One fun (and surprisingly meaningful) way to celebrate Advent

Wise men search for Jesus

Written by Melinda Biel I grew up in a wonderful, God-loving, Jesus-preaching Christian home but for some reason I have not really learned how to celebrate advent other than scarfing down chocolate from a cardboard window. (I actually don’t consider that advent related…I thought it was just a yummy countdown to Christmas Day.) Now that I have 3 kiddos of my own and hear the word ‘advent’ popping up frequently, I decided this year was the year I was going to “take on” advent for real.   Thankfully that’s also when Christie posted her blog article concerning advent. Just as she suggested, I skimmed for ideas first and then read the details of the ones I liked. The idea of having The 3 Wise Men search for baby Jesus (a play on ‘elf on the shelf’) seemed perfect. Simple, fun, doable, and advent-ish enough to check “take on advent” off … Read More

Advent Reading, Week 4: Magi

Advent reading, week 4

Turn off most of the lights in the room. SAY: Three weeks ago we learned that God’s people were waiting, and waiting, and waiting for a Saviour. Then some prophets came and told them God’s plan for sending a baby to be born in Bethlehem. As you light the first purple candle, SAY together: God’s people waited for the promise to come true. SAY: Last week we learned that God sent angels to Mary and Joseph, telling them about the baby that Mary was going to have. The baby named Jesus! As you light the second purple candle, SAY together: God’s promise came true through Jesus. SAY: Last week we learned about some shepherds that had a pretty wild night! They met angels and babies, and told the whole town what they had seen. As you light the pink candle, SAY together: Shepherds visited Jesus: God’s promise made true. SAY: It wasn’t only people that … Read More

Grace for the Advent Drop-Out

Garland of grace

I am already 3 days behind on our Jesse tree readings this December. That’s pretty normal. Usually I end up either quitting altogether or skipping a bunch, but this year I think I’m going to keep picking it up whenever I can, continuing on until we finally get to the end. It might take until Valentine’s Day, but I’m committed! Does this happen to you too? You start out with the best of intentions but slowly they  slip away into oblivion? That’s why I really like little things like having a birthday party for Jesus or lighting Advent candles, because they don’t occur every day! But no matter your goals this Christmas, no matter your devotional style, no matter how far behind you got on your readings, there is grace this Christmas. Proverbs 4 talks about the benefits of pursing wisdom, and I love the imagery of verse 9: She … Read More

Advent Reading, Week 3: Shepherds

Advent reading week 3

Turn off most of the lights in the room. SAY: Two weeks ago we learned that God’s people were waiting, and waiting, and waiting for a Saviour. Then some prophets came and told them God’s plan for sending a baby to be born in Bethlehem. As you light the first purple candle, say together: God’s people waited for the promise to come true. SAY: Last week we learned that God sent angels to Mary and Joseph, telling them about the baby that Mary was going to have. The baby named Jesus! As you light the second purple candle, SAY together: God’s promise came true through Jesus. “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good … Read More

Advent Candle Reading, Week 2: Angels

Advent reading, week 2

Turn off most of the lights in the room.SAY: Last week we learned that God’s people were waiting, and waiting, and waiting for a Saviour. Then some prophets came and told them about God’s promise to send a baby that would be born in Bethlehem. As you light one of the purple candles, SAY together: God’s people waited for the promise to come true. SAY: Finally, it was time for the promise to come true. God was ready to send the baby Saviour into the world, but he wanted to make sure the baby was going to have the right mother! He chose Mary. “God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a [young woman] pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The [young woman’s] name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” “Mary … Read More

Advent Readings, Week 1: Prophets

Advent reading Week 1

Turn off most of the lights in the room. SAY: God made some promises to his people a very long time ago. He promised that they would never be alone, that he would protect them and give them a future. But the greatest promise of all was that he would send someone to save them. So God’s people waited for the promise to come true. They waited for a Saviour. They waited, and waited, and waited some more. The people who shared God’s promises with his people were called “prophets”. One prophet, named Isaiah, had this to say: “But the Lord will still give you proof. A virgin is pregnant; she will have a son and will name him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14 CEV) ASK: Do you know what pregnant means? It means to have a baby. So the promise from God that Isaiah shared was that a young woman was going to have a baby boy. As … Read More

18 Ways to Create an Uplifting and Wondrous Advent

Create a Christ-centered advent tradition!

Are you looking for simple ways to create an uplifting [read: not crazy] and wondrous Christ-centered Advent? Read on for a list of 18 ways to do so, ranging from simple enough for toddlers to meaningful traditions for teenagers. Advent is a time of waiting in expectation for the coming Christ, both as we remember the original wait for the child and as we anticipate his return. Advent traditions differ from regular Christmas traditions in that they typically include something to do or read daily, as opposed to something you do once. Most of these ideas are for the 25 days of December, leading up to Christmas Day. (The one at the bottom is the easiest – you light Advent candles only once per week!) This is a long post, I know. I recommend skimming it once for ideas, then going back to the ones that you liked!  May your … Read More

Surviving Summer Trips Without Screen Time: The Best Audiobooks for Families

best audiobooks for families

Check out this enormous list of the best audiobooks for families! You won’t regret listening to stories instead of vegging with screens. We bought our minivan used, so we didn’t have the option of a built-in DVD player. For our first family vacation with 3 kids, we installed a portable DVD player, proud that we had joined the 21st century with our parenting moves. Only it turned out to be a BAD move. The kids begged for movies from the first moment they stepped in the van, were quiet for a big while the DVD was on, then were SUPER cranky anytime the movies turned off. I hated it. To me, the temporary quiet wasn’t enough to override the awful attitude my kids had before/after watching their movies in the van. Here’s what we did instead So we dumped the DVD player and started making much better use of our … Read More

Gratitude for Kids: Pipe Dream or Possible?

gratitude for kids

Gratitude for kids can be so hard to achieve, but it is possible! Here are 4 concrete tips that have helped in my family. As you can see, we need to practice it more! It was Mother’s Day, and my kid was CRABBY. Like, Not-Quite-Preteen-Angst-Crabby, the kind that only comes when a privileged child sees someone else having a special day and decides that it has now become The Worst Day Ever because they are not the centre of attention. He didn’t want to bring his scooter to the park, until we got there and he realized he really did want some wheels. Oh, the misery when he realized we would not turn around and go back home to collect his scooter or bike. He didn’t get a special drink at lunch. Apparently he’s over having clean water to drink. That’s so 2018. It was too windy. It was too … Read More

How to Help Your Child Grow Spiritually: 4 Concrete Ways

how to help your child grow spiritually

Learning how to help your child grow spiritually as a Christian isn’t hard, but will take a little thought and persistence! A recent study conducted by Lifeway found the top 3 common denominators in families where the kids continued in their faith as adults. They were Bible reading prayer and serving. All three of these can, and should be developed as faith routines in families, and will help your kids connect with Jesus in meaningful ways. They are not the only ways to grow spiritually, but they are foundations.  How to help your child grow spiritually: build a strong foundation Essentially, what you’re doing with young kids is creating a foundation of faith. You can also think of this as building a solid bone structure for a life of faith. Imagine one of those model skeletons that show up in biology labs across the globe: without those bones, our bodies … Read More