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Advent

Advent is a season of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

I love that word expectant.    Oftentimes we are willing to wait, and wait, and wait, and we deal with the waiting by staying busy and not thinking about the fact we are waiting for something.

Advent is different.  This is a waiting with expectation.  That expectation is what makes the waiting exciting.  That expectation is what keeps our focus on Christ in the midst of a long season of silence.

So I have tried to instill that expectation, that excitement of what is to come, in my kids this Christmas season.  This preschool advent book is helping us in the process.

Every night we are reading and talking about the stories leading up to Christ’s birth.  They make an ornament over the story as we discuss.  They are always so curious about what the ornament is going to be and excited to sit and make something for our tree.

Every year we try different advent ideas, and this year’s has been my favorite so far.  All three kids truly are waiting with expectation for the story and ornament making craft at night.

They’ve even enjoyed acting out a scene or two

The point is, waiting with expectation is fun.  In the past I’ve tried to hard to make things serious and prepare their little hearts for more than they could ever possibly understand.  This year, I’m focusing on learning to wait with expectation for the incredible things God is about to do.

 

Too Cute Not to Share

Tonight the little man was insistant that since daddy wasn’t home, Justus needed to lead family worship.  It was just too cute not to share.

 

If you’ve ever been around my husband, you’ll understand why this is just precious. Justus imitates Brent’s legs, hands, voice, even the way he strums the guitar. A little intimidating seeing a picture of how closely the kids watch us and imitate what we do!

A Glimpse at Family Worship

Here’s a little glimpse into our family worship time.

At least the singing portion of our time together. I didn’t film the Bible reading or the prayer time although I somehow need to figure out how to film the kiddos praying without them knowing I’m filming. Kids talking to Jesus is just precious and should be preserved forever =)

Why My Kids Sit Through Church

(a very low quality picture a certain someone snapped from stage. )

I often get asked about why my kids are in “big” church with me. Over the last five years, I’ve really had to think through what my philosophy is as far as this subject goes. We have a phenomenal children’s program at church, so if I was going to bring my kids into service with me and have them miss the kids program, I didn’t want to make the decision lightly.

So I mentally made a list.

My list went something like this:

Cons:

  • I might not focus as much in church if my children were with me
  • The kids would be bored, and I don’t want them to associate church with being bored
  • I want to sit with Brent which means I have to sit on the front row.  Having three small children on the front row can be VERY intimating.  I mean who knows what Bob might ask one of them during his sermons!

Pros:

  • They would see Brent leading the congregation in worship and worshiping himself.  While they get to see him worship at home, I wanted them to see it in an environment full of Brent’s peers.  A valuable visual picture for them as they grow up.
  • They would see me worship which would allow them to truly know that I believe what I teach them every morning. Seeing me express my beliefs in as many environments outside of the home as possible is very important to me.
  • They would see other adults sing, praise, confess, pray, and listen to the Word of God.  Again, a valuable visual picture for them as they grow up and begin their own faith journey.
  • There is nothing more powerful than worshiping as a family.
  • We have two services which allows my children to come with me one service and still participate in our incredible children’s ministry during the second service.  Win, Win.

As you can see, my pros outweighed my cons.

So I sat this morning in church with my heart overflowing as I watched my two year old raise his hands as he sung because people around him raised their hands, my 4 year old danced and sang as loud as she could, and all three kids stretched out their arms to pray over those leaving for Vietnam this week simply because they saw others doing it.

Do they understand what they are doing? Probably not.  Do they listen and understand the sermon.  Usually no.  But is the beginning of their faith journey being formed in the midst of authentic worship?  Absolutely.

Is this the only way to raise children? Those of you with children should know by now there are no hard and fast rules; only do what the Holy Spirit tells you to do. But if you think you want to take your kids into service but are nervous , I urge you to go for it.  Practice at home (we have family worship and each kid uses a pillow as their chair, and they can’t get off of it). Go over your expectations.  EXPECT them to obey.  And then praise them for how well they did.  Kids can do more than we give them credit for.

And when you have those weeks where everyone wakes up cranky, no one is pleasant, and quite a few of the children need naps, put them in their class in the children’s ministry.  My kids average about twice a month in service with me =)  No use setting yourself up for failure!

Will you have weeks where they all need to go potty in the middle of the service.  Yes.  Will you have weeks where you are going crazy with the amount of questions whispered in your ear? Yes.  Will all of that mean nothing to you as you watch your kids interact in worship with those around them? Absolutely.

Making the decision to train my children to sit through church with Brent and I has been one of the best decisions we’ve made as a family.

What do you do?

 

 

 

The Wrong Lesson

Yesterday the girls and I were reading our devotions.  The chapter happened to be on Jesus when he stayed in the temple after his parents had left Jerusalem.  (Luke 2:41-52)

The end of the chapters asked this:

How can you be more like Jesus as you’re growing up?

