Mardel Homeschool
                
December 4, 2013 Edition 

Easy Last-Minute Gifts 

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Mercy Every Minute   

The Wuehler Family

I normally pick up inexpensive gifts throughout the year and stow them away in my "gift closet" like most of you frugal moms out there. Interestingly enough, my gift closet doubles as my prayer closet. And, what I have found in that closet is that the gifts that surround me are both temporal and eternal. I can give little trinkets out to my family and friends, but the eternal gifts I find in that closet in prayer and Bible study are much more concrete, much more life-giving than those other things collecting dust. What gifts am I giving to my family and friends that will last forever?

 

When I stop and take a good look at God, I see that He gives expensive gifts: the life of His only Son, Jesus; His Holy Spirit for our comfort; His strength for our weakness; His everything for our nothing. We really have nothing of value to offer in return.

 

God gave His all and Jesus gave His all. Jesus was enduring the pain of the cross thinking about me and you. I want my children to know that they are the joy that was set before Christ on that cross. YOU, my friend, are the joy that was set before Him. It's a two way thing; He is our joy, but we are also His joy. He takes our meager attempts at worship as something joyful to receive, and in return we receive the expensive gift of the contents of Heaven for our eternal Joy.

 

Joy can be an expensive gift. Sometimes we have to lay aside earthly desires, do hard things, and pick up the pain of the cross and follow Him--in joy.

 

A gift like that might look like giving a patient, even joyful response to someone who is edgy or even mean. It might look like the gift of repentance if we have not represented Christ well. It might look like laying down that desired thing that might give us fleeting joy, and pick up that dish towel and keep serving. We can give a word of blessing or encouragement or love when we really want to criticize or hide, or nurse an old wound. Precious gifts in His sight. These are much more costly than those easily purchased gifts that are soon forgotten, but their effects could very well last an eternity.

 

So, this is what I want to do. I want my family and I to give this gift to Christ; the gift of a Christmas centered on Him, really and truly this time.

 

~Deborah

dwuehler@thehomeschoolmagazine.com

P.S. Here is a gift for you of an audio/video presentation I did last year about Keeping a Christ-Centered Christmas. It includes hymns, crafts, and traditions that help us keep a Christ-centered Christmas in our home.  

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The Familyman 
 

I don't mean to scare you, but the Christmas countdown paper chain my children made a month ago has shrunk drastically. Don't panic yet; there's still plenty of time to enjoy the month with your family.

 

First thing to do is to put your homeschool into holiday-mode, which means you elevate the fun part of family above the academic schedule you created. I know that may be tough for you, but you can do it if you make up your mind to.

 

So here's how you do it! You're doing school when an email comes across your computer (like this one) saying you should make some kind of Christmas craft. So you stop doing the "normal" stuff and do a Christmas craft instead. Or maybe you wake up and everyone feels like going Christmas shopping. You ditch the homeschool schedule and go Christmas shopping.

 

One of the best educations you can give your kids is the ability to enjoy Christmas as a family and to know what matters most. They will only learn that by your example.

 

What that has to do with last-minute Christmas gifts ideas . . . I'm not sure. But if you want some last minute Christmas ideas for your husband, then check out these great gifts:

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Doesn't get any easier than that!

 

Be real,

Todd

   
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Raising Real Men    
 

Here are the things we always looked for in buying gifts for our guys:

 

Constructive Things--Boys love to build. Building sets, especially those that can be added to for years to come, are sure to be a hit. Feel free to pitch out a problematic piece or two, or even reimagine the purpose of a kit to make it fit your family.

 

Imaginative Things--Boys like to collect realistic gear to suit up as knights, soldiers, ranch hands, or explorers. Sometimes this can double as useful clothing items, too (a western-style winter coat, for example, or a pair of nice cowboy boots for church shoes). Don't forget the Army surplus stores, for great inexpensive gear.

 

Useful Things--Boys appreciate having their own tools. Maybe they can't handle Dad's 16-ounce framing hammer, but they work fine with a smaller, lighter tool. Cull lumber from the lumberyard to give him an inexpensive way to try his skills.

Boys want to do real things. They want to be men!

 

Ballistic Things--Instead of "shooting" their family members or friends or playing out activities that would be sinful in reality, encourage them to pretend they are pioneers, soldiers, policemen, and hunters--all God-honoring roles. Toy swords, bows and arrows, or slingshots, with training to handle with care, can be great fun.  

 

Don't forget ballistic rockets! What boy wouldn't like something that goes boom and flies away?

 

Books and Games--Boys especially love audiobooks. What a great thing to take in the van on a long ride.

 

Look for games that the family can play together and harder ones, too. We just team a younger child with an older one. The younger children mostly want to roll the dice and move the "man," while the older boys get into the strategy.

 

Active Things--The old standbys, balls and bicycles, are always good for gifts.

 

Video Games--Top on the list for many boys are video and computer games, but we think they should be last on most lists. They're better for an occasional or weekend treat. Why? Most boys love exciting, action-packed games that fill a boy's system with adrenaline, and then leave him with no way to be active.

 

As we get past the idea that our boys need the latest hot toy and think about what will not only give them pleasure, but develop their skills, their imaginations, their minds, souls, and bodies, we've found that gift giving has become a lot more fun for all of us!

 

Merry Christmas!

Hal & Melanie

 

P.S. For more on Character-Building Gift-Giving, including practical examples, click here to download this week's podcast by that name from our radio show, Making Biblical Family Life Practical.

 

If you haven't checked out our Merry Christmas Shop yet, you are missing some great stuff! We just rolled out several wonderful new resources that your family will LOVE and you will feel great about giving them! Click here to check it out.
 
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Contest Corner 

For the month of December, 2013    

 

Philosophy Adventure from Home School Adventure Co.

 

Philosophy Adventure In Philosophy Adventure, Stacy Farrell helps us explore the history of ideas. When I first received the textbook and student workbook to review, I was a little nervous. Philosophy? The word brings to mind dusty bookshelves, deep theological texts, and eyes struggling to stay open under the weight of heavy eyelids. I couldn't have been more wonderfully surprised.

 

The book skillfully takes us through the lives of eight philosophers, but the text does far more than simply recount historical facts. In the introduction, author Stacy Farrell shares, "What we learned when we delved deeply into the study of the history of philosophy is too significant to sleep through. In fact, the future of freedom may depend upon how many of us wake up to the world of ideas and seek to discern and defend truth."

 

Why is understanding the history of philosophy so important? Do any of these questions sound relevant to today's life?

 

Where did the universe originate?

Was the universe created or has it always existed?

What happens to a person when they die?

Is there more to life than the physical body?

Is the spirit reincarnated into other living creatures?

How does the character of a group's leader impact his followers?

Could there be one omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God?

Who or what can solve the mysteries of life?

Can truth be known or is all of life an endless string of confusing contradictions?

What happens when you try to blend science and myth?

Is it possible to know God exists?

 

In addition to exploring the historical foundations of ideas that continue to shape modern thought, author Stacy Farrell also introduces us to a world of logical fallacies, teaching us how to identify them and think critically about the "facts" that are presented to us. (Click here to read the rest of the review!)

 

You can WIN this set!  

 

TO ENTER: Email Heather with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, "Philosophy Adventure" for a chance to win* this amazing homeschool resource for your family!

In this week's issue:


Writing Tales

Poofin

Family Christmas Activities

Qubits

Creation Illustrated Facebook Page

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