Remembering Not to Forget…

 

Tonight, at dinner, Lydia asked to pray.
She is three.
This was her prayer:

“Dear Jesus…I hope you enjoy your Christmas party.”

Me too.

But how easily I forget.
How quickly I get sidetracked by the broken bulb on the light strand and the number of air mattresses we may or may not need.
By the Cyber Mondays and UPS tracking numbers and expiration dates on canisters of whipped cream.
By empty tape rolls and lines at the market and did I remember to buy a tri-fold-board for the kiddos’ Christmas Missionary Fair at school?
How prone I am to push aside my morning time with God because I need to address Christmas cards and wrap gifts before excited-snoopers find them in the hall closet.
Because there’s the list of teacher gifts and class parties and recipe cards and coupons to use.
And we have cookies to make and crafts to complete and stockings to fill and work-party-dresses to find and because in the midst of it all…
Thursday is Preschool Hat Day.

But I want this year to be different.
I want to remember that it’s–
His party.

Because–
“Those are all wonderful things, but if your family is anything like mine, these good things can squeeze out the best thing–nurturing a longing in our hearts and homes for a fresh sense of wonder that God has come to us in Jesus.

If we do not set aside time to focus together on what God’s Word tells us about the promise of Christ, on Christmas morning we can find ourselves surrounded by mounds of torn gift wrap, our laps full of presents, but with hearts that are empty and unprepared.”  ~Nancy Guthrie

And so how do we prepare our hearts?

These are just a few ways, that we’re attempting to not forget…
To remember.

1) I’m continuing on with my friend Angela over at Good Morning Girls as we begin a special Advent study for the month of December.

It only just started this week, so if you’d like to join in, head over to the Good Morning Girls site to download the free study.

 

2)  I’m also reading through one of my favorite Christmas collections–
Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus (edited by Nancy Guthrie).

“An anthology of Advent readings collected from the writings and sermons of 22 classic and contemporary theologians and Bible teachers…this special volume-draws from the works and sermons of classic theologians such as Whitefield, Luther, Spurgeon, and Augustine, and from leading contemporary communicators such as John Piper, J. Ligon Duncan, Randy Alcorn, John MacArthur, Francis Schaeffer, R. C. Sproul, Skip Ryan, and Joni Eareckson Tada to beckon you and your family into the wonder of Jesus’ incarnation and birth.

With its high view of Scripture and its focus on the gift of Jesus, this lovely book is sure to ready your heart and mind for a fresh experience of “Immanuel, God with us” this and every Advent season. Open the cover and discover what Christmas was meant to be…”

 

3) As a family, we plan to read through Nancy Guthrie’s daily family devotions for Advent, Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room.

“How many Christmas mornings have you found your family gathered around the tree with presents beautifully wrapped and a scrumptious feast on the table, but with hearts that have not been prepared to truly take in the wonder of God become human? Not this year. Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room, a family Advent devotional from Bible teacher and mom Nancy Guthrie, is designed to bring your family together during a season that is oftentimes too much about programs and presents, and simply not enough about Jesus. Along with devotions for every day in December, this resource includes explanations of some hard-to-understand aspects of popular Christmas carols, and discussion questions to draw in your elementary through high school-aged kids, transforming this time together from a dry lecture into a treasured family experience.”

4) As a family, we also plan to gather each Sunday evening around our Advent Wreath.  I made ours years ago and it was very simple. You can find our basic Advent Wreath Outline  here (you are welcome to download and print for use with your family). Our family’s outline explains much of  the symbolism behind the different parts of our Advent Wreath.  There are many different Advent Wreaths available to purchase online, but to make one similar to ours you will need:

~1 straw circle wreath
~1 artificial evergreen wreath
~4 small plastic candle holders for tapers
~4 red or purple long taper candles
~1 small white dove
~1 larger white candle for the center (and I like to put it on a small candle holder)
~small berries, ribbon, pine cones for decoration
~thin bendable (green) wire for attaching the wreaths, dove, decorations
~hot glue gun for attaching the plastic candle holders

 

5)  As the Christmas letters come in, we want to take time to read them together at dinner and pray over each family.

6) On our homeschool days (we part-time-homeschool) I’d like to refocus during our lunches together by talking about one Name of Jesus.

7) We also want to  read through our Christmas books for children.  I’ll share links below to some of our favorites, but My Birthday, Jesus’ Birthday is one that our kiddos have grown to love over the years.  You can still find the board book used and it’s available at most libraries to borrow.

“All children love birthdays—and all children love Christmas. My Birthday, Jesus’ Birthday helps them enjoy both days even more. With simple words and colorful illustrations, this book shows children how Jesus’ birth was very like their own—and very different. And it affirms to each child that he or she is someone special to Mom, to Dad, and to God”

 

A few of our other favorites for children:

The Crippled Lamb – Max Lucado

Who is Coming to Our House? — Joseph Slate

This is No Fairy Tale — Dale Tolmasoff

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey — Susan Wojciechowski

The Pine Tree Parable — Liz Curtis Higgs

The Lightlings – R.C. Sproul

Christ in Christmas (A Family Advent Celebration) — collection of authors

Jotham’s Journey — Arnold Ytreeide

Jesus iWitness — Doug Powell

8) Beyond and before and above all that… I’m asking God to stay present in my thoughts throughout the day.  I’m asking Him to help me in this, to help me not forget what this whole season is about.

