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Tween-Friendly Christmas Activities

Remember the days when your little girl wore footie pajamas and pigtails? As our daughters grow older, they may no longer listen for reindeer on the roof, but they still value Christmas traditions and quality family time. Here are some ideas for making this Christmas season special for your growing tween.

 

Cake for breakfast—Girls love to bake! Invite your daughter to bake and decorate a birthday cake for Jesus. Then serve it for breakfast on Christmas morning!

 

Secret St. Nick—Give your tween a small budget for “secret” giving. Take her shopping and encourage her to pick out little gifts and goodies for neighbors or friends at school, then help her deliver them anonymously. Watch as she learns the joy of selfless giving!

 

Outdoor sports—Go ice skating, skiing, or sledding as a family. If you live in a warmer climate, go hiking or swimming over Christmas break. These simple family outings are often a child’s favorite memories over the years.

 

Crafty Christmas—Have fun searching Pinterest together for tween-friendly crafts such as these wooden stick snowflakes or no-sew holiday throw pillows. If you’re truly ambitious, consider selling your creations and giving the money to a ministry or charity of your daughter’s choice.

 

Decorate!—Buy colorful lights and string them around your daughter’s bedroom or homework area. Take her shopping at a home goods store to choose a few fun winter décor pieces she can add to the household decorations. This will encourage her love of design and give her a sense of ownership in your home.

 

Lights, camera, action—Encourage your daughter to create a Happy New Year video where she can highlight blessings from the past year, say thank you for the gifts she received, and share her goals for the coming year. Then send the video to friends and family as a special greeting from your tween.

 

However you choose to spend this holiday season, be sure to thank God for the gift of a growing daughter. Each day she is one step closer to becoming the woman God designed her to be!

Favorite Family Christmas Movies

You’ve watched It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas… but have you seen these lesser-known Christmas films? For parents seeking family-friendly flicks this holiday season, here’s a short list of recommendations from your friends at Faithgirlz.

 

The Nativity Story—A must-see for Christian families this time of year, The Nativity Story is an accurate telling of the Bible’s account of Mary, Joseph, and the birth of the Christ child. Parents beware, young children might be frightened by the opening scene involving a raid by Roman soldiers, so use your discretion; yet be encouraged, there is no vulgar language or violence to filter. This beautiful film is an emotional and thought-provoking depiction of life in Bethlehem during the time of our Savior’s birth.

 

The Christmas Candle—Based on the book by Max Lucado, this story is set in the sleepy English town of Gladbury at the turn of the century, where townsfolk place all their faith in a “magic” Christmas candle. When a young minister arrives to challenge the town’s superstitions, he is forced to face his own shortcomings as together the people of Gladbury discover the true meaning of faith and Christmas miracles.

 

Saving Christmas—Starring Kirk Cameron, this family comedy aims to tackle the commercialization of Christmas by refocusing our hearts on what really matters most—faith, hope, and love.

 

The Christmas Shoes—Inspired by the popular song of the same title, this movie tells the story of a little boy wishing to buy a special pair of shoes for his dying mother. When the boy crosses paths with a workaholic lawyer (played by Rob Lowe), both characters discover the true meaning of life, love, and the holiday season.

 

Beauty and the Beet—Veggie Tales has quite a collection of Christmas movies to choose from, but here’s one you might not have thought of. Starring country music singer Kellie Pickler, Beauty and the Beet is not a Christmas tale per se, yet the story is set in snowy winter and features a theme of love and acceptance—which are certainly two starring characteristics of Jesus himself.

 

The Star—New in theaters this season, The Star is an animated depiction of the nativity story told from the point of view of the animals! It’s getting fantastic reviews from sacred and secular film critics alike. Take a break from all your Christmas preparations and head to the theater for this fun and biblically sound movie the whole family will enjoy.

Keeping Christ at the Center of Christmas

 

As Christians, we know Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season. Yet it can be easy to lose sight of that fact when we’re bogged down with the usual tasks this season brings. There’s nothing wrong with shopping, baking, and addressing Christmas cards. Those activities can bring joy to our families and others. But when those tasks start to take center stage in our Christmas preparations, it’s time to recalibrate.

 

Here are some simple ways to keep Jesus at the center of your family’s Christmas celebrations this year.

 

1. Pray! Make good use of all those Christmas cards you’re getting in the mail by praying for each of the families who send you good cheer. Pray together at dinner time that God would bless their health and bring them prosperity in the coming year.

