Monthly Archives: November 2011

Advent Hope Week: Monday and More Resources

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Advent Hope Week Plan:

Make Advent Candle Craft with Austin after preschool today- Decorate the Hope Candle
Memorize Romans 15:13 (He has made up a version: May the God of Hope fill you with joy & peace…and kindness and self control)
Sent a notecard w/ memory verse and colored a candle with the word Hope on it for his lunch

Pick One other Craft for Adventure in Advent Book-
Pick out Christmas Tree & decorate by the end of the week
Finish Decorating the house with his help
Read Song of the Stars with him
Let him play with the mini nativity next to the Advent Candle

Advent Resources:

I keep seeing more great resources for Advent that I want to share.

Noel Piper posted about a book called Behold the Lamb. There is also an accompanying soundtrack. You can only order this from the Rabbit Room right now because it’s sold out on Amazon.

Also, I do suggest that you follow & subscribe to Noel’s blog. She is posting readings and plans for Advent, too. Her blog is http://www.noelpiper.com

Additionally, I am eagerly waiting for Song of Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones to come in the mail. She is the author of the Jesus Storybook Bible that I think is the best children’s Bible Storybook there is. It is the only book that I’ve read that ties each story to the Cross of Jesus. The story of Jonah isn’t told to remind our children to obey so they don’t end up in the belly of a big fish, it encourages them to see their need for Jesus and need for repentance. (Oh, really? You mean that’s  what we are supposed to teach our kids. The Bible isn’t meant to manipulate our children into robots? What?! C’mon!)

Also, we had an amazing opportunity to meet Scott Williams and his family this weekend. He spoke at Seacoast on Church Diversity, which is also the title of his book that you should include in your Christmas shopping. He just posted on his blog about another great Ebook Devotional. Check out the sample readings, too. The devotional is called Reboot Christmas.

If you can’t tell, books are one thing that always fit in our budget. I can honestly say, that I’d probably give up highlighting my hair before I gave up books.

Also, You Version, just sent me an email with several reading plans.

  1. Countdown to Christmas 29 days
    A fun Advent activity calendar to teach your whole family the significance of Christmas
  2. Christmas Begins with Christ 28 days
    Devotional focusing on the joy, peace, and hope surrounding Jesus’ birth
  3. Rediscovering the Christmas Season 25 days
    Scriptures and reflections that will help you center each day on Christ
  4. Carols: A Christmas Devotional 25 days
    Devotional revealing the biblical roots of classical Christmas songs
  5.  The Christmas Story 5 days
    Biblical prophetic context and historical Gospel accounts of the Savior’s birth

Addtionally, these are the verses we plan to read for our Advent Candles:

Week 1) Romans 15:12-13 Isaiah 60:2-3

Week 2) Luke 3:4-6 Mark 1:4-

Week 3) Luke 2: 7-15 Isaiah: 35 10

Week 4) John 3:16-17 Isaiah 9:6-7

Week 5) Revelations 3: 20-21

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Advent Sunday: Hope

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The entire process of Advent, anticipation of the coming of the Christ, is something I’m learning to absorb and celebrate daily.

In each breath. In each chaotic moment. In the crazy. In the mess of boxes and hot glue and projects and fundraising and decorating….yet, that is just the prayer:  celebrated anticipation in each day. The cry of my heart.

Tonight, we were rushed and throwing a meal together for the boys. And I was feeling pretty disheveled and anxious. Reaching for the lighter and scripture and just unnerved by being “ready to usher in Advent just the right way”. I didn’t even have on makeup and my hair was wet. Just felt a bit too chaotic. I wanted something to slow down. I wanted time to stand still somehow.

And then there is a fuss from Justus. The fidgeting from Austin. Travis and I sigh. We take deep breaths.

We open the Word.

We read the scripture once.

Then Travis said, let’s just turn all the lights out and light the candle.

Let’s read it again.

And there it was: The darkness.

Then came the flame. The Light: The Hope. The Prophecy.

The Light came into darkness. Faces illuminated in shadows of the flame.

