Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fear Journal

The new color of my kitchen--a bright, yellowish green

For my birthday and Christmas this year, I asked for nothing but money.  See, I have wanted to paint my living room, kitchen and hallway for years but haven't gotten around to it.  Actually, that's not true.  It's more like just the idea of painting all that myself overwhelms me and makes me content to stare at dings in the walls, white lines up the stairs (sharpee marker drawing cleaned up with a magic eraser takes the dye off wallpaper), peeling wallpaper in the kitchen.  This year I decided enough was enough and I am going to hire it done.

Now that I have the money and have called a painter, I have this dilemma.  What colors should I paint the walls???  Oh my should this not be a decision a person like me should have to make.  Indecision is my middle name.  Should the living room be this shade of white, or this shade of white. or maybe one of these other hundred shades of white???  What about the kitchen?  I was thinking blue but Hubby says he hates blue, so we're left with sticking with green like we already have.  Hubby wants a sage color (basically what we already have now) but I want to go brighter.  But what if it doesn't look good?  Would a bright green be too much?

I was sitting on the floor of my kitchen tonight stripping away the wallpaper and thinking about paint colors when a thought came into my head:  "This is a really stupid thing to stress over.  Stop trying to play it safe and go with the color you really want.  If a bright green makes you happy then go with it."

Decisions can be so difficult for me because I am afraid to make the wrong one.  I make up my mind, but then waffle for a while because maybe something else is a better idea.  Play it safe or go with what I want?  Take the same old road or take a risk and go a new way?

I've been praying for a while now about what I should focus on for this coming year, which starts in about...an hour and twenty minutes.  I was looking at a few journals online that had names like "Who I Am" and "Love Journal" and "Happiness Journal" when an idea hit me.

I should write a Fear Journal.

Not a journal listing all my fears, but a journal that chronicles all the times that I face my fears and do something.  The times when I do things afraid.  Or when I do things that used to make me afraid but now don't.  Or when I want to do something but end up chickening out.

I was thinking about my life a few years ago and how I lived in a pretty constant state of fear.  Fear held me back from doing just about everything.  I never stayed home alone overnight, I was too afraid to go to new places by myself, trying to find a new church was incredibly stressful for me with the whole meeting new people and unknown of the church, I feared for my kids way beyond healthy, I had to check the locks on my house more than once every night before going to bed.  I could go on.

That isn't me anymore.  I am so far removed from that person today that when I looked in the mirror a few weeks ago, I was struck with the thought that I don't even know who that girl is looking back at me.  She is a stranger.  She does things that she never did before.  She told her daughter just the other day that she wanted to go bungee jumping just because it was scary and she wanted to do scary things.  She talks to strangers and friends alike without silently sweating bullets inside.  She lets her kids play outside without fearing they will be kidnapped.  She decides to paint her kitchen bright green and doesn't let her fears of making a mistake sway her.

A new museum in another town--
A new place used to be too stressful for me

I took the kids to Chicago without my Hubby for the first day
He ended up getting the time off and joined us later but I agreed
to go on the vacation thinking he wouldn't be there

Me bouncing on hippity hops and racing the kids instead of
sitting on the sidelines because I didn't want to look stupid
Yes, this is the infamous source of my back pain
that has completely cleared up as of a week ago

Vacationing at the lake house--just the kids and me

So 2014--You will be hearing even more from me about my Fear Journal project.  About my many many feats of bravery, and possibly with a side dish of stupidity.

Bring on the New Year!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Gingerbread Houses and Christmas Cookies

I have never decorated a gingerbread house before.  The closest I've come is decorating graham crackers into the shape of a house.  So I decided this year we were going to rectify the situation.  I bought one of those kits that comes with everything you need.  I set it on the shelf where it sat for two weeks.

Tonight we were supposed to go to our church for a Live Nativity event, but the weather is awfully frightful tonight with all this freezing rain.  So I pulled out the gingerbread house for us to decorate instead.

I opened the package only to discover this.

