How to Buy the Best Birthday Gift

How to Buy the Best Birthday Gift

Buying gifts for people can be hard work.  Pressure to find a gift that the recipient will like and can use can take the fun out of the whole gift-giving occasion for me. If gift-buying is as difficult for you as it is for me, you’re in the right place.  I’m going to give you some tips for buying gifts that I recently learned from a very special person.

On February 18th, I celebrated my sixtieth birthday.  I wasn’t expecting any gifts, but I have a six-year-old granddaughter who was not about to let my 60th birthday pass without giving me a special present.  Her gift for me was a yard of rainbow print fleece fabric.  She and her brother were very excited to celebrate with us!

My practical nature is an asset most of the time, but not so much when buying gifts.  I have a tendency to try to find a gift that the recipient needs.  For me, the process involves finding a gift that can be useful and avoiding gifts that are frivolous.

It turns out that my granddaughter Aaliyah, at the age of six, has a better way to choose birthday gifts for the people she loves.  Here’s her gift-buying technique:

  1. Spend time with people.  Get to know them.  Observe their environment to see what they like.  Aaliyah has done all of these things with me, and she knows that I like fabric.  I like fabric a lot!  I have a lot of fabric because I like it so much. Most people would be aware that I do not need any more fabric.  Not one more yard.  But not Aaliyah.
2. Make a decision to buy a gift that the recipient will like.  Do not concern yourself with whether or not the gift is practical or whether it is needed.  Just be sure that the gift will be loved and appreciated!

3. Have fun while shopping for the gift.  We all enjoyed hearing about Aaliyah’s fabric shopping adventure.  Apparently, she had a difficult time choosing between the rainbow fleece and the Shopkins fleece.  She chose well.  It was fun hearng about her dad’s impatience at the cutting counter at Walmart, too.

There you have it!  A sure fire method for choosing the perfect gift.  This is a lesson that I plan to take to heart.


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My Christmas Wish to You


I’ve started more Christmas blog posts than I can count in the past week, but none of them felt right.

My heart has been heavy at times this month because of all the evil that is evident in our world.  My heart is also filled with joy because Jesus came into our dark and violent world with the remedy for my sin.  I have a Christmas pin with these words:  Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

The truth is that we are the reason for the season.  He came for you and me.

You see, I’ve done some things I shouldn’t have done.  I stole a pair of earrings once.  I’ve told more than my share of lies.  I’ve harbored hate for another person in my heart (which Jesus says is the same as committing murder).  I’ve dishonored my parents and loved other things more than I’ve loved God.  I’ve broken all of God’s commandments

Some people think that God should just allow everyone into heaven.  But God is just and good.  Would a just and good God turn a blind eye to those who shoot and kill innocent children?  NO!  Would He welcome those into His heaven who cheat, steal, and kill?  NO!  A good judge punishes the wicked, and God is a perfect judge.

Because of my guilt, I knew that when I stood before God on judgment day, I would be declared guilty.  I would go to hell.  But the story doesn’t end there.  God doesn’t want me to go to hell.  That is why He sent His Son as a baby on that first Christmas Day.  God sent Jesus to pay my fine.  Jesus was born to die on the cross, born to rise from the grave, born to save me from judgment and hell.

Because I believe in Jesus and accept the sacrifice He made on my behalf, God has declared me not guilty.  What a Christmas gift for me!  The same gift is available to each of you.

Merry Christmas, my friends!  Merry CHRISTmas!

Digital photo from digitalart at
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Operation Christmas Child: An Opportunity to Give

What could be better than giving the one gift this Christmas that would bring a smile to child’s face?  In our land of plenty, it’s a joy to know that many children are not just satisfied but elated over one small shoe box filled with small gifts.

Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse has been sending out shoe boxes packed with gifts to children all over the world since 1993.

If you’ve never been a part of this amazing opportunity, I encourage you to head over the the Samaritan’s Purse website and read all about it.  The packers  (people like you and me) choose whether they will pack a box for a boy or a girl and what age child will receive their box.  This is a great project for children, especially now that Samaritan’s Purse makes it possible for packers to trace their boxes all around the world.

We’ve been packing shoe boxes at our house for quite a few years.  When Justine was here with us, she enjoyed helping to choose gifts for the recipients of our boxes.  We’ve packed boxes for boys and girls,  and we’ve chosen different age groups different years.

Some of our favorite items to include are crayons, pencils, stuffed animals, toothbrush and toothpaste, soap and a washcloth.  The website has lots of suggestions and a list of items that are not permitted, too.  I saw lots of great ideas for shoe box gifts on Pinterest, too.

The boxes are collected at churches and other locations during the middle week of November, and that is why I’m blogging about this now.  It’s not too soon to decide to pack a box, choose the gender and age of the recipient, and start shopping!  Samaritan’s Purse also asks for $7 to be included in each shoe box to help cover the cost of shipping the boxes worldwide.

Have you ever packed a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child?  If so, what are some of your favorite items to include?  If you haven’t ever packed a shoe box, then what are you waiting for?



A Valentine’s Day Challenge


Jack and I are in love!  In spite of that, we don’t make a big deal about Valentine’s Day.  I think it’s great if couples enjoy celebrating Valentine’s Day, but a loving relationship is so much more than flowers and candy once or twice a year.

If I could give married couples just one word of advice that would improve their relationship, I would share with them this one thing that I have tried to practice in my own marriage.  It’s seems like such a simple thing, but it’s not easy.  This Valentine’s Day, I’m challenging all of you who read this to put into practice this bit of advice in all of your relationships, especially your marriage.

What is this one thing?  Speak with a kind tone of voice.

I’ll admit to you, that this is difficult for me.  I am the queen of sarcasm, and I can almost always think of a witty, and often caustic, remark suitable for most any occasion. But in the interest of my marriage relationship, I’ve had to curb this tendency to hurl sarcastic, demeaning words at Grandpa.  While this advice is great for marriages, the same is true for all relationships.  I know there are times when I have hurt others with my words.  I’ve sacrificed someone else’s feelings for a laugh or to satisfy my own sense of superiority.

A wise fellow teacher told me once that sarcasm slays respect.  And he was certainly right about that!  God tells us in His Word, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Prov. 15:1 NLT)

We can say sooo much with the tone of our voice.  Consider this scenario:  Your spouse or your child calls to you from another room.  When you answer with the words, “What do you want?”, we can, with our tone of voice, say to that person, “I love you, and I’m here for you” or “You are a nuisance and a bother to me” or “Whatever you want can’t possibly be as important as what I am doing right now.”

My challenge to you for this Valentine’s Day is not to buy your loved one flowers or candy or even to cook him or her a special meal.  My challenge to you is to purpose to give the gift of respect and affirmation by speaking to those you love with a kind and gentle tone of voice.

I wrote last week about having a cozy home, and, honestly, no home will ever feel cozy and welcoming if the people who live there don’t speak to each other in a loving and respectful way with our words and with our tone.

Will you take the challenge?  If so, let me know what a difference it makes in your marriage and other relationships.  It WILL make a difference!

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