Kid-friendly Advent Printables

Every year the struggle remains the same: how do we keep their little hearts and minds focused on Christ when Christmas has become such a consumer-oriented holiday?

Enter the Christmas Adventure Box, a kid-friendly advent activity for the whole family.  Explore the spiritual significance of many of our favorite Christmas traditions, such as Christmas lights, candy canes, St. Nick, and more.

I first wrote about how we use this kid-friendly advent as a family tradition a few years ago.

If you haven’t read that post, I highly recommend you start there (just click this link).

I also recommend visiting my friend Lana’s site, which is where the idea originated. She gives more detailed instructions in a lesson-plan type of format which would be very helpful for teachers, homeschoolers, children’s church leaders, AWANA leaders, and so forth.

One of the things I love best about this kid-friendly advent activity is that it is very flexible!

Choose to do every day or just a few days a week, spend as little as five minutes or as long as an hour, and if you get behind (that never happens to us…haha), complete multiple days in one evening.

It’s advent that works for your family!

kid friendly advent free printables, The Christmas Adventure Box, family advent activity, homeschool, church, AWANA, youth group, easy advent, flexible advent, advent fun

This year, I wanted to be a little more organized since last year flew by so quickly that we never actually completed the Christmas Adventure Box advent acitivity.  I was such a holiday hypocrite.

So, I created some free printables to attach to the items in the box (see below) with simple instructions for how to complete each day’s activity of advent for kids.

Using this method will prevent me from having to look up the blog each day or print out a new set of advent instructions when ours gets lost (which also never, ever happens, right?).

Want to keep Christ at the center of your family Christmas?  These printables make kid-friendly Advent easy! The Christmas Adventure Box is a fun, frugal, and kid-friendly activity for advent that will teach your children the true reason for celebrating the Christmas season!  Learn the spiritual significance behind some of our favorite Christmas traditions, such as Christmas trees, lights, stockings, and even candy canes!

 

And I thought if I was going to take the time to make printables for this advent for kids, then I might as well share with you all. :)

So, Merry Christmas to you, my faithful readers – here are free, downloadable printables to go along with your Christmas Adventure Box advent for kids. Just click the words below to download.

Kid-friendly Advent free printables

 

I plan to print ours out on card-stock, cut them apart and attach them to the wrapped items in our box, making this family advent activity even simpler than it already is.

I’m all for simplifying the holidays for less stress, especially with four kiddos in the house (okay, three kiddos and one young man).

Don’t forget to visit The Christmas Adventure Box post for details on how to get started and a handy list of needed items. Once your box is filled and the cards are attached, you are all set to go for this easy, kid-friendly advent that that whole family will enjoy.

Teach your children the stories behind holiday traditions

and, most importantly, how Jesus is the Greatest Gift of all!

Jen :)

If you find yourself worried about how to give your kids a good Christmas, read here.

Sharing with:

A Group Look, Cornerstone Confessions, Monday Parenting Pin It Party, Mama Moments, Wholehearted Home, Tell It To Me Tuesdays, Grace and Truth

Mystery Topic ~ #TheLoft

Okay, Lofters, I know you’ve all been waiting for this moment – our little secret we’ve been keeping is out in the open!  Read below for this week’s fun “topic.”

Praying you all have Joyful Thanksgivings (for those in the U.S. that is)!

Jen :)

The Loft is open, come on up!

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
Graphic by Kerry Messer

This Week’s Mystery Topic is…. (drum roll)

Well, seeing it is Thanksgiving week, we want to actually GIVE THANKS. So this week, we are playing Thanksgiving Tag!

How to play:

We are taking to the social media streets this week, tagging people we are thankful for!

Pick one social media site (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc) and tag 5 bloggers or writers that you appreciate. Tell them why you are thankful for them. You can link back to this page if you’d like (so they know why and by whom they are getting tagged and to help spread the word about The Loft)… but a link back isn’t required. :)

Since we won’t be doing this week’s topic on our blogs, there won’t be a linky this week. The linky will be back up next week.

That’s it! We are thankful for YOU, for your contribution, for being part of this community, and we all wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Next Week’s Topic: 2014 in Review (Time to get introspective. We look forward to hearing what you’ve learned in 2014.)

About #TheLoft

The Loft is the place for conversation, community, networking, and Christian growth.

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

PLEASE NOTE: While there are many link and leave blog hops out there, we are different in that we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic. This fosters community and conversation. It also helps us practice “topic” writing as bloggers. Oh, and please mention The Loft in your post! Thank you so much!


Monday night, at 9pm Eastern, the linky goes live and all week you can link up your post on that week’s topic.

