Child not listening? Dealing with a temper tantrum? Tears? Or generally challenging behaviors? Before you respond, consider this acronym:
 – Hungry, Angry, Tired, and Lonely.

Sometimes, our behavior is a result of physical and mental needs that can be easily addressed. So ask yourself, is it possible your child is hungry? angry? tired? and/or lonely (or sad)? Any of these conditions can affect our behavior. If you’re not sure, ask! When is the last time you ate ? What did you eat? Did you get enough sleep? Did something happen to upset you? Get your sleuthing hat out and assess if there is something that needs to be remedied before addressing your child’s challenging behavior. Walk through this process with your child so he or she can learn to “self-diagnose.” Hopefully, with time, your child will learn to realize what he or she needs before behaving or speaking in an inappropriate manner.

One more thing … before you reprimand your child, assess your own current condition. Are you hungry, angry, tired, or lonely? If so, you are likely to respond more negatively and possibly overreact.

Interested in more behavior management tips? Check out this article about how to stop yelling at your kids.




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Don’t Worry, Be Happy

TNOOK_pink flowers

There have probably been many blog posts using the words to this catchy tune, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” and for good reason! Most of us are in the habit of worrying, stressing, over-thinking, and focusing on the negative. As you head into a new year and back to school, what is your focus? Are you worried about facing the same problems you faced at the end of last semester or facing new problems? Are you dreading certain tasks or maybe certain children? How do you change your focus from the negative to the positive? Why is it so hard to stop worrying and to just be happy?

Well… you might argue that there are academic standards to be met, behavioral expectations, and character issues to be faced. We can’t just sit back and let things happen as they may. We have to think about those tasks we don’t want to do and those children that challenge us daily. But, we don’t have to let them “ruin our day.”

In her book, Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching, Angela Watson writes:

“Often people believe that stress comes from external sources, such as a disrespectful student or an overly demanding administrator. However, your perception of those events— the way you think about them— is what determines whether you feel stressed or not.

Have you ever thought about that? It’s not the situation that causes us stress, it’s our response that invokes misery! So, how do you choose a more positive outlook on the challenges that face you? Your first step is to just acknowledge that you have a choice.

“The only factor that you have complete control over is your mindset: the way YOU think and perceive things, and the way YOU choose to respond. If you want to create meaningful and lasting change … the best place to start is with your own thought patterns and attitude.”

So as you encounter challenges and problems, be aware of your perceptions and responses. If you have a negative reaction, ask yourself how you can reframe your thoughts. How can you face this challenge in a more positive way?

If this is an area where you struggle or if you would like to learn more about reframing your thoughts, there is a Facebook group called The Educator’s Book Club that will be reading Angela’s book beginning on January 4. This book is not just for teachers. I have used her suggestions at work, at home, and in all my interactions. Angela may even pop in to say “Hi!” Feel free to jump in at any time. They are also reading (you can read either or both books) a book called Deliberate Optimism by Debbie Thompson Silver.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8



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December 26

It’s the day after Christmas and maybe, like me, you’re wondering “now what” or you’re experiencing a little bit of the normal after-holiday let down. My family tends to procrastinate on the clean up, so from where I sit I can see opened presents, empty boxes and crumpled wrapping paper, and dishes from last night’s late night snack.

I also see four very melted candles on the Advent wreath. (Remind me not to put them under an air conditioning vent next year!) But, I found a reminder in the way they melted. The candles of hope, love, and peace have poured themselves into the Christ candle. How cool is that? We know Christ is filled with hope, love, peace, AND joy. How much does He want to fill us with the same? What are you needing Christ to fill you with this year?


Do you need hope?
Christ has hope for you.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Do you need love? Christ loves you. He loves you SO much that He died for you.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Maybe you need love toward someone? God calls us to love Him and to love each other (Matthew 22:36-39). When a person seems unloveable, ask Christ to help you forgive and to love that person.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
I Peter 4:8

Do you need peace? Christ promises to guard your heart and mind if you just ask!

