Toys for Boys AND Girls

Christmas is rapidly approaching, we have three granddaughters to spoil. They’re now ages 5, 6, and 7, and I’ve been spending my time checking out toys both online and in our local toy stores. What am I finding?

That the toy manufacturers have a long way to go.

When our first grandchild was born, we promised her parents that we would:

  1. not add to the already overwhelming pile of stuffed animals (difficult, but so far, so good)
  2. avoid toys requiring batteries (at least while the kiddos are young)
  3. avoid toys with trademarked ads promoting movies and TV shows—no Sesame Street characters, no Disney princesses (we’ve done fairly well on this one).

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Counting Some Blessings…

Frequently I find myself viewing God as a serious, “it might hurt but it’s good for you” kind of guy. That is certainly one aspect of his personality. He is a Father who loves enough to discipline, who has called us to a life of service and selfless love, who asks us to sacrifice everything for the greater good that is the salvation of our souls.

But sometimes God reminds me that he also delights in giving us good things. While he values our sanctification above our temporal happiness, He takes pleasure in giving us good gifts. Our recent trip to California certainly qualifies as a wonderful gift.

We had entertained vague notions of spending a week or so reconnecting with friends in Silicon Valley, bringing supporters up to date, and maybe squeezing in a bit of much-needed R&R in the green California springtime. Apparently, God thought this was a good idea. When we were offered a pair of “buddy passes” on Alaska Airlines (enabling us to fly stand-by for a substantial discount), we quickly accepted, and scheduled the trip.

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Gifts that Give Twice

Just in case you haven’t noticed, Christmas is only two weeks away. I’ve already posted some suggestions to help you in your holiday gift giving. In that November article, I mentioned how last year we had “given” my husband a goat that would actually go to a needy family in the Dominican Republic.

Since then, I have done some research into various organizations worthy of your donations. Some have gift catalogs, such as the one we ordered from last year. You can “purchase” anything from carrot seeds to medical supplies to clean water for a village. Others just accept donations. You can designate a specific fund, or opt for “where the need is greatest.” They may offer to send you a gift receipt that you can wrap and place under the tree. We like to make our own at home—our family is big on word-processed scrolls, tied up with a red ribbon.

Large nonprofits such as World Vision and Compassion International have stellar reputations, and you won’t go wrong sending them a donation. But since they are familiar to most people, I’m going to introduce you to three of my favorite smaller ministries. These are Godly people doing Godly work, but without the big budgets and big names.

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Christmas Presents

In our culture, Christmas has turned into the biggest shopping spree and gift fest of the year. When most people think about Christmas, they think about presents. While gift-giving isn’t mandatory, it is an expectation in most families. Given that fact, how can exchanging gifts honor God?

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” When I was a child, I would have disagreed, but now that I’m the primary gift-chooser in our family, I find that I get really excited about finding the perfect present for someone I love. I get even more excited watching them open the wrapping. We honor God in our giving when we give with a cheerful heart.

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What I Want for Mother’s Day

The ads began the day after Easter… buy this dress/sweater/necklace/perfume for Mom, or else she’ll think you don’t love her. Take her out to dinner. Bring her flowers. Bring her candy. Mom deserves it. Mom expects it.

Well, this Mom doesn’t! I don’t expect any of that. In order to relieve some stress from my wonderful kids, I thought I’d tell you what I really want for Mother’s Day.

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