20+ Ways to Keep Christ in Christmas

In case you didn't notice, Christmas is right around the corner. I am guessing you didn't miss it with decorations and Christmas items popping up in stores well before November even started. How many catalogs have you received in the mail over the past couple weeks? Black Friday is in just a couple days! From a worldly view, Christmas is all about presents, santa, and holiday cheer. If you didn't snag that Black Friday deal or find matching Christmas jammies for your kids, you may feel like you aren't doing it right!

Certainly giving gifts and participating in some knock-out sales isn't wrong. In fact, giving gifts can be very representative of our faiths. However, I don't know about you, but I can easily get all caught up in it. I get stressed so easily about what presents I need to buy, what recipes I want to try, and what decor will adorn my living room. It's so easy to lose sight about what Christmas is all about.

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Christ is Christmas! 

Christmas is about Christ, our Savior, being born! No gift, cookie, pair of pajamas, or decoration can even begin to measure to the awesome that is Jesus our Savior!

So if you are like me and have a hard time keeping focus during the Christmas season, please enjoy this list! Find one, two or a few things to do that can help you stay focused on Christ this Christmas, spread Christ this Christmas, and celebrate Christ this Christmas.

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1.) Buy a religious advent calendar. (Bonus points if it includes chocolate!)

2.) Participate in a Christmas focused Bible study during December.

3.) Attend Advent by Candlelight at your church.

4.) Read or listen to the birth story of Jesus.

5.) Give to a charity.

6.) Volunteer.

7.) Sing a Christmas hymn with your daily devotion.

8.) View a live nativity.

9.) Listen to Christmas music.

10.) Do Truth in the Tinsel with your children.

11.) Set up a nativity scene in your home. (You can set it up in stages, adding Jesus on Christmas day and the wise men afterward.)

12.) Go Christmas caroling.

13.) Attend the "Messiah" orchestra performance or something similar.

14.) Use an advent candle wreath. Light week to week throughout Advent.

15.) Invite a friend or family member to a Christmas service.

16.) Do Jesse Tree ornaments with your children.

17.) Find a new Christmas book to read with your kids.

18.) Attend Advent services at your church.

19.) Make a new Christmas ornament or Christmas decoration for your home.

20.) Create a countdown with your children -- a paper chain or something similar and add bible passages to read on each day.

21.) Read this blog post by Rachel from last week.

22.) Sponsor a child.

Hopefully you've found one or two things you could add to your Christmas preparations this year. Do you have any to add to this list? Please share!

BeckySig2

Easter Blues

Do you ever get the post holiday blues? I do. I look forward to holidays usually for weeks before it happens. I spend many days planning and preparing. I imagine my little kids' faces when they open their presents or find their baskets or try a certain dessert for the first time. I anticipate laughter and hugs with all my family. I eagerly await the special church services with my favorite hymns and tear-jerking sermons.

Holidays are special for many reasons both in an earthly sense and a Godly sense. And while we know that the earthly things truly don't matter, it's easy to get caught up in them anyway. Even though we know the true meaning behind many holidays, afterward, it's easy to feel a little...let down. A little bummed. A little blue.

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Maybe you had a similar experience this Easter?

My post ham and potatoes and sugar cookies and jelly bean brain fog is making it a little difficult to focus on what Easter is all about. The clutter from all the accumulated possessions via Easter basket extravaganza is blocking my eyes from seeing Jesus. My travel fatigue is making me a little too groggy to continue celebrating.

But seriously?

Christ died!

He is risen!

He will come again!

1 Corinthians 15:54-57, "Death has been swallow up in victory. "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

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We don't need to feel let down or at all blue. While the anticipation of celebrating this special day is over, the anticipation of celebrating an eternity in heaven with Jesus is not! We have so much to look forward to because the best is yet to come!

So let's get prepared for that festive day! Continue our Bible studies. Keep humming that Easter tune. Pray always. Love one another. Praise our Father. Share His Story. We have so much to look forward to, and I am absolutely certain we won't feel let down or blue when we get there.

Luke 6:23, "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven."