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Or, do you need joy? You can find joy in Christ. If you have never accepted Christ as your personal Savior, do it today and share your good news with someone who can encourage you in your personal walk with Christ. If you know Christ, but find that’s life circumstances have left you without joy, then pray and ask Christ to show you the joy that can only be found in Him. He loves you so much!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12;1-2

Jesus brought HOPE to the world. He is our Good Shepherd who brings us PEACE. We celebrate His birth with JOY and remember that God sent His Son to earth because of His LOVE for us.
Thank you for walking through Advent with me this Christmas season. I hope you and your family were able to add a little “reason for the season” to your everyday activities.

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Week 4 – The Candle of Love (Wise Men (Magi) Candle, Revelation Candle)

3 Week
We light the Christmas candles to get our hearts ready to celebrate Christmas. We have already lit the Candles of Hope, Peace, and Joy.
(Relight the first three candles.)  Today, we light the fourth candle. We call it the Candle of Love because God gave us the best gift ever because He loves us. What was that gift? (His Son, Jesus.) love baby jesus.jpg

Today, we read about the Wise Men (Magi) and the gifts they brought to Jesus.  The Bible tells us that the Wise Men came from a long distance to seek the newborn King. Read Matthew 2:1-12.

We light the fourth candle of Advent, the Candle of Love, to remind us of that God sent Jesus to show us He loves us. The best way we can say thank you to God is to love Him back! Light the fourth candle.

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for loving us so much that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to earth as a baby. We love You. Help us to show that love to those around us in what we say and do. Amen.

Sing: “We Three Kings,” “Joy to the World,” or “The First Noel.”

Dig Deeper:

  • Did you know that although we Bible says the Wise Men brought three gifts, it doesn’t say how many wise men were there? Did you also know that although we place the Wise Men in the manger along with Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, they probably did not arrive until Jesus was maybe even 2-years-old? Read more at http://www.jba.gr/about-the-wise-men.htm.
  • Why did the Wise Men bring gifts to baby Jesus? *See quote below.
  • What gift can you give to Jesus?
  • What are some ways we can show God we love Him?
  • How can we show God’s love to our family? Friends? Neighbors? Others?
  • Read scriptures about love: Psalm 18:1; Psalm 63:3; Matthew 22:36-39; John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 13; 1 Peter 4:8; 1 John 4:7.


Nativity Scene5 Nativity.JPG

Add the wise men to your nativity set.

* “Each of the gifts that the Wise Men brought has a special meaning. Gold stood for the riches of a king. Jesus would be King of kings. Incense was used by priests in temple worship. Jesus would be our high priest who would go between us and the Father. Myrrh was a perfume put on people after they died. Jesus would die as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. The Wise Men’s gifts showed that Jesus would be King, Priest, and Sacrifice.” (Hibbard, Ann. Celebrating Advent. 2011. p. 75)

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Seek Out the Baby


The shepherds were at work when the angels appeared and shared the news of Jesus’ birth. Can you imagine what it would be like if “a great company of heavenly hosts” came to your workplace, whether that’s inside or outside the home? Who would be with you and what work would you drop to seek out this baby who was causing such a stir?

Take a moment today to drop your work and seek out baby Jesus. Glorify and praise God for who He is and what He has done.

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Week 3 – The Candle of Joy (Shepherds Candle, Proclamation or Anticipation Candle)

3 Week

The Lighting of the Christmas Candles
The Candle of Joy

We light the Christmas candles to get our hearts ready to celebrate Christmas. We have already lit the Candles of Hope and of Peace.
(Relight the first two candles.)

joyToday, we light the third candle. We call it the Candle of Joy to remind us of the “good news of great joy for all people” that the angels shared with the shepherds; Jesus was born that day! The pink candle represents joy. The time now is for rejoicing–because the Lord is coming soon!

Together, let’s read the Christmas story. We find it in Luke 2:1-7. Read. As needed, explain who Casesar August was why Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem for the census.

Shepherds were some of the lowliest and least respected people in those days, but God chose them to be the first ones to hear about Jesus’ birth. Perhaps they were chosen because Jesus is our Good Shepherd, who laid His life down for His sheep. Read Luke 2:8-20.

