A Simplified Advent

The busyness of December can quickly gobble up our anticipation for the amazing arrival of God With Us. Advent readings help us see Jesus’ birth through the eyes of God’s people. We can share in their anticipation, their fear, their yearning and experience a renewal of our own wonder at the gift of the promised Messiah. The longing and expectant hope of the people of Israel that brightens every passage of Scripture brightens our homes, too. While we already know the account of the Messiah’s birth (and have probably each sat through hundreds of Sunday School lessons to ensure it), these readings take us back to the early promises of Jesus’ coming – promises to a people desperate for salvation, walking by faith through mysteries, prophecies, and shadows. Advent’s renewal of hope quickens our faith in God’s promises and our gratitude for His great mercy.

Daily advent readings also help us to not only look forward but also look inward – preparing our hearts to long for Jesus. Setting short times for the daily readings aids in personal reflection and in teaching children a love for the anticipation. By preparing our hearts for advent, we can experience Jesus’ coming afresh and our sense of wonder and amazement is renewed – we will know Him at his arrival and our joy will be full. What Joy? As Christians, know that the waiting and anticipation is not for a baby, but for a savior. The Christmas story may start with a star and manger; but it ends with a cross, a death, and a joyous resurrection!

There are many advent resources for families, and one we’ve thoroughly enjoyed in the past is a Jesse Tree. This December, we are reading a second time through All Is Bright: A devotional journey to color your way to Christmas. It is different in that it includes short readings for the whole month of December and beautiful coloring pages accompany each daily devotional. Perfect for some of the children to color while you read aloud.

Each evening, at the dinner table, Nathan reads these advent Scripture passages:

with love. Nathan and Damaris

Happy National Cookie Day!

Happy National Cookie Day!

I don’t make cookies often really, but these frosted eggnog cookies were the favorite ones I made last Christmas, so they’re making an encore! Everyone in Nathan’s office was very pleased, and the ladies at the gathering I took them to, raved about the eggnog addition. They are so easy and ever so soft! The fresh nutmeg is warming and the eggnog makes these cookies festive. Much lighter than the traditional sugar cookie, these are fluffy and have a very tender crumb. They are perfect for the holidays. You’ll be smitten by these cookies even if you’re not an eggnog lover. The frosting is incredible, and the dough is foolproof – never bakes flat. I’m sharing my favorite recipe which uses yogurt instead of extra butter. Doesn’t that mean we can eat these cookies for breakfast? hah!

Frosted Eggnog Cookies

6 tablespoons butter, softened

3 tablespoons yogurt (plain/vanilla/Greek yogurt)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup eggnog

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 egg yolks

2 1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground makes a big difference)

Frosting: 1 cup powdered sugar + 2 tablespoons eggnog

Freshly ground nutmeg to sprinkle over the frosted cookies (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a bowl, cream the butter, yogurt, and sugar until smooth. Add the eggnog, vanilla and egg yolks. Mix well and add the dry ingredients. Mix only until combined (not overbeating it!). On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or greased), drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoons. Bake for 20-25 minutes until bottoms are lightly browned. Transfer to a cool surface immediately to allow cookies to cool. Mix powdered sugar and eggnog in a small bowl and dip the cookies face down into the frosting. It makes 48 small cookies.

with love. Damaris