Heavenly Father, Thank you. Thank you for the freedom to celebrate these holidays, especially this recent Easter. Thank you for sending your Son to save me from my sins. Please help me to keep my focus on what truly matters in life, and that is You. Prepare me and give me confidence to give the reason for the hope that I have through You. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

BeckySig2

 

 

Our Favorite Christmas Books Based On Age

Yesterday, Jes wrote about ALL the preparations we do during Advent and Christmas and why some of our Christmas traditions are worth keeping. I would like to share one of the traditions I grew up with that I treasure. Growing up, every year we would receive a Christmas themed book. Looking at those books from childhood takes me right back to the age, location, and memories of "Christmas past". Don't worry they are good memories unlike Scrooge. ;)

Now that we have our own children we have continued this tradition and include a little note on the inside cover with our child's name and age.

Below is a collection of favorite Christmas books that some of us HHH writers collaborated on to share with you!  If you are looking for a book to gift your loved ones (young and old!) you have a great list to go by. Click on the titles to open our Amazon affiliated links and learn more about the books!

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A Gift For The Baby by Diana Manning  Hallmark book with coordinating ornament. As you press the buttons as they appear in the story (side panel), the ornament lights up and plays a short clip of the character in the story (i.e. the donkey who was glad to help carry Mary to Bethlehem)

Jesus, Me, and My Christmas Tree by Crystal Bowman Tree shaped :) "My tree tells a story of long, long ago from the star on the top to the present below. When God in his mercy and wonderful love sent his son Jesus from heaven above."

Touch and Feel Baby Jesus Is Born by Allia Zobel Nolan

The Story of Christmas by Patricia Pingry

Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell A cute infant board book. Kelly's family even did that as a cousin skit last year for Christmas, complete with homemade stable and manger.

Carl's Christmas by Alexandra Day A book with minimal text tells the story of a family's faithful dog and the baby left in his charge and their adventure-filled Christmas Eve.

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One Starry Night by Jan Godfrey This book tells of the first Christmas with imaginative art, while incorporating a counting element within the rhythmic text.

The Little Shepherd Girl: A Christmas Story by Juliann Henry A sister feels left out while her brothers go to watch the sheep, so she joins them and witnesses something even more exciting than she could have dreamed. Her Savior!

The Very First Christmas (Sticker Stories) by Elise Mills Reusable stickers help your little one play the Christmas story over and over.

Little Tree by e.e. cummings In a warm and touching poem, e.e. cummings describes the wonder and excitement of a young brother and sister who find a little tree on a city sidewalk and carry it home, where they adorn it with Christmas finery.

The Christmas Story by Jane Werner Watson I had this Christmas book when I was a child and still love the illustrations. The book is a straight forward account of Christmas.

This Is the Stable by Cynthia Cotton This lovely picture book combines beautiful artwork and a seamless, thoughtful 'The house that Jack built' style to tell the story of the Nativity. I gifted it to all of my nieces as toddlers but my 6 year old loves to read this one and is adequately challenged. The illustrations are beautiful.

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner She incorporates little hidden pictures on every page that the kids absolutely love looking for. There are multiple books in her Snowmen series and we love them all!

The Little Drummer Mouse by Mercer Mayer Children will relish the moment when the little drummer mouse realizes that no matter how small he is, he is a part of this exciting event. Mercer Mayer’s glowing and friendly artwork brings enormous charisma to this cozy version of the Nativity.

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Waiting for Noel: An Advent Story by Ann Dixon As Noel's family lights the Advent candles each weekbefore Christmas, Noel's father tells her the specialstory of the year her family waited andprepared for her birth on Christmas Day.

The Nativity by Julie Vivas With illustrations that are enchanting and unexpected, Julie Vivas reveals the human side to Mary's story, beautifully imagining the Angel Gabriel delivering the news to her, the exhausting journey with Joseph to Bethlehem, and at last the deliverance of the baby Jesus.

Peanuts: A Charlie Brown Christmas Deluxe Ed by Charles M. Schulz Read along with Charlie Brown in his heartwarming quest to uncover the true meaning of Christmas with Snoopy, Linus, and friends!

The Visit of the Wise Men by Martha Jander Through gentle verse and rich illustrations, children hear an accurate portrayal of the Magi, dispelling minunderstandings that put three Wise Men at Jesus birthplace.

Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story by Sally Lloyd Jones The moment had come. The long-awaited child had arrived! Creation cried out in celebration, but only a few people heard. Only a few joined nature's chorus, a song in praise of the newborn King.

The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt Children will be deeply touched as they understand, perhaps for the first time, the significance of Christ’s life and his atoning sacrifice on the cross.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski The spirit of Christmas heals a sorrowing woodcarver's heart in this splendid edition of a holiday classic, complete with a CD masterfully narrated by James Earl Jones.

