Sunday, December 30, 2012

"...come to this hallowed place
Where my friends' portraits hang and look thereon..."


Tomorrow morning I leave to spend a week in Dublin, Ireland with my friend AB, so the blog might be quiet (though I am working on convincing AC to write a guest post - we shall see).  I hope to have a wonderful time seeing a new city, experiencing a different culture, and having time to relax, laze about and just read.

In honor of the trip, I wanted to share a poem I like from WB Yeats, an Irish poet and playwright, that I felt was fitting, both for my journey to Ireland, and for my traveling companion.  Hope you enjoy it!
 
"The Municipal Gallery Revisited"
William Butler Yeats, New Poems (1938)

I
AROUND me the images of thirty years:
An ambush; pilgrims at the water-side;
Casement upon trial, half hidden by the bars,
Guarded; Griffith staring in hysterical pride;
Kevin O'Higgins' countenance that wears
A gentle questioning look that cannot hide
A soul incapable of remorse or rest;
A revolutionary soldier kneeling to be blessed;

II
An Abbot or Archbishop with an upraised hand
Blessing the Tricolour.  'This is not,' I say,
'The dead Ireland of my youth, but an Ireland
The poets have imagined, terrible and gay.'
Before a woman's portrait suddenly I stand,
Beautiful and gentle in her Venetian way.
I met her all but fifty years ago
For twenty minutes in some studio.

III
Heart-smitten with emotion I Sink down,
My heart recovering with covered eyes;
Wherever I had looked I had looked upon
My permanent or impermanent images:
Augusta Gregory's son; her sister's son,
Hugh Lane, 'onlie begetter' of all these;
Hazel Lavery living and dying, that tale
As though some ballad-singer had sung it all;

IV
Mancini's portrait of Augusta Gregory,
'Greatest since Rembrandt,' according to John Synge;
A great ebullient portrait certainly;
But where is the brush that could show anything
Of all that pride and that humility?
And I am in despair that time may bring
Approved patterns of women or of men
But not that selfsame excellence again.

V
My mediaeval knees lack health until they bend,
But in that woman, in that household where
Honour had lived so long, all lacking found.
Childless I thought, 'My children may find here
Deep-rooted things,' but never foresaw its end,
And now that end has come I have not wept;
No fox can foul the lair the badger swept --

VI
(An image out of Spenser and the common tongue).
John Synge, I and Augusta Gregory, thought
All that we did, all that we said or sang
Must come from contact with the soil, from that
Contact everything Antaeus-like grew strong.
We three alone in modern times had brought
Everything down to that sole test again,
Dream of the noble and the beggar-man.

VII
And here's John Synge himself, that rooted man,
'Forgetting human words,' a grave deep face.
You that would judge me, do not judge alone
This book or that, come to this hallowed place
Where my friends' portraits hang and look thereon;
Ireland's history in their lineaments trace;
Think where man's glory most begins and ends,
And say my glory was I had such friends.

**Blessings to you all for 2013!  Please leave a comment and share your own favorite Irish poems, authors, quotes or sayings.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thankful Thursday:
"Announced by all the trumpets of the sky
Arrives the snow ..."



Announced by all the trumpets of the sky
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden's end.

from "The Snow-Storm," Ralph Waldo Emerson


This week I am thankful that we had a white Christmas in North Texas.  I do not like the cold, but if it must be cold, I love when it is productive like this.  Most of my life growing up in North Texas the times it snowed, or even produced freezing rain and ice, could probably be counted on one hand.  However, SC has experienced snow at some point in North Texas every year since her birth except last year, and she loves it.  She seems to be immune to the chill that playing in the snow brings about because she wanted to stay outside all day Christmas Day!

What are you thankful for this week?  Leave a comment, then check out other Thankful Thursday posts here:

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Loved and Lovely

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What 2 Read Wednesday:
"She was expecting something empowering."
Book Review: What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank
stories by Nathan Englander


"Deb looks crestfallen.  
She was expecting something empowering.  
Some story with which to educate Trevor, 
to reconfirm her belief in the humanity that, from inhumanity, forms."


This book is a collection of eight short stories, of which I am usually not an interested reader.  I don't know if it is the stigma that, for me, developed from reading short stories throughout school, that it is "fake" reading, of minimal value, and that a real reader reads long works, novels and the like.  How could a writer create depth with so few words?  So I honestly have to disclose that I picked What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank up without realizing it was a book of short stories.  However, having a few plane trips on the schedule, I brought it along and found myself immersed in remarkably deep stories that forced me to think in ways I did not expect, and think about things that might seem unrelated to the story Englander is telling.

