Tonight, at dinner, Lydia asked to pray.
She is three.
This was her prayer:
“Dear Jesus…I hope you enjoy your Christmas party.”
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–
“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…
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?