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.
- 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:
- This is the Star – Joyce Dunbar – The illustrations really portray the drama of the scene nicely.
- The Birds of Bethlehem – Tomie dePaola – I love this author. Great little picture book about the nativity from the point of view of birds.
- Listen to the Silent Night – Dandi Daley Mackall – “It was not such a silent night” – Indeed.
- The Very First Christmas – Paul L. Maier – A great book for the older child who loves asking questions!
- The Little Donkey – Gerda Marie Scheidl – Nice story about a donkey’s search for King Jesus.
- The Friendly Beasts – Sharon McGinley – This classic is my favorite.
- Father and Son – Geraldine McCaughrean – The story from Joseph’s point of view.
- An Angel Came to Nazareth – Anthony Knott – Gorgeous illustrations!
- The Lion Storyteller Christmas Book – Bob Hartman – This is a great collection of Christmas stories for reading aloud. I used this one at Advent Adventure (see below):
This article was originally published in the December 2016 issue of the Rock.