Countdown to Christmas: Focus on Jesus

As Christmas approaches it can be a challenge to focus on Jesus, the real reason for celebrating. God showed His love in such an amazing way. He became a human, lived, suffered and died in our place. Miraculously He rose again and wants to live in relationship with us!

I wrote Christmas is About Jesus: An Advent Devotional to help my family focus on Jesus in a busy season, a busy culture, that is often sending conflicting messages about what we are doing, or should be doing, and why. The links below are to posts I have done in the past that can enhance use of the devotions in the book or help you focus on Jesus even if you don’t have the book.

Blessings to you and your family this Christmas season!


Countdown to Christmas: Focus on Jesus Preparing to Prepare

Preparing for Christmas can take on a life of its own. Some where in my past I became convinced that Christmas had to be “prefect”. Trouble is I wasn’t even sure what prefect was, I just knew I wasn’t, my home wasn’t, my children weren’t. So here’s this hoped for “prefect” season that does nothing but magnify my failings and I’m trying to sell my children the idea that Christmas is about Jesus.

Christmas 2012 snowI am very grateful God walked me through this when my children were young. I didn’t want to model Christmas being about stress and unattainable perfection on any level. I wanted to live that Christmas was about Jesus, not just say so. I will not say I have arrived. I go through the process I am going to lay out for you every year. Some years I do better than others. Some days I do better than others.

Here’s my process for preparing to prepare for Christmas.

Evaluate expectations: Are my expectations from God?
I create a great amount of stress for myself if I do not take the time to sort through what I am really expecting of Christmas. For me it’s a whole season, not a day. I am naturally idealistic. So I recognize my dreams and expectations and take them to God. What is doable this year? What is most important? Thankfully I can let many things go when we have this conversation. Time with Him and time with family are really all I want. Everything else is fluff. Fluff is okay as long as there is no stress attached.

Evaluate traditions. Does this bring God glory?

When I began having children I looked at every Christmas tradition through this lens. Does this give God glory? If I could not see a way it brought God glory I modified it or threw it out.
CIAJ slideThis is actually where my first book, Christmas Is about Jesus, was born. I wanted to do the advent calendar where there is a window to open each day. I wanted it to be more than counting down days until presents. Everywhere we went we were bombarded with things that have nothing to do with Jesus coming to bring us salvation. So I wrote the daily devotions to point us to Jesus each day and made ornaments so my children would have something to “open” each day. The ornaments also helped us talk about the devotion throughout the day. We usually hung them where we could see them from the table.
I am not saying fun activities like gingerbread houses or games are out. God loves families. He loves families enjoying each other and making memories. For me activities like pretending Santa was real were out.

Ask kids what makes Christmas special to them.

A few years ago while I was stressing over all the baking, decorating, making gifts, and whatever else was in my ideal Christmas that year God inspired me to ask the kids what made Christmas special to them. Their list was short and totally doable. It made letting my list go much easier. They wanted to look at Christmas lights, go to Gramma’s, and make gingerbread houses. Gifts at Gramma's
Now every year I ask after Thanksgiving and we schedule what’s most important to each of us. Anything else that happens is extra. Way less stress. Way more time for peace, the Prince of Peace.
What do you do to prepare to prepare for Christmas?

Countdown to Christmas: Focus on Jesus Week 2

Our first week of Countdown to Christmas: Focus on Jesus did not go as planned, or more accurately, as pictured in my head. I really neglected to plan.

