Waiting with Kids


A couple weeks ago a friend of mine asked if I knew of an Advent Calendar I could recommend for kids.  I didn’t.  I don’t.  A couple years ago, when Gryffin was 4 and Isaiah 2, we got a simple cardboard one with the flaps that opened to tell the story of Christ’s birth.  No candy involved and it was pretty ugly, truth be told.  To our surprise, though, Gryffin was totally into it.   Who knew?

Last year, I forgot to order one ahead of time and the only ones I saw in the stores were the candy-filled ones.  Nothing against chocolate but it just seemed to defeat the point entirely, not to mention we were still working through the Halloween candy.  I made a half-hearted attempt to light the candles in our Advent wreath each Sunday but I think we only managed to remember once.

This year, though, after the nudging from my friend, I looked around in earnest for a good option.  The candy, though!  Geez, you just can’t get away from it. And once there is candy involved, all bets are off.  It’s all they think about.  Treats!  Chocolate!  Goodies!

I also looked at various books but none of them seemed a good fit for us as a family.  I found a new one that I ordered for me and Jason but came up short in the family department. Finally I decided to just create my own.  Here’s what I came up with.


First, I made us a candle calendar.  24 small candles on a tray with a large one in the middle for the Christ candle (seen above).  Those stupid glass candle holders were essentially a crafty Pinteresty etching cream disaster that left me wringing my hands and wailing.  I managed to rescue them with some glue and epsom salts but NEVER again.    Anyway, we’ll light one the first night, two the second, and so on until all 25 are lit on Christmas day.


Week 1 is the week of HOPE.

At 4 and 6, our kids will tune out the second we say “stump of Jesse” so I’ve tailored this entirely to their ages this year.  For this first week, I mainly picked passages from the prophets of the Old Testament who were waiting in hope for a Messiah.  And I selected photos that we will look at together that show some form of hope; hope deferred, hope-embodied, hope-fulfilled.

Day 1 — John 1:3

“Everything was created through God;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.”

The hope involved in sowing seeds and waiting for them to grow.

Day2 – Jeremiah 9:2

“The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
light! sunbursts of light!”

Volunteers working to fix up an elementary school.   It’s hopeful to build & invest in something.

Day3 – Isaiah 11:5

“His words will bring everyone to awed attention.
A mere breath from his lips will topple the wicked.
Each morning he’ll pull on sturdy work clothes and boots,
and build righteousness and faithfulness in the land.”

A woman cleaning up in Ferguson
A woman cleaning up in Ferguson last week.  An act of hope in what has been a dark place.

Day4 – Jeremiah 33: 14-15

“The time is coming’—God’s Decree—‘when I will keep the promise I made to the families of Israel and Judah. When that time comes, I will make a fresh and true shoot sprout from the David-Tree. He will run this country honestly and fairly. He will set things right… The motto for the city will be, “God Has Set Things Right for Us.”

Homeless Children in NYC
Homeless Children in NYC – in need of hope.

Day5 – Isaiah 9:6

“For a child has been born—for us!
the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over
the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
Strong God,
Eternal Father,
Prince of Wholeness.”

Gryffin & Isaiah themselves at Easter 2013. In hopeful anticipation of, you guessed it, CANDY

Day6 – Micah 5:2&4

“But you, Bethlehem, David’s country,
the runt of the litter—
From you will come the leader
who will shepherd-rule Israel…

He will stand tall in his shepherd-rule by God’s strength,
centered in the majesty of God-Revealed.
And the people will have a good and safe home,
for the whole world will hold him in respect—
Peacemaker of the world!”

Weeping Woman -- Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris
Weeping Woman — Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris.  Hopelessness of grief.


Day7 – Zechariah 9:9

“Shout and cheer, Daughter Zion!
Raise the roof, Daughter Jerusalem!
Your king is coming!
a good king who makes all things right,
a humble king riding a donkey,
a mere colt of a donkey.
I’ve had it with war—no more chariots in Ephraim,
no more war horses in Jerusalem,
no more swords and spears, bows and arrows.
He will offer peace to the nations,
a peaceful rule worldwide,
from the four winds to the seven seas.”

Can you imagine?  Look at that boat!  Looks like this guy was rescued in the absolute nick of time!  Hope greatly fulfilled!


I don’t have much hope that the boys will sit and listen to an entire song with us but I think I’ll pick a song for each week and just play it while we’re going about our weekly business.  Here’s the one I picked for this first week.  I surprised myself by choosing of this song that is a little… techno-ish?   What other versions should we listen to this week?



To make it kinesthetic, I’d like to come up with one activity per week where we can embody what we’re talking about.  This week we’ll try to come up with some way that we can bring hope and light to someone feeling the darkness press in.  The boys particularly enjoy taking food to our neighbors so if I can rally the energy to bake something with them, maybe we can make it happen!

I’ll let you know what we decide to do in the post for Week 2!

All passages are from the MSG translation.