I was so disappointed last year when I missed out on the opportunity to review this book, so I was quite overjoyed when the opportunity came up this year! I truly might have been jumping up and down when I got the confirmation email.
Before I ever got the chance to read this one for myself and share it with our family and "Littles", our 7 year old saw it on my night stand was intrigued enough to grab it and read it for himself without prompting. His response was, "Mom, I hope that Sparkle book is for a review because you need to tell families about it and I hope we are going to be doing it. We always do these kind of things and I think it will be neat to write them down and leave them for a gift for Jesus. Can we go ahead and put Operation Christmas Child in it?"
If you've never entered one of my give-a-ways and have children/grandchildren, this is the perfect chance to start. It's a GREAT one!
The book he is talking about is:
About The Sparkle Box - A Gift with the Power to Change Christmas
Sam is so excited about Christmas! He's thinking about his Christmas list, looking forward to holiday parties, and puzzling over one very mysterious gift: a sparkly box sitting on the mantel. In the midst of the festivities, Sam and his family participate in various acts of kindness to others. On Christmas morning, when Sam finally opens the Sparkle Box, he finds only slips of paper that record the family's good deeds. Sam's mom explains that the things that they've been doing are, in fact, a gift for Jesus, for Jesus said that whatever we do for those in need, we do for Him.
Written by Jill Hardie
Illustrated by Christine Kornacki
Hardcover with jacket, 10 x 10, 32 pages, with a fold-out sparkle box included!
ages 4 to 8
Book Trailer: https://vimeo.com/49762666
Author Video: https://vimeo.com/49763494
Author Jill Hardie and her family began placing a gift for Jesus under their Christmas tree as a way of bringing more meaning to the holiday. The first time they opened His gift, the commercialism of the season melted away and they felt a profound joy and peace. Jill hopes that The Sparkle Box will spark a new Christmas tradition, bringing light into thousands of lives.
At a very early age, Christine Kornacki developed a love for painting and bringing stories to life. After receiving a BFA in illustration from the University of Hartford, her dreams of illustrating children's books began to take shape. She spends her days painting in her studio, which adjoins a charming cafe in New Haven, Connecticut.
Of all the books, movies, and family friendly materials that I've reviewed, I honestly think this is my absolute favorite. It's one of those that we are going to treat as a special family heirloom and start some amazing traditions with. As our family begins to transition in our calling to the foreign mission field and as we begin to rethink what "things" are special to us and what things we will let go, I already know that this one is one that we will cherish and keep with us for each holiday season.
Our family is BIG on random acts of kindness and finding as many opportunities as possible to serve and make a difference. It's just part of who we are and the way we are trying to raise our children to have a view of the world OUTSIDE of themselves. During the holiday season, we do try to increase that focus even more and this little books is PRICELESS! If you are looking for a way to share the holidays with your children in a way that helps them think about others and bring the spotlight of focus on CHRIST----this book is an AMAZING tool. I must also say, the illustrations are AMAZING. My husband and I just sat here looking at each page in awe. Seriously, even before we "do" the sparkle box----the book itself is FANTASTIC.
I mean really, when the first page of a book is this....you KNOW it's going to be a great book!
What is the sparkle box? It's simply just writing down your gifts to Jesus throughout the year or holiday season and then opening up the box and "giving" them to Jesus on Christmas day. What can you give of yourself or what acts of service can you do to be the hands and feet of Jesus? What can you do to show someone else His love? The thoughts and possibilities are endless.
We LOVE random acts of kindness.
They can be simple: some ideas that are our favorite are giving individual flowers to those we see often but are overlooked (the checkout lady at the gas station was our favorite so far (which we've witnessed her burst into tears when receiving it and her normal daily scowl is replaced by a smile every single time one of the kids come back in the store many months after the fact), followed closely by our mail carrier that in the summer eats her lunch on the grass a few houses down from us a couple of times a week (she gently placed her flower across her picnic blanket and her smile was contagious). Handing out bubbles to kids at the playground has been another favorite that even our youngest enjoyed doing. Leaving stacks of quarters and individual snacks on the washing machines in the laundrymat was one of my "simple", but favorite ones. There was a time that we went several months without a washing machine and had to frequent one of our laundrymats. I always seemed to be running out of coins and my kids were often cranky because they were wanting snacks from the machines and I didn't have coins to spare. When our kids make holiday themed crafts throughout the year, we often make extras and have them hang them on the doorknob of senior citizens that live next to us. Little things make a big difference in ways we don't often realize.
Our kids are growing up with knowing their father will be the first to stop and help someone in need and the last one to leave when cleaning up after a project. Our kids are growing up with their eyes opened to ways to share of themselves.
Some projects are MUCH bigger---supporting missionaries and families in crisis in tangible ways has been a recurring theme. Finding ways to help with orphans and vulnerable children is TOP priority. Our 16 year old is currently involved in giving everything she has to a project of her own free will---she's seeking to provide new toys for children in foster care this season and has her heart set on a HUGE goal. Even if she doesn't reach her goal of FIVE HUNDRED toys----she has made a HUGE dent and her commitment has taught us MANY things. As we work together to fundraise and ask God to open doors for us as we prepare to move ahead in our desire to serve vulnerable children in Africa----our eyes are constantly open to looking outside ourselves.
In this society, it's VERY easy to lose this focus during the holidays. It's EASY to fall into step with the hustle and bustle, stress, and "wants". It's VERY easy....
The Sparkle Box---is an incredible way to, STOP, slow down, and refocus.
Our gifts to Jesus don't make Him love us more. Our gifts of service to others ("works") don't save us. BUT...
They do change our hearts.
They do open doors to be the "light of the world".
They do remind us that "whatever you did for one of the least....you did for me."
This holiday season (Thanksgiving and Christmas), start some new traditions. Put your focus on giving instead of receiving. Give of yourselves. Give of your time. Give of your heart.
To win a copy of THE SPARKLE BOX (US or Canada), comment with an idea of how you can give of yourself this season. I'd love to hear new ideas and things that we might can also do! ONE winner will be chosen at random to receive a copy of this AMAZING book that will become a family treasure. Contest will end on 11/26/2013 (Happy 39th Birthday to me....yikes!!!!!) MAKE sure you leave an email so I can contact you if you are the winner!!!! THAT'S CRUCIAL! ;)
For now, I think I'll go help my little guy write out his first slip to put inside for Operation Christmas Child...
*"Disclosure of Materials Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."*