Diving into Advent

This year I am putting a greater emphasis on Advent. We have a countdown calendar on our wall, where every day we can open an envelope, read the scripture, and see what activity is suggested that we do that day. We don't do the ideas in order or even on the day of though. I just have our list of ideas that we can do when we are able to plan for it, or whenever it works. 

Usually when we open the envelope, we also read a story out of the Jesus Storybook Bible (following the corresponding Advent Reading Plan-source site here).

I made this sign as the first craft I have done in a long time. I'm glad it wasn't a complete disaster. It really could have been. 

We are also doing a Tree of Advent for the first time this year. In conjunction with book, "The Family Book of Advent." I got Caleb his own Christmas tree with lights and a gold star. The morning he saw it, he hugged it and said the star matches our big tree. Each day you read from the book, it gives a name for God. We will write a name for God on a Christmas ball, and put it on the tree. By time Christmas comes, it will be filled with 25 names of God. Here is Caleb's so far with no ornaments as of yet. 
The purpose of all of this, is to be intentional with teaching Caleb the rich and deep meaning behind Christmas. As of now, when I ask him what Christmas is about, he exclaims, "Santa!....Presents!" Eventually, I hope he can understand that it is really about this beautiful portrayal of God's love, who sent down Jesus to this Earth. 

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."
-Matthew 1:23

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6

The meaning of Christmas, is Jesus. Advent means arrival. The Arrival of Emmanuel, God with us. I hope that in some way, Caleb and I can learn to grasp the enormity and the beauty of this together. During this advent season, I am reading through a little study each day as part of She Reads Truth. Here is what the introduction to the study said about this time:

Advent is not about waiting for a baby to be born. Advent is not about waiting for a religion to be established. Advent is not about gifts or liturgy or days on the Church calendar.
It is a weary, hurting world tracing the promises of God through time.
It is the groaning of mankind under the weight of sin so heavy it cannot lift its head. From the first debt of sin to a voice crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of The Lord!”, Advent traces kings and kingdoms and goats and alters in search of an everlasting hope – Emmanuel, God with us.
This is Advent: the coming of hope to the hopeless, the arrival of peace to war-torn exiles, the long-awaited exhale of freedom for generation after generation gasping for air.
Advent is the elaborate yet stunningly simple plan of God to descend to His children, to become like them in the most unexpected, unglamorous, fully human way.
This is the beginning of a great ransom story.