My Aunt’s Nativity: An Advent Reflection

This afternoon while the toddler was sleeping, my eldest daughter set up our nativity set. It is a beautiful porcelain one given to us by my sweet Auntie Shirley, who is a retired interior decorator with an eye for beauty. We are very honoured to have her nativity.

Going to her home as a child and having Christmas dinner with all the cousins was for me the essence of cozy family closeness. Being there laughing and singing with everyone gave me a warmth that stays with me today, and makes me want my home to be such an open, welcoming place as my Auntie Shirley and Uncle Bill’s was.

I hope everyone has a joyful place to be this Christmas, and that they know how loved they are, just as they are, by the God who became small enough to put his tiny hand in ours, even though his heart contains the entire universe. Sometimes it is hard to comprehend that we are loved unconditionally. We feel it’s impossible–that nothing in life is free–but in this case we are wrong. We don’t have to earn the love that preceded our existence.

“I’ve been alive forever,” my little son told me the other day with conviction. “Always and always.” “Well, you’ve always existed in God’s heart; he always had the plan to make you.”

It is hard for us to comprehend this kind of generosity…only as parents can we imagine it a little, knowing how much we love our kids, even before they are born. I think it’s partly why God came to us as a poor, tiny baby, smelling of hay and breathed on by donkeys–so we wouldn’t be afraid of loving him, and even harder, wouldn’t be afraid of letting him love us, just as we are.

Rather than a call to apathy, this love is a call to greatness, for can anything inspire us more to want to grow better, than the firm conviction that we are already loved, exactly as we are? It is mercy and not harshness that helps us live and love well. It takes great strength to love others while also helping them to grow. May we finish this year living with mercy, strength and love, and may we be helped to do so by the sweet God who loves us even when we fail.

Fun With Felt: A Christmas Craft


Here is our latest project, which turned our kitchen table into a rainbow tornado of felt, but was fairly simple and lots of fun for all of us! It’s a felt Christmas banner. We cut pieces of felt with sticky back to adhere to the larger piece, and glued on little foam decorations. Once it was hung up we pinned on a few more light decorations, and voilá: a Christmas banner.

See the little foam pieces? You can get them at the dollar store. My 4 year old helped with making the presents, and did a few by herself.


My 8 year old cut out the letters herself—not bad! She made the snowman and the Santa, too.


And my 6 year old made this snowman, except the hat; I helped with that. My little 3 year old decorated the Christmas balls.


Here are some of the felt makers…


The hardest part was getting the all kids to stay still for their picture! And of course cleaning all the little bits up after…so I recommend an extra coffee, but it’s well worth it for all the fun the kids have, and mummy, too! 😉