Thursday, December 16, 2010

One Way to Put Christ Back into Christmas -- and a GIveaway!




Nearly twenty years ago, my husband and I started a new tradition for our young family -- we began observing Advent.  Neither of us had any experience with this tradition, so that first year, I found a book by Wanda Sanseri that explained how and why to celebrate Advent and gave a devotional reading for each evening during the four weeks leading up to Christmas.  We loved the way this practice focused our attention on the true meaning of Christmas.


Then, in 1997 I discovered the amazing Advent Storybook -- Jotham's Journey by Arnold Ytreeide.  Each evening, we read a portion of the exciting story, which always left us hanging at the most suspenseful moment, making the children beg for more!  In fact, we had to hide the book so none of the older children would pick it up and read what happened!  (The children even caught their Daddy reading ahead on more than one occasion!!)  This well-written book infused a new level of excitement and enthusiasm into our nightly Advent readings, while also giving us greater insight into what life was really like when Jesus was born.

We enjoyed Jotham's Journey for a couple years until a sequel was published.  We then eagerly devoured Bartholomew's Passage , and eventually feasted on Tabitha's Travels, which is the last book of the Trilogy.  Now, we continue to cycle through these three books each Christmas.  Arnold Ytreeide is a master story teller and has a rare gift for captivating the reader -- even after multiple readings!!  He also does an amazing job of intertwining the adventures of these three fictional characters and weaving it all together with the account of our Savior's birth. 


Last year, we read Bartholomew's Passage.  This year, since we are celebrating Christmas in a new house, we decided to start over at the beginning and read Jotham's Journey, which is our favorite of the three books


Celebrating Advent has really helped us slow down during that hectic month before Christmas and focus on the true reason for the season.  It also encourages family bonding as we all stop what we are doing and sit together around the flickering Advent candles and share this Adventure together.  We light the candles, read the daily portion of the story (or more than one day's worth when we get behind), then Alan or I pray, and the children take turns blowing out the candles, going from youngest to oldest.  It is always a special time!


I can't recommend this tradition highly enough!  To help you get started celebrating Advent with your family, I have decided to give away one of these amazing Advent storybooks!  It will be too late to use the book this year, but tuck it away and remember to get it out next year during Thanksgiving, as your first Advent reading will begin the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  Also, I'd suggest going ahead and purchasing Advent Candles after Christmas when they are marked down half price!  Then, you'll be all ready to go for next year!


To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment telling me which book you would prefer to receive.  Click on the links to read a short description of each -- Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage, or Tabitha's Travels.  

For an additional entry, go here and read the true story of how the author of these books (Arnold Ytreeide) celebrated Advent as a child, how he came to know Christ, and what inspired him to write the Jotham series.  Plus, you can receive a Bonus Entry if you can tell me how to pronounce the author's name!!!  ;)   I have absolutely no idea how to attempt it!!  :)


I will randomly pick a winner on Tuesday, December21st (which is my Joe's birthday!) and post the winner here!  If you leave an email address, I will also notify you by email.

21 comments:

Jaime Lynn said...

I would like to be entered and would like any of the 3 books but if I had to choose I would say Jotham's Journey!

Jaime Lynn said...

I checked out the link about the author's story.

LotsaKidz said...

From his own website:

How Do You Pronounce That Name?

Ytreeide is a Norwegian name that means, roughly, an area of land at the end of a fjord.

Even the American Ytreeides can barely pronounce the name in its native tongue, but the Americanized version sounds like this:

Ytreeide

yt - tree - ide

it - tree - ide ("tide" without the "t")

Ytreeide!

http://www.jothamsjourney.com/node/116

Rebecca's Refining said...

Of course your FAVORITE sister would like to be entered in your drawing!

Last year I purchased the Bartholamew Book, and was so excited to start it this year.......would you believe we FORGOT all about it!! I'm hoping to start this weekend anyway, and read more than one chapter a night! Anna used to be my reminder as she loved the Jotham story, and would always ask if we would read it...but, she forgot too.
I was not able to purchase the Tabitha book, so that is the one I would like to get....not that I would remember to read it anyway, but it would be nice to have on hand just in case! :)

Samantha said...

