This is the first advent season in a couple years that our life feels somewhat stable, which I'm really grateful for. Last year, I had grand plans to do all sorts of fun things with Salem in the month of December, but once December rolled around I was massively pregnant with Judah and got the flu twice, Brian was swamped with work and by the time the fog lifted it was December 20-something and we hadn't even gotten Christmas tree yet. The year before that, Salem was a baby, a big baby, and was sleeping worse than he did when he was a newborn and I just remember being so tired all the time and thinking that all I want for Christmas is an uninterrupted night of sleep! We did have lots of good memories mixed in there, namely a ski trip to Stowe, Vermont with my in-laws that birthed a little desire in me to retire in a log cabin in Vermont, if Brian would be down with that, which he never would be so now I just ask for trips to Vermont all the time now. And last Christmas we got to visit sunny and warm Morro Bay, CA, where Brian's grandmother lives. And most significantly, my heart was so fixated on my challenging circumstances that I didn't have my eyes on Jesus, the very thing I should have my eyes and heart fixed on continually! I'm determined to not let that happen this year, so I want to get intentional about staying close to Jesus and making memories happen with my family. Here's our plan of action:
- Get a real Christmas tree and decorate while listening to Christmas music. Growing up in Wisconsin, I have memories of my dad bundling us up and going out in the woods and chopping down our own tree, grabbing hot cocoa at a gas station on the way home, and decorating it while listening to the Alvin and the Chipmunks RECORD. Yes, record. I don't think we'll be chopping our own tree down but we'll absolutely have a live one and listen to Alvin and the Chipmunks.
- Make a gingerbread house. Sadly, I don't remember making a lot of gingerbread houses growing up. I've never been fond of the taste of gingerbread and I don't really like to build things, so that's probably why. However, Salem seems to like the taste of anything with sugar and he loves building things, and he's already super excited to build the one we bought. I'm making him wait until my dad gets here to do it with him, and I think it's been painful for him to wait!
- Bake Christmas cookies and give them to neighbors. I know Salem will love this. I pretty much went nuts at Target and bought every cookie cutter shape they had and can't wait to see the beautifully, imperfect cookie decorations that Salem comes up with. And since we want to show love to our neighbors and keep Salem for eating 30 cookies a day, we'll be giving some away.
- Host kid's craft Christmas brunch. I help lead a mom's group here called Thrive Moms and I really want to have all the moms and babies/kids over to decorate salt dough ornaments and other little crafts. We've got it on the calendar for the 12th and I'm really excited about it!
- Do an advent Bible reading plan. I'm going to go through this one in the Jesus Storybook Bible with Salem and I'm doing this one from Naptime Diaries Shop.
- Go to a Christmas play. I think a church down the street from us is having a Christmas play but I can't find the info on their website. I believe it's at Austin Ridge Bible Church in case any locals are interested.
- Make Christmas ornaments with Salem. Anything crafty is a stretch for me so I just bought an ornament making kit at Target. Salem will have a blast with it.
- Practice random acts of generosity. I want to be intentional with giving but also spontaneous. The other day Salem saw a homeless man in one of the intersections here and asked me what his sign said. I told him that it said that he was hungry and wanted some food. Salem got really concerned and said, "well let's go get him some, mommy! He needs some soup and veggies!" It was so precious to see his heart so tender. From now on, especially in the colder months, we're going to keep some lunch bags of food to hand out and find some ways to spontaneously give to those around us too.
- Stay off social media. I'm doing this because social media is a distraction for me and I want to be as intentional as possible about keeping my heart fixed on Jesus. I need to fight to abide with Him sometimes, and this will help me to do that. I will still be blogging, but not posting my posts on social media so if you want to keep reading here it would be easiest to do so by following me on bloglovin'.
- Celebrate Jesus at Christmas parties. We have one for Brian's work, one with our community group, and one or two with family. Yay!
Do you have any specific advent plans? Are you intentional about fixing your eyes on Jesus during advent or all the time? I'd love to hear!