 

2. Not just to the people on your shopping list, but how about identifying a family in your school or church who needs some extra care this holiday season. Make a plan to deliver a meal, a gift card or other blessings.
3. There are lots of ways to keep your heart focused on Jesus even as you go about your Christmas preparations. Play worship music or Christ-centered Christmas songs as you wrap gifts and bake cookies. Go for a drive to admire the beauty of snow or the sunset; thank God for His creation. And for every gift you receive, thank not just the giver but God, too, because He is the giver of all good things.

 

4. Focus on Scripture. As a family, read the story of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2:1–20. Challenge older kids to memorize Mary’s Song, Luke 1:46–55. Choose a Friday night to pop popcorn and watch a nativity film together to reinforce the truth of Scripture.

 

5. Play with your décor. Set up a nativity scene and place the wise men across the room. Leave Jesus out of the display for now; wrap him in a gift box and place him under the tree. Each day, move the wise men closer to the scene. On Christmas morning, have the kids open the Jesus figure and set him in his rightful place within the manger. This is a reminder that Jesus is our greatest gift!
6. Call it what it is. Rather than referring to the holiday only as “Christmas,” try calling it “Jesus’ birthday.” Create a chain of paper rings to count down toward the big day, and each morning ask the kids, “How many days until Jesus’ birthday?”

 

7. Let them eat cake! Every birthday needs a birthday party—with cake and ice cream! Bake (or buy) a “Happy Birthday, Jesus” cake and let the kids eat it for breakfast on Christmas morning. They just might look forward to that as much as the presents. And that would be a victory for Jesus indeed!

DIY Advent Wreath

Advent is the special time of year when we prepare our hearts for the birth of Jesus. One special way to symbolize this event is with an Advent candle wreath. Each Sunday of Advent, light one of the candles and say a prayer of thanks to God for sending His son to live on Earth and die in our place. You could also choose to read a passage from Scripture or complete your weekly devotional from Faithgirlz Advent Devotional.

Here is a simple step-by-step project to make your own Advent wreath. This is a fun and meaningful activity to do with your children, which will inspire them to focus on the true reason for the season.

 

What you’ll need:

  • Candle platform: This can be anything from a pie plate to a piece of wood to an old picture frame. It just needs to fit five candles and surrounding greenery.
  • Four candles: Traditionally the first candle is blue, although feel free to get creative! Choose any size candles you like; for this wreath, stand-alone candles are best (vs. tall tapers that need individual holders). Just keep in mind they need to last 28 days, so tea lights may not be the best option.
  • Greenery: A traditional wreath is made of evergreen needles, but you can choose artificial flower/greens, pine cones, even ribbon or Christmas ornaments. Make it your own!

 

 

How to assemble:

  1. Place the candles on your candle platform.
  2. Arrange the greenery around the candles.
  3. Display in a (safe) prominent place in your home.

 

How to enjoy:

Starting on the fourth Sunday before Christmas (Dec. 3 this year), light one candle every week. Invite your children to ask questions, share prayer requests, or name their blessings so that each lighting becomes a special time of reflection, gratitude and joy for your family.

 

Faithgirlz Christmas Gift Guide for Tween Girls

It’s that time of year again! Kids love getting gifts at Christmas, and as parents we’re blessed to give. Why not fill their boxes and stockings with gifts that will not only entertain, but also encourage their faith? Here are some of Faithgirlz’ hottest books and other gift ideas for the tween girls in your life.

Bibles and Bible Tools

 

Faithgirlz Bible—The Faithgirlz Bible (NIV) contains special features designed specifically to capture the heart of girls 9–12 years old, such as quizzes, relatable commentary, highlighted memory verses and much more. Girls will enjoy the shiny cover design, bright pink and purple text, plus several pages spelling out God’s promises and perspectives in the back of the book. There’s even space for girls to write their own notes!

 

 

 

Faithgirlz Backpack Bible—The NIV Faithgirlz Backpack Bible, Compact, Imitation Leather, is just the right size for girls ages 8 to 12 years to grab and go with its small, portable size that will fit in almost any backpack or bag. This Bible shows tween girls that the Bible is real, relevant, and best of all, that the story of God and His people is also their story.

 

 

101 Verses That Stick—Tweens love sticky notes. Put that obsession to good use with this pack of 101 Bible verses written on post-it notes, perfect for sticking to a mirror, locker, desk or other favorite spot. Comes with a magnetic pad!

