Monthly Archives: November 2012

2012 Advent Week 2

Just a reminder, the second week of Advent is known as the week of preparation.  Light your second Advent candle.  The second candle is called the “Bethlehem Candle.”  God prepared the scene for the birth of Christ.  He had developed the plan and now he had to prepare the world.  He had the census happening and the star.  It was the perfect clear night!  And now this week’s activities will help you and your basket recipient prepare for Christmas!

Bible Readings–you can read these throughout the week and when you light your candle

Malachi 3:1-4
Luke 1:68-79 
Philippians 1:3-11
Luke 3:1-6

Activities

  • Read from a devotional.
  • Follow the instructions for projects on lifeteen.com
  • Get Tech savvy and  use your QR scanner with the Advent calendar from Adventconspiracy.com
  • Go to your nearest dollar store and purchase tea bags and mugs.  Write Psalm 62:8 on a card and attach it to the mug handle.  Give it to someone.
  • Find at your local hobby store (Wal-Mart has them too!) cupcake/cookie boxes.  Take some home.  As a family make cookies.  Fill the boxes and decorate them.  Add Philippians 4:4 or John 3:16 to the box.  All the while discuss why the Magi gave Jesus gifts.  Deliver your boxes to your dentist, doctor, or post office.
  • Read Ruth 1:22, Matthew 2:1-6.  Next get out the gingerbread house kit!  Explain to the family……Jesus was born in Bethlehem.  Bethlehem’s history is rich and its setting began in the Book of Ruth.  It was also the home town for Kind David.  Bethlehem means “City of Bread.”  To celebrate the city of bread, we are going to make Gingerbread Houses……
So come back on Monday for the 3rd week of Advent!!  See you then!  And hey….. enjoy your first Sunday of Advent!

 

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2012 Advent Week 1

We begin our Advent each year with our wreath.  It is the focal point of our season.  Our wreath becomes the centerpiece for our table.  It’s a daily tradition to openly discuss Advent and the celebration of Christ’s birth.  We have scripture readings and a small devotion each day.

If you are new to Advent you may be asking yourself……..

What Does the Advent Wreath Represent?

The most common symbol of the Advent season is the Advent Wreath.  It can be as simple or elaborate as you want it to be, but it will have 4 candles around the perimeter and if you choose, one in the center. The four candles represent the four Sundays or weeks of Advent and the center one is known as the Christ candle.

On the first Sunday, the first candle is lit and each Sunday following you will light the previous Sunday’s candle(s) along with the current Sunday’s.  The Christ candle is lit on Christmas Eve. The colors and the names of the candles may differ by Christian denominations.

Regarding the colors I have found 4 variations:

  • Four white candles and one red as the Christ candle
  • Four red and a white Christ candle
  • Four purple and a white Christ candle (these are the colors I use)
  • Three purple,  a pink (for the 3rd Sunday), and a white Christ candle

The candle names also vary but the one I have found in the majority is :

  • First Sunday:  The prophecy candle, with a theme of planning
  • Second Sunday:  The Bethlehem candle, with a theme of preparation
  • Third Sunday:  The Shepherd’s candle with a theme of sharing
  • Fourth Sunday:  The Angles’ candle with the theme of joy.

Think of the Sundays in these terms:  God planned for Christmas, then the prophets announced his plan, He made preparations centered in Bethlehem, the shepherds shared what they had seen and heard, and the angels announce,  “Joy!” To simplify:  We plan for Christmas, prepare for it, share it, and rejoice in it!

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 So, this year, I am taking things up a notch.  I am adding technology to my advent.  This is to include my teen and preteen…… keep them interested, if you will.

I will be pulling ideas from several different resources.  Like…..

 

1.  Messiah, Come and Behold Him   This is a little devotional book that my son’s Sunday School teacher handed out this year.  It has a devotional reading for each day of December.  My son will read his devotional to us each day….. probably at breakfast.


 

2.  Message in the Manger   This devotional is “Text” savvy.  There is a reading for each day and every few days a text message to send out to your friends.  I think my daughter and son both will enjoy sending the texts……me, too!!


 

3.  http://lifeteen.com/adventcalendar/  This website is for 2011 but the videos are good for this year.  Two guys give a little funny devotional and then a project for that day.


 

4. http://adventconspiracy.org/  Now this website is really cool.  It is the home for the video I posted yesterday.  There is a QR code advent calendar.  You just scan and then there is a video or a little something for you to do.  Again, technology!!  I think this is going to be really cool…..


 

Let’s get started on this year’s first week!!

Week 1

The first Sunday of Advent, December 2, is known as the Prophecy Candle which symbolizes God’s planning for Christ’s birth long before it actually happened.

God planned the birth of Jesus.  He picked the family and tribe in which he would be born.  He arranged the timing of his birth, the place and eventually Jesus’ death.  God has already destined Jesus’ second coming…. or second Advent if you will…..God announced his plans long before it actually took place.  Just like the second coming….. He has already announced how the end will come through the prophets.

