Advent At Our House {2013}

So, I started Advent with this picture in my head.  It looked a little like this:

Peaceful days.  Our home filled with soft music and singing.  Children completing their homeschool work with joy by the light of the fire or the Christmas tree.  Mom bringing them a tray of freshly baked Christmas treats.  Everyone smiling.  Especially Mom.  All of the time.  Was anyone else expecting that?  Oh, and my perfectly planned Advent activities and crafts would be beautifully completed each day, displayed in the family room, and hidden in my children’s hearts.

Well, Advent has been a time of joy at our house, but our joy is a little more… hmmm… hustle-y and bustle-y?  Energetic?  Loud?  Messy?  🙂

energetic angel

And the truth is, when the joy seems to be lacking, sometimes it’s me who is just missing it in the mess.  It’s me who’s taking it away.

“We can’t make salt dough ornaments!  We have so many other things to do!”

“We don’t have time to decorate a gingerbread house!”

“Let’s get this Jesse Tree devotion done!  We’ve got school work to do!”

And why do I think things should look perfect?

“Why are so many of the ornaments around the bottom of the tree?”


“What are you wearing?”

happy angel

Rush.  Distractions.  To-do lists.  

I’m trying so hard to keep Christ the center of everything around here.  I am trying to show them that Christmas is all about HIM.  I’m trying so hard to keep them focused.  I am trying so hard to keep distractions out of our home.

But I am the one who needs a lesson.  I am the one who has lost focus.

My kids are full of Christ’s joy.  They are relishing HIS season.  They are full of His Spirit!  They are savoring the now.

It may not look like or sound like the peaceful picture I had in my head.  It’s more of a singing-Handel’s-Messiah-at-the-top-of-our-lungs type of joy.  “FOR UNTO US A CHILD IS BO-ORN!  UNTO US A SON IS GIVEN!  AND THE GOVERNMENT SHALL BE UPON HIS                                     SHO-O-O-O-OULDERS!”

It’s more of a dressing-up-like-an-angel-all-by-myself type of joy!  A singing-

GLO- – – – – – – – – RI-A type of joy!

smiling angel

It’s not a soft violin, beautiful dresses type of joy.  It’s more of a dancing-around-the-kitchen-to-Charlie-Brown’s-Christmas-music-in-our-favorite-pjs-that-don’t-match type of joy.

photo 1-2

photo 2-3

 And it’s time to for Mom to get in on the joy!  It’s time for Mom to delight in this messy beautiful that Christ gave me!  It’s time to slow down and savor.  It’s time to focus on living the life of abundance that He came to give us!  It’s time to say “yes” to the gingerbread house.  It’s time to say “yes” to making ornaments and cookies.  It’s time to spend as long as we want to on the Jesse tree.


These kiddos are going to enjoy it all with or without me!




Of course there’s nothing like a little ice storm to reprogram my thinking, too.  🙂  There just wasn’t a lot of checking things off of that to do list!





Here is a quick wrap-up of the Advent activities I posted last year:


(Click the titles to visit the post.)

Our {semi} Homemade Jesse Tree Ornaments

stumpWe made these ornaments over a couple of days using salt dough, dollar tree items, toilet paper tubes, pipe cleaners, and glue!   When we  pulled out all of our Jesse Tree ornaments to use again this year, and my littles were so excited to see them again!  They were trying to remember the Bible story for each one of the ornaments.  The sweetest part was to hear the big kids explaining things to the little ones.  “Well, Mary Sorrels, it’s is called a Jesse Tree because you know who David’s dad is, right?  What is his name?  Well Jesus is from David’s family.  Do you remember God’s covenant with David?  There is a verse in Isaiah…”  Melt. My. Heart.

“no room for them in the inn”… A Visit to See Barn Animals


We took a field trip to see farm animals last year durning Advent.  We’ve read the Christmas story  so many times… the stable, the manger.   I began to wonder if my kids could really wrap their heads around what happened … the Creator of the cosmos left his perfect home in glory for us.  We learned a hymn to remind us of this, too!

Prophecies Fulfilled {nativity scene activity}



Did you know that the pieces of a nativity scene fulfill Old Testament prophecies regarding Christ’s coming?  Neat, huh?  🙂  Get your Bibles and click this post to find out more!  🙂



A Few More Things…

The Advent Wreath

We also spend time during Advent lighting candles around our Advent Wreath.  This has been a fun tradition for our family since our first child was born.  We turn out the lights, light the candles, read Scripture, sing, and pray.  We end every Advent Wreath time with singing “Happy Birthday” to JESUS, and the children blow out the candles.  We have some suggested readings and hymns to go with each candle.


