About the Author

Stephanie Bryant is the co-founder of @incourage and a podcaster at the #JesusLedAdventurePodcast. She owns a Marketing & Business Coaching company. She is passionate about guiding you to your promised land and personal brand therapy. She enjoys spending her days with her husband and their miracle daughter, Gabrielle, on #BryantFamilyFarm....

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  1. Stephanie,
    Advent is a time of waiting in anticipation of Jesus’ coming. We celebrate the first time He came, but I believe we should always be in a period of hopeful anticipation of His coming again. In a sense all of our lives should be a season of Advent. I keep a small clay manger scene, made in Costa Rica, in my kitchen where I see if often. It reminds me continually that the best is yet to come. Have a beautiful Christmas season with your daughter ๐Ÿ™‚
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • Bev,
      I want to thank you for always commenting on my posts and so many others. You are such a wonderful part of this community. Thank you for always sharing from your heart and loving on all of us.

  2. Stephanie,
    This is one of my favorite times of year with Thanksgiving and Christmas flowing beautifully from one to another. My favorite times with my children as they were growing up were when we used a journal to write down our blessings each day in November and “candle time” each evening in December. Many years we did candle time, lighting a candle each evening in December and having a devotional time. It slowed down the frantic pace and centered us on Jesus Christ, our greatest gift in life. Precious times!
    We’ve always lifted Jesus as our reason for the celebration even to the point of excluding Santa from our holiday. Yes, the kids sat on his lap a couple of times but Santa wasn’t the one bearing our gifts. Radical I know, but my now grown children have shared that they didn’t feel deprived but thankful that we remained on the real reason for the celebration, Jesus and Jesus alone.
    Come let us adore Him! Always and forever!
    Melanie

    • This is great, Melanie! I like the idea of lighting candles to help slow the pace down and set a worshipful mood. I’m sure our young daughter would even enjoy it. I’m looking forward to diving into Ann Voskamp’s new book.

  3. Love this post so much! Yes! Celebrate when it fits YOU and your family! Our children grow up so fast…why let a calendar dictate when we can put up a tree or talk about Jesus’s birth? And for the ones who want to celebrate everything “in order?” Nothing wrong with that, either! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. We usually wait until the beginning of December. However, this year we are taking part in a couple of productions that have had us thinking Christmas for a month now. My house is decorated for Thanksgiving as it is a very close second in celebration in our house. But, I have been rehearsing Christmas music for a while now and really excited for this year. Not about presents but about sharing His love.

  5. I’m an embracer–although I do wait to put the tree up. When my sons were old enough to start thinking about presents under the tree rather than the coming of baby Jesus, I started our Advent NativiTree tradition. We read a bit of the Christmas story each day and take a corresponding ornament out of the Advent calendar and place it on a mini tree. By the time we put the big tree up in the middle of December, we’ve been intentionally focusing on the birth of Jesus for a couple of weeks.

    For the last couple of years though, I’ve been living with Christmas all year. Because I finally have a way to share it with others, I spend most of November creating the sets to share at craft fairs and online. And I’m working on a children’s Christmas book that also keeps me in a mood for Christmas music and books, and our Nativity set has been out all year.

    The commercialized aspects of “the holiday season” don’t appeal to me (I try really hard to have all my shopping done before December so I don’t have to be part of the chaos), but I do embrace the year-round personal celebration of remembering when God became man.

  6. Stephanie, This has to speak volumes to your children. I am now 75 yr’s old and when my children were young we had a Birthday cake for Jesus and even sang to Him Happy Birthday. My children still look back on those precious memories and have made it a tradition in their own home’s today. Your love and gratitude for Jesus comes from your heart and there is no doubt HE enjoy’s your way of Praising Him. Thank you for sharing.

    • Funny you should mention the birthday party celebration, Susie. That’s my plan this year with our young daughter. I want to decorate with balloons (her favorite), streamers and a Happy Birthday Jesus banner. We’re also going to bake Him a cake. Thank you for your kind words about my heart. Your’s comes shining through for Him, too.

  7. The quote on the first picture brought me to tears. We aren’t going home for Thanksgiving and I am thinking about a picnic instead of a huge lunch. My kids (14, 11, 3) would enjoy it so much more. This helped me decide to just go for it – unexpected and all!

