I feel like the worst possible person to be speaking about Advent.
First of all, we did not celebrate Advent in the church tradition of our youth. The first time I became familiar with the wreath and the candles was not long ago when we added them into our Christmas season practices at our church. I remember there was a video series that played each Sunday with verses all speaking to the theme for the week: first hope, then peace, followed by joy and love. I absolutely loved it and how it spoke to my desperate need for each of those words to be meaningful in my life and the way in which we celebrated the birth of Christ in our home.
So, as many of you may know by now, we homeschool our two boys. It is the best and hardest thing I have ever done, hands down. It has forced me to grow and to look beyond myself in order to bring a whole beautiful world of truth, beauty and goodness to our boys as part of their education. It has made me completely and utterly bound to my Abba to give me the strength and the ability to lean on Him in my weakness.
A couple of years ago, we were getting ready for the Christmas season when I came across several printable activities for a Jesse Tree Advent. This was also new to me, but I really liked the idea of it, so I printed off the little ornaments on paper for our first ever Advent.
So here is the reason why I am the worst person EVER to speak about Advent: we missed several days of hanging our ornaments and doing the devotionals…then we crammed like a whole week into one day….then we missed another week…and then we finished the rest…after New Years.
And here I am….LATE AGAIN…but I wanted to tell y’all what we have been doing for Advent this year. Don’t worry, if you are just now getting on board with this whole Advent thing, no one…NO ONE…is judging you here.
So the easiest thing for you to do is to find a Jesse Tree Advent plan on Pinterest, print the cute little ornaments on paper…or cardstock if you are fancy…or cardstock and laminate them if you are EXTRA FANCY.
Here is the link to the Jesse Tree devotional that we are using this year. There is a link for a set of free printable ornaments which you and your children can color.
That is what a perfectly sane person would do…
But unfortunately, I lost my mind and I decided to use the ~free printable~ as inspiration to hand paint little wooden cut-outs and make a set of Jesse Tree ornaments.
Somehow in my mind, I thought that these little ornaments would become a family heirloom, passed on to my grandchildren and great grand-children.
I thought that at the very least the boys would cherish them, but to be perfectly honest…I didn’t make these ornaments for my boys.
That may seem a little self-centered, but this whole project became a means of feeding my heart and my need for creativity. I love the fact that we will be able to use them year after year and I hope it will be a sweet memory for my boys. But even so, this became a gift for my own heart. It almost became a means of self-care. My soul longs for a creative outlet and I became quite uncharacteristically dedicated to seeing this thing through.
My prayer is that my boys will get caught up in the wonder and delight of this Advent season by seeing it in me!
More than anything, painting these scenes, symbols and people from the Bible served to strengthen my faith and to remind me once more of the unfathomable goodness of my Abba Father. It seems impossible to imagine all these people throughout God’s Word, just living their lives and trying to get by, who somehow got swept up into the Epic and Eternal Story of Salvation. Their stories are so sweet. All those beating hearts are so dearly held by the Father and so precious to him. My heart is so humbled to be a part of this Kingdom, this Epic Tale.
Another resource that has been such a blessing to me this Christmas season is the Advent series produced by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. It is written and presented by Amy Orr-Ewing, who is the UK director of the Zacharias Trust. You can find that on YouTube here. (This link is to the first one in the series, which will continue for each day of the entire month of December. If you have your YouTube account set to “auto-play” it should keep going to the next day. Each session is around 5-10 minutes. I watched the entire series while I was cooking dinner the other day!)
It really is so well done and has enriched this season and our study in preparation for Jesus’ birthday. And to be perfectly honest, it’s a life saver because all you have to do is hit play and then maybe discuss with your kids afterwards.
No prep, printing or painting required!
I pray that you have a very blessed Christmas season this year! I would absolutely LOVE to hear about your family’s Christmas traditions! We would love for you to share your stories and inspiration in the comments below!
God bless you all and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! ~Shanna
p.s. We watched The Bethlehem Star with the boys the other night and it is still such a stunning witness to the Cosmic Event of the birth of Christ!!!! I highly recommend it!! SO GOOD!!!!!