I’ve always struggled with finding a wreath, putting greenery on a frame, moving the wreath around when we weren’t using it, etc.  I finally decided to make our own wreath last year using our handprints!  I found the frame years ago in the floral section at Hobby Lobby.  I traced it onto white poster board and put handprints along the tracing.


A Favorite Book

Here is a great book for moms that I’ve turned to again and again.  It was a gift from my mother-in-law several years ago.  It has so many great ideas for celebrating Advent with children!

The ADVENTure of Christmas


Christmas Prayers

I LOOOVE checking the mail this time of year!  I am SO excited to get Christmas cards from close friends, from families I haven’t seen much throughout the year, and from families that I never get to see!   I used to hang the cards around the kitchen each year.  A friend gave me the idea of letting a different child pick a card each night durning Advent and praying for the family who sent the card!  I love it!  I think it is a tradition we will begin!  Maybe it won’t stop at Advent!  We could pray for the families throughout the year.


Gifts for Those In Need

Our church is collecting money in order to make a large purchase for World Vision.  My kiddos have been working hard to earn extra money from Dad to help with this project!  Maybe they could do this all year, too!



While this Christmas season doesn’t look anywhere near “picture-perfect” here at our house, that doesn’t mean it isn’t perfect for us!  I just have to realize that and enjoy it!

IMG_9619 2


After the big mess and the gingerbread house was complete, all Jack could say was

“Oh, Mom!  It’s PERRRRFECT!”


Yes, Jack!  It is!  🙂

So, mamas, I pray you have been enjoying this season and that your heart has been preparing Him room better than mine!

Oh Come, Let Us Adore Him!

12 thoughts on “Advent At Our House {2013}

    1. i have no greater joy Post author

      I always think it is hard to relax and enjoy things! What’s wrong with me?! That should be easy and fun! I guess the things that really need to get done are the things like decorating gingerbread houses and ornaments with the kids… making memories should be at the top of my to-do list! 🙂

  1. godmadeknown

    You are sooo right! The kids are going to have fun with or without you so you might as well toss the ideals aside and embrace the reality of mess! Some people are really taken aback at the lack of holiday decor in our house but we made it a tradition early on to decorate our home with the people we love by inviting others to join us each week as we light our advent candle. One Sunday we have all the neighbors, another is reserved just for family, while I was still in school we’d invite my professors, once we had kids we’d have lot’s of young families over etc… One special advent when my husband and a number of other teachers were laid-off just before Christmas, we invited they and their families (several of us had little ones and were also expecting at the time) over to light the candle and sing carols and just spend some time crying together. That is an advent I’ll never forget. I’m so glad there are other Christians out there embracing this beautiful tradition. And by the way, those hand prints made the most beautiful advent wreath I have ever seen. Come Lord Jesus!

    1. i have no greater joy Post author

      Oh, I think your decorations are the best kind! I’ve often wondered if a Christmas tree, stockings, wreaths (that’s about the extent of our decorations) are just distractions anyway! My husband tends to think they are! What a wonderful idea! Sharing your Advent candle time is exactly what we all should be doing! You are full of inspiration and encouragement! My wheels are turning now…
      (Do I always end every sentence with ‘!’ ?) 😉

  2. Joe Morell

    Greetings from Stockholm, Sweden!
    Wow—What a website! Seeing pictures of your family filled my heart with joy and reflection—kind of like looking in the rear-view-mirror 12 years back. We also are blessed with four lively and wonderful children, though two are now out with wings spread embracing life in college.
    Our family also home schooled for a number of years until a vectoring of life plans shifted our hearts and passion to Sweden where we are church planting, and home schooling is illegal.
    May God’s grace abound in and thru your family.
    Blessings across the waves,
    in Christ,
    Joe and Ursula

  3. prairiepaisley.jodi

    Hi there, it is so true how we can get all caught up in the hustle and bustle and miss the spirit and our kiddos are busy living it all along. Advent is one of our very favorite times, we usually read an advent book aloud, light our wreath and it’s super special. This year we are doing more of an activity base thing but it still stops us each day to focus in on Christ. Thanks for your reminder to refocus this week,especially. Have fun soaking up your kiddos:)

  4. Tiffany

    Hey, I have a quick question I wanted to ask you about your blog, do you think you could send me an email when you get this? Thanks! Tiffany

  5. Ginger

    Looks like you are having all kinds of fun. We grew up doing Advent at church, but have not done anything adventy except to put out the wreath I made in 5th grade.


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