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12 Christmas Gifts You Won’t Find in a Department Store

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…a partridge in a pear tree?!

What a gift! Obviously, after spending all of their money on leaping lords, swimming swans, and golden rings, the singer’s true love ran out of ideas. Or money. Or both. After all, how hard is it to catch a bird and stick it in a tree?

All joking aside, it’s hard to find that special something for that special someone during the holidays. Somehow, even four-story department stores seem to be bereft of that perfect gift. Which is why we’re here with twelve of our OWN gift ideas–there’s sure to be something that will spark your gift-giving creativity. (And we can guarantee that there aren’t any birds, milkmaids, or leaping lords involved)

 

1. Date Night in a Box

Treat your parents or another couple you know to a ready-made date-night, complete with tickets to a show or a restaurant gift card, a sheet of fun couples’ conversations starters, a box of chocolates, and a coupon for free babysitting while they’re out on the town!

2. Recycled, Upcycled, or Vintage

Sometimes a trip to the thrift store can be even more fruitful than a trip to the North Pole itself. If you’re searching for a unique piece of home decor or a quirky, one-of-a-kind fashion accessory, antique or thrift stores might be your answer. Be creative and see everything for what it could be–maybe that cracked teacup won’t ever hold a drop of water again, but it could make a great planter for a succulent plant!

3. Gifts That Keep Giving

Purchase a magazine subscription, or splurge on a “subscription box” that suits the recipient’s tastes. Maybe they’re a foodie and would appreciate new inspiration from either a cooking mag or “foodie box” filled with unique snacks and treats from around the world. Maybe they want to grow in their faith and would appreciate a subscription to a faith-based magazine (G4C might fit the bill!) or a box filled with items that would inspire them in their walk with God.

4. Coupon Book

It’s one of the most thoughtful gifts you can give…and it’s free! Create a booklet of coupons–give your mom certificates for neck or shoulder massages, offer your brother a free room cleaning, or guarantee Dad you’ll help him get the Christmas decorations stored back in the attic–no grumbling! Your coupon booklets can be as small or as extensive as you want, and you can get creative with hand lettering or a word processor to create a gift that perfectly fits its recipient.

5. Movie Night in a Box

Who doesn’t love a trip to the movies? But instead of giving someone a gift card to the local theater, gift them a box filled with everything they need for the perfect at-home movie night. You can go simple, with just a DVD, bag of popcorn, and movie candy or you can make it more elaborate with cozy blankets and movie-related merchandise.

6. Write Now

Find a fill-in-the-blank book that you can use to tell your BFF how much you appreciate her, compile a binder of your family’s favorite secret recipes, or pen a poem to tell someone how much you appreciate them. Few things are as powerful as the written word…put it to good use this Christmas and watch as your carefully penned sentiments touch the hearts of those around you

7. Spa in a Jar

Gift your mom, sister, aunt, or girlfriends with the ultimate spa-day-in-a-jar. Stuff a wide-mouth mason jar with nail polish, a face mask, mini bottles of soap and lotion, bath bombs, and anything else that speaks spa–don’t forget a gourmet truffle for recipients to munch on while they’re pampering themselves.

8. Sports Star

Surprise your sports-loving pals with a piece of their favorite team’s merchandise (shirt, cap, poster, etc.) AND make their day with an invitation to an at-home tailgate the next time their team’s game is broadcasted on TV. When it’s party time, offer a few plates of snacks, plenty of comfy seats, and an opportunity for the two of you (and even others!) to bond over sports…let’s hope you both root for the same team! 😉

9. Christmas!

While it might seem strange, Christmas decorations can sometimes make the perfect gift for that Christmas-loving friend of yours. Fill a box with fun and quirky ornaments for them to hang on the tree next year, or gift them that adorable Christmas mug they’ve been eying…you can never have too much holiday cheer!

