My Christmas Advent Playlist

Christmas time is HERE!  It's December.  No one can deny it anymore!

I am right on schedule with my Christmas preparation plan this year - which means I'm pretty much done!  I have a few presents left to wrap, but other than that December is looking free and clear.  I am looking forward to having a little free time to do some Christmas-y things with my kiddos and to work on my personal advent traditions, because all the Christmas "have-to's" are done!

One of my ideas for a personal advent tradition was to listen to a Christ-centered Christmas song each day in December.  So I went on a hunt to create a little playlist for myself, and I wanted to share it with you all!

Now, you may notice that my playlist does not include any Christmas classics, like "Silent Night" or "Away In A Manger".  And the reason for that is that I think we all have our own favorite versions of those classic songs.  We've probably also heard about every other version of them that there is and still we prefer our favorite versions.  So I'm not including any of those.  All of these songs are either original Christmas songs, or very old songs that you really don't hear that much anymore.

My Christmas music style...I like clear, meaningful lyrics; catchy melodies; and maybe a smidge of twang.  So this playlist includes songs from several genres, including country, pop, and indie sounds.  I even have a couple songs with a gospel flair to them (just give them a try, you might like it!).  In other words, don't expect a consistent musical style to this playlist.  

What you CAN expect from this playlist are lyrics that are either directly about Jesus and His birth, or take the Christmas fun we all love and artfully point you back to the true meaning of Christmas.  I've got fun songs and contemplative songs, and I don't guarantee that all of them are perfectly historically or theologically correct for you sticklers out there.  But I do think each song in it's own way will point your thoughts back to Christ - and that's the whole point of an advent playlist, right?  At least to me.

So turn on the Christmas lights, grab some hot chocolate, and enjoy these songs with whatever other advent tradition you may have!  I think I'm going to listen while I enjoy coloring this Christmas coloring book.  

Let the Christmas season begin!

What are some of your favorite Christ-centered Christmas songs?

(P.S. Also, don't forget to check out the photography course Black Friday deal I posted last week - it's good until tomorrow!)

Story Genius (If You Want To Write A Novel, Read This Book)

(Affiliate links below.)

There was a time when I wanted to try to write a novel.

That was a long time ago.

I shelved the novel idea because 1) I don't have the time, and 2) I really like the idea of reading novels better than writing them.  However, there is still a little part of me that is interested in the process of writing novels.  I've read enough of them at this point that there is a stark difference between a novel I am just plodding through and one that really grabs me - and when I get one of the latter, I always wonder "how did the author do that?"

Well, I think I finally understand a little bit about why certain novels are more compelling, thanks to Story Genius: How To Use Brain Science To Go Beyond Outlining And Write A Riveting Novel by Lisa Cron.  This book is written to aspiring novelists who are trying to really nail down their story and make it compelling.  Cron takes you through the process of identifying the underlying message of your novel, finding a "what if?" that will drive your story, and developing your characters so that everything they do involves a defined past that has an effect on the protagonist's current predicament.  She includes practical advice with her "Scene Card" system to help budding authors to think three-dimensionally and really layer all the aspects of their story together.

The author does go on a little side tangent in the first chapter about how stories helped us survive, evolutionary-speaking...I don't believe the theory of evolution, so I thought some of that chapter got annoying.  But you could pretty much skip the first chapter and be no worse for wear.

Also be aware that there is some language in this book, including the f-word in one of the example story scenes.

I'm still not planning on writing a novel, but now I find myself reading fiction in a whole new way.  It is interesting to think about past books that I've read and found really compelling, and to think about the way those authors applied some of these same concepts that Cron talks about in this book.  Warning though: reading this book may ruin you for underdeveloped stories or mediocre fiction!  I really enjoyed seeing the complexity behind writing a really good novel, and it makes me appreciate all the work and thought that goes into the books I read.  Very interesting, and if you are not like me and actually DO want to write a novel, I think this book would be of great value to you.

