DIY Advent Printable to Ignite Praise

(Friends…many thanks to those of you who told me that the Thanksgiving printable prayers were too big to download. Whoopsie! We’ve made some tweaks in case you want to try again and use the cards as stocking stuffers or hostess gifts; click here to access that file. You’ll be glad to know that the Advent printable in this post is much more manageable; I printed the cards from my phone…hope you love ’em as much as I do!)

Advent candles

Ready or not, here it comes!

Advent officially begins on Sunday. And if you’re like me, that can conjure a mix of emotions.

On the one hand, I adore Christmas. I love everything about it:  The carols, the gift-giving, the tree-trimming, the lights. The everyday, everywhere reminders that Jesus is born.

On the other, the everyday, everywhere reminders can leave my soul feeling stressed. “O come let us adore him,” the radio beckons. And I can’t wait to do that–just as soon as I get the presents wrapped, the cards mailed, the cookies iced. Then, I tell myself, then I will be able to settle down and adore.

Maybe you find yourself in the same place.

Or maybe it’s not the busy-ness of the season that holds you back. Maybe you hear the invitation to adoration and you just don’t feel like giving God praise. Maybe this will be your first Christmas without a loved one. Maybe anxiety, disappointment, or fear over a child’s circumstances has dealt a blow to your faith. Or maybe you’re just plain bone-tired after not-one-but-two very long years.

Advent Adoration

If that’s where you find yourself today–longing to experience the thrill of hope but too hurting, too anxious, or too weary to open your heart–may I offer a gentle suggestion?

God doesn’t need us to come to him full of faith, brimming with joy, or overflowing with energy. He simply invites us to come–as we are–and adore. And as we do what my friend Sara Hagerty says and “sing our way into the truth,” something happens. The very act of praising (even when we don’t feel like it) releases the power of God into our lives.

Praise opens the door to hope.

One of my most favorite ways to praise God is to reflect on his attributes. I find that the more I think about who God is–merciful, faithful, Almighty, kind–the more my perspective changes. Problems that once loomed impossibly scary or large begin to shrink in the light of his splendor.

Psalm 100 says we come into God’s presence with praise; Psalm 22 says God is enthroned on our praises. If you long to draw near to God–to experience his closeness as you draw near to Christmas–adoration is the avenue that will get you there. And if you aren’t sure where to begin or how God’s attributes might impact your life, this DIY Advent calender might be a good place to start.

Advent Cards on table

Just print, cut, and fold!

The Advent printable includes 25 cards, each one highlighting a different one of God’s character traits. They’re super easy to access – just print, cut, and fold! 

Cut Advent Printable

Display the cards with the numbers facing out as you welcome December, and then flip them over discover a new facet of God’s nature every day. You can hang the cards on a strand of twine, prop them on a mantle, or or keep them in a bedside box as a reminder of God’s lavish love!

Advent Printable on mantle

Advent Printable on twine

Advent Printable on Mantle 1

I designed this Advent printable as a Christmas gift for our email community; you won’t find the cards available elsewhere. If you have friends who’d enjoy this printable or the blogs, please encourage them to visit jodieberndt.com to subscribe and join us!

As a current subscriber, you don’t need any special code to access the Advent printable; simply click here and follow the prompts to download. And as you consider each card, talk about God’s character with your children. Ask questions, even if you don’t know all the answers.

Advent Attribute - God is our counselor

For instance…

  • God is our COUNSELOR. Where do you need his wisdom or guidance today?
  • God is SOVEREIGN. How does it make you feel to know that he is in control?
  • God is IMMANUEL. What difference does it make to know that he is with us?

God is Immanuel…and so much more. Whatever your need, wherever you are, our Savior has you covered. May you sense his nearness, his love, and his grace in increasing measure in the month ahead.

Merry Christmas!

❤️

For further reflection on the power of praise, take a look at 2 Chronicles 20. I read that particular chapter this week and was struck, not for the first time, of what happens when we meet a crisis with praise.

Jehoshaphat learns that a vast army–one made up of three different nations–is about to attack. Alarmed, he resolves to ask God what to do. “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us,” he says. “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

Then he recounts God’s past faithfulness (he considers God’s character) and–get this!–he appoints men to march out in front of the army and sing praises to God for “the splendor of his holiness.” (v. 21)

What happens next is nothing short of remarkable. As Jehoshaphat’s men start to sing and praise, God…

Well, I’ll let you read the story for yourself. As you do, keep in mind that the tide didn’t turn until the praises began. Praise conquers our fears, sharpens our perspective, and releases God’s power.

“We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” Let’s keep our gaze fixed on Jesus this Christmas season!

 

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Printable Prayers for Your Thanksgiving Table

(In case you missed these last year, I’m sliding into your inbox with a set of printable prayers for your Thanksgiving table–or wrap ’em up as a hostess gift if you’re not doing the cooking!)

Happy Almost Thanksgiving!

Robbie and I are gearing up to host our whole crew:  Two sets of newlyweds, extended in-laws, a couple of grandbabies, and at least one pair of very sleep-deprived parents. Plus, we’ve got an assortment of four-legged guests. Tilly the Quarantine Kitty is making the trek from the Big Apple and bringing her brand-new bunkmate:

Rugby the Big Apple Puppy

It’s shaping up to be the good kind of crazy.

Except…the dishwasher is leaking.

As is the puppy.

Which is why I am glad I still have last year’s set of printable prayers. I might be up to my eyeballs in dirty dishes and puppy pee pads, but at least the Thanksgiving table has a chance to look good!

Prayer Cards on Thanksgiving Table

Even more than that, the prayer cards serve tangible reminders of what Alexander Macleran, the great British preacher, called “the crowded kindnesses of God.”

