Posted in On The Reading Chair, With The Kids

ESV Family Devotional Bible Review

The last few months, I have been using this Family Devotional Bible from Crossway. I wanted to use it for a little while before I gave my review of it. So, I’ve been pulling it out during family devotion time. I have the hardcover edition, but it is also available in blue or brown imitation leather.

Now, when I think of a family Bible, I think of an heirloom quality Bible. Something pretty and significant. I don’t think of a picture Bible. But this is not necessarily intended to be that stately family Bible. This is far more practical. It is a Bible a younger family can walk through together during family devotion time. I’m not sure if you’ve gathered this or not, but I am a very big advocate for family devotions.

This Bible has plenty of full color pictures. Now, the colored ink on the Bible paper does wrinkle the page a little bit. I’m not sure if you can tell from this picture, but there is a rippled texture throughout the picture pages. While the paper is thicker than standard Bible paper, it still didn’t hold up perfectly with the ink. But the pictures are beautiful.

They aren’t childish cartoons, you have these beautiful illustrations throughout. They do remind me a little of the Bible storybooks in doctor’s office waiting rooms, but I love the illustrations in those, so it works out.

There is a small amount of ghosting on the backs of picture pages, but they don’t interfere with being able to see the pages. It is very light on footnotes.

The devotions are the real highlight of this Bible. It has these interspersed throughout Scripture. They are with the Scripture you are talking about. I really like the questions they give. They are directed enough to stay on topic, but open ended enough to give real thoughtful discussion. Smaller kids won’t benefit from the questions as much as older kids, tweens, teens, and you will. I think that makes these devotions great for a family with a wide age range. While I wouldn’t say this devotion would be ideal for families with only teens in the house, it becomes ideal for those who may have a teen or two along with a younger kid. With the younger kids, the story and illustrations are going to be where they gain the most. For older kids, tweens, teens, and parents- the discussion is where you gain the most. If you have younger kids, you may want to skip the discussion or go light on it. But if you have kids who are older, definitely make sure you leave time for the discussion questions.

The devotions focus on the hero type stories in the Bible. You won’t find a single devotion in the book of Psalms, for example. They are Biblically based and don’t really veer into any specific theology. They stay focused on the Bible stories.

30 devotions are in the Pentateuch. (None in Leviticus.)

24 devotions through the historical books.

0 devotions through the books of wisdom.

2 devotions in the major prophets.

1 devotion in the minor prophets.

56 devotions are in the Gospels.

14 devotions in the book of Acts.

1 devotion in Philemon.

1 devotion in Revelation.

(For a total of 130 devotions.)

It is reasonable to think you could go through all these devotions in one year. And you can go through them in any order you wish. You could start at the beginning. Or, if you’re starting later in the year, start with the Gospels to get further into the life of Jesus around Advent time. You can go straight through or jump around. They do tell you what page the next devotion can be found at the end of each devotion, but there is also an index in the back where you could pick the devotion that best fits you right now. (Either fits what your preacher talked about this week, fits where you are in the liturgical year, fits what you are studying in school, or just fits where your mind and interests are right now.)

I love the ESV version for kids. It is on a 10th grade reading level, so it still has a poetic, non-childish feel. But when read aloud, it is easy for them to understand in modern language.

There are 8 really nice maps at the end of this Bible. I like how they illustrated them. They are very interesting for kids, but also easy for them to understand.

Overall, I have really enjoyed this Bible. I think the devotions are excellent for a wide range of ages. The illustrations are beautiful. The Scripture is right there with each devotion so you’re not flipping around to find what you’re reading. The ESV version is a great read aloud version of the Bible for kids. I think this is an excellent resource for families. I wouldn’t say this Bible is a good Bible for kids, but rather as a family resource.

**I received this Bible for free in exchange for my honest review. I am in no way obligated to review it favorably. **

***This blog regularly contains affiliate links. Affiliate links are a great way to support your favorite bloggers as we do receive a small commission if you buy using our links.***

Posted in Around The Church, From The Altar, With The Kids

Lent 2018

If you’re looking for my annual Lent family devotions, they are in book form this year! I was coming up with a way to make the family devotional more user-friendly. Scrolling through an entire week of blog posts is a bit messy. It is free, but it is messy. Then, I had this idea to add a personal devotional for moms to the front. In pitching the idea to The Pastor, we kind of thought, “Why just moms?” So, I enlisted his help in getting both a full 40-day devotional for all people and a 40-day family devotional written. We then put it on Kindle for ease-of-use. (It is also available in paperback if you’re not a digital person.)