10. Study Buddy

Make sure your friends are well-prepared to go back to school after the holiday with a school survival kit complete with novelty erasers, a notebook or planner with a cute cover, study snacks, and (if applicable) a coupon for a study session. Make going back to school after Christmas vacation just that much more bearable 😉

11. Encourage a Hobby

A new set of drawing pencils, a colorful skein of yarn, or anything else that will get someone’s creative juices flowing are always appreciated. Know someone who’s on the hunt for a new hobby to pursue or an unusual art form to try? Get them a DIY kit that will teach them the basics of needle felting, paper quilling, or bead making.

12. YOU

Sometimes the best gift you can offer others is simply yourself! Make a promise to spend time with someone special–offer to pack a picnic, plan a girls’ day out, or take your younger siblings to the water park. So many gifts can get broken, eaten, or lost under a bed, but memories of good times spent with a special person will never fade.

 

Do you have any more ideas for creative and heartfelt gifts? If so, drop them in the comments!

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Summer Cover Reveal with Teen Author Taylor Bennett

If you follow us on Instagram, you know that we planned a cover reveal for the Summer 2018 issue of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine this past weekend. While we always enjoy cover reveals, this one was extra special because the covergirl herself got to reveal this one!

First time editor Jessica Lippe met author Taylor Bennett. Notice our incredibly fashionable Hawaiian garb!

I (editor Jessica Lippe) first met Taylor Bennett through Facebook, but when I learned she lived less than two hours away from me, I knew we needed to meet in person. That happened last month when I did a live interview with Taylor. Since then, her debut novel Porch Swing Girl was released. With that came a book release party planned for this past weekend. I happened to be planning a weekend retreat just north of her hometown, so I confirmed it for the same weekend so that I could stop by Taylor’s party on the way home.

Porch Swing Girl released this month. Check out our review in the next issue of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine!

Taylor Bennett is a published author at the ripe old age of 17, and has a contract to write two more books. I felt that her story was inspirational enough to share with girls all around the world, which is why she was chosen as the summer 2018 covergirl of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine. I also asked our assistant editor and cover designer, Lily Garay, if we could make the cover a priority so that it could be completed last week before I left on my trip.

Jessica and Taylor revealing the Summer 2018 issue at the Porch Swing Girl release party.

Upon arriving at Taylor’s church the day of her book release party, we enjoyed the Hawaiian decorations and food that matched the setting of Porch Swing Girl. Taylor Bennett was busy signing books for all the guests, but we did get the opportunity for a quick chat. I handed her an envelope, which when opened revealed a frame with the Girlz 4 Christ Summer 2018 cover.

I hope you check out Taylor Bennett’s interview and more in the next edition of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine, which releases in just one month! If you aren’t subscribed yet, what are you waiting for? Get a free digital subscription by clicking here.

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CONTEST! The Rebellion and Your Summer Reading List

It’s May! This is my favorite month of the year for so many reasons. The weather warms up to the perfect temperature for hiking, camping, and adventuring. Flowers bloom, sun shines, schools wrap up their year, and my birthday is celebrated, too! This year, May seems extra special because there are so many great books releasing for Christian girls.

We are super excited to give you a plethora of ideas for your summer reading list in the next issue of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine. (If you haven’t done so yet, snag a free subscription!) But if you want to get a jumpstart, here are some new books to read this month:

  • Girl Defined ministry leaders and authors Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird just released their second book, Love Defined, about having thr right heart to pursue godly relationships with boys.
  • Seventeen-year-old Taylor Bennett is a newly minted author with the publishing of her novel Porch Swing Girl, about a girl who’s trapped on an island with another girl with a secret.
  • Later this month, you’ll start hearing more about soul surfer Bethany Hamilton’s new film Unstoppable, as well as her inspirational companion photo book Be Unstoppable.
  • And next week, Livy Jarmusch is dropping her newest installation in her Tales or Tarsurella series, The Rebellion.

Livy Jarmusch is a twenty-something author, singer, and songwriter. She enjoys crafting YA fiction that is pure, lovely, inspirational, and of course, entertaining! When she’s not writing, you can usually find her playing guitar, blogging, drinking peppermint tea, connecting with new friends, planning her next trip to Disney, or pinning images of Europe and Golden Retriever Puppies. Come connect at http://www.livylynnblog.com.

