Saturday, November 22, 2008

Psalm 145 moments...

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;

his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation will commend your works to another;
they will tell of your mighty acts.
They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They will tell of the power of your awesome works,
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They will celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
Psalm 145:3-7

There's a sparkle to the Christmas season that jumps from generation to generation. Have you watched a child talk about Christmas recently? Put aside the grown up world of shortages of time and money and patience for a couple of minutes and go talk to a kid about the Christmas season. They start with a twinkle... growing into a sparkle... fanning into a flame... until there's a full blown blaze. It's an amazing thing.

As moms and grandmas and aunts and sisters, we have the privilege of sharing the true sparkle of Christmas. You see, kids will sparkle with whatever we get excited about. If we focus on presents, they'll camp on the Christmas gift list. If we delight in food, they'll clamber for cookies and candies. If we value family and friends, they'll jump at the chance to visit with loved ones. Yes, kids have the sparkle all right. But ours is the task of helping them sparkle with love for Jesus.

One of the best ways to share Jesus with a child during the holiday season is by making Advent calendars together. Of course you are trying to stay organized. Of course you are trying to get the house clean for Thanksgiving and the rubber-hits-the-road Christmas kick-off that immediately follows. Of course it will be messy and take twice as long as you planned. But this weekend, consider pulling out the pretty papers and markers and scissors and glue and for a couple of hours and sit down with a child and make an Advent calendar.

Our friend Heather sent the link to a wonderful online newsletter that highlights kids' crafts. Click here to see the issue on making Advent calendars with kids. The traditional lift-the-flap calendar style is just one way to approach this project. This newsletter gives some other... slightly easier (!) ways to celebrate Advent in a crafty way with kids.

What a wonderful opportunity to create and laugh and share your heart. In addition to the newsletter's suggestions for what to write for each day, here are a few more ideas:

* Have an older child share the Christmas Story, in his or her own words, in 24 sentences. Write one sentence for each day. As your family shares the Advent calendar together, read all the sentences to date and make an especially big point to add a new one each day until the story is complete.

* Have each child take turns making thumbprints for each day. Let each one turn his or her thumbprint into a unique little angel. Write a praise to go with each angel for each day of the season. Then you'll have a heavenly host singing praises in your house this holy-day season.

*Together make a list of prayer requests for people and events and situations that are near and dear to the heart of your family. For each day, write down a request per day and pray for it during family devotions. If you want to use pictures, digital photos or even magazine clippings work well as illustrations.

*Encourage serving with a happy heart. Title the calendar "To Show Jesus' Love Today..." and for each day write something that one member of the family will do for another each day of the season. Examples: "Kayley will read the Christmas story to Baby Alex," "Sasha will help Mom wash the Christmas plates," "Ben will help Dad clean out the garage," "Ella will make a special dinner for the family."

*On Thanksgiving Day, divide the number of days in Advent (24) with the number of people in your family. Have each family member write down that number of things he or she is thankful for. (Example: 24 days... 5 family members... 4 "Thanks" per person, plus 4 whole-family "Thanks.") In family worship each day of the season, read each "Thanks" and spend a few moments in an attitude of gratitude together before the Lord.

These are just a few suggestions. What works with your family? Try it!