The entire thing is really cohesive: The personal devotions and family devotions tie into each other, so you’ll all be walking the same spiritual path together. And as usual, the family devotional includes activities to do! Fun!

The theme of this year’s Lenten devotional is Refocus. Lent is a great time to look over everything and evaluate if you’re living the way you think you should be living. “Does my life reflect Christ?” It’ll challenge you to reevaluate where you put your time and money. It will ask you to reevaluate your priorities and commitments. Basically, it is going to step all over your toes and probably make you uncomfortable and you might even hate me for it. Or… you might refocus your life on the cross and do big Jesus-work this coming year. I think it’s worth the risk.

If you want a free devotional, all my previous years of Lent family devotions are still available here on the blog. Since Lent is always 40 days, always starting on Ash Wednesday and always ending on Easter, any of these can be used any year.

Lent Family Devotional 2017 – This family devotional looks into the life and ministry of Jesus.

40 Holy People – This is a Lenten devotional looking at the lives of those who have followed Christ with great courage and wisdom.

Fruit of the Spirit Family Devotional – This is not a Lenten devotional, but you can use it during Lent if you’d like. It is 9 weeks, so it is a little longer than Lent.

Click here to buy this year’s Lent devotional on Amazon.  My hope and prayer is for families to come together around a table and talk about Jesus. So, whatever you chose to do this Lent, be it using Refocus, using one of the free devotions on my blog, using another devotional book, or just reading through a book of the Bible together after dinner— make sure that you don’t miss Jesus during this season. Let the season bring you closer to Him and closer to your family.

Posted in From The Altar, With The Kids

Lenten Family Devotion Week Seven 

What you’ll need this week: This week, we’re making a wreath, adding a bit each day. For the wreath, you can pick up a twig wreath at a craft store very inexpensively. You can decide if you’ll just make one wreath for the family or if each person will make their own. (They can always gift them to Grandma on Easter.) You’ll need to attach the items each day. Hot glue works, but using floral wire to tie things on and in works better. In addition to the wreath, you’ll need: 
– Something gold (like garland or a sprig of gold)

– Feathers (or birds, whatever you happen to find and like)

– Something purple (it can be a flower, ribbon, fabric- it is up to you)

– Something black (flower, ribbon, do-dad, whatever you like)

– Something linen (ribbon, scrap of fabric, flower, butterfly)

– Something white (flower, ribbon, butterfly, lily, etc.)

Day Thirty-Seven: Monday: Betrayal & Arrest

Read John 18:1-14

OR

Jesus Is Arrested, p.210-211 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

OR

A Dark Night In The Garden, p.294-301 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

Discussion:

– Judas saw all the same miracles that Jesus performed as the rest of the disciples. Why do you think he would betray Jesus?

– Peter the bold stepping up again and cutting off a dude’s ear! Why do you think Jesus rebuked him?

Activity:

– Today, we’re adding some gold to our wreath to represent the betrayal of Jesus.

Day Thirty-Eight: Tuesday: Peter’s Denial

Read John 13:36-38; 18:15-18; 18:25-27

OR

Peter Denies Jesus, p. 212-213 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

Discussion:

– Why did Peter deny Jesus?

– What do you think went through Peter’s head as the rooster crowed?

– Do you ever try to hide your faith?

Activity:

– Adding to our wreath some feathers to signify the rooster crowing at the betrayal of Christ.

Day Thirty-Nine: Wednesday: Jesus’ Trial

Read John 18:28-40; 19:1-6 and Luke 23:1-25

Discuss:

– Did Pilate want to punish Jesus? Why did he agree to it?

– Why would the people choose Barabbas’ release over releasing Jesus?

– Was any of this fair?

Activity:

– Today, we are adding purple to our wreath, like the robe used to mock Jesus.