Note: I received a copy of Story Genius for free in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.

What Is Reformed Theology? (A Book Review, And A Brief Discussion By Me On Calvinism)

(Note: Affiliate links below.)

One of my book goals of the year was to read more books that will help me grow spiritually - and I realized in recent months that I have kind of neglected theological books in my reading plan this year.  Time to catch up!  I saw "What Is Reformed Theology?" by R.C. Sproul up for review, and I decided to request it.  I have some friends who go to a Reformed Theology church, and I generally agree with them on doctrine, but I really didn't know what was meant by "reformed theology".  I was hoping to learn more from this book.

It did not disappoint! The first half of this book goes through points of sound biblical doctrine that I think all Christians agree on, but the part I liked is that it also included the church history that involved each point - including past heresies, and biblically why some of the great theologians came to the conclusions they did.  

A Few Negatives

This book got a little sticky here and there.  The section on the different views of communion, while educational for distinguishing between different denominations, made the whole subject pretty confusing to me.  

I feel like the author had a habit of lumping people together in groups, perhaps not always fairly. He used the term "dispensationalist" in a way that I have not heard before, and I don't agree with how he characterized this group.  I have generally agreed with the (traditional) dispensationalist view of how to interpret Scripture, etc, but Sproul seemed to be picking on dispensationalism and contrasted dispensationalism with covenant theology.  I have never heard these two terms put at odds with one another like this, and I don't think dispensationalism and covenant theology are mutually exclusive, as he seems to imply.  He even says later that dispensationalists think that a person can be completely carnal and still a Christian because a new nature isn't necessarily given (in direct contradiction to Scripture) - I have never heard that and totally disagree.  I may have to research more, but I grew up around people who described themselves as dispensationalists and I never heard anyone claim that, so I feel like he was being too rigid by lumping everyone together here.  I have always just viewed dispensationalism as a way of interpreting Scripture literally that takes into account historical time periods; not as a complete theological system.

I also felt in reading this book that the author focused too much on intellectual arguments and quotes from the reformers - which were excellent - but I would have appreciated a greater focus on the Scriptures that back up these points as well.  There was plenty of Scripture in this book, but I just wished he had connected some of the points he was making to Scripture a little more clearly.

A Brief Digression On Calvinism And Evangelism

The second part of the book focuses on the five points of Calvinism, which is where the distinguishing feature of Reformed Theology lies.  This is where a lot of you may stop reading, but let me just say, I think Calvinism gets a little bit of a bad rap in Christian culture today.  This book explains the five points of Calvinism very well, I thought.  The truth is, I tend to agree with Calvinism, because the underlying concepts are firmly rooted in Scripture.  Even the doctrine of election, the one everyone likes to argue about, is really about who enables us to believe.  Is it from our own virtue and intelligence, or is it because God has stirred our hearts and given us the ability, even to believe?  I think the latter is what is in line with Scripture.  But I still hesitate to call myself a Calvinist, not because I disagree with any of their points necessarily, but because I think Calvinism gets a little too hung up on the intellectual and neglects the practical.  There is one point that I've never heard a Calvinist explain to my satisfaction, and I wish this book would have addressed it more clearly too - and that is the matter of evangelism.  

This book addressed evangelism in a cursory way by referring to the "external call", and then focusing on the Spirit's "internal call" that leads someone to salvation, but I wish it would have focused a little more on what we, as Christians, are to do as far as evangelism goes.  In Scripture there is a clear call to evangelism, for Christians to tell others about the "good news" of Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins.  This is a pretty vital piece to the puzzle in how someone comes to know Jesus, and Scripture doesn't minimize it's importance. 

"How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”" Romans 10:14-15  

I feel like Calvinism in practical terms seems to minimize the importance of evangelism, when it is clearly something we are called to in Scripture.  The focus seems to always be on the point of election (which to be fair, is forced upon Calvinists because other Christians are always attacking them on this point), and I wish we could all just chill out a little and remember that God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  His actions do not have to make perfect sense to our little human brains, but He is always righteous and good, and He owes explanations to no one. 

