Let the Christmas Countdown begin!

Today we began a new tradition in the Cobb home!

Our Christmas Countdown Advent Tree

Jackson and Lauren after hanging all the ornaments on our Christmas Countdown Advent Tree

The Christmas Countdown is on, and for the next 24 days we are celebrating with special family activities and Scripture passages to focus our hearts on Jesus.

Matt cut out a Christmas tree from green butcher paper, and we “hung” Christmas ornaments for each day until Christmas. Using these templates, I chose advent-themed verses and a fun family project to write on the back. Each day, the kids find the number we are on and take the ornament off. We spend time as a family in the Bible and praying together, then enjoy a Christmas craft, adventure or service project.

Countdown with us this December! Each day I will be posting our Bible verses and activity, and you are welcome to join in the fun online. 🙂

Christmas Countdown: Day 1

Christmas Countdown: Day 1

Day 1 we read Isaiah 40:1-5:

“Comfort, comfort my people,”
says your God.
“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.
Tell her that her sad days are gone
and her sins are pardoned.
Yes, the Lord has punished her twice over
for all her sins.”

Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting,
“Clear the way through the wilderness
for the Lord!
Make a straight highway through the wasteland
for our God!
Fill in the valleys,
and level the mountains and hills.
Straighten the curves,
and smooth out the rough places.
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
The Lord has spoken!”

We traveled to see my family this afternoon, and spent the rest of the day watching the kids run around, collecting candy at an evening parade and celebrating my brother’s birthday. It was particularly sweet to spend time with my brother for the last time before his active duty deployment begins and he has a tour in Afghanistan next year.

In the midst of the hoopla, we sat the kids down, warmed up the glue guns, and created super fun Christmas tree ornaments. Though the idea came from here, each child gave it their own special touch.

Jackson (right) is with his cousin Evan showing off their Christmas tree creations

Jackson (right) is with his cousin Evan showing off their Christmas tree creations

I am so grateful to God for my family this Christmas. No matter what, God always fills in our gaps and levels off our rough edges. He straightens out our kinks and smooths out our wrinkles. When we love the way God does, His glory is revealed in our lives, and He is pleased. God’s glory is meant to be seen and experienced together, and to be able to be held by the grace of our Heavenly Father alongside my family is such a blessing.

I pray you and your family are blessed this Christmas season by the love of Jesus Christ!

My Favorite Ornament This Year

I look forward to putting up our Christmas tree every year! Though our tree is a hodge-podge of ribbons, garland, ornaments and lights, each branch holds special memories.

Beautiful ribbons used to decorate the sanctuary for our wedding ceremony hang around the tree. Unique, hand-crafted ornaments that Matt’s grandmother made for him adorn the areas children can reach, and we invite Jackson and Lauren to touch and play with them. Almost every year we’ve been married, Matt and I have bought a nativity-themed ornament. In recent years, we have had the wonderful occasions to add ornaments marking the birth and first Christmas for each of our children.

But, this year, my favorite decoration is made of construction paper.

Jackson made this stocking ornament himself, and it's even personally signed on the back!

I’m sure this is one of many handmade ornaments from my children that will hang from the branches of our Christmas tree in years to come. But, this is the first real ornament Jackson has made on his own, with his personal signature on the back.

I’ve hung this special ornament right in the middle on the front of the tree, so I see it multiple times a day. It reminds me of God’s amazing love for me, that He would be so kind to bless me with a family. And, it makes me desire to love God even more in gratitude for the children He has given me.

This is the same reason why I hang Jackson and Lauren’s creations on the refrigerator. I am so proud of their growth and accomplishments, whether it is beautiful, colorful scribbles all over every inch of a paper (and my table) or a backward “N” at the end of a scrawled name written with flourish. They are my children, and their artwork, schoolwork and pictures displayed are a reminder to me and to them of how much I love them.

I think that is why we display Christmas trees in the first place. It is a visible sign of the true meaning of Christmas, a beautiful picture of the greatest gift ever given: Jesus. He came to set us free through paying the ransom for our sins with His very life nailed to a tree.

Not only will I treasure the ornament Jackson made for me, each time I pass by our Christmas tree this year I will celebrate the God who came to make a way for both of us to have life everlasting.