Advent is a season of waiting, preparing, and focusing on the coming of Jesus. So often this gets lost in the hustle and bustle of the busyness of the Christmas season.
Several years ago, one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, wrote a daily devotional for Advent. It was centered around the Jesse Tree tradition. (The Jesse Tree takes you through the history of the Israelites as they await their promised Messiah, starting with creation and ending with Jesus's birth.) I loved the idea of looking back at how God was preparing His people LONG before the actual event happened.
So our family began our Jesse Tree traditions. Each year, we make a tree of some sort. A few times, we have painted one family tree. In other years, we've had each child create their own tree. Every day (or most days) during Advent, we read the story for the day. Most of the stories are familiar Old Testament stories, like Noah, Ruth, and Jonah. Voskamp has ornaments that we print to color that go with each story. I enjoy the opportunity to reflect on the devotional as I color. I also find that my kids are more receptive to sharing their thoughts as they color. Over the years, Voskamp has added an adult devotional as well as a children's book. In each, she has suggested activities that help us focus on the particular theme of that day. It might be to offer love to someone in a unique way, or some way to sacrificially give. I appreciate being able to focus on the same material as my children, at our own levels.
I find when I take the time to really follow through with doing the devotional every day, my mindset is different. I pay closer attention to the activities I schedule for my family. I pay closer attention to how I spend my own time. I focus on the theme of the day and that changes my interactions with those around me. I gain a certain peace during a time of year that can quickly become overwhelming for most of us.
So this December, you will find me waking up a little before everyone (I hope), sitting on my living room couch with my cup of coffee, reading and coloring, reflecting on how I can make Him the focus of my day.
April is known as the "Baby Whisperer" because she is ALWAYS holding somebody's little one. She loves babies, but more than that, she finds God in caring for others. Not so long ago, it was she who needed the gift of another's arms to hold a tiny one that she might find rest, and now she loves to give that gift to other new moms. April also finds Him through fellowship with others. Talking about God, reading his Word, and praying with others helps her to experience Him more fully. Walking through this life with God and the people He has surrounded her with makes all the difference in the world.