Return to the Joy of Parenting

Maybe it was the bloody nose, the torn skirt, the vomit on the bed or the bowl of cereal that crashed to the floor. Come to think of it, it could have been the tenth time he peed his pants, or the day she cut her beautiful hair. How about the bloody knee complete with horrific screaming or the endless boogers from the worst cold you have ever seen? Was it his experiment to see if chocolate bars really worked on the wall like a marker? Or the week you did not sleep because one by one all three kids got sick and needed you – all – night – long! Yeah, it could be the fighting between siblings or the refusal to do homework. Actually it could even be the daily whining about what is for dinner or the evening you run out of pullups and because she has been dry for a week you go for it only to find a wet bed in the morning when you are already a few days behind on the laundry. Who knows what it was, but somehow, some way this whole parenting thing became a chore. Not just any chore, but a very big, demanding, exhausting chore. Continue reading Return to the Joy of Parenting

Brown Spots and Underwear

About a year ago the mom of a 5 year old boy shared her frustrations to myself and another grandparent. Her son was finishing up pre-school and would be heading to kindergarten in the fall which caused her concern.

“I want him to wipe himself, but he is not very good at it. If he does take care of himself, then I have to wash out the brown spot on his underwear and I need to bathe him every evening. I am caught between treating him like a baby or having to deal with the consequences.” Continue reading Brown Spots and Underwear

Effectively Motivate Your Child to Do Right, Part 3

This is part three on setting up a motivational system for your child. To go to Part 1 Click Here.

check_markDecisions on Acknowledging Success
How Much Detail to Acknowledge and at What Time Intervals

We are now getting into the heart of the motivational plan. Acknowledging success naturally motivates children and if presented as a challenge a large percentage of boys and a good percentage of girls will get very excited about your motivational plan.

DSC_0132Take your chosen behavior and the list of tasks to accomplish the behavior. The next step is to list out, typically on a poster, chart or spreadsheet, exactly what you will acknowledge as success. You will also decide the time period between acknowledgments. Both of these steps are important to initially hook your child and to maintain interest long enough to make the behavior a habit.

In this step you will decide how much detail from your list of the tasks/steps you want to formally acknowledge. Do not assume everything on your list will need to be acknowledged. Your initial list will help clarify and train your child, but not everything on the list has to be acknowledged. You will be able to clump some of the tasks together.

For instance –
you have a 7 year old son
Your desired behavior for him – Speak in a kind voice to your sister
The task/steps you have outlined for success:

If your sister bothers you instead of yelling I want you to:

  • walk away
  • come get me
  • use the baby gate to keep her out of your stuff
  • only play with certain toys during her nap time
  • build your lego towers in your room and keep the door closed

In this case your child will not need to do each of these tasks each time to display the desired behavior. Generally only one of the steps has to be done so I would lump them together. To get your motivational plan going I would initially break this down into 3 different time categories. Before School, After School until Dinner, From Dinner to Bedtime. Later as your child begins to have great success at mastering this behavior you may want to switch to acknowledging once daily. My chart would look like this:

Time Before School After School After Dinne
Speak in a kind way to sister by:

  • walk away
  • come get me
  • use the baby gate to keep her out of your stuff
  • use naptime
  • build in room with door closed


Note: you may not necessarily use a chart with your child. You may use a poster with a marble jar, perhaps a paper chain that can be added to, or some other form of acknowledging success.  In the next article we will discuss different ways the motivational system can look to your child, but to keep things simple for now we will use a chart.

Another example:

you have a 10 year old daughterDSC_5732
Desired behavior: Complete homework without more than one reminder and before dinner.
The steps/tasks you have outlined for success:

After you change and have a snack you are to:

  • Clean off the kitchen table
  • Turn off all electronics
  • Bring the school supply tray to the table
  • Take out homework journal from your bookbag
  • Call me to:
  • –see what homework is due by tomorrow
  • –watch you list out each assignment to be done
  • –review your spelling list
  • Get a drink
  • Stay at the table until your homework list is done
  • Call me to look over completed homework
  • Pack up homework in special HW folder
  • Load your backpack and place it by the door

No need to determine a time interval as this will only happen once a day, so that is naturally the time interval. Look over the items and decide what you want to acknowledge. If my daughter had ADHD I might want to acknowledge each step, but for most children the list above will be used as a reference, with what you acknowledge in clusters that make sense to you and your daughter. Here is what I suggest your acknowledgment chart look like:

Homework Time M Tu W Th F
Get ready (clean table, elec. off, tray on table, homework out)
Get me, have homework journal open and ready to go over
Complete Homework and have it checked
Pack up and by door

Some basic rules that will help you in deciding specifically what to acknowledge:

  • The younger the child the more detailed steps to list and the shorter the time period before acknowledging success. This prevents younger children from being overwhelmed and older children feeling belittled.
  • If your child is impulsive you will need to break this down into small time periods and/or small steps.
  • If your child is too immature to complete all of the steps, list out the steps they can accomplish as a way of preparing them to eventually be able to succeed. So if you want your 5 year old to be ready, by the door with shoes and coat on when it is time to drive the older siblings to school, she may not be able to tie her shoes or zip her coat, but she can have both of them on and be acknowledged for success in that area.
  • If your initial experience reveals that your child cannot accomplish success, then meet with her and either list more steps or shorten the time intervals.
  • When first starting error on the side of too many steps and too short of a time period. Adjust as needed.

Here are some more examples with both the desired behaviors with steps/tasks and time intervals:

Example 1 – a complicated chart for an older child who is advanced in using the motivational plan:

Expected Behavior: Be clean and tidy, begin to be independent enough to self monitor key transitional times.

Advanced Chore And Daily Routine Expectations:
Earn one check for each of the following:
Daily –
Out of bed within 3 minutes of the first request (or alarm)
Dressed with bedroom floor clear of clothes and be down to breakfast without any promptings
Ready for school bus by “X” time each day
Without prompting turn TV off after your allotted 30 minutes
Come for supper within 3 minutes of first call
Remember to ask to be excused from table and bring dishes to sink
Begin the change/brush/flush bedtime routine within 5 minutes of being told (or when alarm goes off)
Be in bed by “X” time
Weekly –
Dust and vacuum room
Bring laundry to laundry room and sort in bins

Example 2 – A simple daily chart:

Expected Behavior: Proper Response To Mom or Dad’s requests

For every 1 hour time period that you properly respond (do not talk back, whine or pout) to a parental request – earn one check

Example 3 – Multiple step chart for one time period: 

Expected Behavior: Have a stress free bathtime

Take your bath when asked
Use soap and make sure hands and face are clean
Pick up clothes from floor and place in hamper
Place toys back into the mesh bag
Place soap on tray and close shampoo
Hang towel on designated towel bar
When dressed call me to inspect the bathroom and your hands and face (and acknowledge your success)

You can see the options are endless. You can be as detailed as you need or you can be simple and straightforward. You may need to experiment a little to produce the results you want. Hopefully you will experience consistent success so you can acknowledge your child’s achievement and he will learn to make success a routine.

When working with parents I have been surprised at how difficult this step can be when first starting out. So my advice is just get something down on paper. Wait a day, read it over and modify it as you want, but just get started. Seriously, children want you to acknowledge their success. Some of them outright hunger for your acknowledgements so they will work with you to get the motivational plan right. If you are working this out with your child let them know that you may need to adjust it. If your child is younger explain that you are new at this and want to make sure you can acknowledge their success, so you may have to adjust the chart. I think your children will be willing to work with you.


Motivational Incentive – It will be important to “jump start” your plan with success. Therefore start out “too easy” to insure initial success and build interest.  Then each week you can increase your expectations.

USAMotivational Killer – Be vague and self centered as to what you will acknowledge such as “don’t bother me when football is on” or “keep your teacher off my back with no notes for a week.” Use time intervals that “defer hope” and discourage your child like “don’t whine for a month.”


Tomorrow for our final installment in the series I will discuss how you can be very creative. I will discuss creative ways the motivational plan can look to your child (hint: think pinterest) and how to insure great interest and motivation by carefully and creatively choosing how you will acknowledge success.

Effectively Motivate Your Child To Do Right, Pt 2

This is Part 2 in the series on how to motivate your child to do right. In Part 1 we looked at parental motivation, if this type of system is right for you as well as what types of behaviors can be addressed through motivation. To read Part 1, Click Here. In this article you will discover how to identify what needs to change and how to narrow down your list to focus on what is most important. Then define what it takes to give you those behaviors.

check_markIdentify Where You Will Start

To get started you will need to think about why you wanted to take this step.  Most likely there is something in your child that is bothering you.  Something you want to change.  It is important not just to identify what you don’t like. The act of motivating someone is to reward them for what you do want. So to be successful think about each negative behavior in terms of what you do want. Here is a simple exercise to help you to clarify what behaviors you don’t want and more importantly how you would like your child to behave.