    • I LOVE how you’re thinking. Can’t wait to hear more about what you do. YES! Do what works for you. I bet your kids will always remember it as the best Thanksgiving of their childhood. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Dear Stephanie,
    What a wonderful reminder that we do NOT have to fit our lives into anyone else’s box of expectations! I love Christmas and all that it means to me…I love to play my Christmas music from morning untill I go to bed at night….and I have just decided after reading your post, I am going to listen to my beloved music today (I usually start listening the day after Thanksgiving)…..YEA! Thank “YOU” for reminding me that because I love JESUS with every ounce of my bring….I can celebrate His birth year round if I so please (smile)! I pray blessings over you and your family this Christmas season!
    Most Sincerely, Patty from Colorado

  9. Thank you for saying exactly what has been on my heart since I became a mother. You put it so beautifully! Our tree goes up early November and we savor every second of the celebration for our Savior!

  10. I’m getting ready to decorate my 12 foot Christmas tree today. And I started our advent story 2 days ago. I have lots of children and I homeschool. I don’t want to rush trough the book just to be on the right day. Celebrating Christmas and everything good in November makes perfect sense to me…

  11. My family and I celebrate advent with a Jesse Tree. In fact, I make ornaments and Advent calendars for other families to be able to enjoy the experience of keeping Christ the center of Christmas. Hanging a new ornament each day and reading the accompanying Scripture, makes clear how God preserved the line of Christ, fulfilling His prophecy in Isaiah 11:1, and anchors us to the truth – God’s Word is true…from the very beginning in Genesis. Because 5ugh Adam and Eve sinned, God promised a Redeemer – Jesus! Which we celebrate on Christmas day, after hanging a new ornament and reading the Scriptures, anticipation building, the last ornament is hung, Scripture read and joyful celebration begins. Happy Birthday, Jesus!

    My Jesse Tree Ornaments and Advent calendars can be found on Etsy at Pink Scissors Design. https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/PinkScissorsDesign

  12. Stephanie, I love the freedom you’re practicing with your girl. How fun to enter into the joy of the true reason we celebrate Christmas!

    I confess, I tend to like things more in order. Hearing, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” on November first was not something I embraced. As our boys grow older, we’re trying to help them embrace the idea of gratitude and find ways to serve those who have little to nothing.

    For Advent, we’ve read Christmas stories that point our boys’ eyes to Jesus beginning on December 1st. We are also beginning a tradition of looking through gift catalogs for ministries we support and selecting gifts to give to others so they can know Jesus’ love. It’s fun to see our kids get excited about giving something to help children and their parents both be provided for and hear about how much Jesus loves them.

  13. In Australia we don’t have thanksgiving so we jump right on in to celebrating Christmas and Jesus on the first weekend of November. The tree, lights and wreath are up. We celebrate here with heatwaves, swimming pools and carols by candlelight in the park.

  14. I decided this year that Christmas music couldn’t wait… 3-4 weeks of it is not enough! It might be because I bought Shaun Groves Christmas EP and I’ve had it on repeat for over a week around here!! ๐Ÿ™‚ and I bought Liz Curtis Higg’s Women of Christmas for myself this year. Last year I went through Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift! I’ve also done Katharine Barrett’s Walking to Bethelehem! So many great advent devotionals and options!!

    I am also planning on starting Ann Voskamp’s Family Christmas celebration this weekend (because I know in the busyness of life I will miss a few days, so it will benefit us to start early!!)

    a few years ago I went through Amanda White’s #TruthInTheTinsel with my kids and it was fantastic!!!

    • I’m looking forward to Ann’s book, too. But that’s more for me and my focus. My now 18 month old is a little young for Ann’s depth. ๐Ÿ™‚ How funny that I just filled my paypal cart with #TruthInTheTinsel this week. I adore what Amanda is doing and can’t wait to use it with Gabrielle!