Yuck.  What is that???  Why would I waste all the delicious frosting and candy on something that looks like cardboard disguised as gingerbread?  What a disappointment.  "Okay, girls.  Let's make cookies we can actually eat and use the decorations on them instead."

We cracked out the kitchenaid and got to work.

We made up a batch of sugar cookies.  And I passed off my least favorite part of cookie making onto the kids.  They were more than happy to squish the cookies into balls as long as I turned a blind eye to their sample snitching.

And then came the fun part.  Decorating!

What we lack in actual decorating ability we make up for by using extra sprinkles and candy--for some of us that would be lots of extra candy.  I just cringed and turned the other way.  Hubby got all creative with his designs by using the piping set that came with the gingerbread house.  Here is the cookie he made for me.

It wasn't the evening I had planned on, but we had a lot of fun and can now say we made Christmas cookies this year.  I still haven't decorated a gingerbread house, but maybe I will try again next year after baking my own gingerbread that doesn't look like cardboard.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Miraculous Healings--So Long Peanut Allergy

This is the arm of a boy who is no longer allergic to peanuts

Once upon a time David was a baby.  He was cute and chubby except for one thing.  His face was always covered in horrible, red eczema.  We took him to the allergist to be tested when he was around 10 months old, suspecting a dairy allergy a the only thing he ate was dairy-based formula.  Testing revealed an egg and peanut allergy.  Interesting, as he'd had no exposure to those outside of when I was still pregnant.

Over the years he has added new allergies.  He did develop a dairy allergy, followed by soy, which were both outgrown by age two, thank God.  A tree nut allergy was discovered after a bad reaction to a mango smoothie (Did you know that mangoes are closely related to the cashew?  We didn't either at the time).  But for sure, the worst allergy we discovered was to fish which was discovered the hard way.  A nice meal of tilapia resulted in an epipen shot and a trip to the ER.  Fun night.

The rule of thumb with childhood allergies is that most allergies are outgrown by age 5.  Those that are not outgrown by then are usually with you for life.  Or so I've been told.  You can imagine that our hopes for David ever outgrowing his allergies to egg, peanuts, tree nuts and fish were pretty much nil by this point now that he's 10.

We've had David prayed over by people who are world renowned for their healing ministries.  No change.  We have prayed over David ourselves numerous times.  No change.

Year after year I took David to the allergist hoping for an improvement in his allergies, or at least in his asthma, only to be told that he is worse and needs MORE medicine.  He had been on Singular since he was first diagnosed with asthma at age two.  A few years ago I learned that Singular can cause personality changes--as in aggressiveness and ill tempers.  Last year I went to the allergist determined to get David off the medicine as he hadn't had an asthma attack in a long time, only to learn that his lung function was compromised and he couldn't quit Singular and now needed a daily inhaler.

You can imagine that by this point I'd basically given up hope of David ever outgrowing any of his allergies or getting off the Singular.

Two months ago I took David in for his annual check-up.  In the past year he has had several unintentional exposures to eggs in baked goods, so I asked the doctor his thoughts on us introducing eggs into David's diet.  He was very supportive as long as it was in baked goods but told us to come back in two months for testing.  He couldn't test David right then because I forgot to have him stop taking his allergy medicine five days in advance.

We left and bought David his first donut.  He's now eaten cake, donuts, cookies, pancakes, and biscuits with egg in them with no issues at all.  This year he was able to join in on my favorite birthday tradition--candy cane donuts from Tim Hortons.  He loves them just like I do.  Woohoo!!!

David's first donut

Today we went back to the allergist for allergy testing to see if his egg allergy is gone.  I also asked for David to be retested for his nut allergies on a lark.  You never know.

The weirdest thing happened.  He actually showed a reaction to eggs, so no actual eggs for David any time soon, but baked goods are still fine.  But the big surprise was that his peanut test didn't swell up at all.  As in no reaction.  The doctor and I just looked at his back, looked at each other, looked at his back again and were shocked.  A stronger test was ordered where they insert a bigger amount of the peanut protein under the skin with a needle just to be sure.  Again, no reaction.  None.  The doctor told us we could introduce peanuts into David's diet and see how it goes.  So we rushed home and served him a PBJ.  Just kidding.  I'm going to take this one slowly because I admit to being a little nervous.  He will have his first taste of peanuts while I stand over him armed with an epipen.

