I'm Heather - lifestyle photographer & homeschooling mama. We choose simple and slow. Freedom and fresh air. And I like to make things beautiful.

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Advent | 2015

This December we celebrated Advent for the first time!

Or should I call it Gladvent?

It was so fun to look forward to something every day, but also to delve into why we celebrate Christmas at all. As some of you know, Alice accepted Jesus as he Savior this year (post here), so it was especially meaningful to look at Christ as God's great gift to the world.

God first gave to us, so we give to others. God first loved us, so we love others.

What better way to love God back than by loving those around us?

In November, I began brainstorming a list of love we could give to the people in our lives. Some acts were small - greeting a stranger with "Merry Christmas!" - and some were more labor intensive - baking cookies for neighbors - but all were acts of kindness and service that would bring the focus on loving others and less on ourselves.

Every day, we came down the stairs to find three things on the table:

A "new" Christmas book, a chocolate (thank you for the "special" German chocolates, Adrienne! Might have been my favorite part :D), and a little slip of paper under a glass dome that told us how to love for the day.

Once we started being intentional about turning our affection on others, I was overwhelmed with how ready people were to give it right back! On December 11th, the day we said "Merry Christmas!" to everyone we saw, we were strolling the isles of Walmart and the joyful responses and doors opened with perfect strangers was amazing. This little girl, genuinely and gleefully shouting "Merry Christmas!" was such a bright light. Strangers completely stopped what they were doing and engaged us in conversations, people we never would have met otherwise. Isn't God good like that? Relationships - that's what He's all about. And after we made and delivered cookies to our neighbors, two came knocking on our door a few days later with treats in return. It was the spirit of Christmas at work, and it felt so full and good and right.

We'll never know how our actions affected someone, but we can love them regardless and trust God to use it for good :)

Here's a look at our advent...

acts of love

Taped all of the slips into her journal.

1. sing a song to God

2. write a thank you note to someone who has helped you or given you something you love

3. Skype Grandma Linda and sing her a song

4. give someone a compliment

5. memorize a verse for daddy

6. write on the sidewalk with chalk: "Smile" and "Have a Great Day"

7. invite someone new over to play

8. make a get well card for someone who needs it

9. make something special for your BSF teachers

10. smile at strangers

11. wish everyone you see a "Merry Christmas!"

12. obey daddy, even when it's hard

13. make a drawing for someone you love

14. tell someone about Jesus

15. bake cookies for our neighbors

16. make an ornament for Beka

17. give up our spot in line somewhere

18. gather pinecones and make some treats for our feathery friends!

19. choose one old toy to donate

20. choose one old book to donate

21. leave a present for the mail man

22. give someone a sticker

23. give hugs and kisses to aunts and uncles

24. sing "O Come, all ye faithful" to Jesus on Christmas Eve

More ideas we'll try next year:

-put money in the salvation army bucket

(couldn't find a whole lot of those this year)

-visit great grandparents

-send a love note to a friend

-pet some furry friends at the animal shelter

-bake a loaf of bread for someone in need

-make a special card for aunts and uncles

-surprise Gramma Jo at work and sing her a song

Christmas books

I've been collecting them for the last few years and had more than enough to cover all the days.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our collection!

The Mitten

A couple of years ago, Aunt Lynnie bought us one of our favorite Jan Brett books - The Mitten - and little wool felt creatures and snowy mitten to accompany the story. We had an awful lot of fun sticking them inside as we turned the pages :)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Parcels

special delivery

A cone of homemade candied pecans for the mail man. "Merry Christmas to our most marvelous Mail Carrier!"

In her last issue, Martha (there is only one "Martha" in my world) gave me the idea to make pine cone treats for our feathery friends, but after a bitterly cold walk that yielded none, we had to make a call to Papa Bear to see if he could hunt for some on our behalf. He came through with a whole bag full of the prickly tree decorations, as well as corn for our furry squirrel friends!

Once we tied string around the tops, we slathered them with peanut butter and rolled them in birdseed. Alice has so much fun coating them with tiny seeds! Here are our treat-making adventures...

(Thank you for my pretty new

gold scalloped plate

, Lyn!)

Merry Christmas, birdies!

What did you do for Advent this year? Any good loving ideas? Do you have any fun Christmas traditions?

Would love to know!

Thank you, God, for loving us your best and giving first. Give us your eyes, your heart, and your hands to love the people you put in our lives :)

Wrapped with Love | A Wedding Quilt

Best of 2015 | Nature