Sunday, December 16, 2012

When Tragedy Strikes

My heart has been very heavy... and honestly when my husband and I paused to pray for the tragedy in Connecticut the other night, I did not really know what to pray.  I didn't want to just pay lip service. I was gripped with such grief and can only imagine what those 20 moms might be feeling...

This poem caught my eye today and I thought I'd share it:

twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.
their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
they were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
"where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
"this is heaven." declared a small boy. "we're spending Christmas at God's house."
when what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
and as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."
then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"
"may this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"come now my children, let me show you around."
excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
and i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  - John 8:12

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Traditions

Long time no write!  This time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is pretty crazy.  I try to avoid all the hustle and bustle by doing a lot of my shopping online.  However, even so there seems to be an endless list of things to do.  

Thankfully... at least this year... my kids are not focused on gifts.  Since my oldest is five years old this year, I really hope to share and instill in her the true meaning of this season.  I've gotten so many great ideas from the last MOPS meeting I went to last week.  I wish I can do them all!  I plan to try some ideas this year and maybe some other ideas next year and see what goes.  

I'm excited because I don't remember too many set traditions growing up other than a great time of gathering with family and cousins.  The focus was mainly on just family, fun, and presents.  I remember how all us kids would put together little shows and skits and perform for our parents.  I also remember going to Atlantic City almost every year on New Years Day!  Haha... those were the "traditions" I grew up with.

Therefore, I am excited to set some traditions now for my kids... but instead of focused on just family, fun, and presents... though that should probably all still be a part of it... I want the focus to be on Christ.

Here is a list of some ideas I got from either my MOPS group or online or some other source...

Advent Candles and Wreath
We never did advent candles at home growing up though I remember our church would light them the Sundays leading up to Christmas.  I'd like to try the advent candle idea this year with my kids and see how it goes.  Oops.. we missed the first two Sundays but I figured we'll just catch up this Sunday and go from there.  Click here for a pretty good explanation of the meaning behind the candles and wreath.

Advent Calendar
I actually found an advent calendar that I started to do with my kids from the beginning of December.  My kids are excited to do this everyday because they get to open up a little compartment which has a verse for the day and a surprise chocolate treat inside.

Truth in the Tinsel
This is highly recommended by many and it truly intrigues me.  I don't think I can manage it this year but it is on my list to try for next year.  Click here to read more about it but apparently this is an e-book and there is a daily lesson, craft and verse leading up to Christmas.

Jesse Tree
This is also a daily devotion starting on Dec 1 that starts with creation and ends with the birth of Christ.  The idea is you read a verse and hang an ornament a day on a small tree leading up to Christmas.  I've heard some families use a quilt instead of a tree.  Here is one link that has the list of verses and ornaments... there are many online.  Here is a link on Amazon where they are selling a variety of ornaments/books related to this.

Nativity Interactive Set
So after hearing about this at MOPS, I ordered "What God Wants for Christmas Interactive Nativity Kit".  This is for the week leading up to Christmas where the kids get to open up a gift box a day which six of them contains a character in the Christmas story and the seventh a mirror.  Going to try it this year and see how it goes.

25 Jesus-Centered Christmas Books
I've heard about this idea from different sources and love it.  However, this year we'll just read these books during nap or bedtime without the wrapping part.  Perhaps next year I may try to wrap them up.  Realistically we'll have to see because wrapping up 25 books would take some planning during the month of November when we have Thanksgiving and two birthdays to celebrate.  Here is a great list of Christmas books from Vanderbilt Wife blog.

Tinsel Box
I hope I got this one right but my understanding is that every "service" or "act of kindness" done in the month of December or all year round for that matter... gets written on a sheet of paper and slipped into this box.  Then the box is opened on Christmas day and the family can read and go through all the slips of paper put in there.  “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  (Matthew 25:40)

Christmas Caroling
I really want to do this.  I love singing and think it would be a lot of fun for the kids.  I'm just not sure if there is any specific etiquette.  I googled and didn't really see anything too earth shattering.  Hmm.. maybe we'll try it with one or two neighbors that we are more familiar with and see how it goes.  When I mentioned the idea to my kids they thought the door to door part was similar to trick or treating... ha.  Well, I want to give cookies or baked goods or something when we do this instead of asking for candy.

Cookie Exchange
Not sure if this is so much a tradition... but most people probably bake or eat cookies around this time.  I'm going to try a cookie exchange this year so we'll have more variety to choose from.

Alright, what else?  Any other traditions out there?