About Me

Van Walton

Fun Facts about Van Walton

My favorite smell: The way the earth smells after it rains.

My favorite sound: The first notes of a grand symphony.

My favorite way to relax: Sitting anywhere outside - on my front porch, on my deck, or by the lake, early in the morning with my first cup of coffee.

My favorite birthday dessert: a Peach cobbler baked by my husband. He’s my fave chef!

I will not eat: Avocado. They turn my stomach into a volcano that never erupts.

Technology I couldn't live without and why: My laptop - it takes me anywhere I want to go.

One thing that makes me smile: My sons' faces!

FacebookFriend Van on Facebook

My Resources



My book, From the Pound to the Palace, is available for $10
from Proverbs 31 Ministries.


Pound to Palace


My book, Little Halos, is available for $5.99 from Proverbs
31 Ministries.


Little Halos


Proverbs 31 Ministries












Links




Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

PACKING UP CHRISTMAS

Yesterday we returned home from our Christmas journey. I walked into my home realizing that “Christmas is over. It is time to put it away.”

Every year I put off pulling out the red an green storage boxes. Something just isn’t right when, at the end of each Christmas season, we have to pack away the decorations – reminders that we have once again celebrated the birth of Christ.

This year I resolve to continue to display the decorations that celebrate Jesus’ birthday. Oh, I know how tacky that might appear. I don’t mean that shiny gold, green and red balls will remain as centerpieces on my dining room table. The Christmas lights will come down. Evergreens that are drying up are surely bound for the compost pile out back, and the candy canes… well I am not sure what I am going to do with them!

But, I resolve to allow the decorations that brought peace and light, beauty and wonder into my house to remain a part of my everyday life as I step into a new year.

While I store away the ornaments and candles, the wreaths and crèches, I promise to fan the flame that gave me such peace over the past several weeks. I promise to regularly peer into the Word that causes me to pause in wonder at the love my heavenly Father has for me. I promise to be a forever friend to those whose lives are threatened by life’s destructive forces. I promise to continue to look to God as I search for hope, peace, and my life’s purpose. I promise to trust Him to dignify me, not the world.

It’s time to store Christmas away…

Today I will begin the process of storing this very special Christmas, not into boxes in my attic nor into bins in my basement, but into precious memories deep in my heart.


Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be

With God as our Father
Brothers all are we
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now
WIth every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow

To take each moment and live
each moment in peace eternally
Let there be peace on earth
and let it begin with me
Friday, December 21, 2007

THE CHRISTMAS JOURNEY

Today began at 4 A.M. when I woke up to the annoying buzz of the alarm clock. Normally that buzzing sound puts me in the worst of moods. Today the rude noise excited me. Let the journey begin!

My DH and I drove out of our garage at 5:09 and put Asheville behind us around 8 o’clock. The phone rang and my older son reported in from south of Chicago. The second group of travelers, driving south to rendezvous with us in Memphis, consisted of my son and his wife. All is well. Plans seemed to be on target.

At 11:30 the phone rang again. This time my younger son reported in. He and his buddies had left the ski slopes of West Virginia. We discussed his 3 days of skiing, the conditions of the slopes, the restaurants, and his plans to join us on Sunday at my mother’s on Table Rock Lake in Missouri.

Get the picture – a car travels west though TN and one travels south through IL. On Sunday a plane will wing its way through the sky and land in NW AR.

Right about now I feel like the Wise Men traveling, following the same star, searching for a place to lay down our TREASURE.

Each one of us has a different expectation, I am sure.

I know Aaron’s TREASURE will be the gift of listening. He has been anticipating his grandmother’s stories. Not only does he want to hear the tales once again, but he longs for his young bride to learn more about the family’s history.

Benjamin’s TREASURE will be the gift of his presence. The past 6 years of his life have been consumed with high school sports and now his college studies ( with a lot of play thrown in, I’m sure.) His schedule has not allowed him to venture far from home. His visit to his grandmother’s after not having seen her for many years will be a gift of great joy.

Campbell’s TREASURE will be the gift of provision. Without his generous contributions toward each of our voyages, our Christmas Journey would not be possible.

And my TREASURE? The gift of prayer. I ask the Good Shepherd to go before us to make the rough places smooth. I ask the Prince of Peace to fill each heart and the home where we congregate with His presence. I ask the King of Kings to reign over our celebration reminding us that our love for one another is the TREASURE He desires. I pray that the next several days will be filled with thoughts toward others’ wellbeing, not our own comfort. I pray that long after this week has come and gone, that we would remember the wonderful gift of family, Christian legacy, and unconditional love. I pray that the quiet moments we spend in each other’s company would strengthen us to move into the New Year with resolve to glorify God in our service to one another.

