Category Archives: Holidays

Advent Devotionals: A [shorter] Jesse Tree

Children's Bible Study

Very, very rare (like, in this house, it’s maybe happened ONCE) is the year when the holidays roll around and everything falls neatly in to place:

  • Christmas decorations put up right after Thanksgiving (and all the boxes they spend the other 11 months of the year in are packed quickly and neatly out of sight until they’re needed to return everything to in the days after Christmas) so that we can maximize our enjoyment of them.
  • Christmas shopping completed early and gifts actually wrapped in advance of Christmas Eve and placed under the tree (with coordinating and thoughtful wrapping) so that we can enjoy the look of them.
  • Just the right amount of Christmas events . . . not so many that we feel stressed out, but enough that we feel we’ve spent quality time with family and friends and soaked in the Joy of the holidays together.

Instead, what’s more likely (in this house, at least) is a frantic rush to put the Christmas decorations up, usually much later than we intended. The boxes for said decorations stay in the Living Room for days (or weeks) until I’m at my breaking point and I find somewhere to shove them. Christmas shopping is frantic and stressful (and I spend December being thankful for Amazon Prime). Gifts get wrapped Christmas Eve . . . if I’m lucky. And, we run madly from one December event to another – school parties, play practices and performances, recitals, etc., etc., all while trying to fit in some opportunities to see lights, visit living Nativity events, bake Christmas treats, do a Christmas craft or two, and so on and so forth.

Sigh . . .

I really WANT this time of year to be slower and more peaceful. Usually, I do better than I’ve done this year. It’s been a rough year all the way around. Lot’s of different reasons – business craziness, school craziness, and just lots and lots of general craziness.

I’ve spent the last two weeks working H.A.R.D. at wrapping some things up so I can move them off of my plate. I’d like to focus on doing a few things well instead of desperately trying to keep a million different balls in the air. I’ve still got a ways to go, but I’m working on it.

iTunes-Cover-ArtAs a result of all the craziness, this is the latest in December we’ve EVER started going through our Jesse Tree devotional series. We just started today. We decided to keep it simple. We just pulled out our Bibles and pulled up the first two podcasts the kiddos recorded last year (when they were 7 and 5). And we followed along. And I’m SO glad we did. It was just what I needed this morning. Easy. And a great reminder of what I REALLY want to be focused on at the moment . . . and it’s NOT the boxes of Christmas decorations sitting in my Living Room that still need to be unpacked or the Christmas gifts I still need to buy and wrap.

And I thought it might you might be like me, and be ready to change your focus for the season, too.

If you are, and you don’t have time to make it through the full Jesse Tree devotional series, I thought I’d make it easy for you, and give you a shortened version. One a day for the ten days left before Christmas. Each one is around 5 minutes long. You can print off the guide and the ornament, if you like, or you can just listen in. Either way, I hope it’s just exactly what some of you have needed, too.IMG_2019

  1. December 15: Creation Blog post with podcast
  2. December 16: Fall Blog post with podcast
  3. December 17: Faithfulness Blog post with podcast
  4. December 18: Timing Blog post with podcast
  5. December 19: Rules Blog post with podcast
  6. December 20: Care Blog post with podcast
  7. December 21: Shepherd Blog post with podcast
  8. December 22: Humble Blog post with podcast
  9. December 23: Righteous Blog post with podcast
  10. December 24: Here Blog post with podcast

And, in case you don’t know WHY it’s called a “Jesse Tree” devotional series . . . here’s the Podcast about that:

Plan Blog post with podcast

Easy Halloween Decorating Ideas

Halloween Wall Gallery

So . . . this will, under absolutely no circumstances, become a home decor blog. Why? Because that is not my gift. I enjoy well appointed homes, and on occasion I do something around mine that I think is almost not embarrassing, but it’s only on occasion and only ALMOST not embarrassing.

Fall, though, I LOVE! And, honestly, I’m not sure you can really go wrong with Fall decor in general.  I also really, really enjoy fun Halloween decor. Halloween isn’t my favorite holiday, but I do truly enjoy the festive feeling of dressing up, and, especially in our current neighborhood, I get very excited about the community spirit of the night itself. We are SO fortunate to live somewhere that family and friends gather together around our neighborhood and enjoy each other’s company on that night. Several of our neighbors host hayrides through the neighborhood, s’mores roasting in backyards abounds, and we’ve even been known to set up hay bales and a big screen and show “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” for our children and their friends after we get back from Trick or Treating. Honestly, I just love it! I don’t even mind the “Big Kids” that come looking for candy. After all, you can’t really blame a kid who just wants to hang on to something fun from childhood, can you? Don’t we really all want to do that?

Since I know that Halloween can be a controversial topic among Christians, I thought I’d post this link to the What’s in the Bible blog. What’s in the Bible, in case you aren’t familiar with it, is the latest venture of Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales.  I very much enjoyed the balance in this particular post on the topic of Halloween.

NOW, back to my two favorite Halloween decorating items from this year!

Halloween Apothecary JarFIRST, the EASIEST of all . . .

What you need –

  • Fake spiders (mine came from the clearance rack at Pier 1 last year)
  • Spanish Moss
  • An empty glass jar




I love this, because it combines our family’s love of reading with decorating for Halloween.  A couple of years ago, we checked out this absolutely charming book from the local library –

Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kahara

It is just lovely. It was the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2008, it’s easy to see why. It only uses three colors and the lino-cut art is just simple and beautiful.  The story is charming, too! A girl (and her cat) move to a new house. She discovers that it’s full of ghosts. But, surprise, she’s a witch! So she catches them all, washes them in the washing machine and then puts them all to good use as curtains, table cloths, and bed linens.  It’s just absolutely charming on SO many levels. When we finished reading it for the first time, I looked at my daughter and said, “We should cut this up and put Halloween Wall Galleryit in our frames downstairs for Halloween! Wouldn’t it look great, there?” She was only about 4 and well-trained in the care and feeding of precious library books, so she did not AT ALL agree with my plan to desecrate a library book. She was somewhat mollified when I explained that I planned to purchase a copy for that purpose.

The process was obviously simple – take the book apart, lay choose the pages that best captured what I wanted on the wall (in terms of the art and the story), lay the glass from my frames on top of the pages and use and Exacto knife to cut the pages to size. Super simple . . . my favorite type of project.

Now we love getting it out every year, re-visiting the charming story, and then we get to hang it on the wall as something we can enjoy every day for a few weeks each year!

If you happen to love the artwork in Ghosts in the House as much as I do, there is a a simple art project at this blog that was based on the book: