As Christian mothers, we strive to be good examples of Jesus to our children. We want to be sure they are cared for in all areas of life—that they’re educated well, that their health needs are provided for, that they learn good social skills, and that they are taught good values and to be kind, loving, and giving to others. We want to be sure they are raised with strong Christian faith and conviction and principles.
I thought that the following example of a godly mother from history, Susanna Wesley, would be encouraging for all you Christian mothers. Susanna Wesley is best known as the mother of the founders of Methodism, Charles and John Wesley. From Methodism sprang a number of today's Protestant denominations. Charles and John were tireless in their efforts to preach the Gospel, which they attributed to the faith instilled in them by their mother. They were instrumental in triggering a major time of revival and missionary work in England in the 1600s that spread to many parts of the world.
Though Susanna Wesley is most famous for what Charles and John accomplished, the greatest honor God affords her is for her great determination and faithfulness to raise all her children in the ways of the Lord. She never wavered in this resolve, even though adversity constantly threatened to overwhelm her.
The specifics of your struggles, heartbreaks and battles may be quite different from what Susanna Wesley faced. But whatever the day or difficulty, it’s always a challenge to endure and stay faithful in your fight to raise your family to the best of your ability. Godly motherhood is always demanding.
Yet her overwhelming desire was that the little flock that she had borne would grow to know and love Jesus and do things for God. She schooled all her children, and each day before their academic studies began, an hour was spent in Scripture reading and prayer and singing of Psalms.
Nothing could deter Susanna from putting their spiritual welfare first and foremost. In spite of her not being able to provide them with all the material things that she would have liked, she gave them the most important thing. Many times all she could do was cling to God’s promises and refuse to let circumstances stop her in the task that the Lord had given her. In spite of the setbacks, defeats, heartbreaks, loss, and spiritual and physical battles, her faith and love for the Lord and her children brought her through it all.
Eventually, in her later years, she saw some of the fruits of her faithfulness, and I’m sure much more when she arrived in her heavenly home, as you will as well, if you don’t see them in this life. Nothing you give for your children will be wasted.
By Misty Kay
Scientists have recently made a fascinating discovery about an unseen and little understood parasite, the negabugger—so called because of the negative effect it has on its human host’s mental and emotional well-being.
It is too small to be seen by the naked eye, yet the symptoms of infection are plainly evident. It lives by attaching itself to the soft membrane of the inner ear. Its tiny buzzing wings vibrate at a frequency undetectable by humans, but which interferes with brain waves and leaves the victim feeling confused and depressed.
These negative vibrations can be difficult to distinguish from one’s own thoughts, and the subject may easily be led to believe the buzz of negative self-talk. In more serious cases of infestation the negabugger can move into the brain of its host to lay its young, breeding thousands of little negabuggers that can quickly become airborne and infect others via negative words uttered by the host.
The negabugger is a serious pest, and treatment should be administered at the first sign of contagion. The negabugger must be dislodged and shaken out of the victim’s ear.
In standard cases, treatment can be self-administered by tilting the head in the direction of the negabugger and hopping vigorously while pounding the opposite side of the head. If it is unclear which ear the negabugger is residing in, apply this technique to both sides of the head to be safe. If more than one negabugger is present, it may be necessary to repeat the process.
In extreme or stubborn cases, the victim may need assistance. If a bop on the head with a pillow fails to dislodge the parasite, it may be necessary to shock it out of hiding. A splash of cold water is nearly always effective. To prevent re-infection, place the subject under headphones and play uplifting music and inspirational readings. Also practice positive self-talk exercises with the subject.
(Warning: Pillow and water treatments should only be administered by qualified adults. If children attempt these maneuvers, it may result in injury or damage to property.)
In a clinical study involving my children and young teenager, I have found the prescribed treatment to be quite effective in helping them pull out of bouts of self-pity and other negative emotions.
For example, one day I entered the kitchen to find my then 13-year-old sobbing over a sink of dirty dishes. I sympathized, saying, “I am so sorry you’re not happy. I want you to know how much I love you. In fact, I love you so much that I have to do this. …”
Producing a pillow from behind my back, I went to work. My daughter laughed and begged for mercy. Post-treatment, the patient appeared to have made a miraculous recovery.
She returned to washing the dishes, but to my dismay she quickly relapsed. Time for step two. I went for the cold water. She saw it coming, but never thought I would really do it. After a brief chase around the house, I had her cornered and … splash!
