Monday, December 12, 2016

Advent is a time to Prepare Him Room

Summer and Fall just flew by and I had no idea how we could possibly be at Thanksgiving and now well on our way to Christmas, but you know what? Once I had a clear picture in my mind of what I wanted our Christmas season to look like and somewhat of a game plan to make it happen, it really seemed as if the days magically slowed. I feel like we have already fit it some really fun holiday activities, without being stressed about it, and we're only half way there! We made our homey and wonderful rolled beeswax candles to light up our Advent nights and the boys have really enjoyed getting to enjoy their handiwork while listening to our Advent devotional readings.

This year, we are reading thru Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus Family Devotional by Marty Machoswki. This slim but potent book has been a wonderful additional to our family time in the evenings this holiday season. It is broken up into the 4 weeks of Advent- there are three readings per week, which is actually a nice feature that allows grace for hectic days and I think makes it more approachable for busy families. The book starts with an intro and "how to use" page that goes over what exactly Advent is and how the book is set up to assist your family in making the most of this special time. Following this, is a tutorial on how to make your own Advent wreath. 

I appreciate that the devotions themselves aren't just simple readings, but very integrated lesson plans, really. Each one starts with a list of supplies needed to do the hands on activity so you can come prepared. You start off the devotional with some sort of short "warm up" to grab your kids' attention and act as an example later in the reading. Some examples are making chocolate pudding and looking at your little ones ultrasound photos. Then we dive into scripture reading and a "picture it" reading that leads us to dig a little deeper into the biblical text and helps kids to really picture what was happening. I have been really impressed with this part of the devotionals-they aren't just cliche thoughts on Christmas being Jesus birthday. Marty did a great job of providing some interesting and impressive facts from history and theology. I have been learning right alongside my boys and that is always a great sign of a true "family study book"! It has also provided some better answers to my little ones questions that have been organically coming up with Christmas approaching. I was pleasantly surprised to have our reading today dovetail so neatly with a question my oldest was struggling thru- how old is Jesus? 
Of course, we do make a big deal about Christmas being Jesus' Birthday and that he cane to earth as a baby, just like we all did. That coupled with the fact that my son just had a birthday last week and is very aware of ages right now, lead to "How old is Jesus?" I told him that Jesus doesn't have an age because he has been around forever, the same as God. He had a very hard time buying this answer since we have been talking so much about this season all being about Jesus' birthday-he must have an age?! The devotional today started with the Scripture John 1:1-5,14 where John writes that Jesus was the Word and He was in the beginning with God. I appreciated how Marty explains that the gospels of Matthew and Luke begin with a very literal account of Jesus's coming to earth, but John shows a different side of the story-as Jesus being the eternal Word of God. Marty explains, "When we think of Jesus, the Son of God, we think of his birth in a stable. But that is not really his beginning. Before Jesus was born, the eternal Son of God, whom John called the Word of God, lived with his Father in heaven. Then, when the time was just right, God sent his Son into the world as a baby...Jesus was Immanuel-God with us." I thought this teaching was so clarifying and a needed theological perspective to share with our kids.

(Littlest Boy helping with one of the lessons)

Next, we're given a few, simple follow up questions to help make sure kids comprehended the lesson and prayer prompt to use. To wrap up each devotional, a song is recommended to sing. I think it's so neat that there is a complementary cd to go along with this book, found here. This album is produced by Sovereign Grace Music and is just beautiful- my favorite Christmas cd of the year! Each devotional suggests one or two corresponding songs and provides the lyrics for them so you can sing along. 

A fun bonus to this already awesome book? There is a sweet, little Christmas story thrown in at the end of each week for some read aloud enjoyment! The story is called "Bartimaeus" and is about an orphan boy named Christopher who unexpectedly finds himself at the Bartimaeus House orphanage right at Christmas time and the new friends and adventures he encounters there. It has been a delightful little tale that seems a perfect fit for my little boys.

All in all, I have found Prepare Him Room to be a blessing to help my family savor a very sweet season, indeed. I would like to thank New Growth Press for the opportunity to read this wonderful book my boys and share my experience with you all. 

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