Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christ Centered Christmas

Happy December, everyone!  Now that Caleb and I have a baby, we have begun to think about what we would like holidays to look like in our household.  How can we instill in our kids the real importance of Christmas in a fun, kid-friendly way?  While I am not anti-Santa, presents, or Christmas lights (at all!), I would still like to strive to make Christ's incarnation the biggest focus of Christmas-time.

So I did some research and found some fun activities that families can do with their children to keep this focus.  First, here is a kid-friendly advent calendar with Scripture readings that you can do with your kids.  It is especially fun because it has daily object lessons/activities you can do with your children to help them grasp what you read together.  It would probably take a little planning ahead.  I want to save this calendar, because it is definitely above Emerson's level.  Caleb and I will do our own Scripture readings for this advent season.

Second, I love the advent chain idea found on this page.  Each link has something you can do as a family to serve others or to celebrate Christmas as a family.  You tear off a link each day and do what that link says.  Examples include, shop for toys and donate them, share Christmas memories, make ornaments, take a mini Christmas tree to someone in a nursing home, etc.  What a great way to teach kids that Christmas is not all about themselves!

The final idea I loved is this book idea.  Once you get a good collection of Christmas books, you wrap them in wrapping paper and each day, your child gets to open one book and read it!  You don't get new books every year, you just re-wrap them every year.  You can make this Christ centered by buying children's books that tell the Christmas story.  I think I will probably throw in other fun holiday books as well.  But I definitely want to include many Baby Jesus books!

I hope you find some of these ideas helpful!  While Emerson is still pretty young for these activities, they are definitely fun ideas for the future!  I hope you are enjoying the beginning of your Christmas season!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Highlight Reel

We were able to spend 4 days in Joplin with my family for Thanksgiving break.  I can already tell that Emerson loves going to Nana and Papa's house.  Which makes me happy because I have such fond memories of holidays at my grandparents' house growing up.  It is always craziness at my family's house.. a good kind of crazy.  Like kids running/wrestling, dogs barking, and adults talking loudly type of crazy.  That's just my family. 

Anyway, while I could probably share tons about our break, I will just share the highlights. 

Thursday consisted of eating a lot, spending quality time with the family, and playing our first annual family football game.  I feel like actually playing football taught me a lot about the game.  For instance, I learned what a line of scrimmage is.  I also learned what it means to rush.  It was so fun to try different plays and it was the best when the little kids got to do plays.  You know.. the famous run the wrong way plays.  I think us girls spent more time on the ground than anyone.  Just sayin'... my sister and cousin are aggressive.  I don't think they were really following the flag football guidelines.  We only ended up with a few bruises and lots of laughs.  Of course, with my little brother Asher present, we ended up singing the national anthem during half time (while saluting the windmill), and doing the "good game" five line afterwards.  I look forward to the many games to come.

Friday... oh, Black Friday.  I sat out on Black Friday this year.  Having a baby makes my sleep much more sacred.

Saturday we headed to Bass Pro in Springfield for our annual picture with Santa.  We have been going to this Bass Pro since 1996... that's 15 years.  Which makes me feel really old.  That is where the real Santa works, duh. 

My family is getting so big!  If we keep multiplying at this rate, we won't fit in the picture!  We are like a bunch of rabbits, I tell ya.


Now let me tell ya.  I have been trying to teach Emerson to clap his hands lately.  But he would never really partake voluntarily.  So, Emerson was riding this carousel after visiting Santa and all of a sudden, out of the blue, he claps his hands!  Since then he has done it several times.  It's pretty cute.  Apparently it takes something really exciting for Emerson to clap his hands for the first time ever :)

Sunday we went to church and drove back home to get settled for the start of a new week.  It was a great first Thanksgiving for Emerson and we have very much to be thankful for.  Have a blessed week, friends!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Full Heart

This year, I feel that I have more to be thankful for than ever before.  God has been so good to me and by His grace He has blessed me with an amazing family that raised me in His ways.  He has blessed me with an incredible, godly husband who always encourages me and points me towards Christ.  And He has given me wonderful, genuine friendships that I know will last for years to come. 

The thing that's different about this  year is obviously that I have a child.  This is a new love that I am experiencing and it makes my heart feel so full.  Sometimes it feels like it might burst because it is so full!  I am so thankful for the ability to love.  And I am so thankful that God has placed so many people in my life that I can love so deeply. 

Sometimes I wonder if it is even possible for me to love more than I do now.  Will my heart get fuller and fuller with each child God gives us? 

I am so blessed with all that I have and sometimes I fear that God will take away what he has blessed me with.  But I was recently reminded that whatever God gives us (even salvation) or takes away from us (the loss of a loved one, a job, etc.) is ultimately given or taken away for His glory.  That is the reason for our existence. 

This Thanksgiving, keep in mind Second Corinthians 4:15,

"For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011