We read again: Isaiah 60:2-3

For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
   and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
   and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
   and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Romans 15:12-13

And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.” 
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace
in believing, so that by the power
of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Tomorrow, we will start reading the scripture from Ann Voskamp’s Jesse Tree Advent Family Devotional at night. I also think we are going to work on Romans 15:13 as a memory verse with Austin (and Travis and I) this week:

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2011/11/free-jesse-tree-advent-family-devotional/

I also landed on reading the Jesse Tree scripture plan in the AM & attempting some of April Knight’s Scripture Doodling.

Then I’ll be reading from Watch for the Light. I love the mashup of authors in this book..and probably whatever else I feel led to read. I have another book on order, too…

So, what’s your reading plan with family and for you?

How are you ushering in Advent?

Advent Workshop

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Today, I had the chance to facilitate the discussion at our  Advent Workshop at our Missional Mom’ s group.

Focusing on Advent, the coming of Christ, really has redefined how I face the holiday season. Last year, we sort of stumbled into Advent candles and preparation. I grabbed a handful of devotionals from our church bookstore and just dove in.

This year, we are trying to back up and prepare for the preparing of Advent…if that makes any sense.

If I can get my act together, I’ll try to blog more details about Advent as we go along.

But, I’m listing some of the resources I shared today.

My first challenge is that, Advent begins with you! Having a personal plan for Bible study and scripture and just all out time to spend with Jesus is the most important aspect of focusing on Advent. This isn’t about more activities and more events. This is about an internal spiritual focus on the anticipation of the coming of Jesus and how that daily transforms our hearts.

So, to begin, I believe we have to be challenged to intentionally carving out time to hear from the Lord during a season of flurry and to just abide in His presence!

Reading/Devotionals, whatever you want to call it, Plan for Momma!

If you want to follow a scripture reading plan, I recommend You Version’s Reading Plan on Advent.

Last year, I enjoyed Watch For the Light which is a compilation of authors.

I also read Thomas Merton’s Advent and Christmas.

Max Lucado has a thin and simple one page reading for each day of December called Celebrating Christmas with Jesus.

I also really enjoy the section on Advent from Brennan Manning’s The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus and Noel Piper’s Treasuring God in our Traditions has a wonderful chapter on Christmas and Advent, etc.

Jesse Tree & Advent Candles

 

As for ideas for little kids and older kids, I really have worked with two main resources.

First, Ann Voskamp’s PDF on the Jesse Tree that has daily scripture reading and even pages to print for Jesse Tree ornaments. I love the symbolism of the Jesse Tree. Here is the link to her blog to sign up to get this free. Trust me, you want to meet Ann. You want to read her book One Thousand Gifts and just read her blog if only to listen to the music playing and calm your soul for a minute.Research this via Ann if you’ve never heard about it.

Here is the link to the free PDF for the Jesse Tree: http://www.aholyexperience.com/free-advent-devotionals-jesse-tree-book/

Look for her sons amazing Advent wooden circle that can be used for Lent, too.

Second, I will be using the Adventure of Christmas book for lots of craft ideas and to help me brush up on my Christmas celebration!This book has so many great ideas on learning more about the history of why we put candles in windows and how the X-mas trend started, etc. It also has recipes for fun traditional food and even to make ornaments, etc. This was written to help encourage conversations with your kids about the true meaning behind Christmas, etc. I also used the page on Candles and Advent to just jump start lighting a candle on the 4 Sundays before Christmas, etc.

Craft

We also talked about celebrating with Advent Candles and did this little craft that I found on Pinterest.com via this blog, Pure Joy. If you are not on Pinterest, there are some amazing Advent and Jesse Tree ideas on here. You can also just start google and searching for ideas on things you can do as a family. Google an Advent Coloring page & print it off. There are tons of free printables.