Going into the title story my knowledge of Judaism was limited to what I had learned in elementary school when reading Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, plus various television shows or movies and brief mentions of Jewish characters in books that were not really about those characters.  I thought I really understood the difference between Christians and Jews - I mean, Christians believe that Christ is the Messiah, Jews do not, and that is the end.  Right?  No, not really; it is so much more than that.  

In "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank," two Jewish couples, Deb and the narrator, Americans who live in Florida, and Mark and Lauren, American ex-pats who live in Jerusalem, spend an evening catching up with each other's lives and trying to determine whether the ex-pats have better lives because they are "more" Jewish having moved to Jerusalem, become Hassidic, and changed their names to less American ones (Yerucham and Shoshana) than the couple from Florida.  At one point they are arguing about what Judaism is and what it means to be really Jewish.  Deb argues that all that is needed is to live a life that is rich in Jewish culture, but Mark points out that the point of Judaism isn't to simply be part of a Jewish culture.  He says
"Not if it's supposed to be a Jewish life.  Judaism is a religion.  And with religion comes ritual.  Culture is nothing.  Culture is some construction of the modern world.  And because of that, it is not fixed; it is ever-changing and a weak way to bind generations.  It't like taking two pieces of metal, and instead of making a nice weld, you hold them together with glue."
In this statement, I realized that this is also the problem of modern Christianity in America.  It has merged with social customs and become a Christian culture that one can pick and choose what to participate in.  Christians can now go to a church that doesn't use offensive words like "Jesus," but tells them to be happy, have hope, and become a better "you."  Christians can pass by the homeless scornfully, broadcasting an intimate knowledge that the men/women/children on the street would all be better if they got jobs and gave up the drugs and alcohol, while choosing to spend their hard earned money to material comforts of their own lives because they deserve it.  Most of us are living in a Christian culture, not living Christian lives.

With Mark's statement the difference between Judaism and Christianity also made a lot more sense to me,.  Jews are still bound by the Old Covenant, while for Christians there is only Jesus.  Jews have the ritual Mark spoke of because they still do not believe the Messiah has come, so the only way to seek God's forgiveness is to follow the rituals.  So Mark and Lauren really believe that changing their names, their style of dress and their homeland makes them more Jewish, because to them, it is all they can do, and when they look at Deb and the narrator in their Floridian home, barely going through the motions of required Jewish customs, they feel that they can scorn them.  


For Christians, none of this outward show matters.  It really doesn't matter how deep into the ritual of Christianity one delves, because God's gift of Jesus paid for the sins of the world.  In Galatians 2, Paul explains to Cephas that it is not by following the laws of the Old Covenant, but by faith in Christ that saves sinners.  However, living a Christian life does matter.  Galatians 2:20 says "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."  Christians are a changed people.

The other seven stories in this book are just as engrossing and thought-provoking as the title story, and I would heartily recommend it for adults.   









What 2 Read Wednesday:
"...God's love had changed everything"
Book Review: The Tale of Three Trees
retold by Angela Elwell Hunt



"But on Sunday morning,
when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her,
the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything."
-The Tale of Three Trees, a traditional folktale retold by Angela Elwell Hunt


As Christmas is upon us, I thought I would share a book that was introduced to us this year as a great Christmas read.  After reading it, I found that The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt is a wonderful Christmas story, but it does not stop there.  It is also a wonderful story to read during the time period between Christmas and Easter, because it does not focus on simply the birth of Jesus.  I love that about this book, because God's gift to us of Jesus would not be what it actually is without His death, and I personally find it hard to celebrate His birth without constantly remembering that His life would end, painfully, horrifically, at my expense.  It is one of the reasons "Joseph's Lullaby" by MercyMe is one of my favorite Christmas songs.  It reminds me that the reason for His birth is enormous.

The story begins explaining that there were three trees at the top of a mountain who had dreams of what they would become "when they grew up."  The first tree wishes to be a chest to hold treasure, the second to be a strong ship carrying powerful kings, and the third simply wants to grow so tall that people looking upon it will think of God.  The trees do ultimately get their wishes, but in a way that points the reader to God's love through the birth, life and death of Jesus.  It is an easy read, and even SC, who is 4 1/2, completely understood exactly what was going on and who the author was referring to.  The illustrations by Tim Jonke are soft and beautiful, and accompany the story very well.

