As we head into the Christmas season we hope that we can all make the space and time in our hearts and minds (and yes, the physical time, as well!) to focus on what this Christmas season is all about. I thought it would be fun if I just took you through my holiday plan to prepare my heart for this season ahead! I personally find that during the holiday season I have to make a plan or things will just get pushed to the background of all the Christmas parties and holiday shopping and festive events that fill up my calendar.
Let’s Get Ready!
Let’s start off with a little reminder of what this season is about: “Advent” means the arrival of a notable person and that is exactly what we want to do as we get ready for Christmas! Just like if you had an important guest coming, you would want to spend the time getting ready for their arrival! That’s what I hope the month of December can be for our hearts as we keep our minds focused not just on Jesus’ arrival on the earth when he was born-but His future return as well.
A Heart of Worship
So, as I start the season off, I want to have a heart that is worshipful and a few years ago, I came across this Christmas album, Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship by Chris Tomlin and it has now been on repeat every December since. As the title says, it’s not your typical Christmas music, my friends! Instead, it is seriously Advent worship. I honestly cannot oversell this album to you! It has blessed my heart so much.
And while we’re on the topic of listening, I want to give a plug for listening to the Handel’s Messiah this season. Sure, it’s your more “classical” music, which might not be your style- but its straight scripture. Scripture that speaks of the coming Messiah. (Also, more on this a little later on in this post!) So, if you’re a little hesitant about this suggestion then just start by listening to the following three songs: “For Unto us a Child is Born,”“Glory to God in the Highest” and the famous “Hallelujah Chorus”. Preferably on really good speakers at top volume. IT WILL MOVE YOU. DO IT.
But worship isn’t all about music. As a family we make a special effort to come together every Sunday evening for the four Sundays leading up to Christmas to light a candle (if you want to go deep on this concept feel free to read all about it here and do what works for your family!) , talk about Jesus’ coming, sing a few Carols (ok, there is more music!) and pray together. It really is simple and yet so very meaningful. Turn down all the lights, and take a few moments to re-center on Christ.
A Spirit of Expectation
The holidays are maybe the best time to be overly prepared with a well thought out Bible reading plan. No one has time to waste searching around their Bibles for a good Bible passage this time of year! This is why I always like to pull in reinforcements during this season and order some of the great Advent studies available. Last year I did this one, “Hallelujah,” which is a walk through Handel’s Messiah (I told you I was going to be talking about this more!) and It was a lovely walk through the scripture of the Messiah.
This year I ordered a gorgeous She Reads Truth study which I know will be great. I’ve used both The Daily Grace Co. and also She Reads Truth and He Reads Truth selections in past years because they are both heavy on the Bible and point so Beautifully to Jesus’ birth and return (and aesthetically they come in gorgeous books)
But honestly, you can take the book of Luke-which has 24 chapters- and start reading backwards from back to front and by Christmas Eve you will have a beautiful reminder of who Jesus is and what He is all about!
*If you’d like to do this simple method, join me over on our Instagram stories December first and I’ll be walking you through some of my thoughts from each chapter!*
A Mind of Readiness
Ahh, I’m getting close to the end of my word limit here and I still have SO MUCH good stuff to share with you! For instance, this podcast “Good news of Great Joy” by John Piper (very short but really important meditations on Advent that are perfect for listening to in the car on the way to the store to that last minute present.) And also, this video by the Bible teacher and historian Ray Vander Laan is well worth the watch:
A Childlike Wonder
But I would especially be remiss if I didn’t touch on some great resources for our little ones! (And the young at heart.)
We have three children ranging from 8 to 3 and it’s important that we have “age appropriate” things to do for them. The good news is that there are so many great options now that really end up ministering to my husband and me almost as much as our children! First off, if you own a copy of the Jesus Storybook Bible (which you SHOULD! It’s truly beautiful) then you can download a gorgeous little free reading plan for your advent season for your littlest kids, right here. I definitely recommend it for your 2 and 3 year olds, but it almost goes without saying that this storybook is ageless and our whole family enjoys it!
But as they get older, our family has absolutely loved a series of Advent books by Arnold Ytreeide. We started with Ishtar’s Odessey when my oldest was 5 years old. It follows the story of a boy traveling with his father (a Wise Man from the East) as they search for a new king foretold by a star! It has a beautiful message of not being spoiled as well as telling the story of Jesus’ birth in such a striking way that even I was in tears at the end! We read Tabitha’s Travels this last year which we also really loved. And this year we’re on to Jotham’s Journey! Each book follows a different character but they overlap at various points of their story, which is fun and all end up together at Jesus’ birth (from different children’s points of view) so it’ll be cool to have another character’s puzzle piece fit into this great series! My kids could not be more excited to get started (this year Advent officially starts December 1st so order quickly!).
We hope at least some of these resources will be a blessing to you this Holiday season and we also can’t wait for you to share with us some of your own advent favorites and Christmas traditions that help you stay focused on Jesus! Leave us a comment below! ~
Bonus Points for anyone who has any short advent podcast for kids they can recommend!
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