The Candle of Hope: Family Night

Last year, we started a new family tradition of celebrating the season of advent, or the weeks that lead up to Christmas.

No, we’re not Catholic, but they’ve got some good traditions over there in their fancy churches.

Anywho, last year we got through three weeks and then I had to go throw a wrench in the plan and have a baby.  That put an end to the family nights for awhile.  This year, I am determined to family night it for all four weeks!

So, last night was the first candle in our advent candle holder. (We have a candle holder and not a wreath.)  It’s the candle of hope that symbolizes the hope the people had for the coming of a Savior, Jesus.

So, to start things off, yesterday afternoon I gathered the boys on the rug, and took their picture… because they’re so darn cute.  Right?

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Then we talked about how before Jesus was born, God had said that He was sending a Savior to the world and how the people were waiting, and hoping for that Savior to arrive.  I taught them Micah 7:7 from the New Living Translation as a memory verse (with hand motions that I made up to help them remember) and then we read the story of another man in the Bible who had hope in God, Daniel.  We read the story of Daniel and the lion’s den out of Jacob’s kid Bible and they were really into it.

Next, we did a little craft.  We made lion masks to help us remember that because Daniel hoped in God (not in himself or the king or the other men) God honored him by sending His angels and closing the mouths of the lions!

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Here’s the finished products.  Elijah was a little scared of the masks.  I don’t blame him.  They look a little more like cannibal warrior masks, than lions.  Maybe?

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Next, we prepared dessert for the night, zebra cake!

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We figured if the lions couldn’t eat Daniel, they were probably pretty hungry, so we needed to feed them lion food.  You know, zebras and stuff. I found this cake mix with chocolate and white cake in the same box, but you could easily buy a box of each and make it yourself.  Just prepare each batter and then take a 1/4 measuring cup and alternate scooping chocolate and white cake into the bottom of cake pan.  It should end up looking like a bulls eye, like this.

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We frosted the outside to make it look extra zebra-ish…

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and the inside looked really cool when it was finished!

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For dinner we ate meat, because those poor lions were starving.

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After dinner we talked about how Jesus is our hope for everything!  He is our hope for forgiveness (John 1:29), our hope for freedom (Romans 8:2), our hope for salvation (John 14:6), and our hope for all we need (Matthew 6:33.)  Then we worked together to make a poster titled “DeVincenzo Family Hopes for 2012” where we wrote out all our hopes for the upcoming year.

This is the part where I totally underestimated my kids.

I thought they would think of all concrete things, like “I hope for new legos!” or “I hope for a fast bike!”  Things like that.  So, I decided to start them off and said, “I hope for a fun vacation so we can spend fun time together as a family.”  (A little concrete thinking, mixed with a little abstract, right?)  Then Jacob said, “I have one!  I hope Lauren gets healed this year!”  Tears.  Lauren’s doing great with her new heart but she has been in and out of the hospital with low white blood cell counts and low platelets and getting sick and getting better, and we’ve been praying for her everyday, and it just overwhelmed me that she was the first thing my 4-year-old thought of when we were thinking of our hopes for the new year.  We must be doing something right. 

Here’s our finished poster.

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Then we lit our candle of hope.

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So, far this is my most favorite family tradition!  What’s your favorite family tradition during the holidays?

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