 

Devotionals

 

 

Glimmer & Shine—Written by Natalie Grant, his daily devotional will challenge and inspire girls ages 8 and up to be their very best selves. Includes 365 devotions, prayers, and interactive weekend pages with quizzes, coloring pages and more.

 

 

 

 

Brave Beauty—As girls grow into young women, they’re likely to have questions, anxieties and fears. This special devotional by Proverbs 31 author and speaker Lynn Cowell offers 100 courage-building moments for tweens ages 8 to 12 to reflect on Scripture and find confidence in God above all else.

 

 

 

 

Promises For You—This beautiful coloring devotional features 60 original works of line art for girls to color as they reflect on Bible verses proclaiming God’s promises. Each coloring and journal page is printed on high-quality, thick stock paper that can withstand markers, pencils or pens.

 

 

 

Fiction Books

 

 

Lena in the Spotlight—Co-written by War Room star and tween blogger Alena Pitts, along with her author mom Wynter Pitts, this new Faithgirlz book series reflects Alena’s own experiences as she reaches for the stars while still making her faith the number one priority.

 

 

 

Glimmer Girls—This four-book series by Christian recording artist (and mom) Natalie Grant follows the adventures of Mia
and Maddie, 10-year-old twin sisters who travel the globe with their famous singer mom. What mishaps will they get into next? There’s always a great lesson learned in the end.

 

 

 

The Lucy Series—Lucy is a feisty tomboy with a tragic history. She questions everything, especially God. This series by Nancy Rue helps girls work through their big questions as Lucy’s wise housekeeper teaches her about God’s love and perfect plan for her life.

 

 

 

The Good News Shoes—Riley Mae Hart is the spokesgirl for Swiftriver Shoe Company, a job that sends her on some crazy adventures where she learns tough lessons about what it means to be a godly young woman. Written by Jill Osborne, this fun three-book series is sure to please readers who love a good page-turner and a happy ending.

 

Faithgirlz - Off the Record - Samantha Sanderson

 

 

Samantha Sanderson—Meet Samantha, an ordinary girl with extraordinary dreams. In this four-book series by Robin Caroll, Samantha and her friends fight crimes drawn straight from today’s headlines, from bomb threats to bullying, all while navigating the rocky terrain of middle school.


 

 

The Sophie Series—Meet Sophie LaCroix, a creative thinker with big dreams to become a famous film director one day. Her wild imagination often lands her in a pickle—but her faith and her friends always come to the rescue. Written by Nancy Rue, each title in this series offers two books in one!

 

 

How-To Activity Books

 

 

101 Ways to Have Fun—Never hear the words “I’m bored” again. This book is filled with activities tweens can do alone or with friends, anytime!

 

 

 

 

Best Hair Book Ever—Created by the editors of Faithgirlz and Girls Life magazine, this full-color book is filled with pictures and instructions for fun, lovely and funky hairstyles that all tween girls will enjoy.

 

 

 

101 Things Every Girl Should Know—Give the gift of expert advice on a wide range of topics of interest to tween girls, such as changing a bike tire to talking to a teacher about a bad grade. What do you do when you’re at a party and you don’t know anyone? What’s the formal way to set a table (and why does it matter)? This random collection of problem-solving strategies helps with everyday stuff, big and small. With tips, advice, and lots of humor, this is a book every girl needs.

 

 

Redo Your Room

 

 

Re-do Your Room: 50 Bedroom DIYs You Can Do in a Weekend—Empower your daughter to express her style with this wonderful collection of simple bedroom décor ideas that she can do all by herself (or as a fun family project with you)!

 

 

Bible Bags and Carriers

 

 

When your tween receives these wonderful Faithgirlz gifts, she’ll need someplace to keep them. Choose a special book bag from our collection of Faithgirlz carriers and messenger bags. She’ll love them all!

 

 

 

From all of us at Faithgirlz, happy shopping—and thank you for keeping Christ in your family Christmas celebrations!

 

Old Fashioned Fall Family Fun

Too much technology in your house these days? Take a cue from your grandma and enjoy some old-fashioned, tech-free family activities this fall. Here are some classic ideas.

 

Canning—Gather up the last of the farm market’s tomatoes and make a big batch of salsa or spaghetti sauce to enjoy all year round.

 

Corn maze—Get lost in nature, not your iPod. Many local farms host corn mazes, hay rides and campfires this time of year. They’re a great opportunity for fresh air and family bonding.

