7 Amazing Gift Ideas for Your Kids That Won’t Cost You a Dime

“Breath is the finest gift of nature. Be grateful for this wonderful gift.” ― Amit Ray

I was enjoying getting lost in the large store, books piled high on every shelf. It seemed it didn’t have an end as I navigated my way through the vast categories of books.

As I sat perusing my fingers through some pages, I felt something staring at me.  I peered over the top of the pages, spotting a pair of eyes outlined with royal blue accompanied by an adorable little smile.   Dressed in black pants and a striped shirt, I noticed he had drawn a mask over his eyes with a blue sharpie. No doubt he had to trace it a few times to get the full effect.

Waiving softly, I mouthed hello and smiled.  His superhero face and mischievous grin warmed my heart. Instantly it took me back to those days when Lydia painted herself with make-up. The bright blue eyeshadow you couldn’t miss and the hot pink lipstick covering her mouth, chin and almost up to her nose, made you want to laugh. But she felt beautiful.

Wiping my eyes, I smiled in awe. So hard to believe she is gone.  Oh those years, what I wouldn’t give to rewind time and go back, just to have one more chance. To share those gut-busting giggles, kiss those sweet freckled cheeks, to build that snowman, to do it all again.

The days of our lives are fast and furious, passing by ever so quickly. Years fly by in a second, making us look back wondering where the time went.

You see my daughter Lydia, just turned fifteen and lives in heaven. She passed away when she was five. In hindsight, there’s so much I would do differently. When she was here, my focus wasn’t where it should have been.

Of course, I would want to shower her with gifts and all her favorite things, especially during Christmas, however, I have learned that that only brings temporary and superficial happiness as well as empty pockets.

Now as my daughter’s 15th birthday came and the holidays draw near, her absence is ever so present. My heart is heavy and tuned into to what matters most.

Take it from a mom who knows, here are 7 gift ideas for your children that don’t cost a dime.

7 Amazing Gift Ideas for Your Kids That Won’t Cost You a Dime

1. Give them your time.  Give those precious kiddos the last minutes before bedtime, the first minutes in the morning awakening them with hugs with wide open arms.  Take time to push them on the swings, play cards, or attend that special event.  Give them your undivided attention when you walk through that door from work, greeting them like they are the best gift ever, because they are!

2. Give them your ear. Listen to them.  Put down all the technology that we are chained to and really hear what your children are saying. Listen to the stories of their day, the drama with their friends, and the excitement about their activities.  Listen to their adorable giggles, what makes them smile and what hurts them.  They will forever be grateful for this.

3. Give them unconditional love. Tell them you love them daily, even when they mess up.  When they spill a bag of flour all over the kitchen floor, or when their grades are not as good as they should be, let them know how much they mean to you.  When they overflow the toilet or paint on walls, embrace their uniqueness and make sure they know they are special.  And when they get on your last nerve, take a deep breath, and be thankful that they are there alive, and always end every conflict with an “I love you.”

4. Give your kids the gift of teaching them about the true meaning of Christmas. It’s so easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of presents, shopping, and Santa Claus.  Let them know that Christmas is about love. Let them know they matter, that they were created for a reason and are beloved in the eyes of our heavenly father.   Show them and teach them that faith is everlasting and provides guiding principles for life.

5. Give them the gift of giving back.  Take them to volunteer at a homeless shelter, purchase a gift for a child in need, or other philanthropic acts, being sure to explain the challenges and difficulties so many endure.  Let them see life from a different perspective. And as a bonus for all you parents, your children will gain hearts filled with compassion for others, guaranteed.

6. Give your children the gift of gratitude.  As they learn to be thankful and grateful for everything they have in life, they will gain maturity, responsibility, opening their eyes to the value of hard work.

7. Give them encouragement. Make sure they know how proud you are of them. When they pass a test, get dressed by themselves, clean the house, or make the sports team, tell them how delighted you are. This will empower them with confidence and give them the courage to explore and try new things.

