Posted in Faith

NEW BOOK – The Jesus Tree – 48 Family Devotions for Lent

The Jesus Tree - 48 Family Devotions for Lent

The newest book is ready… it’s identical to The Jesse Tree for Advent except this resource focuses on Lent and includes 48 family devotions!

This year Lent begins on March 1, so it’s a great time to grab the resources you’ll need to celebrate with your family 🙂

I have three versions – one is a small paperback book on Amazon, one is a downloadable pdf on Etsy, and one is an ebook on Kindle.

Let me introduce you to…

The Jesus Tree – 48 Family Devotions for Lent – Each devotion highlights a story of Jesus’ life, a scripture reference to read, a discussion idea and a prayer reading.

What is Lent?

Lent is a special time of year. It leads us right up to Easter and helps us focus on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Many people choose to give up something for Lent, to help them remember Jesus giving up his life for us on the cross. Others practice Lent by doing something kind for people every day. There are many ideas for making Lent a wonderful time with your family.

What is The Jesus Tree?

The Jesus Tree is one of those wonderful ideas I just mentioned! I’ve put together a set of 48 daily devotions for your family to use during this season of Lent. Included each day is a story from Jesus’ life, a scripture reading, a discussion question, and a prayer. These devotions can be made into ornaments to hang on a tree, or an Easter garland, or wherever you like! Your family will learn all about Jesus’ life – from birth to resurrection. Watch your family’s faith grow as The Jesus Tree grows!

How To Use The Jesus Tree Family Devotions

On the first day of Lent (Ash Wednesday), read the first story in The Jesus Tree book. Children can turn to the scripture passage in their Bible if they are old enough. Discuss the question(s) in the Talk About section and read the prayer with the children. Do this every day during the season of Lent, in numerical order, finishing up on Easter Monday.    

*You can also encourage the children to lead the Jesus Tree devotions with your family.*

The Jesus Tree - 48 Family Devotions for LentThe Jesus Tree – 48 Family Devotions for Lent – Each devotion highlights a story of Jesus’ life, a scripture reference to read, a discussion idea and a prayer reading.

Amazon     Etsy     Kindle

Posted in Helping Others

12 Months of Giving – Free Ideas & (Mostly) $10 Ideas

When Jesus was around He mentioned some special people He’d like us to make sure we care for.

Yes, He wants us to care for everyone as best we can, to love our neighbours as ourselves, to share His hope with all who come across our path.

Through the years I’ve seen certain people mentioned in a few different venues – Bible verses, articles, devotionals, books, sermons, etc.

And I’ve been doing the research, shaping this idea that grabbed hold of me many moons ago – all the while knowing I’d share it with you when it was ready.

It’s ready.

I’ve field-tested many of the ideas with my family, friends, camp groups, church groups – whoever would listen 🙂

There are ideas for giving at no cost to yourself whatsoever – I love this because sometimes there just isn’t enough to go around, but the desire to help others still remains, right?

And there are ideas for giving at little cost to you – I love this because sometimes there is enough, and it doesn’t take much to make a difference around the globe.

I love how giving feels and I love how it spreads.

I think it’s because we were just born to do it.

So whether it’s a smile to encourage someone, a hug to comfort someone, a wave to greet someone, a free giving idea, or a $10 giving idea – how about we give it a try and see what happens?

I know so many of you already give in ways you don’t even realize. You make a difference without even trying. Good on ya.

But I still want to share this idea 😉

A bit of background…

Those people Jesus asked us to take special care of and Bible verses to back it up…

  • Hungry, Thirsty, StrangersFor I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in – Matthew 25:35
  • Naked, Sick, Prisoners I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. – Matthew 25:36
  • Orphans, WidowsReligion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. – James 1:27
  •  LostFor the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. – Luke 19:10
  • Poor, Blind, OppressedThe Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free – Luke 4:18
  • Crippled, Lame But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind – Luke 14:13
  • Lepers, DeafThe blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. – Matthew 11:5

That’s 15 people groups altogether – the Poor, Oppressed, and Lost are included in all the other people groups, so this leaves 12 groups.

12 groups provides us with an opportunity to focus on a different group each month of the year.

Or so my thinking goes 🙂

Then I found there are special days on the calendar to go along with remembering each of these special people groups. It is so good to know the focus is already there in many cases – it’s just a matter of plugging into what others are already doing 🙂

For example…

January 29th is World Leprosy Day

There is a wonderful group who ministers to those with leprosy…


Free Giving Idea: Collect stamps and mail them to effect:hope – stamp dealers pay for the used stamps and money is used to care for and cure someone with leprosy. More info here.