 

Bird feeders—The simplest way to attract fall and winter birds is to feed them good old peanut butter on a pine cone! Gather pine cones from any nearby pine trees and slather them with peanut butter. Roll in birdseed for an added crunch, and store in the freezer. Set the pine cones outside and watch the birds fly in for a snack.

 

Make a scarecrow—Looking for a fun fall decoration to place in your yard? Stuff a bunch of hay into Dad’s old pants and a flannel shirt (or buy overalls at a thrift store for cheap). Use an empty milk jug for the head, covered with old tights or pantyhose. Let the kids paint on the face, then tie your new scarecrow friend to the front porch lamp post!

 

Fall hiking—Choose a state park nearby and gather the family for a hike. Walking through the woods at peak season is a wonderful opportunity to witness God’s amazing artistry!

 

Pumpkin goodies—Yes, you can buy a can of Libby’s in the store. But making your own fresh pureed pumpkin is much easier than you might think—and it tastes delicious! Just cut a pumpkin in half and discard the pulp. (Save the seeds for roasting later!) Place both halves flesh side down on a shallow roasting pan and cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for about 90 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft. Allow it to cool, then puree in a food processor. Keep your fresh pumpkin refrigerated in an air-tight container to use in all your favorite pumpkin recipes!

Does She Know She’s Chosen?

(This post is a guest contribution from Elisa Puliam, a member of our FaithMomz network.)

Have you struggled with feeling like you’re not good enough? Maybe that you’ll always be the one that doesn’t quite fit in? Can you think back to when that feeling first became a thought that ultimately shaped a core belief about yourself? Was it critical word spoken by a parent or coach or someone you looked up to? Or maybe it was a result of being the last one picked for the team in gym class . . . for the umpteenth time?

 

While there are so many reasons why you might feel like you’re not good enough, there are a hundred more reasons why your daughter may be struggling with those emotions today.

 

Why so much more? Because as soon as your daughter has access to social media, she begins the arduous journey of carrying in her soul this thing called “feedback” and “likes” and “followers” and the power of the mighty SnapChat “streak.”

 

When we were her age, we boarded the bus home and left our peer influences behind. We had a break — a detox time to breathe and not worry about our worth. To not think about being judged. To not fret about our appearance. To not worry about our friend count. To not think about the possibility of being left out. And yet, didn’t we struggle with our identity and sense of worth?

 

Our girls live in a different world, where every social activity is documented. Where every moment is recorded publicly. Where every image is rated. And to top it all off, we’ve become addicted to this kind of information, thanks to the dopamine loop.

 

Raising girls to know the Truth of God’s Word and their identity in Christ in the face of so much social input is no easy feat.

 

While I was able to hold social media at bay for my older girls, allowing access to one platform at a time through their early high school years, a majority of my twelve year old’s peers are already on SnapChat — the one social media app that I believe is the most dangerous because of the built in autonomy. But because this is not my first rodeo with a tweenage daughter, I know that keeping a hard and fast policy of no social media before ninth grade would be like sentencing her to social death through isolation. Yes, it’s a reality, as much as I balk at it. So we’ve given her access to it, but with tremendous limits on and frequent check-in-on-the-heart conversations. We’re striving for balance between protection and prudence, wisdom and independence, responsibility and accountability.

 

While navigating the murky waters of social media with our girls, we’ve got to be equally vigilant to look for organic and authentic ways to convey truth to their souls and affirm their identity in Christ.

 

That’s going to look different for each of us. The way we connect with our girls doesn’t fit a mold because our personalities and relational style come into play. But we can share a common mission of seeking precious moments to drop “truth statements” deep into their hearts and minds. I think of this as a kind of Deuteronomy 6:5 mentoring. For example, while I’m driving my daughter up to the farm for her riding lesson, I gently encourage her to remember that she is already approved by God and to not become pre-occupied with everyone else’s opinions. On the way home, I ask her questions to pinpoint where she struggled and excelled, wondering how she’s doing in allowing God’s power to work in her weakness. When we scroll through her SnapChat feed, I ask questions and, Lord willing, I respond with truth and grace, as we deal with the hurt from not being invited to a “snapped-revealed” party. As we snuggle down to watch her favorite show, I whisper into her ear that she’s chosen, holy, and dearly loved by the God of Universe and by me and her daddy — a truth I know she’ll need to hear again and again.

