Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Advent Plans


I always get overly excited for advent. I make BIG plans, and I put them all in our little advent calendar tree. And then, next year when I get the tree out? I laugh because half of the little doors still have stuff in them.  
I know life is going to happen. I know we are going to be down with illness or chaos. And still, I plan.

This year, I have been prayerfully considering what and how to plan. I'm trying hard to keep it simple so that we can stay focused on what is important. And so, it's is now December 5, and I have my plans finalized.  
And you know what else? I'm giving myself permission to ignore any other great ideas that come my way from here on out. Yes there are other fun things we could do. But, enough. It is enough.

(And I hope you will say that about these ideas, if they are more than you need. You can ignore them! Or, you can always pin them for next year!)

What is needful?
Simply, Jesus.
I want us to soak up His grace and His Word. I want us to wallow in it.

Our plans
(As I said above, don't let these ideas distract you! If you already have a full list of great plans, you have permission to ignore these, or pin it away until next year.)

First, we receive
Daddy leads nightly devotions.  This time of year, devotions include more singing and even candles. The kids (and I) just love that.  The change in the lighting makes for a (slightly) more serious mood.

The Story Bible- Recommended

We are also trying to memorize Luke 2 as a family. (Click here for a free downloadable copywork book to use with your kids!)

We give thanks
I loved this idea.  We are started a journal of "gifts we already have," and we are thanking God for them. I wonder how many we can list?  Our first attempt stopped at 157!

I'm not a fancy, scrapbooking type girl, so our journal isn't exactly pretty. It's an old notebook from college, plus a sticker, and a Christmas card, and a ribbon I found in one of our Christmas boxes. This is as fancy as I get.

It is enough.

We've done a gratitude journal before, and I love how it helps all of us change our perspective, and see God's hand of mercy in the things around us- from the blessings of family and friends, to hot water, and technology, and milk for breakfast.

Feel free to use this label if you like.


Finally, we give stuff.

We are making our lists, for family and friends and teachers and so forth.
It is a joy to give to our loved ones, and  those close to home.  

We keep giving
The children have been putting money in a special jar to give away to those in need. They receive an allowance, and additional money for extra jobs. We tell them to give part to our local church. Then they have the choice of saving, spending, or putting some in our giving jar.

The giving jar
Confession: I have offered them a small incentive for writing in the gratitude journal. For every 25 gifts they list, I donate a quarter to their giving jar.

They write, and again and again they see it, and we see it:
We are blessed.

Inspired by Ann, I'm working on compiling and assembling our own giving catalog so that they can choose how to give their money from a host of good things.  Gifts for the least of these


The joy in it
Having counted our blessings, wallowed in His grace, we can hear His joyful invitation to us:

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

Is all this giving sucking the fun out of the joy of Christmas for these little kids?  No, on the contrary. Their eagerness and delight spills over into my heart, and all good things in this house are increasing.

We don't have to, but we get to
we get to
give gifts to God for Christmas,
as we see Him in our loved ones,
and in the least of these.

Now, don't forget to read the post that inspired this one: The Grateful Christmas Project. It's beautiful.


  1. This is such great information! Your family is very blessed to have you planning these things, and I'm sure they will remember your diligence during this season for years to come!
    I'm new to your blog, and I love it so far!

  2. Wonderful Emily.Sometimes the planning is more fun than the actual doing! :/

    I love the "Gifts we already have" list, I'm gonna have to use that. And what a good idea to do a gratitude journal as a family. We do something like that during November, right now my littles are grateful for things like blankies and ketchup. But it's good for this mama to be reminded to see God's love even in those things.

    Thanks for the ideas and links!


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