Getting Ready...
It's a little hard to believe that it's the day before Christmas Eve. These Holy days have gone by so quickly but I'm finally enjoying them. This week I made myself slow down and find a rhythm in God's grace. Some things just aren't going to get done, and that's ok. Some things will get done but won't be things I planned to do but I have a feeling it's because God is getting me ready for more than Christmas.

Yesterday morning I was praying for my boys. Both have been asking really great but also challenging questions about the Bible. Joshua wants to be able to answer questions from friends and family who don't believe. He wants to know more than Bible stories; he wants to know facts that prove Jesus' claims are true.

Sometimes I don't feel equipped with answers, or I don't know where to start. Should I teach him about intelligent design? Should I have him read "More than a Carpenter" or "The Case for Christ"? God showed me yesterday that all I have to do is ask Him. So, I opened my Bible to Psalm 119 which focuses on the richness of God's precepts and principles. My eyes landed on verse 125 that was underlined from another day. There I found words to describe my heart's desire and hopefully the quest my children's hearts: "I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes."

Then my eyes glanced across to the other page where I read v. 73, "Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands."

I was so excited that I took my Bible to Josh and Andrew to read these verses to them. I shared with them how David recognized the power of God's Word, but asked God to give him deeper understanding. Since God had formed him, He knew what David needed to find the answers to his questions. I explained that because God formed us too, He knows us inside and out. So He is the One who can help us understand His Word and His ways. We were about to run errands together so I suggested this be our prayer and focus for the day - that God would help us understand Him better.

Hours later...towards the evening....we gathered around our Advent wreath to lighting two candles and talk about what they symbolize. (We're being a little creative this year - doing Advent the four nights before Christmas.) The devotion we're reading suggested we talk about what "prophecy" means and how Jesus was God's promise kept. Then we read prophesies written long before Jesus' birth and then stories of how they were fulfilled.

This time, it seemed our boys were more interested than years past about the details behind what God did leading up to Jesus. Andrew heard something for the first time - although we've shared it before - when we talked about Jesus being born in Bethlehem. I told them how the word Bethlehem means "house of bread," and explained how Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life. How cool it is that God would name the town of Christ birth to match one of the claims He made about Who He is? I saw light bulbs going off and a bright smile on Andrew's face when it clicked. Joshua leaned forward and asked how many prophesies were fulfilled to prove Jesus is God and to prove that He came.

Advent for the kids used to be mostly about lighting candles, which I loved! But today God answered my prayers for a Christ-centered Christmas in a whole new way by "giving discernment" into His precepts and His greatest promise - fulfilled through Christ. Our times around the Advent wreath have changed. I have a feeling this night was preparing us for the coming of Christmas, but also for the coming years. We're entering a new season of life in many ways. I wonder how God will give us more and more understanding of His heart and His purposes in our family and in our lives in 2009?

We finished our time together praying and thanking God for the extent of details He went through to send His Son and to prove His love to us. Then we shared another favorite tradition - drinking hot chocolate and driving around looking at Christmas lights. I went to bed last night with a heart full - knowing I had spent some very special time with my favorites in the whole wide world - Jesus and my guys!


Blogger Chef Diane said...

Amen, see my blog from Sunday.

Blogger Jill said...

Thanks for sharing Renee. We've had a crazy day - with a 5, 3, and 23 month old the excitement is in full swing! Just a bit ago at the supper table I told my husband we needed an adults only Christmas meal!! Not sure if that will happen, but feel as though we're living the advent is all about candles stage right now, so thanks for sharing the exciting, yet challenging in their own way, times that lie ahead! I pray you have a wonderful Christmas and are able to enjoy more time with all your favorite guys and Jesus!!

Blogger April said...

amazing!! too often we turn to other things when all we have to do is turn to His word. Its all there. We just have to want to look.

Blogger Rami*Reconciled said...

Oooo Psalms 119!! I was there all last week, totally love it!

Merry christmas!

Blogger Kathy S. said...

Nothing swells my heart more when I see God at work in my kids, and I get to be a part of it. Your story resonates with the sweetness of our Savior!


Your story gives me hope for the future. My boys are 7 & 5 and all they do is fight. I can hardly get them to stay in the same room and be civil much less get them to sit down together to read devotionals. Friends keep telling me, "that's just what boys do." Um, okay but how long? I feel they've been fighting forever. I just don't get it. They are so competitive and each is always begging for a playmate. Why can't they see they have each other? Please tell me this is somewhat normal.
Paula G. <><

Blogger Dawn Ward said...

How beautiful and special, Renee! What a precious gift from God! Thank you for sharing, and Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Love and Blessings,

Blogger MrsProverbs31 said...

Awww! How special. Lots of meaning here. Lots of info. Thanks for the verses. And thanks for the lesson on Bethlehem. How cool is that? House of bread. Hmmm. The Bread of life. Awesome.

Blogger Renee Swope said...

Merry Christmas - the day after. I left a note on Wrinkled Shirts blog about her question but thought some of you might have the same one so here is what I shared with Paula...

"YES" it's normal for brothers to hardly be in the room together without some bodily harm happening! My boys go through phases of getting along and getting on each others nerves. We never let them sit next to each other if we're having a devotion time or need to have a civilized conversation that doesn't lead to a wrestling match.

There are a few things we've worked on to help them get along, but mostly it has come with time as they develop their own interests and aren't competing so much with each other.

I'll share more thoughts about how we parent our boys and handle sibling rivalry in an upcoming blog posts (in Jan) when I do some cool D6 give-aways for moms and dads.

Still pondering and treasuring,

I heard the new GNO promo on KSBJ today. Very cute, you gals are a hoot. I can't wait. Thanks for the encouraging word on the boys. I need all the help I can get.
Paula G. <><

So good to spend time "bringing" Christmas and the meaning therein to those we love the most. Glad for time around the Light with your boys.

I hope your Christmas brought both blessing and peace to your soul. Ours was a blur, intermixed with moments of joy and remembrance of that first Christmas.

I'm so thankful for the pause and even more so for the new year that approaches. May we carry the truth of Bethlehem with us wherever we go.

peace, friend~elaine

Blogger Joanie Butler said...

Beautiful, beautiful post. Thanks for sharing. Isn't that exactly what Christmas is to be all about?

Blogger Lysa TerKeurst said...

Merry Christmas sweet friend!

I love those pictures of our sleepy selves in the Houston airport. There just isn't any tired like standing in baggage claim with no luggage in sight- middle of the night- tired.


But I was happy to do it with you!


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