Last week we celebrated Christmas with my husband's family. Matching Christmas pjs. Visiting Santa with cousins. Waking early to open stockings. Exchanging presents by the lit tree. Finishing with a wonderful steak & potato Christmas dinner.
Every activity just as it should be on Christmas day. But it didn't feel like "Christmas". There was no build-up. No counting days from turkey to a candlelit service.
Because Christmas is more than a day. It's a season. More than giving gifts and eating good food. It’s a period of time to adjust hearts. Redirecting my focus from self to God. Reminding me there is more to living this life than the day-to-day tasks.
What makes Christmas entrancing is how the ordinary transforms into the extra-ordinary. Lights on trees. Trees situated in living rooms. Sprinkles on cookies. Sparkles on clothes. Parties on weeknights. Normal gets turned on its head.
The changes shake me from the mode of the mundane.
Even conversation changes. Time around the table pouring over His story. Sweet questions during car rides about the words, “King of Kings”. Discussing whether lyrics say, “the Lord has come” or “the world has come.”
When I start to feel the stress of all the expectations of the season, it’s good to remember I need the change. I need to break from my rhythm. Just like I need to wake up each morning and proclaim, “You are king of my life.” I need to end my year with the proclamation, “You are King of Kings...who came to earth in the form of newborn babe.”
Advent, which means "coming" prepares me for the coming of Christmas, Gives perspective for His future coming. But it takes intention to do advent activities.
Last year I shared 5 tips for enjoying Christmas with young kids. Including two different ways we focused our hearts on the true meaning of Christmas. One, we crafted adorable ornaments from Truth in Tinsel. I loved having a fun craft to do while dinner was cooking. Each day discussing a new detail of the New Testament story of Christ's birth.
The other way was "The Family Promise Tree" (based on the Jesse Tree), a set of felt ornaments my sister sewed. With each ornament there is a little devotional, starting with Genesis, directing us through God’s promise to send His Son to deliver us from sin. Each day tells a story from the Bible (Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Ruth, David, Isaiah, John the Baptist) leading to the arrival of Jesus…the Promised Child. It’s a simple advent and it works for us.
Unfortunately, "The Family Promise Tree", is no longer available. But my church friend, Jacki Rucksdashel, felt a calling from God to create an updated Jesse Tree Devotional for families. Here is what she shared with me:
"As we started looking at what we would choose as a family to focus on what Christmas was really about, we had a hard time finding something specifically for young children. Our kids relate so much to the power of narrative...a story. That is when the idea for this devotional was born. After two years of trying this and trying that, my husband and I decided to sit down and with the Lord's help, create a devotional book for our kids in this stage of life. Thus, The Jesse Tree Project was born. We are so happy to share it with you for free."
Did you catch that last line? For FREE! The devotionals are awesome they include:
- Verse of the Day
- Bible Reading for THE STORY-for adults to read or for older children.
- THE STORY-- the Biblical account written in narrative form for young children.
- Questions --to check for understanding.
- Prayer -- feel free to pray your own prayer!
- Worship--songs, poems, videos or books to inspire praising Him.
- Extended Activity--Extra activities to do with children to help solidify what they learned. (All optional of course!)
If you don't want to have to make the ornaments for each day, Jacki & her husband have created printable ornaments.
I haven't put up our tree yet. I haven't printed out ornaments. I haven't hung up the felt Christmas tree. But there is still time. It isn't even December yet.
I will make time this weekend to decorate my home. To print off ornaments. To hang up a felt Christmas tree. Because it's in celebrating the "coming" of Christmas that my heart turns from self to God & I replace "me" with "He".