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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Telling His Story And Offering Him Gifts - An Advent Calendar And Jesse Tree

The Christmas season is a hurried one.

This year, I want to slow down.

I want to take in the Savior.

This year (and every year) I want to celebrate Him - His birth and the anticipation of His return.

Do you anticipate His return? Some days do you watch for Him in the sky? Do you ever wonder what that day will be like when you (if you know Him) are taken up with Him? How amazing that day will be for those who call Him Lord!

What are we passing onto our children? Are we passing on the hustle and bustle of the season - gifts, shopping, Santa Claus? Or are we passing on something greater...something lasting...something worth celebrating?

This year I intend on teaching my children about God's promise and His faithfulness by using a service oriented advent calendar and a Jesse tree.

Our Advent Calendar

Most advent calendar's that I am aware of do nothing more than count down the days to Christmas while enjoying a treat of some sort. I want something more then that. Then I read Ann's post, What Jesus Wants For Christmas, where her son asks her "what does Jesus get for His birthday?" Do we offer Him more than a cake on Christmas day? What are we giving Him?

Our advent calendar is a countdown to the birth of Christ by giving to Him what He desires.

"When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
Matthew 25:39-41

Here is what we will be doing for Jesus this year:

Day 1: Say a sincere, kind word to everyone you come across today. Read the Christmas story in Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-21.

Day 2: Call a local food bank and ask what is needed.

Day 3: Gather and give requested needs to food bank.

Day 4: Make and decorate a thanksgiving box to offer thanks and praise throughout the year.

Day 5: Practice how you will respond to Santa Claus comments directed at your children (a great way to be a light illuminating the true meaning of Christmas).

Day 6: Meditate on and pray about Matthew 25:39-41.

Day 7: Make something or send a letter to brighten someone’s day.

Day 8: Offer to make and bring a meal to a family (perhaps an exhausted mother of little ones!)

Day 9: Dance to a praise song!

Day 10: Call your church and ask if there is anything you could help them with.

Day 11: Ponder Mary’s song of praise. Luke 1:45-55

Day 12: Offer to watch someone’s kids so the couple can have a date night.

Day 13: Write to your husband/daddy a letter describing the 10 things you respect and love most about him.

Day 14: Look up Samaritan’s Purse and make a donation.

Day 15: Write a letter/poem to God expressing your thoughts on His returning.

Day 16: Sort through your coats/hats/etc. and give them to an organization that distributes them to the needy.

Day 17: Surprise your husband/daddy with breakfast in bed.

Day 18: Be a light by making something for your neighbors.

Day 19: Make something to bless your mail carrier.

Day 20: Give some money or send a word of encouragement to a missionary.

Day 21: List three ways you and your family can be the hands and feet of Jesus this coming year - make a plan!

Day 22: Ponder the significance and battle of Revelation 12:1-17.

Day 23: Sit with your family in the dark with only a candle and talk about your anticipation of the return of Jesus.

Day 24: Read about the birth of Christ in Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-21 and take it in with fresh eyes.

Day 25: Celebrate Jesus!

We will also be giving our children a gold coin candy and teaching them this verse:

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

Our Jesse Tree

It's simple, isn't it? I kind of like it like that. A few sticks gathered by little hands put in a simple vase, yet holding a powerful message. A message of hope, of promise, of faithfulness.

You can downloaded free ornaments to be used with this free advent devotional if you don't already have something. Don't worry if you're a little behind, just have a big bang day and catch up!
(If you want to read more ideas about teaching the word of God to your children, check out Tuesdays Teacher over at 10 Million Miles.)

I hope these ideas are a blessing to you and your family this year.


Homesteader in Training said...

I love it! We do the Jesse tree devotionals as well. I just bought a $1.00 tree at walmart and we use that. Though we are two days behind right now!!

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

I love your list of service ideas! Makes it very meaningful. And your Jesse tree is cute!

Mrs. Trixi said...

Thanks for sharing your idea. We too, are hoping to do a lot of this kind of thing this year. I really want to focus on those things that are eternal.

Christy said...

I love how you are using your advent calendar. Our family is reading through a devotional for advent and I am going to do some reading ahead to see if we can incorporate any of these service ideas into them.

Thank you for sharing and reminding us of what the focus really is about. Merry CHRISTmas!

Kaycee said...

Another fabulous idea!! Thanks for sharing :)

Kim @ My Journey said...

Thank you for sharing the idea of the Advent calendar. I just love it.... and now plan to look into ways to incorporate the idea into our family. Thanks so much!!! PS ~ Love the tree.

Nana 2 four said...

I love all your ideas so much! My oldest daughter and her husband have decided not to have a tree this year. They are trying to focus more intently on Jesus (as it should be). We all need to take a step back and re-evaluate exactly what the season is all about! It's not about us - it's about Christ and His birth. You have given me some great new ideas to pass on to my kids.

Beth Herring

Gayle said...

Hi Sarah Mae... Your Jesse Tree is great! Thanks for sharing it with us. Have a blessed week!


Amanda Jo said...

Wow...these are great! Until this year I had never heard of an Advent Calendar nor a Jesse Tree (still not exactly sure what that is, by the way).

We definately need to do something like this in our house - Ethan keeps asking why Elf isn't with Santa at the mall. Guess we're a bit too commercial in our house!

Leslie said...

What a really special calendar! I love the simplicity and purposefulness of it.

Sarah said...

My sister, Christy, at Here and Home, encouraged me to stop by! I'm so glad I did! We are expecting in March and I am starting to gather some "traditions" together. This is a great idea and one that I know will become a treasure for our family.

Laura said...

These are WONDERFUL ideas! I'd like to do a Jesse Tree this year, too... I've been hoping to find little figurines, but I might have to use the little templates. (I guess we can collect little Jesse Tree figures through the years.) Thank you for the encouragement, Sarah.

Dana said...

this is our fourth year doing a jesse tree. we have never done an advent calendar for the very reason you mentioned, it just seemed like a way to count down to christmas and get a little something. i totally love the idea of it being more of a GIVE a little something!!! it will be several days late (by the time i can get it done) but i am definitely implementing this this year! :)

Traci said...

THIS is an amazing idea and I totally stole it {but am linking back to you!}. I love your heart!