And I pray that all your Christmas expectations be met as you focus on Jesus' birth day.


Bearing Gifts We Travel so Far
Thursday, December 20, 2007
WHY WE CELEBRATE.

It’s all about Jesus. This is why I celebrate during this season. I have so much to consider when I focus on Jesus journey to earth. You know what is most awesome about this party? In His heart, His journey was all about me. If HE could get my attention, convince me that His way is the only Way, and then develop a friendship that would last forever, His trip to earth would have been worth it. Can you imagine – Jesus came for me. He came for you too!

Jesus Points to my heart
He Uncovers my sins and
Raises my status.
Jesus Provides my strength.
He also Offers sanctuary.
He Secures my soul.
Jesus Engraves my name in the palm of His hand.


Joy to the world!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007

SO, WHAT'S THE PURPOSE FOR THIS PARTY WE ARE CELEBRATING?

Blogging is fun. I like its randomness, but I get off track sometimes. For instance, early in December I began blogging about the "purose for the party." Every once in a while, though, life happens and I have to talk about what is going on in my daily routine. Tonight, I am going to continue with the purpose.

So far purpose is spelled:

Jesus Points to my heart
He Uncovers my sins
and Raises my status.
Jesus Provides my strength.
He also Offers sanctuary.

How appropriate! During this busy, hurried, and unfortunately stressful season, He calls us to Him - to a quiet stable a place of sanctuary. Want to run away from the crowds, the endless to-do list, the loud meaningless parties, traffic jams, tired children who have had it with sweet treats and lots of shopping, and ..... I have a solution. Step into the sanctuary.


The 'S' in purpose stands for:
Jesus Secures my soul.

What answer do you give your children when they ask, "Why did Jesus come to earth?" Many of us will answer, "Because He loves us." or "His Father sent Him."

My children were never satisfied with that answer. When they are happy and content, they have no desire to give up what they are doing. So they can't understand, "Why would Jesus leave heaven, where He was King, and come to earth, to be a pauper?"

I think it is a great question. I am glad they are thinking and asking.

My answer is, "Jesus came to earth to Secure your soul. He loves you so much, he wants you to spend eternity with Him. He came to earth to show you the way to get to heaven. Sort of like follow the leader."

Speaking of securing your soul. If you are looking for a great illustration to teach your children about following the Leader, my DVD, From the Pound to the Palace, produced in collaboration with Renee and her two sons, Andrew and Josh, is the perfect tool to share with your child.

Want to be sure you soul is secure, ask Jesus to step into your life. That is precisely what Christmas is all about.

Immanuel, God is with us!
Monday, December 17, 2007

GIVING THE GIFT OF SELF

After messing up my kitchen - my DH came in for a visit. He usually hangs out in the basement where he works most of the day, Every once in a while he surfaces. Am I ever glad he surfaced on Friday. I laughed about how cooking totally exhausts me. He knows. He has been married to me for 36 years! Send me to the yard. There I can dig, plant, weed, mow, mulch, trim... and NEVER tire. I am alergic to the kitchen.

Guess what my DH did? He offered to clean up the kitchen. He made my day! His love language is acts of service. I LOVE the gifts he gives me- little projects that make my life easy.

Yesterday - Sunday - I had a Merry Christmas day. Our little family of three went to church and then we went out to lunch with a friend whose husband is a pilot. He was flying. We treated her son, my son, and three other home-from-college friends to lunch. I felt so honored to sit at the same table with such fine young men.

As I looked at these guys - non of them perfect mind you, but each a child of God and a product of Christian homes, I thanked God for His wise words to me. I am thankful I believed Him early on that I needed to do my homework - "raise my sons in the fear and admonishion of the Lord."

It is so much easier to discipline little boys than it is to scold and punish young teen men.

If I don't get a gift at all this year - I am content with my husband's acts of service and my son's progress on the growth chart - not the physical one, but the emotional and spiritual chart.

As we sat around the table I saw how my investment of time and lessons in boundaries had paid off. I looked at my son and his friends and, although God has not finished with them, I could clearly see the good work blooming within each soon-to-be man.

