Sunday, November 28, 2010

Celebrating CHRISTmas: Post #1 Keeping Christ Central the Whole Season

I have always enjoyed fun and traditions. I'll share some specifics about some things we do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the next few posts, but today, here are 10 ways we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus during the Christmas Season:

1) We have a sticker chart on our calendar to countdown. Ending on Christmas with the sticker given at church that says "Sound the horn. Christ is born!"

2) We love to make fun crafts all December- paper snow flakes, ice cream snowman (this year marshmallow snowman), paper candles, foam ornaments, etc. (the snow focus gives an opportunity to talk about Jesus as pure and sinless and how His death and blood washes those who are His white as snow.)

3) We read the Christmas story broken down into weekly chunks from a children’s bible daily and act it out or make crafts to act out: (1st week- angel visits Mary and then Joseph; 2nd week- Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem and Jesus is born, 3rd week- Angels tell the shepherds -Last year during this week in class they talked about how we share the good news with others just like the angels did-so at home we shared ways we can share and then shared this good news with others in our life all week!!!)

4) We have a Veggie Tale nativity set we like to play with (Little People also has a cool one!)

5) We watch Christ-centered/Christian worldview Christmas dvds... we have BOZ, Veggie Tales (3 of them), the Wiggles, Hermie, and Really Woolly

6) We play Christmas music in the car and at home :
Jimmy and Caleb: A Veggie Tales Christmas cd.
My favorite times are when we just get out my guitar and sing. This leads to good opportunities to talk about the lyrics

7) We play Christmas games: We have a Christmas bingo (You can totally hand make your own version of cards with Christmas themed pictures) and I’m making a matching game by printing off pictures that go with our weekly readings

8) We bake cookies. My favorite kind is a candy cane shaped twist sugar cookie (and it gives me a chance to share “the Legend of the Candy Cane”)

9) We have fun Christmas books for small kids. Some favorites: The Legend of the Candy Cane, What is Christmas?, and The Story of Christmas

10) We decorate a Christmas Tree- Andy and I (clueless at the time) picked up an ornament on our first date. It has become tradition for us to buy or make a new ornament each year that represents a major event (like our wedding and the birth of our boys), a fun trip we took, or a huge growth or milestone for us. Decorating the tree is a fun time to reflect and share our family history with our boys.

Our first ornament to go on the tree every year is the ornament we got on our first date

What are some of the ways you keep Christ central during the Christmas season?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How Did Squanto Know English?

As Jimmy and I were reading through our favorite Thanksgiving book, he asked how Squanto knew English. I had no clue. He clearly thinks through things at a deeper level than I do. So I looked online and Justin Taylor (a blog I highly recommend) did know! He recommended a biography of Squanto written by Eric Metaxas.

Did you know that Squanto was sold into slavery to a Spanish Monk? Or that Squanto was a professing Christian (I never heard that in school)? Or how it took 10 years, but God used an Englishman to help Squanto come back (hence his knowledge of the English language) to his homeland only to find that his entire tribe had died? His story is such an incredible example of how God is always present in our lives and there is such good, even in hardship and trials, as HE draws us to Himself and uses us to impact others to His glory. Squanto genuinely loved and cared for the pilgrims and we’re so thankful to know more about him!

Our Thanksgiving books:
 1) The Story of Thanksgiving,  Nancy Skarmeas
-This is the book we read every year. Someone gave us years ago and Jimmy has it memorized. I love that he now knows terms and places we’ll use later in depth (ex.- England, Massachusetts, Pilgrims, the Mayflower, etc.)

-This is our new book. Here’s the product description from Amazon:
“This entertaining and historical story shows that the actual hero of the Thanksgiving was neither white nor Indian, but God. In 1608, English traders came to Massachusetts and captured a 12-year old Indian, Squanto, and sold him into slavery. He was raised by Christians and taught faith in God. Ten years later he was sent home to America. Upon arrival, he learned an epidemic had wiped out his entire village. But God had plans for Squanto. God delivered a Thanksgiving miracle: an English-speaking Indian living in the exact place where the Pilgrims land in a strange new world.

In Humility Count Others More Significant Than Yourselves...

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus"- Philippians 2:1-5

This week, I have been re-listening to a sermon from John Piper * that I heard years ago to remember the truths of loving others that I've forgotten. I remember the first time I heard this sermon, called The Mind of Christ: Looking Out for the Interests of Others”. I was on my elliptical (not a convenient place for note taking). I wept and wept. I just couldn’t believe how clear that passage was as he preached. I was crushed (in a good way) by how little I really loved anyone in my life.