The Rebellion is the sequel to The Coronation. Need to catch up in the series? Author Livy Lynn Jarmusch has offered to autograph a copy of The Coronation to the winner of this contest. There are several ways you can enter, and entries will only take a few seconds of your time.

Click here to enter the giveaway!

What books are you most excited to read this month?

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Spring 2018 is Here!

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Spring has sprung! That means a new exciting issue of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine has arrived!

Here are just a sample of what you’ll find:

-Exclusive interview with Sadie Robertson about how to live fearless

-Practical ways to live out your faith, in areas like finances, workouts, and dreams

-A puzzle-in-a-story that could win you a prize!

-Redesigned interior! Enjoy the new layout

Not a Girlz 4 Christ subscriber? If you sign up now, you’ll immediately receive a digital copy in your email once you confirm! And subscriptions are 100% FREE! Click here to subscribe.

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Singles Awareness Day? They Were Single Too!

I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day, a holiday known for excluding singles while couples display lovey-dovey acts. I myself am single. No husband, no boyfriend. But this Valentine’s Day, I don’t feel alone. Maybe it’s because I know a lot of other single people now. They’re right in the Bible.

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They Were Single Too features eight chapters, each outlining a single person from the Bible and explains what we can learn from their lives. One of the chapters is about Anna. I remember when I first read her story in the book of Luke. I was working at a camp as a teen and was so excited about it, I texted the girls’ dean and asked if we could learn about her at that night’s Bible study. She liked that idea, but I learned even more from reading her profile in They Were Single Too. Author David M. Hoffeditz delves deeper into explaining what singleness and the lifestyles of these people meant in relation to their culture and time period, and how that can personally translate to my life today.

I would recommend They Were Single Too to singles of any age and circumstance. Maybe even married people should read it, because understanding each other diminishes the “us vs. them” mentality. Reading this book would be a great way to spend your Singles Awareness Day. Here are a few other Valentine-less ideas:

  • Watch a movie on PureFlix, which has a host of clean movies and shows in different genres. Whether you want a romantic flick or nothing of the sort, you’ll find something here. (You can even watch God’s Not Dead 2 before the next movie comes out!) Click here for a free month of PureFlix streaming!
  • Make a fun dinner and have some friends over.
  • Go shopping! Just because no one’s giving you a cheesy gift doesn’t mean you can’t treat yo’self. (And you can earn cash back when you shop online with Swagbucks!)
  • If you have a job, offer to cover an extra shift. You probably have a coworker who would love the night off for Valentine’s Day. You’ll make some extra money and be too busy to wallow in self-pity.
  • Listen to an audio sermon from your church or by another pastor. Since Valentine’s Day lines up with Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent this year, it’s a good reminder to keep focused on loving God.

A copy of They Were Single Too was provided by Kregel Publications for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was made. Links may be from affiliates, which will help our ministry while offering positive deals for you. 

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She’s Got the Wrong Guy

A few weeks ago, I did a series of polls using Girlz 4 Christ’s Instagram stories. All of them were about relationships. Presumably, most of our Instagram followers would consider themselves Christians, so I asked questions surrounding that idea, from hotly-debated topics such as “Do you prefer dating or courting?”, to what I thought would be unanimous questions like “Would you ever consider dating a non-Christian?” I assumed just about everyone would vote “no” for that last question, but boy was I wrong!

Just as I was wrong about the poll results, some girls get caught up in the wrong relationship with the wrong guy. It may be because that guy’s not a Christian (which about 10% of our female Christian voters would at least entertain the idea of going out with a guy like this), or may be some other negative situation, like he’s controlling or encouraging you to get physical.

Then I got a copy of She’s Got the Wrong Guy.

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As it turns out, lots of Christian women get into a relationship with the wrong guy. This book lays out the facts, gives explanations for this phenomenon, and makes suggestions for how to avoid this. You’re a smart woman. You shouldn’t have to settle for less than what God wants for you.

