More Than Baking Cookies
About the Guest
There's more to the holidays than just baking cookies and shopping. Barbara Rainey, founder of Ever Thine Home®, and co-worker Tracy Lane share new resources that point to the real meaning of Christmas. Lane, a mother of two, tells how her kids love decorating the tree, and how the new Ever Thine Home ornaments give her children a hands-on way of understanding who Jesus really is.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
Tracy LaneTracy Lane--wife to Matt, mom of 3, writer at FamilyLife --is trying to juggle the dream. She enjoys cheering on her husband's baseball team and encouraging others with the truth of the gospel. With Tracy you get what you see: a mom who carries the weight of caring for a chronically ill daughter, but is also doing her best to teach her family how to make the most of every day we are given for God's glory. Follow her motherhood journey online at Hea...more
There’s more to the holidays than just baking cookies and shopping. Barbara Rainey and co-worker, Tracy Lane, share new resources that point to the real meaning of Christmas.
More Than Baking Cookies
Bob: There are a lot of big ideas about who God is—about Jesus as His only Son—big ideas that emerge during the Christmas season. The question is: “How can we help our children understand some of these big ideas?” Here’s Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: I think sometimes we underestimate what kids can grasp. I think we tend to think that these big theological concepts are too big for children, and I don’t think they are.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, November 27th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. How can we, as parents, take full advantage of the Christmas season to help our children understand Jesus better? We’ll explore that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. So, I’m still trying to figure out “Which is the day for the best deals?”—I mean, is it Black Friday?—is it Cyber Monday?—is it going to happen a week from now? You know, it’s a little maddening. I did not get up—
Dennis: It’s December 26th—what do you mean? What’s—[Laughter]—“When is the best deal?”
Bob: That’s a good point. That’ll kind of make Christmas a little anticlimactic this year.
Dennis: Just put a note in a package for Mary Ann that says, “Sweetheart, I’m giving your gift—
Bob: “We’ll go shopping tomorrow.”
Dennis: —“after Christmas.” [Laughter]
Bob: I don’t think—I do not think that would go over well. In fact, let me tell you about what didn’t go over well; okay? I decided that what I really needed last year was an upgraded iPad®. So, what I decided was—I would—
Dennis: Now, wait—this is Christmas.
Bob: I know; I know.
Dennis: This is a time of gift-giving. So, you’ve included yourself on the list?
Bob: I decided I would gift to my wife my iPad.
Dennis: Oh, the used one!
Bob: Right; because—
Bob: —mine was a better one than the one she had. So, she was going to get an upgrade, and I was going to get an upgrade.
Tracy: Right; not as good as the one you were getting.
Bob: By the way, this is Tracy Lane, who is joining us on FamilyLife Today.
Dennis: And Barbara—Barbara, my wife, as well.
Bob: And Barbara’s here as well.
Barbara: We’re eagerly anticipating the end of this story.
Dennis: —and already beginning to feel what Mary Ann felt—I promise you!
Barbara: I can’t wait to hear. [Laughter]
Bob: I decided that I would take my old iPad; and I would clean it off / get it all ready for her. I would sync it up with her old data so that, when she opened it, it was ready to go; and I would put it in my new iPad box.
Tracy: Oh, that is bad! [Laughter]
Bob: I wanted it to feel new, because it was new for her—it was just a used new iPad. Then, the one I got was—
Dennis: Was it identifiable, Bob? Did it have scratches on it?
Bob: Here is the point—it did not go well when all the truth came out.
Dennis: Was the screen broken?—tell the truth!
Bob: No, the screen was fine. [Laughter] And she’s thrilled with the iPad. It was just the knowledge that she was getting the hand-me-down that did not make it the sweetest Christmas gift that I’ve ever given her.
Dennis: Was that the main gift for her that year?
Bob: Well, it’s an iPad—it’s a nice gift! Yes; it was the main gift.
Dennis: Bob, you help on FamilyLife Today. [Laughter] You’ve interviewed experts around the world on these things.
Bob: I was trying to be cost-efficient like—
—you know, we’ve had people talk about—
Bob: —how it’s good to manage your money. I was trying to be—[Laughter]
Barbara: Did I hear “cheap” come out of your mouth?
Bob: I didn’t say that.