Good Christian Men Rejoice
Friday, December 14, 2007

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED - - WELL ALMOST

I accomplished a lot already today, but I have a few questions:

Does anyone recall receiving an invitation to a commune? If so, can I be your invited guest?
(I would like to join one because I like sharing jobs and responsibilities. I don't like working and cleaning up alone! )

Does anyone know of an agency that comes into a kitchen after Van and her Thing 1 (mixer) and Thing 2 (boiling over pot) messes are finished?
(You see - I am exhausted!!!! My back aches, my feet are sore. I don't feel so good after licking the chocolate, eating a few too many nuts, helping myself to the Christmas pudding, and trying the PUPPY CHOW I have never before made. AND there is a huge mess in the kitchen to clean.)

I would like to take a nap but I feel like a wuss. I only went to the grocery store, came home and put up the groceries - just a few mind you, not a BIG shopping. Then I made my DH's sandwich. I whipped together the guacamole dip I promised my coming-home-from-college son. He'll be here in a couple of hours. I made Christmas pudding for my husband and our family favorite - TRASH, a snack made with wheat and corn chex, honeycomb cereal, nuts, fritos, pretzels... That is all I did and I am exhausted. I can't take a nap. I want to be awake when Benjamin walks through the door. Plus I have done nothing to warrant a nap. But - maybe after I clean the kitchen I will convince myself - oh yeah, I hear my pillows calling, "It's OK cuz you will be up 'til three in the AM waiting for the teenager turned nocturnal creature to come home."

OK - deep breath - I AM GOING TO CLEAN THE KITCHEN.

Oh Come All Ye Faithful
Thursday, December 13, 2007

GINGERBREAD HOUSES, CANDY LAND, & TREASURE HUNTS




Yesterday I blogged about my FLIP FLOP day. When all about me shoppers, planners, decorators, bakers, and gift wrappers were "preparing for the holidays," I took a little journey through my neighborhood to visit some little boys, their baby sister, and their mom. I thought abut waiting 'til after the holidays to visit this precious family whose daddy is on a mission trip in Africa (http://theswineharts.blogspot.com/) , but one morning Betty IM'ed me (is that proper spelling and grammar - if not please someone tell me how to write IM in the past tense) to comment on the Christmas P31 Woman magazine (. In the course of the conversation I offered to come over and play with the kids so she could have some time alone.

Now that is a FLIP FLOP activity for the month of December. I was supposed to be "preparing for the holidays" - right? What a blessing to follow through with my instinct to play with some little boys so their mom could have a quiet lunch alone. I think Betty had a FLIP FLOP day too. From the sound of her trip out into the land of holiday shoppers, I believe she chose peace and quiet over frenzy and rush.

By the way - the gift of SELF and TIME is a present all children long for.


When I arrived we made plans- build and decorate the gingerbread house, play games, and run around outside. We did all that. There was one glitch - we did not finish building the house. While the boys decorated - really ate spoons full of icing and little decorative candies, I carefully held together the four walls of the house. They kept asking me if they could put their decorated roofs on the house. Afraid the house would cave in, I left that task for their mom! Maybe she will post a picture of the finished project on her blog in the next couple of days.

Children love to play treasure hunt. It can be played in the house or outside. I gave the boys a list of three "treasures to find." Before I could tell them treasure number two, they shouted, "A lizard. We are good at finding lizards. Can a lizard be on the list."

"Sure, find me a lizard." They found a daddy-long-legs instead.

The treasure list consisted of an acorn, a red leaf, and a stick. Immediately they found lovely red leaves. They were all over the ground - no snow or sleet here - just a yard full of red leaves - very Christmassy. Tyler ran off to find acorns and Bryce tripped over a log. "Is this a stick?" We had a long conversation about the difference between logs and sticks. "Yes, Bryce, they ARE both part of a tree!"

As there were no acorns to be found, each boy brought me a tiny snail. We ooed and ahhed over the little animal that lived within and then - FLIP FLOP. They tired of the game and we went inside to play board games.

Life is full of FLIP FLOPS. We are never sure what the next day or moment will bring. By the way - I did paint my toenails, but I hear I will have them hidden away in socks and shoes by day after tomorrow - because the weather is about to FLIP FLOP again.

One thing is for sure. The REASON for this season, never FLIP FLOPS. When the weather changes - be it stormy blizzards and ice or emotional upheaval, confusing interruptions, or "walls" that threaten to fall in, Jesus remains the same. His love for us and desire that we love each other is constant.