“O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds, and enlarge my mind;
Let me hear good tidings of great joy, and hearing,
believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes lifted to a reconciled Father;
place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemer’s face,
and in him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child to my heart,
embrace him with undying faith,
exulting that he is mine and I am his.
In him thou has given me so much that heaven can give no more.”
~ from The Valley of Vision

How do you hope-plan-pray to…remember not to forget?  

 

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  1. Hi Kara, I’m visiting from Good morning girls. So glad to have found you there. I love that your post is all about Christ in Christmas. It is so important for us all to remember that and impart that to our children. I would love for you to link this post or any other to my bloghop Winsome Wednesday. You will find it over at http://www.mydailywalkinhisgrace.blogspot.com. I look forward to seeing you there.
    God bless
    Tracy

  2. I’ve had “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” on my wish list for a few years. Maybe this year I’ll just go ahead and buy it… it sounds great.

  3. I’m taking so much away from this…thank you!

    And another thank you for making my library list so easy for me! I was able to request most of these–thank you!

    This desire I have in me to make sure my 4 year old gets it this year is holding me accountable to make sure I don’t forget it, too…oh to see Jesus with childlike eyes…

    • Don’t you love that? Their childlike take on things…
      I’m so glad that most were at the library…were you able to find that “My Birthday, Jesus Birthday” one? It’s great for our little kiddos age (because of how much they love their own birthdays :)

  4. That prayer from your Lydia …. Just.precious. Thank you for sharing in community with us.

  5. Don’t believe I have read anything by Nancy Guthrie. Will be sure to check them out. Thank you, friend!

    • Sarah… you would absolutely love Nancy Guthrie and her collections are so encouraging. I usually read this one before Christmas and then she has one that I like to read before Easter.

      Her books on grief are also very powerful/helpful…that’s initially how I “met” her…

  6. Visiting from Jennifer’s. This packs a powerful punch right to my heart throbbing for a well lived Advent. Thank you for giving me lots to feast on and focus on. Grateful for your words today. They feed my soul.

  7. Oh Heather…I’m so sorry that you’re having to walk through the heartache of your husband being out of work (especially for that long). But your perspective here encourages me so much…allowing God to use this time to show you His heart behind Christmas and the gift of His Son…I do pray that He’ll use this time as a huge blessing in your lives, even in the midst of the struggle. Do you have little ones?

    I also write for The Better Mom and today they have a list of Christmas freebies on the site that might be an encouraging resource?

    http://www.thebettermom.com/2012/11/christmas-freebies/

    • I do have two daughters. My oldest is 12 and my youngest is 3. My youngest is autistic. That has been the hardest part of our struggle, making sure we can keep up with her therapy. The diagnosis is recent and we haven’t been able to get monthly provisions from the government to help with the cost of the therapy yet,but we will. It would be easy to drown in my sorrows, but I am so thankful for my special needs child. She has made me a patient, more loving mother. I still get to wrap my arms around her at night and kiss her cheek. Many parents have experienced deeper heartaches than we have. I am truly thankful for the family God has given me and the trust that He has placed in me to do it for His glory. Thank you for the Better Mom link. That is a great resource!

      • We have the same age-range friend…12 year old daughter and 3 year old daughter… (we have two boys in the middle…ages 10 and 9 and then our daughter Selah would’ve been 5 this December)…but I very much “get” have two in such different stages :)

        I actually have an extra “My Birthday, Jesus Birthday” book and I’d love to mail it to you if you want to PM your address? Your 3 year old might enjoy it :)

        I love Psalm 56:8…God bottles each and every one of our tears and He sees it all… I can tell that you are thankful and I love your heart. We’ve been down the therapy road with one of our kiddos and I can relate to what you wrote above…part of me would love to remove the struggle/heartache, but I also see how it’s the very thing that has pulled us closer to Him.

  8. Diane Tolley says:

    A spiritual smorgasbord of spiritual delights, Kara! Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful titles and strategies. I’m following in your footsteps! And what a sweet story about your precious little Lydia. Isn’t it always true that our littlest ones have the closest connection to their Heavenly Father? You’re right. We need to pay attention. Thank you again!

  9. I echo the sentiments of everyone here. What an outpouring of ways to keep our focus in this season! Your Advent Wreath is just lovely, as is the prayer from Lydia. What a cutie!

    • Thanks Kim…she’s so much fun…I love seeing Christmas through her eyes.
      Jason and I were talking last night and we’re pretty sure she’s expecting Baby Jesus to show up on Christmas morning :)

  10. Beautiful reminder Kara! We must never forget that it’s all about Him and He’s the reason we celebrate! I agree, your Advent wreath is awesome. Lovely blog, btw! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog…following you back! Have a blessed day!

  11. I loved your thoughts today on coming unto Christ. Come to His party the real celebration of His birth.Thanks for the links; I will be looking at them.
    Blessings to you!

  12. Good stuff, Girl! I think we were thinking along the same lines. Prep mode to not be on overload. ;) much love.

  13. Ohhh I love all your resources too!! Thanks so much for mentioning, GMG, Kara! Super sweet of you!! :)

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