December is here and we have already seen snow! This means that our December Advent countdown to Christmas has begun. Every year we unfold the Christmas story in our house by sharing the symbols of Christmas to our children. When the Christmas season begins and all of the decorations start flooding the stores, my kids are constantly noticing the trees, the lights, the Santas, the reindeer, the candy canes, and of course, the precious baby Jesus.
How can we make sense of all of this to them so that they understand the bigger picture here? Well, we decided to share with them the meaning behind 25 different symbols, ornaments really, that are hidden in each Advent box and then placed on our Advent tree. Most years I stuff a little scripture note in each box with a few Christmas m&ms. Thanks to our super, duper “techy” world that we live in now, I scratch the scripture notes and just open up the Bible App. Let’s be honest here, my printer just ran out of ink and I never got the chance to re-fill any of the boxes yet with these!
I actually have the kids get their bibles out and look up the scripture as we go along. Having your phone apps are great, but it’s not the same as having God’s Word at your finger tips.
I found this really fun Advent countdown activity book here that was less than a buck last year. Our DIY advent calendar came from Hobby Lobby and our ornaments and tree came from thrift stores.
We usually designate a place in our home to hold an altar all year round. It’s our place to count our blessings, bring our trials, confess our sins, share our triumphs, and visually partake in what God is doing in our lives.
To keep it really simple every year, we usually place an ornament from each box on the tree every morning and then share how the symbol reminds us of Jesus. We use this as our family devotion before bedtime. We read a few scripture verses that correlate with the ornament and if the day is going well, we will read aloud a book and find something on Pinterest like a snack, game, or craft to go with it. We decided to reserve Sundays as our FUNdays with whatever symbol we find in our box that day. We may watch a movie, create a fun snack, or play a fun game. Our Sundays have been filled with Christmas parties already, so our FUNdays have happened during the week.
On to our first box…
Our first Advent box was finally opened on December 1st and out popped 2 doves. Cardinals count, right?! We read from Matthew first. Matthew 1:23 says:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.”
After we read this verse, we got to experience God With Us throughout the day by taking our doves along with us wherever we went. We learned how God is not only with us, but that He will never leave us either. The dove was a nice visual to remind us that we have a “With Us God”. Our spirits can be at peace knowing that the God of the universe is always in control and will always comfort us with His omnipresent spirit.
Peanut was determined to build a perch for her dove so she decided to put one together using her new obsession, tape!
Next, we read from John and learned about the Holy Spirit and the peace He brings. John 14:27says:
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.“
Did you catch that? God is leaving us with yet another gift. He has chosen to give us the gift of everlasting life with Him AND now He is giving us the gift of peace. This is not just any peace, this is HIS peace and HIS presence! God gives great gifts and when He offers us one, the only wise choice that I can think of, is to take it. God really does give great gifts! He has it goin’ on in that department.
We learned that peace simply means to have a calm and gentle spirit. If you look up the definition, it will tell you that is the freedom from a disturbance. We learned that we are called to have a spirit that is not troubled, but one that trusts in the God who is in control of it all.
With all of the hustle and bustle that can take place during the holidays, peace was the perfect box to open first. It helped remind us that our home can be that place of rest instead of restlessness that can tear us away from the gift of freedom that Jesus offers to us.
How is your family counting down to Christmas? Have you received the gift of peace this season?
Here were our other verses that taught us about God’s peace: