December 2016: Advent Rest (and Advent Devotional Recommendations)

We had a wonderful time at our Advent Adventure last month. Thank you to everyone who came and to everyone who worked so hard to make it great. We hope you have been given some good tools to aid in your family’s Advent season.

And as this Advent season is now in full swing, we are surrounded by pressures. Do you feel them? We have a tendency to feel like our homes and kids should look and be a certain way, especially at Christmas. All the cookies to make! All the gifts to buy! All the decorations to create out of repurposed potato sacks! Even family Advent devotionals can put pressure on us, making us feel like we aren’t doing them right. The irony of this is, Advent is about preparing for the arrival of Jesus, who tells us to come to Him, “all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus just wants our hearts, plain and simple. All we have to do is sit, be quiet, let scripture do its work.

This simplicity is hard to accept. Shouldn’t it be fancier?

Shouldn’t we memorize Luke chapter 2?

Shouldn’t we make ornaments every single day?

No. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

Jesus = rest.

Stress at Christmas is a tool of the devil, who wants us to stay focused on stuff instead of the Person we are celebrating.

I don’t have it all figured out. I feel stress all the time; I struggle with being quiet, too. But this Advent, every time I feel like I’m being squeezed by everything on my to-do list, I am going to go live in Jesus’ words in Matthew 11. They will fill my soul more than any activity could. And there will still be plenty of time for cookies.

I am praying for rest for all of you and yours this season.

If you are, in fact, looking for a great Advent devotional for this season, please see the list I have curated for you below.

Advent Devotional Recommendations:
  • Family Advent Guide from Lifeway Kids. This is a free download and their materials are top-notch.
  • The Christmas Countdown by Margie J. Harding. I checked this out from the San Antonio Public Library, and I am very impressed and encouraged by the readings I have found inside. Not too complicated, and no crafts required. Good discussion starters for kids ages 5 and up.
  • Truth in the Tinsel – by Amanda White. Our family did a variation of this a couple of years ago. (By variation, I mean we did some of it. Other days, it was too much.) On the plus side, I appreciate the scriptural focus and how well it is done for younger kids. On the negative side, it was a tad too crafty for my taste. But if doing crafts with your kids on the regular is your jam, it’s a good one. Great for ages 1-5.
  • A Baby-Friendly Advent – This is a helpful blog post for little ones 18 months and younger.

And if you would just like titles of good books to read with your kids throughout this month, here are a few of my favorites:

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This article was originally published in the December 2016 issue of the Rock.