Christmas traditions - continued

When our kids were little, we started a tradition that I can’t even remember how we got started.  You’ve heard of the ‘elf on the shelf’ that seems to be popular this year, well ours is ‘Baby Jesus, not in the manager’! When we put out our manger scene every year, we do not put baby Jesus is the manger, we hide him somewhere, in the specified room.  The person who hides him is the person that found him the previous year.  We do this until Christmas Eve and then at midnight, or earlier depending on the ages of your children, the last person to find him gets to put him in the manager.

When we first started, our daughter was only 3 or so.  We had hidden the baby in an easy place, so she could find him, and as she ran down the stone entry way, so excited to show us that she had found him, she dropped him and broke him.  She was heartbroken that she had ‘broken’ baby Jesus.  After that we got a hard plastic set, which had a baby that could be removed from the manager, and have used that one since, adding pieces to it every year.  We probably have 50 pieces including animals, wise men, shepherds, and of course the blessed family.

We select one room, so it doesn't take forever to find him, and gives us all a chance to find and hide him many times.  It can get pretty crazy at the end of Christmas Eve, before the clock strikes 12:00.  EVERYONE is looking super hard, so they can have the honor of putting the baby in the manager.  Our kids are grown, and will still try to find and hide him whenever they are over.  I can’t wait for my Grandkids to get old enough that they can join in.

Have fun with this, make up your own rules, and make sure to include young and old alike.  But watch out for those who will hide the goat, trying to make you think it’s baby Jesus!!

Merry Christmas!

Shelley Brooks

UncategorizedShelley Brooks
Christmas Traditions

From our own Keith Holmes: The day after Thanksgiving Day, we have a tradition which starts in the morning, sleeping in, and then a nice late breakfast. Then (depending on the time of the Nebraska football game, we start taking down the Thanksgiving decorations, and start hauling up the Christmas decorations.

Late in the afternoon, when most of the shoppers are worn out and heading home, we load up the family and head out to buy our Christmas tree. After a hunt that would make Esau proud, tracking, surrounding, and sizing and ultimately hauling the tree between our shoulders as a prize fit to be mounted in the living room, we wrap (in that plastic netting), buy and mount the tree onto the top of our car.

Proudly displaying for all to see, that they did not get the best tree that Omaha had to offer. As soon as we have our tree, we head out to dinner at a local restaurant, usually a BBQ joint, where we regale one another of tales of the hunt, or what else happened on the day.

Upon our return home, full of food and mirth, we take the Christmas tree in, and prepare it for tomorrow, when the Carols will play on the stereo (or Pandora on the computer these days), and we will decorate the simple pine tree transforming it into a visual treat for the eyes, topped off by an angel to remind us of the heralding of birth of our savior.

Let others know how your family 'captures' your Christmas tree.  Is it as dramatic as Keith's, or do you trudge down to the basement to pull yours from a dark storage area, because there are those in the house that are allergic to a live tree?


UncategorizedShelley Brooks
Serving during the Thanksgiving Holiday

This is from one of our parents, about their experience taking Thanksgiving meals to those who wouldn't have a meal without their kindness.  They are now doing this every year, as a way to give back. I was told about the delivery project last year and thought it was a good way to be able to have my kids serve with me in our city and get to see other parts of the city. The kids were a little put off by having to drive around and give food to strangers because this didn't sound "fun". Once we set out to the Open Door Mission and they saw alllllll the cars and people and food being so smoothly loaded, they started to feel excited and could see this was something so much larger than imagined (myself included in that). Then they were excited as to where we were going! It was all new and they started to see how Omaha was MUCH larger than they ever knew...then we started making deliveries! Usually children about my children's ages would be the ones to answer the door and they just started smiling and the kids all started chatting with each other! My kids got to see a whole other side of life and saw that this isn't something scary or boring... its kids, just like them! Kids they never would have met in neighborhoods they never knew existed, and opened up their hearts to strangers and they can't wait to go again!!  God is so good!

What a great example, and what a learning experience for the kids!  How can you get out and make a difference during the Holidays?