$10 – $15 Giving Ideas:

Canes for $10


Hospital Room Supplies for $11


And so you see… whether it’s collecting stamps and mailing them to effect:hope once in a while, or it’s donating money for a cane or hospital supplies… you can certainly make a difference to those with leprosy around the world.

Feels great! 🙂

This idea is simply to make us more aware. Some of us help others in so many ways already, and some of us just need to find a place to start. Wherever you’re at – blessings on you as you reach out 🙂

Here’s a breakdown of the focus for upcoming months of giving…

  • February – Sick
  • March – Lame
  • April – Deaf
  • May – Hungry
  • June – Widows
  • July – Strangers
  • August – Prisoners
  • September – Naked
  • October – Blind
  • November – Orphans
  • December – Thirsty
Posted in Life

One Foot Forward – Walking Through the Pain Instead of Avoiding the Pain


I watched this documentary on Netflix the other day – Finding Traction – it was about the ultra runner Nikki Kimball.  In 2012 she decided to attempt to break the record for completing the 273-mile Long Trail in Vermont. The record had been held by Jonathan Basham who completed it in 4 days, 12 hours, and 46 minutes in 2009. He was 31 at the time. Nikki pushed so hard to beat the time, and kept up the pace so well until the last day when she simply had to take a rest. She came away from her attempt with the absolutely amazing achievement of instead breaking the women’s record by a full two days. Nikki’s time was 5 days, 7 hours, and 42 minutes. She was 41 at the time.

A major bout of depression hit Nikki for the first time when she was in her early 20’s. She learned to adapt and then to thrive with running. She can outlast the best of them, and has gone on to claim many records for her efforts. I find her to be very inspiring 🙂

She found a way to put one foot forward during the darkest times of her life – when everything was confusing, when her hopes and dreams were slipping away, when she had to adapt everything and find new meaning in life.

I’m sure it started with just simply getting out of bed. Putting one foot on the floor, then the other, slipping on her running shoes, and stepping one foot out the door, then the other. One foot further down the street, into something new, facing each step as it came, one at a time, then the next, and the next.

It’s like living in the moments. It’s like simply living. One thing at a time, what’s right in front of you, taking it all in, just one moment, then the next, enjoying what comes.

Pain will inevitably come – physical and emotional and spiritual – all sorts of pain. Confusion will come even as you take one step then the next, out there beyond the safe walls of your house, beyond the safe comfort of your family and friends. Out there in the unknown. But all you have to see is one step. And once you’ve taken that one step, all you have to see is the next step. That’s all. Looking too far down the road, too far beyond the comfort, too far beyond the safe, will only make the first step that much more impossible to take.

Which is probably why I’ve struggled for so long with getting back to walking. I can’t seem to take that first step. It sounds so silly to me – not being able to open my door, and step outside, and put one foot in front of the other. But this is a pretty annoying hurdle to face – being one who loves to go for walks, one who needs to get some sunshine even through the looming winter sky, one who thrives on glimpses of nature to lift my moods.

When I watched Nikki run her Long Trail race, it was about putting one foot in front of the other. And I saw that as she did that, she gained confidence in her ability to take the next step, even if it was slower than she hoped, even if it was cold, even if she hurt in ways we couldn’t see as we watched her race. I also saw that she knew when to admit it was time for a rest, after pushing herself to her absolute limits. This lady knew when to push for that next step and when to stop taking steps for a time. She knew when to tape up her feet and her legs and eat more bacon and get back on the trail. She also knew when to curl up in a blanket in the back of a van and close her eyes for a little while. She let herself cry, laugh, sing, shout, and be silent. There was always someone travelling with her, always supporters ready at the next rest stop. So I guess that’s why I wanted to write about this particular struggle of mine. Because in the sharing usually comes some relief for me, the burden seems lighter, the struggle seems easier to face. And hopefully I will gain some ground. Starting with that first step.

The colder temperatures definitely make it harder – but I have lots of warm clothing.

The barren white landscape outside doesn’t excite me much – but there is always something to see.

The people I meet along the way might not be nice and friendly – but I’ve got many who love me already.

The distance I travel may not be as far as I hope – but it’s only about one foot in front of the other.