Barbara: Yes. [Laughter]
Bob: Yes; I was—
Dennis: Yes; that’s not the application I was thinking of, Bob.
Bob: —I was mistaken in what I did.
Dennis: As you were telling the story, I reflected back to something my mom did that I was a part of spoiling when I was a boy. Our house was a small house / a tiny house. It had a basement where we lived; and then, it had an upstairs that my brother claimed as his own. There was a closet right in the front door, and my mom hid a vacuum cleaner in the closet that was gifted to her—she was gifting herself.
Bob: Like I did with the iPad.
Dennis: Kind of like you did with the iPad—to herself—and I stumbled on it and found it; and she said: “You’ve got to keep this a secret. Son, I’m giving this to myself from your dad.”
Bob: How old were you?
Dennis: You know, I don’t know. And she’s no longer alive to tell the truth about this. [Laughter] So, I’m going to say probably four—
Bob: Okay; alright.
Dennis: —just a naïve kid.
Bob: Still young and innocent.
Dennis: Yes; so I heard my mom. Then, I don’t know how I spilled the beans; but I told Dad—I said, “Dad, there’s a vacuum cleaner in the front hall closet that Mom’s going to give to you on Christmas morning.” [Laughter] I’m ashamed to tell you—that became kind of a family folklore.
Bob: Yes; well, a four-year-old keeping a secret—that’s a pretty good trick to pull off for anybody.
Barbara: Yes; that’s a tall order.
Dennis: Yes, it really was; but what we’re talking about here is Christmas being a time of gift-giving, celebration, and of really focusing in on Jesus Christ and what He came to do on the planet. What Barbara and Tracy have done is—they’re here to help moms and dads. Now, a lot of people think this is just for moms—it’s not. Dads need ways to connect with their children’s hearts around these holidays with meaningful resources to point their kids to the real meaning of Christmas.
Barbara: And I think that’s what we all want. I think there is a universal perception / a universal understanding—even among people, who are not believers—that Christmas has gotten away from its original meaning. The meaning is all about Christ—we celebrate Christmas to celebrate Him—we put up a Christmas tree / we buy gifts—in honor of Him. We do all of these things because we know that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. We know that He has made a difference in our lives, and we celebrate as a way to make much of Him in our lives and in our homes.
I think having something available that helps you connect with your kids—having something that you can talk to them about or ornaments that you can put on your tree that are about Jesus—helps moms and dads do what they know they want to do / what they desire to do—but don’t know how to do without some help. The ornaments that we’ve been creating for the last five or six years, with Ever Thine Home®,are designed for that very purpose—
—to make your tree proclaim Jesus Christ—but also to give you ways to interact—as a mom or a dad / a mom and a dad, actually—
Barbara: —with your kids around Christmas so that your Christmas is focused on Jesus.
Dennis: Tracy, you have a young family.
Tracy: Yes; we have two daughters—five and three are their ages.
Dennis: It can be a frustrating time if you don’t have a plan; right?
Tracy: Right; because as you are talking, Barbara, I’m thinking, “That’s what we want to do.” Then, I forget; because someone is crying, and someone needs milk, and someone’s lunch needs packing; and I have to get them to a sitter so I can get to work—and all of these other things that do need my attention, that are good things, come into play—I mean, I have to feed my family dinner. “When am I supposed to be telling them about Christmas?”
Tracy: So, I love this; because it’s something that we are already going to be doing—of course, we’re going to have a Christmas tree; of course, we’re going to have a Christmas party; we’re going to have some celebrations around this time—but this gives me a hands-on way to remember “Why?” and put it into practice, practically, in my home.
It doesn’t take much, and I don’t have much to give in that area; but it just puts it into our daily life—that’s something we can do.
Bob: Well, and I think a lot of parents don’t recognize that what you’ve created is not just something that’s an ornament. It’s designed to be interactive—it’s designed so that it is more than just hang it on the tree and then we look at it and say, “Doesn’t that look pretty?” You’ve designed this to be something that parents can use as a tool. It’s almost like a cross between a toy and an ornament mashed up together; right?
Barbara: That’s a good description! I kind of like that—[Laughter]—
Barbara: —because most of the ornaments—except for one set, which is on the slightly breakable side—all of them are metal or wood; so they’re not fragile.
