Thursday, December 5, 2013

On Advent and Creating Traditions

Although my days with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) are passed, I am honored to contribute in any small way I can to this vital ministry. Therefore, I'm sharing thoughts on Thursdays with our local chapter, on the Sheridan Morning MOPS blog, and sharing it here with you:

We are the first week into Advent now, which is preparing for the coming of the Christ child. But it’s not too late to jump in and start a new tradition. 

So many years passed I have felt that the meaning of Christmas just simply got away from me in the hustle and bustle of the season. Well-intended, we threw in scripture and the Christmas story, but the tree and the list and the gifts became all-consuming. Before I knew it, it was Christmas Eve and I felt like the last twenty-four days had been a complete whirlwind. As a result, I've accumulated a few ideas for the Advent season.

Here are just a few resources to set your Advent season off in the right direction: 

The ADVENTure of Christmas, by Lisa Whelchel

We just ordered this book this year and it looks great! Amazon describes it as the following: 

The ADVENTure of Christmas is a guide for moms concerned that their children are losing sight of Jesus in the midst of the distractions the holiday season brings. Lisa Whelchel was such a mom, but instead of abandoning the traditions of Christmas she rediscovered their original meanings, which were intended to remind people of God's unfathomable gift. Hanging lights on the house, wrapping gifts, and decorating the tree have become opportunities to teach her children about how they relate to Jesus' birth. With The ADVENTure of Christmas, mothers can redeem what's been lost from the very symbols that are gentle reminders of the true meaning of Christmas.

Family Book of Advent, by Carol Garborg

This is a great little book that incorporates 25 stories and hands-on activities to celebrate 

the meaning of Christmas. I love this hands-on approach for my kids! 

Our first project was making a wreath designed to emphasize the names of Jesus. As we go through the devotions this Advent season, for any name of Jesus that we discover, we create a star, write the name on it and add it to the wreath. 

Jotham’s Journey Trilogy, by Arnold Ytreeide

These are gripping stories that hold the attention of an older audience, about 6 - 8 and up.

Choose one book per Advent season and rotate between Jotham’s Journey, Bartholemew’s Passage, and Tabitha's Travels: A Family Story for Advent.

Jotham’s Journey: In this widely popular, exciting story for the advent season, readers follow ten-year-old Jotham across Israel as he searches for his family. Though he faces thieves, robbers, and kidnappers, Jotham also encounters the wise men, shepherds, and innkeepers until at last he finds his way to the Savior born in Bethlehem. 

Bartholomew’s Passage: The highly anticipated follow-up to Jotham's Journey! Bartholomew's Passage is an engaging story that guides families through the Advent season. Young Bartholomew's adventures start when Roman soldiers destroy his village and disperse his family, continue through his enslavement to a tyrannical master and his escape with his new friend Nathan, and end with a reunion with his family in Bethlehem. Along the way Bartholomew makes a new friend, a young boy named Jotham! 

Tabitha’s Travels: Curious, competent, and courageous Tabitha is the daughter of a shepherd who is taking his family on caravan to his birthplace. Along the way, she meets and becomes friends with Jotham and Bartholomew, watches as Romans take her father prisoner, spends time with Zechariah and Elizabeth, helps Mary and Joseph just before Christ’s birth, and ends her travels at the stable in Bethlehem. 

The Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp

Ann describes her book as the following: 

a New York Times Bestseller (free download of 25 ornaments with the book) – a fresh, all new unwrapping of The Love Story - your love story ... ... God starting a Christmas revolution, us all turning toward Jesus. A whole bunch of us who just want to open that present, moment by moment, all through Advent, the rest of our lives — the greatest gift of His Presence.”

This offers a hands-on approach, as well. Print out Ann Voskamp's free Jesse Tree ornaments and create a Jesse Tree for your family devotion time, which is based on this verse: 

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit...In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.” Isa 11:1, 10 

We've been coloring and cutting out the ornaments, that go with each day leading up to Christmas, for our Jesse tree.

Finally, Head over to Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience, to be inspired by this post

There are so many things that we can do to help turn our focus toward Christ this Christmas season. My advice is don’t try to do it all. Start with one new meaningful tradition and add to it with time. 

Whatever we do, the most important thing is finding ways to point our eyes and our children’s eyes toward Christ through the anticipation of his coming. Be blessed. 

1 comment:

  1. Hello, dear friend. Just wanted to thank you for the resources and ideas. You always encourage me....even from miles away. Have a very blessed Christmas and know we are thinking and praying for you from sunny Arizona!


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