Christmas gifts for the Homeless

My husband and I decided to take some of the money we would have spent on our family this year and instead spend it on others. We’ve always contributed to gift projects like Angel Tree, and helped to support local families in need, but we wanted to do something that would get our kids involved in a more direct way.

After careful thought and prayer we decided  to help the homeless by putting together a care packages full of useful items and then personally giving them to 5 people we find living on the street.

Over the last few weeks we’ve talked about the sorts of things that we would like to have if we were homeless. I’m so proud of my kids for coming up with a very creative list of items. This last Sunday we went shopping using the list we had created. We let our kids choose themselves what they wanted or didn’t want to include. The only rule was to stay under $25. We were amazed at what we were able to purchase for $25. For instance  one of the care packages has:

  • Super cute Christmas Blanket
  • Gloves
  • Socks
  • 4 waterless toothbrushes
  • Package of Baby wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • 12 individually wrapped pastries or crackers
  • 3 sets of plasticware
  • Can of vienna sausage
  • Can of Soup
  • 2 Carabiner clips
  • Plastic Shower Curtain
  • and one mesh bag to hold it all

Tonight we took time to wrap and assemble each care package so it would be special, fun and unique to the person who receives it. Thursday, on Christmas Eve Day, we will hop in the car and begin our search for 5 homeless people to give our gifts to. I have to be honest, I’m a little nervous, so I’m asking for your prayer.

Please pray that

  • God would direct us to the right 5 people
  • Our choices of items would be perfect for each person
  • We would clearly show the love of Jesus to each person we meet
  • As we find each person, we would not have to turn others away
  • We would be safe
  • That we will remember every day how blessed we are

Thank you so much.

Salinas Mission Trip – Monday

Monday we got up and met everyone for Breakfast at Denny’s at 9am. Pastor Shankula shared a really good devotional that reminded us that we don’t need much in order to share Jesus with others. We don’t need money, we don’t need fancy technology, we don’t even need to be a great speaker.

He shared a few passages that reminded us as long as we are present, have our testimony, obey his prompting, and allow his spirit to work through us, we have enough.

When we got to the church in Watsonville it was great reunion to see the Peña family and Alma again. After lot’s of hugs and smiles we all got to work setting up for the day.

3:30pm rolled around and the only kids we had were the Pastor’s. So we decided to wait a little while and by 4:15, twenty-three kiddo’s had arrived.

Our first day’s lessons got off to a rough start. We hadn’t planned to have a translator but added one at the last minute and that takes some getting used to, so it threw the flow of the lesson off a bit. Still, two girls had accepted Christ before the end of the program that day. What an exclamation mark to the message Pastor Shankula had delivered in the morning.

On a personal note, the craft I had agonized over, went really well. We had the kids decorate pillow cases with fabric paint brushed onto large sea shaped stamps. The kids got super creative and they all turned out really cute.

My favorite part of this trip is watching the older boys come and participate. There are six of them between the ages of 14 and 22. They are wearing name tags, listening to the lessons, playing games and yes, working on the crafts. The oldest told one of our team, he doesn’t believe in God. So Luis and Ben chatted with him a while and explained the gospel and who God is. We could tell that he still left uncertain, but curious.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring??

Salinas Mission Trip

This week my family and I are off on a mission trip to Salinas, California to work with local churches who serve many of the migrant workers in the area. Our team will split into three groups and will help host a Vacation Bible School at three local churches serving Salinas, Watsonville, and Hollister.

We left our house this morning at 5:45am. Met the rest of the team at Shadow and got on the road at 7:30am. Robert drove a van full of women, and Hector. And I followed with our boys in the Toyota Tacoma. I think we stopped for potty breaks and stretching at least 5 times.

I have to say, I’m glad we’re finally here, in the hotel, where I can put my feet up and relax a little. All day Saturday, I kept thinking I must be crazy. I just finished Summer Blast and and have put in 60+ hours for the last 3 weeks and now, my first day off, I’m busy packing for a mission trip that leaves tomorrow? What was I thinking when I said yes? Not only did I need to pack myself, but I organized 3 face painting kits and finished getting the rest of the craft supplies ready and samples made.

