advent. {activities and readings}

The word advent means arrival.

The advent season for us, is remembering the arrival of Jesus and the hope we have in His return one day. So this Advent season, as we count down the days till Jesus' birthday, our goal in our family is to prepare our hearts for this amazing gift, our Savior, and to be purposeful with our time by spreading the life-giving aroma of Christ by serving and doing thoughtful things for others…and enjoying each other.

In the past, our Advent activities have been very full and very crafty. But now that my kids are getting a bit older, I feel like I can add in opportunity to bless others and lessen the amount of stuff we do that just fills time because that is what we are suppose to do. And let me tell you, we are only three days into Advent, and as much as we have enjoyed blessing others, we have been truly blessed ourselves.

Yesterday our activity was to create "kindness cards" to leave around our town that a stranger could pick up and find a little joy from it for their day. The girls created the cards, I wrote inside of them, and they each signed their own name. Lincoln's name was added as well, although this year he didn't have much say in it-ha. We prayed over each card for the person that would receive it. Then we put a small gift in it of $5, wrote on the outside "Please Take :)" and the girls chose where they would like to leave them around town. The kids anxiously wanted to wait around to see who would take the cards, but I told them that who ever did, they would just smile so big, I guarantee it, and then we walked away.

But you know what? God works in ways we can't foresee and imagine. Last night on Facebook someone wrote on my wall about their friend finding one of our cards at the grocery store! I would never have thought that we would find out who found even one of our cards. It was amazing to read how that little "kindness card" encouraged their day. And that stranger that received the card shared how they have been praying for our little Naomi since her diagnosis! And of course, since I'm a total sap, I cried heavy tears of joy knowing that strangers were praying for each other! Then it made me think about how our Heavenly Father thinks about us--when He does things for us to bring us joy and we show Him gratitude in return, I bet He cries tears of joy as well.

Today we made an assortment of cookies and packaged them up to deliver tomorrow to service people around town, we plan to hit up the fire station, the police station, our local Red Cross, and a local ministry.

Lincoln was napping, next year he will be able to take in more of the action. 
Not pictured: matching aprons and Christmas music blaring. 

I don't have plans to do an activity every single day, but I do plan on reading scripture every day. The kids are already used to the routine--right after lunch Audrey gets matches and lights our Advent candle that we lit on Sunday {and yes, she knows how to use a match, what the what} then they take turns getting the card out of our Advent calendar and I read or Andrew if he is on lunch break, while the candle burns, then we learn about our activity for the day. There isn't Elf on the Shelf  or a piece of candy every day or a crazy craft that we are doing. I'm keeping it simple because that's what I need. I know myself and I know that I love the holidays, but I also get overwhelmed easily and put this pressure on myself to do every single Christmas craft pinned to mankind on Pinterest. But this year, I'm giving myself a free pass. A pass to be. To enjoy. And do things, only, only if my heart is in it. Not because I see it plastered over social media. [And give yourself a free pass, not to use anything that I'm posting, don't feel obligated to do all these things, do what aligns yourself with Christ.] 

I had a few requests to share my activities that I plan on doing with my kiddos and the scripture reading I'm doing each day. I made a little print-out that includes the advent day, the scripture, and room to write in the activity planned. The artwork and scripture I found by googling it--so I can't take credit for it, and wish I could give credit to where I found it, but I honesty forget. Feel free to print out my scripture calendar and use! I made it so I can just print it out again each year to use.

Free Printable Advent Scripture Calendar

Here are a few more activity ideas that I will be doing with my kiddos: 
{And yes, some are crafty and not all about doing things for others, some are merely fun} 
  • make cinnamon ornaments 
  • caroling at a nursing home 
  • make a birthday cake for Jesus (Christmas Eve) 
  • decorate blank wrapping paper and wrap presents for family
  • catalogs & cocoa (look through the Heifer catalog, Compassion catalog, and Samartian's Purse catalog and choose a gift to give to others--all of these magazines I contacted the organizations and requested a catalog)
  • build a fort and read Christmas books under it
  • mail Christmas cards (have kids help stuff, lick, and put on stamp) 
  • watch a Christmas movie & make peppermint popcorn 
  • participate in Stuff-a-Bus or in Operation Christmas Child 
  • donate toys & coats to local shelter 
  • have a snowflake party {this includes a craft, a snack related to it, and a game, all of which I still have to come up with exactly-ha!} 
  • make gingerbread people

If you have any other activities that you are doing and are really excited about, I'd love for you to share! I'm always 'why re-invent the wheel' right?!

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