Preparing for Advent

Preparing for Advent

Is it just me or has 2016 flown by? Here we are shopping and cleaning and all the general preparation that goes into hosting Thanksgiving this year (my first time EVER, more on that later) and I just realized the First Sunday of Advent is THIS WEEK!

But honestly, I can’t remember a time where I have been more grateful for the literal darkness and the reminder to slow down and wait on God with expectant hope. I need this advent season more than I ever have before. Maybe you do too?

I’m looking forward to using this devotional for my own personal study this month, and as a family we have two traditions that help us enter more fully into this season of waiting and hoping.

So thankful my church is passing out these books!
So thankful my church is passing out these books!

First off, this will be our third year of daily readings from this Jesse Tree devotional. The past two years we have used the printable ornaments provided with the book, but this year I am so excited that we now have our own set of homemade ornaments to hang with each story because I was able to recruit 24 friends to join me in a Jesse Tree ornament exchange. There are several blog posts on the interwebs detailing how to host an exchange, but I’m happy to share my own experience here. Since you don’t have enough time now to organize such an exchange before Christmas, I’ll blog this bad boy sometime in the New Year.

This is our Jesse Tree book, but there are many options on the market.
This is our Jesse Tree book, but there are many options on the market.

The other thing our family has done since the girls were itty bitty, is to gather around an advent wreath each Sunday evening. The first year we had an advent wreath I couldn’t find a devotional guide that I liked, so I wrote my own. We’ve been using a modified version of those devotions every year since, and each year I wonder if this is the year I’ll have to write something new. We’re not there yet!

I thought I would share these advent devotionals here with you this December. My plan is to post the Sunday’s devotion on Friday so that you have enough time to pray and prepare before Sunday. These devotions are intended for the preschool/elementary set and are therefore pretty short and sweet. Any supplies needed are listed but you are likely to have them around your home already. The readings I include are from the “Jesus Storybook Bible” which I think is an amazing children’s Bible and should be in your library for sure. But, if you don’t have a copy you are in luck, because the stories included have YouTube videos available and well, since you’re reading this on the internet I’m going to assume you have internet access in your home.

If you want to join along then this week (before Sunday preferably) you’ll need to gather up some supplies to make an advent wreath or pull your wreath out of the attic where it’s been collecting dust all winter. There are a million ideas on pinterest┬áif you need to create one, and of course you can purchase a premade wreath as well. I’m partial to using the traditional colored candles (3 purple, 1 pink, 1 white) but that is not a necessity. If you have little kids, there are wreaths to make that don’t take burning actual candles, or you can do like we’ve done and use votive candles instead of pillar ones. My kids really like blowing out the candles after the prayer, so we want to include that fun part for them.

This is the advent wreath we have used the past two years: cake stand, votive candles, large white candle, greenery collected from the yard.
This is the advent wreath we have used the past two years: cake stand, votive candles, large white candle, greenery collected from the yard.

Advent is a wonderful time that allows us to calm our hearts and our heads in the midst of December craziness, a time to focus on the baby Jesus. I pray that taking the time each week to light a candle, share a story, have a discussion, and pray together will be meaningful for you and your family and draw you close to the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, God with Us.

See you on Friday!

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