This year our family advent season devotional time has more fullness to it. JJ is almost four years old and Eli is two and a half. So now we have two little men who are listening attentively and taking in this great story. Noah just turned one, and so he is often already in bed by the time we do the Advent.
This is a picture of our Advent Calendar that we use every night. Our boys get so excited and focused when we pull the Advent Calendar out.
There are basically four elements to what we do in our advent devotional time: Bible-story-telling; Prayer; Singing; and Surprise treat.
- Bible-story-telling. During this time, we point out which day we are on and how close we are getting to Christmas. I then tell about 5-7 minutes worth of the Christmas story using one of their Children’s Bibles. Each night we will emphasize one main point that we are expecting them to remember. (Last night was Immanuel which means “God with us.”) Also during this time, I will ask questions to make sure they are remembering what we have taught from night to night. It is incredible how engaged they can be on the details of the Christmas story. They love the little things like baby Jesus was in a manger with cows and sheep instead of in a house with a bed.
- Prayer. After the Bible, we all pray. During this time, we ask JJ and Eli each to pray. They can pray whatever they feel like praying. But during this time, we do instruct them on how to pray about the things we have just learned. It is overwhelming to hear a 2 or 3 year old pray on his own and thank God for sending Jesus to be with us. I pray last so they can see how I pray.
- Singing. During this time, we sing the same two songs every night. (We do this so they can learn the songs and the words. We also do the same songs throughout the year whatever the theme is.) The boys love this. They both sing so loudly and proudly. This Christmas season we are singing “O Come Let Us Adore Him” and “Away in a Manger.”
- Surprise Treat. The last thing we do is give the boys a surprise. They are then allowed to get up and look behind the number corresponding to the day’s date. Valeria has a wrapped treat there each night (usually some M&Ms or Skittles). This is really exciting to our boys. And then we are finished until the next night.
It is such a small simple thing to do this Advent Devotional each night. I built the Wooden Calendar House thing for very minimal cost. But yet our boys enjoy it so much. They are happy and that makes us happy. Not to mention, that they are really learning a lot about the Christmas story.
I also want to point out that during the Christmas season there are many nights when we have guests over at the boys bed-time. We do not let that stop us from doing it. We welcome others to join in. The boys get such a thrill to do the Advent Devotional including all the singing and praying while many of their “friends” observe and participate.
Valeria and I feel so undeserving to have the opportunity to raise the boys to know Jesus.