Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Advent at the Farmer's

Brad & I try to be very intentional on how we raise the kids. To be honest, more often than not we fail miserably. I could make a list a mile long of all the things that we need to improve on as parents. (Please don't ask me to do that 'cause I'll be buried in a mountain of guilt that will take me until this time next year to dig out of). Just trust me when I say that this is not a false humility.

But, during Advent/Christmas we have tried extra, extra hard to keep the focus on Christ. My parents did a great job of teaching us what the real meaning of Christmas is, but we were Baptists and the word advent was not in our vocabulary. When Brad & I started going to our current church (some 10-11 years ago) we began to learn that Advent just means waiting. And when we celebrate advent we are waiting for our Saviour, just like thousands of years ago, the world waited for Him.

I mentioned last year, that our church hosts an Advent festival each year, where families come an make their own advent wreath together as a church. Then, in our homes each night, we light the candle/candles and read a devotion that corresponds with the day. My children just absolutely fell in love with this. So, it became a tradition in our family too (and luckily at church too). I love how lighting the candles helps them count down and anticipate getting to finally light the white candle in the middle on Christmas. And, how our waiting on Christmas represents the world awaiting a Savior so many years ago.

But, I wanted to share something new that we started this year as well. I got the idea from a blog that I read quite a bit, but several of you may already know about it. This year, we started our own Jesse Tree. You start the First Day of Advent, and each night you read a devotion. The devotions are meant to sort of take you through the Old Testament and lead up to or end with The Savior's birth on Christmas Day. Several of the devotions are from Old Testament prophecies predicting Christ's birth. But they all kind of show God's ultimate plan and provision for us through Christ. In fact, the first devotion is about the stump of Jesse (hence the name Jesse Tree), and the first sentence of our particular devotions is, "God has a plan for everything."

The element that I like the most about the Jesse tree concept is that you get a small tree (it can be cut out of felt or paper, or an actual small Christmas tree or whatever) and each day of devotion has a corresponding ornament to represent the lesson of the day. So, for instance, the devotion that teaches about creation has an ornament of the world (or something representative). Again, the kids love this. And, I love that they are getting such a great foundation of the Old Testament and eventually (maybe their too young right now) getting that the events of the Old Testament happened exactly the way they did to provide the world with a Savior.

This was not a hard tradition to start. I used these devotions and used the symbols as guides when looking for ornaments. If I couldn't find one that was exactly like what was listed, I improvised. Or, I actually enlarged what was shown, printed it, cut it out and then colored it. Easy Peasy!! If you google Jesse Tree, you will find other books or resources, but I've been really happy with the content of the devotions that I'm using.

If you are interested, and have an questions, give me a holler and I'll send you some links that will help get you started. Or, start here

But, along these same lines, I must share with you what was said during our Jesse Tree/Advent devotion tonight. It is just too priceless not to.

Our devotion tonight was about Joseph, and how God sent an angel to talk to Joseph in a dream and tell him that Mary was going to have Jesus. At the end of each short devotion it has a 'talk about' section. Tonight's 'talk about' section said, "Name some ways that God speaks to us.". So, I asked the kids to tell us some ways that God speaks to us. Bryce immediately popped in and said this:

"The other night, when Daddy sent me to my room, when I really didn't do anything [mom interjects that he obviously DID do something]..... God told me that I was right."

Now tell me, how are we supposed to argue with God???? I have a smart, smart boy on my hands. But that's not all, when Sara Kate heard this she said (and I quote) "Wait a minute, my brain is telling me something here." - It was like she was processing the fact that what she just heard might help her get out of some things in the future. However, she's pretty good at dodging the bullet, she just blames her brain on everything, especially when she is getting in trouble.

We really do wish you all a very blessed Christmas! Celebrate guys, Christ's coming means Hope for the Nations. Take hold of it today!

Much love to all!


The Wild World of Richmond said...

Shana,(do you know that I just typed Tammy and had to delete, you are a beautiful, wonderful Mom. Your kids are so blessed to have you pouring Jesus into them on a continual basis. With that said, Don't let Satan whisper those ugly guilt filled words into your head ever.
Your kids are God's kids and he's got them sealed in his hands. Your blog post is evidence of that. Bryce is continually growing in Jesus. I can't wait 'till your kids hit our youth group. i really can't wait until all of my friends kids hit our youth group. I'm looking forward to hanging out with all these kids...because I know what these parents have spent the early years of their lives doing. Peace to you sista!(Jenny taught me

Jenny said...

I'm going to ditto what Terri said. You are a wonderful, beautiful Mom and your kids are blessed by you and Brad both. And Satan sucks, yeah I said sucks, with the lies he tries to feed you-rebuke them! The fact that you and Brad are intentional with the way you're raising your kids shows, trust me. Your family is a blessing in more ways than you know. Merry Christmas!

P.S. Terri, I'm so proud. HA

Tammy said...

girl...that needs to be in a devotional book. when you publish your first, will you dedicate it to me??? ha ha ha What are we going to do with these kids that are too smart for their/our own good?

-brittany- said...

Your kids are hilarious! Love the Jesse Tree tradition and can't wait to incorporate it into our holiday traditions.