I would recommend this book as a read-aloud for the whole family near Christmas, up to Easter, and any time a reminder is needed that God's love changes everything.








Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday:
"Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel."

"Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel."
-O Come, O Come, Emmanuel 


Merry Christmas!  As you celebrate the birth of our Savior, please enjoy a list of my top ten favorite Christmas songs:

1. "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" (Sufjan Stevens)

2. "Joseph's Lullaby" (MercyMe)

3. "Breath of Heaven" (Amy Grant)

4. "O Come all ye Faithful" (Josh Groban, feat. Mormon Tabernacle Choir)

5. "O, Holy Night" (Selah)

6. "Holy, Holy, Holy" (Sufjan Stevens)

7. "Lo! How a Rose E'er Blooming" (Sufjan Stevens)

8. "Joy to the World" (Chris Tomlin)

9. "Light of the World" (Chris Tomlin, feat. Matt Redman)

10. "Away in a Manger" (Casting Crowns)

And since it's Christmas, here is an extra song as a gift!

What are your favorite songs to celebrate the birth of our Savior?  Leave a comment, then check out some other top ten lists here:

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday:
"...to keep them interested in things."

"I have long felt that the way to keep children out of trouble 
is to keep them interested in things."
-Walt Disney, 1963



This week I am thankful that we are in Houston and will be spending the day at the Children's Museum of Houston (while AC works, of course).  This is apparently supposed to be one of the best children's museums in the country, and is on my top ten list of museums to take SC to in the next year.  

We knew a few weeks ago that AC would have to make this one-day trip to Houston for work, but this week he said "why don't you just come with me?"  I knew immediately I wanted to go (to spend that extra time with him, of course - it is four hours to Houston from our home), and am thankful that he loves to spend these moments with us as well.  SC and I have gotten very good at traveling along with AC for work, be it a road trip or one out of the country, and enjoy exploring new places on our own and finding interesting things to do while he works.

What last minute trip would you enjoy taking?  Leave a comment, then check out other Thankful Thursday posts here:

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Loved and Lovely

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday:
"Cookies are made of butter and love."

"Cookies are made of butter and love." 
Norwegian Proverb

With Christmas fast approaching, I am going focus on ten dessert recipes that I would love to make in the next week (though I may actually only get to one or two).  These recipes are all going to be paleo, because that is how we are trying very hard to eat (though it is so easy to get stuck in the fast-food rut when AC is out of town), but they all look delicious!  Here they are, in no particular order, with links to the recipes and pictures from the creators' websites:

1. Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (with white chocolate icing)
















9. Pumpkin Spice Cookies (with vanilla & cinnamon icing)




For the record, I have made the Chocolate Chip Cookies at number eight and they are delicious - very close to "the real thing."  

What goodies are you going to be making this week for Christmas?  Share with us in the comments, then check out other Top Ten Tuesday posts here:

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings


**I have not been asked to review or promote any of these recipes, or the blogs or websites I got them from, nor am I being compensated in any way for linking to them from P2P::W.  I have made recipes from the ones I link to in the past (with great results), so I am not fearful to recommend these I have yet to try.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Advent Day 3-7:
"And behold,
you will conceive in your womb
and bear a son ..."

"And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, 
and you shall name Him Jesus.  
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; 
and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 
and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, 
and His kingdom will have no end."
Luke 1: 31-33

DAY 3: Zechariah

For Day 3, we first started reading from Luke, and learned about the angel Gabriel visiting Zechariah to tell him that his wife Elizabeth would conceive a son (John), even though she is older.  We talked about how God usually gives babies to parents who are young enough to take care of the baby until he or she is an adult and can take care of him or herself, but that Elizabeth and Zechariah had not yet been given a baby, and because they were past this age, they assumed that they would not be blessed with a child.  Then, when Gabriel told Zechariah that Elizabeth would be given a baby, Zechariah did not believe it, and as a consequence of doubting God, Zechariah was rendered mute until the baby was born.

We made a Zechariah ornament, and SC put a big red "x" over his mouth to remind us that all things are possible with God, and we should not doubt Him as Zechariah did.  


DAY 4: Gabriel

On Day 4, we continued reading in Luke and learned about the angel Gabriel visiting Mary and telling her that she would conceive a baby, who would be named Jesus, and would become the savior of the world.