And so I’ll give it a shot today, even if the winter storm continues to rage outside. Even if I only step outside to shovel the front deck and grab the mail. Or maybe just take a few more steps down the street. Maybe around the corner to catch a glimpse of the frozen lake. Maybe. I’ll start with one foot in front of the other, and see where the journey takes me 🙂

Posted in Life

My Word for 2017


That’s my word for 2017.


And I love to have a Bible verse to go with the word…

Be still, and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10

(A dear friend made this plaque for me many years ago… Hi Sarah!🙂 )

And I love to have a song…

As I searched for songs with Still in the title, I discovered Hillsong has a song…

Some of the lyrics of Still by Hillsong go like this…

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You above the storm
Father you are King over the flood
I will be still, know You are God

Which reminded me of this song I LOVE… I’m already on my 3rd time listening to it as I type out this blog post 🙂

And this quote I LOVE… I remember grabbing it from my mum’s house years and years ago… she had it in a daily quotes package… I carried it around in my purse for about a decade…

I can trust the waves for I know the One who made the ocean.

I mentioned that quote and song in a blog post almost 3 years ago.

I’ve been drawn to that song for so long.

So I’ll grab hold of it for this year, to go with my word, to anchor me in the rising oceans and the waves that will inevitably come this year. Don’t they always come? Isn’t there always waves in life? Would I want it any other way?


Be they good waves or bad, easy or hard, I will focus on STILL.

I know this requires trust. I know this requires submission. I know this requires obedience. But most of all I know this requires love. Knowing that I am loved. Beyond anything I can imagine. And it’s OK to STILL when I’m loved that way.

I will try to remember.

Do you have a word for 2017?

I’d love to hear it 🙂

Posted in Life

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!


I had a few more blog posts I wanted to write before the holidays begin, but you know how the busyness of this time of year can sneak up on you… so the posts will have to wait for now 🙂

I did want to make sure to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year as we close off 2016 and welcome in 2017.

I love to invite people into my home, and my home looks particularly festive right now, so let’s pretend you’ve just pulled into my driveway…

And seen our Christmas disco house 🙂 We have an outdoor disco light positioned right on the front deck, and though the picture doesn’t do it justice, I really enjoy coming home at night to see the fun has already begun 🙂 And we have some lights around the front door, framing our Christmas tree in the front window. I just love it.


The snow has been falling like crazy this week, and the snowblower and shovels have been very busy making clear paths into our home.  If you try and use the front door, you might be disappointed… the tree gets to take over this door for a month of each year 🙂 You’ll have to use the back door for now…


By the end of the night the BBQ and deck will be full of another fresh falling of snow. There will be about 6 inches of sparkly, fluffy whiteness perched on top of the grill by morning… But we clear a path every day to make sure visitors can get into our home safe and sound…


Come on in! I’ve just done some grocery shopping, stocking the fridge and pantry for another few days…


Make sure to stomp the snow off your feet…


An inside perspective of the Christmas tree… it’s full of decorations my mother gifted to me throughout my childhood – the oldest ornament I have is dated 1975… that’s right – almost as old as I am 🙂 I’ve carried on the tradition for our boys, and they each have at least a few ornaments signifying special events or character traits from each year of their lives. And the lace angel perched on top was purchased on our honeymoon at a midnight madness sale in the small town where we were staying. Notice the 3 presents under the tree… they’re all for me 🙂 My guys tell me not to put their gifts under the tree until Christmas Eve – it’s too tempting for them to shake and squeeze and guess what they’re getting… and they like to be oblivious until they get to tear off the wrapping 🙂


The stockings are hung… on the curtain rods with care 🙂 Josh and I made these our first Christmas together. Josh bought the supplies and brought them home to his extremely new wife (we’d only been married about 3 weeks!) who was sick in bed for a few days… The star ornament hanging on the lamp is something Elijah made this year at school.


And the boys’ stocking I weaved for them for their first Christmas. Each has their name sewn on the front. Alongside their stockings is a wall hanging of the manger scene. A beautiful piece of fabric picked up on clearance sale at Fabricland, hemmed and attached to a small piece of dowling.


And this beautiful wooden decoration from a dear friend, highlighting my favourite name for Jesus… MESSIAH. This hangs in our home year-round since I love it so much.


I hope and pray your holiday season is full of love and wonderful memories. But if not, I hope and pray you catch at least a glimpse of how much you are loved by God, and how welcome you always are into the life He has for you. It’s not always easy, it’s not always happy, but there can always be joy, and there can always be love. That’s what Christmas is all about – spreading the love. First with Jesus bringing God’s love to this world in such a real way, and now with us spreading that love around in His name.

