Sunday, November 3, 2013

Guest Post: Christ As the Center of Christmas (from Heart FELT Truths)

The post below is written by Whitney from Heart FELT Truths.  In September, Whitney shared with us about her beautiful Advent Calendars.  This month, Whitney is sharing with us about keeping Christ as the center of Christmas.  If this is your family’s goal, I think you will truly enjoy her post!  - Dawn

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Last month here at “Our Little Monkeys” I sponsored a giveaway and wrote a guest post introducing you to myself, my business (Heart FELT Truths), and my Advent Calendars. I also threw in some ideas about how felt might be a useful tool for your school activities. Today I am sharing one more guest post with you about something I know many of us will have in common: making holiday traditions special and Christ-centered.

My first child is approaching his sixth Christmas outside the womb. I remember struggling even before his arrival with how to handle the holidays. Christmas and Easter were such important spiritual celebrations, but I couldn’t figure out how to make them meaningful in a way that pointed all of us toward Jesus. Traditions are wonderful, but I wanted to make sure that some of ours would clearly pass down the greatest truths I want my children to cherish.

Enter Treasuring God in our Traditions

(You can order the full hardback or save yourself some money and download the entire PDF for free from Desiring God!).

This wonderful book by Noel Piper really helped me understand family traditions better and gave me a springboard for developing and incorporating them into our daily life-both on the every days and the especially days. You can check out my review of the book in more detail here.

One of Noel’s Christmas traditions included an advent calendar. There are many kinds. Growing up we had a cloth one with little pockets. A small mouse nestled in the pocket and we took turns moving him each day as we counted down to Christmas. Some are disposable with little punch out boxes. Others have places to store chocolates and small surprises. Noel’s calendar-winsomely called the “Noel Calendar”- used 25 different nativity pieces. Each one was added to the calendar to create a nativity scene. Simple enough, but making it even better, each piece corresponded to a line retelling the Christmas story. Over twenty-five days, the repetition allowed participants to memorize the story and the Scripture verses cited in it.

But, alas.

The Noel Calendar had been discontinued for several years. I set out to design something similar using my own story. The calendar was so well received by my toddler, and brought so much meaning to our Christmas celebrations that I began sharing my patterns for free online…which led to selling completed calendars….which led to making diy kits…. which led to making an Easter product. [You never know where the Lord will take you with these little ideas!]

One thing my mom exemplified in our family traditions was that she allowed them to change each year. I know that sounds antithetical to the idea of a tradition, but traditions really do grow, evolve, and disappear as new ones take their places. I know that this simple tradition we have is geared toward young children and may change or be replaced in the years ahead, but while it is here, it provides my family a daily opportunity to pause and remember the true meaning of Christmas. I encourage you to take time now, before yuletide is already upon you, to stop and ponder how you can reflect on and cherish Christ this coming Christmas season with your family. What did you do last year that helped your family focus on Jesus? Maybe it can look the same this year, or maybe you will need to readjust. What traditions did you see others using that you would like to try? What will help your family appreciate the miracle of Christ’s incarnation, and extend His love to others? I hope some of you will share your favorite Christ-centered traditions in the comments!

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