Take a piece of paper and fold it in half lengthwise.  On the left write “Undesired Behaviors” and on the right write “Desired Behaviors.”  When I have done this with parents they are quick to know what they don’t want in their child. So, if it will make you feel better, go ahead and populate the left column first. After you write what you don’t want, for each “Undesired Behavior” think about what positive action, or “Desired Behavior” you do want.  Do not put this in the negative.  “I want him to NOT . . . “ is not acceptable.  If you want your son to stop calling his sister names, what you do want is for him to speak in a kind way to his sister. Your chart may look like this:

Undesired Behaviors Desired Behaviors
1.      Calling sister names
2.      Hitting sister in the car if she leans over onto “your side”
1.      Speak in a kind way to sister
2.      Use words to make requests and show patience to younger sister, especially in the car

This exercise should begin to give you a clear picture of what you are looking to diminish and clarify the replacement behavior – what you are looking to reinforce.

happyMotivational Incentive – With this list in hand you are going to meet with your child and discuss some behaviors you would like to change. This could put your child on the defensive, so I suggest you begin the conversation with a list of good behaviors that you are pleased with. I suggest you jot down several good behaviors your child already exhibits and have the list ready when you meet to discuss the implementation of the motivational plan.  Giving praise and expressing your appreciation for what you do like in your child will help instill confidence that she can move to positive behaviors in the area of concern.

USAMotivational Killer – If you are feeling grumpy and can only fill in undesired behaviors, come back to this before you proceed.  It is important that you start this process with the right frame of mind! Without the right behaviors to encourage, your child will find it difficult to please you. If your child cannot please you he will eventually despise you. Also, if you want to put your child in a bad mood, make them feel like they are only capable of bad actions. (Remember, every child has some talents and behaviors to celebrate, make sure you regularly recognize them.)


check_markStart With What is Important

If you try to fix everything at once you will overwhelm your child and fail to change anything. Neither you nor I could change more than a few things at a time, let alone a child! So in this next step you will need to decide on a few behaviors to focus on.  Look at the list you made. Pick at least one, but not more than a few behaviors that once changed will bring the greatest benefit to your child and family. My guess is, the item you will want to start with will be on the top of the list.

DSC_6017Some of you are reading this article because your child is really struggling with a certain behavior. If that is the case you will probably want to concentrate on that behavior only. Later on, when your child seems to be doing better at mastering some behaviors you may want to continue using this system and may be able to address several related desired behaviors at once.

Let me explain further. Some desired behaviors are naturally “connected” such as chores.  So if you start with focusing on getting your child’s chores done consistently and without prompting (or prompting more than once,) then the chart may have several tasks listed, but with one expected behavior. Other expectations should be left all by themselves to help your child clearly focus on a desired behavior.  If your child needs to stop interrupting at school and at home you may want to focus only on “Wait your turn to speak.”



Several Tasks are Typically Needed to Display a Desired Behavior

Often you will need to break down the expected behavior into the steps needed to succeed.  This is very important if your child is young. Here is an example. Desired behavior: Get to bed on time. So what are the steps needed before your child gets into bed? This is not a behavior that can be completed last minute. If your child needs to be in bed by 7:30 he cannot begin at 7:29. But you find yourself frustrated because he never slips into bed at 7:30. Maybe you reminded him at 7:00 that he will have to be getting ready soon to make the 7:30 bedtime, but nothing happened until it was too late.

So brainstorm, with your child if he is old enough, by yourself if he is young. What are the tasks, the steps that are needed to accomplish a 7:30 bedtime?  List each step out. Here I list out typical steps for an eight year old. (Hint – If this were my desired behavior for my child I would set an alarm on an ipod touch or phone or go buy a $10 alarm clock to set up somewhere in the house to prompt the process.)
1. When alarm goes off at 7:10, (without my prompting and without playing with any toys,) head upstairs and take your shower
2. Place your clothing in the hamper, hang towel on rack
3. Get your pajamas on
4. Pick out your morning school clothes and set them on your chair
5. “Brush and flush”
6. Call for me to come and pray for you and to help you place the check marks on your bedtime motivational chart!

DSC_5649Listing out these steps will give you and your child clarity in what you are expecting and comfort that what you are expecting is possible.  It will also help teach your child how to understand the steps to accomplish what it takes to gain success in this area, and ultimately please you.