For our craft, we created an angel ornament, with a glitter bell, shiny wrapping paper, and sparkly pipe cleaners.


DAY 5: Mary

Day 5 was a continuation of the reading in Luke from Day 4, and this time we focused on Mary instead of Gabriel.  Mary did not doubt Gabriel's message, but she did ask how, if she were a virgin, she could have a baby.  Gabriel told her that her virginity would be a sign that Jesus is the Son of God.  I really wasn't sure how to explain the virginity issue to SC without giving her more details than she needs right now, but this is a huge part of the story, so we talked about how most people are married before God gives them a baby, and because Mary was not yet married to Joseph, she was unsure as to how God could give her a baby.  How have you handled this with younger children?

We made a Mary ornament, and dressed her in traditional Christmas colors.


DAY 6: Mary/Elizabeth

On Day 6, we read from Luke about Mary going to visit her cousin Elizabeth, and how the baby in Elizabeth's tummy (John) leapt for joy when Mary entered the room, making both women realize that neither of their pregnancies were anything typical.  SC and I talked about how babies inside their mothers' stomachs will react to things that are going on, like loud music, talking, and other things, but in this case, John was reacting to Jesus, who was inside Mary's stomach, which was special.  We also talked about how SC was very active when she was inside of me.

Our craft was to paint paper dolls of Mary and Elizabeth, including their round "bumps" (which SC painted dark black after mixing too many colors together).


DAY 7: Song

Day 7 was focused on the song Mary sang in joy and wonder after her encouraging experience with Elizabeth.  SC and I talked about how the words in many of the songs we sing are to praise God and His greatness, and to thank Him for the blessings He has bestowed upon us.  Then we listened to a few worshipful Christmas songs while we made a music-inspired ornament.




Don't forget, we are using Truth in the Tinsel to guide us through Advent this year.  So far, I would highly recommend it.


What Advent activities have you been up to so far in December?  Leave a comment and let me know!


**I am not an affiliate of Truth in the Tinsel, nor have I been asked to review it.  I am not being compensated in any way for using this product, including, but not limited to, receiving a free copy for review purposes.  Please read my disclosure statement to learn more about my affiliations.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thankful Thursday:
"Presents are made for the pleasure ..."

"Presents are made for the pleasure of who gives them, 
not the merits of who receives them."
-Carlos Ruiz ZafónThe Shadow of the Wind


Today I am thankful that I have all my Christmas shopping done, and there are still eighteen days, sixteen hours left until we celebrate.  I do still have a few gifts in transit, but I do not have anything left to buy.  

Now the difficulty will be to resist the rest of the sales that are happening and not buying anything more.  I love giving gifts to SC and AC, and have a hard time seeing things that they would like and not just getting them.  We really wanted to cut down on what we were buying for ourselves this year, because the past four years have been beyond ridiculous when it comes to present-opening time.  We tried to just keep it simple, but I think next year we are going to try something like "need/want/read/wear" because it will be even better to have that specific focus.  We still overbought this year, in my opinion, for ourselves, and I think it was because our guideline was "maybe one bigger gift, and then stocking stuff."  There is quite a bit that has counted as "stocking stuff," though I am pleased we definitely did better than in years past.  

The point of cutting down the quantity of Christmas gifts for ourselves was so that we could be good stewards of the blessings God has given us, and to give to those who otherwise would have nothing.  So, this year we adopted three angels (one whole family) from the Salvation Army Angel Tree program.  The reason we chose this program is because not only is it local, but instead of just collecting toys, it gives both a "need" and a "want" for each child,  as well as lists clothing and shoe sizes for each child and permits the gifting of things not on the list, like socks, underwear, jackets and other items they might need, but are not their number one need.  I would really encourage those of you who are looking for a way to bless others to look for the Salvation Army Angel Tree program local to your home.

What are you thankful for today?  Leave a comment, then check out 

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Loved and Lovely

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday:
"Home is home, though it be never so homely."

"Home is home, though it be never so homely."
English proverb, 
reported by John Clarke, 
Par√¶miologia (1639), p. 101.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we took the opportunity to use our days off (and AC actually being in town for the whole holiday) to work on creating a backsplash in our kitchen.  



