Sunday, November 24, 2013

Counting Down to Christmas Challenge

It's no secret that I love the Christmas season. Hudson even is enjoying the trees and the lights.

 Last night, I just sat in the living room floor after Hudson went to bed. I love when the only lights on are twinkle lights.

I left our living room tree plain with just lights and grapevine. I put up our old tree (that almost didn't stay together this year) in the kitchen to hang all our ornaments on (out of the reach of a curious little boy). I've still got to figure out a topper and a tree skirt idea. I'm just not a fan of the fabric around the base of the tree that never seems to stay in place.

I love the soft glow that comes over the room from Christmas twinkle lights. I love adding Christmas items all over the house. A bow here...a tree there...I even have some decor in our hall bathroom.

But, Christmas is more than just getting the tree decorated and the cards mailed. It's more than twinkle lights and pretty packages.  It's Jesus.

This year, I wanted to emphasize the birth of Christ more. I wanted to try to implement some advent elements to our family traditions.

For a few years now, I've started to collect nativities. I wanted my decor to point to the birth of Christ.  It all started with my Willow Tree Nativity.

I also love my nativity puzzle.  Once you dump out the pieces, you can arrange the perfect little manger scene, complete with animals.

Last year, I even gave nativity sets that I made out of wood blocks.

And just the other day, my mother-in-love and I found a cute magnetic nativity at the Dollar Tree.

If you read any DIY blogs, you've probably seen the hundreds of different Advent Calendars that people make. Some are Christ centered with verses. Some are just counting down the days until Christmas with a little gift each day. For the past month, I've been on the hunt for a good idea for our family.

See, Advent means "the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event." There are so many ways to count down to the day that we celebrate the arrival of a very notable Person...JESUS.

For starters, I've wrapped all of Hudson's Christmas books individually. I plan to do this each year. Not with new books, but just as a way to choose what book we will read each night leading up to Christmas.

I realize this year that it is more for me than for him, but I wanted to go ahead and begin the tradition. He does love when I read to him, and I never know just what he is beginning to absorb.

If he knows to growl when I ask him what a bear says, He can learn about Jesus being the reason we celebrate Christmas. I am so excited about teaching him these things as he grows and matures.

I'm still deciding how to create my Advent Calendar and I've encouraged a few of my blogger friends to join me in this challenge. I would challenge you as well to look for a way to count down to Christmas.

Since Advent Calendars have been on my mind, I seem to run into cool ideas everywhere. Just yesterday I received another issue of this free magazine from Focus on the Family.  If you don't receive this magazine, you can subscribe for FREE here.

In this issue were Advent Readings from Adventures in Odyssey. You can get the activities emailed to you by signing up here.

John Piper has a free downloadable book of Advent readings that I plan to use for my quiet time for the month of December. You can download a copy here.

And I have plans to read daily to Hudson, as well. One of my favorite Bible story books is the Jesus Storybook Bible. Each story, even those from the Old Testament mention Jesus. It was so interesting for me to look into each story for the way that it would point to our Savior.

It just so happens that there are 24 stories from Creation to the Three Wise Men. You can find a printable chart here for the readings. Usually Lifeway runs a great deal on this book around Black Friday. If you don't have this book, I would encourage you to pick up a copy. Even as an adult, I was encouraged by the telling of these Bible stories. The stories seem to be the perfect length to keep Hudson's attention. And each page is illustrated beautifully.

I'm sure there are hundreds of other reading plans out there to point you towards the birth of Christ. I'd love to know your favorites.

I'd also love for you to join me in my Advent Challenge, this year. Around the first of December, I plan to post pictures of my Advent calendar. My blogger friends plan to do the same.

So, get thinking...even if you just put the Bible references you plan to read in envelopes and tape them on your wall in the shape of a tree...anyone can come up with a way to Count Down to Christmas.

Or, if you just want to wait and see some of the ideas posted and copy those...Go right ahead.
But whatever you decide, pray about how you will plan for the upcoming Christmas season. 

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