Category Archives: Advent

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?”

photo-246

“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.

photo-251

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

photo-247

image-5

image-7

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!

photo-250

photo-249

 

…….

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

advent-coll2

(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

goat.

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}

image-10

.

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.

image-11

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.

photo-252

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

photo-254

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.

photo-255

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!

IMG_0355

………

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!”

photo-248

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!

Advent At Our House… Prophecies Fulfilled

MS with nativity

 

Did you know that many pieces of a nativity scene illustrate a fulfillment of prophecy?  This morning our family explored how parts of our nativity were also clues and signs revealed by God’s prophets hundreds of years before Jesus was even born!  We took turns finding and reading these verses for each piece:

Star- Numbers 24:17

Virgin Mary- Isaiah 7:14

Joseph- descendent of David- Jeremiah 23:5

Bethlehem (our stable)-  Micah 5:2

Angels proclaiming peace  Haggai 2:9, Isaiah 9:6 and 9:7

Wise Men-    Psalm 72:10, Isaiah 60:6 (shepherds)

Baby Jesus-   Isaiah 9:6

 I’m sure there are many more!  Happy hunting! 🙂

We thought exploring these prophecies was both interesting and fun with our nativity scene as a guide!  Dad was also sure to remind us that these prophets (and others) called God’s people back to Him.  So we were able to read and discuss examples of that, too!  It is amazing to see our children think so deeply about Scripture and make connections of their own!  What a great joy!

Merry Christmas!

Advent At Our House… “no room for them in the inn”

a goat on our field trip

Sometimes I wonder if my children really “get it”… understand what Jesus did for us.  Then I realize that I don’t fully understand it!  I can’t quite wrap my head around the amazing love, the amazing sacrifice for us.  This Advent season we are trying to dig in and soak up and fully comprehend this Gift we were given that first Christmas.

We’ve talked about the sacrifice Jesus made out of His great love for us… the sacrifice in His death but also the sacrifice in His life here on earth when God stepped into history as a man.  The children and I have discussed what heaven must be like… perfect, full of glory, joy, no sadness, no sickness, no sin, no death, beautiful to behold.  That was the home of Jesus.  In heaven he was rich!  Everything in heaven and earth belonged to Him!  He was almighty, Lord of heaven and earth with angels praising Him!  Yet He left his riches to sleep in a manger beside the animals.  He left His power to become a helpless baby.  Love. For. Us.  Wow.

sheep

I think my kiddos and I have often pictured this place where Jesus was born as a cozy little stable with cute little lambs.  I think we needed a better picture, so we visited barn animals.  It wasn’t quite as cute and cozy as the pictures we see in books.

Catherine with cowsIn fact, it was pretty stinky!  🙂  It was dirty.  It was the opposite of heaven!  We watched the animals and tried to take in all the sights, sounds, smells, and we thought about our almighty Savior being born right there in the middle of it!

horses

donkey

Thou Who Wast Rich

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”  

2 Corinthians 8:9

Advent At Our House… Our {semi} Homemade Jesse Tree Ornaments

Stump Ornament

Advent!  Coming!  We are preparing our hearts and home to celebrate the birth of Christ our Savior, leaving His home in glory because of His great love for us.  It’s a time of excitement and anticipation!  It is a time of reflection, thanksgiving, and repentance.  It is a wonderful opportunity for us as parents to focus and direct the hearts and minds of our little lambs to their Good Shepherd.  It’s a time to remember He is the reason for the season… and EVERYTHING else, too!  🙂

We are using The Jesse Tree scripture readings (from several different studies) each night in December!   It is a great way to reinforce to our children that the Bible isn’t just a bunch of little stories, but one big book of our history, HIS-story, all pointing to our Savior!  We will be doing a reading each night and then hanging a corresponding ornament.  We made some of our own Jesse Tree ornaments this year.  We tried our hand at salt dough, but I think the pipe cleaners and crumpled paper ornaments are the cutest!  We may need to upgrade next year!  🙂  Below each picture, I’ve described the ornaments.

Jesse Tree 1

Paper Tube Stump and Pipe Cleaner Shoot- Shoot from the Stump of Jesse-  Isaiah 11:1-3, Painted Blue Ornament Earth- Creation,  Salt Dough Tree- Fall and God’s promised Seed, Salt Dough Rainbow- Flood  (We are planning to make a paper coil snake and fingerprint rainbow, too!  Fun!)

Jesse Tree 2

Roll of $1 Star Garland-  God’s Covenant with Abraham,  Baby Footprint-  Isaac’s Birth,  Sticks-  Sacrifice of Isaac, Pipe Cleaner Ladder-  Jacob,  Pipe Cleaner Star- Gen. 35 God Renames Jacob,  Tissue Paper Coat- Joseph,  Salt Dough Stone Tablets- 10 Commandments

Jesse Tree 3

Scarlet Cord (from a set of jingle bells)-  Rahab,  Grain-  Ruth,  Salt Dough Horn of Oil and Shepherd’s Staff-  Samuel Anoints David,  Toilet Paper Tube Crown- King David,  Egg Carton Temple-  Solomon House for God,  Heart Key Chain-  Solomon’s Heart of Wisdom

Jesse Tree 4

Scroll-  Josiah, Pipe Cleaner & Bead Candle-  Light- Isaiah 42, Salt Dough & Felt Fire-  Elijah,  Cardboard & Foil Sword-  Swords into Plowshares- Peace-  Isaiah 2:4,  Word on Heart-  Jeremiah.  (We are also planning to make a Bethlehem ornament for Micah 5:2.)

Jesse Tree 5

Dove-  Prince of Peace, Construction Paper Slate-  Zechariah and Elizabeth,  Shells-  Water, John the Baptist,  Paper Hand Traced Lilly-  Mary,  Cardboard Carpenter’s Square- Joseph,  Spoon Angel, Salt Dough Manger

We made our ornaments over a couple of days, but if you’re feeling crafty this Advent, you could make one each day along with your reading!  🙂  We found some of our ideas here.

We want to share more of Advent At Our House soon!  We hope you are enjoying the preparation and anticipation of His arrival at your house, too!  🙂  Merry Christmas!