It has been my experience that through the process of defining desired behaviors, then listing the steps needed to accomplish this behavior, you have completed half the battle. I have heard of some children who instantly begin to comply with the desired behavior simply as a result of having the steps listed which helped them in establishing a routine.

happyMotivational Incentive – You want your child to succeed so pick behaviors you are confident she can accomplish.  If your child is young you will need to define each small step to success. As your child gets older include them in determining and defining these steps, which can be stated more broadly. Your older child will begin to take ownership and will be more likely to cooperate without resentment.

USAMotivational Killer – Ridicule your child for not figuring this out on their own. Complain about how you have to walk them through this because they are so naughty. Make sure your child knows that this whole motivational system is a real inconvenience for you.

separateNext we will take a look at the heart of this motivational plan, using the power of acknowledging success.


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Day 21 – 4 Days Before We Celebrate Jesus’ Birthday

Scripture – Matthew 2:10 “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.”

Story – School was filled with great excitement as the final preparations for their big Holiday Party and Heritage Celebration were finished.  Some kids were bragging that they had already opened their Christmas gifts.  One boy was telling everyone how he had gotten the latest gaming system with 10 new games.  Both Mikey and John thought it would be odd to get your main Christmas gift before Christmas.

All recess long everyone was talking about what they were getting for Christmas.  Besides gaming systems kids were bragging about motor bikes, computers and all types of expensive gifts.  As they were lining up after recess John told Mikey that he wondered if everyone was trying to “out brag the next person” as to what they were going to get.

When Mikey arrived home he was greeted by his sister Abby who immediately began to tease him.  “I know what your gift is, I saw Mom wrapping it today.”

“Abby, you think you are so smart, how big is it?” Mikey asked in an attempt to fool his sister into giving him some hints.

Abby turned and ran yelling “I’m not telling!”

Mom appeared and scolded Abby for yelling instructing both Mikey and Abby about being quiet while the baby was asleep.

“Mom,” Mikey spoke up “you should hear all the stuff kids are getting for Christmas!”  Mikey proceeded to tell her of every large gift kids had mentioned at recess.  “Can you believe all that stuff?  How lucky are those kids!”  Mikey added.

Mom looked a bit concerned.  “Mikey, I hope you are not expecting gifts like those.”

“But Mom,” Mikey protested, “most of those kids call themselves Christians, but they are not living like Christians, so for us this is a real holiday, but for them it is kinda like a fake holiday.  So we should really be celebrating more than they are” he reasoned to his mother.

“You are right about one thing, Christmas is a real holiday for us.  But why do you think we only celebrate Christmas by giving big gifts?” Mom asked as both Mikey and Mom turned toward the garage hearing it open.

Mikey asked “is Dad home?”

“Yes,” Mom said, “he had to come early to pack.  He is flying out to meet with the big client with one final presentation.”

“Not the big client again” Mike groaned.

Dad rushed in flinging his coat on a chair, glancing at Mikey with a smile, kissed his wife, then headed up the stairs to begin packing.

Mom looked at Mikey then said “Mikey, we are leaving in half an hour.  I am going to help your Dad pack, then Jen is coming to watch you guys until I get back from the airport.  But don’t worry, we asked Jen to watch A Charley Brown Christmas with you and Abby so don’t worry about the TV.”

When Mikey, Abby and Jen had finished their pizza they headed to the family room to watch the video Mom had left for them.  Jen sat on the floor with the baby while the video began.

When Charley Brown screamed “does anyone know what Christmas is all about?” Mikey noticed that Jen stopped playing with the baby and watch as Linus began to quote the Scripture about Jesus’ birth.  As Linus finished and music began to play Mikey got down on the floor to play with Julia.

Still thinking about what Linus had said Jen asked “So Mikey, your family are Christians who go to church right?”

“Yes.” Mikey replied.

“So, why do Christians give gifts on Christmas?” Jen asked.

Mikey looked a little perplexed then replied “I guess because it helps us remember the great gift that God gave to us – the baby Jesus.”

“I get it.” Jen said reflecting on the whole conversation.  “So the gift one gives or gets is not the important thing for Christians, but rather the gift that God gave.”

As they watched the rest of the video Mikey felt ashamed remembering his earlier conversation with his Mom.

