This week we have started our own Jesse Tree.... we downloaded everything from A Holy Experience. (Would you believe I didn't even know what a Jesse Tree was until just recently?!?!) I look forward to fully teaching the true meaning of Christmas this year. We have always been what you would call a "religious" family, but I think now that we have time with our children (through homeschooling) and are seeing so many of God's blessings on us, we have grown in our walk with God.
In my Christian upbringing, we were very subdued (I grew up Lutheran, and we are famous for our lack of evangelistic qualities). After I moved to the deep South I met so many people who were so open about their faith - it was comforting to me and gave me the courage to be more bold in my own faith. And yes, even the Lutherans in the South seem a little more bold to me. I'm trying to be more demonstrative about my faith, especially with my children. I have a long way to go, but that's the great thing about our walk with God - it never ends.
Back to the Jesse Tree devotions:
The reading from the very first day of Advent was this:
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him -
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Isaiah 11:1-2 (NIV)
As we are reading this week, we are taking the journey from NOTHING to the birth of Jesus. And that's what we would all be without Jesus - NOTHING. As I look around and see people scrambling to buy gifts, get their decorations up, mail their Christmas cards, I wonder how many of those people really stop to think about what Christmas really means. How many people are celebrating (in quite a GRAND way) the birthday of Someone they don't even know? How many years did I celebrate in this way? Yes, I've always celebrated the birth of Christ at Christmas, but I know many years it was all about Santa, the gifts, etc... etc.... It is my prayer that this year I can stay focused on the season of Advent, and on the true gift of the season.
In the car today running errands we were listening to Christmas music. The song, "Do You Hear What I Hear" came on. I love this song, and my daughter pointed out that this song "was actually about Jesus". What a keen observation on her part. I think we'd heard so much Rudolph and Frosty type music that she was just expecting more of the same.... and while I don't have a problem with non-religious holiday music, I want to be sure that there are more religious hymns and carols in our house this year than ever before. Here I was in my van, with tears streaming down my face - I guess because the true gift of the season really hit me (funny it was through the voice of Perry Como!).
I came home and found the very version we heard on Youtube. Listen carefully to the words.... I especially love the ending -
It also dawned on me that it's all about making OPPORTUNITIES to be peaceful and quiet to reflect upon the anticipation of this season. Do I reflect on God's word each day? Do I make time to be alone with God in prayer each day? Do I try to enjoy each day and just take things as they come, rather than being frenzied and short with those around me? A dear friend and I are sending emails back and forth during Advent to keep each other accountable.... today I told her I lightened up on the schoolwork (and if you know me, I'm really hard on myself and my kids when it comes to schoolwork!) and made preparations to have my sweet father-in-law over for dinner. He has been a widower for six years now, and the holidays are difficult for him. If my children learn a lesson in compassion through preparing for Granddaddy to come over, then I have done my job today.
This post is linked to Rebecca, at Mom's Mustard Seeds. Head over to her site and see what other people are saying about God's word today!