We light the third candle of Advent, the Candle of Joy, to remind us of the joy we feel when we celebrate Jesus’ birth and to remind us to share that joyful news with others. And there is more good news! Jesus came to earth to be our Savior and one day, He will come to earth again. Light the third candle.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that we can see You and worship You, just as the shepherds did. May we be as excited about knowing You as they were. Help us to let others know Christmas is special because it is Jesus’ birthday. Show us how we can bring joy to those around us this Christmas season and always. Amen.

Sing: “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” “Away in a Manger,” or “The Little Drummer Boy.”

Dig Deeper:                                                            

  • Share something joyful that happened to you today or this week.
  • How can you bring joy to someone you know?
  • Read scriptures about peace: Psalm 47:1-2; Psalm 126:2-3; Romans 15:13; 1 Peter 1:8; Hebrews 12:1-3.
  • The shepherds returned to their ordinary lives after they saw baby Jesus, but they were changed. When we have seen Jesus face-to-face, we too are changed. Jesus gives us a new heart. Read Ezekiel 36:26-27 and 2 Corinthians 5:17. If you or your child has not received Christ into your heart, this is a great time to talk about what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ. If you would like a resource for introducing this topic, check out http://resourcewell.s3.amazonaws.com/children/otherresources/Ages6-12_NewBelieversGuideforChildren.pdf.


Nativity Scene3 Nativity

Add the baby Jesus, shepherds, and sheep to your nativity set. Talk about how the shepherds must have felt when they saw the angels that night. If you have younger children, talk about sheep and the role of shepherds: “What do sheep eat?” or “What do shepherds do to care for their sheep?”


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Week 2 – The Candle of Peace (Mary & Joseph Candle, Preparation Candle)

2 Week

The Lighting of the Christmas Candles
The Candle of Peace

PeaceWe light the Christmas candles to get our hearts ready to celebrate Christmas. Last time, we lit the Candle of Hope to remind us of the hope we have in Jesus our Savior and in God’s promises. (Relight the first candle.) Today, we light the second candle. We call it the Candle of Peace to remind us of the peace we receive through Jesus Christ our Lord. Like the first candle, this candle is also purple to remind us that Jesus is the King of Kings.

God sent an angel to prepare Mary, Jesus’ mother, for His birth. Read Luke 1:28-33. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid.”

God also sent an angel to prepare Joseph, Jesus’ father, for His birth. Read Matthew 1:20-21. The angel also told Joseph, “Don’t be afraid.”

We light the second candle of Advent, the Candle of Peace, to remind us of the peace that enters our lives when we experience the presence of Jesus Christ. Light the second candle.

Prayer: Dear God, sometimes our lives are anything but peaceful. Help us to quiet our minds, mouths, and bodies as we prepare our hearts for Christmas. We know that as we give our hearts to You, we can have the same peace You gave to Mary and Joseph as they prepared for Jesus’ birth. Guide us in all we say and do, so we reflect Your peace to those around us. Amen.

Sing: “Silent Night” or “O, Little Town of Bethlehem.” Alternate songs which reference peace: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” or “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear (verse 1).”

Dig Deeper:

  • What keeps you from having peace in your life this Christmas? What is one practical step you can do to bring peace into that situation?
  • What is one way you can reflect peace to those around you?
  • Read scriptures about peace: Psalm 29:11; Isaiah 26:3; Isaiah 55:12; Matthew 11:28-29.
  • One of the names of Jesus is “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are restored to a relationship of peace with God (Romans 5:1). This is the deep, abiding peace between our hearts and our Creator that cannot be taken away (John 10:27–28) and the ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s work as “Prince of Peace.”
  • Peaceful doesn’t mean easy or without conflict. But it does mean that no matter what we are facing, we can ask God for His peace, a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Nativity Scene2 Nativity

Add Mary and Joseph to your nativity set. Talk about how they may have felt when they heard they were to be parents of God’s Son.

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Don’t add one more thing to your day!

