Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bread Babies (Expecting Christmas)

We are finishing our "Expecting Christmas" activities a little bit early because of other festivities coming up. So today we celebrate God the son, leaving heaven and coming to earth as a little baby. Thank you Jesus for humbling yourself in such a way to take on a human form. Thank you for being born, for the purpose of dying, to pay our debt. Wow.

I got this activity from my sister-in-law who made bread bears in their family growing up. That, mixed with an Ecuadorian tradition of making bread dolls (in November.) I think they probably make the bread from scratch but I had some frozen dinner rolls on hand. I let the rolls sit out about 4 hours (the recommended rise time) and then let the kiddos form them into "babies." Alyse pointed out that baby Jesus was actually wearing swaddling clothes so you wouldn't be able to see his hands or feet. This made it even easier to make little baby Jesus breads. We ate the rolls with our meal. It was very special.

Anticipation! (Expecting Christmas)

Many Kings and many years after King David, God continued to try and bring his people back to him. Some Kings and Israelites did care about what God said. Many generations did not listen to and obey God. But God kept promising the people that he would send someone to rescue them. He used people called prophets to deliver his message to the people. One such prophet was Isaiah. In Isaiah 9 and 11 (and many more throughout the book of Isaiah,)God promises a King to reign on David's throne, who will rescue his people. Remember these words were spoken hundreds of years before Jesus was born.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:6-7

I had planned to make "Christmas Crackers" for our activity. I had even been saving TP rolls. However, in my small town I was unable to find the cracker part that makes the pop and I waited too long to order them online. If you live where there is a Michal's or other craft store you can purchase them there. The idea was to make these treats and let the kids build excitement in waiting for Christmas, when they get to pull them open, and celebrate Jesus! Instead we just wrapped gifts for other people and let the kids look at their wrapped gifts... that alone is a lot of anticipation. Imagine the anxiety and yearning the Israelites had in waiting for God to rescue them.

Monday, December 20, 2010

King David (Expecting Christmas)

Ruth and Boaz gave birth to baby Obed. He grew up and had a son named Jesse. Jesse then had many sons, the youngest of whom was none other than King David. David was known as a man after God's heart. He loved and feared the Lord God. He had an amazing relationship with God that is so fun to read about. There is obviously too much to cover about King David so we just touched on his heart for God. God promised David that his descendants would continue to be King...and many years (28 generations) later Jesus was born, as King over all Kings!

David wrote many of the Psalms as songs of prayer and praise to God. So for our activity we tried to make up some new Christmas songs about Jesus. Then we sang some common Christmas songs. In the video Von is singing to the tune of "Feliz Navidad." He is shy in the video but all the kids enjoy dancing to this tune. The words are:

We've waited with hope
We've waited for joy
We've waited for love
for our savior to be born... repeat

The promised savior has finally come
The promised savior has finally come
The promised savior has finally come
To save us from our sins...repeat

I am sure you and your kiddos can come up with others. Just pick a favorite tune and think about how the people may have been feeling. Ring some bells and do a fun dance to celebrate.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ruth (Expecting Jesus)

This part of the story-line gets fun. Yesterday we learned about Rahab. Rahab and her Israelite husband had a son named Boaz. Boaz was known as a kind, God-fearing man. Far away in Moab lived an Israelite named Naomi. When Naomi and her husband moved to Moab they had two sons who married Moabite women. However, before they had any children, Naomi's husband and both sons died. Naomi decided she would go back home to Israel. Her daughter-in-law Ruth insisted on accompanying Naomi, to care for her.

Once back in Israel, Naomi and Ruth were left with no way to feed themselves. It was actually Jewish law that when a farmer was harvesting grain, they were to let any leftover grain remain in the field so poor people could come gather it and feed their families. So, Ruth went to gather the leftover grain from the field of... Boaz, Rahab's son! Eventually Ruth and Boaz marry and have a baby son named Obed. Obed was the father of Jesse, who was the father of King David! Read it out of a children's Bible or from Ruth chapter 1-4. I love that God chose to put Rahab and Ruth (non-Israelites) in the line of Jesus. He truly came for all who believe in his name!

For our Christmas activity we wanted to make candy coated pretzels. I bought the "white candy coating" in the baking section that had directions on the back of the package. I added ground up peppermints. However, either I used the wrong kind of peppermints or too many of them because the mixture ended up very thick. The kids still dipped the pretzels in it but they came out a glob. As we were making it though, Alyse had the perfect lead-in to the connection with our story. She said "I hope there is some of the candy coating left over that we can just eat." We used the leftover coating to spread on a plate. After it cooled and hardened we broke it up. Just like Ruth gathered the leftovers form the field of Boaz. The leftovers were as tasty as the original candy plan.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Red Rope (Expecting Christmas)

We see in the book of Joshua chapters 1 and 2 that after Moses died, Joshua became leader of God's Israelite people. Joshua sent two spies into Jericho to see how easy they would be to defeat. While in Jericho, they were discovered and had to hide in the house of a prostitute named Rahab. Rahab had heard about what God had done for his people. "For the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath." She lived on the city wall so she was able to let them down a rope through a window in her house. The spies told her, keep this red rope hanging out your window, so when we come and take over Jericho, you and your family will be saved. Not only was her life saved, but she was grafted into the Israelite clan because she believed and followed God. And the best part is, SHE was in the lineage of Jesus. Rahab was Jesus' great great great... grandma!

