Journey to the Manger: Anna

Matt and the kids try to quickly memorize what objects are on the tray.

Matt and the kids try to quickly memorize what objects are on the tray.

As my family continues our Journey to the Manger, we stopped by the Temple and met an old woman named Anna.

At the age of 84, God gave Anna a beautiful gift. Anna had lived in the Temple for decades. She became a widow seven years into her marriage, and spent every waking moment in the Temple from that point, pouring out her heart to the Lord, worshiping Him, and declaring His praises. Out of such a deep intimacy with her Heavenly Father came great sensitivity to the working of the Holy Spirit. She learned how to pay attention to God’s movement.

Anna

Anna

So, when a new mother and father entered the Temple one day, cradling their infant son, Anna was ready and waiting for God to speak, like she did every day. This time Anna heard the God of the Universe cry out and coo from by Mary’s loving arms. This elderly lady, so close to Heaven, beheld Heaven’s promise and joy with her own eyes. Right away she broke out in praise and began to witness to everyone around that this child would redeem them all!

Anna spent so much time with God, she was quick to feel His presence and respond. She paid attention. For most of us around the celebration of Christ’s birth, our focus is much less trained. Too often we succumb to the Christmas crazy, running from one store to the next for the perfect gifts, squeezing in parties and school programs and church musicals and family gatherings. We become too busy to receive God’s greatest gift: the presence of His Son.

Today, we put our focus to the test. My husband and kids put their game faces on as I revealed a tray of objects, and they began intensely scanning the items for the next minute. Then, they worked together to recall from memory as many of the items as they could. They impressively remembered 20 out of 26! Jackson explained that he just needed to close his eyes to see the tray and remember what it held.

Maybe the same memory device could also be used in our spiritual lives. We need to spend more time with our eyes closed in prayer to sear God’s promises on our hearts. Anna spent years and years meditating on God’s Word and willingly serving Him. When the time came, Anna was ready to experience the joy of Christ.

This Christmas, that’s what we need most: Jesus.

 

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.

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.