Tag Archives: advent

Preparing Our Hearts

Several years ago I discovered the tradition of the Jesse Tree, a tradition of using ornaments that represent the people, prophesies, and events leading up to the promised Savior. This has been life changing for me.

I am one of those people who struggle emotionally at Christmas. I stress over choosing gifts that I think others will like, I worry about finances, I become irritated as stores become crowded with holiday shoppers. I simply didn’t enjoy Christmas for many, many years.

Thankfully, I discovered the Jesse Tree. The first year I created ornaments out of Shrinky Dinks to hang on a little wooden tree. I used a guide that I found online and each night we read the corresponding scripture and hung the ornament on our tree. It was simple but effective. I felt a weight being lifted off of me as Christmas approached and I found myself actually enjoying Christmas for the first time in years.

Each year our ornaments have been improved a little and we’ve used different reading plans, some with devotions to accompany the scriptures each day.

Last year I purchased The Greatest Gift by Ann Vonskamp. I have to say this is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. This book is beautifully written and the daily devotions that go along with the scriptures helped me focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the promise of a Savior. I can honestly say that last year was the best Christmas I have had in years.

My circumstances didn’t change. There was the ever present traffic that comes along on Black Friday and hangs around with us until the New Year, the stores were crowded with shoppers, I had a full schedule of events that surround Christmas, the indecision of holiday gifts still plagued me and yet, my heart was at peace. The things surrounding me weren’t changed, I was. My heart was prepared for my Savior.

This year I decided to share my secret with others. I am hosting a Jesse Tree Ornament Swap. I started very late and haven’t found the required number of participants but I have adapted the plan so that we can still complete the swap. This year I have 7 friends each making 8 copies of 3 different ornaments in the set, and I will be making the remaining 4 ornaments in the set.

I am very excited about this event. It’s added one more thing to my already full plate but somehow it is already making life easier. I’m busier than ever but more intently focused on Christ. That is the magic of the Jesse Tree. Each day we are focused on Jesus and that makes all the difference in the world.

I hope you find a way to focus your heart more intently on Christ this holiday season. Don’t forget to stop, step back, and make time to spend with The Lord during this busy time of year. I promise, you won’t regret it.

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He Came From a Long Line of Losers

A couple of years ago I started a new Christmas tradition for our family. I made small charm-like ornaments and a stick tree that serve as a Jesse Tree. It has become a nice addition to our nightly bedtime routine during the days leading up to Christmas. Each night we place that day’s ornament on the Jesse Tree and read the scriptures that tell the Biblical story associated with the picture on the charm. It really is a wonderful way to see God’s plan for our salvation through His Son, Jesus.

Tonight our story was from the book of Ruth. As I read the scriptures telling the story of Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi I would elaborate on parts to help Sweet G better understand. When I read the part where Ruth was gleaning the fields of Boaz I began to explain that Ruth and Naomi were poor widows and that Ruth worked very hard to gather the wheat that was left or dropped in the field. I told Sweet G that Ruth was an ancestor of Jesus and that her family had worshipped false idols but she had chosen to follow Naomi and worship the one true God. At this point in my story Sweet G asked, “Is it sort of like a long line of losers?” After a short chuckle I began to regain my composure and the thought hit me that G wasn’t really that far off. I reviewed the story of Abraham and Sarah, how Abraham lied and Sarah laughed when God promised a son would be born to them. Noah, although found righteous, at one time became drunk. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and hid from Him, then lied about their actions. I skipped ahead to Rahab the harlot and realized that Sweet G spoke the truth when he suggested that Jesus came from a long line of losers. It provided a great opportunity to share with G that God uses average people and loves us in spite of our poor choices.

I’ll never hear that country song again without thinking of my sweet Savior. “He comes from a long line of losers. Half outlaws, half boozers.” I’m so thankful that God can take someone who has a sinful past full of mistakes and regrets, someone whose family tree may have some questionable characters hanging in it and choose to love them and use them for His glory. Grace, grace. God’s grace. Oh, how sweet His love is.