Tag Archives: winter

Oh, the Joy!

Advent — our season of awaiting — is drawing to a close. This is the week of the joy, of the celebration, of the coming of our Lord.

color lightsOf light peeping through, shining in, blazing forth.

The illumination that helps us see.

That helps us see rightly our world, our selves, our hope.

Take a moment to breathe deeply and contemplate the beautiful truth of the Incarnation. Consider this rendering from The Message:

The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
 
the darkness couldn’t put it out.
 
. . . The Life-Light was the real thing:
 
Every person entering Life
 
he brings into Light.
 
He was in the world,
 
the world was there through him,
 
and yet the world didn’t even notice.
 
He came to his own people,
 
but they didn’t want him.
 
But whoever did want him,
 
who believed he was who he claimed
 
and would do what he said,
 
He made to be their true selves,
 
their child-of-God selves.
 
. . . The Word became flesh and blood,
 
and moved into the neighborhood.
 
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
 
the one-of-a-kind glory,
 
like Father, like Son,
 
Generous inside and out,
 
true from start to finish.
 (John 1:5, 9-13)
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Holiday Treats

color lightsThe holidays are a great time to make some fun treats with your kids . . . and gobble them up together! Here are recipes for 3 of my faves.

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Snow Ice Cream

(Excerpted from my book Faith-Filled Moments: Helping Kids See God in Everyday Life; Wesleyan Publishing House, with permission)

Ingredients

8 to 10 cups fresh, clean snow
1 14-oz. can Eagle sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

 Instructions:

Help your child use a measuring cup to fill a large mixing bowl with 8 to 10 full cups of fresh, fluffy snow. In a separate bowl, stir together the condensed milk and vanilla. If it’s not thinned down enough, add 1 teaspoon of whole milk and stir it in. Slowly pour the liquid into the bowl of snow while you gently stir it in. When it’s mixed sufficiently, serve it up in bowls with spoons and start eating. Yum!

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Microwave Manger Cookies 

(Also excerpted from Faith-Filled Moments; WPH, with permission) Continue reading

Advent Ideas

Advent may be my most favorite time of the year. It’s a time of darkness, shivers, and cold . . . but also of starlight, snuggles, and hope!

red berriesIt’s a time we focus on God’s amazing promises–on his plan of redemption weaving both subtly and powerfully throughout human history. It is the time we dwell in the beautiful truth: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2).

Do you desire to deepen your own spiritual experience of Advent? Or are you looking for ways to make it a meaningful season for your kids? Throughout this month I’ll be featuring a variety of ideas for you–spiritual encouragement, fun activities, and great resources you can use during Advent. 

This first week of Advent, let me encourage you to  zero in on God’s messianic promises in the Old Testament. Spend time in the beauty of words of hope like these:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this. 
(Isaiah 9:6-7)

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Stay tuned for 3 fun holiday recipes to enjoy with your kids… I’ll be posting them later this week.

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Also, if you haven’t checked it out yet, here’s a day-by-day devotional calendar I created for Today’s Christian Woman. This resource is packed with spiritual encouragement and some of my favorite ideas for marking the season with God and with those you love. Each weak of this calendar delves into a key biblical theme of Advent, helping you and your family connect with God in profoundly meaningful ways.

 

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In Dark Times . . . Praying For Light

It’s been a dark and difficult weekend as we’ve all sat numb in grief and horror, sorrow and shock. Words cannot adequately express the sadness for the victims of Friday’s tragedy.

When I am wordless, I often turn to the written word to guide my prayers. And this Advent, I’ve sought these words in Scripture and historical prayers.

One particularly meaningful litany for me this month has been whispering, contemplating, and returning to whisper again the ancient “O Antiphons.” These prayers from early Christendom — possibly as early as the fifth century — have been echoed by the saints, resonating through the years. They are prayers of yearning and longing; they are affirmations of promise and hope. Drawn from phrases in Scripture describing the Messiah, these prayers are traditionally prayed one per day on December 17th through the 23rd. I haven’t waited until today, though. I’ve found my soul’s rhythm in these prayers, focusing my heart on the Messiah who is light illuminating all the world’s darkness.blog.lightbulb

Journey through these prayers. Embrace their theological truth. Let them remind you of the ultimate hope that Jesus alone fulfills.

O Wisdom, O holy Word of God,
you govern all creation
with your strong yet tender care.
Come and show your people
the way to salvation
 
O sacred Lord of ancient Israel,
who showed yourself to Moses
in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law
on Sinai mountain:
come, stretch out your mighty hand
to set us free.
 
O Flower of Jesse’s stem,
you have been raised up
as a sign for all peoples;
kings stand silent in your presence;
the nations bow down
in worship before you.
Come, let nothing keep you
from coming to our aid.
 
O Key of David,
O royal Power of Israel
controlling at your will
the gate of Heaven:
Come, break down
the prison walls of death
for those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death;
and lead your captive people
into freedom.
 
O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light,
sun of justice:
come, shine on those
who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.
 
O King of all the nations,
the only joy of every human heart;
O Keystone
of the mighty arch of man,
come and save the creature
you fashioned from the dust
 
O Emmanuel,
king and lawgiver,
desire of the nations,
Savior of all people,
come and set us free,
Lord our God.

(Christians created these prayers from passages including Isaiah 2:4; 7:14; 9:2, 6–7; 11:1–5, 10; 22:22; 28:16; 33:22; 42:1–7; 60:1–3.)

10 Advent Observance Ideas

Looking for ways to observe Advent with your kids? Or hoping to do something new this December for your own spiritual growth? My good friend Joy-Elizabeth Lawrence and I put together 9 of our favorite ideas for celebrating Advent. You can find them here at Today’s Christian Woman.

The tenth? It’s an idea we tried for the first time last year with our kids. We helped the kids make simple Advent candles which we lit at dinner each night. It was a great way to drive home the idea that Jesus is the light we await in Advent.

We made them simply, using cardboard juice concentrate canisters for molds and crayon pieces to add layers of color. If you’re new to candlemaking, find very easy instructions here.

Treading the Dark Path

cold morning

It’s cold and dark these mornings.

Darkness, coldness — something our souls do well to remember.

What is it like to live without light, without warmth, without the illumination our spirits long for?

This is the posture we assume during Advent. We step into the shivering darkness of longing and the heavy quietness of waiting.

We plod into the groove tread by Christians centuries over: How long, O Lord? O come, Emmanuel!

Like weary travelers stiff on an age-old night, our eyes strain toward that glimmer, that pinprick of light. That candle in a window that means warmth and home, welcome and hearth. Continue reading