It’s December 1 and while the stockings have been hung by the [window] with care, so has the Advent calendar that will help us count down the days to Jesus’ birthday.
I feel like I should tell you that I’m not what one would consider ‘together’ or ‘with it’. More often than not, I’m ‘really good intentions’, ‘bless her heart’, or ‘well that didn’t work out quite like I had planned’.
Or that’s certainly how I feel sometimes.
4 days into a 25 day project and I already feel overwhelmed or we already missed a day or it’s not going at all like I had envisioned it and I wonder if we should stick it out.
If this is you, I want to encourage you.
Being intentional as a parent sometimes looks absolutely nothing like I think it will look.
Sometimes I (wrongly) think that being intentional will guarantee some perfect outcome. Perfect project. Perfect grades. Perfect house. Perfect kids.
When in reality, being intentional is not a recipe for a perfect outcome, but rather a willingness to be there through the good and the bad, to say sorry and offer forgiveness, to model, teach, explain, and live out your words with your actions, and to be deliberate in the process. Over and over again.
That’s what I’m reminded of as we head into Advent. It usually means a reading plan we don’t quite get finished. Nativity pieces to the far reaches of our house, shepherds being replaced by lizards or miniature condiment bottles.
But I remind myself that I don’t need my kids to remember a perfect mom, a have-it-all-together mom. They need to remember a mom who was there, who listened, who took time, who tried, and most importantly, who pointed them to Jesus again and again by sharing His word and showing her own need for His grace.
So when my 5 year old asked to repeat what we did for Advent last year, I was floored. I mean, I think we got 14 days into something I was making up on the spot as we managed to make time to do the reading and project.
Top that off with the fact that it didn’t occur to me that our Advent calendar should be used to countdown instead of as the dates on the calendar, but never mind because my kids like it the way we did it last time because it’s easier to remember and we can see how close Jesus’ birthday is either way (wisdom in that little smarty pants I tell ya), it’s all a reminder that it’s not about the perfect outcome. It’s about being deliberate in the process.
Officially in the church year, Advent started this past Sunday. If you are midweek Advent service type, your service was last night. And for many, the official Advent countdown starts with the calendar on December 1.
Now maybe you’ve been wanting to do something for Advent but weren’t sure how to do it. Maybe you didn’t think about it before but you’re thinking now you’d like to try it. And maybe you’re thinking you’d like to start small and see how it goes.
I’m definitely a start-small-see-how-it-goes-and-give-lots-of-grace-for-when-it-isn’t-perfect type. And so with that in mind, I want to share with you how we are being intentional this Advent and why we’ve chosen these things.
Jesus Storybook Bible
The Jesus Storybook Bible is something I gush about all the time. It’s written at a 4 year old’s comprehension level and consistently, it knocks me on my butt with its beauty, simplicity, and truth. Every story takes the opportunity to point to Jesus, why He came and what He would do.
There are 24 stories that walk you through the Old Testament and through the Christmas story – one for every day that leads up to Christmas.
In addition to reading each day, we are making an ornament for each reading. I will be sharing these on Instagram as we make them.
If you aren’t crafty or don’t want to hunker down with scissors, glue sticks, and toddlers, you can print the pictures from the story from Faith Gateway and have ornaments from the story to hang on your tree.
Kid Safe Nativity Set
I think the best way to make the birth of Jesus real for our kids is to let them get their hands on it, touch it feel it, act it out. I spent hours perfectly arranging my mom’s nativities as a kid.
So I make sure the nativities that are out at kid level in our house are able to be played with.
Getting one made out of plastic that’s durable and in it for the long haul is a good idea. These tend to fly off the shelves in early December but usually get restocked part way through the month, and can even be found on discount after Christmas to be saved for next year.
I had Pinterest dreams of making just the most amazing Advent calendar. And I did. It was darling. 24 little presents to open and 24 little activities to do. The boxes were hard to open. Then fell off. Then got lost.
So I said “Hey, I’m gonna buy one I love” and I did.
I opted for cloth because it’s durable. And I chose one where you build the nativity as you countdown (or up in our case). It’s another way to make the story tangible for my kiddos.
Seeds Family Worship CDs
Pretty much every kids’ CD on the market has some element that makes me want to listen to it only once through and then find a really high shelf to put it on.
But Seeds Family Worship is different.
For one thing, the lyrics are Bible verses. Word for word. And the CD cover tells you which translation they’re using. Setting Scripture to music is SUCH a great way to impress it on your heart because how often does a song get stuck in your head? And when it’s God’s Word, how great is that?
And for another thing, the music isn’t kidz boppy. It’s good music. I like listening to it – and so do my kids.
So when they put out the Christmas CD and DVD for this year, I was so excited to review it for you all. When it came in the mail, we popped it right into the DVD player to see what we thought of it – and watched it all morning.
I love that it’s the story of Christ’s birth, taken right from the Bible. Setting this important event to music reminds me of in the Magician’s Nephew when Aslan sings all the everything into creation. There’s something so powerful about putting these words to music.
For the DVD, I like that there are 3 songs that have motions (another tangible way for our kids to learn and remember what they’re hearing!). I found some of the fonts hard to read for younger kids. My emerging reader wouldn’t be able to make anything out on the screen. But she picks up on the words quickly by listening to it, so it’s not a deal breaker.
The CD is the same songs and we listened to it for several days in the car. I thought all of the music was really great and easy to learn and sing along to.
And one more thing about Seeds that I just LOVE – when you order ANY of their CDs, including the bundles, each package comes with 2 discs. One to keep and one to share. You can literally hand God’s Word to another family for them to start impressing on their hearts, too. We got the entire set as a Christmas present a few years ago from a set of grandparents and every single CD is great. We just love it.
Advent with Kids
My heart for this season, like all the others, is to be intentional. Advent with kids can feel so stressful. So exhausting. But it can be a slower time in your heart and even in how you give yourself grace if you don’t get it Pinterest perfect.