Sunday, January 15, 2012

John 3:16

I just LOVE Christmas time!  Not only Christmas day, but the whole season!  I love the lights, the decorating, the smells, the music, thinking of special things to buy or make for loved ones....okay, not so much the shopping part, but just the Spirit of the Season!   It is a time that we can enjoy with family and friends, reach out to those in need, and the underlying purpose is to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ!  Yes, there is chaos amid the fun...financial blah, crowds and deadlines,...but you can evade reality for moments in the season and just enjoy!

God's Christmas GiftI wanted to make sure our kids didn't get caught up in the commercialism of Christmas this year (and every year).  After we pulled all our decoration goodies out of the attic, I sat down with the girls and read a fun story to kick off our holiday fun.  I picked up this book several years ago and we use it to replace our usual Bible stories at bedtime reading during Christmas.  It is the narrative of a Grandmother telling her grandchildren about the greatest gift...and you have to see for yourself, but it's adorable!  Ha! I just had a flashback to Reading Rainbow--"but don't take my word for it".  Showing my age here, but I digress. ;)  For the weeks following, we decorated, baked, made lots of fun crafts and saw tons of lights!  The girls even had an incredible opportunity to truly give and learn first-hand how it feels to be able to bless someone.

In the midst of all of this we still occasionally lost sight of the "reason for the season" with bickering and some greediness.  So I taught the girls John 3:16.  They recited it on cue whenever I would randomly ask, "why do we celebrate Christmas girls?"...they would answer, because it's Jesus' birthday!!  I want them to understand from the Word of God why God's Gift to us was so special, not just because Mommy and Daddy said so.  And that is something they are learning on their own--it's a heart thing! We can encourage and
teach them, but ultimately they will give their little hearts to the Lord on their own time, as Abby did almost a year ago (Change of Seasons).  The video on the left was aired during a football game on Saturday night.  I was in awe as I watched the Word of God proclaimed so vibrantly on public television!  My sister-in-law helped me find the video of it, because I wanted to show the girls.  They made me re-play it six times!

Abby just celebrated her 6th birthday and our gift to her was a Bible and personalized case to carry to big-kids church.  The first thing she did was look up John 3:16...and she has looked it up dozens of times since and read and read it over and over.  This morning on the way to church as she was reading it in the car, she asked "why does it say that?" and she read it out loud. "Why does it say 'you will not die but have eternal life'?--Great Grandpa died" she said.  That's a tough one to explain, but she's been asking questions like this since she was three!  I explained to her about our physical bodies and our spirit and how we buried Great Grandpa, but his spirit is with Jesus because he gave his heart to the Lord.  I love her heart and desire to learn and truly understand more about the Jesus!  

The pop-up nativity
On Christmas morning we always begin by reading the Christmas story from the Bible and praying together before we open any gifts.  This is a tradition that came from my family that I love, along with cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate,...because it helps us stop and first remember WHY we are exchanging gifts.  It also puts an emphasis on GIVING rather than RECEIVING.  When I bought the book I mentioned before, I also found this beautifully illustrated book that shows "the Story of Christmas" directly from the Luke 2 and Matthew 2.  It has pop-up pages and gorgeous illustrations by John Walker.  I highly recommend this book if you have little ones and also share this tradition or would like to start doing so next year.  So in the middle of the Santa hype and festivities of Christmas, we always brought it back to WHY we were having so much fun and WHO we were celebrating.  John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."  That is what makes Christmastime so special to me.

I'll share a few pics from our holiday below:
Pinterest made the holiday a little extra fun--handprints of my little ones.
Our 3 loves!
Where's Wesley?
Praying before we open gifts at Granny & Grandaddy's house
Abby and Katie with Great Grandma
Wesley with Great Grandma
Daddy reading the Christmas Story

Awesome Braves Rocker from MeMe and PaPa
One picture to prove I was there too. ;)
Sleep-eyed girls with their American Girl Dolls
Never a bad picture of my boy
Wesley playing in the giant box in the aftermath of Christmas 2011


I hope you all have a blessed New Year!

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