  15. This year we are starting a new ting of walking through the Christian year where we will celebrate the various seasons of the church at home with the kids, starting with Advent. I am using the book Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God. So excited! Our church does not follow the church calendar and I find that I miss that and want it for my kids. We are lighting the candles in our Advent wreath starting on Nov 30 with the scripture readings. I will be blogging about this on my blog and have recruited a few others to walk with me…looking forward to it…living the Gospel together. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks for the book recommendation, Britta. I’m headed over to Amazon now. Lighting the Advent candles at home is such a sweet idea. We’ll have to start doing that. Would love to see your link to this new series on your blog.

  16. Great post, Stephanie! Thanks for sharing you sweet reflections.
    I started listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving last year, and then through February…and I loved it! I plan on it again this year. There’s a preciousness to reflecting on the coming of Christ and His glorious Person in the melodies and messages of the Christmas carols and songs.

  17. My Christmases in the past were usually quite rushed & rather stressful, especially the gift-giving. Year after year, I focus more on the simple & the meaningful. This year, God seemed to have paved the way for me to have more time to ease myself into Christmas (lots of bed rest these past mths), so I’m thankful for more time to just rest & remind myself of the reason we are celebrating. Christmas gifts have been sorted out (yay!) & I’ve slowly decorated the house with things that make my husb & I smile. Bought Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift – & I’m looking forward to poring over it starting 1 Dec! It’s going to be a lovely time….. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Beautifully said. Your perspective, transparency, and honesty captures the heart of a loving & devoted mommy. Listening to His still small voice with each new day; anchoring our very being to what is eternal and lasting; and tuning out the world and its voices of expectancy frees us to live a life to its fullest and greatest potential.

  19. It’s so ironic that I just joined this site and this post came up. I love it by the way. I am growing closer to God every day (with some new revelations), and one of the things I decided was that this Christmas I was going to truly celebrate Jesus’ birthday (and the INCREDIBLE significance of this day!); I mean that’s what the day’s for, right? So, I’m going to bake Him a birthday cake and sing “Happy Birthday” to Him. And continue to grow a heart for the Lord! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • YES!! A Happy Birthday Jesus party is what we’re planning here, too. Enjoy this season and I’m praying that you will have a new revelation of His passionate love for you and amazing grace each day of advent.

  20. I would like to share a tradition that my husband and I have been doing with our boys. Our youngest was your daughters age when we started, he is now 9 years old. He still loves to do this every year along with his 10 and 13 year old brothers. Surprisingly and happily, this accidentally turned into a family tradition that is not a chore and something my kids adore. The spirit gave me an idea on how to make Christmas, Christ centered. My teacher self loves to come up with new ways to educate my kids and others, so I was all in. I wrapped a box with leftover Christmas paper and filled the box with 23 items. All of which would grab my children’s attention and then I could teach them a little about Jesus. For instance, on Dec. 12 they would pull out funny clown glasses and we would all try them on. We’ve changed it up over the years, sometimes I have my reading glasses, or sunglasses. We’ve even had hippie glasses in the package. Anyway, this would be a silly time and would open their hearts and let their guards down to what I would then teach their hearts about Jesus, in the minutes ahead. We would then ask them what they think it would be like to have Biblical glasses? We would talk about how they think Jesus sees them. Of course as they got older we could talk more about Jesus and the conversation would turn into Jesus not seeing all of their faults, but loving them. We would talk about taking the planks our of our own eyes. Then on Christmas morning instead of taking something out of the Good News Box, we would give Jesus a gift instead. This last summer I gathered all of my 8 years of notes and finally wrote them all out to share with others. I would love to share them with you, if it sounds like something you might like to try with your sweet family. I love that you said, “This year I didnโ€™t try to hold Christmas back to its spot on the calendar post Thanksgiving. Instead, I flung the door open wide to our hearts and home for Christ and His coming.” I have felt exactly the same way and I am so excited to see more and more people joining in on this way of thinking and preparing for Jesus’ birth. My kids also love The Very First Noel. I still play it a few times a year and they know all the words! Many Blessings to your and your family. Cyndi

    • This sounds so interesting! Do you have the entire 25 days written down for the rest of to enjoy and use with our families? Sounds like your kids/grandkids really enjoy it!

  21. What a great example! Perspective changes everything :).

    Christmas is one of the first places I learned how to make presents. Finding a great gift for a special someone. Finding great paper and writing a loving note.

