Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jesse Tree 2012 - The Fourth Week

The fourth week of Advent begins with the lighting of the fourth candle, the candle for love. This is the week we celebrate the arrival of Love. God is love. Emmanuel, God with us...Love with us.

This is also a short week, since Christmas is on Tuesday! Here's what we are planning for our week:

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012
Tonight's reading is about the angels coming to the shepherds and the shepherds visiting Jesus. 
  
Possible Readings:
The Children's Illustrated Bible (Hastings) - The Shepherd's Visit

Ann Voskamp's Advent Devotional - Day 27

Alternate Reading:
The Jesse Tree (McCaughrean) - Angels
 
Symbols:
Angel and Shepherd's Staff or Sheep 


Monday, December 24th, 2012
The final reading is about the Wise Men.
 
Possible Readings:
The Children's Illustrated Bible (Hastings) - The Wise Men

Alternate Reading:
The Jesse Tree (McCaughrean) - The Brightest Star
Symbol:
Star


Tuesday, December 25th, 2012
There are no readings specified for Christmas Day. But, you may choose to read the story of the birth of Jesus one more time. Maybe you have a special book set aside for this, or maybe you want to read directly from scripture. We like to light all 4 candles and the center candle when we get up in the morning...before going to the grandparents house and starting our festivities for the day.

Merry Christmas!

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 See other posts about the Jesse Tree and Advent by clicking the label "Jesse Tree" or "Advent" at the bottom of this post.
 

Photo Highlights from Chanukah


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Latkes - Try them with Beets!

These were the best! So delicious! My family raved and raved (and ate and ate). Eaten alongside the homemade applesauce from this summer, they were the perfect Chanukah meal!


Gluten Free Sweet Potato Latkes

3 Large Shredded Sweet Potatoes (this made about 6 cups - maybe more)
6 eggs (enough to get everything moist because the eggs hold it all together)
1 cup Bob's Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour (or GF flour of your choice)
1t. salt

Mix it all together. Fry in 1/4-1/2 inch of coconut oil! If you keep to a medium/low heat coconut oil does not burn or smoke and the latkes get crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. 

We ate them with applesauce and slices of sharp white cheddar cheese. Enjoy!

Edited to Add: These are also quite tasty with half beets & half sweet potatoes!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Jesse Tree 2012 - The Third Week


The third week of Advent begins with the lighting of the third candle of Advent, the candle for joy. The joy candle is a different color  than the other candles. Traditionally, it is the pink candle. Now there will be three candles burning each evening.  


Sunday, December 16th

Possible Readings

Tonight's story is the story of Jonah! There are a number of children's picture books about Jonah, but I don't happen to own any of them. If you know of a really great one, feel free to let me know in the comments! Thanks!

The Children's Illustrated Bible (Hastings) Jonah and the Great Fish

The Jesse Tree (McCaughrean) - The McCaughrean book uses a different order and different stories from here until the end of Advent. If you continue with a chapter each night, you will finish the McCaughrean book on Christmas Eve, as planned. Rather than listing two options on days when they don't match up, I'll refer back to this note. Simply keep reading a chapter each night. Use the symbol/ornament that fits with that chapter. Tonight's chapter should be "The Wisdom of Solomon."

Symbol(s)

Fish (Jonah)

Monday, December 17th

Possible Readings

In our house tonight we will be talking about the prophecies of Micah and Habakkuk (two days of the Voskamp readings) and reading some of the story of Elisha (not from McCaughrean, but this is the story covered by McCaughrean tonight).

The Children's Illustrated Bible (Hastings) - There are 3 chapters about Elisha, beginning with "Elijah's Final Journey." Read them all or choose how much you can read tonight.

One Wintry Night (Graham) - The beginning of chapter 9 speaks of the prophecy in Micah.

The Jesse Tree (McCaughrean) - Read the next chapter, "War and Peace" (see my note from Sunday, December 16th)

Ann Voskamp's Advent Devotional - Days 19 & 21 on Micah & Habakkuk
Symbol(s)
Dove (to symbolize the Healing power of God/the Holy Spirit through Elisha), City of Bethlehem (Micah), Tower/Castle (Habakkuk)  You do not need to use all the symbols! There will be a lot of doubling up in the coming days. It is enough to use what you have!

Tuesday, December 18th

Possible Readings

Today's story is the story of Esther.

A children's picture book about Esther that we enjoy is:
Queen Esther the Morning Star by Mordecai Gerstein

You may also read:
The Children's Illustrated Bible (Hastings) - Esther Becomes Queen and Esther Saves Her People


Alternate Reading: The Jesse Tree (McCaughrean) - see my note from Sunday, December 16th 

Symbol(s)

Scepter (Esther)

Wednesday, December 19th

Possible Readings - Read the notes here. They're important!