We missed more devotions than we read.
We were far from having peace in our house the beginning of the week.
We spent 3 days focused on a new truck.
What I picture – what I long for, is quiet moments – hours, with the Lord in front of a beautiful tree and candle light. There it is easy to focus on Jesus.
I realized last night that with less than 3 weeks until Christmas we are not ready. AT ALL. No gifts. No plans. Almost no preparation. There has been no quiet contemplation in the peaceful setting I desire.
It has been better – though I didn’t realize it until this morning.
My husband plows snow for extra income. We don’t count on it but in the midst of our God Sized Project extra is good. He feels a strong sense of responsablity to his customers. They count on him. So when it snowed at the beginning of the week and the old faithful plowtruck barely limped through the plowing it was more than a little stressful. Our mechanic didn’t even want to hear the  truck had been on the road at all much less on a regular basis. Needless to say it is not worth fixing right now.
I share that because the search for a new truck brought the blessings and focus on Jesus that I had not planned.
The whole family together in a new level of transparency and connectedness prayed for God’s direction and provision.
I followed my husband in praying, declaring, and praising in a way we never have before. Since finding the truck we were blessed with His praise has not left our lips.
We were/are busy finding the truck, taking care of paperwork and getting it ready to plow but our focus is on Jesus. Amazed again and again at His goodness.
Blessings sometimes come wrapped in strange packaging. I am blessed with eyes to see the gift inside.
What unexpected packages have come your way?
Is there a way God can use them to turn your focus to Him and His promises?

Countdown to Christmas: Focus on Jesus

December 1st.
The day to start counting down to the celebration of Jesus birth.
We didn’t start off so well. The book and ornaments only came in this afternoon.
Attitudes amongst the natives were far from festive this morning.

Preparing to decorate

My daughter worked hard to begin the transformation. Maybe next year I’ll be more organized, better disciplined or whatever it is I’m lack so I can enjoy doing it with her instead of directing her while I’m busy with other things like school, making dinner, or blog posts.

We're getting closer

I really do want to focus on Jesus.
His sacrifice.
His humility.
His love.
For me.


We’ll read our devotion tonight.

Tomorrow I’ll ask the kids for their top Christmas wishes. I started this a few years ago when I was overwhelmed by my wish for a “perfect” Christmas. I asked what traditions were important to them, if there were any new ideas and we just focus on everyone’s top thing. If we get to more- bonus! I intended to ask this morning, but like I said, it was less than festive here…

How are you preparing to celebrate Jesus?
How is it going?

Jesus, My Hope and Firm Foundation


Surrounded by swirling, suffacating thoughts. Where is hope? As I push away the thoughts I see Jesus. He reminds me again He alone is my hope, not better circumstances, solutions, or less challenges. Only Jesus. As my roots grow deep in Him I can draw up hope and live.

Carry The Cure: Story Time



  • The Great Serum Race: Blazing the Iditarod Trail by Debbie S. Miller
  • Paper plates
  • hole punch
  • decorations, we used beads, foam shapes, tissue paper, and crayons
  • stapler
  • “Jesus is good medicine” sticker (optional)


The Iditarod dogsled race begins the first Saturday of March here in Alaska. It is a big deal. Many amazing athletes are involved, two and four legged ones. This book gives the history of the heroic events that inspired the Iditarod, a life-saving run of diphtheria serum from Anchorage to Nome in 1925.

If you want to learn more about the Iditarod Race here are a couple helpful sites.

Iditarod Education

Official Iditarod Site

Dance Fan of sorts

Something special has happened the first Sunday of March for the last 5 years. A group called Carry the Cure takes the good news of Jesus love to the people who live along the Iditarod trail during the Iditarod. Alaska’s villages are struck with other epidemics today, ones not cured by any man-made serum. Our native people suffer some of the highest rates of suicide and abuse of all kinds in the country. Carry the Cure with the band Broken Walls goes into villages with a message of life and hope for all ages. They do school assemblies and concerts in native music and dress.  One of their songs is Jesus Is Good Medicine.  I could only find a recording of it on Facebook so I did not include a link. You can listen to samples of their music on their site.

Please take time to learn more about the ministry of Carry the Cure and Broken Walls

Read the book.

Student Dance Fan

Discussion ideas:

  • Discuss the amazing things that happened in the book.
  • Discuss how different things work today.
  • How is Jesus good medicine?
  • What would it take to run a team of dogs in such harsh weather?


We made dance fans. Native Alaskans dance their stories, their history, and their faith. The women often use dance fans. The men often drum. Our dance fans don’t really resemble real ones but the kids had fun. You can decorate any way you like. I’ll explain what we did.

We stapled tissue paper and foam shapes to our paper plates.


  • Punch holes around the edge of the plate for the beads to run through.
  • cut tissue paper in strips to staple around the top edge of the plate
  • staple on foam shapes
  • color
  • add stickers