God told us what He needs us to know in His Word, which is truth, and it's just our job as Christians to believe His Word and do what He says, and pray and ask for clarity when something is confusing.  I think there are some on the anti-Calvinist side who would do well to get back to a focus on and understanding of Scripture instead of rejecting the (biblical) concept of election outright because it doesn't jive with their own sense of justice.  Our focus should ever be on Scripture because that is where the truth lies, and Christian culture today seems to be poorly lacking here.  And I think there are some on the Calvinist side who would do well to stop hitting others over the head intellectually with the election concept and instead point other Christians to Scripture and pray for the Holy Spirit to make His truth clear.  And we all need to recognize and remember that the concept of election has no bearing either way on the call to evangelism toward those who are still lost in their sin.  Scripture makes it very clear that we are to proclaim the truth of the Gospel.

So there you go, a little opinion on the Calvinism debate.  Back to the book.


This book addressed the "justice" concern of some who don't agree with Calvinism very well, better than any other piece I've read on the subject.  I like this quote:

"The concept of justice incorporates all that is just.  The concept of non-justice includes everything outside the concept of justice: injustice, which violates justice and is evil; and mercy, which does not violate justice and is not evil.  God gives his mercy (non-justice) to some and leaves the rest to His justice. No one is treated with injustice.  No one can charge that there is unrighteousness in God." pg. 187-188

I thought that explained really well why it is not correct to say God is not just when He chooses to save only some.  Like I said, this book overall explains Calvinism (and Reformed Theology) better than any other book I've read.  Whether you are a Calvinist, or have just been confused by any points of Calvinism in the past, I think this is a great resource if you really want to understand the beliefs of Calvinism clearly.

And as for Reformed Theology, the defining point touches on something I mentioned earlier - the distinction between unconditional election, and conditional election. Conditional election says that God calls those who He foresees will accept Him, and this is where that point gets sticky: who gives those people the ability to accept Jesus?  Is it something good in themselves that allows people to accept Jesus?  I'd have to say no - based on Scripture (many of the supporting Scriptures are shared in this book), it is the Holy Spirit who calls the believer and enables them to believe, and without the Holy Spirit working in us, none of us would believe.  We'd go on choosing our sin.  Unconditional election (which is what distinguishes Reformed Theology) says that it is nothing in ourselves that enables us to be saved, but it is by God's grace in working in us to enable us to seek Him and find Him.

In case you think that is a nit-picky distinction, you should be aware that this book is very intellectual and breaks each doctrine down to its elements, which I found very interesting, and very well done (though it perhaps falls into debating things that aren't as important here and there as well).  If you have ever wanted to know more about the basics of Christian doctrine and how we get those basics, and what the Reformation was all about, pick up this book for the first half.  If/when you want to learn more about where Calvinism gets it's five points, dive into the second half of this book.

I think I'll just wrap up this review with my favorite quote from this book:

"I cannot adequately explain why I came to faith in Christ, and some of my friends did not.  I can only look to the glory of God's grace toward me, a grace I did not deserve then and do not deserve now." pg. 177

That's the bottom line, isn't it?  For me, this book was a great reminder that it is not through any virtue of mine but only through His power and grace that I am saved, and that is a strikingly beautiful thing.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.

How To Take Better Pictures Of Your Family This Christmas (+ A Black Friday Deal!)

(Note: Affiliate links used in this post.)

When Wyatt was one year old, I bought a DSLR camera.  I really didn't know what I was doing at the time, I just knew that I wanted to take better pictures of my son.  I wanted to capture the details of his babyhood in a way that my point-and-shoot camera just wasn't letting me.

