Friday, December 1, 2017

Advent- 24 Days of Kindness

Every year I struggle with how to have a fun Christmas for our kids, but also keep Christ at the center.  If I’m going to be honest the last few years I’ve done a poor job trying to teach Anna-Kate the true meaning of Christmas. Last year, sweet little Caleb was born at the beginning of December and all I was trying to do at that point was survive Christmas.
This year I want our family to not just survive, but to THRIVE during this season.  I’ve been searching and praying about a way to teach my children that Christmas is not just about toys and I think I’ve finally found the perfect thing.
Starting December 1st we are going to start 24 days of kindness leading up to Christmas as a way of Advent.  I got the original idea here.  I loved the idea of doing a Kindness Advent so I went to work creating our own advent that a three year old can do.
I’m what you might call a “wanna-be crafty girl”.  I love crafts I’m just not very good at them. So I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a cute little advent calendar that Anna-Kate could use everyday and wrote our act of kindness for everyday on them.  My plan is to let Anna-Kate open a drawer everyday and then we can do our act of kindness together.  Caleb gets a pass this year since he is only one, but next year my little people lover will do great.
When planning I had to keep in mind that some of the things we are planning to do need to happen on certain days. For example, our trash comes on Thursday which means we will leave a treat for our trash man on a Thursday morning.  You get the idea.
Some more ideas we are doing include:
Muffins to our pediatricians office
Take a treat to the salvation army bell ringer
Bring up a Neighbors trash can
Homemade cards to local nursing home
Donate canned goods to local food pantry
Make and leave bookmarks in the library
Food gift cards for the homeless
Take cookies to neighbors
Give away a bouquet of flowers
Return shopping carts from the parking lot
Leave a treat for our mail man
We are really excited about it this year. There are some really great Advent Studies out this year which you still have time to pick up if you want to. It’s such a busy time of year and it’s so important to carve out some time with Jesus to remember why we celebrate.  I’ve listed a few Advent studies below that I personally have and would recommend.
Advent Studies
She Reads Truth Advent Study Book
You can order it here!
This is the one I am doing this year and I must say the book is BEAUTIFUL.  Plus it has a free cross stitch pattern that I’m super excited about. They also have a companion book for your husband and your kids.
Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift
This one is also beautiful.  I’ve done this one the past two years and loved it.  I read The Greatest Gift and as a family we read Unwrapping the Greatest Gift at night together.  She also just came out with a new one with a pop up tree which I think the kids would love. You can order these here. 
The Donkey in the Living Room
This one is really cute and I love the book that goes along with it.  It’s a full nativity set for your kids and the book walks through the story of Jesus through the book.  It’s one of my favorites. You can find it on Amazon. 
Little People Nativity Set
I just got this set out today and the kids haven’t stopped playing with it.  It’s one of my favorites.  It doesn’t have an advent study to go along with it but I thought it was worth mentioning. I found mine in Lifeway but I think you can get one on Amazon as well. I have one extra one, so if anyone wants it just let me know and I’m happy to give it to you.
Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Guide
This is what we are doing this year and I’m really excited about it.  I love that I don’t have to buy anything to go along with it.  If you don’t already have the Jesus Storybook Bible I highly recommend you go buy one.  I cannot say enough good things about it.  I often find myself in tears while reading it to my children.  It’s absolutely beautiful. This year we are going to read our Jesus Storybook Bible with our Kindness Advent. Faith Gateway and Sally Lloyd Jones created a fantastic guide to walk through with your kids for Advent. It has beautiful pages to go along with it that you can print at home.  You can get them here. 
I have one goal this year, be present.  Wherever I am, and whatever I am doing, I am striving to just be fully present with the people God has put in front of me.  So often I get overwhelmed thinking about everything I have to do, but all God has called me to do is to say “yes” to whatever He has put in front of me every single day. Be present.
“Being in a hurry.  Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me.  I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry.  But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing.. Through all that haste I thought I was making up time.  It turns out I was throwing it away.”
-Ann Voskamp