The little dot on the top left in column A is the peanut test.
We were expecting it to look like the big welts under the tree nut section.

The other big news is that back in October I decided (without informing the doctor--bad, Lisa) to take David off Singular and have him only take his daily inhaler and use a nasal spray for allergies and see how he does through monitoring his peek air flow daily at home.  If his lungs showed they were getting worse, I'd put him back on the Singular.  His daily peek air flow testing has shown that his lungs are doing really well.  Better than ever.  Today, David took the lung test where he breathes into a machine that tests his lung function.  Then he is given a breathing treatment and retakes the lung test.  For the first time David passed the test the first time with the breathing treatment only making a marginal improvement.

Which means that we can keep him off the Singular (which was causing behavior issues that have almost completely resolved much to my further amazement).

I walked out of the appointment hopeful and excited for the first time basically ever.  While he is still very allergic to tree nuts and fish, he can eat things with eggs and peanuts in them for the first time in his life!  The girls insisted that he needs to try M&Ms now.  Oh the possibilities...

So this is me claiming and proclaiming a miraculous healing from the Lord that has opened up a whole new world of deliciousness to my son.  A healing that has strengthened David's lungs and weakened his environmental allergies enough that he is doing better without taking Singular than when he was. Which has allowed my son's true nature to be revealed sans personality-altering medicine.  (And yes, I will share more on this topic in a future post)


Sunday, December 15, 2013

I Didn't Know What Love Was

Lisa, I want you to grow in love.  Learn to love.  Love others.  

This has been a recurring theme in my prayer times over the past...two years.  Over and over God keeps bringing up my learning to love.  Which is great.  Because loving others more is easy, right?  Of course I know how to love.  I just need to do a little more service and listen a little better and give more hugs.

I signed up to do Meals on Wheels, because that's loving others.  I did the dishes without complaining and picked up after my family.  That's also love, right?  I snuggled with my kids a little more than normal.  I gave my Hubby an extra smile.  I closed my laptop and gave my undivided attention when someone in my family wanted to talk to me.  I got this whole love thing down pat.  Wew.  Mission accomplished.

In previous posts, I alluded to the fact that the Lord has been at work in me, changing me in major ways that have had a big impact on me and my family.  I've already shared about my revelation in regards to my kids and how I see them and their penchant for chaos.  I shared about how the changes have born good fruit and led to a new joy in me and my family.

Today I am going to talk about love.  And how I totally didn't get it until now.  Which is probably obvious from what I just shared.

So this one day about three months ago, Hubby and I had a heart-to-heart with David about something or other.  I don't even remember the reason for the "talk."  What I do remember is this--David saying that he feels like he is a failure and can never do anything right.  Which is something he has said before and often.  I always brushed it off with platitudes.  Of course you're not a failure because of this...  Then Hubby said that he often felt the same way.

And this is when the bells started ringing in my head.  Ding ding ding!  This is important Lisa!

An idea started forming in my head.  A bad one.  I tossed it around for a while.  I didn't like it.  I stewed on it for a while--okay, for like two months.  I told you I didn't like it.

But I started making changes just in case the idea in my head was true.  Because even if I didn't like it, it would be really bad to continue ignoring the idea if it was actually the truth.

Then after my surgery a few days after praying that Jesus would hold my hand, the idea cemented itself in my heart and I knew it was time to face facts.

My sin of focusing on the faults of others and remaining silent 
about their good parts was destroying those I love most.  

I was focused on correcting wrong behavior, wrong answers, wrong attitudes, etc.  I focused on the faults and failures of my family and pointed them out.  What I wasn't doing was also pointing out the good stuff.  The successes, the improvements, the follow-through, the good attitudes, etc.  I saw the good stuff; I just didn't say anything about it out loud.

