Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sharing the Season's Reason {Advent Devotions}


We made it!! December 1st is here!! Time to kick off the much-awaited 25 Days of Christmas! We here at Defrump Me are soooo excited about the Christmas season! (Bet you already had that figured out, didn't you? I knew you were a smart group!) I remember, vaguely, my days of single-hood and the years before children — back when friends and church activities took up most of my Christmas schedule. With fellowships, parties, outreach (not to mention college finals!), I was pretty busy. 

Now, I guess I kinda miss those days of unencumbered fun (and if you are one of those singles, enjoy these days and make the most of it!). But there is something about having a husband and especially young children that makes this season truly magical! My schedule may look different and incorporate more nap times and crafts, but it is no less busy or meaningful, let me tell you! 

Yesterday, Lauren posted her ever-evolving December calendar for you. Mine looks similar — just chock-full of activities, crafts and parties — so exciting! My 5-year-old daughter remembers so much from the past two Christmases that it is becoming more and more important to me to make special memories every year.

Aside from just fun activities like Christmas parades, train rides, pageants, parties, and lights, and crafts like ornaments, snowflakes, cookies, and gifts, I want to emphasize for my kids the whole REASON why we have this season to celebrate. It is up to me and my husband to reach past the consumerism of Christmas and reveal Jesus — the baby who was born to die (a beautiful song is Bebo Norman's "Born to Die"). 

A King, humbled into humanity, Earth-bound for the mission of bringing a world of sin to the throne of grace through the enormous sacrifice of death on a cross. Such unspeakable love, echoed throughout the pages of the Bible, and culminating in the first breath of a tiny baby in the arms of a virgin who said yes to the Holy Spirit. Mmhmm... It is too much!!

That gift that God gave us 2,000 years ago is the whole reason for the joy and magic of this month, and the memories we make and lessons our children learn should carry on through the whole year. Christmas is one of the easiest times to make Jesus REAL to our children. Whether or not your living room has a tree, or your kids get gifts from Santa or minimal gifts from family, it's the miracle of Christ that makes Christmas possible and joyous.

So, if you are looking for some ways to keep Jesus at the center of your CHRISTmas celebrations for your family or yourself, here's a round up of some that you can start today! (P.S. Clicking these links won't make me any money. This is a free service to you and the kind folks who created these resources.) :-)







Women of Faith is providing this free resource designed for the 4 weeks of Advent (the 4 Sundays preceding Christmas Day), but you can jump in any day. Each day has a Scripture passage, relevant lesson, and prayer. There are also activity ideas and other interesting passages. (Seems like this one would be great for singles, couples, or families with older kiddos, too.)




Ann Voskamp (author of One Thousand Gifts) from A Holy Experience offers this free and amazing ebook for 25 days leading up to Christmas. Each day includes a full text Scripture, a read-aloud devotion, an "action point" of something your family can do each day, and a beautifully Nancy Rodden-illustrated ornament to hang on your Jesse Tree. (We did a similar Jesse Tree devotion set two years ago, and it was quite memorable.) This one looks like a winner for families of all sizes and ages!




Mom's Toolbox provides this free Mom's Advent Calendar that is full of both meaningful and practical ideas to smooth what is promising to be a busy month for us all.







Source: amazon.com via Susan on Pinterest


What God wants for Christmas is a great resource from FamilyLife (the same folks who do Resurrection Eggs for Easter). There are 7 boxes that can be opened the week leading up to Christmas or spread throughout the month. Each box contains a character for the kid-friendly Nativity and the accompanying booklet tells the story of each character. The last box contains the answer to the question, "What does God want for Christmas?" :-) We have done this set twice in the past three years (I try to skip a year between so that the surprise is special each time), and my daughter really likes it a lot. It's a quick and easy devotional with a surprise to keep their attention and their little hands busy.






Truth in the Tinsel is the Advent activity resource that we are going to use this year for our little ones. Each day has a Scripture reading, preschool-friendly read-aloud devotional, ornament craft, and additional talking points, along with a few extras. ImpressYourKids.com is a wonderful blog with all kinds of ideas and thoughts on how to make an impact on your kids for Christ. This particular resource is an ebook that Amanda White has listed for $4.99 (I got it on special last week), and you can follow the journey on Facebook

Now, I know stuff comes up and not every family has 25 days to do something seemingly elaborate. Here are some more simple ideas to help keep Christ in focus:




This Nativity story with M&Ms gift is going to be a great take-home for our preschool Sunday school class. So cute and creative!!




You can celebrate Advent with Scripture Readings.

And don't forget to talk about the Symbols of Christmas - evergreen tree, angels, the star, gifts, etc.

One final resource today, but don't tell the hubster.........Go away, Honey! ....

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Okay, here's a Christmas countdown idea you can do just for your spouse (or other super-special someone) from those fabulous Dating Divas! Because everyone can use more love!! A combination of compliments and words of affirmation, small gifts and acts of service, this idea is bound to make the love of your life eager for each new day with you!


So, do you have any ideas for helping your family to remember that Jesus is the Reason for the Season? What are your favorites?

And remember to join us each day as we share our favorite Christmas activities, crafts, decorations, and more!!








6 comments:

  1. Keep the Christmas posts coming! (I know y'all will). :)

    Side note: Have you heard Todd Agnew's "Bethlehem Dawn"? It's also an excellent/beautiful Advent/Gospel song. Just FYI.

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  2. Great list! The Life Your Way blog actually has a Jesse Tree activity that is much simpler than Ann Voskamp's. I tried hers last year and it was just too much for my girls ( 5 and 3 last year). The one Life Your Way has is super simple, prints in 5 pages and the ornaments are cute and fun to color. The devotional is simple as well. Here's a link my post about it: http://www.simplymelsblog.com/simply-christmas-crafts-and-ideas/

    Love the Nativity Story with M&M's boxes. So cute! Marian Ward led me to you guys and I look forward to reading more from you. I think we have a lot of mutual friends but don't know each other personally.

    God bless!

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  3. Marian, just listened to it. Quite nice. Not a huge fan of Todd Agnew, but it is a good song, you're right.

    Mel, Thanks for dropping in and for commenting! Your blog looks great, as does that post! Thanks for the heads up on the Life Your Way Jesse Tree. As I'm looking at it, I think that's the one that we did a couple years ago. Can I admit and say that I made it about 1/2 through the ornaments before I gave up?? But we did continue the readings the whole month :-)

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  4. I think that the true spirit of Christmas is ministry! It is a great time to teach children the importance of reaching out! Important activities can include feeding the homeless, donating gifts to needy children, giving time to help the poor, creating cards and ornaments to soldiers, the elderly, donating time to visit the elderly, etc.

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  5. Thanks for the great article, Susan! You compiled some great resources. We definitely don't want to lose Jesus in the celebrations!

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  6. Anonymous, of course it is important to minister to others, and we can begin to teach our children that we are the hands and feet of Jesus even from a young age. We did a box for Operation Christmas Child earlier this month that my kids really got excited about. You can see that post here http://www.defrumpme.com/2011/11/operation-christmas-child-gifts-from.html Your ideas are great as well, and you should look for a future post with other meaningful ideas for blessing others this season. Thanks for commenting!

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