These seem so simple, yet they are gifts that I have neglected to give my children on many occasions. Things and times I have taken for granted, which have haunted me with regret.

I too have been guilty of showing my children with tangible gifts that go unappreciated time and time again, soon to be forgotten.  As parents, I know we all have.   So before you hit those sales in the stores, this year, I challenge you to give your children something they will never forget, making those memories that will remain with them forever.   Your heart will thank you and so will they.

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Wishes and Would Have’s For My Daughter On Her Birthday In Heaven

Sharing last years post as my daughter has another birthday in heaven. The words still true to my heart….Hugs to you all.

Daphne Bach Greer

I let out a big sigh and pulled the covers over my head, just wishing they would go back to sleep.  You see it was 6:10 AM, no school or work and I was exhausted.  Not to mention, I’m not a fan of being woke up in the early morning.  Nothing makes one smile more than screaming, arguing children before the sun comes up!  J    Thoughts ran through my mind, complaints to be honest, of me being grumpy wanting my energetic kids to quiet down so I could catch a few more minutes of sleep under the warm covers.  I wanted to yell “be quiet, or go back to bed.”

Instead, I was inaudibly reminded of what a blessing it was that my children were here.   Feeling selfish, I stayed silent and rose to the occasion, forcing my crankiness to take a backseat.

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Finding Faith When Your Soul is Empty-Part II

Finding and maintaining faith can be extremely difficult. However, one thing I have learned is that acquiring faith is even harder when you don’t love yourself.

First and foremost, we must find self-forgiveness and trust while opening our hearts to the idea of loving ourselves.  We all get to those places in life where we feel alone, anxious and uncertain of our future. Yet we can be confident to know and understand that He died for us. For me and YOU! He gave his only son, to die for US!

Whoa.

One day out of the blue while deep in thought, it hit me.

That is an incredible love, a love like no other. How was I worthy of such a gift?

Tears dripped down my face and I felt so undeserving. Was I really worth love like this? I had done so much wrong in my life. But in His eyes, I am worthy. You are worthy. That’s all that matters.

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

On one of my first trips to my therapists office a few weeks after my daughter Lydia died, while walking in I heard a voice softly whisper, “it’s going to be okay. “ It repeated over and over again many times as I entered the room. Tears were falling down my face as I was unable to fathom my new life.

Right. I thought. How can that be possible? In one ear and out the other. I dismissed those words as I was certain my world would never be okay again. I hated myself.

After Lydia died, I was broken beyond repair. I hated myself and was desperate to see my little girl. The void of her absence and constant ache of sorrow filled by entire being. It made me physically and emotionally sick. Not being able to smell her strawberry scented hair, kiss the freckles sprinkled on the bridge of her nose, or hold her tightly in my arms again, was incomprehensible. The fear of never seeing her again paralyzed me in every way and I couldn’t live with the thought of it.

However, in my learning of the stories of Job and Esther in the bible among others, seeing their unwavering faith and perseverance during trials of life that made them rise above like no other, were deeply inspiring. These people were resilient and filled with faith. Even if they had moments of doubt, they always returned to their faith. If they can do it, why can’t I? I AM worth it.

Psalm 25:5- “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” 

Faith absolutely can get a little tricky in those murky waters, as the devil attempts to cloud our judgement and convince us of our wrongdoing and transgressions.

It comes down to this. We have a choice. When Satan attacks us with negativity, we can submerge ourselves in self-pity and doubt, wallowing in our faults and failures or we can cry out to Him for help, and study His word, opening our minds to the life He wants us to live.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.-Psalm 46:1

So why are we here in the first place?

We may not know all the whys. However, we can learn, sow and reap from our life’s lessons-before and after our trials and struggles. For me, my life will always be divided into before her death and after. Then there is the me, the person I was before and the person I am now. It’s really quite amazing. God has used the tragedy of my daughter’s death to bring me closer to Him. With confidence I can say that I am a better person because of what I went through. This doesn’t mean it has been easy or without strife but a healing and transformation of the heart.

