Monday, December 15, 2014

You're B.A.C.K. (Blessed by an Act of Christian Kindness) Cards

 by Sally Matheny

God's greatest act of kindness was sending Jesus

      Last week, I shared with you an activity for surprising others with acts of kindness. Below is a copy of the card to leave behind for the recepient. Feel free to copy and use it as you wish.
     Thanks to all of you who are sending me messages of how this activity has blessed you while you were blessing others!


(Blessed by an Act of Christian Kindness)

You've been blessed by an act of Christian kindness.
You’ve heard of people doing
random acts of kindness, right?
Good news!
The best acts of kindness
are from God.
But his deeds are never random.
Because he loves us so much,
he intentionally sent his only Son,
Jesus Christ to save us.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
When life ends here on earth,
whoever believes in him
will live forever
in heaven.

We hope you enjoy God’s blessings.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Twist of Faith on Random Acts of Kindness

by Sally Matheny
A Twist of Faith on Random Acts of Kindness
      Kindness. Its’ one thing universally understood. One act of kindness can turn someone’s day around. Sometimes, just one thoughtful deed has the potential to open up a whole, new life for someone.  

     There are many articles about random acts of kindness. Cute tags are available on-line to attach to surprise treats. One recent variation of the tag states: “You’ve been RACK’d.” It means someone received a Random Act of Christmas Kindness.

     One family recently waited until a neighbor went to work. Then they secretly placed a festive welcome mat at her front door. The children especially liked giving in secret; much like that St. Nicholas fellow did long ago. Not expecting anything in return, not even recognition, keeps the giver humble and focused on the giving.

    Doing kind deeds for others is a great idea to help us focus less on ourselves. Children, who are constantly adding to their wish lists this time of year, are prime candidates for this type of family project.

     Inspired, my family decided to do some secret giving. However, I wanted to create a different kind of tag to leave behind. I desired a twist of faith—something that told about the ultimate act of kindness—that of Jesus Christ. The result is a card that begins: “You’re B.A.C.K.! (Blessed by an Act of Christian Kindness). The card ends by sharing about God's greatest act of kindness and how it isn't random at all, but intentional.

      Perhaps your family would like to bless someone secretly this time of year. Feel free to use the “Blessedby an Act of Christian Kindness” cards. The selection of wording allows year-round use of the card, not just for Christmas.

     I purchased an inexpensive, bulk pack of foam angels. After printing out the card, I trimmed it to fit, and glued it on the angel. You may want to leave yours as it is and print it on card stock or decorative copy paper. Children can add drawings or stickers.

     Decide who will receive the blessings. How will your family bless them? Some ideas work better with people you know well. While other suggestions work well for use with strangers.

     What will your blessing be? If you know the person, consider things they need or enjoy.

     Is it a new mom? Consider leaving a bag of paper products for fast and easy cleanup.
     Is it a single parent? Perhaps baked Christmas cookies and the ingredients for homemade icing would be fun for the parent to do with the kids later.
     The college kid? Surprise them with a small, artificial tree with ornaments sitting outside their dorm room or pre-pay for a pizza and have it delivered to them.
     The waiter? Double the tip
     The cashier or grocery bagger? Warm gloves or give a gift certificate.
     Someone who recently had surgery? Craft supplies, movies, music, books

Here are a few more ideas:
Concert or movie tickets
Coffee mug with a sampler pack of coffee
A roll of quarters
A devotion book
Gift certificates
Something hand-made
Rake their leaves while they’re at work
Hang a wreath on their front door
Leave flowers or a potted plant, candy or a gift basket
Mail a sheet of Christmas stamps 
     If you own a business, consider leaving gift certificates under the windshield wipers on various cars in a parking lot. With the Christian Kindness card, you can include a note to bring the card to your business for a free _______. (a cupcake from the bakery, a sandwich from the deli, a car wash, a haircut, etc.) 

     You can tell the recipient the gift was pre-purchased by someone who wishes to remain anonymous.
     My family is excited about secretly blessing others in the weeks ahead. If you decide to do this, I’d love to hear how this project affected the hearts in your family.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Review of Children's Book: It's Not About You, Mr. Santa Claus & 2 Giveaways!

by Sally Matheny
It's Not About You, Mr. Santa Claus
If you don’t want to exclude Santa Claus, but still focus on Christ this Christmas, then you’ll want to check out It’s Not About You, Mr. Santa Claus: A Love Letter About the True Meaning of Christmas. (Morgan James Publishing)

     First, the author, Soraya Diase Coffelt, has an interesting story of her own. She is a native of U.S. Virgin Islands, a lawyer, and a former judge. Soraya serves on mission trips to Honduras and the Amazon and has volunteered in the children’s ministry for fifteen years.   


     Soraya established As the Stars of the Sky Foundation, Inc. in 2012. This non-profit corporation assists the physical and spiritual needs of children, which brings us to the book, It’s Not About You, Mr. Santa Claus.