We tend to think of Christmas ornaments—because so many of them, through the years, have been blown-glass or some kind of glass something—we tend to think of Christmas ornaments as fragile. A lot of us have ornaments that are fragile.
So, there are the ornaments that the kids are allowed to touch and the ornaments that the kids can’t touch; but these ornaments that we’ve created are all kid-friendly. It helps our children understand and touch—physically touch—the importance of the holiday for them to put a really beautiful ornament on the tree that’s all about Jesus. It allows them to connect, tactilely, with something that’s important about the Christmas season.
Our first set of ornaments were seven names of Jesus that are associated with His birth. As you are hanging these ornaments on your tree, for instance, your two-year-old can hang up the ornament that says, “Prince of Peace.” You can ask your two-year-old to say—“Say, ‘Prince of Peace.’” It would be cute and adorable however they manage to pronounce that; but that begins to help them understand, when they hang ornaments on the tree: “This is about Jesus, and I get to hang ornaments on our tree that are Jesus’ names.”
As they get older / as they grow up, I would imagine Tracy’s five-year-old can now pronounce a lot of these names.
The three-year-old may have a little more trouble. I just imagine that—had I had these, when we were raising our kids, I would have loved the progression through the years of our kids learning, and knowing, and remembering lots and lots and lots of Jesus’ names. It’s a way for us to teach kids theology in a very simple way every Christmas.
Dennis: That’s where I was going with it. It is one thing to learn to pronounce the name; then, it’s another thing to begin to understand, “Well, what does it mean that He is the Prince of Peace, and how does that relate to our family? How does that relate to the squabbles I get into with my sister or my brother and sibling rivalry? How did the Prince of Peace come to impact our lives?”
Bob: Well, to the moms and dads, who would say, “Well, I wouldn’t know what to say about that,”—you’ve included with these ornaments devotionals. They’re not long—
Bob: —take a couple of minutes to read them, but it’s the opportunity to engage. So, it’s not just “We hung an ornament on a tree”; but “We learned something about what that ornament signifies.”
Barbara: Exactly; so these are all designed so that, as you said a minute ago, Bob, they are interactive. You can hang the ornament on the tree; and as the ornaments are being hung, someone can be reading that corresponding story—so that it’s not just the kids learning, but it is moms and dads learning and being reminded of who Jesus is and what He came to do.
Tracy: And the kids do learn it that way. It was really sweet in our home last Christmas. We hung the names, and we read the stories together. When we were packing away all the ornaments, the girls did not want to put away the Christmas names set. I’m like, “Oh, come on, guys”—kind of getting frustrated, because it was this task on my list. Finally, I said, “Why don’t you want to?” And they start putting them on their arms as bracelets. I’m thinking: “Oh my gosh! I’m glad these aren’t breakable, but these are our ornaments.”
My five-year-old—she was four last Christmas—
—she was able to say: “I want Jesus to keep being with us. So, we’re going to keep Him with us on our arms as bracelets.”
Barbara: That is so cute! [Laughter]
Dennis: That’s cool.
Barbara: I love that.
Tracy: So, they didn’t get put away. They’re actually, right now, in their dress-up clothes; and they wear them. If they’re wearing anything very fancy, they’re going to get out their Jesus names to put on as bracelets. They are understanding the significance and showing us, in these really sweet ways, how they’re understanding it. It’s fun to watch.
Barbara: I can see hanging them up in your kid’s room too.
Barbara: I mean, I would have never thought of using them as a bracelet—leave it to a little girl who is five, of course.
Tracy: That was not my idea either. [Laughter]
Barbara: But I could see moms and dads letting your child hang his favorite name in their room as a reminder, all year long, that “This is the name of Jesus that I most resonate with / that I most identify with.”
Dennis: And this year, you’ve created a brand-new set of three names around His eternal names.
Barbara: These are really fun because they’re wood this year, not metal; but they are cut in the shape of a star.
Each one of them has a name of Jesus that reminds us / teaches us that He has always existed. There never was a time when Jesus didn’t exist. We tend to think of Him more like ourselves, because we know He was born. He came to earth, and we know He was born just like we were. We know He died, just like people die; but we forget sometimes, I think, that Jesus is eternal—He’s always existed. So, we have these three stars that have three of those names on them. One of them is where Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,”—which means beginning and end.
