25 Advent Ideas for Your Family

Welcome back! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and didn’t shop too hard on black Friday. That madness was crazy! My hats off to you if shopped the major store chains.

Back to our program.

So today marks the second day of the first week of advent. I’m sure you’ve been seeing all the activities and ideas going around but I have to admit, I completely ignored them. Why you say? Because for the longest, advent, to me, was no more than a catholic tradition or some sort of lent ritual and I, being the legalistic christian that I was, was not about to be judged for starting a tradition in my family that originated from Catholicism. (And to clarify, advent didn’t start in the catholic church, it goes way back before that from Lutheran’s to old older Christians) Sorry to say but it is true.  My children have always gotten gifts for Christmas but I’ve always been the intentional mother who focused more on the Christ in Christmas. It’s always been more Jesus, and less gifts. Needless to say, I kind of go crazy on Christmas. Not black Friday crazy but, “I have to get that because they will freak out” crazy.  Forgive my ignorance, but once I read up on what advent is supposed to symbolize, I grew more interested. That’s right, I learned what advent means to me as a christian and I grew more interested. The video below best explains what it means to Christians today.

click here if you cannot see this video.

Advent is a time that people all around the world celebrate the hope that we have in Jesus, the fact that he was born and the celebration of his coming and what his birth symbolizes for us. So in this time we take time to reflect on the goodness of Jesus and focus more on him besides our usual traditions of gift giving, holiday parties and cookie swaps. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to buy gifts and do all of our family and holiday traditions, just as long as our hearts still come back and line up with the fact that if all of that vanishes, our hearts will remain solid in Jesus. Have at it. With that being said I have some great ideas for you! Ideas for the kiddos and maybe just for you.

Here are:

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1. Cardboard Advent wreath and candles from jamiespurejoy

2. Easy pocket Advent Calender from strangeandlovelyride

3. Fun and frugal Advent jar from messforless

4. Advent wreath and songs from letsplaykidsmusic

5. Advent action cards from theiowafarmerswife

6. Adventures in Odyssey Advent activity calendar from focusonthefamily.com

7. Host a Candy Cane hunt

8. Write scriptures in a card and give it to someone to encourage them

9. Make an ornament for someone

10. Take stuffed animals to a hospital and give them out

11.Write a letter to Jesus thanking him and praising him

12. Make snowflakes and hang them in the window

13. Do a family or individual advent devotional

14. Go caroling to the neighbors, a nursing home or relatives

15. Write a note to the mail man or lady

16. Read a book a day as an advent activity

17. Make an ornament for Jesus

18. Donate old toys or new one’s to a local place

19. Make cards for your local fire company

20. Clean up someone’s trash

21. Put cookies in the mail box

22. Take someone a meal

23. Make a craft and send it to someone

24. Visit a live nativity

25. Camp out in the living room with hot chocolate, a fake snowball fight(socks or marshmallows) and Christmas movies

There are tons of other things that you can do to encourage someone or be kind. In this time, My family has taken the approach to make it about everyone else and not ourselves. My husband and I have chosen to take Christmas and teach our children the value of the gifts they receive and the value of the gifts they give. We want to intentionally move them toward esteeming others over themselves. We will do a lot for each other but we also want to be a light and love to all those around us.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25

How will you celebrate advent if you are? What activities are you choosing to partake in? Please share!

And as always, with everything I post, I do hope you love this and can add some of these things to your own list.

Happy Advent-ing!

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Linking up with: thebettermom, wedded wednesdays, playdates with God, livingproverbs31, Titus2sday

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I Confess I’m an Imperfect Mother

It’s so funny how this came about. Years ago I had plans to write a book titled Confessions of A Teen-aged mom. Don’t ask me what happened, I guess life took its toll and the book got lost. It may still come about one day.

I had plans of writing how my first child came and living through the pain of being shunned from my previous church. There were chapters on midnight feedings and how I was too tired and fell asleep breastfeeding. Along with many other chapters like anger and children, confessions of a single mom, suicidal roller-coaster and the like.

I feel like I’ve been through it all. I’ve got battle scars to prove my journey. Two failed relationships, one failed marriage, custody battles, living paycheck to paycheck paying for daycare and private school on my own and fears through the marriage I am in.

I’ve been compared, knocked down, looked over, mentally and emotionally abused and what have you. Who hasn’t?

Nonetheless, this day I get up every morning with new hope and a greater vision to seek God’s best in my life and the lives of my children.

But I am not perfect. I just laid that out. I’m not the screaming mom that takes single leaps in a bound when my boy’s cry. I am not the super organized mom or the mom that has her child in 10,000 biblical activities through the year. I’m not the mom that never catches an attitude or wakes up super early to start breakfast. I second that. I am certainly not the mom who get’s all her house work done, home school’s perfectly, nurtures perfectly or loves perfectly but these are very broad subjects.

If the chance comes I’m making a pizza and calling it dinner. I try to limit T.V. but sometimes, when I’m tired, there are pajama days. Sometimes dishes are left in my sink and the dirt on the floor may linger a few weeks.

Sometimes I don’t get dressed or even brush my teeth (don’t judge me).

But who is all these things?

Who has it together all the time? And if you do, then you are your own Saviour because there is no need.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

I fail and I fall. You got me. But I’m still growing. That’s the important thing.

I’m so imperfect and yet so glad that I am. Because through these imperfections God shows me how to slow down and catch up on life, the fun free one. He shows me to depend on him for his strength, his wisdom and his control. Not to compare myself to another mother or woman and what he has set before them. What God has given me is for me.

My crazy busy life, my personality, my husband, my struggles, my children, my ridiculous strength, my annoying yet amazing family, It’s all for Nykiah, because it’s apart of his work within me and the end of the story.

