Day 3 - The Fall
Read Genesis 3:6-15.
What we read today was a sad moment for all of mankind. God cared for and provided for His people; He never lacked anything. He loved them with a love that is far better than any kind of love you or I have ever experienced from another person. But humans are weak and Adam and Eve were deceived. They thought they needed more. Don’t we do the same? And their consequences were serious. Sin and death entered into the world and every single person is affected by it, even from before we are born! It’s like there was a really amazing domino display, and one act of disobedience toppled all of them down.
Then something shocking happened! When God cursed the serpent who tempted Adam and Eve, did you notice that He also made a promise full of hope for mankind? Verse 15 says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Even the very first people God made were looking forward to the coming of Jesus. They didn’t know much about Him at all, but they knew that God promised someone would come and destroy Satan, even if it meant being harmed himself. We know that this Someone is Jesus!
Romans 5 helps us understand this a lot better. “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous” (vses 18-19.) It’s like Jesus somehow undid the toppled dominos. It’s like a house was burned down but He was able to put it back together. But what Jesus actually accomplished is so much more impressive than either of those things: by His one death and resurrection, He removed the curse of sin and death for all who would believe in Him! He is sometimes called “The Second Adam” because He, like Adam, did something that affected many, many people. However, unlike Adam, instead of bringing death to the human race He conquered death and provided eternal life! Praise Jesus!
Read Day 1 here.
Read Day 2 here.
ornament made by my friend Heidi; basket of apple decorations miraculously found at yard sale
Advent Devotional Day 2 - Creation
Read Genesis 1:1-5; 26-27.
Have you ever wondered why God even made the world? There used to be nothing, but then He decided that He would create something. And something huge. Some people spend their whole lives traveling the world, but it’s impossible to ever see all of it. Really smart people have been studying science for a really long time, but there are still so many mysteries. They don’t know how big outer space is or what’s out there. They can’t even figure out exactly why we sleep! No one was asking for such a vast and beautiful universe—there wasn’t anyone who could ask for it!—but God decided to create it. And He didn’t stop there! He chose to make people in His own image.
So why did He make us? Isaiah 43:6b-7 says “Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by My Name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made.” God made us to celebrate how great He is! This might seem selfish or prideful, but considering that God is infinitely great, He is kind to let us enjoy Him.
Have you ever seen a breathtaking natural wonder such as the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls? Why do people visit places like that? We love to be in awe. God made us to desire to be in awe of something greater than us, and it’s so wonderful that He draws us to Himself and lets us know Him so we can be in awe of Him.
Did you notice that Genesis 1:26 says “Let us make man in our image”? Even in verse 2 we saw the Holy Spirit had a part in creation. But now we see another hint that God is three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Later in Colossians 1 we learn that all things were made through Jesus and for Jesus. Sometimes we think that Jesus only showed up on the scene 2000 years ago, but Jesus helped make the world! Praise Jesus that He is Creator and God!
Read Day 1 here.
geographically-accurate ornament made by my friend Kayla
One of my favorite books as I learn to become an effective culture-maker in my home is Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noël Piper. When I read it several years ago I was struck by the idea of making a Jesse Tree, which basically uses symbols as ornaments to show my kids the story and/or attributes of Christ all the way through the Bible. This year I finally did something about it and organized a co-op in which myself and some of my friends made 15 copies of 2-3 different ornaments, then we had a party and took one of each ornament so we each had a complete set (and had some sets to give away as well.) There is an ornament for every day of December, beginning with Genesis on Day 2 and going all the way through to Revelation.
I also wrote a devotional, for my own benefit primarily, and I figured I would share it on my blog.
Here is the full 14-page PDF but it's not proof-read yet so I will be doing that as I post it each day ;)
Here is day 1:
Day 1 - Introduction to Jesse Tree
Read Isaiah 11:1-10
Symbol: Stump with Shoot
Christmas is coming soon! It will be here before we know it. Though we have 25 more days of waiting to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the people of God had been waiting for thousands of years before He finally came to earth to die for our sins, rise again, and bring us back to God. God promised a Savior earlier in the Bible and more frequently than you might expect, and the Word is filled with prophecies and expectations that all point to Him.
To get our hearts focused on Jesus, we are going to use a Jesse Tree. Every day we will put a new ornament on the tree that symbolizes a person or event in the Bible that talked about Jesus before anyone even knew what His name would be. Hopefully through this study we will love Jesus more deeply and see how the Bible is one big beautiful story that even involves you and me. The Bible contains 69 books written by more than 40 authors over a period of 1,500 years, but the whole Book tells one story. In Luke 24:27, Jesus was talking to some of His disciples, “and beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” He started at the beginning of scripture and went all the way through to the end and showed his friends that He was in all of it!