The First Christmas by Carol Heyer This is the story of Jesus' birth, retold by Carol Heyer in clear and simple language for little ones. Her accompanying artwork is luminous and adds depth to the story of why Christians celebrate Christmas.

The Nutcracker Ballet: A Book, Theater, and Paper Doll Fold-out Play Set (Foldout Play Set) by Mara Conlon The classic story of The Nutcracker comes to life with this book, theater, and paper doll play set. Read along in the 32-page storybook as your paper doll characters (more than 40 of them!) dance their way through three different foldout stages!

Santa's Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki "No, no, no," said Santa in a kindly voice, "Christmas hasn't got anything to do with me. Sit down and I'll tell you all the story of the first Christmas."

The Candymaker's Gift: The Legend of the Candy Cane by David Haidel The legend of how the candy cane came into being, and what it signifies, wonderfully proclaims the best gift of Christmas.

Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck Rob wants to get his father something special for Christmas this year -- something that shows how much he really loves him. But it's Christmas Eve, and he doesn't have much money to spend. What could he possibly get?

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The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson the children who lived under the bridge recognized a true friend when they met one, even if the friend seemed a trifle unwilling at the start. And it did not take Armand very long to realize that he had gotten himself ready-made family; one that he loved with all his heart, and one for whom he would have to find a better home than the bridge.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

A Little House Christmas Treasury: Festive Holiday Stories by Laura Ingalls Wilder

One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham  an injured mountain boy, caught in a snowstorm at Christmastime, is taken in by a woman who lives in a log home the boy's grandfather helped build years before. After the snowbound pair become acquainted and the grandfather is notified of the boy's whereabouts, the woman launches into a telling of the Christmas story--beginning with the Creation and ending with the Resurrection.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Dr. Seuss

Classics Illustrated Deluxe #9: A Christmas Carol and the Remembrance of Mugby this version of Scrooge's classic story is illustrated like a comic book - sweet!

Chicken Soup for the Soul: It's Christmas!: 101 Joyful Stories

A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition Charles M. Schulz's A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition is a lushly illustrated tribute to the beloved television classic that takes readers behind-the-scenes of the Peanuts holiday special

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A Walk One Winter Night: A Christmas Story by Al Andrews What started as a simple, late night stroll to clear his head from the hassles of the season turned into something that can only be described as...real.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Women of Christmas: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna by Liz Curtis Higgs A sacred season is about to unfold for three women whose hearts belong to God. Elizabeth is barren, yet her trust in God remains fertile. Mary is betrothed in marriage, yet she is willing to bear God’s Son. Anna is a widow full of years, yet she waits patiently, prayerfully for the Messiah to appear in the temple courts.

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas (multiple contributors) this special volume-draws from the works and sermons of classic theologians such as Whitefield, Luther, Spurgeon, and Augustine, and from leading contemporary communicators such as John Piper, J. Ligon Duncan, Randy Alcorn, John MacArthur, Francis Schaeffer, R. C. Sproul, Skip Ryan, and Joni Eareckson Tada to beckon you and your family into the wonder of Jesus' incarnation and birth.

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp

God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer  Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45) was a Christian minister, seminary professor, and theologian who became one of the leading voices of opposition against Nazism during World War II. He was a founding member of Germany's Confessing Church and was executed for participating in a plot to assassinate Hitler. His theological views have become highly influential in the years since his death.

Messiah - The Greatest Sermon Ever Sung "Messiah--the Greatest Sermon Ever Sung" combines devotional explanations & beautiful illustrations with the sacred texts used in Handel's "Messiah". We are currently running a giveaway for this book. Enter here!

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Gift of Christmas: A Special Collection of Joyful Holiday Stories

The Christmas Box Collection: The Christmas Box, Timepiece, and The Letter by Richard Paul Evans  Richard Paul Evans' #1 New York Times bestseller The Christmas Box has become a holiday classic, a tale so touching that it continues to "tug families' heartstrings" (USA Today).

 Don't see your favorite Christmas book on the list above? Let us know your favorites in the comments so we can enjoy them too! 

AND don't forget to enter the Christmas book, Messiah - the Greatest Sermon Ever Sung, giveaway we have this week! Click here to enter. The winner will be announced tomorrow.

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