IDEA #11: SHARING THE REASON

"We try to take advantage of evangelistic opportunities this time of year," Cindy says. "Plates of homemade cookies are distributed to the neighbors annually, and the kids enjoy helping with this. Cookies are baked, packaged, and frozen for weeks before Christmas in anticipation of our Christmas Eve cookie distribution. Spreading the baking out over an extended period of time makes this project reasonable even during this busy time of year."

Melanie agrees that this is a good time of the year to share the gospel with others. "Reaching out evangelistically to neighbors is something we emphasize during the holidays. Many non-Christians, who have no apparent spiritual interest most of the year, seem to at least have some spiritual sensitivity at Christmas. We've prepared gift baskets of homemade cookies and a copy of a Christian film to deliver to neighbors. We've hosted a Jesus birthday party, complete with singing, a birthday cake, crafts, and someone sharing their salvation testimony." Melanie also shares this possibility: "We are involved with reaching out in Christian love to visiting international students from a nearby college all year long, so for us that may mean a couple extra guests at our Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table. Most stateside students return home for the holidays, but due to cost and distance, that's not true for many foreign exchange students. Give your local college a call and ask for their Office of International Studies. Tell them you'd like to host a student for the holidays and see who the Lord may put in your path. It's missions without the travel!"

IDEA #12: THE ADVENT

Melissa writes, "We always read through one of Arnold Ytreeide's Advent stories (Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage, or Tabitha's Travels) daily through the advent season. The children look forward to this time and begin asking weeks beforehand when we will begin."

Cindy adds, "The Christmas before my husband and I were married, my sister presented us with an advent calendar and a book called Family Celebrations by Ann Hibbard. The calendar is a large felt tree with spots to Velcro into place 24 felt ornaments, and the patterns for these things are contained in Hibbard's book. The ornaments have pictures to symbolize the names of Christ, the prophecies He fulfilled, the Christmas story, and the gospel message. The book gives suggestions for daily Bible reading, Bible memorization, and a Christmas hymn to sing that follow the theme of each ornament. We use this calendar December 1 through December 24 for our family devotions."

Whatever your family's traditions might be, try to take some time this year to slow down and enjoy some restful time together. In the midst of all that goes on at this time of year, let's do our best not to forget what we're really celebrating this holiday season.

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Jonathan Lewis is a homeschool graduate and enjoys working with his family on Home School Enrichment Magazine. In his spare time, Jonathan can be found reading, playing chess, and spending time with his family.

This article was originally published in the Nov/Dec '07 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com