Friday, January 8, 2016

The Light Shines in the Darkness

We took this picture outside our house. I LOVE it. 
Among the gray clouds, there is a rainbow.


This captures my heart right now. Things are not bad. It's not stormy and black. My heart just feels gray today. But I know that in the middle of my gray, God is there with beauty. He reminds me of His presence. He doesn't wait until the gray has gone away, He joins it. And as He comes, the clouds will clear. Does everything become perfect and cheery? No, it just means He comes. And that with Him, we can overcome any gloom, gray or dark that the world throws at us. 


John 1:5
The light shines in the darkness, 
and the darkness has not overcome it.


Friday, December 25, 2015

Jesse Tree: Day 29, Jesus, the Gift of God's Love

Scripture: Luke 2:6-21 

Symbol: Star

Reading: Our waiting is over! Jesus is born! The star is shining, the angels are singing, the shepherds are worshiping. Our savior is here!
Mary was happy to have her beautiful baby, but she knew that not every day would be as special as his birth day. She knew that raising God's son was going to be a challenge. But for the moment she tried to enjoy all the amazing things that had happened.
When sin first came into the world, God made a promise. Even when the people forgot about God and the promise, God didn't forget about the people. God guided the people, protected the people, and loved the people, even when they were sinful. God was faithful, and today the promise is fulfilled.

Talk about: What is your favorite part of the Christmas story? 

Prayer: Thank you, God of the universe, for the most wonderful gift of your son, Jesus.

Activity: After opening presents, ask each child to tell what their favorite gift was. Ask them why. Then talk to them about how Jesus coming into the world was the best present we could receive.  



*The symbol and devotions are from The Reformed Church of America and you can use this link to find what I have used and more at their advent site. 

A copy of the directions to make your own Jesse Tree are here and the patterns for the symbols are here

To find a list of all the linked Jesse Tree posts click here

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Jesse Tree: Day 28, Journey to Bethlehem

Scripture: Luke 2:1-7 

Symbol: Donkey or Sandals (if using RCA symbols)

Reading: Sometimes taking a trip is fun, like when we go on vacation. Sometimes it's not so fun, like when we go to the doctor when we're sick. But usually when we're on a journey, whether a short trip or a long one, we experience something new. We learn things on a journey.
Mary and Joseph went on a journey. If we were to take the same journey by car it wouldn't take very long, but because Mary and Joseph were walking, it took a long time. They had to go to Bethlehem because the country's ruler said they had to. But it was all part of God's plan. That is one thing that Joseph and Mary learned on their journey.

Talk about: What new journeys or trips did you take this past year? 

Prayer: Guide our journeys wherever they take us, holy God.

Activity: Make a “stable” using blankets and chairs aka: a fort. Make it big enough that the whole family could fit inside. Read a Christmas book about Jesus’ birth together.




*The symbol and devotions are from The Reformed Church of America and you can use this link to find what I have used and more at their advent site. 

A copy of the directions to make your own Jesse Tree are here and the patterns for the symbols are here

To find a list of all the linked Jesse Tree posts click here

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Jesse Tree: Day 27, Joseph's Part of God's Plan

Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25 

Symbol: Tools

Reading: Yesterday we talked about Jesus' mother, Mary. Jesus also had an earthly father named Joseph, who was a carpenter.
God sent an angel to talk to Joseph in a dream. The angel explained that God had chosen Mary, and that Mary's baby would be very special. When Joseph woke up, he knew that he and Mary were a part of God's plan. Joseph knew that he would be a good father to Jesus.

Talk about: Name some ways that God speaks to us. 

Prayer: God who calls us, help us to hear your voice.


Activity: Joseph was a carpenter. As Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph would have taught Jesus how to be a carpenter as well. Have Dad show each child something with carpentry. Either sawing a board, hammering a nail or screwing a screw. Maybe work together to make something? Have your children imagine Jesus and Joseph working side by side. What are some things Joseph might have taught Jesus to make?


*The symbol and devotions are from The Reformed Church of America and you can use this link to find what I have used and more at their advent site. 