I have never regretted that decision to buy a "big camera", and after a lot of trial and error I finally figured out how to use it!  My favorite time of year to take pictures is finally here - Christmas time!  I just love all the sparkles and colors and festivities this time of year - the "December" picture folder on my computer is always a little more full than the others.

Unfortunately December is also a difficult time to get good pictures, between the freezing cold weather that may make it hard to go outside, less daylight, a flurry of festivities, and kiddos that just won't sit still.  I've got a few ideas for how you can get some pretty adorable pictures even amidst the Christmas hustle and bustle, but point #1 is what you need first if you are going to get those Christmas-y pictures you might envision.

1. Know your camera.

The thing about owning a DSLR is that it really is no better than a point-and-shoot camera unless you learn how to get off auto.  Do you want that beautiful background blur in your Christmas photos? Do you want to capture the Christmas lights twinkling in the dark? Do you just not want the flurry of present-opening to result in a bunch of blurred photos? Then you need to know how to use your DSLR camera.

I bought my DSLR already knowing it was going to take a lot of trial and error to figure out how to manipulate the settings to get the pictures I wanted, but I am really excited to share a resource with you that I really think will help you figure it out faster!

Erin from Digital Photography For Moms has launched a photography course called Guided365.  It is a monthly subscription course, and each day of the month you will get an email that explains a different photography concept and gives you a prompt to practice your skills. This isn't a list of photo ideas, these prompts focus on techniques that will help you to learn your camera, learn how to get the perfect focus, find the best light, and so many other things!  

Erin was sweet enough to let me try out the course, and I've worked through the first couple weeks so far.  It really is excellent.  She starts out slowly to help beginners get off "auto", but I think people with intermediate skills (like me) can also get a lot out of even the beginning lessons and really hone their technique.  Even with just the first couple weeks, which I thought would mostly be review, I was reminded of a couple of bad habits I had fallen into with my photography.  

I am so looking forward to working through more of the course, and I hope you check it out!  And Black Friday Deal Alert: If you sign up before December 2nd for the year 2017, you will get 50% off your first month subscription!  Use the code "Confidence" at checkout!  You any cancel or pause your subscription anytime you need to as well, but if you are wanting to learn more about how to use your DSLR, this is the most thorough resource I've found so far!

2. Be aware of the light and plan accordingly.

December is the month of the year with the least light, and low light situations are the trickiest when trying to get good photos.  This is when it is really important to know how to use your camera (see the first point), because that will help you know how to pick the right settings to get a good picture...but I'm not going to lie, that doesn't always guarantee those low-light pictures are going to turn out exactly right.  So my advice?  Plan your picture-taking around daylight hours.

What I mean by that is to try to do as many of those photo-op activities as you can during the day.  We usually set up our Christmas tree in the morning or early afternoon because I know we'll get good light from the windows (for you smarties out there - we decorated our tree in two stages this year, at night and in the morning, so I have both day and night pictures in this post! This was kind of an unusual year).  I don't try to take Christmas jammie pictures at night - I gather them up in the morning while the light is good.  You can't do this with everything you might want to photograph, but when you can, try to think about the light.

3. Think about the details.

Try to notice the little details you want to capture during the Christmas season.  Some of my favorite Christmas time pictures are of little things, like my son's little hands wrapped around a hot chocolate mug, my daughter's face when she is concentrating on decorating a Christmas cookie perfectly, my littlest baby on the floor surrounded by ornaments, or the way my two-year-old sticks out his tongue while hanging an ornament (see above).

Think about your favorite moments from Christmas last year, including all the little details that made it cozy, magical, or special.  Then I recommend mentally planning how you might be able to capture those details this year in photos - and that way, when the opportunity presents itself, you'll be ready!

On a similar note, don't just take the posed pictures - keep your camera nearby and take the spontaneous photos of those precious little details or moments in time.  Let your family interact as normal, but keep your photographer eye ready.

