Tuesday, December 1, 2015

His Love Will Light Our Way

December 1.  Advent.  It's an event we look forward to every year.  The dragons had been eagerly anticipating the sweet taste of chocolate advent calendars (because they didn't get enough Halloween candy.)

This year, I wanted to do something more meaningful with Advent.  My friend, Barb, introduced us to "Truth in the Tinsel."  Our church hosted a gathering where families assembled to prepare their advent packets.  I had to work and could not attend.  Barb and her helpers prepared 25 days of activities for my children.  I looked through the packets and instantly knew this was exactly what I hoped to do with my children for Christmas.

Tonight, we completed the 1st activity.  The directions suggested we read a passage from the Bible, discuss it, and then complete the activity.  Young children lose interest quickly.  I really wanted them to stay focused through the entire activity.  I chose to create the craft first and then read the accompanying passage.  It was a good idea.

The craft was a stained-glass-like candle.  I helped the children cut out their candle frames and strips of tissue paper.  They glued the strips to the candle template.  They truly enjoyed making the craft and asked a lot of questions.  Mainly, they wanted to know why it was a candle.  What was its meaning?

I had them! By doing the craft first, I sparked their interest in the story.  Score! I read the passage.

Isaiah 9:2-7New International Version (NIV)

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
    and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
    when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
    you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
    the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
    and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
    will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.
We talked about what it meant.  They understood Jesus came to teach us peace, justice and kindness.  Jonah asked, "but why a candle?"  I answered, "because Jesus is the great light in the land of deep darkness, just like the passage says."  And Jacob said, "I'd really like to know Jesus.  He could be my friend."

And then they wanted to hang their candles on the Christmas tree.  Who knew bread ties made excellent hangers?  Why do I not own ribbon???

Thank you, Barb, for this truth in our tinsel.  Advent is already meaningful to my little ones.

We also received a very thoughtful gift in the mail today. During a recent visit with my very best friend, Beth, I mentioned the kids and I were going to make ornaments for our tree this year.  We are having our first Christmas in our new home and I did not have any decorations.  I also did not have the extra funds to buy a bunch of stuff.  Homemade ornaments were the answer (and the kids would LOVE it!)

Beth and her wonderful husband, Matt, sent us a giant box of garland, ornaments, beads and a tree skirt.  They also included outside lights for our bushes.  I cried when I opened the box and read their sweet note.  I cried.  My children literally squealed with delight and immediately dug into the box to discover its contents.  We ran the garland up the stair banister and draped the skirt around the tree.  We'll hang the ornaments, beads and outside lighting tomorrow.  Thank you so much, Beth, Matt and Alex.  You mean so very much to us.

I'm going to bed tonight feeling very blessed and very loved.  This is Christmas, right?  Count your blessings.  Light is coming to a dark world.  Soon.