6 Ways to Prepare for the Holidays

6 Ways to Prepare for the Holidays

Preparing for the holidays can be a lot of work. In fact, during the next few weeks, your Christmas to-do list is probably about to grow into an outrageous, poster-sized banner. Am I right? And then, before you know it, your Christmas experience turns into a frenzy of challenging task after challenging task.

Why not do it differently this year? Let’s get a head start on this season to ensure that this Christmas is about the celebration of the birth of Our Savior. Below you will find six ways you can prepare for Christmas while remembering the reason we celebrate the season.

1. Add an advent calendar to your nightly routine. An advent calendar is a wonderful way to prepare your family for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Not sure how an advent calendar works? Check out our article on How To Use An Advent Calendar and get a head start on the celebration this year.

2. Decorate your Christmas tree as a family.  Choose lights and ornaments that represent the true Christmas story. With the Twelve Names of Christmas Ornaments, you can start 12 days before Christmas—read one story each night with your family and have your children hang the corresponding ornament on the tree.

3. Serve others. Start a card ministry, organize a bake sale for your favorite charity, deliver pre-cooked Christmas dinners or easy-clean-up meals to your elderly friends, or volunteer your time at a local food pantry. By serving others at Christmas and year-round, you are answering God’s call in your life. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 ESV

4. Decorate gradually. Slow down the process of putting your nativity scene out. By displaying your manger scene one piece at a time, you will be able to truly focus on the involvement of each person in the miraculous first Christmas story—of course, topping it off Christmas Day with the arrival of baby Jesus.

5. Find time to sit quietly. As the busyness of the holiday season approaches, set aside a designated time each day to fully focus on listening to God’s voice. Pick up some prayer resources to help deepen your personal relationship with Jesus as we approach the celebration of His birth.

6. Study the Christmas story. Read enlightening books about the amazing birth of Jesus. The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamphelps readers celebrate the lineage and the majesty of Jesus Christ; while The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgsfocuses more on the biblical stories of Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna. Looking for materials to help your children or grandchildren learn more about the birth of Christ? Check out our Christmas-themed activity books such as Christmas Joysor Jesus Is Born!

We all know how easy it is to get caught up in the Christmas rush. At DaySpring, we want to come alongside you this season to bring you inspirational devotionals, helpful tips, and fun ideas to remind us all of the reason we celebrate Christmas. We hope our six ways to prepare for the holidays will help bring your focus back to the amazing Christmas story and His unfailing love for us.

Devotional credit: Dayspring.com

 

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Discovering the Advent Season

Discovering the Advent Season

Every year, I plan on buying a traditional Advent calendar to help my family get ready for Christmas.  I like the idea of daily Advent readings that help build anticipation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.  Unfortunately, I’m usually busy and forget to buy the calendar until after Advent has already started.  There is so much going on at Thanksgiving, and then the parties start, and before you know it, Christmas is upon us.  The calendar itself is not the most important thing; it’s about what celebrating Advent does for us during a very busy time of the year.

Advent is the season that starts four Sundays before Christmas.  For hundreds of years, Christians have used this season to remember the coming of Christ, and to prepare for Christmas.  It’s more than just a piece of history, though.  So, why do we celebrate Advent?  Celebrating the Advent season can help us today to follow Christ more faithfully in at least three ways.

Advent helps us focus on Jesus.

We’ve all heard the clichés like “Jesus is the reason for the season” and “Let’s keep Christ in Christmas.”  Even though they are clichés, they contain nuggets of truth.  One of the reasons that they exist is that it is just so easy to let all of the activities, and shopping, and parties overwhelm our focus on Jesus.  Celebrating Advent gives us daily and weekly reminders through Scripture about who Christ is and what He did for us when He came to earth.

Advent helps us honor Jesus.

The word “Advent” means the arrival of someone or something important.  When an important event like a graduation or wedding is coming, we work hard to make sure everything is perfect.  When an important person is coming to visit, we work hard to properly prepare for them so that they will know they are valuable to us.  We plan the menu and the decorations; we clean the house and edge the lawn.  We don’t just wait until the last minute and throw something together.  Similarly, celebrating Advent helps us give Jesus the proper attention and focus He deserves.  By focusing on Him throughout this season, and not just on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we honor Him more faithfully.

Advent helps us remember Jesus is coming again.

Advent is not only a celebration of Christ’s first coming as a baby; it is also a reminder of Jesus’ return that is yet to come.  Just as God’s people awaited the first coming of the Messiah, His people now await the return of our Savior.  The four weeks of Advent remind us of both of these comings.  In weeks one and two, the Scripture readings look forward to His second coming and remind us of the importance of being prepared for His return.  Weeks three and four look backward and help us remember the excitement and expectation that the hope of the Messiah brought to the ancient Jews.  It has always been important for God’s people to remember that God is up to something, and that we need to live in expectation of what He will do when He comes again.