So I made a decision.  It was time to keep my mouth shut about all but the most important faults and to start pointing out any and all successes.  For example: when a child hands me their rough draft in writing, I will point out all the good stuff I see (what excellent handwriting, you did really well forming paragraphs, I love the way you worded this, you spelled this really hard word correctly) and then I will help them with the errors.  When I see my child offer to share their candy with their sibling, I will comment on how loving it is to share.  When someone does a good job with their chores, I will point out how nicely the bathroom shines.  I will say things like, "I know that song was really hard for you to learn on the piano, but I am so proud of you for persevering to get it perfect."

Unfortunately, this area of sin in my life was not exclusive to my kids.  Oh no.  My worst offendee has definitely been my dear Hubby.  A few years ago, through much effort and prayer, I learned to stop treating him as if he were another one of my children, a habit that was quickly eroding the peace and love in my home.

This step was a big one and very good.  But it wasn't enough.  While I'd stopped disrespecting Hubby, I continued to keep my mouth shut about the good stuff.  I saw him take out the trash, I was grateful when he made dinner when I was too tired, I noticed how loving it was when he played a game with the kids and demonstrated some extreme patience with them.  But I rarely said anything to him about it.

So I started applying the same practices with Hubby that I had with the kids.  Shut my mouth about the negative and praise the good stuff.  Notice what he does.  Point it out.  Comment on it.  Thank him.  Encourage him.  Love him with my words.

Of course it didn't come naturally or easily at first.  But I have been working hard at it without having said anything about it to my Hubby.  Until a few nights ago when I commented on how much I've seen David blossom in the last few months since I started working on this area.  How he's more willing to try harder things, his frustrated rants over schoolwork have been way less frequent, that he seems so much more confident in himself in general.  And then I casually mentioned that I'd been doing the same thing with Hubby.  Hubby was silent for a minute.  And then he said, "I noticed and have felt so incredibly loved by you lately.  That you notice the good that I do.  That you really notice me."

Insert ax to Lisa's heart.  The heart that was shattered in that moment by the "what ifs" and the regrets.  I don't think I've ever truly mourned the effects of sin in my life so strongly before that moment.  I felt it deeply to my core that my sin had so adversely impacted my family.  And then I was flooded with gratefulness that God didn't give up on me when I just wasn't getting it when He kept telling me to grow in love.  That God pursued me month after month, bringing about situations that He used to make the point He was trying to teach me hit home.

I was so completely blind.  I just looked at Hubby, puzzled, and said, "How could I have missed this?  I am almost 35 years old.  I have been a Christian my entire life.  How did I not know this?  How could I not have understood what it means to truly love people?  To show them with my words that I love them?"

I do now.  And it has made all the difference.

(Warning: This post is honest about what has been going on in my life.  I share this because God is so good to not leave us in our mess, and as I know I am not the only person to experience this, I want to open the eyes of others who need to hear this.  But, while I am seeing major victory in this area, I'm not perfect.  So if you see me fall flat on my face about anything I've mentioned here, pray for me, but keep it to yourself.  LOL!)

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Jesus Story--A Book Review

It's time for another book review.  This time I read The Jesus Story: Everything That Happens in the New Testament in Plain English by Dr. William H. Marty.  I chose to review this book because I like reading books that sum up the Bible in a way that gives it a fuller picture.

Basically, I read the Bible and I get stuff out of it.  But I don't generally read the entire New Testament in one go.  And because the Bible isn't necessarily written in chronological order, I don't always realize that certain events happened at the same time or certain people lived at the same time as others.  Maybe it's just me who is clueless about this sort of stuff.

On the off chance that I am not alone in my ignorance, books like The Jesus Story do a good job of summing it all up in a nice little package.  It puts the stories into context.

Overall I liked the book.  It served the purpose I was looking for--I learned a few new things, got a better understanding of how events in the New Testament fit together, and now have a book to hand my kids to read for Bible class when they are a little bit older.

