Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent Celebration

We began our Advent Celebration last night with a family worship time.  We sang together and Lydia read the Bible reading for the first Jesse Tree ornament.  It was a wonderful time and it is my prayer that this time together will really focus our hearts on the reason we celebrate.  Jesus! Blessings to all of you during this season.

Jennifer Wilson - You are the advent calendar winner. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christmas Advent

Now that you have taken a look into how our family is celebrating a Thanksgiving Advent of sorts I wanted to give you a sneak peak into our Christmas Advent. Each day in December leading up to Christmas we have a special activity planned.  Some are simple crafts, others are baking adventures and we also have some service projects in the mix too.  I made another simple calendar like I did for Thanksgiving and have the slips of paper with each activity written on it as a count down to Christmas.

I love spending time together as a family and I know that by planning out different activities for us to do together not everything will go according to my plan.  That's O.K.  (or at least I am learning to be ok with it.) I want my husband and my kids to want to be at home more than anywhere else in the world and for me that means taking time to think through how we can spend time as a family and planning fun activities.

Thanks to the internet I have no lack of ideas to fill 24 days with great Christmas ideas.  I have some friends that have a few really great ideas.  Check out how Lorrie and her family celebrate Advent.  Also, check out this great idea that Ashley and her family did last year.  In addition to all the fun activities I have planned we will be using Jesse Tree devotionals each night as a way to bring our attention to Christ's birth as the reason for the season.

I love spending time all year gathering supplies for the activities we do in December and hope that you feel inspired to  spend some time connecting as a family and sharing in the joy of the Christmas season.  If you would like to win a handmade (by me) advent calendar please leave a comment and I will enter you in the drawing.  The contest will end on Friday, November 25th, 2011. Please leave a way for me to get in contact with you so I can send it to you.  Thanks and many blessings to you!

Here is a picture of the advent calendar you could win if you leave a comment.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gratitude Attitude

"Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other." Ann Voskamp, one thousand gifts

The sin of ingratitude, dissatisfaction and discontent are nothing new.  They have been around since the Garden of Eden. Teaching the next generation to be grateful is also not a new idea but it is a practice that I believe to be of the utmost importance.  I know that I get whiny, ungrateful and discontent regularly and I need an attitude adjustment in my life before I lose all sense of the blessings I have in my life. 

Our society does not encourage gratitude.  Entitlement, self-importance and independence yes, but not gratitude.  It is my belief that gratitude goes beyond just good manners, although that is important and a great place to start. Gratitude is at the heart level and that is where I truly want to reach my children.  My life and the lives of those around me are so much easier when my kids have good behavior and show good manners but that is not my highest goal.  I want my girls to understand that to bring glory to God they need to have a deep gratitude in their lives that is much deeper than just their words and behaviors.  This is the only gratitude that can weather the storms that life has to throw at them.

In my post yesterday I talked about how we have been spending time over the last month learning how to control our whining.  This month we are trying to focus on the heart by practicing gratitude.  I made a simple Thanksgiving advent calendar which we will use.  Each night at dinner we will each say and then write down at least 1 thing we are thankful for that day.  It is a simple practice and doesn't take much time but will hopefully help our family focus on all the blessings God has given us and teach us to be grateful people. 

A simple canvas, chipboard letters and scrapbook paper. I am sure it could be more crafty but it will work just fine as it is.  This i placed right above our kitchen counter where we eat.

It is my desire to see my children grow to honor God through living grateful lives in a society that desperately needs it.  So, now it's your turn, how do you encourage gratitude in the children in your life? How could or has the practice of gratitude made an impact in your life? 

 Today's gratitude: That I have I have children who are enjoying a quiet rest time right now as I write this.  Selfish or not, it is definitely something for me to be grateful for today. How about you?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pennies for change

Whining.  A word connects all parents to one another.  Some possibly understand it more than others but I don't believe anyone escapes it entirely.  All it takes to see that whining has always existed is to look at the Israelite nation and all the trouble their whining, mumbling and complaining got them.  Last month I wanted to take a time out in our family to see the effects of whining and having a grumbling spirit. So I set up a pennies for change area in our house.  Anytime we found ourselves grumbling, whining, or just having a negative attitude we placed one of our pennies in a jar.  At the end of the month we would be able to spend the leftover pennies in the "Mommy and Daddy Store".  Both girls, mommy and daddy participated and then at the end of the month the girls spend their rewards in our "store". 

We spent time talking as a family about the various consequences and benefits of living a life free of grumbling and complaining.  The store experience is a great teaching moment to allow the girls a concrete understanding about how there are rewards when we follow God's ways.  Even when we don't always see the rewards He gives us here on earth He does reward us. As the girls get older it is our intention to phase out the reward based system and operate more on an intrinsic motivation but it works for us in this phase of life right now.

This activity definitely had a good impact on all of us.  It is helpful for me to see how much my attitude needs to be surrendered and submitted to God. I may not always verbally complain but my sighs and my inward spirit are not always in the right place.  This activity drew that out big time!

Our pennies and jar. 

Lydia's rewards. She had a great month and learned to internalize her own self monitoring.

Emma's rewards.  She is still learning not everything is about her.

Mommy and Daddy store open for business.  (Better stocked than usual as we just got a scholastic book order back.) Most of the store is filled with dollar store, yard sale and thrift store finds.

I believe that when it comes to correction and discipline it is not only important to stop certain behaviors but to replace them with correct and God honoring lifestyle habits.  Stay tuned tomorrow for what we are working on as a family this month!
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