Do you find your holiday spirit threatening to FLIP FLOP? Why not forget the CHRISTMAS RULES and take a moment or two - enjoy an out-of-the-ordinary activity. I am sure you will celebrate the treasure when you have experienced it.

After all when Jesus came - the world did a FLIP FLOP, to never be the same again.

Rejoice!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007

IT'S A FLIP FLOP DAY


No kidding - I am nowhere near a tropical beach, but this morning I put on my flip flops! It is December 12th and I had to pull out summer clothes. We are expecting record breaking temperatures again - not winter lows - but winter highs! Now in the Spring when we have several near 80 degree days it is a sign that the water temp in pools is almost bearable. What I would do to hop into a pool! Yesterday I actually sat on my deck in my favorite lounge chair and stuck my toes, feet, and legs into the sun! I'm wearing flip flops and sunbathing in December and I am NOT on vacation. Oh no! Definiatly NOT vacationing right now - nor is anyone. We are preparing for the holidays - aren't we?

This is on my to do list:

*Run to store to pick up the chicken I don't have because I underestimated earlier in the week when I did my shopping.

*Get back home and make the chicken enchiladas
(I'm making chicken enchiladas for my friend and neighbor whose soccer playing husband is in Africa on a mission trip. This is a way I can support the family. Betty's boys love Mexican food so I am making up this dish then taking it over to play with 3 little boys while she runs out with her baby girl.)
THIS IS MY IDEA OF CHRISTMAS SHOPPING - Don't have to go the the mall. Get to play with children. What an incredible trade off! I gift my friend with time and she gifts me with a gift of sheer pleasure.

*While I am out I have to pick up some fingernail polish remover (When I put on my flip flops I glanced at my toes. YIKES! I still have on a bit of left over summer nail polish residue. TACKY. Gotta get that OFF and put on some new fresh.)

*Finish stuffing the stocking that I will be giving away through Lysa's Great Christmas Giveaway - if you have not entered the drawing, I suggest you do so. I am giving away a stocking stuffed with fun Christmas ideas - activities my children and I used to do as we prepared for Christmas. I am also including my children's DVD FROM THE POUND TO THE PALACE.

*Think about, make a list, and return to the store - probably tomorrow- to pick up all of Benjamin's - he is my younger son who will be home from college on Friday!!!! CAN'T WAIT to see him- to pick up his fave foods and snacks.

*Get ready for him to come home!! Yipee. I know he too will want Chicken Enchiladas so I am making a double portion. He will want TRASH - that is what our family calls the home made chex party mix. He also told me that he has been introduced to - and then he proceeded to describe to me "corn and rice chex, covered with chocolate, diped in powdered sugar, mixed with M n M's.." I googled it and found out what he wanted was PUPPY CHOW. Anyone have a good recepie? Otherwise I am going to try one of the ones I found on line and hope it is as good as his roommate's mother's. I know - why don't I ask her. He doesn't know which roommate and he doesn't want me communicating with her. You know - moms - Nothing good comes from moms when they come together! Of course he'll want a a steak, white chile, and ziti. I think I will impress him by putting his favorite Guacamole dip on the family's big red YOU ARE SPECIAL plate. After all - he will have just completed finals and the first semester of his sophomore year.

*uh - anything else... oh yes -

*Order a ham and cheesecake and have it sent to my sister-in-law.
Don't forget to enter the Great Christmas Giveaway!

*oh yeah - paint my toe nails

Have a Merry Flip Flop Day
Thursday, December 6, 2007

Back to "The Purpose for the Party"


Several days ago I bunny hopped right off the trail. Not unusual for me. I just had to share my experience with the children at Lake Norman Christian Ministries Preschool (Dec.3) and then I had to let you know about Lysa's GREAT CHRISTMAS GIVE AWAY. Click the icon to sign up for a fun Christmas happy.

Now I want to get back on track and continue talking about the
purpose for the party
. Just to review:
Jesus Points to my heart
He Uncovers my sins
and Raises my status
Jesus Provides my strength
As I think about Christmas and what I would like to give my family I remember that I am a homemaker. Although I have worked outside my home as a teacher, a recreation director, a translator, a sound engineer... I am always a homemaker. I am responsible for making my home a haven for my family. Every year, as the days grow shorter I am reminded that the world is a dark place. I want my home to be a place of light, freedom, safety, comfort, and peace. I want my family and friends to walk through my door and experience heaven - just a little piece of heaven.