4. Fake It.

I'm about to tell you my dirty little secret of taking pictures of my family.  You don't have to take magical, perfect shots right when the action happens.  You can fake it.

Sometimes in the rush and hurry of Christmas festivities, I may miss my chance to get a picture that I really wanted to take of the kids.  So what do I do?  We stage a little reenactment.  The kids are used to me by now and think it's fun to see the pictures of themselves, so it's usually not too hard to get them to do something again later so I can take a picture.  We took a few tree-decorating pictures this way this year because I wasn't around to take them the first time.  I don't know about you, but my kids don't need any cajoling to put more ornaments on the tree.

Is this inauthentic?  I don't view it that way because we actually did do these activities in real life, and we enjoyed the activities.  Having pictures is wonderful, but sometimes it's important to be in-the-moment with my kids instead of worrying about getting a good picture.  This is how I accomplish that and still get whatever shot I wanted.  And that leads to my last tip...

5. Remember that it doesn't have to turn out exactly like you envisioned.

I almost always go into a Christmas activity thinking about which photos I want to get and when, but I rarely get the exact photo I was envisioning in my head - but sometimes the photo I end up with ends up being even better.  It may not be technically perfect, but it's my family, in that moment.  It's us.  Everything doesn't always go as planned, complications (or catastrophes) arise, and I think the mark of starting to become a good photographer for your own family is being able to roll with it.  

It doesn't have to look perfect.  The point is to be fully there, in these moments with your family, and learn how to capture the moments that you can while being flexible enough to let the rest go.  Enjoy your family. Enjoy this Christmas with them.  Don't make it all about the photo, make it about the memory.

If you are fairly new to your DSLR, or if you have yet to venture out of auto or program mode, don't forget to check out Guided365 and learn how to get the most out of your camera!  It will definitely be worth your time!

Do you have a DSLR?  Do you shoot in manual or auto?  For my fellow mom-photographers, what tips would you add?

Black Friday Kindle Deals You Might Want To Check Out

You get a bonus post today!

I don't actually have a Kindle, but I have the Kindle app on my iPhone and iPad - and I love it because you can so often get a better deal on Kindle versions of books.  Which means more books for me!  I really should stop buying Kindle books at this point and just read the ones I have, because they'd probably last me a year.  But I always feel like I have to snag the interesting books while they are on sale so they will be waiting for me when I am ready to read them.

(This is actually a really bad habit.  I should probably read the books I have before buying more.  I am okay with this particular vice though.  I'm sorry if I am enabling some of you with this post!)

Since it's Black Friday week, there are so many good books on sale!  I kept scrolling through and wanting to share so many of them on my Facebook page - so I decided to just round them all up in a post instead!  These are books I have either read and enjoyed, or that I may end up buying myself, because I wanted to share the Kindle-deal joy!  Here are the ones I recommend you check out before they are no longer on sale!

(Note: Affiliate links used below.)

Sister Dear by Laura McNeill - I saw this one come up for review on Booklook a while back, but never got a chance to request it.  It's a suspense novel - Allie was convicted of a crime she didn't commit, and her sister knows sounded kind of good.

Double Minds by Terri Blackstock -  I feel like I may have read this one a while back, but Terri Blackstock writes suspense, and her novels are always so good. This one involves the Christian music industry and a stalker.

Driftwood Lane by Denise Hunter - I haven't read this one in particular, but I have read several of Denise Hunter's books.  She's one of those authors that keeps you turning the pages.  In this one a woman named Meredith is given guardianship over three siblings she doesn't really know.

The Children Of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien - For all my fellow Lord Of The Rings fans out there!  This one is a story set hundreds of years before LOTR.  I might end up buying this one.

Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson - I just started this one on audio, and I think it's going to be a fun one!  Alice goes to the home of a reclusive author to watch her eccentric little boy while his mother writes a new novel after decades of hiding away.  I'll let you know what I think of it when I'm done.