Even she thought that was funny. A few rounds of laughs, and the dishes were almost done.
As the mother of an emotional teen girl, I have spent many hours reasoning, cajoling, comforting, and praying in various attempts to pull her out of her hormonal bouts of gloom, but lately I have found the negabugger treatment to be even more effective and faster working.
Once the negabugger’s unsuspecting targets are made aware of the danger, they can learn to recognize and take steps to protect themselves from it by not entertaining negative or destructive self-talk. An ounce of awareness is worth a pound of cure. Beware of the negabugger!
Article courtesy of Activated magazine. Image by David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Curtis Peter Van Gorder
Christmas is such a magical time. A special aura seems to light the world. It is a day when Christ’s birth is acknowledged all over the world. However clouded in materialism Christmas may seem, it still brings God’s gift of love—Jesus—into more homes, hearts, and minds than any other holiday or event.
I asked friends and coworkers of various nationalities and backgrounds to help me make a collage of sorts by offering their impressions of Christmases past. Here’s a sampling of what we came up with.
…Christmas Eve was the one night each year that we kids went to bed early, so “tomorrow would come sooner.”
…sitting beside the Christmas tree when I was a little girl, eating too many chocolates while listening to the grownups tell stories.
…visiting my granddad for the first time when I was 11. We had lived in a faraway country my whole life. We prayed with him on that visit to receive Jesus. When he passed away not long afterwards, I was glad to have had the opportunity to share the best Christmas gift of all with him.
…receiving more gifts and toys than we could ever afford. My parents were full-time volunteers, so at Christmas they usually had very little to spend on gifts for us kids. But their spirit of giving throughout the year inspired those they had helped to lavish us with gifts. I learned early in life that when we do all we can to help others, God surprises and rewards us in special ways.
…shopping for a long time to buy a present for my mother with the little money that I had. I finally found a prism glass necklace that she treasured. When I visited her 40 years later, she still had it with her most expensive jewelry.
…caroling in the neighborhood door to door with my friends and how it touched the hearts of the people we sang to.
…scribbling Christmas cards to my friends and loved ones and receiving the same. I still bring those cards out every year and display them as a way of remembering old friends.
…my parents reading me a different part of the Christmas story from the family Bible every day during the week leading up to Christmas.
…listening to Celine Dion sing some great Christmas songs from her heart.
…performing for others at Christmas. Every Christmas is special because we have something to give others. It always inspires me to see the audience’s reaction. Each year and for every audience, it seems to somehow be just what they need.
…playing a different part each year in the Christmas play—the lowly donkey, the sympathetic innkeeper, an awesome angel, an awestruck shepherd, a majestic wise man, a proud father Joseph.
…gathering in our kitchen each day from December 1st to December 24th to open another door on our Advent calendar.
…the smell and taste of turkey with gravy.
…my parents making sure that each Christmas was meaningful. We sang carols and read verses from the Bible by candlelight. We also exchanged presents and had fun together, but the focus was on worship.
…feeling envious of other kids who got more toys than I did—but looking back now, I can’t even remember what those toys were. What I do remember fondly are the times that our family spent together at Christmas, appreciating each other and celebrating Jesus’ birth.
…sitting by the fire, drinking hot chocolate, and singing Christmas songs as a family.
…opening our home to visitors and sharing the joy of Christmas with them.
…a feeling of satisfaction after all the hard work of Christmas was done. Time to rest up, count my blessings, and thank God for all the love we shared.
May you have a joyous Christmas this year with your loved ones as you build memories together!
By Linda Salazar
“Mommy, I think you like those toys more than we do,” I remember saying to my mom as we shopped at a discount store. The way she would inspect each toy, carefully read through each book, count puzzle pieces, and put together toy sets (discount items tend to miss pieces), I was sure she loved those toys every bit as much as we kids did. She was always on the lookout for sales so she and my hardworking father could put presents under the Christmas tree for us kids.
But my parents’ giving wasn’t limited to things. Sometimes their gifts were “hands on,” like when they took us to a park to play a favorite game together, or trekked by our sides through the woods, or took us to visit some historical site.
Looking back I can clearly see that my parents didn’t love the toys and all the rest as much as I thought they did—they just loved giving. They were always giving. Whether it was their time and attention, help with our schoolwork or projects, or lending a listening ear, they never ceased to give from their hearts.