Jesus birth was a way of Offering sanctuary to those who choose to go to Him for shelter and protection. He is the Prince of Peace, a safe Refuge, and a mighty Fortress. I want to learn from Jesus so I can offer the same to my family.

One way my children feel peace in their home is to experience time-honored traditions they can depend upon. Traditions give a child stability. Children look to traditions to assure them that little has changed. The world may not always be fair and reliable, but at home my children know to count on certain things.

One tradition we have is that I buy a children's Christmas book every year. My older son is 27 so we now have somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 Christmas books. I use these books to decorated. I stack them on the coffee table and place a poinsettia on top of the stack. I open the picture books to nativity scenes and place a candle beside to cast a soft light on the reason for the season. My favorite Christmas book is the great big huge family Bible. I open it to pictures drawn by the great masters of art and place it on a table in the living room. It reminds me to gather my children around me and page through the massive book. To them it represents importance. It is heavy and impressive. I want them to respect God's Word. I believe a great big family Bible is a wonderful visual for a child.

What are your traditions? Why not share them with the readers of my blog.

Here are some ideas for traditions:

* Purchase a large family Bible. Make sure it has sections of pictures that depict a variety of events in the Old and New Testament. Close the Bible and then ask a child to find - Adam and Eve in the Garden, Moses and the Ten Commandments, Mary talking with the Angel. Then take some time to sit and talk about each picture.

* Using your computer and clip art create a series of pictures that depict the nativity story. Cut out each picture. Give the pictures to your children and ask them to arrange the pictures into the Christmas story. As you point to each picture ask questions about what is taking place. Find a Bible verse for each picture and begin to memorize the story of Jesus' birth.

* On slips of paper write questions about Christmas and put them in a jar. Here are some ideas:
Why do we decorate our house with lights?
What is so important about the star?
How did Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem?
Where did they stay when they were traveling?
During dinner ask each family member to choose one question. During dinner discuss the answers to the questions. You might want to record the answers or remember to write them down. Reading them in later years when your children are older is a great form of entertainment.

* Speaking of entertainment, be sure to teach Christmas songs and have your children perform for you. That is a great confidence builder.

Speaking of confidence. The greatest place to find confidence is in the sanctuary Jesus offers. He is our sanctuary.

Wishing you Tidings of Comfort and Joy!
Tuesday, December 4, 2007

MORE FUN THAN SHOPPING

If you read my blog -CHRISTMAS RULES, November 24, you know I have decided that I am not going to shop this year for Christmas presents. I have had several people ask how I am going to stick to my plan to keep worldly Christmas traditions from ruling me. (I do not like to shop. I especially do not like doing anything when someone else dictates that I should, especially when I am not sure - WHY? What is the purpose? Shopping brings out the worst in me. Don't get me wrong I LOVE to give, but I like my giving to be spontaneous, given with love, out of a desire to surprise and encourage - so I am not going to shop this year. I like to give the way my mother-in-law just gave: she sent me an e-mail inviting my 85 year-old widowed mother to join my in laws for Christmas. Now that is giving! ) Christmas still rules in my book. I love the magical and marvelous power Holy Nights have over me. Christmas music enchants me. Church choirs and little children angel voices lift me to the clouds and beyond.

That said - I am jumping into Lysa's giveaway. Click the Christmas Tree button. I am giving away a Christmas Stocking filled with ideas for Christmas activities and mother-child activities and my DVD- From the Pound to the Palace.

SO - I am not shopping BUT I AM joining in the fun fabulous cheer of giving, giving, giving.
Monday, December 3, 2007

STORY TIME UNDER THE TREE


Tonight I took my sweet dog, Air, to read his story to a group of children. When I arrived to the preschool, I quickly put on my pajamas, as it was Polar Bear and Pajama night. - Oh how I wish I could dress so comfortable when I speak to grown ups!

As the children arrived and gathered around my book table, they began to ask when they could see 'the dog.'

They had been told that they would hear a story and meet the main character - a dog, and that he would 'sign' their books.

When the children gathered around I knew we were in for a treet. Not one took his or her eyes off me or the book while I read it to them. They could relate with the fact that the dog had wandered away and had gotten lost. They could relate to the fact that sometimes they are obedient and submissive and some times they are not. By the time the story was over and they met Air, they realized that everyone loves a good dog. I reminded them that everyone enjoys the company of obedient children.