Day Forty: Thursday: Crucifixation

Read John 19:16-37 and Luke 23:26-49

OR

The Sun Stops Shining, p. 302-307 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

OR

Good Friday, p.214-219 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

Discussion:

– Take some time to discuss the impact of the crucifixion on your hearts today. What does the death of Christ mean? If you need a big word to focus on, Justification and Atonement are good ones to explore.

Activity:

– Though Good Friday is tomorrow, we’re taking time today to reflect on what is coming. Today, we’ll be adding black, the color of mourning, to our wreath.

Day Forty-One: Friday: Burial of Jesus

Read John 19:38-42 and Luke 23:50-56

OR

The Sun Stops Shining, p. 308-309 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

Discuss:

– What do you think the soul of Jesus was doing while his body was being buried?

– How do you think His followers felt?

Activity:

– Today, we’re adding linen to our wreath, to represent the linen they wrapped Jesus in.

Day Forty-Two: Saturday: Resurrection

We’ve made it through. Today, is the last day of Lent. While today is the day the world waited. Tomorrow will be Easter, and look forward to his Resurrection.

Read John 20:1-10 and Luke 24:1-40

OR

Easter Sunday, p.220-223 in Jesus Calling Storybook Bible

OR

God’s Wonderful Surprise, p.310-317 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

Discussion:

– Do you find it interesting the Jesus first appeared to women?

– When they first realized the body was gone, what do you think they thought happened?

– What does the Resurrection mean for us?

– What have you learned about Justification, Atonement, and Redemption?

Activity:

– Today, we finish our wreath. We add white, the color of the resurrection. And now your Easter wreath is complete. Hang it up or plan to gift it to someone special tomorrow, to remind them of the hope of Easter.

Posted in From The Altar, With The Kids

Lenten Devotional Week Four

This week you will need: 
Day Nineteen: Art supplies

Day Twenty: Foot washing supplies OR bubble bath supplies

Day Twenty-one: clear bottle or jar with lid, vegetable oil, food coloring, glitter(optional)

Day Twenty-two: pink square paper (for origami)

Day Twenty-three: fish & bread for dinner, construction paper, glue, and glitter

Day Twenty-four: blue Jello cups or mix, whip cream, teddy grahams


Day Nineteen: Monday: Boy Alive!

Read Luke 7:11-17

Discussion:

– What significance would it have been to the widow if her son had not been raised? Think about the culture at the time. Who would she have had to care for her?

– Would you have been afraid to see someone sit up out of a coffin?

Activity:

– Paint a picture of the story. Add this to your Lenten artwork.

Day Twenty: Tuesday: Alabaster Box

Read Luke 7:36-50

OR

Washed With Tears, p.280-285 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

Discussion:

– What did the story of the debtors have to do with the woman and the Pharisee?

– Was there significance in the act of washing Jesus’s feet?

– Who can forgive sins?

Activity:

– Foot Washin’! Gather your supplies. If you have one of those pedicure tubs, pull it out! Or just grab a basin and some water. Grab some oils, lotions, whatever you have. Spare no expense. Wash the feet of those in your family. You can either do all of them. Mom and Dad can wash all feet together. Or you can all take turns.

– Alternatively: Make a luxurious bubble bath for each member of the family. Go overboard on bubbles, lotions, and fabulous bath goodness. The goal is to make everyone feel loved through pampering.

Day Tweny-One: Wednesday: Calming A Storm

Read Mark 4:35-41

OR

The Captain of The Storm, p.236- 243 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

OR

Jesus Works Miracles: The Storm, p.178-179 in Jesus Calling Storybook Bible

Discussion:

– Have you ever said to God, “Do you not even care that I am perishing?”

– Do you find that faith calms your fears?

– Have you ever felt the awe the disciples felt in your walk with Jesus? That “who is this that the wind and sea obey him” kind of feeling?

Activities:

– Storm in A Bottle: You’ll need a clear bottler jar, water, vegetable oil, food coloring (blue is the most “sea” like, but you could do any color), glitter is optional.

Fill your water or jar half way with oil. Drop in a few drops of food coloring. Add glitter if you are adding it. Fill the rest of the way with water. Add lid. Shake it around to mix the water and food coloring. Now, you can make a storm in the bottle! Rock it back and forth to make waves. Spin it in circles to make whirlwinds.

