"ceremonies of our home"

I thought this was a fitting quote to sum up my last post! Love me some Noelle Piper!


treasuring Christ this Christmas

Holidays seem to have brought on new meaning for us as a family. With kiddos in the mix, it's a great chance to sit down and reflect on "why" we celebrate what we do and "how" we celebrate as a family. When "two become one" there is a natural mixing of holiday traditions and creating of new ones; some are more planned and then some just seem to naturally evolve. For Bart and myself, this has certainly been the case. It seemed to be a given that we would have a Christmas tree and hang stockings and enjoy a meal with family on Christmas day. Now that we have our sweet baby girl (and J-man last year!), we want to be intentional with how we celebrate. 

This year I read Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noelle Piper. An excellent read and very timely for me personally. Having such a young family I'm so glad to get to think about these things from the start and pray through and plan how to make our holidays meaningful and *fun* for years to come. Traditions become such an important part of a family's culture and the family's culture becomes such a deep part of who a person is. I count it a privilege to get to help lead our family in this regard! 

Deuteronomy 6:1-8 gives us parents the charge to speak truth regularly in the home, and the holidays are no exception: 

 1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Lately, I've had a growing desire to help Chick understand God and help her grow in knowledge and truth. And since Christmas is a celebration of Christ's birth, this was a prime occasion to help her grow in her understanding of Christ. What does this look like in our home? And what will this look like? Well, here's a little overview! I'm sure that this will evolve as she grows and as our family grows, but it's a start! 

Traditions to Come
First, I'm working on putting together a nativity. The goal is to have it up and running next year! I want Chick to have a visual representation of spiritual truths. Children learn best through hearing, seeing, and doing- what better way to learn the Christmas story than through hearing it as she looks at and plays with her nativity set?

Also, I'm working on a homemade Advent calendar to tell the story of Jesus. This will be a similar idea to the nativity set- something tangible for the children to interact with that helps to build their understanding of the Christmas story. I like simple and this will be a fantastic, simple way to retell the Story. 

Our Traditions This Year
This year was certainly a memorable one for us! We celebrated here at home in Austin and had a nice morning just the 3 of us. 

a little sweet surprise appeared in our stockings Christmas morning! chick's first taste of peanut butter and chocolate (notice the fingers). she was in love. yes, she is her mother's daughter.  
another fun surprise, her own special cooking utensils! sous chef!

the tree was in her room this year! she didn't seem to mind ;)
One of our favorite traditions that I'm excited to continue  from year to year is how we plan to give our gifts to our children. Bart and I each plan to pray for a verse to "give". This will serve as a "theme verse" for the year and will be unique to the season of life that s/he is in. The gift that we give her will go along with the theme of the verse in one way or another. We will write our verses on cards and take turns reading them aloud. And then, of course, the gift opening will follow!

My verses for Chick this year were from Galatians 5:22-25:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

I want Chick to begin to grow in these qualities as she is in the foundational stages of developing deep character. These verses just seemed fitting. To go along with these verses, we got her some pretend fruits and veggies and her own little shopping cart. When she plays with the toys throughout the years, I'm hoping for lots of chances to shares these verses and scriptural truths with her!

Bart chose the verse Luke 2:40. This verse was talking about Jesus when He was a boy. Bart is praying that Chick will also grow in wisdom and become strong! 

And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon Him. (Luke 2:40)

We didn't have a gift to go along with this one, but that's OK ;)

Bart shares his verse with Chick. She's a little distracted at the moment, however... gotta love a 14 month old's attention span!
After our gift opening we had a special time to sit down as a family and read the Christmas story from her Bible, The Jesus Storybook. The climax of our celebration! The day was also filled with lots of chances to sing some of our favorite Christmas hymns. We also listened to Andrew Peterson's, Behold the Lamb of God, cd over and over. One of my all-time FAVORITES!! 

 Our Post-Christmas Adventures
The day after Christmas, Chick and I had the chance to travel to Tennessee to continue the holiday celebration!

she thinks that she sees papaw and gigi from the plane window!
 Unfortunately we didn't get to have as much fun as we hoped to have. Chick and I both came down with the flu! Ugh! It lasted our entire trip. Such a bummer. We still managed to eek in some good times. 

chick enjoyed a house filled with animals! here she is with sweet bandit. they were fast friends.
my sister, cassie, and her men! always great to spend time with them!
 I wish I had more photos from our time there, but when you're sick, there just aren't too many photo opps!

Bart had a little get-away himself! He decided last minute to take become a pioneer man for the week and go on a solo camping trip! He braved the extremely low temps and tent-camped for almost a week in Arkansas and had a blast fly fishing. He had such a good time, in fact, that we are hoping to take a family camping trip there very soon! 

it's a beaut!
a brisk morning on the river. bart was *home* :) 
 And now we say good-bye to yet another year and look ahead to 2013. I am anxious to see all the God has in store for us... I am praying that it is more of Him.