Tonight's reading is about Zachariah and his son, John the Baptist.

As we get closer to Christmas, the stories are all tied closely together. It's hard to separate out the pieces. Do whatever works for you. Maybe even read the whole nativity story each night...or find different versions of it to read, and then focus for a minute on the piece of the story for that night - the piece for that night's ornament. There is NO RIGHT WAY to do this. You have six nights left, and you have many possible people/symbols left to cover: Mary, Joseph, Zachariah, John the Baptist, Census/Donkey/Travel to Bethlehem, Shepherds, angels, and the star...not to mention that you may want to hang a nativity ornament on your Jesse Tree. This is the way I plan to cover them for the next six nights. I have listed the symbols that go with each night in parenthesis:

- Zachariah AND John (Pencil, Seashell)
- Mary AND Joseph (Lily, Hammer)
- Donkey and the travel to Bethlehem (Donkey or Town of Bethlehem)
- Birth of Jesus (Nativity)
- Angels AND Shepherds (Angel, Shepherd's Staff or Sheep)
- Wise Men and the Star (Star)

So tonight:
The Children's Illustrated Bible (Hastings) - see chapters on Zachariah & John the Baptist

Ann Voskamp's Advent Devotional - Days 22-23 on Zachariah and John 

Alternate Reading: The Jesse Tree (McCaughrean) - see my note from Sunday, December 16th

Symbol(s)

Pencil (Zachariah), Seashell (John)

Thursday, December 20th

Possible Readings

Read about the appearance of the angel to Mary tonight AND the appearance of the angel to Joseph assuring him that all was well.

Note: Explaining why Joseph was upset about Mary's pregnancy can be a little sticky. We always said that Joseph was upset because the baby was not his, and a woman is not supposed to have a baby that does not belong to her husband. This was special because Mary's baby was from God.

The Children's Illustrated Bible (Hastings) - The Angel Appears to Mary and the beginning of the section on the Birth of Jesus - just far enough to cover Joseph.

As your children get older, these picture books may also be worth reading about Joseph:
The Mark of the Maker by Tom Hegg and Warren Hanson
Father and Son: A Nativity Story written by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Fabian Negrin

Ann Voskamp's Advent Devotional - Days 24 & 25 on Mary & Joseph

Alternate Reading: The Jesse Tree (McCaughrean) - see my note from Sunday, December 16th

Symbol(s)

Lily (Mary), Hammer (Joseph)

Friday, December 21st

Possible Readings

Spend some time talking about that donkey and the trip to Bethlehem! 

This is a wonderful picture book that focuses on the donkey:

You may also choose to read:
The Children's Illustrated Bible (Hastings) - the beginning of the section on the Birth of Jesus talks about the census and the trip to Bethlehem

One Wintry Night (Graham) - End of chapter 9 and beginning of chapter 10

Alternate Reading: The Jesse Tree (McCaughrean) - see my note from Sunday, December 16th

Symbol(s)

Donkey

Saturday, December 22nd

Possible Readings

Tonight's focus is the birth of Jesus! We love the children's picture book:
The First Christmas by Carol Heyer

You can also read the story in the these places:
The Children's Illustrated Bible (Hastings) -  The Birth of Jesus

One Wintry Night (Graham) - finish chapter 10


Alternate Reading: The Jesse Tree (McCaughrean) - see my note from Sunday, December 16th 

Symbol(s)

Nativity

Just two more days of Advent left!!

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 See other posts about the Jesse Tree and Advent by clicking the label "Jesse Tree" or "Advent" at the bottom of this post.
 



Friday, December 07, 2012

8 Picture Books for 8 Days of Chanukah/Hanukkah

Tomorrow is the first night of Chanukah, which means it's the first of eight nights of double holidays in our house! This means we'll be lighting a lot more candles and bringing together our focus on the miracle of light...literal and figurative. We'll also be having a lot of fun, as Chanukah is a holiday of games, gifts & treats! Break out the gluten free jelly donuts, latkes & applesauce, and the Chanukah books, please!

This year we decided to do a picture-book-a-day Advent calendar. We combined it with our magnetic nativity calendar by placing a slip of paper inside each of the doors, along with the magnetic figures. The slip of paper has a book title, and that's the book we read after putting up the magnetic figure each day.

