Idea for Jesse Tree ornaments (Wood burning)

December 2, 2014

Anyone in your family into wood burning?  Here’s a really nice set of Jesse Tree ornaments that could be a good craft activity for an older child…

Jesse Tree resources are always EXTREMELY popular at Lent & Beyond.  Our “All About Jesee Trees” post has nearly 40,000 page views!

You can find all our Jesse Tree resources using the Jesse Tree tag


“My Jesse Tree – the Ultimate Guide” and “Bible Characters for Advent” storybook

November 12, 2014

One of our commenters, Theresa, has created a fantastic site all about Jesse Trees:

This is a fantastic guide for making a Jesse tree with your family. It is clear, beautifully laid out with wonderful pictures and organized into 5 sections.  The readings and the pictures that accompany each day’s story are AWESOME.

  1. What is a Jesse Tree
  2. How to Choose Your Tree
  3. Jesse Tree Symbols
  4. Jesse Tree Ornaments
  5. Jesse Tree Readings


The authors (husband and wife) are Franciscans.  The site includes several levels / types of ornaments  (crafts & printables & coloring sheets), awesome pictures and instructions, and readings with full color pictures go along with each ornament.

Note: the readings can be used for free, but they are excerpted from a longer children’s story book:  Bible Characters for Advent, which has a 5-star rating at Amazon!  (There are 20 5-star reviews as of the time I’m writing this.)

ABSOLUTELY WORTH CHECKING OUT the Jesse Tree site and the eBook Bible Characters for Advent

Here are a few of the ornaments:


In case you need MORE Jesse tree info (e.g. for an older age group), here is our Jesse Tree Category with lots more helpful resources.  See especially our All About Jesse Trees entry.

Excellent roundup of Advent activities for Families and Children

November 11, 2014

Christine Sine at Godspace has done a really nice job in her roundup post of suggestions for family Advent Activities.

Need I say more than, go check it out?!?!?

Still neeed more ideas for Family & Children’s Advent activities and crafts?? Here’s the link to all we’ve posted over the years in our Advent: Family & Children category


Update:  Our commenter Theresa has created a site which has a fantastic guide for making a Jesse tree with your family.  Several types of ornaments  (crafts & printables), awesome pictures and instructions, and readings to go along with each ornament.  ABSOLUTELY WORTH CHECKING OUT!!


Advent books – links and recommendations

November 6, 2014

I’m working on compiling a list of recommended books to read during Advent, and would love readers to chime in with books you’d recommend.  These could be devotional books for adults, or for children and families…; prayer books, activity books… PLEASE SHARE YOUR FAVORITES IN THE COMMENTS!!!


1.  Here are a few books I personally can recommend, having read them in the past 1 – 2 years.

  • Ann Voskamp:  The Greatest Gift  Recommended for women, especially.  I found this a wonderful meditation on the theme of grace, and very helpful in terms of giving me practical ideas for how to S-L-O-W D-O-W-N in Advent and really keep Jesus at the center of my days.

Note: It looks like John Piper has a new Advent Devotional out for 2014, but I’m not yet sure if the content has changed, or merely the date listed for each day’s reading…  (The PDF version is free at Desiring God).  I’ll check it out and will post more about this separately.  (I’m a big John Piper fan… He’s a “Baptist who gets Advent!”)

  • Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas – 40 essays and poems from theological writers such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dorothy Day, Madeleine L’Engle, Martin Luther, Kathleen Norris, Henri Nouwen, Philip Yancey, Karl Barth and Síren Kierkegaard.   – Very meaty stuff.  Not light fluffy Advent reading.  Several of the essays are truly profound.
  • Truth in the Tinsel:  A guide for celebrating Advent with young children (excellent for Sunday school activities, etc.)