 

My goal is to keep as connected to her heart as possible through doing life alongside her so that I can seize every opportunity to bring the Truth of God’s Word to the forefront of her mind. Is this your mission too? And so it is my prayer — and maybe will become yours as well — that when our girls hear the voice of Truth from us, it will make them crave more of the Word and leading of the Holy Spirit for themselves as they mature into owning their faith and believing their identity in Christ is secure.

 

We won’t always be around to remind our girls that they are indeed chosen, holy, and dearly loved, but we can prepare them to hear God’s still small voice deep within their soul.


Be sure to check out Elisa’s workbook, Seven Strategies for Navigating Screens and Social Media with Tweens and Teens

Back to School Bible Studies

Ah, the smell of crisp notebooks and newly sharpened pencils! Back-to-school brings a feeling of fresh starts, which makes it the perfect time to kick off a Bible study for your kids. But how? Here are a few ideas.

 

Family Bible Time—Set aside one evening a week for the entire family to do “Bible Time” together. Choose a devotional such as Real Girls of the Bible or a video series like JellyTelly’s Bible Notes with Cliff, or just read straight from the Faithgirlz Bible. Get the kids involved by inviting them to read aloud and asking them some probing questions. Invite them to choose a special snack or dessert to enjoy each week while you explore God’s Word together.

 

Small Group Fun—Invite another family or friends from the neighborhood to join you in a biweekly Bible study. This can be a great way to build relationships and gain new perspectives on God’s Word. Or, if you’re already part of an adult small group, consider inviting the kids along to host their own mini study. Teens and tweens can create lessons for the younger kids, which gives children of all ages an opportunity to dive into the Bible together.

 

Personal Reflection—Tweens are old enough to begin taking responsibility for their own personal Bible time. Arm your daughter with a Faithgirlz devotional journal and encourage her to set aside 20-30 minutes before school or bedtime to study the Word on her own. Check in from time to time and ask her what she’s learning. Invite her to ask you questions as well and to share what’s on her heart. Consider going through the same devotional in your own personal Bible time and meeting once a week to compare notes. This can strengthen your relationship with God and one another.

 

However you choose to make Bible study a part of your family life, be sure to check out the wealth of resources available in our Faithgirlz shop. We’re here to equip parents and daughters to grow in their faith together!

Preparing Your Child’s Heart for Back to School

Summer is fun but school can be, too. This time of year we need to help our kids transition from flip flops and popsicles to textbooks and alarm clocks. That process goes beyond just shopping for school supplies. It’s important to prepare their hearts, too.

 

Here are three ways to encourage your children as they get ready to go back to school.

 

  1. Pray. Each evening as a family, pray for your child’s teachers and classmates. Pray that the teachers would find the time and energy they need to prepare their curriculum and class materials. Pray that they would be filled with wisdom and compassion for their students and that God would bless their calling. Pray also for your child to be surrounded by kind and loving friends, and that she would have the courage to live out her faith this school year.
  2. Create a schedule. Work with your daughter to devise a reasonable schedule that includes time for personal Bible reading and devotions amid all those homework projects and extracurriculars. Encourage her to be intentional about carving out time for family and rest as well, “for God gives rest to his loved ones” (Psalm 127:2b, NLT).
  3. Go on a practice run. If you’ve got to go back to school, you might as well make it a party. Pick a morning the week school resumes and invite friends to join you on a test run. Set the alarms, get dressed and ready, then meet in the school parking lot for donuts. It’s a great opportunity to get excited about the year ahead!

 

Regardless of how you prepare, be sure to remind your daughter why school is part of God’s plan for her life. Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man,” she can do it, too.

Thank You, Parents!

You are the nurses, the teachers, the chefs and the chauffeurs. You cheer at games, help with math, fix afternoon snacks and hug away every tear. You are the face of Jesus to the people in your home.

 

You’re parents.

 

And God says that’s a crucial job.

 

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6–7, emphasis added).

 

July 23 is National Parents Day, a chance to say thanks to the moms and dads who are this very moment raising up the next generation of responsible citizens. As Christians we know our children don’t belong to us; they belong to God. So we raise them not just for the world but for God’s kingdom, which is eternal.

 

Do you know what that means? Your role, Mom and Dad, is more than just important. It has lasting value of mind-blowing proportions.

 

From all of us at Faithgirlz, thank you for investing your love, time, energy and prayers in today’s precious children. They are tomorrow’s leaders, tomorrow’s parents, propelling the cycle God began ages ago for His glory—and they need all the wisdom you can give. God bless you!

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