    Many of these principles I use today everyday. Making an extra gesture of kindness to a team member. Writing a quick thank you email to my boss.

    With a different lens Christmas celebrations reinforce why relationships are meaningful and how we can celebrate them :).

  22. Since the 1970s, our family has started the gift-giving around the tree with the Christmas story from Luke and a short time of prayer. (Actually, my husband’s family was doing this when he was a boy in the 1950s.) Such a tradition seemed to create an atmosphere of calm. There has been no hurried flurry of opening presents either. We take turns, one person opening one gift, then another opening one, etc. The rest of the family watches, celebrating the gifts of others as well as their own. In a way, I suppose we fulfilled the old acronym for JOY: J = Jesus first, O = Others second, Y = Yourself last. Our celebrations have been joyful indeed!

  23. In 1994, I was experiencing a deep depression and was suicidal. I sat down and gave up. I told God I didn’t believe in Mom, Christmas or Apple pie any more. I was out of hope. But a wonderful thing happened in 2004. I got saved. And I love how God has answered my prayers and the cries of my heart. I sat with my adopted daughter, who was just visiting at the time, and her family. We were watching the Christmas program at my church. God had given me such joy. And as the singer was singing a song I had not heard before, called “White Christmas” by Martha Manuzzi. It was a song about our hearts. And God whispered into my heart – “See I gave you Christmas back”. Oh God, I responded, you did. And it was not about Christmas…it was the state of my heart. And God healed me and made me whole!

    • Thank you so much, Leanna, for sharing such a personal reflection. PRAISING GOD for your miracle and the restoration He has brought to your life. Such a beautiful testimony! I love how God uses music to touch our spirits and even heal. I pray this Christmas will be a meaningful time with your family and full of hope.

  24. I love this time of year with all the special music and reasons to celebrate. What I don’t like are all the commercials and the commercialism of Christmas.

    This year for Thanksgiving my hubby and I are having his family over for the meal. We are having it catered mostly, making some stuff here and allowing the mother-in-law to make a few items. It will be a small gathering of 5, but the house will be filled with love.

    The sad part is that my dad won’t be joining us this year. He is in an assisted living and doesn’t hear very well. He will eat there and I will see him that weekend and take him some home cooked food.

    One tradition my hubby and I have is to watch Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and Christmas. I just love those shows and the messages they portray is relevant today as it was back then. We will put up our “Charlie Brown” style Christmas tree and decorate it. I will listen to wonderful Christmas tunes on radio.

    I believe each family has to decide how and when to start celebrating Christmas. I agree with Bev that we should celebrate/anticipate Christ’s second coming daily!

    Blessings ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. I totally love the Christmas season and the reason we celebrate it. Some of my kids come at Thanksgiving and my SIL puts up my outside decorations and she and her boys help me put up the tree and I spend the next week putting out the rest of the holiday decorations. I love the cheerfulness and the white lights on my tree, my snowman collection and my nativity set small collection. I am always sad to have to take everything down and put it away until next year. We love Christmas in our family because we know we are celebrating Christ who is the reason for the season. This will be our first Christmas without my Husband Delane as he passed away in Feb from bone cancer and parkinsons and he just couldn’t fight it any more. His body was worn out but you know he will be celebrating Christmas with the one we celebrate and he has no more pain or hurt and he is with us in spirit and we will remember him always putting a ribbon on his head to get the grandkids to laugh. He loved his family and Christmas so much . I know it will be hard on us but you know life goes on and he would want us to get together and celebrate as he is celebrating. I don’t mind seeing the Christmas decorations in the stores and I have my shopping all done which is a good feeling. I start in October purchasing things for Christmas gifts for my family. I thank God daily for his precious gift to us of his son who died in our place so we can one day have our eternal home in heaven with loved ones and our Savior Jesus Christ.

  26. Our go-to in the fall has always been Handel’s Messiah. We begin listening to it just as soon as the days start to get shorter. That’s when the candles get lit and the table cloths in warm autumn colors find their way out of storage. The true story the Handel so masterfully set to music gets my heart ready for advent’s “coming” like nothing else ever could.