November 12, 2018

Intentional Advent

As the season of Advent quickly approaches I wanted to share a bit about the intention of this calendar I created and share a few ideas on how our family has used it over the year as my kids have gotten older. 

When I first designed this calendar a few years ago Shane and I had just welcomed out first baby and I quickly began dreaming of the family traditions we would create together. Even though she was just a baby, I knew that doing something at Christmas time with intention and teaching our kids the story of Jesus was something I wanted to bring into our home. 

A friend of mine had suggested I illustrate an advent calendar as a cute countdown to Christmas day. I loved the idea, but knew I wanted to make it more than just a little countdown--something with intention behind the countdown. As I thought of my kids and how we could teach them what this holiday was about I thought of writing simple verses to read each day of December leading up to Christmas. An activity that we could do together as they grow up, reading the verses, talking about the story, asking questions, and learning alongside our kids. 

I've made a few different versions over the years but the verses and story has remained the same. This years illustrations were meant to bring simplicity and beauty as they are hung up in the home and allowing the story written on the back to bring the deeper meaning and beauty to the season. 

In case you're curious how to do this with your family here are a few ideas I've come up with or some things we have done together in the past. 


Idea 1:
-Leave the calendar in a pile set on the mantle or next to a place you will string them. 
-Starting December 1st, sit with your family each night to read the verse on the back aloud.
-Hang up the verse that was read for that night on the string you want to display it on.
-Repeat this each day, reading the new verse and hanging it up, using it to count up to Christmas day. 

Idea 2:
-Hang the calendar on a string across your mantle or some other creative way showing the number side first. 
- Each day, starting with #1 have your child read the verse aloud. If your kids are reading age, you can have a different child read each day alternating who gets to read. (kids LOVE to be involved in the activity. This will also create a sense of them owning the tradition with you as well instead of just being read to)
-Ask prompting questions after each verse is read to talk more about what this story means to them.
(ie. how does it make you feel knowing God loves you? why do you think Jesus was born? why did Jesus have to come as a baby? what does the name Jesus mean? Do you think Jesus is close and with us now?)

Idea 3:
Something we have done each year is have a small Christmas tree next to where our calendar is hung up. After each verse is read I ask the girls one thing we can learn from that verse. For instance we can learn from his name being "Immanuel" it means that God is always with us and won't ever leave us. After we read it together and say what we've learned we take a small ornament to hang on the tree for that day. 
On the last day of the calendar I use our Jesus story bible (a favorite of ours!) and read through the whole Christmas story from this book. I love the way this book brings simplicity and truth in a meaningful way that is tangible for kids to listen to.


My girls get excited each year to sit and read these together (and mostly hang the ornaments haha), but even if most of what's being said is going over their head, my hope is that this is something they look forward to each year and can remember more about the story as they grow up. I think kids are usually more in tune with what's going on and being said around them even if they can't quite articulate it, so I know just doing the activity together is doing something deeper in their heart. And from there I get to trust God with how he's allowing these words of truth to be woven into their story. 

So with these simple little activities, you can probably go from here and get creative on how to use these ideas with your own family. My hope is that this calendar also creates a deeper meaning for you as you read through them as much as we hope it does for our kids. Even more that that I hope you realize more than ever before how crazy our God is about you and how deeply He loves you!

I'm honored and so thankful that you would choose to bring this calendar and any of my work into your home and lives.

Please share on instagram how you have used and displayed yours and tag me so I can see!
@coleykuyperart  #ckartadvent

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