15 Fabulous CHRISTmas Story Books!

There’s something amazingly wonderful about the Advent season. The anticipation leading up to Christmas is so exciting and I love how my daughter is old enough to start getting into the “Christmas spirit!”

To help her realize what this season is all about, we don’t do Elf on the Shelf or visits to Santa. We talk about Jesus—his birth, the angels visiting the shepherds, the journey to Bethlehem, the promise of God fulfilled on that peaceful night in the town of David.

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I’ve shared before about our Advent calendar with its passages and ornaments for her little Christmas tree. This time I’ve compiled a list of our favorite CHRISTmas picture books—ones that keep the focus on Jesus, the true reason for the season. Reading to your child every day is so important for their development and incorporating CHRISTmas themed picture and board books into the mix is so much fun. We’ve even wrapped a few new ones up for Laura to open on the Wednesdays leading up to Christmas!

So take a peek. Add some to your Christmas list. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

20131202_131230 The Story of Christmas by Patricia A. Pingry, illustrated by Rebecca Thornburgh

This board book is so simple that it’s perfect for introducing Advent and Jesus’ birth to toddlers and infants. The pictures keep the littles’ attention and it’s just a short 22 pages so it’s just long enough to tell the story—short and sweet.

20131202_131317 Bright Star, Bright Star by Cassandre Maxwell

This picture book is wonderfully repetitive which is awesome for literacy development in young children. I especially like how this story begins with the Wise Men being far away and stays more true to the belief that they arrived much later than the actual day of Jesus’ birth. It’s easy for littles to follow along and be able to eventually say it with you. This is by far one of the most adaptable for a little children’s Christmas program at your church or school, too!

20131202_131303  This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotton, illustrated by Delana Bettoli

Of all of the Christmas picture books we have, this is by far my favorite. The pictures are stunning, filling the pages with beautiful colors and details. The mesmerizing display of the angels singing to the shepherds in the fields is one that sticks with me each year. It really takes you away to that stable, far, far away.

20131202_131134  The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago

This children’s bible is truly like no other that I’ve read. It seamlessly weaves the story of God’s plan of salvation in Jesus throughout each and every story. I’ve never recommended a book as often and with such great reactions upon purchasing as this book. If you buy the deluxe edition it comes with the entire book on cd read in such a captivating way. It’s truly one of a kind. I cannot adequately describe how much I LOVE this children’s bible!

Below I’ve posted titles and amazon links for as many of our CHRIStmas themed children’s books as I could find. I hope you’ll add some to your collection this Advent season as we all get ready to celebrate the birth of our Savior!

Christ the Savior is Born by Tim Wesemann 

What Star is This? by Joseph Slate

An Angel Came to Nazareth by Anthony Knott

No Room at the Inn: The Nativity Story by Jean M. Malone

The First Night by B.G.Hennessy

On This Special Night by Claire Freedman and Simon Mendez

Who Is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate & Ashley Wolfe

Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown

Away in a Manger-Thomas Kinkade Studios

A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz

The Very First Christmas by Paul L. Maier

***If you have a favorite CHRISTmas children’s book, please let me know! I’d love to check out more books! Post it in the comments below!***

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What Makes My Day

It’s one of those days. You know the kind…long, tiring, dragging. I’ve got just a head cold & am just wiped out.

Today is one of those days that Satan gets the better of me far too much. I snap. I’m quick to anger. I’m disappointing.

But God in his goodness gives me little gifts even on days like today. Reminders of his grace and love.

I just got one of those beautiful little moments.

My daughter heard the beep of a loud car horn and shouts, “They’re going to school! Learn about Jesus! He died on the cross! Is alive again!!”

Yes. There it is. Out of the mouth of babes. Even with her broken little two year old words, she speaks the truth.

My toddler reminded me of Jesus.

Made. My. Day.

What made your day today?

Grief then Happiness and Eventually Clarity

“Grief. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.”–C.S. Lewis

I know a bit about grief. I know a lot about happiness. In my mere 30 years I’ve experienced quite a bit…much more than most people will ever know. I’ve been so sad that I literally couldn’t pick myself up off of the floor. I’ve been immobilized with fear. I’ve been in the depths. I’m an emotional person. I always have been just didn’t always think it was okay to show it. I’ve watched as my dad’s heart monitor count down from 22 to 8 to 0. I’ve shook and been unable to speak when postpartum depression grasped so tightly on my mind and heart that my ever so strong husband was afraid to leave me alone. I’ve been through some things…some big things…some major grief causing things. 

There were so many times when my sinful mind would doubt that God knew what I was going through. When I would ask how He could let these things happen. I have actually cried aloud much as I picture King David did when writing some of the Psalms. I’ve been there. In total agony and unsure that God cared enough about me to bring me out of the depths.

But just as surely as I was in the depths, He lifted me up. He renewed me. He took me from being unable to see & think clearly and gave me clarity & strength. He healed my heart and mind. I still can’t describe how He did it. I am amazed every day that I can actually be wholeheartedly happy. I am sure He used certain people in my life, certain medical interventions, certain therapists, and especially certain family members. But there is still that part of me that knows there was more on my side than I will ever be able to comprehend. I kind of love that. I love that He is so much greater and in so much more control than I can imagine.