If you are looking for a short and sweet summary of the New Testament, this is a good resource.  If you are looking for a meaty summary, this isn't for you.  It basically sums up the events in the order they happened without going into further detail.  (Sometimes it's nice to have other historical content thrown in to the story and sometimes just the facts from the Bible is nice)

**Thank you Bethany House Publishers for giving me a copy of this book to review.  All of the opinions expressed in this review are my own.**

This post may contain affiliate links – Ladybug Farms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Homeschooling Secret Weapon

This is how Joy does math--outfit is essential

I have been struggling a lot lately trying to homeschool my kids.  Mostly because they don't always want to listen when I read out loud to them.  Or they pretend to not retain anything they've just heard.  Which can become extremely frustrating.

"So what did we just learn about?"  Met with blank stares.

"Who was the main character in today's reading?"  More blank stares.

Makes a person want to give up.  But that's the downside of homeschooling.  You can't give up.  You have to figure out a way to get through to your kids because they have to actually learn and there's no back up plan.  As in--I can't just pass them onto the next grade and hope the new teacher can do a better job.  I'm it.

After weeks/months of trying to come up with a solution--from switching teaching methods, curriculum, letting them do puzzles or build with blocks, etc--I finally hit on the winning solution.  I was standing in the checkout lane at Walmart on Monday and inspiration struck.  BUY THESE it said.  So I did.

I pulled them out Tuesday morning.  I told the kids that I was going to read to them and at the end I would ask questions.  If they got the right answer, they got a cookie.  I started reading.  Absolute silence.  I asked a question.  All three kids were falling over each other to be the one who got to answer.  When I asked them to narrate what we'd just read, they all wanted to go first.  I assure you, this is not normal in my household.  It was the same story today during school.

All I can say is that I am not above bribing my kids to pay attention and learn.  If it works, I am all for it.  If a few cookies will transform my wiggly, brain-dead kids into astute children eager to learn, bring on the cookies! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pilgrimage: My Journey to a Deeper Faith In The Land Where Jesus Walked

Yesterday my blog included a quote from a book I have been reading.  Pilgrimage: My Journey to a Deeper Faith in the Land Where Jesus Walked by Lynn Austin.  It is another book I received as part of the Bethany House Books review program where I get free books in exchange for an honest review.

I really liked this book.  The author, Lynn, is feeling dry in her walk with the Lord.  She is slogging through life and feeling really dry.  The whole wilderness experience.  She's also a little depressed after a bunch of major life changes occurred in the space of one year--all her children moving away, deaths in the family, etc.  

She takes a trip to Israel and visits a bunch of Biblically historical locations.  In the process of seeing all these places that she'd previously only read about in the Bible, she has a "moment" and is determined to go home and embrace the changes in her life and move forward in her walk with the Lord.  

I enjoyed the book.  I highlighted probably a quarter of it.  I learned a lot of background knowledge that put the events in the Bible into a new perspective.  She visits King Herod's mountain "fall out shelter"--his fortress where he could go and be safe if the zombies ever attacked.  Here I learn that King Herod was a paranoid man who killed his wife and kids, who killed all the Jewish boys under the age of two in an attempt to eradicate the threat of Jesus overthrowing him, who had vast stores of food and ammunition just in case he ever needed it.  Herod is a prime example of a Prepper.  

There are lots of other interesting facts I picked up from this book, but I won't go into them here.  Mostly I liked the book and would recommend it because it's about life when you feel dry and blah.  I already shared that I was feeling blah a few weeks ago.  I've gone through many highs and lows in my walk with the Lord--times when I felt really close to Him and times when I wasn't even sure He was listening.  

I've approached big changes in my life both with grace and with kicking and screaming.  I used to say that I hated change.  I was a very regimented sort of person who liked routine and had a really hard time when my schedule was thrown off.  Things like vacations and holidays did a number on me.  And major life changes were even worse.  Transitioning from working full time to being a stay at home mom was not a change that I handled with grace.  Not even a little bit.  

I was a flower in a pot who was squished so tight in my root-bound state and refused to budge out of that pot even though God was screaming at me to get out of that tiny pot and move over into the nice, new, bigger pot He had prepared for me.  Nuh-uh, Lord.  I am happy here.  Don't make me change.  

