The following article was written by Lisa Dorough, creator of The Christmas Angel, for our “May”keover Month series:
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7
- American Girl doll
- Barbie jeep
- new clothes from Justice
These are just a few of the requests from a little girl at Christmas time last year. Let’s just all agree that I do not know this little girl, nor does she live in my home, nor was she birthed from my loins! Because if all those things were true, I wouldn’t be qualified to write this blog. Oh and by the way, the topic….drumroll please…. Teaching our children how to be cheerful givers! YAY!!!
Well, the truth is, we are all probably in this boat together somehow or someway with our children. It is everywhere we look - consumerism - and it’s targeting even the youngest customers! Who can blame them? Who can blame us? The crazy thing is that many of us have more apples sitting in our living room than we do chilling in our refrigerator!!!! (give it a second, it will come to you…..check Christmas list above for a hint) Our closets are filled to the brim with more clothes than days in a year and don’t get me started on MY collection of shoes, although insanely cute and always the perfect fit.
Bringing up our children in the ways of the Lord is hard, but it is commanded. Deuteronomy 6:7-9 says: “Impress God’s commandments on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” I don’t know about you, but the parenting responsibility the Lord has entrusted me with is awesome! But at the same time, it can be scary or a little overwhelming to say the least.
By the way, check out the thesaurus on the word “awesome”. Some of the other words for awesome include: shocking, terrifying, bizarre.
I. rest. my. case.
As my husband and I searched for ways to help instill giving in our children, we realized we needed to make some changes not only within them but also more within ourselves! Our desire is to help direct their hearts towards thinking of others first. Were we showing them the heart of giving, or were our lives showing them the art of consumption?
I tend to give my husband a hard time for a certain word that he uses ALL the time. That word is “intentional”. For you very structured personalities, the word can also be translated to “planning”. Teaching our children the ways of the Lord requires us to have an intentional attitude, but know that your planning will not go wasted. Below are a few key points of how making giving cheerful can be as easy as 1.2.3.
1. Give out of their interests.
I know my youngest is ALL about cooking right now. Instead of us cooking and indulging in making treats for ourselves, we could take the treats to the school for the teachers or even to the fire department. Proverbs 22:6 says to “Train up a child in the ways of the Lord and he will not depart from it.” Use life’s opportunities to teach your child about giving. In the book Raising Boys and Girls by Sissy Goff, David Thomas and Melissa Trevathan, it is noted that boys and girls ages 6-10 have a natural want to give and to be compassionate. David notes that this is the age you will notice your daughter drawing pictures for her teacher and wanting to buy a candy bar at the store for her friend. If this is your child’s natural tendency, roll with it! Let your child give their things away or spend their own money on someone else. Always encourage the sweet homemade drawings and crafts that they want to make and give to someone special. Do not let this learning opportunity pass by to train up your child!
2. Giving doesn’t have to be monetary.
Let me repeat. Giving doesn’t have to be monetary. It’s a heart issue not a money issue. Jesus wants our heart, not just a little bit of it but all of it! Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:3, “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Matthew 6:21 says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” As we provide situations to help mold our children into the likeness of Christ, their hearts will begin to change. Likewise, as we serve and give with our children, OUR hearts will change! I am thankful for my children and the accountability they provide. Well, sometimes.
Who can use your time? Who can use your hand-me-downs? Who can use your prayer and listening ear? Look for those creative outlets to give without having to spend money.
3. Give the ownership to them.
Give them personal ownership by letting them choose where their money goes. Your child may have a friend they want to help or there may be something going on at school in which they can give to. Help your children prioritize their money. There are a lot of fun banks out there that can help with that. They have a slot for tithing, saving, spending and giving. As months go by, your child will be happy to empty out their giving bank and buy something for somebody. You can also tie your giving activities to the holidays or special days. For example: make handmade cards for teacher appreciation week. The week of Easter, your family can make Easter baskets for ladies at the nursing home that include candies, lotions, etc.
Speaking of tying giving to the holidays….wink wink….there’s a great Christmas product that teaches children about giving in a fun and creative way, helping them to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and discover the joy of giving to others!
God has blessed my husband and I with three of the most amazing kids, which I am very thankful to Him for them. Four years ago as Christmas was approaching, we knew we wanted to create memories with our children that had an eternal value. We are both crazy about Christmas and love that time of year and wanted our focus to be on how we could teach our children that Christmas was about the amazing gift that we have all been given, Jesus. Because of God’s precious gift to us, we are called to give to others just as He has given to us.
So the question came up. How can we teach our children the true meaning of Christmas as well as the joy of giving but keep it fun with our focus on Him? What about a Christmas Angel?
The Christmas Angel gift set is complete with a beautifully written storybook, plush angel and a pouch of golden dust! The story is written by Jennifer Thomason and illustrated by Bruce Andrews who both live in our hometown.
How to use The Christmas Angel:
Just as the angel came to Mary with a message of giving birth to Jesus, The Christmas Angel brings messages to our children throughout the Christmas season written in her golden dust. Each day your child will wake up and find a message left by the angel. Each message is a way for the child to give or do something for someone else that day–instilling in them that the greater blessing is in giving rather than receiving.
We are thankful that God continues to use people and their talents for His glory in this project and we continue to ask God how we can give back just as He has graciously given to us.
Raising up the next generation is our calling as mothers and fathers. How will you start being intentional today and make giving cheerful with your kids? Instilling biblical principles in our children can seem a bit overwhelming but focus on the day ahead. Seize the day if you will. It is never too late to start! Set your eyes on the task ahead and try not to become overwhelmed with how your children will be as preteens, young adults or even parents. Diligence and persistence will have an eternal reward, a reward like no other!
We would be honored if you would visit our website at www.yourchristmasangel.com.
Lisa has been kind enough to offer free shipping on any Christmas Angel sets purchased during the month of May in connection with her Shepherd My Child blog post. Simply visit www.yourchristmasangel.com and the shipping will be exempt at checkout. I encourage you to take advantage of this great offer Lisa has generously given to Shepherd My Child followers (as the shipping for the set is a size-able chunk of savings for their product)! I purchased and used The Christmas Angel this past Christmas season and had such a wonderful time coming up with daily “giving” opportunities with my son – the set was beneficial for both of us! Definitely check it out!
Thank you, Lisa, for your wise insight and suggestions to help us “may”keover our current shepherding routines and aid us all in becoming more cheerful givers! We appreciate your participation our “May”keover Month series!
Readers – Check back next Wednesday for the third post of “May”keover Month!
In the meantime, feel free to “like” The Christmas Angel on Facebook, or “Pin It” on Pinterest!