Quick Questions

1.       What is Christmas all about? (listen to the Linus monologue online if this will help.)

2.       Why was Mikey ashamed to remember his conversation?

Craft – Camel #2

Day 20 – 5 Days Before We Celebrate Jesus’ Birthday

Scripture – Matthew 2:8,9 “He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’ After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.”

Story – When Mikey Jones woke and headed down for breakfast he could not get his mind off of the strange events of Sunday afternoon. When he thought about it too hard he had wondered if it was a dream. However, he knew those memories were far too vivid to be anything but real.

Mom and Julia were already in the kitchen when Mikey came in looking for some breakfast.

“Mikey, after you went to bed the police officer came by to explain some things to us,” Mikey’s Mom said while Mikey grabbed a box of cereal. “The officer asked us several times if you were physically hurt.”

“Mom,” Mikey said while heading to the table, “that guy was really scary.”

“I know,” Mom said, “it is interesting how some adults act when they are really upset.”

“But Mom,” Mikey protested, “I didn’t do anything!”

“We know Mikey. The officer explained everything. Apparently several boys, older than you, have been messing with this gentleman’s display. His name is Mr. Yeong. He just moved here. The boys have even stolen some antique bells and some of his leather harnesses.  The poor man had to rebuild his Santa several times. So when he saw you ,he assumed you were one of the boys responsible for the thefts and for messing up his display.”

“Mom, that was the first time I ever saw his Santa sleigh,” Mikey responded.

“Well,” Mikey’s Mom continued, “the officer said he admitted to not knowing what the boys looked like and admitted that he never saw you get off your bike. Apparently, a few days before his display was vandalized a second time and he saw a bunch of boys taking off on bikes when he turned onto his street. He saw you on your bike and jumped to conclusions.”

“Mom, I don’t think I will ever go near Mr. Yeong, who is really Mr. Old and mean!”

Mikey’s Mom chuckled and then replied “Mikey, his name is spelled ‘y’ ‘e’ ‘o’ ‘n’ ‘g’ because he is Korean. But is sounds just like ‘young.’ Actually, that is part of the problem. The officer said that they think he may be a vandalism target because he looks different than other people in the neighborhood. The police officer wants to come by this afternoon to get your side of the story and he said that Mr. Yeong wants to apologize, if that’s OK with you.”

“I don’t know,” Mikey added, “I think he’s mean.”

Mikey had a crazy day ahead at school. They were getting ready for their party on Wednesday, the last day of school before their Christmas break. As Mikey was dropped off after school he noticed a police car in his driveway.

The police officer was very polite and asked Mikey a bunch of questions, like did Mikey know who vandalized Mr. Yeong’s displays. After a few minutes the officer was getting ready to leave and he asked if it was OK for Mr. Yeong to come by to talk about what had happened.

Mikey looked over at his Mom who answered for Mikey, “Yes, Mr. Yeong may come by. We would be happy to talk with him.”

At dinner Mikey still seemed to be a bit upset. “Why did Mr. Yeong blame me?”

Abby chimed in “I think because you look like a bad boy!”

“Dad!” Mikey complained.

“Seriously,” Dad said, “Sometimes people are angry and they strike out at innocent people. Look at King Herod from our Scripture readings. When the Magi came looking for the new Ruler of the Jews, Herod was power hungry and wanted to stop the prophecy from coming true. He hurt many innocent people. But of course you cannot stop God’s Word from coming to pass.”

“That is true,” Mom interjected, “but Mr. Yeong is not like King Herod. I think he was a bit scared.”

Mom had no longer gotten the words out when the door bell rang. Mr. Yeong came in and had little candies in small boxes for everyone. He apologized to Mikey and then left.

That night as Mom came in to pray for Mikey they talked about the events of the day. “Mom,” Mikey said, “I am glad Mr. Yeong came by. If people knew him maybe they would not be mean to him.”

“Mikey,” Mom added, “you are right. Just because someone looks different, that does not mean it is OK to be mean to them.”

Quick Questions

1.       Did King Herod really want to worship the child the Magi had come to see?

2.       As a Christian how should we handle misunderstandings like the one between Mr. Yeong and Mikey?

Craft – Star

Day 18 – 7 Days Before We Celebrate Jesus’ Birthday

Scripture – Matthew 2:3 “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.”

Story – Mikey Jones had the ability to sleep in late, but today he had an added incentive not to get out of bed. He knew he would have to face his Mom after disobeying one of her TV rules. After rolling around for 30 minutes or so, he finally decided to get up.