 

Girlz 4 Christ is glad to be part of this book’s blog tour. We received a copy of this book to assist in our review, but all opinions are our own. 

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What’s Your Goal?

We all have goals. They’re a major driving factor that gets us through life. And here at Girlz 4 Christ, we not only want you to have goals, we want you to ACCOMPLISH them!

Have you ever wanted to do any of the following?

  • Read the Bible cover to cover.
  • Plan a trip to another continent.
  • Become a writer.
  • Get a straight-A report card.
  • Earn extra money.
  • Or anything that takes motivation and hard work?

If so, you’ve come to the right place! We’re excited to announce the theme for our Winter 2017/18 magazine issue: Going for the Goals!

We want you to help us design this issue so it can best help you reach your goals. Where is your stumbling block? Is it difficult to figure out what your goals really are? Is the day-to-day grind too much for you? Let us know what your goals are and how we can help you.

Girlz with Goalz

If you want to get a head start on your goals, we have the perfect eBook for you. Girlz with Goalz, our step-by-step workbook, can bring you from formulating your dreams to becoming a success! To celebrate our upcoming issue, we are giving this book away to everyone who makes any size of donation to the Girlz 4 Christ ministry. Just click here to safely give through PayPal, and we will send your downloadable Girlz with Goalz eBook to your email account.

You can also contribute to our GoFundMe fundraiser for a free eBook if you prefer.

PS: If your goal is to become a writer, we have an exciting way for you to do that! You can become a published writer by contributing an article to our “Going for the Goals” issue. E-mail G4Csubmissions@gmail.com for more information or to send your work in. (If you are a photographer or illustrator, you can contribute your work, too!)

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Hitting the Breaks

Earlier this year, I came up with an idea I thought would revolutionize Christian television production. Along the same vein of The Office and Parks and Recreation, we needed to shine a light on the world of ministry through a mockumentary of those front-line workers. I created characters, ministry jobs, and early versions of a script. Unfortunately, while writing is my forte, I do not have an in with anyone working in Hollywood.

Little did I know that, around the same time, a new mockumentary-style Christian series was in the works. I admit it might even be better than my show idea. Hitting the Breaks premiered last month. I watched it on Pure Flix and am hyped to tell you about it.

Hitting the Breaks is the first original sitcom series from Pure Flix. We would like to invite you to watch this series for FREE by signing up for a free trial of Pure Flix’ streaming service. To celebrate this comedy, we wrote this review comedy-style as well.

The Premise

Lightning McQueen… I mean, Randy Wilcox’s car

In case you forget why this mostly-normal Christian family ended up in an anything-but-normal Colorado Rockies town, just listen to the theme song. The title sequence begins with the opening sequence of Cars 3. (That’s also the same scene as the final race of the first Cars movie, but I digress…) Without giving away too much of the setup of the show (or the Pixar Cars franchise), there’s an accident on the racetrack. This forces driver Randy into a midlife crisis of early retirement and moving his family cross-country to his recently inherited hotel, which is where we first meet them in the pilot episode.

Serenity Inn from Hitting the Breaks
Quaint, quiet, and no cell phone tower within miles to disrupt the scenic view!

The Wilcox family walks into The Serenity Inn, their new home in Colorado. Oh no! What happened to the Wi-fi and cell service? I guess it lacks those features to make what otherwise looks like a just-built hotel set seem old and dilapidated. They never get those services, so I guess they won’t be able to read this review. Or watch their own show.

When it comes to the topic of finances, this modern-day Petticoat Junction is mysterious . Why did Randy’s father die and leave his estate conveniently at the same time that Randy also flirted with death and needed a place to move to? Why is Randy concerned about money when he has free housing and presumably a professional athlete’s savings account? How can a hotel that never has a paying guest afford to keep on a maid? (Although this does explain why she never does any work- there’s no one to clean up after!) How can Randy quickly get hooked up with an endorsement deal when he wants several thousand dollars, but can’t drop a hundred bucks to replace a falling-apart floor rug that everyone complains about? And the most mysterious of all: why are Christian films notoriously low-budget, but Hitting the Breaks is actually a good show?

