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Friday, November 23, 2012

Advent starts next week...come take a peek at what I'm doing to prepare.

Hello everyone. I hope all of my American friends had a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving this year. I know you are all now free to focus on Christmas. I can't believe how quickly the year has flown and, almost before we know it Advent is almost upon us! How are you preparing your heart and home for Jesus?

As I write this, I have a calendar and checklist of things to complete before we travel to Florida next month for my daughter's graduation. What needs cleaning, painting and washing...but that's just preparing my home.
What of my heart?

Well, I want to share with you a few ways that I am trying to get my heart ready for Jesus too. First of all I am participating in Courtney's (of Women Living Well) Making Our Home a Haven Challenge. Everyday we have to light a candle and pray for peace in our homes. As the weeks go by, Courtney adds on other tasks, such as playing soft music (personally I like to rock the house with praise and worship...it helps me to keep the energy up you know!)

I am also going to be doing the Advent study with the Good Morning Girls...so much inspiration and encouragement there! As part of our study we have activities to do each week with our families, as well as our personal meditations. I am so excited to begin this! The study starts on Monday and I want to encourage you, if you haven't before, please join in. I promise you will be blessed. Just click on the image to download the e-book. You must subscribe to Good Morning Girls first.

One of the activities we will be doing, in the second week, is to have a Jesus Jar. I totally fell in love with this idea! Thank you to Jen from Good Morning Girls...who I believe is the author of this idea. As most of you know, I am a Catholic and I love Eucharistic Adoration. Each Christmas, the worshippers at the chapel I attend create a bouquet of visits to Jesus as a Christmas present.

Well, here's another way to give Jesus a present. Inside the Jesus Jar you will place random acts of kindness to others or various methods of charity and each day you and your family pull out one of the pieces of paper and do that act for the day. I am choosing to do this all Advent long...not just for the second week of the study because it is such an inspiring   idea! The only thing different that I am doing is that I have two jars! In the second one will be placed all the things my family has given up or done for Jesus. On Christmas Eve, when my family gathers in the living room to pray and read the Christmas Story, we will present Jesus our little bouquet of offerings as a present for His birthday!

I began a new tradition with my youngest last year, courtesy the inspiration of another fellow blogger. Thank you Nicole from Just Like Mary.  I wrap Christmas-themed books (I try to keep them mostly about Jesus, but there are a couple more thrown in there) in purple and pink tissue to match the colours of the Advent candles...1st, 2nd and 4th weeks are purple and the 3rd pink. Each night, during Advent my youngest daughter, Lillie, and I will unwrap a book to read. Last year she was so excited by this because, not only does she love to read. just like her mama, but it was like opening a present every night!

I've never made a Jesse Tree before, but I'd like to see if I could this year. Of course, I may be biting off more than I can chew with all of the other things going on, but the beautiful symbolism of the tree is one that appeals to me quite a lot.  Nicole had a lovely idea for hers last year , one which I think is very doable so I'm going to give it a try, enlisting the help of my third born who does Art.

Lillie also has to make a creche as a project for school this year. She had this same project last year and I chose to make it very simply so that she could do some of the work herself. I printed out pictures of all the key people and animals in the Nativity scene and she coloured them, then we stuck them in to a shoebox, which represented the cave/stable.

This year, they want the creche to be all 3-D. This is going to be a bit more challenging. We'll be working on it together this weekend and she is very excited...especially since her creche goes on display next to our Christmas tree.

Here's our Advent Calendar. You can't see them but the middle scene has little windows which Lillie can't wait to start opening to count down the days to Christmas Eve. That is when we'll unwrap the figurine of Jesus in all our Nativity Scenes and remember what a wonderful night it was over 2000 years ago, when God fulfilled His promise of salvation.

All of these things help to keep our hearts focused on the true reason for Christmas. I am so proud that my six year old daughter knows that it is not about the presents and the Christmas tree and Santa Claus. Don't get me wrong...she was super excited when we pulled out the decorations and went through each box, pulling out things exclaiming over each one. but I know that her heart is in the right place this Season. It helps that she is going to a school that encourages prayer and singing hymns.

 Tomorrow, we attend her school's Christmas concert and she has been entertaining us for the last couple of weeks with all the carols (and accompanying choreography!) that she's been learning.  Its been a joy to watch (except when she starts singing at 6:00am and the rest of the household are still trying to shake the sleep off!) That girl loves to sing!

I hope that you have been encouraged by reading about our own little preparations. I pray for all of you who read this blog...that God will bless your families and your homes and hearts as you prepare them for the celebration of His coming into the world...our Light and Salvation.


Nicole said...

How nice, Lisa Maria. Thanks for the links. I remember the making your home a haven from last year. I'm not following that one, but I do believe I will start lighting the candle again. There really is something so peaceful when you do that.

I do want to try the Advent study and look forward to it!

The Jesus Jar sounds like a great idea. I think it's one that I would utterly fail at so I will stick to the one week as prescribed in the study. ;)

Enjoy your daughter's Christmas program and preparing for your other daughter's graduation - so much life to love.

Lisa Maria said...

Thank you Nicole...glad you're going to check out the study. I'm very excited to start it myself. Yes, life is busy and beautiful!

Nicole said...

By the way, Lisa Maria, thank you for sharing from my blog. I meant to put that in the comment above but I was rushed when typing last night after the baby woke up, again. ;)

The kids do love the Jesse Tree. Your daughter is a good age to start as she will get into it more.

We're still doing the books but I am going to try putting one book out a day versus wrapping them. The kids do love to unwrap but I have felt a strong pull to simplify and reduce our waste and in my book all that paper = waste. We'll see how it goes. It did just cross my mind that if I had some kind of purple/pink cloth, I could wrap up one book each night for the next day and have the best of both worlds. Hmm... interesting idea.