We’ll have fun topics, serious topics, practical, soul-ful, holiday, and so, so much more…we can’t wait to get started! This is not only a great way to connect with others, it’s also a fun and easy way to establish a writing habit. If you aren’t a blogger, you are welcome to join in by leaving your comments in the comment section.

So grab your coffee mug and come on up! Hang out for a bit. We betcha you’ll be glad you did.

To Participate:

1. Be creative. Feel free to use words, photos, video, audio, your family pet, whatever, to communicate on the weekly topic. But please stick to the weekly topic :)

2. Listen twice as much as you talk. If you leave one link, visit two. Trust us on this one~wink.

3. Be a community. Include #TheLoft graphic and/or link back in your post so we can find each other. Also, share the great stuff you find when you visit around…we’ll be doing the same.

The Loft Link Up

When you link up at The Loft, your link will appear on 4 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are: Jen, Rebekah, Leah, Arabah

Happy Thanksgiving!

#TheLoft Thanksgiving Edition

 

The Loft is open, come on up!

 

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
Graphic by Kerry Messer

 

This Week’s Topic: “Thanksgiving” (Food, traditions, an essay or video, or your own gratitude list. Maybe we will find some new ideas to incorporate into our celebration this year!)

Next Week’s Topic: Surprise! (Next week we have a little surprise planned! Be sure to stop by early~~smile, grin, beam!)

About #TheLoft

 

The Loft is the place for conversation, community, networking, and Christian growth.

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

 

PLEASE NOTE: We want to foster community and transparent conversation with one another, just like we’d do if we were meeting in real life. So we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic and that you mention The Loft in your post. Thank you so much!


Monday night, at 9pm Eastern, the linky goes live and all week you can link up your post on that week’s topic.

We’ll have fun topics, serious topics, practical, soul-ful, holiday, and so, so much more…we can’t wait to get started! This is not only a great way to connect with others, it’s also a fun and easy way to establish a writing habit. If you aren’t a blogger, you are welcome to join in by leaving your comments in the comment section.

So grab your coffee mug and come on up! Hang out for a bit. We betcha you’ll be glad you did.

To Participate:

 

1. Be creative. Feel free to use words, photos, video, audio, your family pet, whatever, to communicate on the weekly topic. But please stick to the weekly topic :)

2. Listen twice as much as you talk. If you leave one link, visit two. Trust us on this one~wink.

3. Be a community. Include #TheLoft graphic and/or link back in your post so we can find each other. Also, share the great stuff you find when you visit around…we’ll be doing the same.

 

The Loft Link Up

 

When you link up at The Loft, your link will appear on 4 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are: Jen, Rebekah, Leah, Arabah

 

 

Now it’s time to link up!

Favorite Fall Recipes ~ #TheLoft

It’s our favorite time of week again! This week we’ll be sharing our favorite fall recipes with you, so come join us in the linkup.

Jen :)

 

The Loft is open, come on up!

 

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
Graphic by Kerry Messer

 

This Week’s Topic: “Fall Recipes” (Yum!)

Get a running start on Next Week’s Topic: “Thanksgiving” (Food, traditions, an essay or video, or just your own gratitude list. Maybe we’ll find some new ideas to incorporate into our celebration this year!)

About #TheLoft

 

The Loft is the place for conversation, community, networking, and Christian growth.

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

 

PLEASE NOTE: We want to foster community and transparent conversation with one another, just like we’d do if we were meeting in real life. So we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic and that you mention The Loft in your post. Thank you so much!


Monday night, at 9pm Eastern, the linky goes live and all week you can link up your post on that week’s topic.

We’ll have fun topics, serious topics, practical, soul-ful, holiday, and so, so much more…we can’t wait to get started! This is not only a great way to connect with others, it’s also a fun and easy way to establish a writing habit. If you aren’t a blogger, you are welcome to join in by leaving your comments in the comment section.

So grab your coffee mug and come on up! Hang out for a bit. We betcha you’ll be glad you did.

 

To Participate:

 

1. Be creative. Feel free to use words, photos, video, audio, your family pet, whatever, to communicate on the weekly topic. But please stick to the weekly topic :)

2. Listen twice as much as you talk. If you leave one link, visit two. Trust us on this one~wink.

3. Be a community. Include #TheLoft graphic and/or link back in your post so we can find each other. Also, share the great stuff you find when you visit around…we’ll be doing the same.

 

The Loft Link Up

 

When you link up at The Loft, your link will appear on 4 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are: Jen, Rebekah, Leah, Arabah

 

 

Now it’s time to link up!

 

This Week’s Topic: “Fall Recipes”

 

Enter your link below:

Just a Closer Walk~ #TheLoft

My sisters in Christ, I’m very excited about this week’s topic for The Loft. I look forward to reading what each of you have to say about your walk with the Lord.