In our world, there are so many things that can occupy our attention.  The Christmas season is one of the most exciting times of the year, but it is also one of the most distracting seasons of the year.  Even for those who want to keep focused on Jesus, it is difficult to do so.  By celebrating Advent, we acknowledge that celebrating Jesus is more than one evening and the following day.  The ‘how’ to celebrate Advent isn’t as important as the connection you make with Him, so create special traditions as a family and grow in Him together.  Let us be a people who acknowledge God’s great love and generosity for his people every day this Advent season.

Devotional credit: Dayspring.com

Simple Advent Activities for Your Family

Simple Advent Activities for Your Family

I often think of the crazy holiday season countdown as a great big package we tear into (earlier and earlier!) every year. It’s bright and flashy, but we don’t find a whole lot at the heart of it.

And then there’s Advent.

Advent is like a small and carefully-wrapped gift that invites us to open it slowly, day-by-day, to discover new treasures inside each year. It’s the quiet, magnificent story unfolding beneath all the shopping and celebrating. It’s the real journey that will still be beautiful and true when everything else passes away.

This is the story I want my children to be swept up in.

They love anticipation and discovery; They love creating and celebrating.

I want to help them pour that God-given energy and excitement into the stuff that truly matters.

If you’re looking for some simple, meaningful ways to celebrate a special Advent season this year, read on. Find a few easy Advent activities that feel right for your family, and give them your personal touch! Starting your own Advent traditions is a wonderful way to celebrate the marvel of the season.

Start simple.

Hang a traditional Advent calendar that includes Scripture near a busy place in your home. Let children take turns opening each day, and spend a few moments talking about the message that’s revealed. Or place a small dry erase board orchalkboard in the kitchen to keep track of how many days until Jesus’ birthday.  As simple as it seems, even taking a few moments each day to shift our focus toward the One we’re truly celebrating can make a big difference.

Pray each day.

Have the kids decorate a prayer jar, box or basket. (Check out our Bible journaling craft supplies for some great inspiration!) Cut 24 small slips of paper and sit down together to fill them out with names, situations and even parts of the world you want to pray for. Set it in the middle of the dinner table or living room, and have a child draw one out each day of Advent as your family gathers to pray.

Shine your light.

Set out an Advent Wreath, and take a moment to light one of the candles each Sunday during Advent.  Talk about what it might look like to shine God’s light in the coming week.

Then consider putting His love into action with a weekly family outing to bless someone in need. It could be a nursing home visit, flower delivery, or a grocery store run for a homebound neighbor. Make a reverse advent calendar collection box and add one new item each day or week to donate to a food pantry or other organization. Get the kids involved and see what creative ideas they come up with!

Have some fun.

Our family doesn’t have the magical plush toy that shows up in some houses at the holidays, but we do love to have fun with our Shepherd on the Search. We hide him around the house each day of Advent, and he makes his way to the manger on Christmas Eve.

Create your own advent calendar countdown.

Make an advent calendar together for a personalized way to count down. Gather some supplies and give the kids a few hours one afternoon to create their version of a Christ-centered Christmas countdown. There are no rules; it can be as simple as stickers on paper, or elaborate as a colorful clay sculpture. Talk with them about how we each have a special journey to take, and theirs is unlike anyone else’s. Remind them how much God delights in walking with us every step of the way. Allow their creativity to guide you through the Advent season as you draw inspiration from their homemade advent countdown.

Go all-inclusive.

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive guide for the season, there are some wonderful advent devotionals that include Scripture, devotions and activities for your family to share. One of my favorite Advent books is Ann Voskamp’s “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.”

No matter what, remember that every little step we take toward the heart of this beautiful season matters: every meaningful conversation we share, every prayer prayed together, every act of kindness that shines His light. Don’t let the celebration of Advent become another burdensome thing to check off a holiday to-do list. Pray about your plans; do what’s right for your family in this season of life, and enjoy the journey of a Christ-centered Advent celebration together!

Devotional credit: Dayspring.com

#2 Mustache Santa Christmas Album Video On YouTube

#2 Mustache Santa Christmas Album Video On YouTube

Hello Dear Friends,

I hope you all are have a lovely week!!! I am so happy to share an album that was made to help raise money for our youngest child’s homeschool group to be sold in a silent auction. So much fun to make and prayerfully a blessing to the recipient.

This little album has fun tags, journaling tags, photo pages and pretty little pages made with Chalkboard Christmas paper pad-12 x 12 by The Paper Studio – It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year and dark green and dark red card stock from Hobby Lobby. Some fun and lovely stickers from the clearance bin at Hobby Lobby and some fun glitter stickers from Dollar Tree.

http://youtu.be/1PaiKo6elYQ

2nd video Nov. and early Dec 208

2nd video Nov. and early Dec 205

Supplies as listed above.

2nd video Nov. and early Dec 215

I apologize for the hand held camera shakes!! I am still working on setting up a permanent camera spot. My Sweet Husband has been working quite a bit…so hopefully soon he can slow down and help with my little “Honey Do”. 🙂 Thank you for understanding and all the sweet encouragements!! Each of you all continue to be such a blessing!!

May the Lord richly bless your week,

k