So this brings me back to the question that we really need to answer: How do I show my children who Jesus is?
- It starts with us, parents. How can we expect to show our children who Jesus is if we know nothing about Him, never speak with Him and never listen to what He has to say? Start by digging into the Bible and talking to God about what you're reading. And if your kids happen to see you doing this, awesome! They learn by example, so be mindful of what you're showing them.
- We need to talk with our kids about Jesus. I know this sounds simple and trite, but so many people just expect that a little time in church will cover all the basics, and they're scared of not having an answer for their kids' question. Well, if your kids don't ask you questions and you're not starting a dialogue with them, I can guarantee you they are asking someone else or hearing answers elsewhere. Don't be afraid to tell your child, "I don't know the answer to that, so let's find out together." Even if they don't show it, they will appreciate your honesty and probably feel special when you go to any length to help them find the answer.
- It's Christmas time, so even more so than the rest of the year kids and adults alike are inundated with advertisements for what they need. We ask our families to make wish lists that only confirm we must really need this stuff. Watch out, I'm proposing two radical ideas... Turn off the tv and do not make wish lists. If you want to watch something, try popping in a DVD or turn on Netflix and enjoy the show without the onslaught of ads. Instead of having your family make lists of things they want, have them make a list of things you could surprise other friends or family members with, or even a local family in true need of the basics. Keep the focus off of themselves and onto others.
- This Christmas, don't let Jesus stay a baby in a manger. I think a lot of times that's all kids (and adults) see Him as, a baby. Ask your kids why they think the magi would come from so far to bring gifts and worship a baby. At the level they can understand, discuss what Jesus did, how He is God, He is Messiah and He is King.
- Cut down on your family gifts. I know it's fun to give and receive, and we should celebrate with some of that, but set some limits. One that we like and implement is "something they want, something they need, something they wear and something they read." That includes our stockings stuffers.
- Allow your children to choose a family gift. There are a lot of ways to do this and you can make it look however you want, but if your kids are old enough, let them take the lead. Have them do research and come up with something they can do for someone else, whether it's an organization, a local family, a ministry, whatever their little hearts are drawn to. If it's something they want to donate to, then let them figure out how to earn some money and help them take/send that money. If it's buying gifts for a local family in need, it's always nice if the kids can actually pick out, wrap and give the presents to the family. Don't write off doing this with your kids if they're still young. Mine are both 2 but helped me pick out clothes and toys to send to Zoe's orphanage in China. We even had a full discussion about where the box was going and who was getting the present. They were very excited to help me pack the box, after they made sure the toys were good, of course.Zoe packing the box.
- Make an advent calendar but get creative. Do not do candy and presents. Make each day different. Maybe some have scripture you can talk about and have the kids draw a picture about the scripture. Maybe other days have simple ways to give back around your community. Perhaps even others say things like "Tell someone about Jesus today" or "Pray for a friend that is having a hard time." Each day can be a way to learn more about Jesus and how to live like Him.
- Invite someone over for Christmas. We have always had an open door policy in our family. Our friends know they are always welcome, so some years friends just show up unannounced, and sometimes we invite friends that we know don't have anyone to celebrate with. Either way, we can always make room for more!
- Keep things simple. From decorations to presents to food. This is the most stressful time of year for most people, but it should be a time of celebration, joy, and love for Jesus.
Keep your eyes on Jesus and He will keep you from sinking. Fill your heart with love for Jesus and there won't be room for all the overwhelming things this world offers.