On his way down to get some breakfast he noticed his video game unit was put away. “OK,” he thought, “I at least know one of my punishments.” As he walked into the kitchen he greeted baby Julia, still in her high chair and then as cheery as possible he greeted his Mom.

After getting a bowl of cereal he decided he would not bring up the TV show, instead asking his Mom how her fancy diner went.

“It was very nice.” Mikey’s Mom replied in a courteous tone that put Mikey on alert. Then there was silence.

As Mikey was placing his empty cereal bowl into the sink he wanted to say something, but decided his best bet was to not mention anything. He slowly turned to go back upstairs when his Mom asked, “Where are you headed?”

Mikey was not sure how to answer. He decided to tell the truth. “Upstairs to take my shower and make my bed. Then I am not sure.” Mikey waited for a response from his Mom, but there was no response. He went upstairs.

Once he was fully ready for the day Mikey came back downstairs. He hung around his Mom who was cleaning and keeping the baby occupied. Mikey decided to play with the baby for a while thinking that would please his Mom. As he played with baby Julia he wished his Mom would say something, anything, even punish him, if only he could stop thinking about it.

After a little while the automatic garage door opened and Mikey’s Dad walked in a few moments after that. “Where were you Dad?” asked Mikey.

“It is a week before Christmas,” Mikey’s Dad answered. “So, I was out getting a few things.” He finished with a smile on his face. But his smile did not last long. He turned to Mikey and said “so son, what is the story with last night?”

Mikey’s hear sank. “Dad, I knew I was not allowed to watch that show, but after I turned my video game off I just never moved. Jen turned the show on and I did not do anything.”

Dad paused for a moment leaving only awkward silence. Then he began “Mikey, we did talk to Jen about letting you watch that program. As you can imagine she was embarrassed and never thought about what the show was about and if a child should be watching. I am sure she learned a lesson as well, but you know our rules. You are not even allowed to watch that station unless you get our permission.”

“I know Dad,” Mikey answered.

Mom added “Mikey, we know that you know the rules. We are not questioning your knowledge, we are pointing out your poor action. You decided to do what you knew was wrong.”

“Mom, it was more like what I didn’t do, I didn’t do anything. I didn’t decide to go against your rules. I just didn’t decide anything,” Mikey attempted to explain.

Dad quickly replied, “No Mikey, you are wrong. You did make a decision. You decided not to get up and leave while the show was on. You decided to stay put. No one made you stay. Only you made the decision to disobey the rule.”

Mom came closer to Mikey and added, “We know that it is more difficult to obey when the wrong option is put right in front of you. That is why we try to be careful about the games we let you buy and the DVDs and TV shows we let you watch. But sooner or later in life, the wrong choices will end up right in front of you and then it is up to you to make the right choice.”

Dad added, “No more TV or video games this weekend as a reminder and incentive to make the right choice next time!”

“OK, Dad,” Mike shook his head, “I won’t watch that show ever again, I promise!”

“I hope not,” Mikey’s Mom said, “Now get ready to go shopping for presents for your sisters. Your Dad is taking you.”

“I am?” Dad looked surprised. Mom stared at Dad. Dad looked back at Mikey, “I mean yes, I am taking you!”

Quick Questions

1.       Why is it harder to avoid doing wrong when the wrong comes to us?

2.       Why did Mikey feel guilty when he got up?

Craft – Box for Wise Man

Day 14 – 11 Days Before We Celebrate Jesus’ Birthday

Scripture – Luke 2:22 “When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord’), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord:’ a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Story – When Mikey came home from school he explained to his Mom how the “Holiday Tree” was supposed to help proclaim everyone as an individual and their specific heritage. Between the remaining State Reports they each had to report on the meaning of their name and if it had any connection to their heritage.

“Mom,” Mikey said in a serious tone “when I explained that I was a Christian my teacher said she meant national heritage. Isn’t my heritage being a Christian?”

Just as Mom was about to explain, cries from baby Julia could be heard coming from her room and the phone started ringing. “Hold that thought,” Mom said as she went to get the baby.

When Mom hung up the phone she called Mikey and Abby to dinner. “We are going to eat without Dad since he is staying late today.”

“Again!” Mikey complained, but he knew that things were still being worked out to keep “the big client” that everyone was talking about. “I wish all this would just be over.”

“I know Mikey, but sometimes life does not work out just how you want.” Mom replied, “Yet, God is always with us!”

