Sunday, 25 November 2012

Preparing to prepare for Christmas

As I prepared to lead the service this afternoon, I spent time thinking over the Bible verses chosen; Daniel 7:9-10 & 13-14 and John 18:33-37.  I had lots of time to think these through last weekend as I went away to a ladies retreat weekend at Lee Abbey in North Devon.  The weekend was a time to craft and spend time with God and like minded women.

Beaded star and hanging heart
The North Devon countryside was at its most Autumnal best with hills ablaze in shades of red and orange.  The theme of the Sunday service was slowing down and spending time with God.  Which brought me back to this afternoon's service preparation.

Autumn in our garden
The Bible readings both look at the coming of God's Kingdom, which is in part what we are looking forward to at Christmas.  Christ needed to be born as a baby to die on the cross for our sins.  Not a link we make very often but Easter and Christmas are both about the same thing; God's unconditional love for us.

So this afternoon we looked at all the things we use to prepare for Christmas, during advent.  We took our advent calendar, countdown snowman, my Christmas planner and a host of Christmas magazines I have already collected this Christmas.  However, I pointed out the one thing missing from my pile was the Bible.  Don't get me wrong, we don't miss the point of Christmas, our chocolate advent calendar has the Christmas story on the back of each window and the advent bunting I made at Lee Abbey last year takes a longer look at the story, but we just open the window, turn over the bunting, read the words and get on with the day.

Countdown snowman
Our challenge as a family is to make more time for God this Christmas.  So we have found an advent Bible study on line, advent study guide, and shared the Bible readings and questions with our congregation and to help them share it with their friends, we have set up a group on Facebook, Advent Study 2012.

While I was away, the boys were busy as well.  They were at rugby in Wales on Friday and football at home on Saturday.  They even found time to start the decorating in the lounge.

saying goodbye to magnolia
We have also been working through the to do list in the Christmas planner and thinking about what little jobs we can get done before we open our home to family and friends over Christmas.  So Andy has repainted parts of the kitchen, cleaned the windows and the conservatory roof and fitted a new extractor over the oven.

Another job off the list complete!
The Bible passage for contemplation this week is Exodus 34:6

Then he passed in front of Moses and called out, 
“I am the Lord God. 
I am merciful and very patient with my people. 
I show great love, 
and I can be trusted.  

Our prayer as a family is for those affected by the flooding in the South West of England this week, for those who have been involved in their rescue and for those who will help them in the weeks ahead.  May they know God's presence in their troubles and may the true meaning of Christmas be seen; For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son.

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Half term, fireworks and Christmas preparations

With the end of October we have had much to celebrate, we went away for half term down to North Devon with friends for some well earned rest.  This year's half term included Jacob's birthday and we went to church in a nearby town on his birthday and the whole congregation sang "Happy Birthday" with a second verse of "God's blessings" to him.  The break also gave me time to make a start on my Christmas card making.
A selection of home-made Christmas cards
I managed to make about a quarter of the cards I will need for this Christmas and even managed to get the boys helping me.
Cards made by Josh
We returned home to help with the annual North Swindon Scout Firework display evening, which is organised by the Purton and Lydiard scouts and assisted by troops from the district.  Andy, Jacob and I were helping in one of the food tents and Josh was assisting with the car parking.

The day stayed dry, despite the forecast saying otherwise and we even managed to see the fireworks this year, due to a new position for the tent and a change of wind direction from previous years.

Josh stayed overnight as part of the "security" for the marquees and then helped to dismantle the site the next morning.  The weather had turned and they woke to heavy rain, which later turned to snow! Well the weather man did warn the wind would be coming from the Arctic!!

We celebrated Jacob's birthday again on our return with his friends at a fun evening playing laserquest.

And so with the start of November and the return to school and work thoughts in the Vizor household have turned to Christmas.  Andy and the boys have been out a couple of times without me recently, football and rugby, which has meant that I have had time for some crafting.

Christmas Owl
Snowflake garland
For my birthday I had a book called "Christmas crafts in no time" and I am working my way through them making some delightful decorations for this year.

I have mentioned before that I am a list girl and Christmas really tests my listing making skills.  Last year I tracked down a Christmas planner I had seen previously in a crafting magazine.  This one was on a wonderful Australian blog Shabby Art Boutique and Kerryanne who writes this blog runs an event called Simply Christmas.  So this year I have updated my Christmas planner with a new calendar and room for new lists and I am ready to get ready!

Christmas planner
I have a section which has my to do lists for each week between the start of November and Christmas day.  This week amongst the tasks was sorting the menu plans for Christmas week and then checking the ingredients we already have.  To help with the checking I decided it would be good to sort the store cupboard out.  This meant that cupboard went from this:

                        To this:>>>

That just leaves the important part of Christmas to get right now, placing Christ at the centre of all we do.  Jesus is the reason for the season, as the saying goes and for us as a family he is the reason we exist and the reason we know we have life eternal.  Our celebrations will centre on Christ and that he came to save the world by giving his life.  Next week I am going away on a retreat weekend which will help me spend time focussing on God and have time to prepare some crafts.  My hope at the weekend is that I can find a way for us as a family to spend more time focussed on God each day.

The Bible verse today links well with keeping Christ at the centre of Christmas and fits well with the service we had at church today.  We are not called to follow Christ and be like those around us, but we are called to follow Christ and bring him to those around us in a way they understand.

The Lord says:

“My thoughts and my ways
    are not like yours.

Isaiah 58: 5

Our prayer as a family this week is centred on Remembrance Sunday and we pray for all those who have lost loved ones through service to their country, whether during the two World Wars or in more recent conflict.  May they know the love and comfort of God in their loss.

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x