I am imperfect but He is stronger when I am weak and greater in my vulnerabilities. I am exactly what he wants me to be and how he needs me now. So that his glory can be completed in me. I’m just a dented, chipped, puzzle piece learning how to fit in his plan and stand where he wants me on the stage. I’m dress rehearsing for the real thing when all my responsibility will be to bow down and worship the king of kings.

I didn’t use to can but I do now. I never made pizza dough but I do now. I don’t have any girls, but I have boys. I don’t have a huge house but I have one. I don’t have long hair, but it’s healthy. I don’t always say the right things but I’m working on it.  I love God and I love people. Isn’t that really the point of all of this? Aren’t these really what the Lord has asked of us?

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22: 34-40 (ESV)

So while I’m focusing on what I’m not and who I could be, He is looking at greater things.

Praise God if another mom does more than me, praise God if another mom does less. We all have one thing in common, Jesus, his love and his work; Or that we love what we do and we are crazy for doing it!

I hope you can see your imperfections as another reason to give Christ your life. For someone already perfect needing nothing, it wouldn’t be a lot.

Trust him today and walk on the path he has you. Whether crazy and blessed or worst and a mess. Trust Him. And by all means, rejoice with other moms and women for their strength, humility and work that they were called to! (In other words, don’t hate, congratulate!)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

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Linking up with: Wedded Wednesday and thebettermom

HOPE FOR THE WORKING MOM

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We work like a dog all day. We come home without chance to unravel what our mind has been trying to comprehend since early morning.. to bright faces with missing teeth asking and begging for our attention. So we put our bags down and scoop up a handful of motherly love and our night shift begins.

I know how you feel….To not have enough time to spend with your children because most of your night involved your commute home.

And I know it gets worst.

You feel overwhelmed and under heard. Your mind is set to accomplish your many tasks of the day and before you know it your precious baby ended up watching T.V all day….but you got all your work done. You’ll do better tomorrow. But tomorrows to-do list looks just like today’s.

Motherhood. It has me down in the dumps. Too many times I’ve yelled for them to stop yelling at each other. I’ve sat them down to stare one another eye ball to eyeball. I’ve enforced punishments that exited their favorite’s. I’ve tripped over the last toy I can take and I don’t really feel like cooking. I’ve been doing laundry for the last three weeks and there are too many deadlines to meet. I’m tired and cranky and fighting for grace.

Motherhood.

Who called me to this?

God did. From the beginning of time he commands me to raise my children and nurture and care for them. He commands me to be their mother. (Genesis 1:28)

Times get tough. I lose a few marbles or some of them get loose. I lose sight of the benefit of serving and caring for my family.

2 Corinthians 4:1-18

Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.

If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.
You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.
But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus,will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you.  All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
This passage is titled Treasures in Jars of Clay.
What does that mean?
Possibly that somewhere underneath all the lack of sleep and to-do lists, God is molding and shaping us for our benefit…for his.
Perhaps that our families are being likened to his glory. So just think of it like this. Through all the rubble is a treasure to be held. One that marks eternity as it’s destination. So while you’re going crazy half the time. God is working. perfecting you, them. He holds the clay and kneads it well…And in the end it turns out to be just like he imagined.
So don’t be weary in your well-doing. Let patience have its perfect work. God’s gift and call can never be withdrawn. (Rom 11:29) He made us for this.
So there’s hope for us. Us working moms.

My Brothers Keeper: Teaching Them to Love Like JESUS

The other day I read a blog entry by Becky Kopitzke that started out with a book called Redeeming Love . That got me to thinking.

This morning I woke up cranky, intolerable and just plain not in a good mood because I’m exhausted. I can remember looking into the eyes of my children and hearing my oldest ask, “why are you so angry mommy?”  They hadn’t seen irritation from me like this in a long time. They were worried.

This week started off totally gruesome for me. To start, I lost my bus pass while running to catch a bus, was burned by scolding hot water at work (completely an accident) and the day ended with me walking almost two miles home and sending my children to bed without mommy time. -Exhausting

I woke up this morning trying to regain traction and felt so limp and weak but through this totally gruesome day I found hope in the  love of Jesus. -Comfort in God’s word

(All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.  For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.  Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.  We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

 We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.  In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.  And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.  And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.)

– 2nd Corinthians 1: 3-11

Over the past few weeks I’ve been stressing to my boys the importance of being brothers and being their brother keeper.

Of Course they are boys, they argue, they fall out laughing, they tattle when the other is not cooperative to the others selfish motives. And then they reconcile.

– back to best brothers as usual. I’ve learned overtime that this is the way of the brotherhood  and It’s something I can’t change. What I can change is their view of each other throughout their brotherhood in light of the cross.

I can exemplify and teach them repentance when they have offended one another, caring for each other like in Matthew 22:39 and loving each other like in 1 Corinthians 13. I can teach them the importance of grace and compassion, and forgiveness and patience.

-but it first starts with me. It starts with me understanding my charge as not only their mother but as their sister in Christ.

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.

John 15: 12-17

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Ephesians 5:1-2

This morning I couldn’t help but to repent and ask my babies for forgiveness for not loving them like I should. I asked the Lord to redeem my way of loving them.

When we remember Jesus and the true meaning of his resurrection we can have hope in knowing that he died to redeem our love and in his love we are redeemed to love.

HIS way

I know that I can go to the cross every time I mess up and exchange my way for Jesus’ way. This is where it begins for those little eyes. This is how they will learn to love like Jesus.

My love isn’t perfect but his is and by it we are all redeemed.

I hope you all enjoy your Easter and are encouraged by the resurrection of Jesus and the fact that he now he lives in our hearts perfecting his love that he has been redeeming ever since.