Day Twenty-Two: Thursday: Demons Into Pigs

Read Matthew 8:28-34

Discussion:

– Do you find it interesting that the demons recognized Jesus as the Son of God?

– We see demon possession in the Bible, yet we don’t hear much about it today. Do you think this is still something that happens? Does this give a new real ness to the term “spiritual warfare”?

– Jesus did something good for these men. Why do the people in the city beg Jesus to leave?

Activity:

– Make an Origami Pig! Origami is paper folding. It may take some practice to get the shapes right, but I am sure you’ll get it with practice.


Day Twenty-Three: Friday: Jesus Feeds 5,000

Read Matthew 14:13-21

OR

Jesus Works Miracles: The Fishes & The Loaves, p.180-181 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

OR

Filled Full!, p.244-249 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

Discussion:

– Do you think Jesus was tempted to be mad that all these people were following Him when He was trying to be alone?

– How many people would you guess were really there?

– What do you think they did with the leftovers?

– Do you think anyone in the crowd said, “No thanks. I’m on a low carb, mercury free diet?”

Activity:

– What’s for Dinner? Fish & Bread! Yep. Put that one the menu for dinner tonight. See what they think.

– Fish and Loaves Craft: You will need construction paper, glue, and glitter. Each person will need to cut out 5 loaves of bread from brown construction paper. With another color construction paper, you’ll cut out two fish. Use the glue to draw some lovely scales on the fish. Sprinkle with glitter. Glue all to a backdrop piece of construction paper. Add to Lenten artwork!

Day Twenty-Four: Saturday: Walking on Water

Read Matthew 14: 22-33

OR

Jesus Works Miracles: Jesus Walks on Water p.182-183 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

Discussion:

– The disciples had seen many miracles, why would they think “ghost” before “Jesus”?

– Discuss the boldness of Peter to even think to step out of the boat.

– Why did none of the other disciples try to walk on water?

– Do you ever feel like you are sinking and need to focus your eyes back on Jesus?

Activity:

– Walking on Water Snack: You’ll need blue jello, whip cream (or cool whip), and teddy Grahams (or Annie Bunny, whatever you use in your house). Make everyone a cup of blue Jello. Let it sit. Before you serve, add whip cream to the top, prop up two teddy grahams on the top of the whip cream! Enjoy.

Posted in From The Altar, With The Kids

Lenten Family Devotional 2017 


Lent is coming! It sneaks up on me every year. This year, the focus of our study will be the ministry of Christ. If you’d rather, skip back to 40 Holy People and study that one if it fits your crew better. Or head on back to the Lenten Reading for Kids schedule if you’d prefer that one. If you’re new to my family devotionals, let me tell you how they work and give you some tips.

Lent is a 40-day season, not including Sundays. It is the season that stretches from Ash Wednesday (which is March 1st this year) to Easter Sunday. This year, I have two pre-Lent devotions and then 40 days of devotions for the Lenten season. These are intended to be done as a family. Everyone. All together. Now, I add some optional activities into my devotions. Use them. Don’t use them. You make this work for you and your family.

For Lent, you’ll have one reading each day except for Sunday. Use them as a springboard to talk to your kids about the life of Christ. I’ve also included some questions to get discussion going. Expect to get as much out of this as your kids get. This isn’t just for them; this is for your entire family. You may want to look ahead each week and see if there are any items you’ll need for activities that week. I will add a quick “need” list at the beginning of each week, but if you’re picking and choosing activities, you’ll need to adjust that to fit you.

Who reads? That is up to you. In our house, I am usually the devotional reader, and the Pastor usually handles a lot of the questions. Although, we do sometimes alternate kids reading. It really just depends on our particular time constraints and if the kids are acting particularly cooperative that season. It varies.

If you miss a day, skip it. Don’t try to pile a bunch into one day. Just skip it and move to the next. It’ll be okay. Really.

I write these for my family and then make them available to you. Adjust them as you need, and make them fit you. If you need something short and sweet, just do the readings. If you’ve got littles, use a storybook Bible to read the stories. Do the devotions in the evening, and then let them do the activities the following day. Whatever works for you is what will be best.

