beautiful, and that’s how we should see ourselves.

How are you influencing your children through your outward example? We can tell our children wonderful things, but they see what they see. When your kids look at you, do they see…

Someone who’s tired and worn out, or someone who’s taking care of their body?

Someone who avoids time with God, or someone who loves to go to church and spend time in prayer?

Someone who’s overwhelmed and stressed, or someone who’s choosing to trust in God?

Our influence doesn’t come through our words, but how we’re intentionally living our lives. When our kids see that we know what it means to be a child of God, they’ll be able to hear our encouragement to follow Him.

This is the heart of my ministry! I help women use home and family organization, not to pursue perfection, but to live in Christ’s abundance.  When we intentionally live all in for Jesus, we’re building our homes and raising our families for God’s glory.  That influence will last for generations to come.

 

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If you’d like to follow her, you can Like her Facebook page.

Now it’s your turn to own Building Your House as we’re giving away a FREE copy. I’d love to hear from you on how you build your home with your children. Simply share a family routine that has solved a clutter or spiritual issue in your home with us below. Your name will then be placed in a random drawing.

On December 26, 2015, we will select a winner. The winner must supply his/her mailing address to us no later than December 31, 2015. One Free copy will then be shipped directly to the winner’s address provided. Best wishes!

 

Tumbleweeds

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Christmas 1978 (Me, Mom and my brother Greg)

As Christmas approaches, I’m so excited to participate in the  Christmas Blog Tour hosted by Blogs by Christian Women (BCW). If you’d like to follow along, the next stop on our tour is at Niki Roberts blog on 12/7.

Blessings, Rebecca

Tumbleweeds

Family traditions were important to my Mother. She was one of nine children who grew up in a family steeped in rituals. She hoped to create her own family traditions which she did despite my parents divorce when I was six-years-old.

At times, she held two jobs or sold catalog products to make ends meet. We had a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and clothes on our backs. For that  I am forever grateful.

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My Mom, Georgia

The first year was especially tough. I remember going to the grocery store to purchase groceries with food stamps. I pondered in my heart why we didn’t use cash like other families.

Next to Easter, my Mom’s favorite holiday was Christmas. She loved the celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus and wrapping presents.

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We lived in an apartment complex. One day, while walking past my neighbor’s door, their tree lights shimmered and the scent of fresh pine filled the air. I ran home, “When can we get a tree, Mom?”

“Next weekend,” she said.

I was so excited that I could barely contain myself.

That Saturday, we jumped in our Plymouth Belvedere and drove to nearby railroad tracks. We hopped out and started walking, “Where are we going?”

“We’re hunting for a Christmas tree sweetheart.” She grabbed a scraggly bush, “Here’s one. Help me find two more Becky.”

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I asked her, “What’s that in your hand?”

“It’s a tumbleweed,” she replied.

Suddenly, a gust of wind blew several more past me and I ran as fast as I could to catch them.

When we arrived home, she stacked one on top of the other and spray painted them gold. Sparkly!

“There, all done,” she said.

Afterwards, we popped some corn and carefully placed each kernel on a string. Before long, we had our first handmade decoration.

That night, as I laid in bed , I heard her sobbing. I crept into her room, “What’s the matter Mama?”

“Nothing Honey. I’m just a little sad; that’s all. You see, I want to get you and your brother some Christmas gifts this year, but I don’t have a lot of money.”

“It’s okay Mom. We don’t need anything. Please don’t cry.”

Two weeks later, Christmas arrived. To my surprise, there were beautifully wrapped boxes under our tree. “Eeee! Did Santa bring us all these presents,” I squealed.

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“Yes, he did,” she beamed.

I gingerly opened the first one, savoring each tare of the pretty paper,  “I’ve always wanted this record!” Next, came a Shirley Temple color book and sharp new crayons. Then, a pair of rainbow colored socks. Finally, a tin of delicious Almond Roca candy.

I later discovered she worked overtime to purchase our gifts. That Christmas, my Mom taught me a valuable lesson of sacraficial love.

A few years ago, my husband and I found ourselves in a similar situation unable to buy a Christmas tree for our two young children.

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Randy, Rebecca, Austin and Alicia Christmas 2010

Two weeks before Christmas a friend from church, asked, “Did you get your Christmas tree yet?”

Sheepishly, I said, “Not yet. We can’t afford one.”

