Journey to the Manger: Begin with God

Jackson and Lauren hold their Journey to the Manger activity books in front of our Christmas Countdown board. Each day, we match a person (or animal) to the poster.

Jackson and Lauren are thrilled to have their own activity book for our annual Christmas countdown. This year we are taking a Journey to the Manger. Each day we will meet a person (or animal) in the Christmas story.

Christmas time is here!! In the Cobb home, we want to make Christmas count by captivating our children’s hearts for Christ. That’s why we purposefully take time to celebrate Jesus throughout the month of December.

Today marks the start of the Advent season and the beginning of my family’s Journey to the Manger. Each day through December 25, we will learn about one person (or animal) and their role in the Christmas story. After our family devotion, we will enjoy activities and projects to help us better understand and remember what we have learned.

God the Father

God the Father

Christmas begins and ends in the same place: with the heart of God. The first person we met on our journey to the manger was God the Father. God is never surprised or caught off guard by what happens in our lives. Before God even created us, He knew that we would make mistakes, that there would be times we would turn away from Him and break His laws. Yet, He still loved us, and decided to make a way for us to come back to Him. God came up with a plan to send His One and Only Son to give us hope and salvation. Christmas starts with God and His great love for us.

Just as God the Father came up with a plan to give us hope, we created a plan to pray for one person each day leading up to Christmas. In a twist on the classic Christmas chain countdown, we wrote one name on each chain that we will pray for before we go to bed each night.

The kids hold their Christmas prayer chains high. Each day we will pray to our Father God for one person as we countdown to Jesus's birthday.

The kids hold their Christmas prayer chains high. Each day we will pray to our Father God for one person as we countdown to Jesus’s birthday.


Click here to learn more about celebrating Advent with your family this Christmas, including access to a Scripture plan, free downloads and activity ideas. For more on Journey to the Manger, an advent experience from Focus on the Family, visit the Thriving Family website.

Thankful: God loves the world

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

– John 3:16

Today I am thankful that God loves the world.

God’s love extends to every person. He loves everyone who ever was and ever will be. He loves the child being formed in the womb and the person struggling to hang onto life. God loves people of every culture, heritage and ethnicity. He loves people no matter what language they speak. There is nowhere in the world God’s love doesn’t reach. He loves those working their way up the corporate ladder, and those who are out of work. He loves people living in crammed high-rise apartments, palaces, suburban three-bed two-baths, and trailers with no electric. God loves people who do good and do bad. He loves people who invest their lives in philanthropic work and people who are serving life sentences in prison. He loves those who believe in Him and those who don’t. God loves the person who only goes to church on Christmas, and those who are there every time the doors are open. He loves those who take His name as a Christian, and those who use His name to curse.

God loves without bias or judgment. He loves each person completely. God’s love is not based on our decisions or worthiness. It is based on His. God does not qualify His love. He freely gives it.

God loved the world, each person, so much, that He gave us Jesus. He sent His One and Only Son here to bring us back to Him. Jesus gave up His life because of God’s great love, so each of us can be made right with God and have everlasting life.

Don’t think for a moment that you aren’t worth it. Don’t believe it when you begin to feel that no one loves you, or could ever love you. God’s great love gives us our worth.

Wherever you are right now, whatever you have done or not done, no matter how you feel you measure up, you can know this: You are loved.