As we read in Isaiah 11, Jesus was like a green plant shoot coming from a stump of Jesse. Tree stumps are usually a sad thing to see because it means there used to be a great tree, but it has now been torn down. Israel was once a great nation, and David (the son fo Jesse) was one of their most famous kings, but there came a time when their sin destroyed them and Israel became almost nothing. But God promised to a hurting people through the prophet Isaiah that there would be something green and alive coming from a stump…He hasn’t forgotten His people and He will bring something even better: His very own Son.
Jesus would come from a long line of people—many of whom made huge mistakes!—including King David, and his dad Jesse. Jesus chose to come as a shoot, a little acorn sprout—a little baby. Let’s fall in love with Jesus more and more as we see how the Bible tells His story.
ornament by my friend Whitney
Here are some lovely moments, tough lessons, and cute pictures from this past month!
At the beginning of this month, we went camping at Sebastian Inlet State Park on the east coast of Florida. We felt like we had the beach all to ourselves, and the crashing waves were incredible reminders of God’s power. Peter and I enjoyed sitting by the campfire after we put the kids to bed. He knows how to make the perfect golden marshmallow, and I discovered that roasting grapes is a terrible idea. But we're really terrible at making time to just sit together, so it was nice.
In Vero Beach, we visited an art museum, which was a fantastic experience. There are so many good reasons to take your kids to art museums. We’re built to behold.
Stephen started a leaf raking business and a foot massage business, and it’s been adorable. He uses his income to pay his employee (Piper, who spends her money buying foot massages), re-invest in the business, and buy craft supplies and gifts for others. It’s all quite adorable and I love it.
Evey turned one and has been such a delight. Piper has made noticeable progress in her personal maturity and the kids have been a joy overall.
What I Learned:
Whelp, we elected a new president. When I told Stephen the results, he said, “Uh-oh.” I asked him what he would’ve said if Clinton won and he said “Uh-oh, too.” He gets it. Either way, America has lost. Sad day. We’ve been learning about the Roman Empire in homeschool, and it’s been crazy watching even the strongest, biggest empires fall and become almost-forgotten ancient history. I’m not saying that America is an empire, but this awful election combined with studying world history has really tested whether I think this world is it, or if I really do believe there’s an everlasting kingdom coming someday where truth and righteousness reign. I have great reason to believe the latter and I must never forget it!
Peter strongly encouraged that I hire a bi-weekly housekeeper, and I’ve been very troubled every time I’ve considered this in the past. I have a lot of stigma associated with hiring a housekeeper (much of it probably as a result of the movie “The Help”) and I kept telling myself “I should be able to do it all.” The reality is, however, at least at this point, that I cannot. So having someone come every other week to do some deep-cleaning has been a tremendous, albeit humbling, blessing.
I also learned that I have become far more materialistic than I realized. I have accumulated so much stuff. Just because something would be awesome for me doesn’t mean that it is awesome for me. I have enough stuff to live multiple full lives, and yet I’m finding my own life to be chaotic and unpeaceful. So I’ve begun to do a lot of purging and a lot less buying. Last night I stayed up till midnight going around the house filling garbage bags with anything we don’t love, and I’m hiding the bags for a month to see if we actually miss any of it. I’ve even been using grocery shopping excessively, which resulted in a pantry-cleaning marathon that looked like this:
It’s been a humbling month. I’ve seen aspects of my character that were even worse than I imagined. I had a conversation with a friend that lasted many hours and over which many tears were shed, but through her, God poured out so much wisdom into me and I saw so many ways in which I desperately need to change.
I quit Facebook a couple weeks ago and it has been so liberating! I’ve gone through a bit of an identity crisis (I have all these sweet moments and nobody will ever hear of them!) but it’s made me question whether I really believe that faithfulness is profitable. If I pour myself out for those who are actually in my life, I can still have a life full of meaning, right? Um, duh! So it’s been great not feeling angry, jealous, annoyed, self-righteous, or insecure every time I get on my phone.
Behold the Lamb of God by Andrew Peterson - Rich, original songs from Old Testament to new celebrating Christ. Love, love, love.
A Slugs and Bugs Christmas by Slugs and Bugs - Half the album is full of goofy, fun songs, and the other half is meaningful and still kid-friendly.
I’m still trekking through the Bible. I’m not going to finish it this year (bummer!) but I think I’ll finish the OT this week. It’s been a goody study. Nahum surprised me some really potent stuff:
Who can stand before his indignation?
Who can endure the heat of his anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire,
and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.