I know in my own life, I get easily distracted. I struggle with consistency and self-discipline so often.

And I used to believe that the sweetest times with the Lord were on the mountaintops, when I chose to abide closely in Him. I spent large chunks of time reading the Word and praying.  But lately I’m learning there is a sweetness to be found in the valleys as well because what I’m hearing from Him in the valleys would have been impossible to hear on the mountaintops.

The last few difficult years have challenged my view of God like never before.  His grace is much greater, His love much deeper than I ever could have imagined. He faithfully loves me even when I cannot love myself. Even when I loathe myself.

Perhaps it’s maturity at work in me or just life circumstances, but I find it easier to abide in Him, especially in the dark times, when I’m really honest with Him.  I realize now that much of my “young” Christian life was spent trying to please a God who was already pleased with me.  I held myself, and others, to high standards, and although I thought I understood grace, I think I was probably a little legalistic, maybe even self-righteous. I’m sure I still make that mistake sometimes even today, we all do at times. :)

And then came the valley of the shadow of death, or at least it felt like it, that filled these last couple of years.  At times I didn’t even want to leave my bed. At times I begged the Lord to come quickly – everyday life felt like too much to bear. I questioned the Lord like never before. I wrestled with him like Jacob as one blow after another fell upon my life. I quit trying to act the part of perfect Christian and begged for understanding. I got real with Jesus.

It was (and still is in some sense) a most difficult struggle.

Yet my faith has been strengthened!  Out of my honest conversations, out of my most desperate cries, came an understanding that I am perfectly loved, perfectly wanted, perfectly accepted.  I knew a brand new Grace, and it blew my mind – still does!

Because when I was my ugliest self, He loved me still.

He loves me still.

He loves you, too, my sisters, even at your ugliest, your most unlovely, your most unworthy.

And when we come to Him honestly, then He can begin the real work of “creating a clean heart” within us.  He gives us “grace-colored” glasses and teaches us that progress is what really matters, not perfection!

He teaches us confidence that only comes from fully understanding our Daughter-of-the-King status.

Walk with the Lord, Abiding in Him, Just a Closer Walk, Spiritual Life, Christianity, Christian Living, Growing in Christ

 

I’ve come out of that valley with a closer walk, not a perfect walk, but a closer one.  Not because I do my devotions without fail, not because I am sweet to my family, not because I serve Him at church, not because of the words I type out here.

But because I know Him more deeply.

I trust Him more deeply.

You can trust Him, too, sisters. Whatever your valley may look like, He promises to carry you through.

…For He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say,

The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What will man do to me?”  Heb.13:5-6

Even this.

Even this.

Jen :)

Also sharing this with Tell His Story.

 

The Loft is open, come on up!

 

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
Graphic by Kerry Messer

 

 

About #TheLoft

 

The Loft is the place for conversation, community, networking, and Christian growth.

 

PLEASE NOTE: We want to foster community and transparent conversation with one another, just like we’d do if we were meeting in real life. So we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic and that you mention The Loft in your post. Thank you so much!

 

We’ll have fun topics, serious topics, practical, soul-ful, holiday, and so, so much more…we can’t wait to get started! This is not only a great way to connect with others, it’s also a fun and easy way to establish a writing habit. If you aren’t a blogger, you are welcome to join in by leaving your comments in the comment section.

This Week’s Topic: “Intimacy with Jesus” (What does that look like for you? How do you abide in the vine? What barriers do you face or victories you’ve discovered in maintaining intimacy with Jesus? Let’s encourage each other!)

Get a running start on Next Week’s Topic:”Fall Recipes” (Please do share your favorite fall recipes so we can enjoy too!)

 

To Participate:

 

1. Be creative. Feel free to use words, photos, video, audio, your family pet, whatever, to communicate on the weekly topic. But please stick to the weekly topic :)

2. Listen twice as much as you talk. If you leave one link, visit two. Trust us on this one~wink.

3. Be a community. Include #TheLoft graphic and/or link back in your post so we can find each other. Also, share the great stuff you find when you visit around…we’ll be doing the same.

 

The Loft Link Up

 

When you link up at The Loft, your link will appear on 4 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are: Jen, Rebekah, Leah, Arabah

 

Now it’s time to link up!

 

Click to Add Your Link Below:

 

Best Blogging Tips

Faithful readers, I promised you a post earlier this week and life just got in the way.  However, I do have some great tips to pass along to those of you who are bloggers, so even though I’m very late with this post, I want to be sure it gets to you.  Better late than never, right? :)

When I first began blogging, I really had no idea what a huge industry the blogosphere is. I never “followed” any blogs before that time. I had no idea bloggers could earn income from their posts. I hardly even knew what a blog was.  So, why create a blog?

