Surprise Christmas Gift

Bethany’s Special Christmas Gift of Loving Memories


“Christmas stinks,” says the Grinch. “Bah humbug!” the Scrooges of the world concur.  And what about you?  How much fun is shopping out of obligation, searching for that inexpensive expression of love that you don’t actually feel for that person on your Christmas list?  Ouch!  Deal with that as you may, there is a better way!  “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation…” (Heb.  6:9).
Let’s turn our focus to those closest to us: the people in our homes and parents in particular.  You really know them and they really know you.  They really know you; they sacrifice to provide the best for you: the best home, the best food, clothing, church and school.  And from your perspective, you truly know them as well… but, as wonderful as they are, parents are not perfect. And even more astounding, we are just like our parents in many ways. 

God establishes the family unit to nurture children and perpetuate His love and His kingdom order.  Yet, the institution of family is under siege in the church at large.  Many of us come from broken homes and/or blended family units.  Our goal in the midst of this reality is to make a difference right where we live - at home.  

I am resolutely committed to Reality-Education, a schooling that has eternal value. This will challenge us, change us and become a holy charge within us.  I sincerely pray for your willingness to be challenged, changed and charged with this assignment.  Let it be a commission from God Himself, so that you minister true, heartfelt appreciation and love to your parents and family.  How can we accomplish this real world adventure?   
What will you give your parents for Christmas this year?  They have more money, more stuff and more of everything than you do.  What do they need?  Seemingly nothing! Yet they love to be loved and appreciated.  Surly, we love them, so let’s express this love in a new way.  “I love you” can be redundant, mechanical and even trite.  I love my mom and dad, my dog, my car and my toothbrush.  The identical four-letter word, “love,” articulates ownership, appreciation and maybe affection for whatever.  

What can we graphically create to best express our God-breathed, God-inspired, God-ordained love for our parents? A Keynote slide show of Christmas past, with complimentary music and heartfelt words from our hearts.  Oh, yeah!  And everyone says, “Lord, help me!  Challenge me, change me, and charge me with empowerment to be your message of Christmas love and share your message of this love to my family!  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”  Amen!                                      

  Bible Readings
“The eye that mocks a father, that scorns obedience to a mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures” (NIV Pr. 30:17).
“Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (NIV Eph. 6:2).
“In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (KJV 1Thes. 5:18).


  Parameters & Panoramic Scope of the Project
It makes no sense to create a great graphic presentation without a godly message.  Getting a message must be your starting point.  Search your heart with these few questions to launch into building your message.  Be sure to allow the Lord to challenge you, change you and empower you with fresh enlightenment about LOVE.  This is the central issue of the entire Bible, the entire universe and the details of everyday life.  This is huge! 
1.	What do I remember the most about a Christmas from years ago?  How did that Christmas impact my thinking and my life?
2.	What do I appreciate the most about my parent(s)?
3.	What gift did my parent or parents give to me that did not come in a box with bright Christmas wrapping or a bow?  How has this gift affected my life?  Wow, parents love to hear your heart on this one!
What expectations do I have for the future concerning a growing relationship with my parent(s)?  What will future Christmases look like?  Conclude your Christmas message with a vision of maturing love, family and godly commitment. 


5.	Begin right away to collect Christmas photos of Christmas past.  Take care so as not to damage these photos in any way.  Some of you will have many photo albums to thumb through, while others may have very few photographs for a variety of valid reasons.  Nevertheless, you need to gather Christmas photos and/or pictures.  Think creatively.  Look to grandparents, relatives and perhaps even Christmas cards for images that communicate your Christmas message.  Again, be extremely careful with your family photos.  Bring them to school, scan them and get your photos back home in one day.  
6.	Scan these photos (20-50) at home or in class, sharing the few scanners we have in class.  Start right away and keep ahead of upcoming deadlines.  Don’t be last in line to scan your pictures.
7.	Store your 20-50 scanned photos on your designated NAS drive.  Create a subfolder in your directory entitled “Christmas Gift.” 
8.	This must be complete by ________________.  You don’t need to turn anything in.  I’ll look in your NAS Christmas Gift folder and grade your completed project.
Please Note:  You have to store your images in two places: 1) in your personal folder on the NAS drive, and 2) on the hard drive of your computer.  Keep this in mind: only the images in your NAS folder are secure.  Always save your work (iPhoto tweakings and Keynote files) on both hard drives. 
9.	Fix and tweak all of your scanned photographs using iPhoto.  Be sure to remember that all of your images will be in one presentation.  Therefore, make sure your images have a look.  “A Look” means that something about each image tells us that it belongs to a collection of images.  Perhaps you’ll use the sepia effect on many of your pictures, or the fogged edge effect.  Perhaps a particular color will be your theme.  This is a major design concept that greatly establishes cohesiveness about your creative work.  There must be a unifying flow from slide to slide in your work.  God loves unity, and we can employ this dynamic principle in this project to make it great.  Remember; always store your work in two places, or perhaps three places, like on your thumb-drive.
10. First of all, select your sound track from the music collection on the Graphics_Share  folder on the NAS drive.  Use one or more songs that best fit your message while complementing your images. 
11. Open Keynote.  Click Help.  Select Keynote Video Tutorial.  Go through the video and learn the program.  It’s very user friendly. 
12. Build your presentation by clicking and dragging your scanned images from iPhoto into Keynotes.  It’s very easy.
 Add your sound tracks.
 You will probably have to recreate your project in iMovie.  This enables you to modify your sound track, and allows you to write this project to a CD or DVD.
 Create a professional looking label.  Oh yeah!  Package this gift well.
Every one of us has a different way of thinking, of creating and of building a presentation message like this.  Follow the above steps while being lead by your God-given learning style to complete this Christmas gift with excellence.  I’ve said this knowing that teaching is my job and learning is yours.  You are unique and your message will be unique, and the way in which you create this gift project is also unique journey.  God bless you and the recipients of your hard work.  Enjoy!