The printable prayers include thirteen different 5″ x 7″ cards featuring topics like protection, diligence, kindness, salvation, and gratitude. I tucked a card into each place setting last year; they’d also be fun to “hide” under plates for folks to discover when they help clear the dishes. And who knows? Maybe your guests might even be nudged to use the cards to pray for each other before the tryptophan coma sets in!

prayer cards

Click here to download the prayer cards on your laptop or home computer (the file is too big to work on a phone).

And as you reflect on God’s crowded kindnesses–his provision, his mercy, his love–may you continue to be rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith, and overflowing with thankfulness! (Colossians 2:6-7)

❤️

P.S.  The printable prayers make a nice teacher or hostess gift, especially if you print them on quality card stock and add a  display easel. I found this gold one on Amazon (it comes in a package of six):

Prayer Cards with gold easel

And psst…I’m also working on an Advent-themed printable exclusively for email subscribers. Be on the lookout for that one in the next week or so–assuming the new puppy doesn’t eat my homework!

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Doing Life with Your Adult Children (Wisdom from Dr. Jim Burns)

If you’ve got adult children, chances are good that you also have questions. Questions like…

When should I give advice, and when is it better to keep my mouth shut?

What’s the difference between helping and enabling?

Is it okay to let my adult children fail? What if they really blow it? What then?

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure (the fun!) of interviewing a fellow who has answers to questions like these.

Dr. Jim Burns interview

Dr. Jim Burns would be the FIRST to tell you that he’s not a parenting “expert.” But with a Ph.D., a book called Doing Life with Your Adult Children, and three all-grown-up kids in his bio, Jim has both the education and the experience to weigh in on any number of tricky topics, and I loved our convo.

If you missed it and want to watch, click here.

And if all you’ve got time for is a quick highlight, I’ll recap Jim’s counsel on one of the questions I hear all the time from my own readers: What do I do when my kids make a really bad choice? How should I respond?

Because let’s be honest. Our kids will all blow it, in one way or another. They might get in trouble. They might violate our values. Or they might just do stuff that boggles our minds, like when one of my relatives tried to unclog his toilet with a cherry bomb. He dropped it in the bowl and then stood on the lid.

(I’ll wait while you just process that one for a sec.)

The consequences of poor choices can be really, um, messy. They can be hard to clean up. And the fallout might last a long time.

C.S. Lewis noted that “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”

C.S. Lewis quote on Hardships

That’s a motivational thought (and one we might all agree with), but when it’s your child who’s walking through something awful–a toxic relationship, a battle with substance abuse, a pornography addiction, a rejection of faith–it can be heartbreaking. It is heartbreaking. And as parents, we can find ourselves flooded with doubt.

Was it something I did?

Should we have prayed more, as a family? Gone on mission trips instead of vacations?

Would this have happened if my marriage hadn’t failed?

The what-ifs, Jim says, can paralyze our souls and crush our confidence. But as I’ve said in this space before, our ability to ruin our kids is nothing compared to God’s power (and his desire) to redeem them. And as Jim writes in his book, “Your child’s regrettable decisions do not make you a bad parent. Even good parents have children who make poor choices.”

Jim Burns quote - good parents have kids who make poor choices

So what do we do, moving forward? How can we love our kids well, even when we don’t love the choices they make?

Jim made lots of good points in our talk (and you’ll find even more in his book), but here are three of my top takeaways:

For starters, don’t bail your kids out. Their crisis doesn’t need to be your crisis, and when you repeatedly step in to “save” them, you might unintentionally block the path to healing and wholeness. “If you take on the consequences your child should be experiencing,” Jim says, “you are robbing them of an opportunity for growth and change.”

Next, don’t be a one-topic parent. Our adult children already know how we feel about the choices they’ve made;  instead of harping on whatever it is that is breaking your heart, talk about other things. Engage your child the way you’d talk with a friend. Talk with them, not at them. Ask open-ended questions about issues where you might not know all the answers, and listen more than you speak.

And finally, relinquish your kids to God’s care. This one is seldom easy, but it’s super important. We can’t fix our kids, but we can make the deliberate choice to entrust them to a God who knows them, and loves them, even more than we do. We can pray the same prayer that Jim does every day: “God, I release my children to your loving care and tender mercies.”

All of these things–the tough love, the grace-filled conversations, the surrendering of our kids to God’s care–can create a climate where healing and growth can take place, one in which relationships flourish.

Which, at the end of the day, is what matters. Because the number one thing our adult kids want to know isn’t what we think of their choices or what we wish they would do. The number one thing they are asking is this: “Do you still love me?”

Do you still love me.

Is that what the prodigal son in Luke’s gospel wanted to know? He certainly didn’t feel worthy of love. He knew he’d made a mess of his life. He did not expect to be welcomed with open arms.

And yet that’s how his father–our Father–received him.

We can do the same thing. We can love our adult children, even when we don’t love the choices they make. We can ask God to bless and protect them, even as we ask him–and trust him–to work on their hearts. And we can be ready, with arms open wide, to welcome them when they come home

“Do you still love me?”

We know, even when our hearts break in a million pieces, that the answer is always yes.

❤️

If you’d like some specific ways to pray for your adult children’s needs–whether it’s a marriage concern, a crippling addiction, or they’re just in a lonely place where you want God to bless them with friends–you’ll find encouraging stories and hundreds of prayer prompts in my book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children.

Adult Children - never out of God's reach

And if you’d like to hear more from Dr. Jim Burns, check out his book (which, I must say, has one of the best subtitles I’ve ever seen):  Doing Life with Your Adult Children:  Keep Your Mouth Shut and the Welcome Mat Out.

Jim Burns book - Doing Life with Your Adult Children

(As always, I only recommend books here that I truly love, and f you purchase via a link in the post, I make a tiny commission…for which I am grateful.)

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