Advent Ideas and 2 Gifts You Should Give Yourself

Books, family activities, and most of all the gift of grace for you this Advent season.

December 1, 2015.

Wow. This morning as I was having my quiet time, I realized this year has truly flown by. It feels like just yesterday I was sharing the 31 Verses to Pray for Your Marriage. We’ve got a busy week ahead, as I’m sure many of you can relate. Yesterday, in the email I sent out to all those who have subscribed {I really need a good name for you sweet friends who are getting my emails … any ideas??} I shared five ways I’m seeking to abide during this busy holiday season.  I’ve been teaching through the Gospel of John this fall to a group of ladies in my church and the concept of abiding has really settled into my heart.  You can definitely expect to hear {read} more about that in 2016.

As I was sharing my plans for this Advent, I realized there are so many different ways to prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christmas.  Today I thought I’d gather up some of those ideas for you all.  Now, I realize Advent technically started on Sunday and also that many of these ideas are designed to begin today. But can I just whisper this word of encouragement to you …

It’s okay not to follow all the “Advent rules.” You don’t have to do something every day. You don’t have to pick one thing and stick with it. You don’t have to make it a family affair. During this season of life, our schedule is ridiculous. For real. And yes, I could say no to cheerleading and it would free up a lot of space on our calendar … but I’m not going to do that for a number of reasons, not the least of which is our girl loves to cheer and I love to watch her do it.

So what if, rather than beating ourselves up over all we can’t do or don’t even want to do, we chose instead to give ourselves two gifts this Advent season?

In the midst of all the holiday chaos and frenzy, perhaps the best gifts we can give are to ourselves: the gifts of grace and space.

The Gift of Grace

I love what Myquillan Smith (the Nester) says about our homes, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” The same thing is true about your preparations for holiday season. You can miss a day or two (or more) of your Advent readings or activities. No one is keeping score and there is no award at on December 25 for the mom who did the most or the best. Rather than adding to the already heavy load many of us carry through this time of year, let your Advent plans be a place of grace.

What if we gave ourselves 2 gifts this holiday season: grace and space? Click To Tweet

The Gift of Space

I don’t know about you, but space—mental and physical—is at a premium this time of year. Empty spots now hold decorations and empty drawers are full of presents to be wrapped. And my brain is constantly playing a list of all that needs to be done. Advent, for me, has become about making space. A quiet spot each day of space to breathe in the presence of God With Us and breathe out praise to Him. One of my plans for this year is five minutes of quiet every day. For me, that will likely be in the car waiting to pick up my girl. No radio, no scrolling through Facebook, no reading on my Kindle. Just quiet. Space for me to be still and just know God.

Since all our families and circumstances are different, it’s important for us to tailor our plans to the reality of our particular situations and, perhaps even more important, to be flexible! The worst holidays are when I forget the plan isn’t the priority, the people are.  So, as you look at this list, please know I am in no way suggesting you do all (or even any!) of these … they are just ideas and places to start. {Please note, some of these are affiliate links. If you purchase through them, I will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you.}

The worst holidays are when I forget the plan isn't the priority, the people are. Click To Tweet

Books, family activities, and most of all the gift of grace for you this Advent season.

Books for You

God with Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas — My beautiful friend Kristin gave me this book in 2012 and I have used it every year. My copy is underlined and has lots of notes in the margins. This book also includes the history of the different feasts associated with the Advent season. It is my favorite.

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp. — Beautifully written in Ann’s poetic style, both The Greatest Gift and Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas are great tools for your Advent.

The Christ of Christmas by Calvin Miller — My grandmother suggested this book to me last year and I’m looking forward to reading it. Miller is one of my favorite authors.

A MOMent of Christmas: Daily Devotions for the Time-Strapped Mom by Anna Rendall — Anna is a beautiful soul and, as a mom of three little ones, she is well acquainted with what it is to be time-strapped. If you are looking for sweet encouragement that points you right back to Christ, this is a great book.

25 Days, 26 Ways to Make this Your Best Christmas Ever by Ace Collins — This is one of my husband’s favorite books. I haven’t read it but he uses it every year.

Here are few I haven’t read but they come highly recommended by friends: The Dawning of Indesctructable Joy by John Piper and Celebrating Christmas with Jesus: An Advent Devotional by Max Lucado

And if you are looking for just a good book to read through during the season, may I highly recommend The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs. So, so good.

The Gospel of Luke — As I’ve mentioned before, my favorite Advent practice is to read through the Gospel of Luke, a chapter a day. This morning began with the accounts of the angel’s visit to Zechariah and to Mary. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the beauty of Mary’s Magnficat. And there is a richness in reading of Christ’s resurrection on Christmas Eve I can’t explain. {Also, this month’s Prayers for Girls calendar is based on the Gospel of Luke. If you haven’t signed up, I’d love for you to join the almost 800 of us who are praying Scripture every day for the girls we love.}

Family Advent Ideas

Truth in the Tinsel by Amanda White — While my girl is too old for these activities, I have seen so many families share how this book has made their Christmas preparations more meaningful. Amanda is a former children’s pastor and definitely has a heart for children to understand the heart of Christmas is God wrapping Himself in flesh.

25 Songs for Christmas from Erin Mohring — Y’all, how fun is this! What a great way to introduce our kids to some fun Christmas music and songs they may not know. Erin is a former music teacher and has created 3 great printables for you to use {one of just sacred songs, one of just secular songs, and one with a mixture of both}.

Advent with The Jesus Storybook Bible from Erin Mohring — If you don’t have The Jesus Storybook Bible, you should get it. I actually use it regularly with my women’s Bible study class.  It is amazing. And Erin has created a beautiful reading plan with is for Advent.

Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide is the book by brother and sister-in-law have used for several years as their family Advent reading.  They have children from under one to seventeen so it’s a great resource for the whole family.

Advent books and ideas for you and for the family! Click To Tweet

Many families I know watch a different Christmas movie or read a different Christmas book every night.  I love that idea. {I shared some of my favorite Christmas books last year.}  I love that my friend Anna included a whole list of Advent calendars in her 31 days series this year … totally check it out. And speaking of that 31 days series, here is the index to every post in Anna’s 31 Days to a Less-Stress Holiday Season.  She has recipes, decorating ideas, planning tips, and more.

There is no perfect Advent plan ... as Elsa would say, "Let it go!" Instead, choose what works for your family and just point them to Jesus!

My friend Courtney DeFeo has some fabulous suggestions for getting outside your home.  Her Light ‘Em Up campaign is a real way to be light in our communities. There are so many ways to shine bright for Jesus — don’t get caught in the trap of looking for the perfect holiday and perfect Advent plan.  As Elsa would say, “Let it go!”

There's no perfect Advent plan. Do what works for your family and point them to Jesus! Click To Tweet

Here’s the thing: do what works for your family! Point them to Jesus and make memories.

xo,

Teri Lynn

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