Our Imperfect Advent

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Advent goes best when I keep my expectations low – that’s actually true of all holidays at our house. We’re one day behind on our Jesse Tree and Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas, and nearly a week behind on Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent. But it doesn’t matter one bit because Advent is a time to anticipate the coming of Jesus, so simply enjoying the celebration is enough.

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We’ve come up with a good rhythm. On school mornings, we gather at the table at 7:30 and read Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. The kids take turns adding an ornament to our Jesse Tree, which is a gangly  and rather large branch off a bush in our backyard. I found a tall, square vase at Ross and filled it with ornaments (Katie’s idea) and small white lights. Katie put it together one Sunday and we’ve enjoyed it every day since.

The ornaments we’re using are not the ones that come with the book, but are from a free download Ann Voskamp had on her blog a few years ago. Last winter when Hannah was home visiting, we printed them on cardstock and glued them to felt. I used them during our homeschool time to help the kids memorize the great people and stories leading to Jesus. We hung them on the branches of a metal tree I found at Ross and I was so pleased with the result. They could point to the ornaments in succession saying what each one represented.

Unwrapping the Greastest Gift comes with a download for ornaments that can be printed out and colored by your children (or you). I believe there is also a link to a free download of these ornaments you can access even if you don’t buy the book. I tried finding it this morning on Ann Voskamp’s blog, but wasn’t able to locate it. If anybody finds the free link (the one that doesn’t require a password), please share it in the comments. A Jesse tree is simple. Find a stick, put it in a jar, hang the ornaments and tell the story of who they represent – yesterday we read about Elijah.

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In the evening, after dinner is done and pajamas are on, we gather in the family room, turn off all the lights, light a candle, and read a chapter of Jotham’s Journey. Sometimes we can’t stop at one. The fact that we’re so far behind tells you what our evenings have been like. I have no doubt that we’ll finish the book over Christmas break, even if we finish it closer to New Years. Being on schedule doesn’t matter as much as enjoying the story.

All in all, our Advent is wonderfully imperfect, and just right in so many ways. If you have never celebrated Advent, or, if life is flying by and you haven’t started yet, it’s not too late. Find a candle, put it on your table, and read simple Bible readings leading up to Christmas. You can find some ideas in my post, Five Tips for a Joyfully Imperfect Advent.

Two more days and the children are on break. The big kids are wrapping up finals today and Russ is finishing grading his students’ projects. This morning is Eby’s school concert; he decided to dress up and even wear a navy blazer. It’s going to be fantastic.

Have a wonderful day, friends.

Lisa

 

This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

8 Comments

  1. Sheryl
    December 18, 2014

    We have been reading Ann's book …we used the free download in some years gone by…..I think I have cried every single day.It is beautiful. It is full of hope…..which I so need to see. We started late because I hadn't ordered it and read a few every day. I am going to buy them for families that we love for Advent next year

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 18, 2014

      Sheryl, I'm so glad you like the book too. It would be a wonderful gift to give other families.

      Reply
    2. Christine
      December 19, 2014

      I love this Idea- We have a few special families we do stuff for at Christmas, but My ideas are getting limited. I think I will give them there gifts next year early and make an advent box for them. Thanks

      Reply
  2. Noel Cordle
    December 18, 2014

    I needed this post today! We are nearly a week behind on our Jesse Tree and have yet to be able to have the family service lighting the advent candle each Sunday night as I had envisioned it because my three year-old is always upset about something and unable to keep still. Keeping expectations low sounds like a good plan 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 18, 2014

      Noel, I figure that anything we do toward Advent is good – even one night of Advent is better than nothing! Give your family (and yourself) lots of grace 🙂

      Reply
  3. Christine
    December 18, 2014

    This year for advent I had the kids decorate brown paper lunch bags, then we numbered them 1-25 I put little choc. in all but the last 7, because I ran out. My son was so cute each time we miss a day he takes that bag down and dumps it into an empty one. The first time he did it he said" Look a simple fix mom now we have something for number 20!!" Our advent has been far from perfect we did not start until day 7 because that is when I pulled it together- and we have missed a few here and there on game nights that we get home late. We have all enjoyed it and I am saving the bags for next year so I am one step closer. We are reading Finding God( in some of the most unusual and unexpected places). I am learning to find God in my crazy, busy and very unorganized life.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 18, 2014

      That is wonderful, Christine! Great job – and I love your son's attitude.

      Reply

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