The following day, Lynda showed up at our home with a brand new six foot artificial tree. “Now, you’ll always have a tree for your kids.”

My voice cracked, “I don’t know what to say. Thank you so much.”

Christmas arrived and our children ran to see our tree just like I did when I was a child. They looked at their presents and were astonished,  “Wow! Did Santa give us all these gifts?”

“Yes, he did,” I said beaming.

Christmas is a very special holiday season. I’d love to hear about your favorite family traditions. Feel free to comment below.

Sharing is Caring

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Thank you for sharing. It shows me you are caring are the lyrics to a song we sing in pre-school. Yet, it’s my observation kids’ least favorite activity is sharing toys. It’s my experience that children will inevitably want the same toy to play with at the same exact time. The rule at our school is to ask your friend, “Can I be next?” Then the other child will respond, “Yes,” play for awhile and hand over the item. However, there are times when a child will respond, “No!”

Why is it so hard to share? Like when you are savouring a delicious meal and your spouse asks, “Can I have a bite?” Of course you give them some, but deep down you may be thinking, “No!”

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Sharing appears to be a learned behavior varying from culture to culture. Some people share everything with others such as their money, time, house, car, clothes, food, etc.

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I believe the ultimate act of sharing is when God gave His one and only begotten son, Jesus, to be a randsome for the world’s sin. Often, I look at my thirteen-year-old son,  and am reminded of His loving sacrifice.

How do you share or teach your children to share? Or has anyone shared something special with you? Please tell us below.

Guest Blog by Fr. Blaine Hammond

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Fr. Blaine Hammond is a Priest in the Episcopal Church, currently working at St. Andrew’s in Ben Lomond, California.  He is married to Dr. Elizabeth Forbes, and they have three children; all in their 40s now.

Before his ordination, he worked several years for the Boeing Company in Everett and Renton, Washington, for the Post Office, drove buses for Seattle and King County, rebound and repaired books at a seminary library in Denver, ran the computer division at a small event management company near Denver, and supervised the Word Processing Department at the JFK Child Development Center, part of the University of Colorado Medical Center, in Denver.

He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Washington, a Master of Divinity Degree from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, and a Certificate in Anglican Studies from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California.

Since being ordained, he has worked for congregations in Lyons, Colorado, Castle Rock, Colorado; Seaview, Washington, and his current position. Also, he has volunteered with congregations in Clayton, California, Alameda, California, Battleground, Washington, and Seattle, Washington.

Fr. Blaine Hammond leads the congregation where I teach pre-school. It’s a treat to watch him tell our little ones about God in chapel each month. Also, he contributes a column in The Piper church newsletter. So, I asked him to share his insight with us this week, and am thrilled to have a male perspective! Please welcome Fr. Blaine Hammond!

Blessings, Rebecca

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A professor of psychiatry and medical humanities at Harvard, Robert Coles, wrote a book titled The Spiritual Life of Children (1990, Houghton Mifflin, Boston).  What interested me about it was the way that he set aside the preconceptions of his profession and listened to the things the children had to say; and having done that, how he worked to understand the ways that children tried to fit their understandings about God and religion into the world they were in the process of encountering and trying to learn about, and vice versa.

My observations of children, having raised three to adulthood along with my wife, have convinced me that children are not simply small, unlearned and incomplete adults.  They are, in many ways, something quite different from adult humans, in terms of the ways their brains and bodies work, and the ways their spiritual lives work.  It is that, I think, that Jesus was talking about when he said that we not only need to be willing to receive children as worthy of our adult attention, we need to learn from them and even try to become more like them if we are to be able to understand and enter the kingdom  of God.

Those can be hard things to think about when a tired, manipulative, demanding, whiny child is interrupting us for the fifth time during a telephone conversation or making our shopping experience a monstrosity.  But when we are not trying to correct, mold or escape from our children, watching them and listening to them can really teach us lessons about looking at, experiencing and thinking about the world in ways we have forgotten.  It can also teach us lessons about what faith, love, understanding and hope mean.

One of the things Dr. Coles reports was a conversation that ensued when a group of children heard an ambulance siren go by outside.  “I noted, yet once more, how often children (like adults) think of God as a judge, a critic, or a benefactor: one who rewards and punishes.  The children also managed to give God a psychology, one not unlike their own.”  They had been talking about a sickbed picture, and the discussion turned to whether God was, or could be, like the doctor in the picture.  Many of us adults have formed enough of picture of God to satisfy ourselves.  I wonder how often we can sit with a child, not to teach the child what God is like, but to listen as they speculate about what God could be like?  Or even to speculate with other adults, or by ourselves, after so many years of having our opinions settled?