Shelley Brooks

UncategorizedShelley Brooks
Family Traditions Continued

The next few blogs will be some Thanksgiving traditions from some of us a CCC. We started the tradition several years ago, of writing on the cream colored tablecloth, that we used for Thanksgiving dinner.  We would each write 1 or 2 things we were thankful for that year, making sure we dated it.  We would write with a laundry pen, so the writing didn't come off in the wash.  Each year, as we brought that tablecloth back out and put it on the table, we would look back at how God, year after year, had provided or blessed us.

Our kids are now grown and married, so we are going to have to create some new traditions, that include new spouses at the table.  What traditions have you created, I would be interested to hear, since I will be looking for some new ideas!

Dawn Belknap - CCC Kids Connect


Here's one from 'Creating Family Traditions' by Gloria Gaither & Shirley Dobson.  Can the family guess what Dad is thankful for in twenty questions?  The person who it "It-in this case, Dad-thinks of one thing he is thankful for, and the others try to guess what it is by asking him simple questions. Is it a person?  Do I know that person?  Male or female?  Is it something that happened?  Did it happen this year?  Was I there when it happened?

If the group doesn't guess the blessing Dad has in mind, Dad wins the round!

Psalm 100:4 - 'Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.'


UncategorizedShelley Brooks
Holiday Traditions

What makes a tradition a tradition? Traditions can be big or small.  They are done with a specific purpose in mind and require some thought and intentionality.  Meg Cox, the author of “The Book of New Family Traditions”, defines family ritual as “any activity you purposefully repeat together, as a family that includes heightened attentiveness and something extra that lifts it above the ordinary rut.”  Traditions, when done right, lend a certain magic, spirit and texture to our everyday lives.

They provide a source of identity, strengthen the family bonds, and they offer comfort and security.  They also pass on a cultural and religious heritage, connect the generations and create memories.

How do you define tradition in your family?  Was it started when you were a child?  Did you take that tradition and carry it through into your family, or have you created some of your own, as you started having a family?

Between now and Christmas, we will be blogging about why traditions are important, how they come about, and give you some ideas of traditions some of us have.  We would also love to hear some of your family traditions!

Shelley Brooks

UncategorizedShelley Brooks
Halloween Alternatives

Here are a few more ideas of fun things to do on October 31st.

  • Plan a progressive ‘Halloween’ party.  Organize a progressive event in the safety of some of your friends’ homes.  Arrange for children to eat a meal at the first home, play games at the next, and eat dessert at the last stop.  Everyone joins in the work and expense.
  • Organize a skating or bowling night. Gather your kids, their friends (and hopefully parents) and head to your local skating rink or bowling alley. See who can bowl the most strikes or stand on one foot while on skates. It can be a fun way to see friends and have a good time.


UncategorizedShelley Brooks
Halloween Alternatives

Looking for something to do with your kids, instead of the traditional 'trick or treating' on October 31st ? Tired of sitting at home with the lights off, hiding in the back of the house, or with the lights on, giving out candy, with your kids wondering why they can't go out too?

Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of Halloween, you can turn the holiday into a positive, relationship-building tradition for your family.  These ideas offer alternatives to the customary Halloween activities. They are simple suggestions to start you thinking and planning. Add your own creativity and there's no limit to the possibilities for family fun!  Let us know what you do on October 31st.

  • Weiner roasts and campfires. Friends, family or church members gather to roast hot dogs (and usually marshmallows) over an open fire, and usually doesn't involve toting huge bags of candy. The emphasis is not on Halloween but on spending time with each other.
  • Host a block party. It can be open to the community or just for the kids on your block. The idea is to build community spirit and involvement while giving the kids a safe place to have fun.

We are still researching for more ideas, and will post them by the end of the week!

UncategorizedShelley Brooks
Multiple HomeFront Weeklies? Multiple Opportunities!

It’s not unusual for families to have children whose ages range from preschool through elementary.  As a result, these families receive a TruWonder and TruStory HomeFront Weekly each week.

How can you make time to use both HomeFront weeklies?  Below are some suggestions:

  • If your preschooler stays at home during the day, while the elementary kids go to school, go through the HomeFront with your little one in the morning.
  • If your preschooler goes to bed earlier than the elementary kids, go through the HomeFront with the older kids in the evening.
  • Set aside one evening per week (start with 10 to 15 minutes) as HomeFront time with the preschooler, and then set aside another evening for elementary-aged kids.
  • If you have older, more mature elementary kids, let them lead HomeFront time for their younger siblings (with parental supervision).
  • Use the HomeFront in the car with preschoolers, while waiting in the elementary carpool line.
  • Moms, use the HomeFront with preschooler during the day, and Dads use the HomeFront with the elementary kids at night (or vice versa).