A copy of the directions to make your own Jesse Tree are here and the patterns for the symbols are here

To find a list of all the linked Jesse Tree posts click here

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Jesse Tree: Day 26, Mary's Joyful Heart

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38 

Symbol: Heart

Reading: God had a special job for someone. God was looking for an earthly home for baby Jesus. Jesus was going to need a mother who loved and trusted God. He would need a mother who was smart and strong and loving. God chose Mary to be Jesus' mother.
God sent an angel to talk to Mary. Mary wasn't sure that she could be a good mother to Jesus, but the angel reminded Mary that God would be with her. Mary knew that being a mother is a difficult and important job, but she knew that God would guide her. She also knew that she loved God and wanted to do whatever she could to serve him. Mary said yes with a joyful heart.

Talk about: Talk about some things that have happened to you or others that seem impossible. 

Prayer: Thank you, God, that nothing is impossible with you.


Activity: Go with mom into the kitchen and help make a special holiday snack. Talk about what it is like to have a mom and what kinds of things moms do for their kids. What things would Mary have done for Jesus?




*The symbol and devotions are from The Reformed Church of America and you can use this link to find what I have used and more at their advent site. 

A copy of the directions to make your own Jesse Tree are here and the patterns for the symbols are here

To find a list of all the linked Jesse Tree posts click here

Monday, December 21, 2015

Jesse Tree: Day 25, Preparing the Way

Scripture: Isaiah 40:3-5; Luke 3:15-16 

Symbol: Sandals or Shell (if using RCA symbols)

Reading: Elizabeth and Zechariah's son grew up to be John the Baptist. He was Jesus' cousin. God chose him to tell the people about Jesus.
John wanted people to know that Jesus is the Son of God, the savior that God had promised the people so many years ago. He wanted them to be ready to believe in Jesus. John wanted the people to remember God, and he baptized them in the river if they promised not to sin any more. The baptism reminded them that God forgave them for their sins.
John did not look like other people, and some people probably thought he was a little strange. But many other people listened to John, and they were ready to believe in Jesus.

Talk about: What do you need forgiveness for today? 

Prayer: Holy God, forgive us when we do things that displease you. Make our hearts ready for Jesus.

Activity: Get everyone together and tell them you are going to race. “who can be the first person ready for _____.” Have them race and then come back. You can do swimming and have them find a towel, or swimsuit. Soccer and they need cleats or a uniform. Bed and they need pajamas or a pillow. Play this as many times as they are still enjoying it.
Talk about why it is important to be prepared. God sent John the Baptist to help people get ready for Jesus. Many people came to John to be baptized, confessing their sins and preparing their hearts for Jesus. During this advent, what do we need to be doing to prepare our hearts for Jesus’ coming?



*The symbol and devotions are from The Reformed Church of America and you can use this link to find what I have used and more at their advent site. 

A copy of the directions to make your own Jesse Tree are here and the patterns for the symbols are here

To find a list of all the linked Jesse Tree posts click here

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Jesse Tree: Day 24, Sharing What God Has Done

Scripture: Luke 1:5-25

Symbol: Zechariah or Man & Woman

Reading: Sometimes even good people have prayers that are not answered. Zechariah and Elizabeth honored God, and God loved them, but they did not have a child. One day while Zechariah was working in the temple, an angel brought him a message from God, saying that he and Elizabeth were going to have a very special son and his name was going to be John.
Zechariah wasn't sure he believed the angel, and so God took away Zechariah's voice as a sign of God's power. Imagine if you had seen an angel who had told you wonderful, happy news, and you weren't able to tell anyone what had happened! Zechariah was sad to have lost his voice, but he was happy to know that he would have a son chosen by God to do important work.

Talk about: How can you tell others about what God has done for you? 

Prayer: Almighty God, give us the courage to tell everyone about your good works.

Activity: We look at pictures of family and friends who are not with us. Talk about how important they are to us and how we miss them. Pray for them. Remember the story of how Zechariah and Elizabeth wanted a family. Praise Jesus for the family we have and thank him for the people he has surrounded us with.




*The symbol and devotions are from The Reformed Church of America and you can use this link to find what I have used and more at their advent site. 

A copy of the directions to make your own Jesse Tree are here and the patterns for the symbols are here

To find a list of all the linked Jesse Tree posts click here