12.23.2014

Christmas, Christmas - Oh what a glorious time!!!



i look down upon two tired hands, made of flesh and bone.
so small, and so worn.
have worked for my own gain, and washed bottomless basins
over and over...
tending to that which will not last.
building up fortresses to my own kingdom.
marred by rejecting the lowing of a Creator
clapping along to the worship of my own renown an praises.

yet in an instant, behold, the hands so spotted and matted with dirt,
are the same hands that can hold the God of the Universe
born in a humble room
swaddled in a feeding trough
21 inches or so, breathing in and out the very air He spoke into existence.

All Power and All Glory,
wrapped up in skin, that smells the same as my own.
given as the Greatest Gift,
which fits within my very arms,
His head cradled in my hands.

what Love, to come bound by time and growth,
just as we had been.
subjected to the assistance of His own creation,
to hold up His head and feed His hungered cries.

is this the King of the Ages?
not sitting high and aloft, distant,
but entering into the mess and the war of His people.
fully acquainted.

taking on the sin of humanity 24 hours at a time,
through infancy, toddlerhood all the way until He could fully sympathize.
fully know His kin.
(yes, He welcomed us into His family,
those who rejected the Kindest of all Rulers,
the Humblest of all Kings)
walking until He overcame death.

peering into a newborn's eyes,
knowing He would complete it all.
33 years of perfection. walking blameless.
his hands, growing to touch the infected,
heal the sick, and raise the very dead.

hands to wash the feet of those He called friends,
to carry His cross to a hill upon which they would be pierced -
pierced for the dirty, and the lost, and the sinful.

all GLORY ablaze within this small child.
all BEAUTY raging within a babe.

hallelujah,
He is Worthy, to come and finish it once and for all.
hallelujah, Christ was born,
Christ died, and Christ rose again.
hallelujah, Christ shall come again.







12.01.2014

Christmas Advent






I wanted to make a post about the Christmas Advent Calendar I created for our family last year. Even though it's already the first, it's never too late to start one. We started about 5-6 days late last year, and just did a couple a day until we caught up - and it is now my favorite part about Christmas. I start looking forward to it months before!

Most of the materials I have I bought the day after Christmas back in 2012 on clearance at either World Market (here are the clips) or Target (a lot of links for material ideas are at the bottom of the post). I then constructed the Advent out of the materials the following Christmas season. You don't have to use the tags, etc. - use whatever you have. You can cut out stars from paper bags, or squares out of construction paper.

Each morning Amos unties the next verse and we read it together. I read the original passage, and then paraphrase it for him and Lucia to fully understand. Then Lucia and Amos take turns opening the small envelope and we then have an activity for the day or a small gift!




THE TOP TWO ROWS:

The top two rows are an envelope for every day. I just took a rectangle cut out of a trader joe's back, stapled two sides shut and left a slit open. Inside I had cut out circles of construction paper that had either a Christmas Activity or an "Open A" - a letter that corresponded with a small gift.










THE BOTTOM ROW:

The bottom row was tags left to right, that had the day of December as well as a verse or passage that was unveiling the story of Jesus' Birth! You can get a calendar to download here.






These are the presents from last year. I bought a lot of small stuff from World Market and kept them on the table.







This year I often had two small gifts for each child on a given day so they were put under the tree.  (Lucia insisted she posed with the presents.)

As I organize the gifts/activities I make a calendar of what is going on for the month, and when is the best time for certain crafts or activities. I leave a larger gift ($10) for Christmas Eve, and try to coincide free days with the more involved activities such as taking a photograph with Santa. I also like to remember what will be happening because once they are inside the envelopes I forget! There is also the corresponding letter of gift in the bottom right hand corner. The red texts are gifts to open and the green texts are activities to do! Here is a blank calendar you can print out and fill out!

This year's calendar looks like this:




Some of the activities we included this year are on the above calendar, but here they are for reference:

  • Make Christmas Cookies
  • Make a Birthday Card for Jesus (the real reason for the celebration!)
  • Shop for the gifts we give away annually to a refugee family within our community
  • Visit Santa and get a photograph (we aren't big on santa, but I still like to do this every year)
  • Give our presents to the refugee family at our church Christmas Experience 
  • Build a Christmas Fort and Watch a Christmas Movie in our Christmas Pajamas (opened on third)
  • Make Presents/Cards for dad, sibling, and other family members (opened markers that day)
  • Wrap Presents from previous day and do a Nativity Craft
  • Write a Letter and Draw a Picture for a missionary from out of our church
  • Pick one of our favorite toys to wrap and give to Jesus - we wrap it and lay it under the tree and then we will give it away (I tell the story of the 3 Magi bringing their gifts)  
  • Bake a Birthday cake for Jesus 
Some present ideas:
  • Dollar Bins from Target
  • Prepackaged Christmas crafts from Target/Craft Stores
  • Stickers, Tattoos, Puzzles
  • Christmas Socks
  • Christmas Pajamas
  • Christmas Ornament they hang out tree
  • Travel Activity if you will be traveling for Christmas 
  • Coloring Books
  • Christmas Candy 






Another tradition we have is to save all our Christmas Cards from previous years, and pick one out sometime throughout the day (usually dinner) and pray for that family and ask God if there is anything He is asking us to do to bless them (write them a letter, make them a small gift, pray for a prophetic encouragement, etc.). 







Hope you enjoy!!! Merry Christmas!


idea links for: string to hang here here and here /// clips to hang here /// tags for verses here here here here & here /// gift ideas here here here and here ///