Day 2: Prince of Peace

Today’s Christmas passage was Isaiah 9:2-7. Mara understood more than Micah, but even for her (and me!) this passage was a little complicated.

We focused on the names of Christ and talked through the meanings of each and why He is called that:

  • Wonderful
  • Counselor
  • The Mighty God
  • The Everlasting Father
  • The Prince of Peace

When we got to the “Prince of Peace,” Mara gushed, “Oooooo, maybe I could be his princess?!?!” And. . .in a sense. . . if Christ is King. . . and we are His children . . . in a sense, she can be a princess! (Just probably not exactly in the way that she’s thinking right now.)

Our ornament craft today was a crown–relating to him being the “Prince of Peace.” A simple 2-inch section cut from a paper towel roll, painted and lovingly adorned with jewels.

This craft I did with Mara first, and then with Micah. Poor Carissa, never got a crown . . . oh, well–when she is older!!!! [After Carissa tasted the glue while making the “Light” ornament on Day 1, and Micah squirted glue on his pants and the floor while I was with somebody else, I do not feel so compelled to do the craft with all of them at once. I think a one-on-one setup will be preferable going forward, whenever circumstances allow. Even having the materials prepared for all of them ahead of time, it is still challenging to help all three at the same time within their varied and limited levels of capability.]

I’m never happy with indoor pictures–these more so, because they fail to capture the enthusiasm of Mara and Micah in this painting project. They were SOOO excited!! (I’ve never painted with them other than watercolor, so this really IS a whole new experience for all of us. When the paints came in the mail, and Mara and Micah were thrilled beyond words to pick out their brushes and begin!)

As small as the crowns are, it took longer to get ready than to paint them, and being the self-proclaimed “princess” that she is, Mara insisted on wearing the crown–which in reality all of us do at one time or another, don’t we?

After painting those teeny-tiny crowns, Mara and Micah both wanted to paint pictures. I didn’t have heavy-weight paper, so they just painted on a side of a cardboard box.

Micah was so cute. He leaned his cardboard on a paper towel roll as if he were painting on an easel! Unfortunately, it didn’t work so well, but I’m guessing he must have seen people painting on an easel before.  And Mara loved mixing colors. It was cute to see her face light up when she figured it out: “[GASP!] Re-ed! and Blue! Make–Purple!!!!!”

Micah explained his painting to Daniel–something about “here is where we live. . .” but beyond that, I think he was mostly mixing colors.

Mara told me she painted a picture of giving her purple crown to Jesus. And I was touched.

I thought of the passages in Scripture that indicate that we will receive “crowns”/”rewards” in heaven not for our righteousness (because we have only Christ’s) but for our faithfulness and endurance. And Scripture indicates that we will take those crowns and give them back to Jesus someday in eternity.

That’s what I thought of when I saw this picture.

Then I thought of how she is giving Jesus a paper-towel roll crown.

And it hit me that a paper-towel-roll crown is really about the best any of us has to offer Christ. Our crowns are “earned” as we yield to Him and He works in and through us. . . and it made perfect sense why we would give them back–because they were all His to begin with.

When we give to Him–ourselves, our plans, our possessions, our dreams, even our family; when we yield to His plans for us, to His will and His way, then we find the peace that He came to bring.


Decorating the tree

I have severe “tree” allergies, so much to Daniel’s sadness, we have an artificial tree. I wish I could change it–real trees are beautiful!–but I’m just allergic. I remember spending a week with someone who had a tree, and having terrible migraines much of the week and waking up with rashes all over my entire legs throughout the night, unable to sleep. I’ve had allergy shots since then, so my reactions are milder now. But in deference to my health, we have an artificial tree!

It is the same artificial tree I have had since my senior year of college. I bought it during the after-Christmas sale, 50% off, knowing I would definitely want a tree when I was living on my own, working at the CPA firm. I had no idea that my kids would be enjoying it someday too. I got my money’s worth, for sure! It has served me well for 12 years now. Daniel calls it my “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” but every year when we don’t have the “extra” money to buy a new one, I put it up again. The kids and I love it! 🙂

We have all been sick the past couple of weeks, so although I started getting out Christmas things the day after Thanksgiving–put the wreath on the door, set up the tree–it is still sitting in the living room, undecorated.