2. Here are a few books I’ve bookmarked and am thinking about for Advent this year… This is a VERY varied list.  I may buy one or two of these books for myself, and others as gifts for friends and colleagues…

Note;  in addition to the books listed below, I’ve recently  posted entries on three other family Advent devotional books which look very worthwhile:


Three books on Jesse Trees that might be of interest  (I’ve not read these personally)


Advent Devotional Books (mostly for Adults) that have caught my attention:

  • Billy Graham: The Cradle, Cross and Crown.   A Brand New 64 page Advent devotional from Billy Graham, includes original poetry from his late wife, Ruth Bell Graham.  [Having looked at this a bit more closely, I’d suggest it might make a better devotional for the Christmas season, in terms of its themes…, but I love the poems!!]
  • Max Lucado: Celebrating Christmas with Jesus, an Advent Devotional.  Short excerpts from various of Max Lucado’s devotionals focusing on various individuals’ encounters with Jesus as recorded in the Gospels.  Not really all that “Advent-y” but daily readings from passages in the Gospels and good short reflections that might be helpful to some in keeping their hearts centered on Christ and the wonder of His love and mercy during a busy Advent and Christmas season.
  • R. Scott Hurd – Daily Devotions for Advent 2014 (The Living Gospel) – 99 cents for the Kindle edition.  This is a 64 page “classic style” devotional booklet, with a short opening prayer from the Psalms, a Scripture reading, a short reflection, an application / action, and a closing prayer.  Fairly basic.  The author was an Episcopalian and is now a Roman Catholic priest.


3.  Here are some places you can find lists of good Advent-themed books


You can find all our posts from recent years about ADVENT BOOKS here.

 All our Advent 2014 entries are here.

New Advent Resource for 2014: Ann Voskamp’s “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift”

October 31, 2014

Note:  This book is Currently ON SALE at Christian Book Distributors (save 40%)


Looking to start a new Advent family tradition?

Ann Voskamp’s newly updated Advent devotional book may be just what you need.  It teaches about how to make Jesse Trees, provides ornaments and daily devotionals for each day, as well as suggestions for family activities. It’s only available in hardcover, so it’s an investment, but this could easily become a yearly family Advent tradition, so I think it’s worth the investment – less than $1 per day of Advent…


Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

Unwrapping Greatest Gift

Ann Voskamp is the author of two NY Times Bestselling devotional books, a popular speaker, and blogger. (Her blog is A Holy Experience).  Her bestselling books are:

  • 1000 Gifts, focusing on the importance of gratitude
  • The Greatest Gift, an encouraging Advent devotional (for adults) – I read it last Advent and really enjoyed it.  It was spiritually refreshing and helped me find moments of quiet and rest to keep Advent holy.



Advent 2013: Some recommended Advent links and resources

December 1, 2013

I hope later today (Sunday December 1) to post an updated list of recommended Advent Resources and Links.  (In the meantime, you can view our two posts with listings of recommended resources and sites from 2012 here and here.)

Here are a few new resources I’ve come across in recent days:

  • The Art of Simple:  Some great and, yes, SIMPLE ideas for how to celebrate Advent.  Includes suggestions for adults, and children of different ages.  Also a great Advent calendar idea.

Thanks to Jessica Snell for her post which pointed me to these good Advent links.

Some other links of interest:

Lent for children & families: A Lenten version of a “Jesse Tree”

March 2, 2009

I’ve been meaning for a few days to post a link I included in an earlier Lenten Links compilation as a stand-alone entry here.  The resource is found at FridgeArt – a great site for crafts and family resources for the liturgical year.

Here is the Fridge Art Lenten Crafts & Activities page.

Note especially their idea for a Lenten Cross — which is basically very similar to an Advent Jesse tree in that it provides a structured way to appreciate prophecies about Christ’s crucifixion. Here’s how the Lenten Cross is described — this looks to be a really excellent idea, and all the Scripture references for each day of Lent are provided!

This family activity is similar to the Jesse Tree used at Advent. The Jesse Tree follows both the family tree of Jesus and the history of the first Advent when God’s people awaited the coming of the Messiah. The Lenten Cross simultaneously follows the Messianic prophecies through the Old Testament and matches each with its fulfillment in the Crucifixion narrative.

Like the Jesse Tree, your family Lenten Cross can be made of many materials. Some options are: a banner with Velcro dots for fastening, a wooden cross with small nails or hooks, or a laminated cardboard poster with reuseable sticky putty.