Over the last few years I have come a long way.  I can go on vacation and not turn into a shrew like I used to.  I can look at a messy house and not want to weep in frustration.  But when it comes to big changes, I still have room to grow in saying Yes to the Lord right away.  I've gotten way better, WAY better than I used to be.  And I have faith that I will get to the place where I say Yes right away and embrace the work God has for me and wants to do in me.  

I will leave you with these words from the book:

The question is, am I willing to leave the comfortable, familiar pot where I'm 
currently languishing and trust God to transplant me to a new one?

**Thank you Bethany House Publishers for giving me a copy of this book to review.  All of the opinions expressed in this review are my own.**

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Where Jesus Holds My Hand

That moment in life when you are so happy, when life is going so good, when your whole being is just bubbling over with joy that you want to hold your breath so the moment will last forever.  I don't want it to end.  I want it to stay this way forever.

Two weeks ago I hit a low.  My problems seemed to be stacking up--health problems, kid relational problems, extended family health problems, house a total wreck problems.  I woke up one morning two weeks ago and just felt yucky and beaten down.  I sat in my chair to have a prayer time.  My first real prayer time since my surgery due to my sleeping in every morning, exhaustion during the day, and forgetfulness.  (Possibly some laziness, too, but we'll ignore that idea.)

I started praying which may have more closely sounded a bit like whining and complaining.  I just felt defeated and worn down.  Problems on top of problems.

After a few minutes of this, I started journaling like I usually do.  First I wrote down all my problems and then I starting writing down what I wanted God to do.  As I was writing this, I found myself writing that I felt so thirsty and dry.  I hadn't prayed in two weeks.  I had barely done anything at all except make it through the day.

I stopped.  I thought about this for a few minutes.  There is a show my kids like to watch on Netflix called Oscar's Oasis.  In the show Oscar is a lizard in the desert.  One of the episodes is about Oscar being so incredibly thirsty and not being able to find any water.  His tongue is hanging out, just begging for one drop of water.  Anything to slake his thirst.  I felt like that.

My prayer changed.  I stopped complaining.  Stopped telling God how to fix my situation.  And I asked him to just hold my hand.  Hold my hand today so I can be strong enough to make it.  Hold my hand so I will respond in love to my kids instead of snapping at them.  Hold my hand so I can have the emotional fortitude to handle the failing health in my extended family.  Hold my hand so I can look past my own physical limitations and instead focus on the fact that my recovery from surgery has been uncomplicated and easy even if a lifting restriction and needing to rely on others so much chafes a bit.

Nothing in my life changed.  All my problems were still there.  My kids didn't suddenly become angels who stopped fighting and resisting doing their school work.  No one was miraculously healed.  My desire to do anything other than rest didn't go away.

The only thing that changed was....ME.

Since that morning I've had some major breakthroughs in my heart.  Major.  Life altering.  Oh my, how could I have missed this all these years type revelations.  I wrote about one of them already--about how I see my kids.  Really see them at a heart level and not just see the mess and chaos.  Other things have changed in me as well that I am still working through.

I hosted Thanksgiving for my side of the family for the first time.  I was so incredibly peaceful and joyful the entire time preparing for the event and through the event.  I didn't feel harried or stressed even once.  A miracle as far as I am concerned.

"Out here [in the desert], with no visible source of food or water, no shelter from the elements, it's easy to succumb to the fear that we've been abandoned by God in this desolate place.  Maybe that's why we call the dry, parched times in our lives, when our soul withers and God seems very far away, 'a wilderness experience.'  Such experiences often come at times of change and upheaval.  When God wants to shake us free from our old habits and lead us into a new walk with Him, He sometimes begins with a desert journey." ~ Lynn Austin in Pilgrimage: My Journey to a Deeper Faith in the Land Where Jesus Walked

So here I am today.  None of the problems in my life have gone away other than my lifting restriction which was lifted as of Thanksgiving day.  Woohoo!!!  Time to move furniture!  (Okay, just kidding.  Sort of.)  But I have changed.  I can now look at my appendectomy with thankfulness.  It forced me to slow down.  Way down.  It caused me to hit a low point which led me to that morning of complaining which led me to pray a prayer I've never prayed before which resulted in big heart changes in me.  Which have resulted in good changes in my family.