It wasn’t until after dinner that Mom was able to return to their original conversation. “So Mikey, tell me what happened in school today when talking about your heritage.”

“Well Mom,” Mikey started, “Some kids had no idea or said they had too many heritages, others said they were mostly this or that. I said I was a Christian and I told them what my name meant, but my teacher said she did not want to know what Religion I was, but what my national heritage was. What country did my parents or grandparents come from.”

“I see what she meant, but I also see what you meant,” Mikey’s Mom reassured him. “You do have a national heritage, but like your friends, you are a mixture of about 10 different nationalities. That is your national heritage. But as you hear our Pastor say, our Church tries to help each parent pass a Christian heritage onto our children. You know Mikey, we have a stronger Christian heritage. You are a Christian brother to anyone who is a Christian. So Christians in Africa, Asia, Europe or anywhere are a brother or a sister to you, that is why we have missionaries and our church gives money to help others. So while the world tells you your heritage is your nationality, the country your ancestors came from or even your religion, we know that we have a stronger heritage which is in our Lord and Savior, Jesus.”

“So what do I tell my teacher?” Mikey asked.

With a laugh Mikey’s Mom said “tell her you are a Christian mutt!”

Abby looked up quickly, then a smile broke over her face, “Mikey is a mutt, Mikey is a dog!”

Mikey looked at his Mom, “Mom, aren’t you going to stop her?” All at once everyone broke out into a laugh.

Quick Questions

1.       How does your family pass on your Christian heritage at Christmas time?

2.       Why did Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the Temple?

Craft – gift box 1

Day 13 – 12 Days Before We Celebrate Jesus’ Birthday

Scripture – Luke 2:21 “On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.”

Story – Except for Math and Art class Mikey’s day consisted of listening to State Reports. Right at the end of class Mikey’s teacher assigned homework to find out the meaning of their name for a “Holiday Ornament” that they will make to hang on the class tree. Also, everyone got a handout with something specific that they would need to bring to their Winter Vacation Party that was to be held a week from today.

When Mikey arrived home both Abby and the baby were asleep. “I finished my math homework on the bus, Mom,” Mikey proudly proclaimed.

“What other homework do you have?” Mom asked in reply.

“None!” Mikey declared “since we listened to State Reports all day.” Then Mikey added, “Oh, wait, I have to know the meaning of my name because we are going to make ornaments for the holiday tree.”

“Holiday Tree?” The big smile almost became a laugh as Mom spoke to Mikey, “Well, they can call it what they want, but we know we are celebrating Christ and the holiday is Christmas! Now, what is this about your name?”

Mikey produced the handout with details about the party requesting that parents talk about how each child’s name was given and if known, what the meaning of their name is so they can make a holiday ornament.

“Mikey, Abby’s preschool class went to the indoor gym today and she is sound asleep from exhaustion so let’s spend some time right now while we have a chance. Hold on one minute,” Mikey’s Mom requested.

The box Mom held in her hand had “Michael” written on it. “I remember that box!” Mikey said, “Isn’t that the one with my baby stuff?”

“Yes, it is,” Mom replied.

“Here is your dedication certificate,” Mom showed Mikey. “In our church we bring babies before the Church to dedicate them to the Lord, just like they did in Jesus’ time, on the eighth day.”

Over the next half hour Mom and Mikey went through his baby photos as well as a special note that Mom and Dad had written to Michael before he was born on the meaning of his name.

“Dear Son,

We have decided to give you the name Michael, which means:  Who is like God, or Can Anyone Be like God? The job of the Angels is to proclaim that Jehovah alone is God and we pray that as you grow and mature you will live out your name and declare that Jehovah alone is the one true God!”

“You know Mikey,” Mom said thoughtfully, “there are many different celebrations during the holidays. And unfortunately, here in America our schools and public officials do not want to acknowledge any one ‘god’ over another so Christmas vacation has become Winter Holiday, but just as the angels proclaim the truth of Jehovah, I pray you will be able to proclaim His Lordship, first in your own life, then help others proclaim Him as Lord as well!”

At dinner Dad was full of news. “It looks like we are back in the running with our major client. He has not signed any deal yet, but after contacting other companies, he may not be able to get any better deal than he has with us, so continue to pray!”

That was good news to Mikey, because he hated the thought of moving again.

Quick Questions

1.       Do you know what your name means?

2.       Do you believe that Jehovah is the one true God?

Craft – Wise Man 1