Romans 5:3-4- 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

When we find ourselves smack in the middle of tragedy, we beg to know the why’s and how’s of pain in our lives and plead to know what the future holds. Yet we need to be reminded to be content and that God is more powerful than anything we could ever imagine.

How can I be certain this won’t happen again? I can’t.

However, I can trust and believe in the power of God and prayer. We must hold tightly to that unshakeable faith when circumstances are out of our control. We must realize that life on earth is not everything. It is just a sliver of what He has in store for us.

We get so consumed with ourselves and families, fueling our selfish desires that we don’t make time for Him. We act like we don’t need Him, but in all reality, He is our only saving grace.  We can look forward to living for eternity-forever and ever in heaven. And yes, for some it could seem like a long way off, something that doesn’t really matter in the here and now. Life is so busy and it’s all about us. But it’s not. This fleeting life will be over before we know it. That’s why it’s so important to live life with eternity in our minds, standing on those promises of God.

Faith is hard. We are so often battered and tormented by the evil in this world, making us believe that there is no hope. However hope is the light of life.

“Without hope, the human spirit begins to check out of life.” Sheila Walsh again. Oh my gosh yes!
I have seen it time and time again.

There is no doubt. He is with us. The enormous power in the name of Jesus gives us strength to overcome and thrive.  Faith is all-powerful. It must be nurtured and watered much like that of a freshly potted plant. Faith and hope provide a ray of sunshine when we need it most.

We need to live intentionally and seek our purpose and passion in this world that we were created to do. From the moment we were made, God knew the day we would be born and the day we would die. He knows our every move. Nothing is a surprise to Him.

Luke 12:7-Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

I want others to see the hope in Jesus that I have discovered. I don’t want anyone to go through the pain of losing a child or a loved one, thinking that they have no hope and that life cannot continue.

It most certainly can. Even though it won’t be the easy road we all hope for in life, it can still be a joyful life filled with beauty and wonder.

I used to be annoyed with those bubbly, upbeat and overly cheery individuals. What did they have that I didn’t? Were their lives always perfect? I doubt it, however, I became eager to be one of those people. The ones that always seem to be happy, never having a bad day. Those that seem completely content with life, positive and joyful all the time. No one’s life is perfect or free from trials, however, finding faith and having perspective makes it possible.

We weren’t meant to suffer on this earth alone. Ask Him for strength. Remember, this life is not our own. We are not here for ourselves.

A few days ago, I found my mind racing, inching towards that path pain and sorrow. I caught myself fanning my face in the midst of traffic trying to keep my tears from ruining my mascara on the way to work while trying to keep my anxiety at bay, when I said to myself out loud, “I’m such a boob.”

Really. It happened. I felt so ridiculous.

But then I was reminded of all I’ve been through and understood that I was reacting normally while telling myself the anxiety and shortness of breath would subside. Inhaling deeply and slowly, I waited for the moment to pass, trying to keep my mind occupied until the next obstacle in life surprises me.

This is not a sign of weakness, just an illustration of the vulnerability and rawness of the human heart. I am a human. A mother who has endured unfathomable loss, inexplicable trauma and had to bury her first-born child.

Yeah, it’s been hell. Not going to lie. Nine years later, those unbearable moments still come over me so unpredictably.

What do I do? I remind myself of my faith and know that I’m not alone. God is with me. Self-talk and positive thoughts can make all the difference. I wipe my tears, adjust my sunglass and head on down the road.

Ecclesiastes 3
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

 

If you missed Finding Faith When Your Soul is Empty, here is the link:  https://grievinggumdrops.com/2017/10/19/finding-faith-when-your-soul-is-empty/

Photo credit-Larry Turner, Oregon, USA