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!

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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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Free “Must Have” on the Back-to-School List!

So I saw where today’s parents are spending, on average, nearly $700 per child on back-to-school shopping. Which is lot of notebooks and glue sticks. And when you factor in the mini-fridge or whatever else a college kid needs (I’m looking at you, Bed, Bath & Beyond Campus Checklist), that number climbs even higher.

Happily, there’s at least one must-have item that doesn’t cost anything. And honestly? Every kid needs it, whether they’re headed for kindergarten or college.

Robbie First Day of Kindergarten

I’m talking about back-to-school prayer.

Several years ago, I wrote about the ice-cream-and-prayer parties we used to host at the end of the summer. You can read that post here, but if you just want a few good prompts to help kick off the year (or to tuck in the lunchbox, maybe?), click here to download 12 of my favorites. This collection covers everything from listening to instruction…to having a teachable spirit…to making the most of every opportunity!

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Happy praying…and as you send your crew out the door this year, may the Lord watch over their coming and going, both now and forevermore! (Psalm 121:8)

❤️

And P.S. yes, I did make Robbie give a flower to his teacher. 🙂

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Need a Good Laugh? Try this Game!

There’s nothing like having a house full of recent college graduates to upgrade the family fun. They know all of the best games and – as promised – here’s a quick “how to” on one that we played during our Staycation last month. I imagine it’s known by many names, but we called the game “Salad Bowl.”

IMG_0742For starters, divide your group into two teams. Give everyone three slips of paper and have them write down one or two words on each. Almost any noun will do; our collection included patience (as in the virtue), Lawless (as in the movie)and Donald Trump (as in). Once everyone has written their words, fold em up and put them all in a – you guessed it – salad bowl.

(Note:  When picking your words, it helps to be a little bit crafty or off-beat. I learned this lesson the hard way when I picked Sewanee. That’s where Robbie goes to school, and since he would be leaving the following week, I guess I was already missing him. It’s a good school, but a bad word choice, since Round One involves giving verbal clues so your team. All anyone had to say was, “Robbie’s college!” and they got it. Lame.)

So for Round One, everyone gets 30 seconds to pull words out of the bowl and try to explain them to their teammates, using any verbal clues you want. (Think “Catch Phrase,” without the beeping.) You go through all the words, alternating teams every 30 seconds, until all the words have been guessed.

Tally how many words each team got, record that score, and then put all the words back in the bowl.

Round two is a little trickier.  You still alternate the guesses in 30-second intervals, getting as many words as you can in that time, but instead of giving long-winded clues or explanations about the word (“This is what happens when you have to wait for a really long time for something to happen…”) you pick just ONE WORD as a prompt. For instance, if you were trying to get your team to guess the word patience, you might simply say, “Virtue.”

(Since everyone is already somewhat familiar with the words, it’s not as random as it sounds.)

(Unless you are old like I am, in which case you don’t remember any of the words from Round One and you just sit there shouting out whatever occurs.)

IMG_0716Go through all of the words again, giving the one-word clues, until they’ve all been picked.  Tally how many each team got, add that to the Round One score, and put the words back in the bowl.

Round Three is basically charades. You go through all the words again, with each player having 30 seconds to get his teammates to guess as many as they can. (Talented actors may want to tighten the interval to 20 seconds.)  This is where the game can get interesting: Donald Trump was easy (the hair); patience less so. I stood there, doing nothing, expecting people to guess the word. I mean, they were waiting, right? Hello? Patience?

(Maybe I just had a bad team.)

Anyhow, you can end the game after Round Three, awarding the win to whichever team guessed the most words right after all three rounds. Or, you can move on to Round Four and add the sheet.

We recommend the sheet.

With the sheet in play, you put all of the words back into the bowl and pass it to a team member who is – you guessed it again – under a bed sheet.  The person goes through as many words as possible, acting out the motions under the sheet. No words or encouraging noises allowed. No discouraging noises, either.

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(My team got “patience” this time. Nothing like doing nothing to garner the “best actor” award, when you’re under a sheet. And I am pretty sure we won, by a margin of one.)

So…that’s Salad Bowl. It’s a game for all ages, as evidenced by the York family of Atlanta, Georgia. Special thanks to Kelly York for cluing us in to the world of possibilities that can open up in Round Four after her 82-year-old grandmother went under the sheet during their family vacay and pretended to be “Obama.”

Classic.

 

 

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DIY: God Bless America (with pix this time)!

(Note from Jodie:  Many thanks to those of you who let me know that yesterday’s post showed up without photos.  Turns out that the site that does this stuff for me was down – or maybe somebody out there just doesn’t love America.  Either way, it should be working now.  Happy painting!)

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We’ve always been a July 4th kind of family.  Patriotism plays into it, sure, but there’s also the lure of things like al fresco dining (cookouts), free entertainment (fireworks), and easy decorating (throw a few flags around and – bam! – you’re in the holiday spirit).

What’s not to love?

Truth be told, we own a lot of flags.  Normal people buy candy or magazines in the checkout line; I am a sucker for Old Glory.  I can never remember how many of the dowel rods the dogs chewed up in their patriotic zeal last year, so I grab a fresh batch of ’em every June to stick in the ground, the flower pots, or on the front door.  Other kids show up at college with Michael Jordan posters and monogrammed bulletin boards; mine arrive with giant flags.  And if I happen to see an old ratty Star Spangled banner in an antiques shop?  Just hope you aren’t between me and the cash register.

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Because honestly, you can never have too many flags.  That’s probably what I was thinking on a warm June day back in 2002, right around when the family photo (above) was snapped.  We’d found a piece of old plywood in the garage and, not having any other use for the giant board but unwilling to waste it (a reluctance that I like to think speaks well of my fiscal sensitivity), I grabbed a can of white paint and told the kids to let ‘er rip.

Once they’d covered both the wood and their bathing suits, we added a navy square and three simple words:  GOD BLESS AMERICA.  Part proclamation, part prayer, it seemed to fit, particularly since 9/11 was still very fresh in our minds.

Then came the fun part.

We live on a fairly public corner of our neighborhood, and every kid who came by that day was invited to dip his or her hands in a brownie pan full of red paint.  Print-by-print, hand-by-hand, the “stripes” came together, as each child left his mark and then used a Sharpie pen to sign his – ahem – handiwork.  Betsy Ross, eat your heart out.

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Today, most of the kids who slapped their hands on the sign are all grown up – some of them are living in far-away places like Charlotte and Los Angeles – but we still haul the sign out every year.  As a nation, we’ve been through a lot of changes in the past 13 years, but our prayer is still the same:  God bless America.

If you want to join us in that prayer this year (or if you just need a project to keep the kids busy for a couple of hours), why not make your own flag?  All you need is a piece of plywood, some paint, and a bunch of patriotic volunteers who don’t mind getting a little bit messy!

Happy Fourth!

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