Tuesday, December 01, 2015

ADVENT DAY 1: Unwrapping a Season of God

Finally.  It's here!  I've been looking forward to this day since December 26, 2014.  Last year we began a new tradition of celebrating Advent.  It was one of my most favorite things last Christmas year, and I could hardly wait to do it again!

Our Advent wreath is on the table, and this year we have a Jesse Tree for all of the ornaments the children colored last year.  They will add an ornament to the tree each day.  

We celebrated the first day of Advent with pancakes, sausage and whipped cream at breakfast.  Because why not?!  And don't be too impressed.  The pancakes were left over from breakfast-for-supper on Sunday night, and Seth actually made them!  

After we completed our homeschool day, the kids decorated the Christmas trees in their bedrooms.  We had already put the trees up before we went to Georgia for Thanksgiving, but we just never had time to put the decorations on them.  I love Christmas trees!  But I've learned to see (literally!) Christmas trees in a whole new way, and the kids and I talked about this today as they decorated their trees.  

The Christmas tree is evergreen (unless it's pink).  That reminds us of God's unconditional, never-ending love.  The tree also reminds us of the old rugged tree on which our Savior bled and died for the sin of the whole entire world.  And the lights remind us that Jesus is the Light that shines in the darkness, the Light of the World.  Hannah Kate and Ellie recently memorized that particular Bible verse so it has a lot of meaning for them right now.    

Yes, I realize Hannah Kate is wearing a jazz leotard over her clothes.  And Ellie is wearing Hannah Kate's old boxing costume from the dance recital three years ago.  What can I say?  They love to play dress up!

The girls love decorating their pink tree.  Ellie will probably have her own bedroom this time next year so they've already been talking about who is going to keep the pink tree and who is going to get a new tree and what color the new tree is going to be!  I can't even!

And just as much as the girls love decorating their tree, Mason loves decorating his, too.  He has a fishing-themed tree.  But this year I picked up some football and basketball ornaments for him to add to his tree.  He was really excited when he saw them.

When we sat down to eat supper tonight, we lit our Advent candle.  This year I surrounded our wreath with a new little nativity set I picked up yesterday at Hobby Lobby.  I couldn't help myself.  I had no intention of buying another nativity set this year, but I fell in love immediately.  I absolutely adore it!

One of the things I love most about this particular nativity set is the pictures carved into each of the characters.  The kids and I talked about that while we ate lunch today.  We took each one, and I asked them to tell me what they say and what it reminded them of.  Notice the dove on Mary.  God's Spirit descended as a dove when Jesus was baptized.    

Look at those three crosses carved into one of the wise men.  Jesus came to die.  He was born to save us, but He had to die to do that.

The carving on the angel reminds us again that Jesus is the Light of the World.  (I also have to admit that the little palm tree gave me a chuckle!)

After supper, the kids hung their ornaments on the Jesse Tree.  It's sits just off the kitchen so we can see it from the kitchen and from the living room.  This is the first year we've had a tree right there, and I'm loving it!  Today's ornament reminds us of the shoot that grew out of the stump - Jesus, Who was born out of King David's family.  That's the "place where love grows."

During the next 23 days, we will add another 69 ornaments to our Jesse Tree.  I don't know how we're going to have room for all 69, but I can't wait!

Usually December 1 overwhelms me.  There are still gifts to be purchased (but not this year!) and wrapped (nothing is wrapped yet!).  There are two birthdays to celebrate within the next five days.  There are church activities and parties and lots of stuff to DO.  The to-do list is never-ending.  But not this year!  Last year I wanted a different kind of Christmas.  This year I'm HAVING a different kind of Christmas.

I'm breathing.  Resting.  Embracing.  Feeling.

Ann Voskamp says it best in her The Night Before ADVENT poem.

Advent unwraps wonder, the greatest gift ever dreamed,
so come adore Him, the One who redeemed
all the willing and wanting wit this Advent Awe
a sacred, slow Unwrapping of a season of God.

Oh, yes, there will be parties and Christmas carols and musicals and lights and decorations and presents and goodies and all that other stuff . . . GOOD STUFF . . . but this is God's season.  He is everywhere.  Have you noticed?

He's waiting . . .

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