Our house has an open kitchen and living room design that separates the two areas with a long bar-height countertop, which holds the sink, dishwasher and empty counter space on the kitchen side.  The space between the bar-height counter and the sink-height counter is covered completely with the same laminate that is the counter, which is great for the wet area of the kitchen.  However, perpendicular to this area, up against the outer wall of the kitchen is the rest of the countertop and the stove, and unfortunately, between this counter and the cabinets above is just plain wall, and after years of cooking (and splashing) on the stove, we decided we needed create a tile backsplash.

So, here are ten steps to create a tile backsplash.

1.  First, measure the area you wish to tile.  While you are doing this, decide what size tile would look best in the space and might be easiest to place.  Typically backsplashes are done with smaller, more decorative tiles, but plain subway tiles are very popular, and if you are crafty, you can even use both plain tiles and add a strip of decorative tiles strategically (though that may require more cutting).  The area we had to tile was just under eight feet long and between one and two feet in height, depending which part of the counter it was under, so we decided a smaller tile would probably look best.


2.  Choose a tile.  We found this tile at our local home improvement store after looking both online and at other stores.  The color of the stone tile matches our countertop perfectly, and the glass tiles add just a little something without being too much in the small space.

3.  Gather your supplies.  
  • You will, of course, need the tile you chose.  Make sure you buy enough extra for cutting and piecing whatever pattern you want.  For example, the tile we chose has an "random" pattern with the glass tiles, so we needed to make sure we had enough to repeat that pattern depending on what we were cutting to fit at the top or the bottom.  For our just under ten total square feet, we bought twelve square feet of tile, which came in 12" x 12" blocks attached at the back with some sort of netting.
  • Some type of tile adhesive like Tile & Ceramic Adhesive
  • Grout in a color that matches the tile you chose.  You can use either the powder that you mix yourself like Polyblend Sanded Tile Grout or a premixed grout like Simple Premium Grout.  We used the premixed simply because we were doing such a small area of it, but we have read online that the powder is really very simple.
  • Caulking that matches the grout color like Polyblend Ceramic Tile Caulk - 10.5 Oz
  • A grout float like Grout Float
  • Tile trowel like 11-Inch by 4-1/2-Inch Notched Trowel
  • Grout sponge like Extra Large Hydra Tile Grout Sponge
  • Water
  • Clean, dry cloth
  • Tile nipper like Compound Tile Nippers (PRO)
  • Tile spacers like 1/8-Inch Tile Spacers, 200/Bag.  Make sure you get the size that you want to space your tile.  If you chose a tile like we did that already has space between the 12" x 12" sheets, make sure you get the same size spacers for between the sheets as is between the tiles on the sheet.
  • If you need to make large cuts, you will need a wet saw like SKIL 3540-02 4.2-Amp 7-Inch Wet Tile Saw.  However, for our tiny tile, AC said it was more likely that he loose a finger than cut the tile in the right place, so we only used the tile nippers for the few tiles we needed to cut down.

**At this point, if your walls are uneven, you may need to take an extra step or two to clean them up.  However, we did not have to do any of that, nor did we sand the wall to remove paint or have anything previously stuck to the wall that needed to be removed or holes patched.  You will need to remove outlet covers if there are outlets on the wall you wish to tile, and add outlet extenders like Quick Fix Electrical Spacers to the depth that the new tile will protrude from the wall.  You will also want to tape off and cover any counter that is showing with old newspaper or painters' paper.


4.  Apply the adhesive.  Use the tile trowel to apply a thin layer of the adhesive to an area of the wall that you will be able to apply tile to in about thirty minutes or less.  Use the teeth on the trowel remove excess and even out the adhesive layer.

5.  Apply the tiles.  Starting at a bottom edge of a prominent focal point, apply the tile over the adhesive, pressing firmly but not hard.  Make sure you get the tile set exactly where you want it the first time, because once it has been set in the adhesive, it is VERY difficult to move.  It will not slide into place, even a minimal amount, if you put it on crooked.  Put spacers under where the tile will set (we put them on the counter ledge), and make sure you put spacers around the edges of the tile before you place the next tile or sheet.



**From this point you will go back and forth between applying the adhesive and placing tiles until you have placed them all.  Do not forget to add the tile spacers in between.  When you get to the edges, around outlets or any other you will need to make cuts with the wet saw or tile nippers, and you may find it easier to apply the adhesive directly to the back of the tile.  After all the tiles have been placed, you may remove all the tile spacers, but if you forget, they will come out easily before you apply the grout.