God’s plan is for parents to be the primary spiritual nurturers of their children’s faith.  The HomeFront is designed to encourage and equip parents to do this by pre-teaching the upcoming lesson.  Get creative, as you make this work for you family, however it may look!

By Patti Fenton, Family Life Pastor at The Beacon, Orange, California, and Tru Coach/Ministry Partner Developer

Talking to your child about human trafficking

I was searching the internet for resources on how to begin a dialogue with our children about human trafficking, and found an article that I thought might help with your discussion.  It has some pretty good thoughts on what to say, and what not to say. Ultimately you know your child best, and you need to do what is best for them.  My daughter is 9 and has a lot of anxieties, and this will be a subject to talk about in little doses, over a long period of time.  If we shared everything all at once, it might completely freak her out.

You should know that our team prays frequently for you.  If there is any way we can help you with this please let us know.  Here is the link to the article, it is a PDF.


UncategorizedShelley Brooks
I Am A Parent

I was talking with a co-worker this week about some of my anxieties related to one day seeing the fruits of my parenting.  I know myself pretty well -- if my children grow up making poor decisions, I know I will analyze the past to see what I could have done differently.  I might wish I would have locked them in the closet while my back was strong enough to do it.  But if they understand who they are in Jesus, if they live out the gospel…I am pretty sure I will boast, I might even look for a way to rub it in my brother’s face (I still enjoy “friendly” competition with my brother). Anyhow, I think about parenting a lot.  I have seen God time and time again use my mistakes to impact His Kingdom.  One thing that is great about mistakes is it means that at least I am in the game.  All I had to do was take the first step.  I found the following article on the Tru Community website and thought that you might like it.  It reflects a lot of the way that I feel.


Written by Courtney Wilson

I am a parent.

My heart is on display every day as my kids live their lives.  My hopes, my dreams, are for them, not so much for me anymore.

I want more for them than I have the knowledge to give them.

My parents didn’t show me how to raise a child to love Jesus, but just the fact that I let them walk into your church means I hope they will love Jesus someday.

It’s hard to let them go.  (Except some days it’s easy.)

I feel guilty about a lot of things – the words I say or yell at them, the time I spend with my phone or at work instead of with them, the food that may not be the healthiest, and that some days it’s easy to let them go.

I have a doctor to consult about their bodies.

I have teachers to consult about their minds.

But the soul?  I don’t know where to turn.

I’m hoping you can help me, but I’m supposed to know how to do this, right?

And we play soccer and baseball and swim to keep their bodies in shape, and we have school and homework for their minds -

But that leaves little time for their souls.

But if you teach me, I can do it.

God ordained it, so I must be capable of it.

I can tell stories – just tell me to shift the focus to God.

I desire my kids to have a strong identity – but I might need help with the words to use.

I bring them to your faith community – help us feel like we belong, and we will do the same for others.

I want my kids to serve – but fear grips me that they might be hurt or lost or fail, so give me ideas to get me started.  And serving takes time, so help me see that it’s worth my time.

I don’t want them to be uncomfortable – please help me see that getting out of our comfort zone is when the Holy Spirit does good soul work.

I do want them to be responsible – but that means I have to let go a little, and growing up and growing old is hard.  And they might fail – or they might not.  Help me to see the joy in my kids taking responsibility for their world.

I have read every parenting and discipline book out there – I have baby whispered myself hoarse and offered choices all day long, but I need to see that there is a long term corrected course if I can stick to it.

I want love and respect to be mutual in our home – but sometimes I forget to stop and listen, and sometimes they forget to stop and listen.

I don’t know if I am known by God – so how do I teach my kids about knowing God, and I’m confused about truth, so how do they know truth?

I’m trying my best to be a model for my kids – but I don’t always get to blissfully read my Bible and pray, so I need to know how to make that a priority and how to creatively model a relationship with God.

Please don’t get frustrated with me, but invite me to dream of more from my parenting.  Tell me why this is important, and I will make it important.

I trust you with my most precious possession every week.

Help me.

I am a parent.