Speaking of Christianity, this is an original series created by and available exclusively through the Christian entertainment company, Pure Flix. But don’t expect the characters to awkwardly pause the story line to give their testimony. Instead you’ll see the Wilcox family and some of their friends living out their life with Christ through Bible studies, church events, reading, and prayer. For them, Christianity isn’t a separate part of their lives that they focus on for two minutes but ignore the remainder of the episode. It’s how they live their whole lives. That’s a good takeaway for all of us.

Wilcox Family from Hitting the Breaks Pilot
Accurate depiction of how kids feel when they have to move to the middle of nowhere.

But although there are mysteries and faith themes, Hitting the Breaks is a comedy. You’ll be reminded of that every four seconds when the laugh track goes off. Sometimes it gets so cheesy that you’ll want to grab tortilla chips and make some nachos. The characters even acknowledge this a handful of times while breaking the fourth wall.

The Characters

Is it Brother White? Is it Holy Man Undercover? No! It’s a racing star you’ve never heard of!

Randy Wilcox is played by that ever-present actor in nearly every Christian movie, David A.R. White. Instead of his typical portrayal of a pastor or an Amish man, David branches out in this show as a retired race car driver. The word “retired” might be a bit harsh, since he’s only middle-aged with daughters still in school. But what can you do if you have a family full of women who convince you that your line of work might be dangerous after your last race ended in smoke and shambles?

Coincidentally, I was also in a car crash shortly before Hitting the Breaks premiered. (I’m not a race car driver; I just share the road with people who think that a red light means “keep going!”) I even got the same lingering injury as Randy: a shoulder in so much pain that I couldn’t raise my arm. But since Randy’s arm was instantly cured by falling off a roof, I am definitely jumping off a building now. If anything goes wrong, I’ll just send my hospital bill to the production company. (Not everything you see on TV is meant to be impressionable, kids!)

Charlie Wilcox Hitting the Breaks
I think she’s the only person in this whole TV show that has any idea what’s going on.

Charlie Wilcox is Randy’s wife. Actress Andrea Logan White is also the real-life wife of David A.R. White. In Christian film world, that means it’s okay for the couple to share a bed unlike the sitcom couples of the 50s, and kiss each other without pulling Kirk Cameron’s stand-in stunt from Fireproof. Yay for realism!

Delancey Wilcox Hitting the Breaks
While watching Hitting the Breaks, try to get a screenshot of her without a sarcastic look. I dare you.

Delancey Wilcox is the oldest daughter of Randy and Charlie. Since she’s a teen, the writers gave her typical teen traits like being obsessed with boys and shampoo. Wait, shampoo? Is that a legit obsession? I started working on this teen magazine (that you should subscribe to) as I was aging out of my own teen years. All this time I guess I forgot to include a much-desired magazine section dedicated to shampoo. If you’re a teen girl with a shampoo obsession,  please leave a comment at the end of this post. I need your help with an upcoming article.

Darcy Wilcox Hitting the Breaks
She may be a preteen, but her IQ is higher than the rest of the town’s combined.

Darcy Wilcox is basically a female version of Brick Heck from ABC’s The Middle. Book brainiac, youngest child, remembers everything, socially awkward… you get the picture. I almost expected her to repeat words in a whisper. Maybe they’re saving that for season two.

Bernie and Sky
Sheriff Bernie and non-cranky-vegan Sky appear to be best friends. Not sure what they have in common.

Other Characters abound in this Rocky Mountain town. A fan favorite is Sky, a vegan-restaurant-owning/ motorcycle-riding/ friends-with-everyone twentysomething who knows the rest of the townsfolk are unusual without realizing that she’s a different kind of offbeat as well. The bumbling cop Bernie makes Barney Fife look like a SWAT Team agent. Then there are two old guys who continually wear bunny costumes. It’s weird how quickly you get used to that.

Tim Tebow in Hitting the Breaks
Tim Tebow makes his appearance. I wonder how many people watched the entire series just to get to this point?

