Sunday, November 28, 2010

Jesse Trees to Benefit World Vision

A friend of mine and her children make Jesse Trees each year to sell in order to raise money for World Vision.  If you would like to use a Jesse Tree during Advent but don't have the time to put it all together she is a one stop shop for the tree, ornaments and devotions.  She will also sell you the materials to make your own ornaments and the devotion book.  If you order right away there is still time to get one and start without missing too many days.  Or you can put it away for next year.  Here is more information from her flyer:

What is a Jesse Tree?

It is a wonderful spiritual tool to help your family prepare for the Christmas season. It is similar to an advent calendar as you daily reflect on a different aspect of Christ for the 25 days leading up to Christmas.

What do I get?

Each Jesse Tree Set comes with an 18" Christmas tree, 25 hand-made ornaments, and hardbound devotional book, "The Advent Jesse Tree: Devotions for Children and Adults to Prepare for the Coming of the Christ Child at Christmas" .

How does it work?

Starting December 1st, you simply work through the devotionals and place an ornament on the tree each day. In our family we even wrap each ornament and place them under our tree. We love the excitement of unwrapping a new ornament each day .

Where do the proceeds go?

We are selling Jesse Trees to benefit World Vision! When we decided to sponsor children through World Vision, we thought that making and selling Jesse Trees would be a great way to meet our sponsorship requirements.

How much does it cost?

Each Jesse Tree set costs $40. Or as another option if your family would like to make the ornaments yourself, we will provide all of the materials plus the book for $25. Remember all of our proceeds go to World Vision.

What if I want to know more?

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at

Thank you and God Bless,

Nathan, Lauren, and Rebekah Doyel

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Today is the first Sunday in Advent, a time of waiting and preparing for the birth of our Saviour into the world.  I like to observe this time as a learning time for my children as well as a way to keep Christ in our thoughts during this season that can all too often can become about the idols of greed and self gratification.  So I have spent some time over the years finding activities for us to use to learn.

One fun way to do that is by making this Paper Doll Creche  browse through the photos in the set to find all four pieces of this.  This is at the Flickr site of one of my favorite blogs Agence Eureka .  This blog is all in French but it doesn't really matter because the point is to share the author's incredible collection of paper ephemera, something that I adore.  Scroll through and find some interesting things from the past.

In the past I've posted about other activities we do at this time.  You can learn about the Jesse Tree and a nice resource for Jesse Tree readings.  There is also a reminder of the most important lesson we can teach at this time. 

Our family has also really enjoyed using an advent wreath with weekly readings during this time and even though tomorrow is the first Sunday in Advent it's not to late to start one.  Just go out and find 3 purple candles, a pink one, and a white one.  Our time each week is simple but something we all enjoy.  We light the candle or candles for that night, read a passage of scripture, say a prayer and then sing a hymn together.  In the past we have worked on O come Emmanual.  Here are some suggested Bible verses that you can use to get you started, but you can vary the devotions for your family:

First Sunday of advent : Hope - light one purple candle to symbolize Hope. Read Isaiah 11:1 – 11. Extinguish the flame.

Second Sunday : Peace - Light two purple candles - Hope and Peace. Isaiah 9:2, 6-7. Extinguish the flames.

Third Sunday : Joy - Light two purple candles (Hope and Peace) and one pink to symbolize Joy.  Read Isaiah 35:10. Extinguish the flames

Fourth Sunday: Love - light all four candles - Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.  Read Isaiah 9:6-7. Extinguish the flames.

Christmas Eve: Light all four candles and the fifth white candle (the light of Christ).  Read Luke 1:68-79 and Luke 2:1-20. Keep the candles lit throughout the evening.

I hope you will find some way to reflect on this season and it's true meaning.  Slow down and spend time with God and draw closer to him.  There is no greater gift.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Book Review: A Century Turns

I have been looking forward to reading William Bennett's latest book, A Century Turns.   This book covers the period of 1988 to 2008 in American history and politics.  The author had a very intimate perspective into this time period as he served as Secretary of Education and chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President Reagan and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Bush.  That means that this particular volume of Bennett's history series is full of first hand, inside information.  This book follows Bennett's previous works, America: The Last Best Hope: Volumes 1 and 2.

I believe that anyone interested in American history and politics would find this a valuable read because of the primary source that Bennett is to so much of the history of this time in this place.  I found it very readable and engaging.  Bennett's "voice" is very comfortable to read.  Very like sitting down with a friend to hear their side of the story of an event they were involved in.  But at the same time the book is much like a history text with plenty of good information.  Having lived through these events I found the book helped me to create a timeline of sorts in my mind of the events that took place.  Some of the events had faded from my memory and this book was a good reminder and at the same time added new information I had not known before.  In addition the personal view of the people we see only in the news shorts was fascinating.

Because of the primary source material I believe that this book would be an excellent supplement to a history spine for an American History class for students in high school or college.  I would certainly use it to teach my own children as the part of a larger curriculum.  I believe it has value in teaching Bennett's side of the story that unfolded as our collective history.  I enjoyed his writing style enough to now want to read his previous two volumes of history.

I was provided a copy by the publisher for review. I am under no obligation to "like" the book and I wouldn't publish a review here if I didn't like the book.  But I did really enjoy reading this book and recommended it for personal edification or teaching in a classroom.

The Louisa Alcott Reader

This book is a sweet 4th grade reader from 1908.  The first story is a charming Christmas story inspired by Dicken's classic The Christmas Carol.  It's worth a look for that story alone.  You can find this book and many, many other wonderful storybooks for children at

I found this book because I have a gadget on iGoogle that shows me a different book from the site each day.  You can get that gadget on their homepage.  You can also get apps for the iPhone and Ipad on their homepage.  But be careful, you can lose a lot of time looking through books here!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Great Deal On The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

I've said before here that I'm a big fan of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  Right now there is a terrific sale going on to subscribe for only $10 a year.  However, this sale ends Wednesday, November 3rd at midnight.  Get it while you can!
$10 one-year (U.S) subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine-Click Here!