Well, I should say, largely undecorated. Mara never said anything to me, but the other morning, I walked past the tree and saw this:

And I deduced that she found a color-by-number candy cane picture in her Christmas coloring book, and took it upon herself to color the page, cut them out, and decorate the tree–without ever mentioning anything!

And then, suddenly I remembered her saying, “We should decorate the tree with candy canes again like we did last year!” (Thank you Grandma B!) Maybe she was working on decorating it, right at that moment. . .

I had to laugh (and probably only my family will laugh about this), but Mara said, “We really need a star for the top of the [kids’ 3-foot] tree.”

Micah gasped, “OHH!” and went running into the kitchen. He came back with the bright yellow “Rovenstine For Sheriff” magnet (from my Indiana days) and the kids insisted that I attach it to the top of the tree!

“Here’s a starrrr!” he exclaimed.

It was their tree, and I don’t presently have a better option, so much to their delight, I tied it to the top.

(I really want to send this picture to Al and Aaron Rovenstine!)

Don’t worry–we will decorate the tree for real later this week!

Learning About Christmas

“[Christmas] will be SO much fun!” Mara exclaimed the week before Thanksgiving. “We’ll set up the Christmas tree–and God will set the snow–and we’ll go out and throw snowballs!”

Now that Mara and Micah are (almost) four and two-and-a-half, they are old enough to remember last Christmas and look forward to this year.

What do they remember?

  • Decorating the tree
  • Presents
  • Snow
  • Christmas music

As they begin to comprehend more, I want them at a young age to begin to understand the real meaning of Christmas.

From my Time-Life Christmas CDs, the kids already know the “Christmas oldies”: “Jingle Bells,” “Sleigh Ride,” “White Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”  . . .  Yesterday I decided we would start learning some Christmas carols. So I sang for them and Mara asked lots of questions about what words meant. . .

  • “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” – What amazing life-changing truth is contained in that song! (Peace on earth = God and sinners–me–reconciled! Christ came to earth as a baby to die for me on the cross to pay for my sin and bring peace to my life!) What blessed reminders of God’s grace and goodness to me, as I explained the song to my toddlers!
  • “Silent Night.”
  • “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

At that point, Micah was done singing. Mara wanted to keep going. It was so precious how she tried to sing along, without knowing the words–or the music, just singing a couple beats behind me the whole way through the song!

Earlier this week I told Mara we were going to read the story of Christmas from the Bible in Luke chapter 2:1-21.

She loves to listen–she loves for me to read to her. Apparently, she wasn’t anticipating the birth of Christ, because she seemed so genuinely surprised, when I read, “And this will be a sign for you: you will find the baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

She gasped and exclaimed, “I know about the manger! I know this one!”

And in verse 21, I read, “At the end of eight days. . . he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel. . .” and she exclaimed, “I love Jesus! I wish I could tell God what we’re doing right now!”

“Sure, you can tell Him,” I told her. All the time I tell Mara that God is real, that He hears us, that He cares about everything in our lives. And she believes.

She shouted, “Guess what we’re doing, God?! We’re reading about your Son when he was a little baby!”

I want God to be as real in my life, as He is in hers. That I would thrill to tell Him when I’m reading about His son.

We finished the passage.

Mara loved reading Luke 2. And she asked to read it again when the other kids were napping, so of course we did.

Mara drew a picture of what we read in Luke 2. (You may have to click on the picture to be able to read my explanations of the drawing. The things I wrote in quotes are Mara’s descriptions.) On the back, she wrote something about “God loves you. Run to him.” But she doesn’t know how to actually write words yet, so she had to translate for me, since it was just a bunch of random letters. Still precious. 🙂

I love it!