I've been thinking a lot about Christmas the past week or so...I'm actually excited about this year. In years past it's possible that I may have been a wee bit of a grinch. The more I've thought about it the more I've realized that I was being a grinch because I was focusing too much on the materialistic side of it all. Now, don't get me wrong, I was wanting MORE MORE MORE, I was getting stressed out, ungrateful, and even sometimes angry and frustrated because Christmas was going to mean MORE MORE MORE for my kids. More stuff I had to deal with. More stuff they didn't need. More stuff to get rid of or clean up or even....dare I admit it? Hide! Ha! Yes, I'm that mother sometimes. Plus, I don't like crowds. I'm not a fan of parties. I like hanging out with a few friends at time.
But I digress. This year I know the kids are going to get toys and things they don't need. But they're kids and that's ok. We don't focus too much on that. Our kids get new PJs on Christmas Eve and then on Christmas morning they get their stockings and 3 gifts. Something to read, something to wear and something to play with. They're excited and happy and content. We choose to use the time leading up to Christmas focusing on the CHRIST part.
We talked about how Advent comes from the Latin word Adventus which mean arriving. How all the things that we do during advent are because it's a season of anticipation of the arrival of the Christ Child.
I heard the song Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence for the first time last week when I was listening to The Modern Post's new Christmas ep (Lowborn King) and then was struck by one of the lines when our pastor sang it during the sermon on Sunday. It goes,
"Let all mortal flesh keep silence
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly minded,..."
I mean, think about that. Ponder nothing earthly minded. That's just another way of reminding us to "set our minds on things above." So that's my goal this Christmas season. If I can ponder nothing earthly minded then I will be truly filled with the JOY of the Lord. That's what I want to foster in my home so that my children have a better chance of not getting caught up in the STUFF side of Christmas.
So I'll give you a quick run-down of a few of the things we're doing this December to help us ALL ponder nothing earthly minded.
1. Scripture countdown to Christmas. I made a paper chain with a different scripture passage on it and each night at dinner we tear one off and read it. (I used these verses.)
2. Every morning during our devotions with our school work we're reading Luke 2:1-20 (I do this every day because it's an easy way to get the kids to memorize it and it fills their little sponge like minds with the Word.) After we read Luke 2 we do one page in our Advent Art Journals (I think they're only going to be up through December 5th so go download them now!) They just have a simple sentence about the Christmas story on each page and the kids decorate them with stamps, drawing, stickers, whathaveyou as their response to that part of the story. Once I pulled out some of goodies from my past life as a scrapbooker they were even more into it. I'm actually doing one too and it's really a fun way to meditate on Christ becoming flesh.
Another picture of my shirtless boys working on their art journals. I'll try to do a post sometime next week with pictures of a few of the completed pages if anyone is interested.
3. I picked up this simple countdown calendar at The Vineyard last year. I LOVE that every time we mark a day off we're reminded what we're REALLY counting down too. What we're eagerly awaiting.
4. We're filling up our Living Water bottles with change that we'll take back to church and donate to the Lottie Moon offering (if you're not Southern Baptist and aren't familiar with that it's an offering taken up every December that helps support Southern Baptist missionaries around the world.)
5. Lastly, I don't have a picture of this, but we do Christmas Shoe boxes every year for a church in Matamoros, Mexico. (It's basically the same thing as Operation Christmas Child but our child partners with the pastor of a church in Matamoros and we send all our gifts to them.) The kids LOVE doing this. In fact, my three year old reminded me for two weeks straight this year that we needed to "buy stuff for the Mexico people!"
Also, I want to say that if you bought anything during the BabyFish Small Business Saturday Sale you helped make our boxes possible!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!
So, those are some of the ways we're striving to keep Christ first this December. Do you have any awesome ideas or great traditions? I'd love to hear about them!!