My book and DVD , FROM THE POUND TO THE PALACE would make a perfect Christmas gift. It can be purchased through the Proverbs 31 Ministy resource page:

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_poundToPalace.htm

Samantha from the Proverbs 31 office drove with me. What a treat to have a traveling companion! We had some wonderful conversation as we drove there and back. I do not believe anything gives me more joy than developing relationships with other women and seeing bright curious faces delight in a good story.

Speaking of stories - I am off to bed to continue reading my book. That too gives me great satisfaction - finishing a day on an up note, climbing into bed and reading myself to sleep.

Oh! And I already have on my p.j's!
Saturday, December 1, 2007

FELIZ NAVIDAD



My favorite Christmas activities with children:

*This activity needs a collection or two of magnetic letters and children who are reading and writing and spelling. I set apart the letters for Christmas words and place them in a baggie. Each child picks a bag and arranges the letters to spell out a word like manger, Jesus, star, gold, or lamb. Then I ask each child to write or say a sentence with their word. This is a great activity that lays the foundation for good writing skills.

My friend has asked that I teach her grandchildren Spanish. Her husband is Cuban and together they decided to give the grandchildren a gift of inheritance for Christmas – Spanish lessons. You may wonder why I would be teaching Spanish. In the days when I worked for pay, I taught high school Spanish because I I sort of stumbled upon a Spanish major due to my own heritage. I was born in Venezuela and grew up bilingual.

Anyway I agreed to begin the lessons – once a week for 30 minutes. Thursday my friend, her daughter-in-law, three little ones – all under four and I all sat on a mat in the middle of the family room. We played and learned Spanish words! I do not need to say that we had a wild and crazy fun time.

It had been so long since I had been around children of that age that I had forgotten, their little minds skip from one activity to another, rarely stopping for long. If we are surrounded by little ones we have to be willing to skip around also or they will leave us behind! Second, I remembered that all learning takes placer in a play environment.

I bring these two thoughts up because I think the greatest gift we can give our children is play, not presents, but play. Why not make Christmas a season of play rather than concentrating on one day of wild disarray? I really believe children would rather spend an hour or two playing with their parents every day than experiencing the thirty minute blur that describes Christmas morning. At the end of the self-absorbed, charge through the perfectly presented presents, most children suffer disappointment. “Is that all? Is there anything else for me?” They feel a void because, in reality, nothing fills us like time well spent in relational interaction.

Maybe, like so many parents, you are simply too exhausted to play with the children. That is alright. When we forge ahead building relationships, filled with praise and music the Spirit of Christmas which is Jesus joins us in our activities

Providing the strength we need.

There we have it, the secnd ‘P’ in ‘purpose’. What is the purpose for the party?
Jesus POINTS to my heart. He UNCOVERS my sins, RAISING my status, and PROVIDING the strength I need to give my children the attention they crave and deserve.

It’s time to turn on the music and fill our hearts and homes with Christmas music and join your children in play.

Here are a few other activities I remember sharing with my sons and children in the neighborhood:

* Give each family member a cozy throw and a pillow to be kept in the family room. These can be used for snuggling, camp outs in the family room, cuddling by the fireplace, or Christmas tree and nativity scene viewing.

*Get creative. Design a special activity each evening to encourage children's good behavior. Our favorite was the game of YONDER STAR. After baths and supper, before bedtime, to encourage quiet and calm in our house I lowered all the lights. My flashlight became YONDER STAR. The boys were the wise men. I traced the ‘star’ across walls and ceilings while little wise men followed the ‘star.’ Some nights the star stopped over the kitchen table where the family pitched a tent and crawled underneath with pillows and cozy blankets. There with our individual flashlights we gazed in amazement at the nativity or Christmas tree. On weekends, depending on my children's behavior during the day I would reward them by letting them "camp out." The next evening the game continued until the star stopped at the nativity scene where we listened to Christmas music and sang carols.

* FINISH THE STORY. One person begins: "The angel came to Mary." Another continues: "Mary was very afraid." Next someone says, "The angel told Mary, Do not fear." Each participant says one sentence until the story is over. This is a good game to play in the car. The game can be "dragged out" by adding interesting details like, "On a beautifully sunny day, Mary went to the river to wash her hair. " Next person adds. "Suddenly a bright light appeared." The object of the game can be to see who says the most sentences. Each person who says a sentence gets a red or green M & M. Once the story ends, the winner is the one with the most candies! Tape these family activities to develop memories and traditions.

J O Y!