Saturday, December 1, 2018

Celebrating Advent

A welcoming glow greeted me from frosted windowpanes as we pulled into the driveway this evening.  I derive great comfort in seeing light shine forth from darkness - a soft beacon beckoning me to enter into warmth and safety.
In the book of Matthew (chapter 5) we read:

"14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. "

Our world has become so dark - by sharing Christ's love this Advent season we can share the light of our awesome Savior with a hurting and dying world.  Christ is the light, as it is written in the book of John:
" When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”" (John 8:12)
Later on in John chapter 9 Jesus says "5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Jesus no longer walks on this earth, but we do and as Christ followers we carry His Spirit inside of us.  We are the ones to show others His light whether it is in our own home, to our friends and family, or to those we pass by in our comings and goings of every day life. When I say "His light" I don't mean you have to go door to door and covert people to Christianity. What I am talking about is showing His love in our actions and words to those we come in contact with day in and day out. The very definition and nature of God is love. How are we reflecting Him this Christmas season?

As Christmas day gets closer and closer our family anticipates the precious babe in the straw by celebrating Advent with daily readings.  There are many different Advent devotionals.  In our home we enjoy reading from The Jesus Storybook Bible with the little ones in the morning. It is a nice way to begin our day, the readings are short and the illustrations captivate my children. Later in the day, as the sun begins to set, we snuggle up with cocoa or tea and enjoy a chapter in  One Wintry Night by Ruth Graham Bell as a family. The illustrations are gorgeous and the story telling draws us all in.  Another beautiful family advent is  The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. She walks you from Creation to Christ's coming on a breath taking journey that helps you understand the depth of God's love.

 If you are a weary mom in need of encouragement this holiday season this Momma has an awesome advent emailed to your inbox. Billy Graham also has a free  Advent devotional that helps you prepare for Christ's birth.

This time of year it is nice to pause and ponder why Christmas is so special, why He had to come and the joy that He will be coming again.  Our reading time spurs discussion that goes deeper and helps light tiny flames inside the eternal spirits that I have been entrusted with caring for.

   Now, please do know, that all of the little faces around my table are not smiling eagerly up at me as I read devotions to them. The smallest ones have a hard time sitting still so they need to be occupied with coloring pages, Play Doh,  or something quiet to do as they sit  beside me while I read aloud.  Sometimes it takes us longer to get through our reading for the day. We might have to take a break to assist little ones on the potty, or separate squabbling siblings, but we try to read during our "happy hour", that time of day where everyone is most generally in a good mood.  Not during meltdown times.  I find it easier to do a short family devotional reading at the table during breakfast and then if I want to read a longer story (like Ruth Graham Bell's One Wintry Night...) then that is best for snuggling under a blanket on the couch where everyone is comfy and cozy.

   We pair our Advent readings with our Advent calendar.  We have two calendars.  One is a vintage paper calendar with a sleepy town on it and each window in each home opens and has a little picture inside.  It was a gift from my Daddy when I was a young girl and I still treasure it to this day and so do my children.  Our other Advent calendar is a beautiful wooden house from Hobby Lobby and I place a note inside for the children to read each day.  We have six children so cramming six tiny gifts in each cubby is a) expensive and  b) unrealistic. Instead, when the children open the drawer  they have a piece of paper to read aloud that has either:
1. A clue that will lead to a special treat or small gift to share.
2. A Christmas activity that we can do together. (Bake cookies, roll a snowman game, go caroling, get dressed into pj's and drive around looking at Christmas lights, etc.)
3. A way we can give to others this season.
(Visiting at the nursing home, giving a gift card to those who pump our gas or bag our groceries, bringing cookies to the men and women who serve our community, etc.)

  How do you celebrate Advent?  Do you use a calendar or have a favorite devotional that you read from? Please share in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you!

Only 24 days until Christmas! (*Insert squeals of delight*)!

Counting down with you,

This post is one of many from my Countdown to Christmas series. Feel free to click on any of the links below for more tips this holiday season.
How to Throw A Memorable Christmas Party
Countdown to Christmas Movie List
Holiday Gift Giving
Countdown to Christmas Tips

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