The LORD is good,
a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he knows those who take refuge in him.
But with an overflowing flood
he will make a complete end of the adversaries,
and will pursue his enemies into darkness.
(Nahum 1:6-8 ESV)
Stuff I Wrote:
Things I Love About Evangeline, Year 1
9 Ways Social Media is Hurting Me
When You Give a 4-Year-Old a Nikon...
Meaningful Presents for Anyone That You Can Order Online
And now for a picture of my cute Piper:
No parent is excited about giving their kids the latest pricey plastic toy that will get old after a month. No spouse gets pumped up about buying socks or spending loads of cash on a needless toy helicopter. And by buying our families worthless junk they feel entitled too, we're unknowingly robbing from their joy as well. So I beg you to go against the grain and buy your loved ones something meaningful. These are all my hand-picked favorites that I personally own and love. (And I'm not getting paid for this post! These are truly just my favorite things.)
For young children:
Elephant Pants (approx $8/pair on clearance) - My kids love how comfy these pants are, and I love that the elastic fits them no matter how big they are. Plus it's easy to find a matching pair for you! Sign up for their emails so you get notified of good deals. I'm expecting some awesome sales on Black Friday.
Miracle Maker DVD ($5-6) - This is an extremely well-made claymation story about the life of Jesus, which sounds boring and potentially irreverent, but the art is breathtaking and the script sticks to the Bible well. They even portray Christ's agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. My kids reference this movie all the time when we're talking about Jesus and it's so good for all of us.
Water WOW Books ($4-5) - These are made by Melissa and Doug and the most compelling aspect for me is how reusable they are. When you paint the black-and-white thick-cardboard pages with water, they quickly come to life with color, but as they dry the color wanes and they're ready to be re-used. These are great for road trips too.
Usborne Shine-a-Light Books ($13) - I've never seen a book like this but I've bought four; watch a video demonstration here. You use a flashlight to shine through the book and it shows you hidden images. It's seriously awesome and even educational. It hurts for me to pay that much money for a children's book, but I've found that almost all Usborne books are worth the money (plus I've been able to find most of the older books used for $3.50 on Thriftbooks.)
Any resource I already recommended here.
For mid-aged kids:
The Hobbit: Illustrated Edition ($14 but I bought mine at Sam's Club for $8) - If you want to introduce your kids to Tolkien before they're ready for the full saga, this book is an amazing tool. As a graphic novel it is faithful to the original text and illustrated skillfully. Peter reads it to our kids at bedtime and they're absolutely captivated.
The Journey - This is a well-made album by Seeds Family Worship that has lyrics completely drawn from scripture. These songs---in style and in subject matter---are a little more suited towards older children than the other CD's, but I listen to all of these by myself regardless of kids.
Usborne Sticker Dressing books ($5-7+) - These are so well-made and even educational. Your child will love the illustrations and helping dress up the characters. I have the Explorers book so my kids dress up the likes of Leif Erickson and Ferdinand Magellan, and it's grand. You can buy these books from a rep or get them cheaper through AbeBooks.
Quality watercolor paints - Those Crayola paints and paintbrushes are a joke! If you buy your child (even a 4-year-old) some quality brushes and good paint, it can be surprising how much your child's creativity and self-confidence soars. You can buy a nice set like this one for $20 that includes a water brush, or buy the kind of watercolor paints that you squeeze onto a palette and let dry (this one is $10). The latter is better if you don't trust your child that much and you're afraid he or she will mix the colors.
The Wingfeather Saga Audiobook - Andrew Peterson is not only an incredibly talented singer-songwriter, but an imaginative, funny, and deep-thinking wordsmith. This fantasy series written by him is probably almost on par with LOTR or the Chronicles of Narnia. They are epic and I love them. There's some scary parts, some death, some hard things to reckon with, but it's all so good. I can't recommend these enough.
For teens and grown-ups:
GlobeIn subscription ($10/month) - I've tried a gazillion subscription boxes but I didn't keep any of them because they are so expensive and overly luxurious. But it's super fun getting a present in the mail, so I recommend this one since it's affordable and you can quit anytime. These items are made by people all over the world (and each item comes with a pretty detailed informational card) so you're enabling entrepreneurs worldwide. Plus the stuff is actually useful and awesome.
Microwavable popcorn popper ($13) - Everyone knows that microwave popcorn is bad for you, but that stovetop popcorn is inconvenient, so this little miracle-worker has been amazing for us. I literally don't need to measure anything and just pour the kernels in there, put on the lid, and pop for 2 minutes. It's so easy and yummy.