The First Six Magnets are up after last night...December 6th
A magnetic figure and a slip of paper behind each door
Because Chanukah is in the middle of Advent this year, I chose Chanukah books to write on the slips of paper for the 8 days of Chanukah. Here they are:

1. Hanukkah Haiku written by Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by Karla Gudeon

2. The Story of Hanukkah written by Bobbi Katz, illustrated by Linda Dockey Graves

3. Beni's First Chanukah written and illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben

4. In the Month of Kislev: A Story for Hanukkah written by Nina Jaffe, illustrated by Louis August

5. The Hanukkah Mice  written by Ronne Randall, illustrated by Maggie Kneen

6. Nine Spoons: A Chanukah Story written by Marci Stillerman, illustrated by Pesach Gerber

7. Snow Crazy written and illustrated by Tracy Gallup AND Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening written by Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers (Thess, of course, are not specifically Chanukah books. They're seasonal books, and I wanted to include them in the list somewhere because they're so sweet and beautiful.)

8. Hanukkah Moon written by Deborah da Costa and illustrated by Gosia Mosz

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Read about why we celebrate Chanukah here: Why Celebrate Chanukah?

Monday, December 03, 2012

Why celebrate Chanukah?

Chanukah begins December 8th this year! That's this coming Saturday, and we've already got our chanukiahs (chanukah menorahs) out and ready to go! We have hung blue lights in our kitchen & put up our Chanukah banner!


So, why do we, as Christian non-ethnically-Jewish people, celebrate Chanukah (and other Biblical holidays, for that matter)? The answer is not actually all that difficult. It's surprising to me, in many ways, that we didn't do this a whole lot sooner:

So, we know that Jesus was Jewish, we know that God brought Jesus, the Messiah and savior of the world, TO the world through the Jewish people. These people were chosen and set apart as the people of the Promise, the people through whom redemption would come. And they were given a set of holidays and traditions that would honor God and keep them focused on serving and remembering the promises throughout the year. Because we, as Christians, serve that very same God, we choose to honor those holiday.

We also choose to honor the holidays that commemorate the times when the Jewish people have been miraculously and supernaturally preserved from destruction. We acknowledge that we serve a God whose covenant is everlasting and cannot be broken. Chanukah is one of these holidays. We believe that we, as believers in the Messiah and servants of the very same God, have been grafted in to the "family tree." In Romans 11 Paul says,  speaking of the Gentiles (that's non-Jewish people):

"...you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree..."

As a "grafted in" part of the tree we celebrate with the tree! We celebrate that the roots have been preserved and that we receive the nourishment of life and hope through this tree!


Jesse Tree 2012 - The Second Week

The second week of Advent begins with the lighting of the second candle of Advent, the candle for peace. Now there will be two candles burning each evening. In 2006, when Mane was 4yrs old, I wrote this reflection on peace: Peace - The second candle of Advent. I'd love to hear the thoughts of others on peace. How do you define peace? What kind of conversation will you have with your children about peace this season?



Sunday, December 9th

Tonight we will light TWO Chanukah candles and read The Story of Hanukkah written by Bobbi Katz, illustrated by Linda Dockey Graves. Then we will light the two Advent candles and read our Jesse Tree story:

Readings

Tonight's story is the story of Moses. Tell as much or as little as you have time for. The symbol for your Jesse Tree will be stone tablets. So, you want to be sure to talk about the 10 Commandments. You may also wish to talk about the way Moses was saved by his mother floating him away in a basket and about the Exodus from Egypt, which was led by Moses.

The Children's Illustrated Bible (Hastings) - all or select chapters on Moses

One Wintry Night (Graham) - Chapter 7 (a reasonably short version of the Exodus and the commandments at Sinai)

The Jesse Tree (McCaughrean) - chapter "Let My People Go"

Ann Voskamp's Advent Devotional - Day10

Symbol(s)

Stone Tablets

Monday, December 10th

Monday we will light three Chanukah candles and read: Beni's First Chanukah written and illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben. Then we will light the two Advent candles and read our Jesse Tree story:

Readings

Tonight we read the story of Ruth.Our favorite children's picture book for this story is:

Ruth and Naomi written and illustrated by Jean Marzollo (scroll down the linked page to see the book)

You may also read:

The Children's Illustrated Bible (Hastings) - Ruth and Naomi

The Jesse Tree (McCaughrean) - chapter "The Foreigner"

 Ann Voskamp's Advent Devotional - Day 11


Symbol(s)

Bundle of Grain

Tuesday, December 11th

Tuesday we will light four Chanukah candles and read In the Month of Kislev: A Story for Hanukkah written by Nina Jaffe, illustrated by Louis August. Then we will light the two Advent candles and read our Jesse Tree story:

Readings

Today's story is the story of Joshua. This story is not found in either Graham's or McCaughrean's books, but my family has included it for a number of years in our Jesse Tree readings. You can read it directly from scripture and/or:

The Children's Illustrated Bible (Hastings) - The Promised Land, Rahab and the Spies, The Battle of Jericho

 Ann Voskamp's Advent Devotional - Day 12

The story of Joshua seems like an important story NOT to miss. Joshua and Caleb were the only 2 of the 12 spies, who returned from the land of Canaan and believed that God could deliver them into the land. They saw a land "flowing with milk & honey," while the others saw a land filled with impossible giants and pestilence. Joshua eventually became the leader of the people when Moses died, and he led the first great triumph in the promised land at Jericho.The name "Joshua" means deliverance or salvation and comes from the same root as the name Jesus. Joshua is yet another prophetic picture of the coming Messiah. For more thoughts on this check out this article at Hebrew for Christians: Joshua and Jesus.

Symbol(s)

Trumpet

Wednesday, December 12th

Wednesday we will light five Chanukah candles and read The Hanukkah Mice  written by Ronne Randall, illustrated by Maggie Kneen. Then we will light the two Advent candles and read our Jesse Tree story:

Readings

Tonight we will read the story of Samuel:

The Children's Illustrated Bible (Hastings) - Samuel is Called to Serve God

One Wintry Night (Graham) - Chapter 8 (This chapter flies through the judges, kings and prophets of Israel. It gives a very broad overview - very helpful for tying the story together.)

The Jesse Tree (McCaughrean) - chapter "Speak, Lord, for Your Servant is Listening"

Ann Voskamp's Advent Devotional - Day 13

Symbol(s)

Lamp

Thursday, December 13th

Thursday we will light six Chanukah candles and read Nine Spoons: A Chanukah Story written by Marci Stillerman, illustrated by Pesach Gerber. Then we will light the two Advent candles and read our Jesse Tree story:

Readings

Tonight's reading is about King David:

The Children's Illustrated Bible (Hastings) - all or select chapters on David

The Jesse Tree (McCaughrean) - chapter "The Shepherd King" and "Dancing"

Ann Voskamp's Advent Devotional - Day 14

Symbol(s)

Harp

Friday, December 14th

Friday we will light seven Chanukah candles and read some seasonal stories about snow including: Snow Crazy written and illustrated by Tracy Gallup and Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening written by Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers. Then we will light the two Advent candles and read our Jesse Tree story: 

Readings

This is the night we will read of the prophets foretelling the coming of the Messiah.

The Children's Illustrated Bible (Hastings) -The Prophet Isaiah

One Wintry Night (Graham) - Chapter 8 (This chapter flies through the judges, kings and prophets of Israel. It gives a very broad overview - very, very helpful for tying the whole redemption story together.)

The Jesse Tree (McCaughrean) includes here a chapter on King Solomon ("The Wisdom of Solomon") and only mentions the prophecy of Isaiah in the chapter on Elijah ("The Idol and the Still Small Voice"), who we will read about tomorrow.

So, choose what you want your family to read. We will be relying heavily on:

Ann Voskamp's Advent Devotional - Days 15 & 17

Symbol(s)

Scroll

Saturday, December 15th

Saturday we will light all eight Chanukah candles and read Hanukkah Moon by Deborah da Costa, illustrated by Gosia Mosz. Then we will light the two Advent candles and read our Jesse Tree story:

Readings

Tonight's story is the story of Elijah:

The Children's Illustrated Bible (Hastings) -  Elijah in the Wilderness, The Israelites Turn Against God

The Jesse Tree (McCaughrean) - chapter "The Idol and the Still Small Voice"

Ann Voskamp's Advent Devotional - Day 16

Symbol(s)

Raven


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This is the 8rd post in a series of posts about Advent, Christmas, Jesse Tree & Chanukah traditions. See the other posts here:
Season's Traditions
Jesse Tree

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Candles - A reflection for lighting the first candle of Advent


Candles. I love the way they look so warm, and they are so simple. I love the way they flicker with a little life of their own and soften the faces of those gathered around. I love the way those little flames get our attention. Candles are used in many traditions as part of rituals and remembrances. Somehow lighting a candle set this moment apart from the next moment, creating a space, setting aside a time for something.

So, we light candles for Advent. And we light candles for Chanukah. We sometimes have a whole table filled with little, flickering flames...a sea of remembrance...remembering hope, peace, joy, love...remembering deliverance and redemption...remembering that we are here, alive, waiting...anticipating our own redemption.

Take a moment when you light your first Advent candle tomorrow to just stop. Just be. Just wait. Breathe. Listen. Take in the faces around you. Be present. We are setting aside this season, creating sacred space, consecrating these coming nights. The season of Hope begins.

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My personal reflection on Hope, as I grieve for my mother this Advent season, can be found here: Hope That Burns Us.