I’ve included the Scripture passages, but also added the applicable pages from The Jesus Storybook Bible and Jesus Calling Bible Storybook. If you have younger kids, you may choose to read from a Bible storybook instead of the Bible text when you can (All the readings aren’t found in both Storybooks.), or you may just want to look them up so that the kids can have illustrations to go with the story. If you have another Storybook you love, use it. I simply chose the two that are the most used in our house.

My prayer is that this Lenten devotion brings your family closer to one another and closer to God during this season. I hope you grow as a family in your walk with Jesus, and I sincerely hope this Lenten season is meaningful for you and your children.

Week One

Week Two

Week Three

Week Four

Week Five

Week Six

Week Seven

** This post contains affiliate links. **

Posted in From The Altar, Out Of My Head, With The Kids

Epiphany Family Devotion

We celebrate Christmas for 12 days and then comes this day we call Ephipany. Some people call it Three Kings Day. We tend to think of the kings, be they three or not, and think about the gifts they brought Jesus. They brought significant gifts, as we will read. But the gifts aren’t exactly what we are celebrating on this day.  

Read Matthew 2:1-12

We aren’t sure where the kings were from, simply that they were from the east. These were not Jewish men. They were Gentiles, simply meaning, they were from outside Israel. These wise men followed a star to Jesus. We don’t know exactly when they came. We don’t know their names. We just know they heard a prophesy, saw a star, and came to Jesus with gifts.

Now, the gifts themselves were significant. Not traditional baby gifts, by any means. What kind of gifts would you give a baby? (Pause for discussion.) The wise men brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. What strange gifts. Gold for a king. Frankincense for a priest. Myrrh for a dead man. But the gifts aren’t what is important here. What they reveal about the giver is what we celebrate on Epiphany.

Epiphany is defined as being a moment of sudden revelation or insight. It is from a Greek word that means Reveal. At Epiphany, we see Jesus being revealed to people outside of Israel. Epiphany is about Jesus being revealed to the Gentiles, the world. He isn’t just going to be the king, priest, and savior of Israel. He is going to be king, priest,, and savior of all men. The gifts given reveal to us that the Kings, the Wise Men, knew who Jesus was and that He had come to save mankind, not just the nation of Israel.

So, today, we celebrate! Not only has Jesus been born, He has been revealed to the whole world. Not only did Jesus come to save His own people, the people of Israel, He came to save all mankind. He came as a King, Priest, and Savior for the whole world! Rejoice!

Posted in From The Altar, Under Our Roof, With The Kids

Christmas Day Devotion

It is finally here! Christmas!

Today, we celebrate the Jesus was indeed born to redeem us. He has come, and He offers us life in Himself. He has come, and He offers us hope in His name.

Our rescue has arrived! Our Redeemer has come!

We lit the candles of expectation, preparation, celebration, and incarnation! Today, we light the last candle, the Christ candle. The Christ candle is traditionally white, and in the center. Our Messiah has come. He is our light. He is our source of hope. He is at the center.

Today, as we celebrate the Savior’s birth, let’s remember that He offers to us the love of the heavenly Father. He who is the delight of the eternal Father came so that we too might be adopted into His eternal family. He wants to make us sons and daughters of His Father. He loves us that much.

While the Gospel compels us to share this message with those who do not yet know it, it also compels us as people who do already realize its wonder to rejoice and shout with gladness. Christ, our Savior, is born!

Christ has indeed come, and Christ will indeed come again! That’s good news!

Scripture Reading:

        Luke 2:1-20

Optional Activities:

·        Enjoy the day!

·        Remember that today is the first day of Christmas. Check back in for personal devotions through the 12 days of Christmas leading to Epiphany.

·        Take advantage of the next 12 days to do all the Christmas things you didn’t get around to the previous weeks. It is still Christmas! Bake the cookies. Make the gingerbread houses. Do the crafts. There is still more time in this season.