Which brought me to the moment where I was standing in front of my bathroom mirror getting ready for my family Thanksgiving, the sounds of music and laughter blasting from my living room as the kids and my Hubby had a morning dance party, and all I felt was an intense joy.  A fullness of joy.  Like I had met Jesus in the midst of the wilderness and He led me out to the other side.

This post may contain affiliate links – Ladybug Farms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent-Preparing for the Coming of Christ

Today marks the beginning of the Advent season.  Over the years I have tried to do something for Advent with the kids.  Two years ago I discovered the Jesse Tree and we followed a scripture guide and made decorations every day to go along with the scripture verses.  Last year I used a different Advent devotional book.

This year I wanted to do something different.  Something that would both engage my kids and give them something to look forward to.  I decided to stick with the Jesse Tree scripture guide but instead of making ornaments, I came up with fun activities that we could do as a family.

I sewed an Advent calendar with pockets for each day.  Then I made a chart for each day of Advent that includes the family activity, the theme of the day, and the scripture verses to read.

Today I was too late for making up our scripture reading, but we did do an activity.  We played Apples to Apples together.  We've never played it as a family before and we all loved it.  It's definitely going to be a new family favorite.

I am completely illiterate when it comes to creating PDF files, so I am just going to copy our Advent chart here for anyone who is interested.  (And I can't figure out why it's not formatting to be the same width, but I don't care anymore so I'm posting this sloppy.)

If you celebrate Advent with your family, I would love to hear what you do in your home.

Decorating the Christmas tree 


Paint Ornaments

Jesse Tree
1 Sam 16:1-13
Isaiah 11:1-10

Make Advent Wreath

Genesis 1:1-2:3

String Popcorn

The first sin—Adam and Eve
Genesis 2:4-3:24

Moonlight Walk

The Flood—Noah
Genesis 6:11-22, 7:17-8:12, 20-9:17

Read Aloud Christmas Book

The Promise—Abraham
Genesis 12:1-7, 15:1-6

Fire and Sing Christmas Songs

Offering of Isaac
Genesis 22:1-19

Christmas Movie

Jacob—Assurance of the Promise
Genesis 27:41-28:22

Candlelight Dinner

Joseph—God's Providence
Genesis 37, 39:1-50:21

Make Christmas Cookies

Moses—God's Leadership
Exodus 2:1-4:20

Deliver cookies to neighbors

Israelites—Passover and Exodus
Exodus 12:1-14:31

Hot Cocoa

God—Giving the Torah at Sinai
Exodus 19:1-20:20

Make Christmas Cards

Joshua—The Fall of Jericho
Josh 1:1-11, 6:1-20


Visit Grandparents

Gideon—Unlikely Heroes
Judges 2:6-23, 6:1-6, 11-8:28

Game Night

Samuel—The Beginning of the Kingdom
1 Sam 3:1-21, 7:1-8:22, 9:15-10:9

List of Love and Appreciation of Family

David—A Shepherd for the People
1 Sam 16:1-17:58, 2 Sam 5:1-5, 7:1-17

Wrap Presents for Family

Elijah—The Threat of False Gods
1 Kings 17:1-16, 18:17-46

Snow Ice Cream

Hezekiah—Faithfulness and Deliverance
2 Kings 18:1-19:19, 32-37

Christmas Lights Drive

Isaiah—The Call to Holiness
Isaiah 1:10-20, 6:1-13, 8:11-9:7

Carol to the Grandparents

Hab 1:1-2:1, 3:16-19

Living Nativity 5-7 pm

John the Baptist—Repentance
Luke 1:57-80, 3:1-20, 7:18-30


Mary—The Hope
Luke 1:26-38


Snowman Contest

Joseph—Trust Matthew 1:19-25
Magi—Worship Matt 2:1-12

Make Birthday Cake for Jesus
Church Service 5pm

Jesus—Birth of the Messiah
Luke 2:1-20

Birthday Party for Jesus

Christ—The Son of God
John 1:1-18