Here's what nailed me: vs. 4 says, "in humility count others more significant than yourselves" Paul doesn't say if they are worthy, treat them that way but that we are to treat them as though they are more significant. It's our treating them that is addressed, not them. I tend to judge and weigh whether or not someone deserves my love (woh- that's ugly). 

Paul says though, that we can and should have the mind to love like Jesus. Like Jesus! God Himself, who didn't act on His own status, but instead looked to the interests of people who didn't at all deserve His love. We hated Him. I hated Him. And yet, He humbled himself to death on a cross so that I could be restored to Him. THAT is how I am called to love others. Oh how i long to live this out and not just type about it.

Piper's encouragement on looking to other's interests:
"It was beautiful when Christ put our interests above his own earthly comforts and died for us. It was beautiful when Paul suffered every day to plant the churches that brought us the gospel. It was beautiful when Timothy served side by side with Paul, putting the interests of others first. It was beautiful when Epaphroditus risked his life to complete the Philippian service to Paul. And it will be beautiful in your personal priorities and families and politics as God makes his wisdom grow up among us where the mind of Christ is so alive."

I am begging God to help me live it out to show genuine humility and love towards others. I'm once again just FLOORED by how deeply He loves me and humbled Himself for me! I'm listening over and over because I never want to forget this insight and go back to my selfish and thoughtless ways, but instead I long to love others (especially those who don't deserve it or even want it from me) joyfully because I'm so shocked and thrilled by the grace and mercy I've received through Jesus.

So... will you: 
1) Listen (or at least read the outline) to this sermon?
2) Pray for me that it won't be just an awesome sermon, but a truth I live out daily?

Thanks, friends!!!! Praying for you!

*Note: John Piper is the senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN. He has authored many books (you may have heard of Desiring God or my personal favorite, Don't Waste Your Life). He is one of the biggest theologians of our day and is so incredibly wise. I'm so thankful

Monday, November 22, 2010

Students Don't learn everything I teach them. They Learn What I am Excited About...

This morning I read C. J. Mahaney's blog and have been searching and praying  ever since. Am I passionate foremost about the gospel? I spend a lot of time talking/reading/learning about parenting, marriage, and social justice... Those are good and necessary to preach/teach, but always in light of the gospel... Praying my passion is Jesus alone!!!

"If I have learned anything in 35 or 40 years of teaching, it is that students don’t learn everything I teach them. What they learn is what I am excited about, the kinds of things I emphasize again and again and again and again. That had better be the gospel."- D. A. Carson

Monday, November 15, 2010

Because I Forget...

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”- Ephesians 5:15-17

I’m starting this blog to hold me accountable to live in a way that glorifies God and to encourage other young women and moms who are daily striving to seek Christ alone and make the most of every opportunity to know Him more and make Him known.

In my posts I’ll share ways our family looks for the “gospel reminders” in our daily lives and traditions. I need this because I forget. I wander daily away from the truth that I need Christ and I’m not self-sufficient. I forget how much He loves me and offers forgiveness and grace because of His love for me. This is about my journey to know Him more and how I see the gospel in fresh ways and teach it to my children through traditions and daily life.

Truly Christ is the center and central theme of the Bible, in my personal life, and of this blog. Christ: present in Creation, pointed to as the coming Messiah throughout the Old Testament, fulfilled by coming down from heaven to take on flesh, live a sinless life, choosing to suffer and die a horrid death on the cross, and then rising again defeating death and offering eternal life to those who are His. This is who I continually lose sight of yet long to treasure above all. This is who I’ll blog about.

I’m praying as I type, because I can see where I can easily slip into thinking highly of myself (ouch) or fearing what others may think and miss blogging about Christ, but I also see how it can be a great accountability for me to live out the gospel daily, to enjoy Christ daily, and to pray for others and be prayed for. I pray that as you read, you too are encouraged to see and remember Christ daily. So today, I’ve become a blogger.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

So Much to Be Thankful for

Just a repost from last year as a reminder of a fun tradition we have as we set our hearts in thankfulness towards God this month:

Here are some pictures of our  "Thankful Tree". This fun and easy tradition carries through the entire month of November. We know many families who do it, but we adapted it from a family we used to work under (thanks Jeff and Lisa Highfield).

It’s a paper tree on wall decorated with paper leaves (Jimmy helped cut this year). We write a specific thing we are thankful for on each leaf. Every morning we lift our hands and say “Praise the Lord for…” and share one leaf to add to the tree. We also include a few of them in our Jacobson Journal prayer letter sent to our supporters.

 Everyone who visits our house during the month gets to participate. It's fun to see what everyone is thankful for. And really neat as a Mom to watch Jimmy write his own and get excited to praise God for who He is and how He provides. These pictures were from the first week of the month, but by the end of the month it's completely filled!