He is Near

It’s about time. And I thought I’d give a heads up for those of you not knowing what you plan to do yet, to prepare to celebrate the Incarnation of Messiah (Jesus, the Christ).

For those who are looking for more meaningful, Christ-centered, Christmas, Advent can be one of the most meaningful things you can do with your family leading up to Christmas, to keep it Christ centered. As a child we just did an Advent wreath, lighting the candles and reading Scriptures. This is where we started with our children, and have added to it over the years.

He is Near ~ from Me & My House {Advent Wreath}

Our current Advent Wreath. Yes I know the pink candle is in the wrong cup.

Advent means coming of someone (or thing) notable, thus looking forward to the coming of Jesus, and it is marked out by the 4 Sundays before Christmas with an Advent wreath – 4 candles in a circle and 1 in the middle. The first outer candle is lit the fourth Sun. before Christmas, (this year Dec. 1,) the 1st and 2nd candles lit the next Sun., etc. Three candle are purple (seriousness, repentance, realizing we need a Savior), 1 (the third lit) is pink (joy). The center candle, lit with the others on Christmas Eve, is white. Emmanuel – God is here! There are beautiful advent wreaths to buy, or you can make your own very simply, by just setting 4 votive candles (in glass holders) amongst a wreath/circle of greenery and a white votive in the center.

He is Near ~ from Me & My House {Advent books}Many books have been written to use for Advent, (some good, others not so,) in addition to reading Scripture alone. Some are just general devotional, thoughts preparing our hearts for the celebration of the Incarnation. Others are children’s fictional stories that lead up to Jesus birth. John Piper is offering his Advent devotionalGood News of Great Joy, as a free download. It has readings for each day, not just week. A series of fictional stories, Jotham’s Journey, Tabitha’s Travels, and Bartholomew’s Passage, are about children that meet the Christ child. Each book has daily readings, thus 3 year’s worth in the series. Jesse Tree books and activities are other popular ones (we have not used.)

He is Near ~ from Me & My House {Advent Calendars}Some people also count the days (not just weeks) with an Advent calendar. Although many use a calendar to just a count down till present-getting day, without a focus on Jesus, there are Advent calendars available that are looking forward to His birth. You can also make your own Advent calendar, very simply.

An Advent Calendar can be used to just note the day, moving a small item from day to day, or opening a “window” on the picture each day. Adding a Scripture for each day will add meaning, yet still be very simple. Others use a count down calendar to plan activities or give small gifts each day. Rather than giving presents every day till the BIG presents come, in addition to reading Scriptures daily, smaller activities focused on preparation and serving others can be scheduled.

The activities can include simple things such as cut paper snowflakes, color a nativity picture, or sing Christmas carols; or more involved things like: go look at lights, get family pictures taken, or go caroling; or bake cookies for the neighbors or give the mailman a small present; or set up the nativity(s), hang a wreath, or the lights, or address and mail Christmas cards. The ages of your children, and how much time and energy you have, will determine which activities are appropriate for your family this year. Even though our youngest is 9, it is still a big deal for all of ours to determine who gets to read and move the Scripture in one of ours, or open the window of another one. Having the other larger things scheduled will help you spread things out, so it isn’t overwhelming, and also insure that you get the things you want to do done.

Over the next week or so I plan to post some more simple ideas, for making Advent calendars and activities to do. Come back to check them out. Better yet, subscribe to this blog to get the posts sent to your email, so you don’t miss them.

Advent wreaths, books, and calendars are 3 helpful ways to keep our focus on Jesus this holiday season. Find one that works for you.

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41720X: Ytreeide Advent Stories, 3 Volumes Ytreeide Advent Stories, 3 Volumes
By Arnold Ytreeide / Kregel PublicationsThese three Advent devotionals will take you and your family from Advent to Christmas with day-by-day readings and advice for making Christmas a meaningful season of worship. Includes Jotham’s JourneyBartholomew’s Passage, and Tabitha’s Travels.

 

23359X: Fisher Price Nativity Advent Calendar Fisher Price Nativity Advent Calendar
By New Day GiftsUnique keepsake Advent and Nativity calendar, 30″ x 14″ is one the entire family will enjoy. Includes 25 puffy fabric pieces, each tucked into dated pockets, to take out during Advent and velcro to the banner. By Christmas day you will have a complete Christmas and manger scene! Soft Advent calendar is family-friendly and may be used for years to come as a Christian Christmas tradition.Puffy and soft, for children as young as 18 months to enjoy; Little People child-friendly designs; soft handle loops over any doorknob to keep this at eye-level for children. Quality you expect from Fisher Price, to share the best story ever with small children during Advent and Christmas.

*This post contains affiliate links.