As Christmas approaches, I can’t help but think back and marvel at those simple, love-filled gifts. The Christmas presents themselves I hardly remember, but Mom and Dad’s enthusiastic love for giving I will never forget!
Modern marketers have found so many holidays to celebrate with gift giving, and they come around so fast that it’s sometimes hard to remember which one we’re shopping for or why. But stop for a moment, won’t you, and recall the most memorable gifts you have ever received and why you still hold them dear. Were they the things you could see and hold, or the love those gifts were wrapped in?
Courtesy of Activated Magazine.
Adapted from D.J. Adams
Christmas is a great time for sharing, for getting together with old friends and new, for rediscovering the importance of family and of spirituality.
But Christmas can also be hectic and even frustrating if we don’t manage our time and our moods correctly during the holiday season. I know.—I run a bookstore/game store that gets tremendously busy during November and December, and yet I, too, have a family that wants me to spend extra time with them, shopping to do, parties to go to, and so on.
Since I talk to a lot of frantic people every year around this time, I have some words of advice that hopefully can help you get the best out of this wonderful season, without it getting the best of you.
Keep your perspective, and remember what Christmas is about. Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The concepts of “peace on earth” and “goodwill toward men” (and women!) are universal and worth sharing. It’s sometimes difficult to remember this when you’re battling for a parking space in an overcrowded mall parking lot, but it’s worth the effort.
Plan ahead. Why are so many of us shocked each year that it’s suddenly almost Christmas and we haven’t done a thing to prepare? Yes, you can wait till the last minute, but how much better and easier to pick up gifts early, wrap them, and put them in a closet? You can even start Christmas craft projects in July! By the time December rolls around, you won’t have much to do except to enjoy yourself—and to be envied by those of us who wish we’d been as organized!
Keep it simple. Simplicity is a virtue. Holiday celebrations don’t have to be complex, and shouldn’t be. Gift-giving should be about showing someone you care about him or her, not about impressing him or her with how well-off you are. Don’t let yourself get snowed under by volunteering to bake two million cookies for the school Christmas party. Give of yourself, by all means—but don’t offer to give something you don’t have. Your family, your friends, your coworkers, your community, and others all have claims on your time, so budget accordingly.
Be charitable. Charity begins in the home, but it is not meant to end there. The gifts we most enjoy giving often are ones that go to strangers and near-strangers. Are there families in your area whose children aren’t getting much this holiday? Why not buy an extra toy, game, puzzle, or whatnot each time you go Christmas shopping, and give the extras to those folks who don’t have extra? Maybe your school or workplace can organize something. If they do, and if you can, volunteer. It’s very fulfilling, and helping others is one of the best ways in the world to defeat stress in your own life.
Plan some quiet time. For some, this might mean going to early morning Christmas gatherings with other believers. It’s a great way to start the day. For others, it might mean setting time aside each day for quiet reflection on the beauty of Christmas. But for sure plan to stop, pray, be thankful, and fill up your heart with God’s good things.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year—enjoy it!
Jeanette Doyle Parr
Old Ebenezer Scrooge, during his pre-dream days, would have been proud of me that Christmas season. I’d started sprinkling “bah, humbugs” around just two short weeks after Thanksgiving.
Weakened by a recent bout of flu, I was physically and mentally exhausted. For the first time in my life, the Christmas season wasn’t proving to be a time of spiritual uplift.
Oh, I’d seen the looks my children had exchanged each time I snapped about Christmas-cookie messes, or tried to hurry clumsy little hands as they wrapped presents. My husband began retreating each time I lamented the high cost of gifts and how commercial Christmas had become, and it wasn’t long until even the dog was avoiding my sharp tongue.
And each morning, determined that this day would be better, I’d vow to be more patient. But by late evening, I was usually complaining about, or to, someone.
Now, on December 22nd, I had another problem. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the angel wings straightened on my little girl’s costume.
“Put it on again, Kris. Let Mama see what she needs to do.”
Happily Kris put on her costume and slipped her halo over her shining blonde hair. The left wing tilted toward the floor.
“Can I practice my song while you fix me, Mama?”
“I suppose so,” I sighed. “Just don’t wiggle.”
Her back to me, she began singing in her thin, childish voice,
Oh, come all ye hateful,
Joy, Phil and their trumpet,
Oh come ye, oh come ye to Bethlehem…
My hands stilled. Unexpected tears spilled from my eyes, ran down my face, and splashed on the glittering wings.