Stuff Matters: Exploring The Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik - This book just looked really interesting to me.  It explores questions like "Why is glass see through?" and "Why is elastic stretchy?"

Natural Hospital Birth by Cynthia Gabriel - I read this book when I was pregnant with Clyde in preparation for trying for a natural birth in the hospital.  I thought it was really good, and gave a lot of good tips for making it more likely to achieve the goal of a natural birth in a hospital setting. (Also, here are more of my favorite resources for natural birth.)

Honey For A Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt - This is always shared as recommended reading for those who like the Charlotte Mason home education philosophy (read about which homeschool philosophies I like best here). I have it on my Kindle already, I just haven't been able to read it yet!

Killing Christians by Tom Doyle - I read this a while back, and while the stories are intense, I think it is important for Christians in America to know what our brothers and sisters in Christ go through in other parts of the world because of their faith in Jesus.  Read more about this one in my post "Do Something For The Persecuted".

God's Crime Scene: A Cold Case Detective Examines The Evidence For A Divinely Created Universe by J. Warner Wallace - I love J. Warner Wallace! I haven't read any of his books yet, but he is a "Christian case-maker" as he likes to call himself, and his podcast and Youtube channel are great.

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas - I read this a while back (review here) and got a lot out of it.  It was a great book to remind me to be thinking about marriage in biblical terms.

If You Can Keep It by Eric Metaxes - I am reading this one right now, and it is excellent.  I'm a Metaxes fan, and in this book he discusses America and how we need to go about continually "keeping it".  A great post-election read.

Squanto And The Miracle Of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxes - I'm snagging this one to read with the kids before Thanksgiving tomorrow!

The Legend Of The Candy Cane by Lori Walburg - This one is a children's book that caught my eye, especially with Christmas right around the corner!

Have you found any other Kindle Deals this week that you are excited about?  Please share!

A Thanksgiving Outfit Idea (And Other Musings)

Thanksgiving is tomorrow!

What a weird year it has been for us.  I was about to type that the year seems like it has gone by really fast, but in other ways it has seemed like a long year too.  If you were in my house today, you'd probably see me scrambling around, making pink fluff salad and sweet potato casserole for our family gatherings over the next couple days.  Little ones would be crawling around at my feet, or asking me what I'm doing, or pestering me for a cookie.  

And maybe I'd tell you a little bit about how thankful I am to have these children, how thankful I am to have a hard-working husband, who has the blessing of a good job. I'd be thankful for our house renovation this year, and doubly thankful that it is mostly finished headed into these winter months.  I'd be thankful for a good church to worship the Lord in, and a good country that offers us the freedom to live out our faith, and I'd thank God for both even as I pray for peace and wisdom for our leaders of both.  

Today we bake, and tomorrow we gather with family and friends and give thanks to God for all He has given us - and most of all for the gift of forgiveness of sins and salvation through Jesus. What a sweet time of year this is.

I'd probably have flour on my clothes, and my counters would be a mess, but I'd stick the sweet potato casserole in the oven and sit down and ask you what you are thankful for too.

And then after you shared, we'd probably talk about something frivolous and silly, like what you are going to wear to Thanksgiving dinner (which believe it or not is what I originally sat down to write about).

I weirdly always feel like I need to match my clothes to the season, particularly the outdoor natural colors of the season.  So in Winter I like white, black, navy, and ice blue, in Spring I go with pastel-flowery colors, summer gets all the brights, and in Autumn I go with colors that you might see on a tree.  Thanksgiving is in the fall, and has a lot of colorful foods on the table, so those are the colors I gravitate towards.

Please tell me that's not as weird as I feel like it sounds?

So here you go, a little Thanksgiving outfit idea for you today.  I may or may not be wearing this tomorrow, but it struck me as a Thanksgiving-like outfit.  You know, I can match the cranberries.

Shirt: Forever21 (this year)
Jeans: Forever21
Shoes: JustFab (only $15 right now!)
Earrings: Can't remember.

