Christmas is not over!

advent candles

If you are feeling the after-Christmas let-down, it’s okay to keep singing the carols, looking at the lights, and watching the Hallmark movies (haha). According to the liturgical calendar that is used in many Christian churches, Christmas is really celebrated until epiphany on January 6. That’s the day that commemorates the wise men visiting Jesus. Even though I never grew up with the liturgical calendar myself (I have always gone to independent churches), I have enjoyed observing the holiday season that way this year.

I ordered my family a rustic candle holder from Germany on Etsy. When I say rustic, I mean rustic. It is wobbly, and someone could get a splinter from the bottom. I thought about sending it back because the workmanship was, ahem, poor. Then I decided to just put some candles in it and use it for Advent anyway. That wonky candle holder really grew on me as my family gathered around it each evening to light candles, read a small Bible passage, and say a prayer every evening of Advent, from December 2 to 24 this year. I used all white candles instead of the three purple and one pink that are more traditional. As Christmas approached, the candle holder started looking pretty to me. Then I realized: Jesus himself was placed in a manger when he was born. That was not fancy either, but it was just right in the grand design of things.

When it was getting close to bed time, we would have my son open a window on our German-style Advent calendar. I like to incorporate some German traditions into our celebrations since I have some German heritage. Then we would gather around the little wonky candle holder. My son would repeat back parts of the short prayer, and then he would do his favorite part: blow out the candles! Since he’s only five, observing Advent this way really helped my son understand when Christmas was going to arrive and what we would be celebrating. Honestly, it was something I looked forward to every evening myself. It made the season feel special, and it was a peaceful way to end each day.

Advent cardsWe are going to continue lighting the candles and saying a prayer until January 6. This a link to where we got our prayers and readings (the cards are sold out this year, but I would guess it will be available again next year). If you have never heard of this tradition of observing Advent and then celebrating Christmas for an extended time, it’s really not too late to get into it. We are going to celebrate Christmas for 12 days. We will sing carols, light the candles, say special prayers as a family, and really appreciate the decorations and the spirit of the season. I am still thinking about how I will commemorate this in my Journaling Bible. I definitely will do some kind of Bible Journaling about it because this really has been special for us.

Exploring the Christmas story this year, Elizabeth stood out to me in particular. She waited so long for something, prayed for it often, and then gave up — and that’s when God said it was not too late. His timing was different and unexpected, but the timing was right for John the Baptist (cousin of Jesus) to be born of Elizabeth. John prepared the way for Jesus. If you’ve never thought much about Elizabeth, check out this sermon about her. It is an excellent sermon!

On a lighter note (and going back to the Hallmark movies, lol) my favorite television Christmas movie was not even from Hallmark. It was from Lifetime. It was called A Very Nutty Christmas; it was hilarious and heart-warming. A nutcracker comes to life in time to help a bakery owner (Melissa Joan Hart) get into the holiday spirit. Check it out if you get a chance. My close second favorite television Christmas movie was A Shoe Addict’s Christmas. As with any Hallmark movie, the cheese factor was pretty high, but I love it.

plant and typewriter
This is a new decoration I added to my house this year. I can take the red ribbon off and use it year-round!

Merry Christmas, and God bless you!

The Kingdom and Wisdom

This weekend I had the fun experience of going to Medieval Times with my husband and son. It’s a restaurant where everyone sits around an arena for an evening of knights and their horses showing off skills while everyone eats with their hands (because, of course, that’s how people ate in the Medieval days — wink, wink). The king would announce everything in a booming, upbeat British accent, and we thought it was hilarious to talk to each other that way the rest of the evening. We spoke words such as these with flourish and grandeur:

“Dearest HUSBAND, I believe I am out of PEPSI.”

“Dearest HUSBAND, our waiter still has not BROUGHT my PEPSI.” (It was just fun to say.)

“Are we the ONLY ONES HERE who are not CELEBRATING a BIRTHDAY?”

“Dearest son, your FLASHING SWORD is BLINDING MOMMY when you put it that CLOSE to my FACE.”

My husband went all out and bought both of us huge flags to wave, along with the flashing sword for my son that I already mentioned. We waved our flags with a great flourish, purposefully waving them in each other’s space from time to time. Our knight, the red and yellow knight, never won a single event. My son kept asking if he could root for the blue knight instead. Ah, it was a great, silly time.

I am thankful for our silly times together. Yet, there are also times to be serious, in life and as a family. From a young age, Sunday School lessons about King Solomon’s request for wisdom caught my attention. I remember praying, “God, wisdom is what I want too.”

Yes, I tend to be a serious person, even though I do get pretty goofy sometimes (as evidenced at Medieval Times). As a teacher, I try to impart knowledge to my students regularly — but wisdom goes deeper than that.

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Proverbs 3:13-18 (ESV)

Blessed Is the One Who Finds Wisdom

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called blessed.

When I consider what wisdom really is, a lot of it has to do with how we think about life. It’s not living for today. It’s remembering that we are meant for a true kingdom, and as Christians, we are adopted as sons and daughters of the true king, the Prince of Peace.

Bible Journaling is one of the ways that I take time to put my focus on the bigger picture; it is a time of reading the word, prayer, and listening. God values wisdom (He is wisdom), and he honors those who seek it. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

As Christians, we are different. We base our lives in the belief that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. We think differently, and that is a good thing.

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Bible Journaling Challenge #10

Have you ever had a certain person’s story from the Bible really stick with you the way that Solomon’s request for wisdom stuck with me when I was young? No, Solomon was not perfect, but his request for wisdom was honored by God. As you consider a person from the Bible who has inspired you, what was it about the person’s story that was meaningful for you? Maybe it was David, Esther, Moses, or Timothy. Create a Bible Journaling page based on the wisdom you have gained from that person’s life.