Oh come all ye hateful. … That was me all right. No wonder Christmas hadn’t been the same. I hadn’t gone to Bethlehem.
Not once during the entire holiday season had I paused to reflect on the miracle in the manger. My early-morning quiet times, usually devoted to Scripture reading and prayer, had been filled with extra baking, wrapping, and sewing.
Kris wiggled around to face me. “Are you crying because I sang too bootiful?”
“Yes, baby, because it was so beautiful, just like you … and like Christmas.
I gave her a big hug and silently vowed that the rest of Christmas would be beautiful, because I would take my hateful spirit to Bethlehem.
I smiled again. Joy, Phil and their trumpet—we’d all go to receive the eternal gift.
During the Christmas season, do you feel like a little boat floating on the big ocean? There are lots of waves and swells. There are currents, tides, and often wind or storms. You are the little boat trying to navigate through all these things.
Sometimes you have to put your sails out to catch the wind; other times you have to bring your sails in. At times you have to sail straight into the storm; other times you have to let yourself drift until it passes.
But the main thing to realize is that if you ask Him, Jesus will be there with you. He can calm the storms; He can smooth the waves. He can even walk to you on the water if He has to. And if things get too rough, you can always call out to Him and ask Him to calm things down for you.
He’s right there with you and wants nothing more than to help you make it. And just like it says in the Bible story when He walked on the water, Immediately the ship was at the land (John 6:21). He’ll do it for you too if you ask Him. He’s done it before. He can do it again.
- Robert Rider
By Horace Edwards
In Brooklyn, New York, Shush is a school that caters to learning-disabled children. Some children remain in Shush for their entire school career, while others can be mainstreamed into conventional schools. At a Shush fundraising dinner, the father of a Shush child delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.
After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he cried out, “Where is the perfection in my son Shaya? Everything God does is done with perfection. But my child cannot understand things as other children do. My child cannot remember facts and figures as other children do. Where is God’s perfection?” The audience was shocked by the question, pained by the father’s anguish, and stilled by the piercing query. “I believe,” the father answered, “that when God brings a child like this into the world, the perfection that He seeks is in the way people react to this child.”
He then told the following story about his son: One afternoon Shaya and his father walked past a park where some boys Shaya knew were playing baseball. Shaya asked, “Do you think they will let me play?” Shaya’s father knew that his son was not at all athletic and that most boys would not want him on their team. But Shaya’s father understood that if his son was chosen to play, it would give him a comfortable sense of belonging. Shaya’s father approached one of the boys in the field and asked if Shaya could play.
The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, “We are losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning.”
Shaya’s father was ecstatic as Shaya smiled broadly. Shaya was told to put on a glove and go out to play short center field.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shaya’s team scored again, and now with two outs and the bases loaded with the potential winning run on base, Shaya was scheduled to be up. Would the team actually let Shaya bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?
Surprisingly, Shaya was given the bat. Everyone knew that it was all but impossible because Shaya didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, let alone hit with it. However, as Shaya stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved a few steps closer to home plate and lobbed the ball in softly so Shaya would at least be able to make contact. The first pitch came in, and Shaya swung clumsily and missed. One of Shaya’s teammates came up to Shaya and together they held the bat and faced the pitcher, waiting for the next pitch.
The pitcher took a few more steps forward and tossed the ball softly toward Shaya. As the pitch came in, Shaya and his teammate swung at the bat and together they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game.
Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far beyond reach of the first baseman. Everyone started yelling, “Shaya, run to first! Run to first!” Never in his life had Shaya run to first. He scampered down the baseline wide-eyed and startled.
By the time he reached first base, the right fielder had the ball. Shaya kept running. The right fielder could have thrown the ball to the second baseman, who would have tagged Shaya out, but the right fielder understood the pitcher’s intentions and threw the ball high and far over the third baseman’s head.
Everyone yelled, “Run to second, run to second!” Shaya ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home. As Shaya reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base and shouted, “Run to third!”
As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him screaming, “Shaya, run home!” Shaya ran home, stepped on home plate, and all 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders. Shaya was the hero. He had just hit a grand slam home run and won the game for his team.
“That day,” said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, “those 18 boys reached their level of God’s perfection.”
Links to fun Christmas coloring pages and activities for children of all ages!
0–5 Year Olds
6 - 8 Year Olds
9 - 12 Year Olds