Tuesday, December 07, 2010

What we're doing for Advent

Even though my little girl is really small, and doesn't yet understand the mysteries of the incarnation, I wanted to start laying a foundation now that will help to focus our minds and hearts on Christ during this season.  I want to serve her by not tempting her to love things more than Jesus, because I know that battle will spring up in her heart on its own accord without help from me.  I want her absolute earliest memories of Christmas to be not just the teeming pile of gifts she cannot wait to open, but the whole Advent season and the activities that take place.

Here is what we're doing this year:
Susie making Baby Jesus eat his birthday cake.

1. First Day of Advent, I pulled out her new Fisher Price Nativity set.  We keep it out in the living room, usually set up under the tree.  I try to play with it with her every day, making Mary kiss baby Jesus and the angel sing "Glooo-oooo-ria" and the animals make their noises.  My plan is to only get this toy out during Advent, so they will remember it as the years go on, and look forward to playing with it.

2. Books -- we started last year by giving Susie a little board book for Advent called The Special Baby that very simply tells the story of Christ's birth.  I got that back out a few days ago, and then yesterday gave her a new Advent book, The Animal's Christmas Eve which is an old Golden Book we found at Half-Priced books.  It's perfect for her "listening" level this year.  It rhymes, and has all the animals, and she asked me to read it like 5 times this morning, so I know she likes it.  I saw her flipping through it and heard all the animal sounds (at our house, the animals are NAMED their sounds, for the most part.  Except "horsey" which is a very new word for her).  My plan for this tradition is to build our little Advent book collection each year and get them all out to read just during this time of year together.  I think it could be really fun as kids get older and they are various ages.  We could do one book a day or something, once we get enough.  For now, she likes reading the same things over and over so this works!

3. Christmas songs -- when I was a little girl, we would sing Christmas songs by the tree before bed, so I did that with Susie last year.  This year she's not always keen for me to keep her pinned down, so we don't do it every night, but I have been singing lots of Christmas songs about Jesus.  If she's in the mood, she does the motions with me to "Away in a Manger" and often mouths along the words (not the real ones, she pretends to know it) with us.  Of course there are all kinds of fun Christmas songs like "No Place Like Home for the Holidays" that I enjoy hearing each year, but I really want to feed our souls by making songs about Jesus what we sing and listen to as much as possible.  

4. Advent Calendar -- I've misplaced my nice big Noel Piper calendar, and plan to make one for next year.  Since I don't have that, we are just sticking on the little footprint stickers to this, and making that our little calendar.  Counting the days until Christmas hasn't been a thrill for her yet, but it's good for me to do!

5. Coloring -- crafts are just a bit too much for Susie right now, but that girl could color all the live-long day.  I'm printing off some nativity coloring sheets for her so we can talk about the pictures while she colors.  I also found a $1 activity book that comes with stickers and coloring pages to pull out close to Christmas.  I'd love for those people and animals in the Christmas story to become a part of her life like Curious George, Cat in the Hat and Woody (from Toy Story) -- those are all her favorite characters.

6. Family Devotions -- Josh is reading selections from Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus  aloud after dinner.  We don't do it every night, but they are really good.  I have been reading a few in my own devotions, as well.  I appreciate how focused on Christ the readings are.  Several days ago I read part of a sermon by George Whitfield during which I was very convicted about my neglect of the poor.  It's certainly not too late to look into getting this book to read this Christmas season!

Of course we're doing other Christmas traditions and baking and shopping things too, but these things are good for me to do too, not just for Susie.  By working hard to help her learn about the baby in the manger, I am forced to keep my focus there as well.

What are you doing to make Christ the center of your holiday?  I'm be stockpiling ideas for future years!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Our Little Family

I'm excited to share that the Lord has blessed our little family, and He is causing it to grow!  I am coming to the end of the first trimester of a second pregnancy, and we will find out if we are going give Susie a little brother or sister next month!  Lord willing, we will welcome a new baby into our family by the beginning of June next year.

Praising the Lord for his goodness.  He is the giver of life and all good gifts!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Going to the Heart Doctor

Going a different route with this week's post.  It's really more about me, but my mom as well. 

Today I was thinking about my mom quite a bit.  I went to the pediatric cardiologist, and as I sat filling out the paperwork, I looked around and thought of how many forms like those my mom had filled out for me.  I was thinking how I used to go visit my cardiologist every December when I was a girl, and we would travel to Cincinnati to Children's Hospital for the appointment, no matter where we lived.  Today there were flurries falling, and with the Christmas season coming, I could remember those days so well.  When I got old enough to care, I would choose to wear my favorite outfit on that day.  I knew Mom and I would go downtown, just the two of us, and usually we would try to meet my Aunt Sandy for lunch, if she were available.  Aunt San worked at Children's Hospital as a surgical nurse, and it was so fun to meet her in her scrubs, and the three of us go eat in the cafeteria together.  I knew Mom would let me get some sort of fun and yummy cafeteria dessert to eat, and it was great to sit and listen to Mom and Aunt Sandy talk.  It was rare to be alone with two grown-ups in those days. :)

I can't help but wonder if Mom had a hard time with those annual visits.  I know that fear and worry was something she battled her whole life.  She used to post Bible verses up around the house to meditate on, to help her with her worry.  She never acted nervous, that I can remember, but then again, I never had anything but glowing reports.  Still, I'm sure that there was some aspect of fear or worry each time we went through the EKGs and Echos.  Perhaps she wondered if my heart was still functioning normally.  Perhaps she was afraid she'd hear something other than "see you next year!" at the end of the appointment.  If so, she never let on.

Dr. Benzing and me when I'm about 9 or so
I loved to walk into the Pediatric Cardiologist's office, and hear the nurses and doctors comment on how grown up I was getting.  Amazingly, many of them had worked there when I was very small, or even when I was first born, and so they remembered us year after year.  Those kind of comments are just music to a little girl's ears!  I enjoyed the cold and sticky EKGs -- they were somewhat fun to me.  I loved meeting with Dr. Benzing (yes, my cardiologist had the same last name as we did -- we were distant relatives), and hear his soft-spoken assessment of my ticker.  It was like I had accomplished some great feat by growing another year and still having a good heart.  As a little girl, I felt somewhat proud of myself (as if I had anything to do with it!).  It never entered my mind that I'd hear anything negative at those appointments, because I never had.  It also never entered my mind that it might be difficult for my mother to re-enter that arena year after year.  

I was not fearful, because Mom did not appear to be.  And I'm really thankful for that.

Here is a post I wrote about my birth and heart surgery.