It was purely out of obedience to the Lord, honestly. No, He did not speak in a loud clear voice saying, “Jen, I want you to create a blog.”  However, He did use the Holy Spirit to convict me of neglecting one of the gifts He had given to me.  I was too overwhelmed to imagine writing a book or for any other sort of publication right away since I had not “practiced” writing in such a long time.  Thus, from what little I knew about blogs, creating one of my own seemed a simple, inexpensive, and the least terrifying way to walk forward in obedience.

To read more about my blogging journey thus far (a year and a half in!), check out the “For the Writers” tab on my sidebar or click here.  I would suggest starting with My Monday Morning Confession as it was my first post ever!  You might also read A Blogger’s Prayer to see what I have learned so far from this faith walk online.

I think I’ve been most surprised that rather than using the material the Lord gives me to encourage others (which is what I first expected), He so often uses the writing to encourage me!  Although others might find the words here encouraging, as is my deepest desire, even if no one else read them, this journey would be well worth it solely for the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

As a “seasoned” blogger of a year and a half (ha!), I do have some more practical blogging tips to pass along to you:

Pinterest – once I learned the value of creating a somewhat “pinnable” image, I began to receive most of my traffic from pinterest. In fact, this past month, I received close to a thousand views daily from a single post (The Pumpkin Gospel) that is doing well on pinterest simply because of Halloween.  I rarely reach that number even on a good day, normally. That’s the power of pinterest, my friends!

What I know about creating “pinnable” images:

The better the lighting, the more attractive they are to the eye, as far as Pinterest goes. Lighter images tend to work more effectively than darker ones.  Also, collage-type images (several pictures together) are more eye-catching. A good description also helps the reader to click through to the actual blog post.  I recently started using hash-tags, as well.

I’m no pro at creating pinnable images, but what little I can do has helped tremendously.  Therefore, I try to always include a photo of some sort in each post for easy sharing on pinterest. Sometimes when I don’t have an image that goes along with the theme of the post, I just include something beautiful from nature.  I keep my camera in my purse to capture scenery along the way; this allows me to avoid the issue of photo rights altogether, which is just easier for me.  Lately, I’ve really enjoyed adding verses to beautiful photos using either picmonkey.com or ribbet.com (photo editing websites).  Someday I would love to learn photoshop! :)

Pinterest works well for me because I liked it  and used it even before I started blogging.  Twitter, on the other hand, is another story altogether…

Key-words and phrases – recently I’ve been learning more about how search engines work and am working on including more key-word phrases, especially earlier on in my blog posts.  This helps anyone who is searching for information on a specific topic to find your blog post.  I have one post in particular that does well from searches, and that is How to Love When You Feel Unloved.  I usually receive several hits daily from that post ever since I updated it with a pinnable image and some bolding on key words and phrases.

This is another area in which I have plenty of room to grow, as I’m still learning and probably always will be. :)

I just learned this past week NOT to include a picture before the words in your blog post.  If you’ve followed Being Confident of This for very long, you know I’ve been guilty of this, so I have many past posts to make changes to.  Apparently, google and other analytic programs scan the first words of a blog post, and when you include a picture first, they end up reading a bunch of html code rather than the topic of your post.  I read about that here.

For more practical blogging tips, I suggest pinterest as a wealth of information.  I have a board just for Blogging that contains even more information than I have shared here. Some of it I haven’t even had time to look at or use. Some of it is easy to incorporate once you know how. I’m sure some of the other hosts have similar boards, as well. :)

 My Best Blogging Tip

My best blogging tip, however, has nothing to do with pinterest or even with the mechanics of blogging. My best tip is to avoid getting caught up in blogging perfectionism. As I mentioned above, I knew so very little about blogging when I first began. My only desire was to have a space to write that wasn’t too intimidating, in obedience to the Lord.

However, once I learned about linky parties and began reading other blogs, I began to realize I knew literally nothing.  And after a month or so, the desire to be “successful” started to creep in. I became concerned about things that I never even knew to be concerned about before.  Blogging became a lot less about glorifying Christ and more about glorifying my own meager abilities.

Don’t get me wrong, learning how to blog well or write well isn’t wrong in and of itself, but I think it can quickly become an “idol” in our lives if we allow it to.

 

best blogging tips, tips for bloggers

 

So my best blogging tip is simply this – fix your eyes on Jesus.

If you have time and the inclination to learn some of the rest of it along the way, great.  But don’t lose the vision He’s given you to the trappings of blogging perfectionism. Write in faith instead.

Trust Him to guide you to the “right” content, my sisters in Christ. Trust Him to bring you the “right” audience.

Fix your eyes on Jesus.

Jen :)