Lisa’s Home School: S.A.C.K. Season Starts Now!

Shining Acts of Christmas Kindness! ‘Tis the season for giving. Listen here to see what you can do to impact someone this season!


Pembroke Township Library District

13795 E. Central St., Hopkins Park

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

For information about donations, phone the library at 815-944-8609 or Faith in Action at 708-363-2568.

Lisa’s Home School: Twist on Christmas Giving

A mom says that her boys have way too much stuff! For Christmas, they will not be getting toys but another form of a gift. Lisa shares the twist on giving this season!  Listen here!


Lisa’s Home School: Twist on Christmas Giving

Read this mom’s full blog here!

We’re pretty lucky in our family. I can cross off three out of four of our birthdays in May alone! Then Christmas and the fourth birthday are taken care of in December. This makes for a lot less time worrying about buying and giving presents and a lot more time thinking about how much stuff we have.

In fact, all of that thinking about not buying presents gave me a thought: I really can’t imagine having more things in my house. More toys, clothes, sippy cups… we’ve got so much already. I’m constantly packing and donating toys my boys no longer play with, it seems. Now, I don’t want to diminish or sound ungrateful for the amazing generosity of our friends and family, we’re beyond thankful for all they’ve given us… but it’s just… so much. So much more than they need.

My boys really do not need for another thing.

I know my favorite thing about presents… it’s giving them. I spend extra time and care thinking about giving gifts to my own family, to our friends and to their families. I try to be thoughtful about my own gift-giving and I know how difficult it can be to find that perfect gift sometimes. Occasionally, before a birthday party or event, I get overwhelmed and buy something just to bring it… and maybe that’s not the right approach.

What if…

What if nobody gave my boys presents anymore? What if we only gave GIFTS.

The gifts of experience, adventure and more importantly, familiarity that they truly need. Instead of the things (toys, games, clothes) that they didn’t even really know about or want? The only thing I truly think my boys need to have is more time with their family…

So, starting now, this year, before the holiday season begins, I’m beginning a new tradition. Although we’ll always be grateful for the presents we and our boys receive, I’d ask that our friends and family offer these experiences and time spent with our boys instead of money spent on them.

I’m not going to tell you what to do, or what to buy… but here are some suggestions:

Instead of buying my boys a toy lion, why not take one (or both) of them to the zoo to see a real one? To spend some time with a family member or friend would mean so much more to them than another toy.

Not a lot of time to give? What about contributing towards one of the (shockingly expensive) activities the boys will be participating in? Piano/drum/guitar lessons. Swimming lessons. Summer soccer season. Dance lessons.

Don’t have a lot of money? (Hey, neither do we! No big!) — How about just spending some quality time with the boys? Set a day and take them to the park. Take one of them on a bike ride. Take one to the movies. Take them to a local play center. Instead of in

We have a really good friend who, back in May, couldn’t make it to Cash’s third birthday. She said she wanted to drop off a present at another time and I said, “He really doesn’t need anything, but we’d love a visit! Actually, instead of a present, why not just take him and do something with him just the two of you?” In the end she, her boyfriend, and their friend and her daughter ended up going to the zoo with Cash and he LOVED it. He asks about this friend a lot now, and wants to spend time with her again because he enjoyed it so much.

This is what I would like for my boys to grow up with. Not mountains of toys (which are growing bigger by the minute, I swear!) but experiences and close relationships with the people in their lives who matter most.

Here’s the thing: I always think about the what ifs: what if something happened to me? What if something happened to their dad? They’ve built strong bonds with some family members, but others are only seen on occasion and only for short periods of time. They’re unfamiliar and being young, the boys often don’t remember them on special occasions and it breaks my heart. Building relationships now with these family members and friends will only benefit them in the long run if something were to ever happen to us.

These are the things I think about, people. Deep, I know.

But seriously, if you’re in our circle of friends or family, please don’t buy my kids presents but instead give them the gift of your time and love. It doesn’t have to cost anything, but it’s really the ONLY thing they need.

Christella Morris blogs regularly at, where this piece first appeared.

vesting in their toy collections, invest in your relationship with them.


Good News Story: Boy’s Christmas Comes Early

When confronted with the realization that a little boy might not make it to Christmas, a town brings Christmas to him a little early. Listen to this inspiring story here!


Good News Story: Boy’s Christmas Comes Early

Two Encouraging Faith Stories For Your Friday

I have a couple encouraging faith-related stories to share with you today.

Last week Franklin Graham and volunteers from Operation Christmas Child celebrated the ministry’s 100-millionth shoebox gift.

Rev. Graham says that the program he started 20 years ago in Bosnia now reaches children in 110 countries.

But what he’s most excited about are the two million shoebox recipients who are studying the Bible this year, some of them in Muslim countries where Graham hopes they’ll become future evangelists.

He says the shoeboxes that Christians pack each November are delivered to children through churches where they hear the gospel and are invited to learn more through a Bible study called “The Greatest Journey.”

In other faith-related news, President Obama will award a posthumous Medal of Honor this week to an Army chaplain credited with saving hundreds of soldiers during the Korean War.

During a battle with communist forces in 1950, Captain Emil Kapaun, a Roman Catholic priest, stayed behind to help the wounded even though he knew he would be captured.

Americans who emerged alive from that prison camp, remember how he kept their spirits up, even as he forgave and blessed their Chinese captors.  Kapaun died in the camp seven months later.

The soldiers who knew him said as Kapaun lay dying, he said, “Don’t worry about me. I’m going to where I always wanted to go and I’ll say a prayer for all of you.”

Two of his fellow POWs and Kapaun’s relatives attended the Medal of Honor award ceremony at the White House.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

Do You Make Your Kids Write Thank-You Notes?

Hey it’s Garrett from Shine Afternoons and over the weekend we were FINALLY finishing up thank-you notes with our kiddos for gifts they received over Christmas.  It wasn’t easy, and my 10-year old Kathryn thought grandma would be fine with a text.  Do you encourage your kids to write thank-you notes for gifts they receive, is an email good enough?  I’d love to hear what you do in your home.

Baby in a Basket

Okay….it’s not a manger, but here’s our “baby in a basket!”  Yup it’s Caleb, our baby 7.0 and he turned 3-months old on Christmas day! Remember to keep the Christ of Christmas first as we head into 2013! ~ Garrett

Christmas Vacation…Keep On Rollin’

We took our kids roller skating yesterday since they are on Christmas break, and I figured I would lace up my skates and spend the afternoon on the skate floor since I was a pretty good skater back in the day! Well….three laps later as my legs were throbbing and feeling like rubber.  It was then I realized that I’m not as young as I used to be, and maybe a little stretching would help!  It wasn’t too long afterwards that I was cruising around the rink with kids….oh and even mustered up the courage to do some back-wards skating with my daughter.  What fun family activity have you done with your children over Christmas vacation?  ~ Garrett

Pinterest-inspired Jewelry Organizer

This year I was inspired by Pinterest and something my wife needed. So, my oldest son, Jake, and I took several ideas on jewelry organization from Pinterest and came up with this. What do you think?

Reading the Christmas Story

Guess what people are tracking this Christmas season (and it’s not a man in a red hat). If you guessed the number of times the Christmas story was read on-line you’d be right!  Oh, and have you read the Christmas story with your family this year? ~ Garrett