I just ordered it, and was hoping to double or triple readings to get us to Christmas...we are off school and have lots of free time! Does the book incorporate candles?

busymomof10 said...

Samantha,

The book is designed to be read a little each night, along with lighting the appropriate Advent candles. A set of Advent candles contains 3 purple ones and 1 pink one. The first Sunday night you light a purple candle, and then you add another candle every Sunday night, so that the final week before christmas, you will be lighting all four candles every night. Some traditions also include a larger white candle in the center to be lit on Christmas Day, which is called the Christ candle. The Jotham books do include a reading for Christmas Day, which we either read before opening presents, or sometimes go ahead and read on Christmas Eve.

So, Yes, to do it "right" you would use a set of Advent candles with the book, but of course, you could just enjoy reading the book without the candles.

The book includes instructions for making an Advent Wreath and using the candles. This late to Christmas, you may be able to pick up a good deal on Advent candles and a wreath at a Christian book store. I've previously bought mine at Crossway, Lifeway, and Zondervans -- don't know if you have any of these stores near you or not.

I do think that children really love candles, and taking the time to light the candles makes it feel more special!! I hope you enjoy it and build special memories with your family!!!! :)

busymomof10 said...

LotsaKidz,

Don't know why I didn't see that when I was on the author's website!!!! LOL!

Thanks so much for finding that out and posting it for me! I will give you an extra entry in the Giveaway!

lotsakids said...

I'd like to read Jotham's Journey with my kids next year!

lotsakids said...

I read the author's story. Awesome!

Oh, and I think it is funny that there is a LotsaKidz and a lotsakids both entered :)

tlmalcolm said...

Our church each year has a advent wreath or log making event on the first Sunday of Advent. The families join together and decorate a wreath or sometimes its a birch log with holes drilled in for each candle. We then share a soup supper and then light the first candle and sing together. It is always what gets me in the spirit of Christmas. We also have a special candle lighting each Sunday of Advent during the church service. Each Candle has a special meaning and of course the Christ Candle is lite on Christmas day. A very nice tradition your family observes with the reading of a special story.

Noel said...

I would love to enter, but since I've never read any of those books, I couldn't choose. If my name is drawn, would you please choose one :) Thanks so much, I'll have to look into knowing more about Advent.

LotsaKidz said...

Hey, Elizabeth, it's me... Deanne... Don't enter me in the drawing; we love these books so much that we already own all three. I'd much rather someone else have one. I just saw the query and knew where to find the answer (I'd already wondered myself!). Don't know what's up with my profile photo; I'll have to work on that soon, but wanted to make sure someone "needy" got the book.

Hope all is well with your family. Our house hasn't sold yet, either, and we are considering renting it. Glad you have some closure on yours.

~ Deanne

Heather said...

I would like to be entered! I have never read any of them, so I guess I would want to start with Jotham's Journey

Amanda said...

Jotham's Journey, since you said it was your favorite.

~Lauren~ said...

If I won, I'd like Jotham's Journey!

~Lauren~ said...

I read the author's story! REally liked it! :)

Tammy said...

We are currently dealing with the same decision. If I win, I would like Jotham's Journey. Thanks.

Kathy - mom of many said...

Hi Elizabeth, I have Jotham's Journey but we have not read it yet. I keep forgetting about it. We went camping the first week of December with another family and the dad of the other family read Bartholomew's Passage each night. We enjoyed it so much, I ordered that book. So, now we will have two and that's why I would choose Tabitha's Travels if I am your winner. Please enter my name. Thanks, Kathy

Kathy - mom of many said...

I read the author's story about his childhood celebration of Advent, his conversion and his inspiration for writing the books. How very interesting to read about his family. Thank you for pointing me there. Kathy

ducky said...

If I win I would like Jotham's Journey. I do not have any of the books but have heard about them from other moms.

ducky said...

If I win I would like Jotham's Journey. I do not have any of the books but have heard about them from other moms.

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