I believe that God brought me through those things so strongly so that I can give Him glory and help others struggling with what I have been through. I’ve talked with many friends who have had parents die young. I’ve been able to cry with them & comfort them because I’ve been there and now I’m past there

I have somewhat taken up “a cause” though I despise that cliche. When I was struggling to breastfeed my sweet LL, I felt alone and like a failure. Everything you hear from pediatricians & read online about infant feeding alludes to formula feeding as second rate. I won’t waste time rehashing the truly mortifying & horrendous things people said and shared while I was struggling. There’s no use here….I’m healed. I’m out of the depths. But my cause is this: I believe that by sharing stories and information about the benefits & amazing blessing that formula can be, I am helping others who are secretly tormented & suffering because of the often self-imposed guilt that can come from the need or choice to formula feed. I know firsthand what the “breast is best” mantra can do to a wavering faith and struggling soul. I’ve made it my self-appointed mission to try to reach & comfort any woman who might be in the same place I was 8 months ago. I can do this confidently because I’ve been brought out of the depths. I’ve been made whole again by God’s sheer grace & mercy. I can’t imagine a more UNChristian thing to do than sit idly by while someone I know is struggling with these same feelings. 

Some may say that I need to get over it…I am–others are not. Some may say I am still hurting…I am not–others still are. Some may be annoyed… eh, I’m sure there are many things I do on a daily basis that are annoying. Some may say I need to get my priorities straight & leave this behind me (yup, I’ve heard that one straight away). I can’t. Not in good conscience. Not while others are still grieving. Yes, grieving. Brings it back to the beginning. For me, not being able to breastfeed my daughter turned in PPD which caused grief. I grieved the loss of being able to do something that is supposed to be natural & biological. I grieved the loss of a supposed unspeakably close relationship with my child (yeah, that one’s a myth, too.). I grieved the loss of control over the most basic of mothering skills…feeding a child.

Grief gives way to happiness. I can say that for certain because I have lived it. In my life I have seen how the greater the grief, the greater the happiness when the grief is lifted. So after a long & hard half of a year, I can say I’ve had my vision. I know what I can do to help. I see a purpose for what I’ve been through…to praise God for His strength & mercy, forgiveness & grace…and to help others. I get the amazing privilege of being an advocate, a shoulder to cry on, and a source of strength for the struggling. My hope & prayer is that people close to me can understand why I’m doing what I’m doing. My hope & prayer is that they see past me and see how God has rejuvenated and restored me. My hope & prayer is that I can always see the goodness & blessings that come from struggles & trials.


“‘Yes,’ she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, ‘I have had my vision.'”–Virginia Woolf–To the Lighthouse

“Stay the course, daughter. And show yourself some kindness along the way.”–Loving Frank



_________ versus _________

I’ve learned in a very short time how many decisions a parent needs to make. For the past year+, the hubs and I have been bombarded with information, opinions, books & articles from experts, nudges from well-meaning family & friends…enough to give me an ulcer, make my head spin, & literally cause me practically a nervous breakdown at the same time. Here’s the short list of the things that we as first time parents have “had” to think about:

  • obstetrician or midwife
  • hospital, birth center, or home birth
  • find out the sex or let it be a surprise
  • natural birth or epidural
  • breastfeeding, formula feeding, or combo
  • get LL vaccinated or wait and see
  • co-sleeping or bassinet & crib
  • no cry or cry it out sleep training
  • baby-wearing or allow LL independence
  • stay at home mommy or working mommy
  • in-home babysitter, small daycare, or larger center
  • disposable or cloth diapers
  • rice cereal or oatmeal
  • pureed foods or baby-led weaning
  • homemade baby food or store bought
  • conventional or natural & alternative remedies for LL’s ears

And those are only the items I can list at this moment! For the longest time I agonized over these decisions….until the other day at LL’s 9th pediatrician appointment in 6 weeks. She had just received her second of three horribly painful Rocephin injections in an attempt to beat this awful, seemingly never-ending double ear infection. I was emotionally, mentally, & physically drained and was pleading for her to be better. But, she needed yet another injection. I fought back tears as my sweet baby girl was holding her breath in pain & then let out a wail that still causes me to cringe & choke up when I think about it. I couldn’t think of anything to soothe her. No matter what I tried I felt helpless as she just screamed in agony. By God’s grace I began singing “Jesus Loves Me,” the KV version:


Jesus loves you this I know
for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
they are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves you!
Yes, Jesus loves you!
Yes, Jesus loves you…the Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves you, He who died
heaven’s gates to open wide.
He has washed away your sin
letting little Laura in.
Yes, Jesus loves you!
Yes, Jesus loves you!
Yes, Jesus loves you…the Bible tells me so.

Amazingly she calmed almost instantly & began to smile. I could have cried for joy. A few days later as the hubs (& in my opinion the best daddy around!) was singing the same song to LL, he leaned over and said: “and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

In that single moment I realized that the only decision that has eternal importance for LL is that we teach her who her Savior is…that she know Jesus. We had her baptized the day after she was born. We pray with her. We sing “Jesus” songs & hymns to her. We take her to church with us to hear God’s glorious word. Of all the things that we “need” to make sure she knows, our single most important mission is that we raise this precious gift of God as a Christian doing everything we can to ensure that she will spend eternity with God. None of the rest of it is worth losing sleep over. While we will use our God-given intelligence to make the best choices for our family in our circumstances, in the long run, the only choice that I will always rest peacefully with is teaching her God’s word every day. There is an indescribable calm and strength like none other as a parent when you realize that simple truth.

That, my friends, is goodness defined.


LL’s favorite book! How I love watching her smile as she sings along in her beautiful baby babbling!