Let’s not forget the special guest stars! There’s Alyson Stoner, and Morgan Fairchild, and Carrot Top, and IS THAT TIM TEBOW? LET’S FREAK OUT LIKE EVERY CHARACTER DID IN THE SEASON FINALE!

The Recommendation

Wilcox Family Hitting the Breaks
Your new favorite TV family. Do they have room for one more? I’ll see if I can make a cameo in the next season.

Joking aside for a moment, you probably know that there are fewer and fewer sitcoms airing that the whole family can enjoy. Two of the three family-friendly shows I alluded to above (The Andy Griffith Show and Petticoat Junction, which also has episodes available to stream on Pure Flix) were first filmed in black and white. The other mention, The Middle, is in its final season as television networks turn to edgier shows with more shock value. I’m glad that Pure Flix is stepping up to fill this widening gap. We need more shows that are funny, entertaining, and hold to God-honoring, family-friendly values.

Although Hitting the Breaks is only available on Pure Flix, we have a special deal for you. If you click here (or on any other link in this post) you will get a free month of streaming on Pure FlixHitting the Breaks has ten episodes, so you can easily watch the entire first season during your free trial, even if you’re not a binge-watcher.

Question: What kinds of things do you enjoy in a sitcom? Also, do you have a favorite kind of shampoo? I really want to know!

Don’t forget to check out our movie reviews for Princess Cut and I’m Not Ashamed, as well as snag a free Girlz 4 Christ Magazine subscription!

Reviewed by Jessica Lippe. All photos are from Hitting the Breaks/ Pure Flix. This article utilizes affiliate links. All opinions belong to the author.

 

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Back to School Savings 

Back-to-school shopping is in full swing. You can go to any superstore and pick up pencils, paper, and folders for just pennies each. But now, we at Girlz 4 Christ would like to offer you savings on bigger ticket items that you can use year-round!

The following contains affiliate links. This just means that if you click on the links, we’ll both end up with some extra money in our pockets. Thank you for supporting Girlz 4 Christ through your wise shopping!

Movie Streaming Service

We are excited to tell you about our favorite streaming service. We are even more excited that we can give you a month of unlimited movies and shows for free! Pure Flix offers a wide variety of clean things to watch in every genre. We even offer a growing list of recommended movies for you to see. Click here to start your free month now!

Shaving Razors

We like using Dollar Shave Club razors because they’re effective, durable, and help the environment by having replaceable blades. Not to mention, they are super inexpensive!  The options may look like razors for men, but we assure you that they remove hair from legs and armpits at least as well as any pink razor ever has. The Dollar Shave Club toiletry options are pretty great, too. Click here to shop or set up a subscription, which you can cancel at any time.

Gift Cards

We know that gift cards are fun to shop with. It’s even better when those gift cards are free! When you sign up for an account with Swagbucks, you can earn points for doing simple things like playing games, taking surveys, or searching the web. You can then use those points for gift cards to places like Amazon, Redbox, restaurants, or even the gas station. Click here to join Swagbucks and start off with $3 for free!

Lodging

Need a getaway before the school year begins? Or maybe a weekend trip to retreat in the fall? No matter where you go, there’s probably an AirBnB nearby. We like renting rooms and houses from AirBnB because they’re unique and often inexpensive. Click here to save $40 off your first AirBnB stay. If you prefer hostels, check out the price comparison tool from the largest database of hostels.

Books

If you have to buy your own school textbooks, our best recommendation is to try to find used ones online. But for personal reading choices, we can point you to FREE books! When you join Tyndale Rewards, you can earn free Christian books, discs, and other gifts for things like posting online or giving your opinion.

Magazine

We couldn’t forget this one! You can always get a 100% free, no-strings-attached subscription to Girlz 4 Christ Magazine. Each issue is packed with devotions, celebrity interviews, beauty tips, book and movie reviews, and so much more. Click here to become a subscriber now!

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This post has utilized affiliate links. Thank you for clicking through them so that we both can have a little more cash in our pockets!