Welcome everyone to November, the month where I am starting to make sure all my plans are in place to have an awesome December and festive period!!! So I was over the moon when a friend in blogging approached me to write a guest post for us all so get us thinking about advent this year. So without further ado, I will hand over to Lucy to tell us more…..
How to Journey Creatively Through Advent As A Family
I think we can all agree that December is a busy month.
With presents to buy, cards to send, food to prepare, and road trips to plan – on top of all the other daily pressures of having a family – it can be all too easy to allow ourselves to be distracted from who we’re celebrating.
And yet there is so much potential, as the nights draw in and we spend more time indoors with our families, to use this special pre-Christmas period – known as ‘Advent’ – to focus on Jesus.
As a mum of four children aged 5-10, I have tried and tested a huge range of different approaches and resources over the years, always knowing that we wanted our children to be in no doubt about what we were celebrating each December.
One thing we have always stressed is telling the Christmas story interactively throughout Advent.
Don’t rely on school or church or outside influences to do this work for you! As we know, sometimes the story gets distorted (anyone remember Octopus no.8 in the Nativity play featured in Love Actually??).
But even if it doesn’t, our children need to know that the Nativity story is important to us as their parents, and they will know this if we prioritise sharing the story together with them. We can also take time to explore different thoughts about the story, answer their questions, and ponder with them the unanswerable ones.
We are much more likely to remember things we do than things we read, so why not use a Nativity set to share the story simply with your children? This could be over breakfast, after nap-time, just before bed, or whenever suits your family best.
As your children get involved in moving the figures and saying the words, they will absorb the Christmas story from head to toe!
Another activity our children love is our Advent basket. It comes out at the start of December and you can read more about it here, including what we put in it.
Very simply, it’s a basket full of Christmas story books, toys, games and puzzles. Most – not all – are focused on the Nativity. The novelty of it only coming out for one month every year means that our children get excited to see it, and re-connect with items they haven’t seen for 11 months!
Why not group together all your Christmas resources into an Advent basket this year? If you have a few pounds spare, you could even buy a new book or two to add to old favourites – and this is a great time of year to scour charity shops for Nativity books and toys.
The beauty of an Advent basket is that it encourages unstructured, free play around the story of Jesus’ birth. You’re doing the ‘structured’ stuff of sharing the story most days – but the free play bit is where our children get to really absorb what they’re learning. Often we will be challenged too, if we take a moment to watch.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t LOVE an Advent calendar! Instead of – or in addition to – a secular calendar, why not buy a Nativity advent calendar which tells the story each day? This can become your daily storytelling, or add to what you’re already doing.
If you have a perpetual Advent calendar (i.e. one with pockets or drawers which you can use each year), why not fill it with small Nativity figures, pictures representing the Christmas story, or words/Bible verses telling the story?
You could even link it in to a Jesse Tree, with a new ornament to hang on the tree each day.
Along with this, our family have always appreciated having a simple Advent candle (you can buy them from Eden, or your local Christian bookshop or Fair Trade shop, if you’re lucky enough to have one).
When it comes to sharing what you’re celebrating this Christmas, don’t underestimate the power of decorating your tree in ways which point to Jesus. I’m not saying burn all your Santas or snowmen! And I’m definitely not saying you should only buy twee Christian ornaments with Bible verses and bad art.
But how about a subtle shift from celebrating Stuff to celebrating God-Made-Man? I’m a big fan of hearts on our tree – love, after all, was the motivator to God sending Jesus to live, die and rise for us.
Lights are traditional, of course, but we can ‘reclaim’ these to share our belief in Jesus, Light of the World. I love having loads of lights up around our home during Advent!
Small Nativity figures, crowns, babies, angels – when you spot something which will help communicate what we’re celebrating to our families, friends and anyone who visits, snap it up!
And, finally, don’t neglect yourself this Advent. We parents spend our lives caring for others – but if we don’t care for ourselves, we’ll be no good for anyone else!
Make sure you’re topping up your tank this Advent by making a habit of spending time with God. You could use an Advent devotional to do this – my book, Redeeming Advent, was written to help busy people doing All.The.Things to connect with Jesus. Each of the 24 days starts with a typical Christmassy family anecdote, which leads into a Bible reflection, questions to ponder and a prayer suggestion.
There are plenty of other devotionals out there if mine doesn’t appeal. Or maybe you’ll make a habit of weekly meeting with a prayer triplet, or joining an Advent course.
However you connect with God this Advent, I hope and pray it will give you the fuel to ignite not only your passion for Christ, but your children’s passion to get to know their Saviour more.
JOIN ME BACK ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE LATER TODAY (5th November 2019) FOR THE CHANCE TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF REDEEMING ADVENT!!!