My youngest daughter replied:

I can disobey just like he did!

I swallowed and asked: hmmmm??? what do you mean?

When he really wanted to do something, he just did it even though his parents went home and left!

I tried to point out that he hadn’t disobeyed and talk her through her observation, but she would have none of it. She is convinced that she is right.

Yes, devotions with a three year old keep me on my toes.

He Is Risen…Let’s Celebrate

And celebrate we did as the girls woke up to an empty tomb this morning!

Our celebration consisted of dying Easter eggs last night to prepare for Easter morning After we talked about the tomb being empty and that Jesus is alive, we told them the rest of the day was a party to celebrate that Jesus is stronger than death. The first fun thing was their Easter baskets and an Easter egg hunt around the house.Our celebration then moved to an incredible time of worship at Northwood Church  followed by an afternoon with some family friends and their families.

At the afternoon party, the kids got another Easter Egg HuntHours filled with playing with friends and some play time with some ducks and a chicken (notice the little man’s arm stuck through the fence trying to reach the animals) The kids are now exhausted, but I think they have decided they like these kinds of celebrations where they get lots of candy

Overall, I think our week of intentionally drawing our family into thinking through what the cross means has been good.  The oldest finally understood that she is sinful which was my biggest prayer through this whole thing.    Through all the talking this week, she has heard the gospel quite a few times and one day in the car she said, “mommy, I know I’m a sinner and my only hope is Jesus.  He alone can forgive me.”   We praise Christ that he is softening her heart but we also know she is a bit young to truly understand salvation.  The foundation is being laid though, and I pray Christ continues to work in all my kids’ hearts and minds as they grow older.

Day Five and Six

Jesus Praying in the Garden and telling God “not my will but Yours be done”.

Day Six: Two part series =)

Part One:  Jesus died on the cross

We then left and went to Good Friday Service.  The youngest and the oldest have croup so we spent the majority of the service in the cry room (sigh).  It was still an amazing service though…even if it was observed from the cry room.

Part Two:  Putting Jesus in the tomb.

We came home, discussed how Jesus would now be dead, put him in the tomb and blew out the last candle.

The oldest is already itching to get Jesus out of the tomb.  I know tomorrow is going to feel like an eternity to her!

Day Three and Four

Truth by told, Day Three got a little rushed.  All day long, I thought it was Wednesday so planned the wrong story.  Then I realized my mistake right before we were starting our devotions so we scrambled to remember what Tuesday’s lesson was supposed to be.  Then Brent and I had plans so the babysitter showed up as we were about to start.  All that to say, Day Three was a bit rushed.  I redid it again this morning after breakfast =)

Day Three:  Judas betrays Jesus for money

Day Four:  The Last Supper.

As we talked through the last supper and had the little people act it out, I told the girls they could not participate in communion at church on Friday night until they were ready to make a decision about Christ.  The 2 year old is still a bit young to truly get it.  She responded, “okay. I’ll do that and then I get crackers at church?” Understanding dawned in the 4 year old’s eyes though.  She asked “I have to believe that I can’t be good on my own and its only through Jesus? “ She then thought for a minute and said, “maybe I’ll sit and talk to daddy about it tomorrow.” My heart is bursting with prayers for her tonight as she thinks through my words while laying in her bed.

We blew out one more candle tonight as well.  Two more and then we’ll be sitting in darkness to symbolize Jesus was in the tomb.

Day Two

If you missed Day One, click here

Jesus washing the disciple’s feet.

“Jesus” would be the blue pipe cleaner and is washing “Peter”, the yellow pipe cleaner man’s, feet just in case you were wondering =)

Day One

Its Palm Sunday today.  In an effort to teach our kids that Easter is a BIG deal, we began our week leading up to Easter like this:

Before church we made play dough and formed it into Golgotha, poked some holes into it for the cross, found sticks outside to make a cross, and baked the play dough in order to harden it while we were at service.

Spent some time after church coloring our mountain and talking about Easter

Tonight family worship was spent discussing and acting out the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.

We blew out one of the six candles we have lit to symbolize that the time for Jesus to die was approaching.  (By Saturday night, we’ll be sitting in the dark to represent that Jesus is dead)

Our oldest is quickly approaching the age where both Brent and I accepted Christ.  Our hope and prayer this Easter is that she begins the process of thinking about Christ and his sacrifice for her.  She has yet to truly understand she has a sin nature and needs a Savior.  Although she wholeheartedly loves Jesus, we pray this Easter she begins to see the reality of the cross and the destruction that sin causes.

(sidenote: I completely stole this idea from Noel Piper’s book Treasuring God in our Traditions. )

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