Why so early with an Advent devotion round up for all ages?
In just one week we’ll find our thoughts quickly shifting from turkey and stuffing to twinkle lights and wrapped gifts. Many of us feel a deep growing need to quiet some of the chaos and noise of Christmas in an effort to focus on the birth of Christ. We have used a variety of books and devotions over the years to celebrate Advent and today I want to share some of our favorites. And we have a sneak peek at a fun ornament set for the kids to make starting next week. So why share an advent round up for all ages today you ask? Why to give you time to order a copy for yourself and begin planning for your own family advent, of course.
Family devotions and activities with younger children
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They are no longer in print which makes them a little harder to find, but they are also cheaper than what we originally paid for them 15 years ago. She begins with creation and shares a daily devotion weaving the message of God’s redemption through Christ with discussion questions that help kids begin to understand why all of this matters. The activity book has daily crafts and projects to go along with each day’s reading. There are quite a few alternate activities included allowing flexibility based on your family’s schedule and interests.
Family devotions for Elementary aged children and up
Fast forward a few years and we found ourselves doing a read-aloud book many evenings before they went to bed. When Christmas rolled around that year, we came across a book call Jotham’s Journey by Arnold Ytreeide and we were hooked.
There are now four books in this historical fiction collection that center around children at the time of Christ’s birth – Jotham’s Journey, Bartholomew’s Passage, Tabitha’s Travels and Ishtar’s Odyssey. The best summary of these adventures is found on the back jacket of Jotham’s Journey …
“In one of the moset exciting Advent stories you will ever read, follow ten-year old Jotham across Israel as he searches for his family. Hold your breath when he faces thieves, robbers, and kidnappers. Rejoice in his encounters with wise men, shepherds, and innkeepers until at last he finds his way to the Savior born in Bethlehem.”
Bartholomew is a young boy in search of his family after being separated when Roman soldiers destroyed their village, and along the way, he meets Jotham. Tabitha is a shepherd’s daughter who spends some time with Zechariah and Elizabeth and also meets Jotham and Bartholomew. Ishtar is the son of a Persian wise man who is caravaning across the desert in search of a star with his father, and he meets up with the other three children.
These books are spell-binding and so well written, that many nights the kids couldn’t wait to get to bed to hear what was going to happen next. Some may feel unsure about the ability of kids to keep scripture and fiction straight; however, that was never an issue with our children.
Our oldest, now married, daughter saw the books in my room the other day and got so excited talking about how they were her absolute favorite Christmas stories we ever read. Needless to say, when the day comes that we add grandkids to our world, each family will definitely find a set of these under the tree one year.
Family devotions for young adults and beyond
As an adult, I have loved pretty much all of the devotions, Christmas or otherwise, written by Max Lucado. He has such a fresh view and a masterful way of painting word pictures that pierce straight to the heart and soul of life.
Another favorite of mine is The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. She is a very deep poetic writer so I find myself reading and re-reading her thoughts slowly for them to sink in. But when they sink in, it’s usually a vulnerably raw breath of grace and perspective. The purchase of her book also includes a code to download a set of ornaments to go along with the reading for each day.
A few years ago, I used those downloaded images to create some wooden ornaments that I hang on our banister garland at the beginning of December. As each devotion is read we move it from the banister to the tree. For me, it’s the first step of truly hearing and applying the scripture of advent to my heart, so it can become action.
Here are links to the resources listed above, as well as few more of our family favorites.
How about your family? Do you have favorite advent resources or traditions that you would recommend to others?
Next Friday, we will begin a weekly series with some basic ideas for a weekly advent time and a fun hands-on ornament set for the kids to create. I’m so excited about this I can hardly stand it! For now, I’ll just tell you that it will include downloadable PDFs, some scripture and song ideas and as much creativity as your crew may or may not choose to unleash. Oh, and some great artwork by one of my absolute favorite artists. Stay tuned, y’all, and I’ll do my best to wait patiently until then!