Elephant Pants (about $16 on sale) - Whether these pants are fashionable enough to wear in public is much debated (I would say definitely but my family disagrees), but what's inarguable is the level of comfort and flexibility offered with these pants. Size 0-12 is all one size (and larger sizes are available) so these pants make great gifts and they can also be helpful for pregnant ladies or people trying to lose weight. They're supposed to have some great sales on Black Friday.
A calligraphy starter set (approx $28) - Spend $5 on one of Lindsey Bugbee's printable tutorials and you'll be amazed at how quickly you learn---her whole blog (The Postman's Knock) is incredibly helpful. Though you can write in calligraphy with any regular pen, there's obviously a notable difference if you invest in an actual nib holder (such as this one for $7) and nibs (such as this 10-pack for $8) as well as some ink (sumi is recommended to start; this is $6.) You can probably get these supplies cheaper from Hobby Lobby if you went in-store.
Thy Kingdom Comics ($14) - You're probably familiar with Adam 4d, the guy behind Babylon Bee who also makes hilarious and extremely thought-provoking webcomics. This book is a collection of some of those comics and makes an excellent gift for a budding philosopher/theologian/apologist.
A Mirror Dimly by Citizens and Saints ($10) - Their sound is electric and unique and their lyrics are rich. This is my husband's favorite band and I love them too.
Hive Pocket ($20) - This game is a bit like a less stressful game of chess in that each type of piece has a different function and your goal is to surround your opponent's Queen Bee with the other honeycomb-shaped pieces. It's a great challenge and lots of fun, plus it comes in a bag so you can bring it anywhere. (Awesome airport game. Less awesome on a moving plane.)
Tons of new books you couldn't previously afford (about $3.50 each) - I recently removed 90% of the kids' toys from the playroom and replaced them with books. Unsurprisingly, we are so much happier and it's amazing to watch their little minds and souls become more enriched every day as we read fiction and non-fiction together. Plus I feel freed up to generously give away books I love since they're so inexpensive to replace. I was able to quickly gain a library spanning all kinds of excellent fiction and non-fiction for young kids by buying them used on ThriftBooks (that link should give you 15% off.) It's searchable and you can add out-of-stock books to your wishlist so you'll get an email notifying you when it becomes available. They have a reward program, coupon codes are always available from somewhere on the internet, and shipping is free after $10. I recently bought 22 awesome books for my family for $70. Totally recommended.
Disney weekday passes ($275) - As a Florida resident, a one-day ticket to Magic Kingdom in peak season is $134 after tax. Don't forget to add $20+ for parking. That is insane, especially considering that you can go to all four parks for the whole year (minus weekends and blackouts during the busiest times) for $275. As a passholder, you also get free parking every time and access to dining discounts and all kinds of other stuff. So if you go to Disney every year but you can't afford a pass, maybe you could consider skipping a year and buying a pass next time. There is so much to behold at Disney that one day will be frustrating to you. Going regularly at a leisurely pace so you can stop to smell the flowers? Yes, that is worth it. (If Disney's not up your alley, Busch Gardens is super-great and pass holders get monthly freebies and special access to stuff all the time. You get 15 months for $185 after tax.)
Wet brush ($12 for two) - This brush is such an amazing detangler and it doesn't even hurt. Absolutely changed my life.
iPhone clip-on fisheye lens ($8)- These take seriously cool-looking pictures and you literally just pinch them on and off your phone like you would a bag of chips.
Washi tape ($1-3 per roll) - My kids adore washi tape and I do too. It's essentially re-stickable masking tape that comes in an immense array of patterns and even textures. I use washi tape to embellish envelopes and stationery, but the kids like to make art with the strips and will play with it for hours. It teaches self-control (they learn quickly that they'll lose the privilege if they're wasteful with the tape) and creativity. I like buying them in 10-packs or so from Etsy or Amazon but you can get them from Target too if needed.
I hope you enjoy and you're able to guard yourself from materialism!
...he just might take some beautiful pictures.
One day I put the shoulder strap around my 4-year-old, gave him some quick pointers on how to use my camera (with the limited knowledge I have), and let him run wild. We've done this a few times now and I love his images and perspective. When he's done taking pictures, he looks through each one with me and is very proud of all of them. ("Did you see the cup one? I really like that one.")
These are my favorite pictures of myself that have ever been taken because no person behind the camera has ever loved and known me better than my Stephen.
I hope you enjoy!
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My name is Hope.
I'm 24. I have a sweet husband (Peter) and three little people ages 4, 2, and squishy-baby. I like lime green, Sherlock, spinach brownies, and about 10,000 other random little passions. Read the About page for why I write here.
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today