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




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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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29955-NXRKSTWhat is Advent?

Each year, we celebrate Advent. Advent refers to the “coming” or “arrival” of Jesus Christ and it’s a time when we prepare our hearts for the coming of Christmas and the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas. It varies from 22 to 28 days and ends with Christmas Eve. Many families continue their celebration by lighting the center or Christ candle on Christmas Day.

What does it mean to prepare our hearts for Christmas?

It is easy to get caught up in the busyness of buying gifts, decorating, and visiting with family and friends. None of these things are bad, but we don’t ever want to forget the reason we celebrate Christmas – Jesus’ birth. Advent reminds us to slow down and to spend time in worship and praise to God. Advent is a time of waiting, expectation, and longing. As we wait for Christmas, gather together with those around you to know and experience the presence of Christ.

Join our family as we prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ coming. For ideas on how your family can celebrate Advent, check out the Celebrate Advent pages here or connect with us on Facebook.

“Glory to God in the highest!”



Graphic designed by Freepik

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the puzzle piece perspective – when your child looks all pink

Barbara Newman and CLC Network encourage schools, churches, caregivers, and educators in working with students of all abilities. Whenever I encounter a child who struggles, I remember the “Puzzle Piece Perspective.” It’s a great reminder for when all you can see in your child are the things they struggle with or the things you struggle with seeing in them 🙂

puzzle pieceThe Puzzle Piece Perspective is the idea that God has knit us together with things that we are good at and enjoy (green), and our hot spots—the things that we struggle with (pink). Most of us (if not all) wish we were ALL green, but then we wouldn’t need each other! Each one of us have our greens and pinks, and because of this, each and every one of us have gifts to offer to our communities. Just as puzzle pieces are meant to fit together, each of us are made to come alongside one another and support each other as the Body of Christ.

God doesn’t make mistakes. He made you and he made your child just the way He intended! And it is often in our weaknesses that we see His strength.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14

 So, when we love people as they are, not only are we loving the person who God made, but we are bringing praise to Him!

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you,
in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7

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a new phase

Bethany Durys_Profile pictureAs our children grow, we talk about the different phases they go through. And, it always seems that as soon as we figure out one phase, they have moved onto a new one. Well, my children are now 20 & 21 and I find I am the one in a new phase. It’s not an “empty nest” since Taylor and Emily are still home, but they definitely don’t need me in the ways they once did. I work full-time writing children’s Bible curriculum, but I love to stay busy. So… after Emily graduated from high school, I went back to school and got my Masters in Education. Now that my degree is complete, my thoughts are turning back to We never stop learning, so maybe we have some things you and I can learn together. Let’s see what happens.

If you’re reading this post, join me on Facebook for recommendations of online articles, offers, and opportunities for those who are in education, and quick posts of encouragement and inspiration.


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Try, try, again! A lesson in better communication.

keep-calm-and-respect-each-other-squareHas your sweet little Suzy or your loving Joey ever walked into the room whining and yelling, “Mom! You have to help me find my shoes.” or “Mom! You didn’t wash my uniform!” or, hopefully, you’ve never heard this one. “Mom, I hate you!”? When this happens, do your children get a rise out of you? Have you ever yelled back or at least been tempted to yell back?
I know I have!

A few months ago, I made this suggestion to a friend and last week she told me it has made all the difference in her family, so I thought I would share it with you. Here’s your chance to teach Suzy and Joey how to communicate better. It’s a lesson in “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

When Suzy yells “at” you, she has a concern and for her it’s a big deal. She may not even realize how she sounds. So, instead of yelling back, try this. “Suzy, that’s not the way we talk to each other. Would you like to try that again?” With a little practice, Suzy will get it. When given a second chance, Suzy says, “Mom, will you help me find my shoes?” “Mom, my uniform is dirty. Can you help me?” or “Mom, I was angry when you told my friend I couldn’t go to her party. Why did you do that?” That last one may take a little longer 🙂

There will be times when little Suzy doesn’t want to try it again. Take the time to walk her through it. If she’s very upset, you might try suggesting she take a deep breath. I have, when needed, required my child to leave the room and re-enter. One time, my son had to leave a few times. BUT! It works and it’s lasting! I had very little trouble with disrespect when my children were teens and now young adults. And, what a relief to not have to deal with the temptation of yelling at my children or the yucky feeling I would get when I did yell.

There is no excuse for talking disrespectfully, but children need to be taught better communication.
Start today!

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