What parent doesn’t want to hear that? And yet, that’s exactly what we are called to in Deuteronomy 6:6-7. : “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.” We are called to teach our children in the everyday moments, just as Jesus taught His disciples while they did ministry together.
deuteronomy 6 impress them edit websiteHow can you teach your child about this week’s Advent theme, HOPE, in the everyday moments? Here are some ideas:
  • When you’re on your way to a class, a team practice, or even a dentist appointment, ask your family “How can you bring hope to someone this Christmas?”
  • Share scriptures of hope, like Jeremiah 29:11 and Psalm 40:5. Ask your family what those verses mean to them.
  • Play music that expresses the hope we have in God.
  • Encourage your children in their talents, gifts, hopes, and dreams. Give them hope for a bright future!
  • Before bed time, turn off the house lights and turn on the Christmas lights. Make some hot cocoa and read a Christmas story, or just sit and enjoy the lights. Talk about what each family member is hopeful for this Christmas-beyond the presents!
  • Above all, know Christ came to earth as a baby to give us hope and because His love for us knows no bounds.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13

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Week 1 – The Candle of Hope (Angel Candle, Prophecy Candle)

1 Week

Introduce Advent

Be sure your family understands why you are celebrating advent and the meaning of the various symbols used.

If you choose to display a Bible near the Advent wreath or the nativity set, place it there now.

The Lighting of the Christmas Candles
The Candle of Hope

We light the Christmas Candles to get our hearts ready to celebrate Christmas. Today, we light the first candle. It is called the Candle of Hope to remind us of the hope Jesus brings to the world. It is purple to remind us that Jesus is royalty; He is the King of Kings.
Read Luke 1:11-22.

After Zechariah and Elizabeth’s child was born, a miracle happened.
Read Luke 1:62-64.

Zechariah told the people that the Savior had come and He was the Hope of the world.

Together, we light the Candle of Hope to remind us that Jesus is our hope. He is the Light of the world and He is always with us. Light the first candle.

Prayer: Dear God, thank You for sending Jesus to earth. Thank You for giving us hope. Help us to share that hope with others as we focus on You this Advent season. Amen.

Sing: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

Dig Deeper:

  • What are you hopeful for this Christmas?
  • How can you bring hope to someone this Christmas?
  • Read scripture passages about giving and receiving gifts: John 3:16; Romans 6:23; Matthew 6:1-4; 7:7-12; 25:35-40. What is God’s gift to us? What do the passages say about giving? How do you feel about giving and receiving gifts?


Nativity Scene

Set up the stable and any animals (you may wish to save the sheep for week 3) you have for your nativity set.

Talk about where Jesus was born and the animals that would have been there. You may choose to do some research into the town of Bethlehem and stables during the time of Jesus’ birth.

Additional Resource

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NIV)

Jeremiah 29:11-14 Music video from ResourceWell.org




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Pre-Advent Advent

I think I’ve been experiencing a “pre-advent Advent” over the last month. I’m almost as excited about tomorrow as I usually get about Christmas! Despite that, we keep decorating for Christmas very simple. “Fully decorated” means the tree is up and decorated and I’ve moved the piles of papers and knick-knacks enough to make space for my three nativity sets and an advent wreath! Our house is fairly small and space is at a premium, so this year I cleared some bookshelves for the nativities and a few special decorations.

As you prepare your homes and your hearts for Advent and for Christmas, choose the traditions that mean the most to you and your family. For some, that means your home could win a Martha Stewart decorating contest. For others, you’re just happy to get the kids’ Christmas art projects displayed on the refrigerator. Whatever your traditions, I hope this year you will include a weekly Advent moment with your family to celebrate the coming of Christ’s birth.

For the next four Sundays, I will post summaries of each week’s Advent devotional. This information, along with a full devotional, weekly family themes, song lyrics, and recipes can be found in the Devotional and Planner here. Your Advent moment can take place any day of the week, but I would encourage you to do it the same day each week, if possible. If not, be sure to write it in on a calendar that is easily visible for the whole family. A 2015 Advent calendar can also be found at the link above.

Please feel free to post questions, comments, and/or what your family is doing for Advent in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!



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