Thoughts

Advent: A time of waiting, a time of hope, a time of wonder.

“Advent creates people, new people.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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In a time when  narcissism is glorified, instant gratification is sought after like gold, and people are coming to more and more a place of unrest I feel a draw to something greater. I crave beauty. I want a love that is selfless and lasting. I long for a joy that can thrive in the harshest of storms. I desire a peace that passes all understanding. I hope to seek out hope in the midst of all the sad, the scary, and the ugly. I am striving after this not only for myself but for my boys, for those I love and for those I do not even know. There is only one place I have found this and it is in Christ. The beauty of Advent is it draws us out of our own life and reminds us of the greater story. It is a fresh reminder of what we are waiting and longing for. It offers hope in a dark world. It injects our lives with much-needed beauty and wonder!

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This year Advent begins on Sunday the 27th. We are offered 29 days to seek love, truth, and beauty. I can not imagine a better way to spend our time! Every year, during Advent, our family takes a long vacation from school and we spend our time reading stories, playing in the snow, delivering treats to friends and neighbors, doing art, lighting candles, remembering the stories of old, dreaming about what is to come, and finding magic in the mundane of day to day life.

If you are looking for some ideas to enjoy the Advent season with your family this year, here is some of what we have done in the past and what we are enjoying now.

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ADVENT ENVELOPES
These are straight forward and fun. We have been using these since my Little Jedi was 1 and we look forward to them every year.

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How it works: I have an envelope for every day in December up until Christmas. Inside the envelope, I have a piece of card stock with a verse to read and one or two pieces with activities on them. Our activities range from building a snowman to delivering Christmas cookies, to having a dance party to Christmas music.

Here are a few ideas for verses
Bible Verse Advent Cards
Advent Cards
Easy Devotional Cards

Here are some links to activity cards (we do a mix of premade and some of our own)
Printable Advent Calander Activity Cards
Advent Countdown 100 Activities
Kindness Advent Cards (Acts of service)

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What I love about it: It is easily adapted for the age of your child/children. It acts as a daily calendar, a countdown to Christmas, and a morning bible reading all in one. It is just plain fun!

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ADVENTURES IN ODYSSEY
I grew up as an only child who happened to be an extreme extrovert. What I wanted was a home full of people! Instead, God gave me two introverted parents who were great but definitely were not the chatty, loud type. To create the feel of people around me I would listen to Adventures In Odyssey! For those of you who do not know, Adventures In Odyssey is an audio drama and I loved all the stories and characters. It is a joy to now  share AIO with my boys! When I discovered they had an Advent with characters and buildings to create, stories to listen to and daily family devotionals to enjoy with your littles I knew this would be something we would enjoy for years!

Countdown to Christmas Advent Audio CDs
Countdown to Christmas Advent Calander
Other fun Advent items from Adventures In Odyssey include:
Journey To The Manger Advent Calander
A Christmas Odyssey audio CDs

What I love about it: Great stories. Fun for all ages. Various aspects that can be enjoyed throughout the day or all at one time each day. It incorporates history, modern lessons, and humor. It brings back great memories from my childhood.

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ADVENT BY MARCI MILLER
This little book is chock full of wonderfulness! We have used it for a couple years now and learn new things every time we go through it. To check it out for yourself go here.

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What I love about it: It is full of stories, songs, and activities to do together as a family. It has only three activities per week so it can be used alongside other Advent books or it can simply be enjoyed on its own. It is full of ways to bring beauty, music, and food into your Advent season.

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JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE
The Jesus Storybook Bible is enjoyed by littles and their parents everywhere. The art and stories were designed to draw everyone in and to see the grand beautiful picture of what God has done and is going to do. It really is wonderful! To use this bible for Advent you can go here and print off the free reading plan with optional ornaments. The plan itself is simple. You just read a story a day for 24 days.

What I love about it: It is simple and straight forward. It walks you through the whole beautiful story which naturally builds anticipation for Christmas and the celebration of Jesus.

VINEPRESS PRINTABLES
This is a great Advent activity for younger kids. It provides a backdrop and characters for your littles to cut out, color and glue. It is simple and straightforward, written to help your little ones learn about Jesus and why he is important to us even now. Get your free printables here.

What I love about it: It goes beyond the birth of Jesus to explain what happened with Jesus throughout his life. It is simple and cute. It engages littles while being short enough to keep their attention. It allows for creativity- each kid can design their scene the way they want to and who doesn’t love that?!

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BONUS FOR GROWNUPS
I love walking trough the time of Advent with my boys, but honestly, I love it all the more for myself! It speaks to the core of me- that part that has been so drastically and miraculously changed by this wonderous story. That part that longs for something more than what this world has offered. When I am seeking beauty, love, peace, hope, and joy here are some of the resources I turn to.

Buckner Advent
Buckner International is an incredible organization that is, in their words, transforming lives and changing the world. They serve the orphaned and the widowed. Their Advent guide has something for kids and grownups.

Good News Of Great Joy by John Piper
I love the heart and words of John Piper. I really can not express how much I love this little Advent book! Read it- it will change you!

The Greatest Christmas by Ann Voskamp
At The Greatest Christmas Ann has provided a number of links and resources for bringing beauty into your Advent season. Her Jesse Tree ornaments are free and wonderful. At times Ann’s words are breathtaking. If you don’t mind the flowery you will come to love her books and writings!

On my wish list: God Is In The Manger by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I have not had the privilege of reading this book yet, but it is Bonhoeffer so need I say more!

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention the wonderful world of food and drink Advent calendars. Whatever your love may be- chocolate, dried fruits, or other tasty treats- you can find or create a fun Advent calendar to enjoy every day! My personal favorite is tea of course!

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I hope that the various Advent resources we enjoy will bring joy and magic to your family as well! As you pray and sing and play and laugh and learn together over the next month may you find this Advent season to truly be the most wonderful time of the year!

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