Also, I wanted to fill y’all in that last year, I just bought some purple and pink candles and stuck them on the table.But, this year, I did find a simple round ceramic candle holder that has Hope, Love, Joy & Peace on it. I found it at Hallmark for about $14.95. They do have a few advent candle holders at Yankee Candle, too. But, they sell out fast. You can also look online, of course, I start at Amazon; but Christian and Catholic bookstores carry Advent supplies, too.

Making a plan:

I think it’s great to have a written idea of what to do each day to celebrate Advent.

One of my friend’s compiled a list of area activities for us including festivals and parades and live nativities. We used this and a simple worksheet and a calendar to compile ideas and work through how each family can celebrate. It’s fun to do something every day; but I also don’t want moms all crazy stressed out either. I hope everyone will pay attention to the rhythm of their family life as they plan and pick a pattern that is manageable. If you like lots of activities, plan a all you can. If you need peaceful days at home, plan to have lots of fun family time with hot chocolate and holiday movies, etc.

So, I also shared a sample from Jessi’s blog on Advent last year. Here is a link to the amazing Naptime Diaries blog and her family’s advent plan lat year. (You can thank me later for introducing you to her if you’ve never met her!). But, her list was really inspiring to me last year. A good mix of activity and peacefulness. Also, sign up and make sure you get her blog because I know she’ll have some fun Advent ideas or a calendar or count down printables  to come.

I hope to expand a little more on some of this in the weeks to come!

Please share any of your creative ideas below. I encouraged our moms to work out their own advent calendar with a worksheet, etc. I am just learning, so I’d love to hear more resources that you use, etc.

What is special to you about Advent?

How has God used it to change your perspective on the holidays, etc?

Share. Share. Share!

Long Overdue Adoption Update: Step 1 Financial Goal Met!

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To say that I don’t know where to begin is an understatement. But, I know on my mounting to-do-list, that I have to get this post together. I don’t want to keep anyone in the dark. And there have been so many of our friends and family and new friends and random strangers who have been blessing us that I want y’all to be in the loop. You are in this with us! You are helping care for orphans by supporting and love our family as we walk toward our daughter! THANK YOU! I won’t be able to say it enough.

Here is the jist of where we are in the adoption: Finalizing our first of many mountains of paperwork, going to physicals for each of us, tracking down my birth certificate (Thank you to my cousin Tony for getting that in person for me! Grrr!) and submitting this big mess of paperwork.  After that we being our homestudy interviews which can take 4-12 weeks depending on our social worker’s case load, etc. Also it depends on our schedule. And until a week ago, it depended also on  finances…

So, to break it down, we need a first chunk of $5,000 to cover random fees, application fees and our homestudy fee. When we started this process, we kept saying: “Where are we going to get the first $5000?”  No idea! We had no secret stash or hug savings set aside for this. We wish we did; but that’s just not where we’ve been financially. So, we started out with about $100 in our adoption account, about 2 moths ago.

So, in the midst of doing the paperwork, we could not really move forward until we hit the 5K mark.

Our fund raising started with my sister posting a dozen or so headbands and bows on her facebook site. In less than two days, she had raised $200 for us. So, that launched us (well, her) into a crazy head band making machine with a goal of having them available for suggested donations at Rocktoberfest, our fall festival, at our church on October 29th.

While she was busy with that, I started our Just Love Coffee Site. This is wonderful, I mentioned it before; but I’ll mention it again. I signed up as a fundraiser and we have our own page of fair trade coffee available. Our friends and family can order on this site and support fair trade coffee ,an orphanage in Ethiopia and give us $5 a bag (or a portion of other products sold on the page).  Our first week up,  we received a check for $45 dollars!  I haven’t checked our totals this month; but I know we were passed that mark already. Thank y’all so much! I looked at the list and recognized a few names; but didn’t recognize many names. Or I saw several anonymous donations. Someone came up to me at Rocktoberfest and said, “Oh, I bought your coffee!!” Never met her! So kind!

Http://www.justlovecoffee.com/thecarpenters

After that, Travis decided to do the garage sale in our neighborhood on Oct 15th, that I mentioned in a previous post. So, that was pure craziness. So many friends gave so generously to us! We still have some nice quality things to sell like Vera Bradley bags and beautiful parsons chairs on Craig’s list. I am way behind on getting those things listed; but have had zero time to do it yet.