Dennis: Hold on. I want to just stop for a second. How would a parent answer the question, “What does it mean that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega?” Think about that for a moment: “How do you explain eternity and pre-existence of Christ to a young child?”
Barbara: Well, I think is a great way to start; because at least, for little bitty kids, they can begin to learn that name.
Then, as they get older—I don’t know what you’ll do with your girls this year, Tracy, but that will be fun to watch—but I would think Audrey, at five, can begin to, at least, put the words in her brain that Jesus existed before He was born and He existed after He died and went back to heaven. Now, she’s not going to get it, probably, much better than any of us get it; because I mean, how do you figure that out; right? [Laughter]
Barbara: But at least, that concept is being planted in her mind; and it can be planted in the minds of children. I think sometimes we underestimate what kids can grasp. I think we tend to think that these big theological concepts are too big for children, and I don’t think they are.
Dennis: The Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end—God created time / He was above time. He created it, though, for us to live our lives in the midst of. So, you can have some really healthy conversations about the greatness of our God that He is not—He’s not a man.
We’re like Him, but He’s well beyond us.
Barbara: Yes; you’ll never know—I mean, until sometime down the road—but as you have these conversations with your kids at Christmas, I would imagine beginning to help them understand that Jesus is eternal—you never know—a month or two down the road—when that’s going to pop up in a conversation; or you’ll have a situation in your family—maybe, a grandparent dies; and you can remind your children: “Remember when we learned about Jesus?” So, when Grandpa dies, you can talk about him being forever with Jesus because He had Christ in his heart. It just is a way to introduce, as we said a minute ago, theology into your kids’ lives that you can then draw on throughout the rest of the year in everyday conversations.
Dennis: So, that is the Alpha and Omega. What are the other two? I interrupted you—I’m sorry, Sweetheart.
Barbara: That’s okay. That happens; right?
Dennis: It does. [Laughter]
Barbara: I interrupt you as well; right?
Dennis: That’s right.
Bob: Do you guys need a little counseling?
Should we stop here and—
Dennis: No; not right now—
Barbara: Actually, not today. [Laughter]
Dennis: —but there are times—there are times that we do.
Barbara: Yes, there are; but we’ve learned how to work it out though, actually.
Dennis: Yes; 45 years—you begin to figure it out.
Bob: You start to get some tricks.
Dennis: Yes; you learn a little bit.
Barbara: Well, you don’t just get tricks—you also learn that it’s okay.
Barbara: It’s okay.
Barbara: Another one of his eternal names is “Jesus is Eternal Father.” That comes out of Isaiah 9:6, where Isaiah said, “There will be a son born, and his name will be Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace.” I’ve written about it in the little book that comes along with this. That’s not an easy concept—
Bob: No; in fact—
Barbara: —but it’s in the Scripture as His name. So, we’ve got to look at it.
Bob: —we spent time unpacking that, a couple of weeks ago, as we talked about some of these ornaments that you’ve created. You’re right—Jesus is the Son / He is the Father. How do we get our arms around that?
Barbara: “How does that work?”—yes.
Bob: There’s help in the booklet to help, not just the kids understand it, but to help mom and dad understand it too. [Laughter]
Dennis: You think?—yes.
And I think it’s good for us to be confused and to not understand. It reminds us that we are finite; that God is eternal / we need Him; and He knows what He’s doing.
Then, the third one in this collection of three is where Jesus says in Revelation—in one of the very last verses in the Bible—He says, “I am the Bright Morning Star.” I love that one in particular just because I think the stars in the sky are magnificent / they’re gorgeous. To think of Jesus being bright like a star—of course, we know that a lot of the stars in the heavens are actually suns. So, when you think about the sun that’s in our sky, you think about Jesus being bright like the sun—like a star. I just think it’s cool—it’s a cool analogy / it’s a cool picture. I think that would be a fun one to teach children.
Dennis: We had an experience, last summer, on our vacation.
Barbara: We did.
Dennis: Oh, we did! Want to tell them about that?
Barbara: Do we have time?—because I can talk for a long time about that. [Laughter]
Dennis: It was quite an experience, but it’s around this theme of Jesus being the Bright Morning Star.