     All the proceeds from the sale of Soraya’s books go toward the foundation. How cool is that? Also, she has donated two books to give away! 

     Be sure to enter for the drawing at the end of the post by entering a comment in the comments section below. Two, randomly chosen winners will be selected on December 8, 2014.

     It’s Not About You, Mr. Santa Claus is written from a child’s perspective in the form of a letter to Santa. I like that the illustrations allow the child to be either a boy or a girl. We only see the hand writing the letter. 

     The child believes in Santa, elves, and flying reindeer but this year instead of writing a letter asking for things, the child wants to tell Santa something—the true meaning of Christmas. 

     The story begins with Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, includes the angels and the shepherds, and ends with information about King Herod and the Magi.

     I like the shepherds not minding the smells of the stable animals because "they were used to them" and "smelled like them, too."

     The child shares the reason we have Christmas. He ends the letter by thanking Santa for all he does and tells him he still loves him, but he loves Jesus more. He writes,

     “This Christmas, instead of asking you for more gifts, I’ve told you about the most precious gift of all. Jesus was born to be our Savior and Lord.”

     A simple, sinner’s prayer is included on the last page.

     While scripture is not quoted in the story, the story is accurately told according to the Holy Bible. 

Author, Soraya Diase Coffelt
     If you’re a parent wanting to keep the Santa Claus traditions, yet share with your child the origin and truth of Christmas, this colorful and Santa-friendly book is the way to go.

     To learn more, visit Soraya’s website

     Be sure to leave a comment below in order to be entered in the drawing for one of the two free books! These will make great Christmas gifts.

(This giveaway has ended. Alleena and Pam are our winners.)



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Announcing the Winner of the Creative Writing Curriculum!

Rafflecopter randomly selected the winner of the "Ocean Adventures in Writing" curriculum:

Tracy Teague of N.C.

Congratulations, Tracy! The author of the curriculum, Jan May, will be emailing you soon about your prize!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Want Fun Thanksgiving Ideas to Bring the Family Together? Go Vintage!

by Sally Matheny

Norman Rockwell's Freedom from Want

    Searching for fun ideas that will bring the family together this Thanksgiving? Me, too. My family doesn’t know it yet, but I plan to go vintage this year.

     I love traditions, especially during holidays. However, our current technology is threatening to exterminate one of our most cherished traditions—family time. This post is not a ranting against technology. I’m actually thankful for it. It keeps me connected to family and friends.

     However, when we are able to come together in the same place, I want face-to-face, heart-to-heart, talking, laughing, and everyone-fully-engaged-time.

     So, we’re going vintage—the pre-cell phone, pre-computer, pre-iPod, pre-satellite dish, pre-electronic gaming system era. 

     True vintage items must be at least fifty years old. Some may say we’re going prehistoric!

     No need to panic. You may be surprised how long many of your favorite things have been around!
Family Time?


     Want to go vintage with us? Challenge your friends and family to turn off the distractions for at least three hours this Thanksgiving. Focus your full attention on the people that are gathered in your presence and enjoy the blessings. 


     The idea is to find something all ages can do together. Conversations are always nice, but games, crafts, and other activities are fun, too. Older folks can teach the younger ones, and vice versa! 

Here are some vintage ideas to get you started:


Vintage Board Games:

Scrabble, Candyland, Chutes & Ladders, Clue, Monopoly, Rick, Life, Operation, checkers, Stratego, Aggravation, and Pick Up Sticks, Bingo, and Twister. 

Vintage Card Games:

Rook, Gin Rummy, Old Maid, Go Fish, War, Hearts, Snap


Vintage Crafts:

Children still enjoy weaving those potholders we made back in the sixties! You can find those plastic looms at Target and craft stores. 

Check out this links for more ideas.

Retro Tie Belts 

String Art  

Thanksgiving Word Activities: Yes, Mad Libs are vintage! (1953) Here are links to some Thanksgiving themed activities.

Other Vintage Games:
Vintage Football
     Red Rover, Tag, Basketball, Softball, Frisbee, Marbles, Hopscotch, Charades, and Musical Chairs (played with vintage music of course)
     Of course, football has been around since the late 1800’s. A reward, foreveryone staying tuned in to the people at your gathering, could be an opportunity to view football on television later. Televised football is true vintage. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, NBC was the first to televise a pro football game on October 22, 1939.

     If not everyone is a football fan, there are other viewing ideas.

Vintage Family Movies:

     Jungle Book (1942); Dumbo (1941); The Wizard of Oz (1939); Mary Poppins (1964); The Jungle Book (1967); A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965); 101 Dalmatians (1961); Alice in Wonderland (1951); Peter Pan (1953); and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966).


     However, try to save the vintage viewing for later. Savor the moments of talking and playing with visiting family members and friends. Interact without any electronic distractions. Dig below the formalities and  chitchat. What’s that person across the table thinking and feeling?


     Every year, things change. Time seems to go by a little faster. Carve out some time for family fun. Be fully engaged with those who are with you at this moment—that never goes out of style.