We think we made at least $1400 that week (I’m a tying bit confused because we already had a stash of cash that we were collecting and sticking in a jar and it got mixed in. So, I’m guestimating low on that.) We had a friend sell her really nice patio set & just bring us the check. We were just humbled at the generosity. Travis and I could barely move the next day since we’d been up since 5 am. Stephen & Laura Lewis and Jenna Surratt also came out early to help us set up. My Mom and Dad came to help as well as our trusty crew including Sugar Scrub Stacie and Jesse & Sara, etc. Austin’s preschool teachers also came and have been hugely supportive of us. I will miss everyone if I try to even name names here on the blog. But, just so much energy and excitement.

Sidebar: A lady walked up my driveway who lives down the street, who I have never met and was holding an infant who was S. Koreanand adopted domestically. Let’s just say, I was a mess!!!)

So, on October 16th, we closed the door on the garage with still lots of stuff to sell, and packed up and went to Phoenix three days later to the conference we had won plate tickets and conference tickets to, Together for Adoption. More on that later! Amazing!

So, that brings us to last weekend, I came back from Phoenix, where my sister lives loaded up with the 147 Million Orphans Uganda beads ; 67 head bands and 21 hair clip/bows; adorable decor my sister had made for me to put out for suggested donations; Stacie’s sugar scrub; and another new friend, Sarah, made adorable coffee snuggies and donated some of those as well.

We raised about $300 at Rocktoberfest and $300 at Austin’s Fall Festival at Lighthouse Church (that is after the vendor fees were paid, etc.) I had some other random “sales” and I know so far our total is: $700 in 3 days!

So… there we are! Is anyone else tired from all of that?

Honestly, I’m/we’re exhausted. We are up and down constantly! We are so excited by God’s blessings in providing and just giving us such a big push at the beginning to keep moving and walking and trusting. We  love how supportive and generous our friends and new friends are being to us!  We can barely keep up with all of it and keep our current family of four rolling. In the middle of this, I had two insanely crazy rounds of weird sicknesses. I’m not exaggerating when I say: “weird”. But, again, we are just so grateful and thanking God continually. The crazy part is that Travis and I hope to help other do this, so we don’t think this will be our last rodeo with 5am garage sales or crazy headband sales in the rain either.

So, our bank account was sitting around $3,000. Two days ago, as I’m still barely coherent on day 2 of whack-o sickness round 2, Travis comes up and says “Are you waiting to open this $2000 check for any reason?” It was a check from our bank for $2k from our previous escrow account. We refinanced our house last month when the mortgage rates dropped so much! WHAT?!

Wrap Up:

So… we feel that Step 1 Financially is almost done. Now, we are hurrying to finish our papework and get cranking on our homestudy!

Only $15,000-18,000-ish in fees and about $5000-7000 in travel to go!

Pray!

Please pray for us. Pray that God will continue to strengthen us and give us His portion for each day. That we will seek Him daily. That we will not stick our fingers in our ears and try to do our own things. That our family will be united and grow in God’s power and love. That Travis and I will grow in our relationship constantly as we seek Him together. That we will Trust Him through each step. That we will focus on our boys and love on them and listen to God to know what they need as our kids and how to give them Grace and not impatience and weariness. Please also pray for our growing Adoption Missional Community and the roles we are honored to have. Pray that we will have margin to support this community in a very intense time. Oh, just pray for margin and that we seek it. And please continue to pray each day that we will humbly seek His Face and be in His presence no matter how weary and worn and how many commitments we have. Pray for us to diligently seek a Sabbath of rest and reliance on Him alone!

Finally, pray for our daughter. Wherever she is. Please pray for her (I almost typer ‘our’ – I guess she feels like family, too) birth mom. Pray for her caregivers or her foster family. Pray for her health and that she will know even now of our love for her, and yet more for the love of Abba Father!