We often think we need to protect children against thinking about the difficult things of life.  But they think about them anyway.  Children are right there at ground level, where things  happen that we don’t even notice.  Hidden from our eyes in the grass are dead birds and small animals, which the children discover and wonder about as they play, along with the discarded items of adult life.  What do they think about these things?  How does it affect what they think about God and the world, life and death?  We’ll never find out if we don’t open the subject up with them.

Children’s Books for Rancho de Sus Ninos

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Our son, Austin, just returned from Tecate, Mexico where he and his entire 7th grade class served at Rancho de Sus Ninos orphanage. What an awesome experience! During their stay, they mixed and poured several yards of concrete, helped clean up the surrounding town, played with the children, and did skits for the community.

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My husband, Randy, also brought clothes down from Dress A Girl Around the World and Dress A Dude as well as some Spanish children’s books. They were well received. In fact, before he left, the Director requested more clothes which we were able to secure this past Sunday.

Today, we received a request for 100 copies each of the Spanish children’s books for their teachers and students. Wow, this is a huge request! One of my favorite speakers, Joyce Meyer, says we should help others when we can. If we simply cannot fulfill the need on your own, she suggests we ask others to help. So, we are asking for your help financially with this request as it is simply too big for our family budget.

Here’s the breakdown:

cover-image Me Gusta Comer Vegetales $10×100=$1,000

cover-image Me Gusta Comer Fruta $10×100=$1,000

cover-image Yo Soy Bonita $10×100=$1,000

cover-image Me Gusta La Playa $10×100=$1,000

Total: $4,000 + shipping (?)

If you’d like to contribute to this cause, you can help by sending your donation to our Paypal account (Randy Krusee) by 5/30/15. Thank you in advance for your generosity!

Blessings, Rebecca

Update 6/2/15

We were able to secure a discount on the purchase price from the printers from $10 to $4 per book. Also, we received a donation from the members of Hilltop Ministries. Thank you! We continue to trust God for the balance to meet their need.

Encouraging Children

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Grab your Bible and a fresh cup of coffee, nestle in your favorite chair and soak up the words from today’s devotion dedicated to mothers.

Today’s Passage

Children are a blessing from the Lord. (Psalm 127:3 NASB).

A Story

On a crisp winter evening, I sat down with my family at our dinner table and posed the question to my then six-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son, “Kids, where would you like to go this year for our mission trip?”

Our youngest thought about it, “I’d like to go to Camp Attitude in Oregon.”

“Great idea Alicia! Let’s go!”

I couldn’t wait to see what was in store this summer. I’d heard some amazing stories from other families who helped at camp in the past.

Two weeks prior, we met at our pastor’s house along with the other volunteers to discuss expectations. “Randy and Rebecca, your family will help the OI children next week. Camp will have a full time nurse and physician on site.” What’s OI?

I learned that  OI is the acronym for Osteogenesis Imperfecta a.k.a. Brittle Bones Disease. These children have extremely fragile bones.  In fact, the previous year, a young boy was rushed to the emergency room for a broken arm from falling off a picnic bench. Fortunately, the doctors placed a cast on his shattered bones and he returned to camp the same day ready to play.

At Camp Attitude campers attended for free and often their medical foundations pay for their travel expenses. For many parents and siblings, it’s the only time all year they participate in extracurricular activities such as boating, hiking, swimming, etc., because their special needs child requires care 24 hours a day. This freedom is given via their “Buddy” who is assigned full-time to shadow their child.

We headed north to Foster, Oregon. We didn’t know what to expect at camp, because we’d never spent time with disabled children before. How would our kids react? We did arrive with open minds and willing hearts/hands.

After we set up our tent, we headed to the barn. We heard a loud Beep! It was the charter bus arrived from the airport carrying families from the United States, Canada and Europe.

We joined the camp Director, and she assigned our team’s daily chores which included cleaning the mess hall tables before and after meals, scraping plates, washing dishes and scrubbing bathrooms. Austin jumped up, “I’ll scrape the plates, Mom.”

“I’ll help you wash the dishes, Mommy,” chimed Alicia.