Bible Readings:

Jeremiah 33:14-16 

Psalm 25:1-10

1 Thes 3:9-13

Luke 21:25-36 

Activities:

  • Read from the devotionals or do the Advent Conspiracy QR
  • Write Thank You notes…..as instructed on Lifeteen.com
  • On December 2, 2012, light the first candle and read Luke 21:25-26
  • Read:  Matthew 25   Plan a special gift for someone outside of your ring of family and friends.  Perhaps, it is the lady who checks you out at your local grocery store.  Perhaps, it is for a family in a homeless shelter.  Perhaps, you can contact your local school and get information about a student who needs items.  Or focus on a shut in from your church……and I don’t think you have to shower them with gifts…. perhaps just a little reminder that they are loved.
  • Read Luke 1:1-20. Have an envelope with a card in it….. the card will read:   What was it like for Zechariah to be unable to speak?  To help us understand what he felt, we are going to eat supper without speaking…. total silence.  There will be no talking.  His silence was broken only by prayer after his son John was born….. ours will be broken by prayer after we eat.    Then eat in silence.  After prayer:  retell Zechariah’s story.  Read verse 20.
  • Visit a local store and get an Angel Tree tag.  Make the purchases and make someone’s Christmas special.

Come back tomorrow for Week 2!!

 

 

 

Turning It Up a Notch

Can someone please tell me where November went?  I mean wasn’t it just yesterday that we had summer vacation?  This Sunday Advent begins.  I have planned Advent activities for the family for years.   And well, it was fun and meaningful.  But my kids are not “kids” anymore…..One is a full fledged driver license carrying teenager and the other is a preteen, right smack in the middle of awkwardness.

So now, Advent is gonna have to be turned up a notch…..especially in the activities area.  So, I really have to step back and rethink how we are going to celebrate Advent…..teenage style!

I don’t know…. maybe I am just being a little Bible thumping….. but is it just me  or has Christmas lost it’s worth?  Hang on…. hear me out.  Or better watch this little video….

Did you see how many 0’s were in that number???  My teens are at the age where commercialism and materialism becomes a focus.   In the past, I emphasized how to rethink Christmas giving……something homemade, recycled, or even limiting the number we shower our kids with to 3….. like Jesus received.  Yes, I threw a lot of Jesus in my advent planning but I never actually thought of the worth of Christmas.

What exactly is the worth of Christmas? Gifts? A meal?  Credit Cards? The best deal?  Or is it Worship…… worshiping Christ.  See when we go all materialistic we are robbed of our worth.  It becomes an idol, something we give power, other than God.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find myself only worshiping God in church.  That’s why we have Advent services in church and a Christmas eve service…… I mean that is putting Christ back in Christmas, right?

Ahem…..

So what does worship really mean to you?  That’s the real question.  I want my kids to understand that Christmas isn’t just a time of year but a lifestyle worth living.  I want them to appreciate, to have gratitude, and to see Christ around them….. to feel it and to express it.  I don’t want it to be watered down to just singing a few hymns and going to church so we can cross that off our to-do list……Christ in Christmas, CHECK!

Anyone with me? Isn’t it about time we put down the credit cards and pick up the idea that we are truly God’s servants?  I want my family’s worship, showing of  reverence, to be reserved only for Him……not long lines, wrapping paper, and decorations.

So, how do I do that?  Not put up the tree?  No gifts? Hmmmm….. guess I need to reevaluate what gifts mean to us.  Is it something or someone?  Is it a service or something to receive?  Is it filled with honor and gratitude or is it just something to give so we feel nice because it is expected?

I have probably thumped enough for today….. just think about what Christmas is worth to you and your family, and then come visit tomorrow for some ideas that might be inspiring…..

God bless……

Another World

I found myself in a place that I would not have normally gone.  I walked into a homeless shelter located in what outsiders call, “The Hood.”  Funny though, my grandmother’s old homestead was just a couple of blocks from where I was…. time hasn’t been so forgiving in that neighborhood.  As a child I walked those streets with my grandmother to the store.  Now, the street is lined with barred up or vacant stores.

It has probably been 10+ years since I have been in that part of Little Rock.  Strangely, it felt like I was going home.  Somewhere so familiar that memories flooded into my heart and eased my nerves.

For I was going on a job interview in Women’s ministry.  I looked at my surroundings as I parked.  People clothed in despair, addiction, and desolation walked toward the same door as I.

I asked God this morning for protection and for a heart of service.  I prayed that I would be the tool He could use.  I wondered if this was really what He desired me to do.  Especially after seeing the shape of this part of town has become over the years.  I just breathed the fact that I am the Lord’s servant.

Surprised by the bullet proof glass and iron barred doors, I tried to tell myself that I was nuts wanting to interview here.  In my little world, in my little community, many still leave their doors unlocked.  I was entering foreign territory.  It became apparent that I live a very sheltered life.