Bob: You wound up in a field in Kentucky on—what was it?—was it a Monday? Was that what it was?
Barbara: It was Monday, August 21st.
Dennis: Everybody remembers that was the day of the eclipse.
Barbara: Right; as they called it “The Great American Eclipse”—but yes; we did. Since we were on vacation, we decided we would head down that way and just see what this was all about. Dennis and I both were very unprepared for how amazing the experience of seeing the total solar eclipse. It was much grander, it was much more glorious, it was much more exciting than—than we imagined.
And what was so fun about it—on the back side, after it was over—was how much it helped us understand more about the Bible, because when we took our paper glasses off—like you see in all of these pictures of people with those paper glasses on—when we took the paper glasses off, what we saw in the sky was what could be defined as the glory of the sun; because it was the corona / it was the halo around the sun—
—it was all the rays that come off of the surface of the sun.
The next day, I thought: “Oh my gosh! Jesus is talked about as the sun.” I got out my Bible, and I looked up all these verses. In Revelation, when John saw Jesus, when he was on the island of Patmos, he described Jesus and His face as shining like the sun. All of a sudden, I just had a completely different image of what that might be like—to see Jesus’ face shining like the sun, which I’m sure reminded him of the transfiguration when he saw Jesus on the mount of transfiguration. He described Him, in that situation, the same way—His face shown like the sun.
And we know that all the stars in the heaven above us are other suns in other galaxies.
It just broadened my appreciation / my perspective of who He is and how unimaginable is His glory—how bright must be His light—because Jesus is the light / God is the light. It made me so much more excited about seeing Him, because it was a thrill to see the total eclipse; but to see Jesus will be a thrill like—
Barbara: —we can’t even begin to imagine.
Dennis: I promise you—there is a longer version of this story—[Laughter]—there really is. What I want the listener to hear is—what you’re passing on here is pointing children to how to live life, because Jesus Christ is the life-giver. He shows us how to live life. He shows us how to get into heaven. He came on earth to die for our sins so that, if we trust in Him for His forgiveness of our sins, then, we might have eternal life with Him.
We’ll see the Eternal Father, the Alpha and Omega, and the Bright Morning Star as He really is.
Bob, I think the thing that hit me in that field, watching that occur, was—when Jesus Christ comes back, there are going to be a lot of people, looking up, just like they were—those pictures that you saw, where people were looking up at the sky with those glasses on—except this time, there won’t be any glasses. You’re going to see Him as He is; and it is understated to say: “It will be breathtaking. It will be a glorious moment.”
Bob: Yes; I think, in the midst of all that is going on during this time of the year, with gifts to buy, and decorations, and events that are going on—I think the big message of today’s program is: “Let’s make sure we don’t lose sight, over the next four weeks, of what this season is all about.
“This is all about celebrating the greatest gift that was ever given to any people—the gift of eternal life—given to us by God through His Son.”
One of the ways we can keep our focus there is by having our home reflect that back to us. That’s what Barbara’s been working on, now, for years. I just want to encourage listeners—go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, to find out more about the resources Barbara has created—about this year’s new set of Christmas tree ornaments, the Adorenaments® that declare His eternal names—and there is so much more available.
Go, online, to FamilyLifeToday.com; and the links are there. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can order from us, online; or you can call to order any of the resources you’ve heard us talk about today. Our number is 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, this matter of how we maintain a biblical focus / a godly focus in our families—that is what FamilyLife Today is all about. It’s what we’ve been about since this ministry was begun, back in the middle ‘70s. Our goal has been to provide practical biblical help and hope for your marriage and your family through the years. And we’re grateful for those of you who are a part of this ministry. Every time you make a donation to support FamilyLife Today, you make it possible for more people to more regularly be equipped and encouraged by what they hear on FamilyLife Today.
If you’re a long-time listener, and you’ve not joined the team that makes FamilyLife Today possible for people all around the world, can I encourage you to go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and make a donation today?—or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate—
—or you can mail your donation to us at FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
Tomorrow, we’ll continue to explore ways in which we can maintain a spiritual focus as we go through the holiday season. Barbara Rainey and Tracy Lane will be back with us tomorrow. I hope you can be back as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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