The Director then asked if anyone would be willing to haul the trash using their four wheel drive quad runner.

I sheepishly raised my hand, “I have a motorcycle license.”

“The job is yours,” she smiled.

I grabbed the keys, stepped outside and found a heap of waste and recycle next to a new quad runner.

We pitched the trash in the modified trailer. I fired it up the engine. “Jump in family. We’re going for a ride.”

With Austin on my right fender and Alicia on my left, we made our rounds. Who knew collecting garbage could be so much fun?

The next day, while clearing tables, I saw Alicia pushing a little girl in a wheel chair on a special swing. She ran up to me, “Mom, I helped Rachel. She needed a push.”

“That’s awesome! Good job Alicia!”

The week whizzed by. On our last night, we watched the camper’s talent show. It warmed my heart to watch my kids cheer on their new found friends

The next morning, the campers were bused back to the airport. Our team of eight volunteers was assigned one final task; to clean all the cabins and restrooms which accommodated 120 campers.

Five hours later, my sore body emerged from the last cabin. All done!

I’m grateful my family and I served together at Camp Attitude. We met a lot nice people, learned about special needs families and worked together as a team.

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Since our visit to Camp Attitude, I’m more aware of other’s needs. I don’t get it right every time, but it’s my heart’s desire is to be a conduit of God’s love.

Moving from praying to action requires planning. Here is some ways we can help others.

  1. Pray Pray God would show you who needs encouragement today. I often find these are my own children, friends’ children, my children’s friends, co-workers’ children, neighbors, my students or even Facebook friends’ children.
  2. Take Action I look for ways to encourage people God has placed in my life. Truth be told, this requires thought and energy. For instance, if I send an encouraging note, it requires that I have stationary and stamps on hand. You too can prepare things in advance you may need to encourage someone such as casseroles, gift cards, clothing, household items, etc.

God has placed children in your life. Who needs your encouragement today?

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, I want to reflect your love to my child(ren) as well as other children. Give me eyes to see, ears to listen and hands to take action.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Your Turn

What is the one way you can love or encourage your child(ren) in your life today?

More

Looking for a good read about being the Mom God designed you to be? Read The Confident Mom – Guiding your Family with God’s Strength and Wisdom

A Time For Everything

A TIME FOR EVERYTHING

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. – Ecclesiastes 1:1

One of the things I love about Spring is everything comes alive. The sun peaks out of its winter blanket, the flowers bloom, newborns arrive and the outdoors brim with activities.

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I muse watching my pre-school class frolic with insects. It’s especially fun teaching them about the miracle of metamorphosis where a caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly. When we read Eric Carle’s book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” they burst out with laughter after the hungry caterpillar eats too much and is bulging.

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Spring also hosts Easter which makes me believe God can take dead things and make them alive again.

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I don’t know about you, but for me it’s often hard to look for the rainbow when you’re in a storm.

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As the season progresses, I’ve made a conscious effort to look for God’s hand at work in nature, my life and other’s lives.

I saw His work in nature during my husband and I’s recent visit to Rio Del Mar Beach to study the Bible. As I watched the waves crash, I remembered in His Word, God tells the ocean how far to go.  Amazing!

As we soaked up the sun, God blessed us with a pack of humpback whales that spy hopped and cleared their spouts as they passed by.

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Then, there is His work in my life. Lately, I believe the Lord is teaching me to be thankful in all situations. My son, Austin, read II Timothy to me a few days ago where Paul reminds us that if we have food and clothes, we ought to be content. Ouch! True confession – I have a restless heart that longs for more, and often must remind myself to be happy with what I have.

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Finally, there is His work in the lives of others as evidenced in the life of Bethany Hamilton whose story was portrayed in the movie, Soul Surfer. She was viciously attacked by a shark and lost her left arm as a result.

Fast forward ten years, she’s married, has a baby boy, continues to surf, and is filming a new movie. It’s awesome to see how God is working in her life!

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Today, as I think about the various seasons, I’m reminded that God has taken my highs and lows, and weaved them into a colorful tapestry called life. I pray He’ll continue to give me insight into His plan and purpose for me and my family. I eagerly await His beckon, “Come and taste that the Lord is good.”

Reflection: Ask God to remind you of a season in your life He’s brought you through. What did you learn as a result?

Prayer: God, please help me to embrace the seasons of life as they are a part of your plan.