Sunday, December 2, 2012

Our Advent Countdown: Learning How to Give, Serve, Love

Yesterday was the start of our advent celebrations... We delved into our Truth in the Tinsel advent devotional. As we talked about how Jesus was the LIGHT who came and shone into a world drowning in darkness, we also read (Matt 5:14-16) and sang about how when God has rescued us, cleaned our hearts, he has placed his light inside of us. And we are called to GO, to let our light so shine before men that they may glorify God!

In addition to our focus this month on the glory of God and the wonder of God becoming man, we want to focus our eyes outward and learn how we can GIVE, SERVE and LOVE those around us!

Why? By giving, serving and loving others, we are giving to God.  Eyes lit up at the thought of being able to give a little back to Jesus who has given us everything!  We've spent years sowing the beautiful truths of the meaning of Christmas and why Jesus came. Having first received His love, the older children are ready and excited to share His love with others.

‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
{Matthew 25:40}

I'm blessed with many friends who excel in spotting needs and meeting them.  But I have to be honest with you, serving and giving is not something that comes naturally to me. More often than not, I need a blunt "we need you to help _____" in order for me to see the need.    So it should come as no surprise that my kids aren't very good at that either.  But Scripture is clear that we are called to give generously and serve extravagantly. So we pulled out the Bible and have been reading and discussing Matthew 25:31-40.
We resolved to continue to seek to grow in this area.  If God is calling us to represent Him to others, than He most certainly is going to help us to do it, right?  So for December we put together a countdown chain leading up to Christmas {because we love that sort of thing}.  Tucked neatly inside each chain link is a mission for the day.  Some of them simple, some more challenging.  All of them pointing us towards the beauty of giving rather than simply receiving.
Some of them are simply as easy as "Smile at everyone and wish them Merry Christmas" because in our busyness some days we forget to look others in the eye and say hi.  My kids need to see the beautiful affect when they take the time to care for someone by simply acknowledging that they are there and that you care.  It has been satisfying to talk to them about it and see their interest grow.
I also wanted some ideas to incorporate here at home.  Service starts at home.  Here is where we learn the how-to's and practice living out our values.  So one day they will be challenged to serve their brother by doing one of his chores or planning some kind of special way to surprise and encourage a brother!
We also have listed making cookies for neighbors, writing a note to our postman and leaving him/her a treat, helping their great grandfather, leaving a gift for someone at a vending machine, etc. It is so funny, because as I've been mulling this over for the last several weeks, God brought others who are doing the very same thing across my path... I just love this idea for Shepherd's pouches as a means for encouraging serving and giving.  I think we might try and incorporate something like it next year...  And then I discovered Lil' Light of Mine's Light 'Em Up campaign. It gave me a lot of ideas to choose from when selecting what we wanted to focus on as a family.  If you are looking for even more ideas, check them out.   I settled for putting together a set of 32 ideas and then working with my oldest and our family calendar to choose the 24 we wanted to focus on this year.

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
Acts 20:35

By the way, if you are still looking for an advent devotional, it is not to late to get Truth in the Tinsel.  It is perfect for the toddler-lower elementary crowd.  I love the easy to follow and implement format, the shopping and supply lists {that make it easier to implement}, the alternative schedules {6, 7 and 10 day options} and now printable ornaments.  If you get it, remember to take advantage of the coupon code cultivatedlives for 20% off your order!


  1. Heather, What precious ideas to instill giving into the hearts of your children. And, what a cute way to display the Truth in the Tinsel cards! :)

  2. I love the green grass and red roses paper you used for your paper chain. Classy, different and yet still Christmas -y

  3. What a beautiful idea! Love it!'ve got me thinking....