Red rope is easy to make Christmas-y so I just let the kiddos decorate with some red garland. (I wanted to hang garland along the fence outside but it was too cold.) The red rope was protection for Rahab and her family. They hung it because they believed God and acted on it. Another wonderful foreshadowing of our salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Garlands of Manna

After Jacob's family moved to Egypt to be with Joseph and be where there was food, the family grew and grew. The Bible tells us that the Israelites (Jacob's family) became so many in number that the new Pharaoh was afraid of them. Therefore, he forced them to be slaves. The Israelites were in Egypt for about 400 years. Then God used Moses and miraculously brought his people out of slavery (find it all in Exodus 1-16.) Once the people were out of Egypt they were now in the desert with no food. God sent manna, food that fell from the sky every morning to feed them.

We pretended popcorn was the manna and gathered it in a bowl. Then, for our Christmas decoration, we used a large needle and thread to string the popcorn together in a garland. A lot of the popcorn breaks when you pierce it, but that is okay. We plan on hanging the garland on the fence outside so the birds can also be fed.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The sons of Jacob (Expecting Christmas)

Abraham and Sarah had son Isaac, who had sons Jacob and Esau. God told Jacob that he would make the promised nation (and eventually the savior,)through Jacob. Jacob had 12 sons. The most familiar of his sons is Joseph, who was sold into slavery in Egypt and ended up 2nd only to Pharaoh. God used Joseph's false imprisonment to eventually save the nation of Israel (Jacob.) Joseph is a wonderful foreshadowing of Christ, but interestingly, Jesus came from the line of Judah instead of Joseph.

Today we made the twelve sons of Jacob out of gingerbread :) The kids got to decorate them and make other Christmas cookies as well. Mmmm, making cookies is by far the kids favorite activity. We used a box mix, or here is a recipe from scratch. We did get to package some of them up for neighbors.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The First Baby of Promise (Expecting Christmas)

In Genesis 18 and 21 God promised Abraham and Sarah they would have a baby, even though Sarah was barren and they both were well beyond child-bearing years. "Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness." Years later, Sarah gave birth to baby Isaac. He was a miracle! God again promised to send a savior, through Isaac.

We have forced amaryllis bulbs in past years, so decided this would be a good day to continue this tradition. Some instructions for doing it are on the Martha Stewart site. The sprouting and growing shows the magnificent hand of God, just as God made Sarah able to have baby Isaac. Thank you Lord for new life!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ribbon Journey (Expecting Christmas)

After Noah's ark, many generations passed before we meet God's "father of the nations." Today we talked about God asking Abraham and Sarah (Abram and Sarai) to leave their home and go to an unknown place. God would lead them and tell them where to go. Abraham believed God and obeyed. For our Christmas activity we got a roll of Christmas ribbon. While the kids stayed in one room, I wound the ribbon through the house. Over chairs, under tables, around toys, into different rooms. The object was for the kids to follow the ribbon on their "journey" without knowing where they would end up. Von said, "this is actually fun, not dumb." I guess it didn't sound fun at first. The kids wanted to take turns creating the ribbon path and taking us on a journey.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Olive Branch Wreath (Expecting Christmas day 2)

After Adam and Eve are sent out of the Garden of Eden, there is not a lot of information until we see that "every intention of the thoughts of mans heart was only evil continually." Enter "Noah's Ark" in Genesis 6-9. God uses the ark to rescue his people, just as later he uses the cross.

In Genesis 8:11 the dove that Noah sent out to see if the flood waters had receded returns with an olive leaf. So for our Christmas craft we cut branches off two different trees/bushes to make Christmas wreaths. Of course we don't have olive branches so we used cedar tree branches and another bush that I don't know the name of. Here are instructions on how to make an evergreen wreath. This was only my second time to try this and mine didn't turn out as pretty as the instructions. In fact, the one made out of the un-named bush was so ugly it went in the trash. However, the cedar one was passable and the kids want to put it on our front door.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Problem (expecting Christmas)

It's our first day of "Expecting Christmas." As you can see I didn't get it done on the "correct" day. We'll just do activities when we can. Since we are going to fly through the old testament, leading up to Jesus birth, we started with "the problem," in the big picture. Adam and Eve sin. For my kids, this is a familiar story so we just talked it through while cooking. You could read it out of a Children's Bible or out of Genesis 3.

For our Christmas fun, we attempted to make caramel apples (to go along with the fruit Eve ate.) I have never really tried making candy so it didn't turn out perfect. However, we still ended up with some treats to share with teachers at school. Everyone loves an early gift. For simple instructions using store-bought caramels try this. Or for a made-from-scratch version, try these.

To be completely honest, I also had an aha moment. After we made the apples the kids were getting a bit rowdy so I sent them outside (it was not cold.) I told them to pretend they were banished from the house until Daddy got home, just as Adam and Eve were sent out of the garden. However, after a short while it hit me. God didn't send the people out of the garden while he stayed IN the garden. God stays WITH his people. So, I went outside to wait with the kiddos, and we ended up singing Christmas songs. It made for a good memory.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Anticipation

As a lead up to Christmas, we are going to try to do a semi walk through the old testament, leading up to Jesus' birth. But for our activities, we will have a Christmas emphasis. I have it loosely planned but will be doing a lot of learning as we go. I am trying to create some Christ-filled Christmas traditions! Join me on this sparkly journey.