Posted in From The Altar, Under Our Roof, With The Kids

Celebration: Advent Week Three Devotion

“Why the pink candle? The rest of them have been purple.” If your Advent candles are traditional colors, you might have noticed that there are 3 purple candles, 1 pink candle, and 1 white candle. You also may be wondering why purple and pink at all. Why not red and green? Historically, purple and pink, along with white and gold, are the colors of Advent. Purple is a color that represents royalty and preparation. It is dark and serious. Pink, on the other hand, isn’t so serious. It is a color of celebration and festivity. A color of love and youth. (And if your candles aren’t purple and pink, that is okay, too.)

The first week, we lit the candle reminding us to Expect the Savior’s coming. Last week, we lit another purple candle (maybe) to remind us to Prepare for the Savior’s coming. This week, we light the pink candle (maybe) to remind us to Celebrate His coming!

The Advent of Christ is cause for celebration. Yes, we prepare ourselves. Yes, this is a serious season. Yes, we need to search ourselves for any need of repentance. However, we also recognize that our Redeemer offers us life and hope, joy and peace! He has come, and He will surely come again to put things aright.

And so, in the midst of the preparation, in the midst of our busyness, in the midst of our reflection and contemplation, we take pause and remember that Christmas is almost here and Christ’s return could be any day.

This is no call to weep and panic; this is the promise of the One who longs to put things back together. As His people, we look longingly for the return of Jesus, and we celebrate His presence in our hearts, in our lives, and in our midst.

Scripture Reading:

        Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

        Psalm 126

        John 1:6-8, 19-28

        1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Optional Activities:

·        During this week of Celebration, my family likes to do an act of kindness for our neighbors. We bake cookies, lots and lots of cookies, and we deliver them to our neighbors with our warmest wishes. Some of our neighbors know us really well. Some know us as those Christmas cookie people. We just like to spread some joy during this week. Some people might think it is weird. Some cookies may go in the trash. That doesn’t bother me at all. We are joyfully giving.

·        Have a Christmas party! You could invite some friends, or you can have it just for your family. A special meal, a special dessert, maybe even some balloons. Celebrate the Savior this week!

·        Make cards for people. Send out some cards, not necessarily Christmas cards, though you could include the kids in sending those out. But just make some cards to spread the joy and happiness of the week.

·        Have a Christmas dance party! Crank up the Christmas songs and dance and sing an evening (or afternoon) away! Joy! Joy! Joy!

·        Do something that brings you joy. You can ask each member of the family for one special Christmas thing they love and try to make that happen. Or you can take your list from week one, the expectations, and see if you can achieve any of those. Some ideas to get you started, drink hot cocoa and watch a Christmas movie, drive around and look at lights, grab a peppermint latte from a coffee shop, visit a friend or family member, drop off some toys for Toys for Tots. Just something that makes you happy.

·        Remember yourself and your spouse. Do something for you. Do something just for them. They love chess pie, though you hate it? Make a chess pie this week. You love fancy nail polish? Go get a manicure! This is a week of celebration! Not just for kids, but for adults, as well.

Posted in From The Altar, Under Our Roof, With The Kids

Preparation: Advent Week Two Devotion

Advent is a season of preparation, so we shouldn’t be surprised to find this popping up as the focus of this week. Just as a family expecting a new baby finds itself in need to prepare, so also does the Church find Herself in need to prepare for the return of Her Redeemer.

Last week, we lit the first candle of Advent, the candle of Expectation. This week, we light the candle of Preparation. We expect His coming, now let’s prepare for His coming.

Before the birth of Jesus, the whole world had been prepared for the coming of its Redeemer just as Israel had been prepared for the coming of Her Messiah. Christ came as the fulfillment of prophesy and the hope of the nations.

Well His arrival certainly caught some well off guard (*cough* Herod), it was anticipated by those who took His Advent seriously (the Magi from the East).

As we prepare this holiday season for the coming of Christmas day, we should be sure to prepare our hearts and lives for the return of our King and prepare ourselves each day for His “surprise” visits in and through others.

What would it mean to prepare for the second coming? How can we see Jesus in others?

Scripture Reading:

        Isaiah 40:1-11

        Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

        Mark 1:1-8

        2 Peter 3:8-15a

Optional Activities:

·        In our house, the second week of Advent is the decoration week. We wait to set up our tree and hang our lights until this week. We prepare our house to remind us to prepare for our Savior.

·        Make ornaments! They can be simple. They can be complex. Make ornaments to prepare for the season.

