Monday, November 30, 2015

Trick or Treat!

A few years ago, barely anyone lived in our neighborhood and trick or treating was just a little...sad. These days, things around here are much different and trick or treating is so much fun. Our two little Rapunzels and Bumblebee and Chase the Rescue Bots had a great time running around to everyone's houses. It was a great night and we're still in the candy zone a month later. 

 Ready to go...and watching all the other kids play.
(Addie left, Emmie right)

 My attempt at a picture with them didn't go well.

 Off we go!

One of our neighbors always has a little party for the kids after we go around the neighborhood. There were all crowded into the garage watching  a movie on the projector. 

Costume change...I call this one "double double toil and trouble."
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Friday, November 13, 2015

Our Jesse Tree Exchange Party: The Party Details

(For the first Jesse Tree post, click here).

For pictures of all the ornaments, scroll to the end of the post!

After weeks of planning and preparing, it was finally time for our Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange Party. The 27 ladies involved had put so much work into their ornaments, so it was great to get together, celebrate, talk, eat {um...of course}, and learn more about the ornaments and how to use them!

I kept the "party decor" pretty simple. A few tablecloths and centerpieces and we were good to go. I brought a tree so we could display a set of the ornaments, and we were good to go.

When the ladies first got there we set out all the ornaments, and had a great time seeing what everyone had come up with. I was so impressed with everyone and their creativity!

We started the night with eating and fellowship, followed by a couple of door prize drawings for some cute Christmas items (ornaments, travel mugs). At the end of the night I also gave away a couple of the Gospel Project's The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook to use with our Jesse Tree story calendar.

I spoke very briefly about what a Jesse Tree was, the basic how-to's, and we went through each story on the calendar and hung the ornaments on the tree. If you are curious, or if you happened to be a participant who couldn't make it to the party, here are a few talking points from the party. If not...skip on down to the cute pictures!

*As I said in my last post, I chose The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook because it is the curriculum we use at our church. I like that it provides reinforcement for what our kids are learning in life groups, it provides a familiar Christ Connection for our children, and I think it is a little more kid friendly than some Jesse Tree versions I have seen. Some versions can be very heavy into prophecy, which can sometimes go over littles ones' heads. These stories are right on their level, and they show God's redemptive plan throughout the Bible in a way they can understand.

*Everyone's devotional time each night is going to look different. Do what is best for you as far as the age of your children, how much time you have, etc. There may be nights you just read a little bit of the story and pray. There may be nights you do the devotional, pray, sing a song, learn a memory verse, do a craft. You can do as little or as much as you want. The idea is to point your kids to that in whatever way works best for your family!

*The calendar isn't set in stone. Change it up if you need to...use as different Bible if you need to. Once again, do what works for your family! There are lots and lots of Jesse Trees out there, and I am certainly not a Jesse Tree theologian. {I'm sure that's a thing}. I am happy to help you as well if something isn't working for you!

*All of our ornaments fit on a 4 foot tree easily. Mine is pre-lit, and I got it from Walmart for about $25. You could also use a garland or mix them into your traditional tree. Get as creative as you want, or keep it simple.

After our little presentation was over, I gave everyone a bag, and we formed an assembly line to grab our ornaments to take home. It was a simple night, but it was so fun to spend time together. I think we are all excited to get started on our Jesse Tree!

Just for fun and in case you need are pictures of all the ornaments!
They aren't in order because...well...because.

Jonah and the Whale

 The angel Predicted John's Birth

 The Prophecy of Bethlehem from Micah

 A Camel and a Tent for Abraham

Noah's Ark

A Sheaf of Wheat for Ruth and Boaz

John the Baptist is Born

 Jacob's Ladder

 The Birth of Jesus

 Joseph's Coat of Many Colors

 The Star in the Sky at Jesus' birth

The Passover

 The Fiery Furnace

The Ten Commandments

 Daniel and the Lion's Den

 God Tested Abraham

David and Goliath

 The Prophecies of Isaiah

 Sin Entered the World

 The Conquest of Jericho/Rahab

Queen Esther

 Balaam and the Donkey

God Created the World

 Kind David

The Jesse Tree Prophecy

An Angel Visited Mary and Joseph

All done!

(Jesse Tree Exchange Party Part One can be found here)
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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Our Jesse Tree Exchange Party: Gospel Project Edition

A few years ago I began to read about The Jesse Tree Advent. Some of my friends were doing it with their kids, and it seemed like such a great idea that I just had to try it!

So...what is a Jesse Tree? The idea for a Jesse Tree is based on Isaiah 11:1, "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." Simply put, it is a way to lead children through stories in the Bible that show the redemptive plan God had for his people from the very beginning of creation (Hint: It's Jesus). 

There are so many different versions of the Jesse Tree out there, but each one takes stories from the Bible, whether they are directly related to the lineage of Jesus, to prophecies surrounding His coming, or to major events in the Old Testament. Each event has an ornament that corresponds to it, and that's where the tree comes in. Each day, you read/tell the story and hang the corresponding ornament on the tree.

I have wanted to put together a Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange for awhile, and I decided this was the year. I had such a great response from my friends that we actually ended up with more than enough participants. The next step was to come up with a Jesse Tree plan, and while there are plenty already out there, I really felt led to create one to tie into Lifeway's Gospel Project curriculum that we use at our church. 

Why? Well I think the more we can reinforce what our children are learning in their classes, the better. These stories will already be familiar to our kids, and that's a great thing. Repetition is key to burying truth in their little hearts! I also liked that the entire reason the Gospel Project exists is to connect Christ throughout God's story. (I mean it says it right there on the front of the curriculum).

Anyhow...I chose 26 stories from The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook and assigned each one an ornament and then assigned each ornament to a friend. Then, we got together, had snacks and fellowshipped, and exchanged our ornaments.

Tomorrow I will post all the pictures and more information about our exchange party, so come on back.  
If you are interested in using the Gospel Project for your Jesse Tree, here's a link to the PDF calendar I created.

Don't have time to create 26 ornaments this year? Try places like Dollar Tree or Hobby Lobby to purchase ornaments, look at the awesome sets ladies have created on etsy, use clip art from your computer, or even have your children create the ornament each night. It can be as simple as a index card, some crayons, and a piece of yarn!

 One last tip that may work for you... The Gospel Project creates trading cards to pass out to kids at the end of each lesson. If you happen to use the curriculum at your church, you may have them. (You can buy them on the Lifeway website and in some stores as well, but you have to buy multiple packs to get the cards you need). Since each story on the Jesse Tree calendar above has a corresponding card, you can just punch holes in each trading card and use them as your ornaments. The cards also have a quick version of the story on the back, so you could use these for your devotion. Bonus!

For the Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange Party Details here.

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