 

 


 

Giving Thanks for Blessings

ThanksGiving is creeping up on us fast, and I’m getting things planned for our feast that will be held here with 29 of our family. I LOVE ThanksGiving! A Holiday with no mandatory gifts, no candy, just time to enjoy the family God has given us, and the bounty of blessings He has bestowed.

In addition to the abundance of food we are blessed with, I am thankful for so many “modern maidservants” that help me prepare that food. We indeed have been blessed with many things that are wants not needs, but do truly serve us well.

Our latest blessing is a dishwasher. Ours completely went out a week and a half ago. I didn’t expect that we could replace it right away, but I did the research to find one that worked well at getting the dishes actually clean. We decided we would get it while the great sales were going, and we found one on my list, in stock locally, that we could afford, that was rated very high. In fact the only one we could afford in the highest rating category on some sites. We gave up a few extras we were used to, in cycles and rack adjustability, but we have clean dishes and sparkling glasses. Thank you Father God. It will be a great blessing to not have to do dishes for a feast for 29 by hand. (For those interested, it is a Whirlpool Gold model WDT710PAY. This is the first I looked at Amazon, as I chose by test reviews which are not anything like what is seen on Amazon. It ranked better than 92% of other dishwashers.)

Another kitchen blessing is, of course, my Bosch. I thank God for introducing me to Shelly, somewhere around 20 years ago. She showed me how a flour mill and bread mixer could pay for themselves in a short time for our family. We have been blessed to be able to make fresh whole grain bread for our family (as well as MANY other things), save money while giving our family the best, and do it conveniently in just a few minutes. Whether for kneading bread and dinner rolls, or mashing many pounds of potatoes, or whipping up crowd sized desserts, my Bosch is a huge blessing, that paid for itself many years ago. (Click image or name for our Fall Special!)

Lastly, for today anyhow, is the maidservant that will probably get used more than any other for ThanksGiving–more times anyhow–my Cuisinart Food Processor. I had a hand-me-down old one many, many years ago, and then none for many years, and have been blessed to have one again. I’m so thankful for all the many things this servant does. Grating, chopping, slicing, mixing. We just wash it out and use it again and again, and love that the Cuisinart holds up year after year.

My greatest blessings are not things. We could do without everyone of these. But we are thankful for them. God has provided over-abundantly for us. And we give Him Thanks.

 


 

 

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‘Tis the Season

Yes, the Holidays are upon us. I’m not getting gift lists made as soon as I need to, to get the gifts themselves made, and I need to get on it. Time to pull out my Holiday Planner before time gets away from me and stress creeps in.

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holidayplancoverFreedom & Simplicity™ Holiday Planning (ebook)

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Print out as many of each form as you need (for your own personal household only). Put them in a Notebook Binder. And you’ve got your own brain-in-a-book to keep you organized and stress-free through the Holidays. (Well, I guess I can’t guarantee that, but it will help anyhow.)

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Does it Grow on Trees?

This is the biggest shopping weekend of the year, from “Black Friday” to “Cyber Monday”, with Small Business Saturday sandwiched in-between. Sadly, the day after ThankGiving (and now this year, on Thanksgiving itself!), when people are hopefully taking time to Count Their Blessings and give thanks to God for all He has provided, many are shopping long and crazy hours just to get more stuff.

For some, this is a way to afford gifts for others. Some wait and save for months for something that is considered a need, that they know will be coming at a more realistic price this weekend. But many just buy more and more “stuff” – toys for both little and big “kids” – because it’s “cheap”(er) this weekend, and it’s “bigger and better” than what they have.

Whatever your shopping habits, we want to encourage you not to spend money on just “stuff”, but rather to invest in a much smaller amount of truly worthwhile products for the wellbeing of your family – spiritually, educationally (mentally), and physically; products that will truly be helpful, not just “stuff”. Although we are pleased to offer so many resources that fit in the category of worthwhile, helpful products that truly contribute to the wellbeing of your family, we never want to encourage you to spend money when you shouldn’t be. Although it’s green, it is not as plentiful as leaves – and doesn’t grow where they do.

But when you’re ready to buy, whether this weekend or some other time, we hope you’ll consider purchasing from Me & My House, both our Exclusive Resources and those that we have carefully chosen from our partners. We also ask that you consider supporting Small, Family, and Home Businesses (like Me & My House and many others) when you do shop.

IF you are shopping this weekend, consider some of our Partners’ great offers that I’ve shared over the last few days/will be sharing on this blog and our Lifestyle Education through Discipleship blog.

But for one of the best investments you can make for your family’s well-being, watch for another post later today announcing our own Small Business Saturday – Cyber Monday FREE Bonus Gift we’d like to give to YOU.