6.  Apply the grout.  After the tile has set for 24 - 48 hours (depending on the instructions on the adhesive), you may apply the grout.  Follow the directions to mix the powder grout or simply apply the premixed directly from the carton.  It may be easier to scoop the grout with a simple trowel from the carton onto the grout float.  Holding the grout float at a 45 degree angle,  press the grout into the space between the tiles (joints), moving diagonal to the lines, working from the edges toward the center.



7.  Wipe down grout with a damp sponge.  After the grout has set for ten minutes (this is ten minutes from the first grout has been placed, not ten minutes after you are done), dampen a sponge and wipe up the excess grout from the surface of the tiles.  Some would suggest having a bucket to hold water in, because you will need to rinse the sponge between every wipe so as not to simply push watery grout around on the tiles, but doing it in the kitchen meant I just rinsed the sponge in the sink so that I was not constantly changing the water in the bucket.  This is where having two people might come in handy, as AC was able to continue applying grout while I (and even SC) came behind him to remove the excess.  You do not want the sponge to be so wet it is dripping water, as this will add too much water to the grout in the joints.  It needs to be barely damp.

8.  At least four hours later, use a tile scrubber to remove any lingering grout residue.  This tile scrubber is simply a sponge that has a slightly abrasive side (like Grout Scrub Sponge With Coarse Scrub Side), and on the tile we chose, the only residue remained on the glass tiles.  So, I dampened the abrasive side of the sponge and scrubbed lightly until the residue was gone.  Then I wiped the excess water away with a clean towel.

9.  Caulk the edges.  After the grout has set 18 - 24 hours, apply caulking to the edges between the tile and counters, outlets, etc.  This is eminently easier with a caulking gun.

10.  Clean up and enjoy!  Reaffix outlet covers, push the stove back into place, and put the things that live on your countertop back where they go.



Overall, this was an easy project, though definitely a two (amateur) person job.  I love the way it turned out, and would love to encourage anyone who is thinking about giving it a try that you can do it.

What small upgrade projects are you planning?  Leave a comment, and then check out more Top Ten Tuesday posts here:

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

**This post contains affiliate links.  Please read my disclosure statement.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Advent Day 1 & 2:
"The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light ..."


"The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them."

-Isaiah 9:2

Last year we began celebrating the coming of Christmas by using a traditional chocolate-behind-the-flap advent calendar, though it did have the story of Jesus' birth written on the back of the flap.  Each night before bed, AC or I would read all the previous flaps up to the new one, and then SC would get to eat the candy.  This year, however, I wanted to do something a little more.  I love that some of the advent calendars still print the Christmas story, but I really want SC to understand how big a deal Christmas is, and why Jesus being born is so important.

So, after some research (and noticing on a few blog sidebars), I found Truth in the Tinsel, an ebook by Amanda White.  We have only done two days so far, but I already love it.  It has simple crafts that are quick to complete while I read the Bible verse, and it gives some great hints as to how to talk about specific things with SC.  I am going focus on what we are talking about and working on each day, so look for our Advent 2012 posts every few days!

DAY 1: Light

For Day 1, we read from Isaiah and talked about how Jesus is the light come to overtake the darkness.  After reading the passage, I had to give a bit of backstory to remind SC of Genesis and the fall of man, and explain that Isaiah was a prophet and though he lived before Jesus was born, he was proclaiming that Jesus would come.

We made a cute light ornament from tissue paper and construction paper.


We also happened to have scented candles burning in the room, and SC requested we turn off all the lights so we could see what it was like to have the candle illuminate things instead.

DAY 2: Kingdom

For Day 2, we reread the passage from Isaiah, but this time we talked specifically about what it meant to be a king, who kings were, and how Jesus is the King of Kings.  Fittingly, we made a crown ornament.


Currently I have these two ornaments hanging on an as-of-yet undecorated tree, but I think I will move them to a spot under our long bar-height counter that faces out toward the living room so that we can look at them in order.  Also, for those who are worried my child is missing out, I did buy the chocolate advent calendar too and SC has been getting a candy after we complete the craft.

Do you have any family advent traditions?  Share them below!


**I am not an affiliate of Truth in the Tinsel, nor have I been asked to review it.  I am not being compensated in any way for using this product, including, but not limited to, receiving a free copy for review purposes.  Please read my disclosure statement to learn more about my affiliations.
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