Here is the list of Scripture verses and corresponding image or symbol for each day of Lent:

Ash Wednesday Even Now (Joel 2:12-13) Image: ashes – as in the sign we receive on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday
2nd Day of Lent (Thursday) Original sin (Genesis 3:1-20) Image: an apple, or a small plastic snake
3rd Day (Friday) Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-12) Image: two men, one standing with his fist raised
4th Day (Saturday) Noah’s Ark (Genesis 6:5-13, 9:8-11) Image: picture of Noah’s ark

5th Day (Monday) Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18) Image: a lamb
6th Day (Tuesday) Jesus and Abraham (John 8:31-40) Image: a chain – symbol of the slavery Christ frees us from
7th Day (Wednesday) Moses and the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-21) Image: picture of the two tablets
8th Day (Thursday) The Covenant with Abraham and Moses (Jeremiah 31:31-33) Image: an outstretched hand
9th Day (Friday) A New Covenant (Luke 22:15-20) Image: two hands clasped together
10th Day (Saturday) 2 Great Commandments (Matthew 22:34-40) Image: notice of the two great commandments

11th Day (Monday) Forty Years in the Desert (Numbers 14:2-4, 10-112, 17-19, 33-34) Image: small piece of bread to represent manna
12th Day (Tuesday) Forty Days in the Desert (Luke 4:1-13) Image: a stone/picture of a city to represent Satan’s temptation
13th Day (Wednesday) The Day of the Lord (Joel 2:10-16) Image: a trumpet
14th Day (Thursday) Jonas and the Whale (Jonah 1:1 – 4:11) Image: a plastic whale or fish, a picture of a large whale
15th Day (Friday)Whom Shall I send? (Isaiah 6:8-10) Image: a red coal
16th Day (Saturday) Trust and Rescue (Psalm 22) Image: a small globe

17th Day (Monday) Prophetic Role of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1: 4-8, 3:12-15) Image: a shepherd’s staff
18th Day (Tuesday)Story of Elijah (2 Kings 2:9-12) Image: a chariot and horses
19th Day (Wednesday) Story of Elisha (2 Kings 4:38-44) Image: basket of bread and fishes
20th Day (Thursday) Loaves and Fishes (Mark 6:34-44) Image: basket of bread and fish
21th Day (Friday) Gabriel and the Anointed One (Daniel 9:15-24) Image: a picture of the angel Gabriel
22nd Day (Saturday) Anointing of David (1Sam. 16:1-13) Image: a horn or jug of oil

23rd Day (Monday) Anointing at Bethany (Matthew 26:6-13) Image: vial of perfume
24th Day (Tuesday) John the Baptist (Luke 1:13-17, 80) Image: pitcher of water
25th Day (Wednesday) Prophecy of New Order (Micah 4:1-7) Image: a sword and a pruning hook
26th Day (Thursday) Fulfillment of all Prophecies (Luke 24:44-48) Image: picture of a book, the Scriptures
27th Day (Friday) Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36) Image: a tent
28th Day (Saturday) Entrance Into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:1-9) Image: small plastic donkey or piece of palm

29th Day (Monday) Zeal for your house consumes me (Psalms. 69:6-25) Image: a musical instrument
30th Day (Tuesday) Driving the moneylenders from the temple (John 2:13-25) Image: a knotted piece of rope
31st Day (Wednesday) Judas (Matthew 26:14-25) Image: silver coins – to represent Judas’ 30 pieces of silver
32nd Day (Thursday) The Innocent Victim (Isaiah 53:1-12) Image: a white lamb
33rd Day (Friday) Last Supper (Luke 22:14- 20) Image: cup and plate
34th Day (Saturday)Agony in Garden (Matthew 26:36-46) Image: olives – from the garden of Gethsemane

35th Day (Monday) Denial of Jesus (Mark 14:29-31 and 14:66-72) Image: small plastic rooster
36th Day (Tuesday) Crown of Thorns (Matt. 27:27 – Matt. 27:31) Image: a twig bent in a circle – the crown of thorns
37th Day (Wednesday) Scourging at the Pillar Image: a leather strip – the thongs of the whip used when Jesus was scourged  [Update: Day 37 suggested Scripture Matt 27:26 or Mark 15:15]
38th Day (Holy Thursday)The Two Thieves (Luke 23:32 – 43) Image: a row of three crosses
39th Day (Good Friday) On the Cross Image: a single die, a piece of sponge and a blue strip of cloth  [Update: Day 39 suggested Scripture John 19:16-19]
40th Day (Holy Saturday) Death Of Jesus (Matthew 27: 45-54) Image: small stones/gravel/dirt – reminder of the earthquake

My apologies for not truly highlighting this excellent resource sooner!

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