Unwrapping the Greatest Gift . . . an Advent giveaway

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“If you don’t come to Christmas through Christ’s family tree and you come into the Christmas story just at the Christmas tree–this is hard, to understand the meaning of His coming.” –Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the full love story of Christmas

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I found Ann’s blog A Holy Experience in 2008. Her writing brought me daily to the foot of the cross in a way I never had before. In 2010, a Christmas season following Danica’s major brain surgery and fusion and of very little in things to give but so much in Grace to receive, we began celebrating Advent as a family every day of December instead of just weekly on Sunday. This included reading Scripture, singing songs and lighting candles on Caleb’s beautiful hand made wooden “Cradle to the Cross” wreath. I would use a collection of books to bring together our nights of worship.

Last year I was changed by Ann’s daily adult devotional The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the full love story of Christmas. I began going through the book with a friend. It convicted and encouraged me in my slow expectant journey to Bethlehem. I especially loved the questions at the end of each chapter prompting thoughtful heart searching and reflection. I gifted at least ten copies, including giving it to my girl’s teachers at the beginning of December. Giving gifts early has become a tradition for me to eliminate the rushed frenzy of thoughtless buying and enable our home and hearts to quietly focus and rest in the Advent season.

I ordered the new family style book as soon as it was released. When Danica opened the beautiful pages she immediately began reading, and her excitement grew to see we would start our journey this year in the Garden of Eden and follow it all the way to the incarnation of our Savior. No more hanging out all month at the stable and the cradle. We come to understand the intricate details of God’s plan to save us through Biblical narratives winding through several thousand years; exploring the lives of men and women who are much like you and I. Ann writes in her devotional book,

The coming of Christ was right through families of messed up monarchs and battling brothers, through affairs and adultery and more than a feud or two, through skeletons in closets and cheaters at tables . . . And Jesus claims exactly those who are wondering and wounded and worn out as His. He grafts you into His line and His story and His heart, and He gives you His name, His lineage, His righteousness. He graces you with plain grace. Is there a greater Gift you could want or need or have?

The illustrations are lovely. The suggested activities for application provide the opportunity for the stories to become real Jesus living. There is also a link to download The Jesse Tree ornaments or you will be delighted to know Dayspring is also offering a full set of ready to use ornaments to purchase. I know this book will become cemented in our family’s Christmas worship for years to come. Throughout the month of December I will be writing frequently about the long slow journey of expectation. I hope you will find still moments to join me here and also carve out space for you and your own family to quiet the noise of the world’s twisted shout of the celebration of our Savior’s birth.

How do you or your family observe Advent? Is this something new to you? What could you do this year to make Christmas a more spiritual holiday for yourself and your family?

I am giving away a copy of Ann’s special book this week. To enter answer one or all of the questions above in the comment section here on the blog and share this post on facebook with a friend or family member whose adrenaline is already rising in the sea of Black Friday ads, lists of wanting, parties and pastries. I will randomly choose a winner on Thanksgiving night so I can priority ship and have it to you by the evening of December 1.

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9 Comments on Unwrapping the Greatest Gift . . . an Advent giveaway

  1. Laura B
    November 25, 2014 at 1:10 pm (3 years ago)

    Really focusing on Advent each day will be new to us this year. I’ve purchased a copy of this book for my family, and we’ll be using it to focus on Jesus each day. I’d love to win a copy of the book to give to a family member. I shared this post to a family member as well through Facebook. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Cindee Snider Re
    November 25, 2014 at 1:21 pm (3 years ago)

    We’ve been reading Advent devotionals and stories together every evening as a family since our kids were little. We still do, though our kids are now in their teens and 20s. Its a beautiful time, a slowing down as we gather to prepare our hearts.

    Your heart is beautiful, Monica, and I’m so glad to have met you.

    Reply
  3. Elisabeth
    November 25, 2014 at 2:30 pm (3 years ago)

    We have been celebrating advent for four years. We’ve done the Jesse tree, Ann’s Trail to the tree, truth in the tinsel before. They are all lovely and helpful in focusing in the story of Christ. We are trying to have more of the Spirit this year by doing #thegreatestchristmas with its beautiful prose and lovely ornaments. Hopefully the memories we make with our four young children will lead them closer to The Lord.

    Reply
  4. Theresa
    November 25, 2014 at 3:23 pm (3 years ago)

    I actually began celebrating Advent last year (after taking some years “off” because I changed denominations and it wasn’t celebrated). I am so glad I did! I actually used Ann’s book. I was so excited to see this one come out because it gives me a great segway to do this with my husband and two kiddos (who are 4, but let’s get them started early!!). :)

    Thanks for the chance to win! Happy Thanksgiving!

    Reply
  5. Beth
    November 26, 2014 at 8:37 pm (3 years ago)

    I didn’t grow up in a church that prominently recognized Advent and didn’t really begin understanding it until 5 years ago when we switched churches. Last year I went thru Ann’s book and loved understand the different facets of the Christmas season. Someday I will own her advent wreath! Beautiful giveaway, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  6. Melissa N
    November 26, 2014 at 11:01 pm (3 years ago)

    We use our advent wreath and talk about the different ways Love, Hope, Peace and Joy mean to us. Would love to add this book into our family traditions. Thanks for the opportunity.

    Reply
  7. Gretchen
    November 27, 2014 at 6:53 am (3 years ago)

    We are going to start Advent readings with our children this year and are going to try out a “Jesus tree”–idea from Noel Piper (everyone in the family hangs items throught December that connect to Christ in some way).

    Reply
  8. Britni Bradford
    November 27, 2014 at 6:17 pm (3 years ago)

    We do a lot for advent. A calendar a wreath and this year truth in the tinsel

    Reply
  9. Monica
    November 28, 2014 at 9:39 am (3 years ago)

    Beth, You won “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.” I will contact you directly so you have the book by Monday evening to begin the long slow journey to Bethlehem!

    Reply

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