·        Set up a tree in your kid’s bedroom. It doesn’t have to be big. Just a small tree they can decorate (prepare) themselves. A reminder in their personal space to make room for Jesus.

·        Continue discussing the second coming of Jesus. How do we prepare ourselves for that?

·        Discuss the way you prepared for your children to be born. For some, you may have had to buy things. For others, it may have just been retrieving things from storage. Share with your kids that preparation process.

Posted in From The Altar, Under Our Roof, With The Kids

Expectation: Advent Week One Devotion

We begin Advent with Expectation. Christ entered the world as Israel’s long-awaited Messiah and the long-dreamed-of Redeemer of humanity. After the visit from the angel, Mary, “the maidservant of the Lord” (Luke 1:38), found herself expecting a son who she was to name Jesus (literally translated is “Yahweh saves”), for He would be the world’s Savior.

This week, we are lighting the first Advent candle. This first candle is the first. The time we’ve been waiting for is here! We light this candle with the expectation of what is to come. Advent is here! Jesus is coming! We can expect great things this season.

God has always shown Himself to be more than capable to meet the needs of man. Physical needs, spiritual needs, relational needs, financial needs- He is able to meet them all. What needs do you have right now? Can you remember a time when God met your needs? When we look back and remember the faithfulness He has shown in meeting our needs, it gives us the hope and expectation to look forward to Him meeting our current need.

Someone once said quite simply, “Faith is expecting God.” This Advent season, what are you expecting?

As we await Christ’s return, we do so expectantly. As we live our lives till then, however, we should expect to find Him in the middle of them. If we don’t, we should pray that He would walk into our days and help us to have eyes to see Him.

This week’s Scripture reading is as follows. Remember to look the verses up and read them aloud as a family. If you are personally journaling through this Advent, these are also the verses for you to read, write, and journal.

Isaiah 64:1-9

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

Mark 13:24-37

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Optional Activities or Ways to celebrate the week of Expectation.

·        Give a small gift. I like to give my family a small gift at the beginning of Advent. Looking forward in the expectation of the Gift to come. But also, something to help them embrace the season. A child’s nativity playset, a book about Christmas, a Christmas movie, a new set of hot cocoa mugs for the family, a special Christmas doll, a Christmas sweater or socks. Just something to kick off this season with joy and expectation.

·        This is the week we break out all manner of Christmas things in our house. The Christmas music comes out. The Christmas movies reappear on the shelves. The Christmas books adorn the coffee table. The play nativity is set out. The Advent candles appear on the mantle. We don’t yet decorate, but we do break out the fun stuff. Just a taste of what is to come.

·        Make a list of what you expect this Advent. For kids, this can easily turn into a wish list. Try to steer them toward the more intangible aspects of the season. Time with family. Reading stories by the tree. Making cookies with Mom.

·        Have a discussion about Christ’s coming. I put this in the optional activities for two reasons. One being that smaller kids might not be able to really discuss. The other being that you yourself might not know what to say. We are not all well versed of prepared when it comes to eschatology. So, perhaps you want to wrap you head around it yourself this week. Or maybe you want to open the discussion with the whole family. My kids tend to surprise me when it comes to theological discussions. Sometimes they are heretics and need to be “smacked down” (that was a joke, I don’t actually smack them) when it comes to heresy. But they often bring up good points and questions. Look into it together. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Feel free to write your questions down and e-mail The Pastor or your pastor about questions you and your family might have. No one has all the answers. We don’t know all the ins and outs of the second coming. But that doesn’t mean we have to avoid discussing it. This week of Expectation is about expecting the coming baby in a manger and expecting that baby’s second coming on a cloud.

·        Write a story about your favorite Christmas memory. Share them with one another. You could do this on your own in a journal, or have everyone write about their favorite Christmas memory. I am always surprised with my kids’ responses to questions like this and they seem to enjoy hearing Mom and Dad sharing about their memories. You could also make a list of your top 10 or something if you’d rather not write every detail of one specific memory out.

·        Make a picture (draw, paint, color, cut out, art in some way) of you favorite part of Christmas. And I do this right along with my kids. We art together. The Pastor usually skips it, but I love it too much to let the kids have all the fun.