I entered through the once locked door.  A dear gentleman greeted me and showed me where to sit.  I sat there among the people I would be serving if hired.  I glanced around the small room.  I felt no fear.  My nerves calmed. I was sitting among people.

People who got dressed just like I did that morning.  People who have addictions and made poor choices…… as I have so many times.  People who are starved to know love and hunger for grace.  Those surrounding me were just people.  God’s people…… like myself.

I had a smile on my face from ear to ear.  I could feel God’s presence.  I felt His love for those in the room…. myself included.  I saw what God sees…..lost children.

Perhaps it was just me being “green” as my grandmother told me….. and sometimes I live in a bubble…..  but the feeling I once had when I was a young teacher, that feeling of wanting to make a difference swept across me and made my smile even larger.

The interview was not a typical interview.  The pastor’s questions were at times difficult for me to answer.  I explained that this world I had just stepped into was like nothing I had ever experienced.  I can not connect in terms of drug use or alcohol abuse.  Outside of a classroom, I have never had to write policies nor procedures.  My head swirled and my mind’s voice continued to say, “I am the Lord’s servant.”  Outside of a couple of credit card balances that I wish we didn’t have (not that they are an enormous amount), my life is squeaky clean.  He read a passage of how God’s servant should look….. I wanted to jump up and scream that is my family, my husband, my children, my world!  But instead, I fumbled with the words, “I will follow God where ever He sends me.”

I am sure the pastor thought I had no business being there.  My answers were not polished.  They weren’t even clear at times.  I kept thinking that we are all God’s children some of us lean on Him more than others and some of us make better choices.  Yet, I couldn’t convey that at all.  The man of God who sat across from me has more heavenly strength in his one finger than I do in my entire body.  Some would say calloused….. but I would say he had to build structure that is sound and clearly right.

God gave me a heart for people.  God blessed me with compassion for people.  Today, my eyes were opened.  I found myself wanting to make a difference.  I don’t know if this is where God wants me to be.  But, right now, I see the world a little differently.  Perhaps, that is what God wanted to show me through this experience.  I just know that I have been moved and in a way I haven’t felt a in very long time.

My heart and prayers go out to this mission.  If God opens the doors for service there, I will enter through it.  If all I am supposed to gain from this is the stirring of my heart, then today, I received a blessing and this determination burning in my soul for making a difference will be used in the area God requests of me.

For the message is the same on the streets, in the homeless shelter, and in the quaint little community I call home….. God is love and He wants us to lead fulfilling lives that demonstrates His love for us and through us.

God bless….

I Am the Lord's Servant

Mary uttered those profound words, “I am the Lord’s Servant….”  (Luke 1:38)

Her bravery shone through that statement.  A mere child she accepted a great responsibility because in her heart she knew she was the Lord’s Servant.  Something she didn’t take lightly or in flight.  She didn’t utter those words loosely.  She knew her role and stepped right up and accepted it…..without a doubt.

As my pastor spoke of her statement compared to today’s whirlwind life, I sat confused, uncomfortably confused.  I prayed throughout most of the sermon.  I expressed my confusion.  I told God I know what I am supposed to do.  I heard Him clearly and unmistakably.  Speak and Motivate.  I recalled the feeling felt when I stood in the pulpit.  Remarkably Right.  I closed my eyes as they filled with tears….. just as they are now.

And yet, I bake constantly.  My fear is that I am distracting myself from God’s call.  Yet, I feel as if God has opened many doors and opportunities.

And thus, my confusion.

I prayed and then I sought advice from Mark and my friend.  I prayed that God would speak to me through them and help me clear up some of this confusion.  If I am distracted, I want back on the right track.

I found…. Yes, I am distracted.  I have allowed time to slip by without blogging….. Ahem.  God never said I would be a “Women of Faith” type speaker and motivator.  I dreamed that…… and perhaps that will come later, maybe.  God has provided a monetary means with the baking.  Something I am thankful for and as long as I keep God centered along with the baking, I will continue to be blessed.

Then, my friend pointed out that I have been speaking and motivating.  I have taught classes.  I send inspiring prayers and messages to friends.  I am serving on a committee that will bring life to our church.  I have spoken at retreats and counseled friends with good sound Biblical advice.  In fact, a friend gave her testimony in Sunday School and it was a text I sent her that brought her back into His fold.

It hit me like a ton of bricks this morning.  I have been distracted with thoughts of grandeur.  It is in the little things where I speak and motivate. Funny how my confusion dissolved so quickly.

Then I heard the words of a former pastor, “It is a matter of saying Yes.”

So, I am the Lord’s servant.  I will continue to say “Yes” and not distract myself with worry and confusion.  God will place before me the path in which I am to serve Him best.  I am His servant.

Whew, what a load off my shoulders!  Amen!!