What I like about this outfit for Thanksgiving:

-The aforementioned cranberry color.

-The jeans that don't look like they are made out of stretchy material.

-The flowy shirt, so no one can see the post-dinner pooch.

Our Thanksgiving dinners are pretty casual, but if you wanted to dress up you could switch out the sweater for a blazer or the jeans for faux suede or leather-paneled leggings.  I went with my strappy shoes for warmer days, but with the weather turning cooler I'd probably switch them out with boots instead.

So what ARE you wearing to Thanksgiving dinner?

Four Ways To Recognize Advent As A Mom

I mentioned recently how last year I felt like I just barely survived the Christmas season - thriving was out of the question.  I think part of the problem was that all the Christmas details got so overwhelming that I couldn't even focus on the reason we celebrate in the first place!  Amidst the stress of the season, I missed the meaning and beauty of Christmas - which is that God became a baby in Jesus, and lived a sinless life on earth so that He could die to save me.  Obviously I knew this in my head, but I didn't take any time to reflect and let that beautiful truth settle in my heart last Christmas.

Advent is traditionally a tool for focusing our attention back on what Christmas is truly about - our Savior! As moms we tend to make Advent about driving home the meaning of Christmas to our kids, but this year I want to create some sort of personal Advent tradition.  I think sometimes we can get so focused on making sure the kids "get it", that we forget that we need that time of refreshment that comes when we refocus on the Lord in the middle of the bustle!  When we are taking the time to fill ourselves up with God's truth and joy in this season, it is that much easier to do the same for our kids.

I have a few ideas for how to recognize Advent this year for myself, as a mom.

1. An Advent Bible reading plan.  

I've done a couple Advent reading plans in the past, but it's been a while.  I want to find a plan for reading Bible verses that relate to Advent as part of my devotions this December. She Reads Truth often comes out with an Advent plan, so I might check that out.  Any other recommendations for an Advent Bible reading plan?

2. Memorize Bible verses.

I have been majority slacking on Bible memorization this year, even after writing last year about why moms should memorize Bible verses -  and I feel it.  I would love to choose a passage to work on through the Advent season.  I am thinking John 1:1-18 or Mary's prayer of praise in Luke 1:46-55 .

3. Christmas Music.

What better than music to get you in the Christmas Spirit, right?  And Christ-focused music is also something that really touches my soul at Christmas time and helps me to remember the greatest gift from God - our salvation.  I'll share some of my Christmas favorites soon, but you can see some of my favorite Christmas albums in this oldie-but-goodie post!

4. Christmas Adult Coloring Book.

I was so thrilled to receive a Christmas coloring book to review!  But this book has truly exceeded my expectations.

(Note: Affiliate links below.)

All Is Bright: A Devotional Journey to Color Your Way to Christmas is not just a coloring book, it is also an Advent devotional.  I have already read through most of the devotions, and they are excellent!  Each devotion focuses on different aspects of Christ's birth, and is biblically based.  I am going to go through it again in December this year and use the coordinated coloring pages to have a little quiet time to focus on Jesus birth!

I really love each of the illustrations in this book.  As far as coloring goes, they are just unique and detailed enough to be challenging, but not so detailed that I lose a little bit of my sanity.  I don't know that I'll get through one of these gorgeous pages each day (I'm a slow colorer), but I will read through the devotions and enjoy a little coloring time while focusing on God's gift to us in sending Jesus to save us.  This is the personal Advent tradition that I am really looking forward to this year!

And another plus to this book - in the back is a section with Christmas coloring pages for kids, Bible verses, and family discussion questions!  I love that while this book is a great tool for moms to personally focus on Advent, it also has sections to encourage us to include our kids as well.  I can't wait to get some printed up for the kids!

Do you have a personal Advent tradition as a mom?  Tell me more!

Note: I received a copy of this coloring book for free in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.
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