Today’s drive was tough. I didn’t sleep much last night, and kept getting drowsy, but I pushed through and got here safe and sound.

Tomorrow, I get to leave the hustle and bustle of my everyday life behind and jump into the world of Pastor Fillipe and his congregation. They are loving, relaxed and grateful people. I’ll get work with a small group of 30-50 kids, teaching them crafts and sharing God’s word. It will do my soul good.

TV Influenced my kid, how about yours?

My 9-year old son, Brendan, had a friend over after church last Sunday. They played out in the yard all afternoon and had a great time.

When I went to put him to bed he proudly said, “I ate a cricket’s head today.”


“Wow! . . . Um, why would you do that honey?” I asked.

“Joel and I were playing Man vs. Wild.” he answered.


I’m not opposed to the show Man vs. Wild, and I think it’s kind of funny that Brendan actually ate a cricket, but I’m left wondering what else is he picking up from watching TV? Is it good, is it bad? Am I monitoring it enough? How much time IS he spending in front of the TV?

If you don’t think TV has an influence on our young people, good or bad, you’re fooling yourself. If my real-life story isn’t enough proof, check out some of these studies:

What do I need to know about children and TV
Lots of stats and interesting information. 

Children And Watching TV
Good insights on actively participating in viewing with your child.

As parent, it’s your responsibility to know what your kids are watching and the message that their absorbing. Make a commitment this week to track the hours they spend in front of the TV and take time to watch some shows with them. Then filter those influences against God’s word and decide for yourself what should be allowed and what shouldn’t. 

Look both ways . . . before you give your kid a cell phone.

Look both ways before crossing!

A lesson learned about putting technology in the hands of our children.


A friend of ours, we’ll call him “Dad”, purchased a new cell phone for his 12-year old son, whom we’ll call “the son”. This wasn’t the son’s first phone, but a replacement, and it had more bells and whistles than the first.

Everyone was happy.

Until one day, when the son said, “Watch Dad!”

The son pushed a button on his phone, held it up to the stereo speaker where some music was playing, and behold, listed on the phone screen was the name of the song, the album and the band. “See, my phone can tell me what music is playing where ever I go. I just hit this button and it automatically ID’s it. I can even download the song right to my phone if I want to!”

“Um, wow son, I uh, I think it costs money to do that.” said the Dad fearfully.

The son cheerfully responded, “No Dad, it’s free! It’s a free app I downloaded.”

Dad, “I don’t think so. I think you get charged for air time son.” 

And in a flurry of panic, Dad ran off to call the cell phone company. He quickly melted into a pile of shock when he learned that the son had rung up a cell phone bill of more than $1,000 and the month wasn’t even over yet.

After much crying, pleading and begging by the Dad, the generous cell phone company knocked 50% off the bill. Wheww!! Half the bill gone, but in my book 500 bucks is still a lot of money.

Dad then took the time to research where it had all gone wrong and discovered that his son’s nifty new phone had some pretty nifty music capabilities, with lots of free applications. The applications were free, but each time they were used, it ate up bandwidth, and that cost $1.99 per MB. 


Would you let your kids cross the street on their own, much less play in it, without teaching them about the dangers involved? Of course not, but I see more and more parents handing these technology laden gadgets over to their kids without educating themselves or their children before letting them out loose to play.

Sadly the dangers out there aren’t as simple or benign as an astronomical cell phone bill. Built in cameras, text messaging, picture messaging, mobile TV and internet capabilities opens our kids up to a world of temptation and serious pitfalls if we’re not educated and diligent guardians for them. 

If your kid gets hit by the world of technology that is traveling full-speed ahead, as a parent, you only have yourself to blame if you haven’t done your homework and educated your kids.


Interesting, shocking and helpful links about kids and cell phones

Have You Heard of Sexting?
Kids take nude pictures of themselves and send them to all their friends.
In January of 2009, Dr. Phil featured a 12-year old girl on his show who fell into this trap. 

Texting on the Move
Walking and texting has increased visits to the local ER.

Students Texting to Bully and to Cheat on Tests
Cheating, bullying and inappropriate conversations via texting.

Managing Cell Phone Use by Children
This article lists some options for controlling your kids cell phone use, including who and when they call or text, and what they can view and receive.