Blessings abundant on you and yours these next couple of weeks… and on into 2017 🙂

Posted in Helping Others

Medical Clinic Update :)


A few years ago Josh let a dream take root in his heart – to build a medical clinic in honour of our middle son – Caleb Joshua Freedom Sklar – who was stillborn in 2003. Some of you will remember Caleb well, some of you watched as my baby belly grew during the nine months I was pregnant with him, and some of you attended his funeral in a state of shock at the news of his passing. Others of you met him later on, in a story that Josh or I told about him, or maybe through blog posts or the book that was written about him. One thing I know is that his story has touched every single one of your hearts, and for that I am so grateful!

It is truly unique to learn to parent a child that has passed on from this world. We have found our ways to let his tiny life mean all that it can, ways our Caleb can touch this world with love and hope. This medical clinic is one of those ways, and so we decided it was time to let the idea loose and see what God would bring. It has been the best way we can fathom to parent Caleb – to let him loose in the world in the ways he has touched our hearts, to dream, to love, to hope in his honour. We have seen him do amazing things as we seek to love others in tangible ways with the tangible love that was intended for him.

Mid-August 2016

We started chasing the dream. We contacted an organization we know very well in Dominican Republic – GO MADWe have watched this organization birth, grow, develop, change, and mature in many ways as they reach out to the people in the DR. When we contacted them to ask if they might have need of a medical clinic, and the amount of funds needed for a project of that size – here is what they answered…

Anna & Josh –

Finally able to get a little time between team stuff to get back with you. First off, I am sorry for the loss you suffered. Doing something like this would be an awesome and lasting way to honor your son while helping many children.

Your timing could not be more perfect. Most of our work takes place in 4 communities. We now have children’s medical clinics in 3 of those communities. We have been working with the ministry of health to get one into the 4th community, but that has not worked out. We just made the decision this past month that the community cannot wait any longer and we are just going to do it ourselves. So, this is why I said the short answer is…yes.

We have a building in the community that can be remodeled to serve as a clinic. The building is the community center and we use it for several different purposes right now.
One of the rooms is really large and could be remodeled to serve as a clinic…
I believe it will take right around $7000 CDN to remodel and outfit the clinic. We have some of the items we need, like beds we can use for examination, but will need to purchase most of the equipment. This would get everything done and have it ready to begin seeing patients.
Now there is also the ongoing expense and we would love to have some help raising this as it is really the tougher piece. It will run $300/month for the doctor, $200/month for the nurse, an estimated $200/month for medicine and then of course the miscellaneous things that pop up. I could use your help in finding monthly sponsors in these areas.  
I will say that this is a huge need in this community. It is very remote so the transportation cost alone keeps many people from taking their kids to the doctor.
Thank you for thinking of utilizing Go MAD’s work as a way to honor your son. That you would entrust us with that means a lot.
Chantz Cutts
Executive Director
We were so excited to get this news from Chantz and go ahead with learning about hosting an online fundraising campaign. We chose GoFundMe and had the campaign up and running within a couple of weeks.

Mid September 2016

It was wonderful to get this email from GoFundMe…
Your fundraiser is live. You’re ready to start getting the word out. Here’s your campaign link:
We watched in amazement as people grabbed hold of the idea for the medical clinic and donations started pouring in…

October 1, 2016

GoFundMe sent us a message that about $2300 in funding had already come in, and we passed it along to Chantz.

November 1, 2016

We received another email from GoFundMe that about $650 more had come in for donations for the clinic.

December 1, 2016

And the most recent email from GoFundMe was so encouraging – about $3150 more had come in 🙂


When I check the online campaign dashboard now I see this…gofundme

And I know there is at least $400 more in donations waiting for us at our church.

Do you know what that means?

  • The $7000 goal is exceeded!
  • 34 donations of all sorts of amounts came in online – from people of all ages and places in the world

  • 786 visitors checked out our online campaign page

  • 160 shares on Facebook

    And here are a few encouraging comments from people who donated to the clinic

  • So exciting to be part of Gods work

  • Way to go, Caleb!

  • We love your vision!

  • May God bless your efforts

  • So happy that Caleb is being commemorated in this special outreach. God bless!

  • We love how your family dreams big. Your son will live on and do good through this clinic.

  • What a great memorial!


It has been such a blessing to watch as the clinic was funded and the dream spread to more than just our hearts 🙂 Thank you is too small, but it’s all I have 🙂

I will post updates as I receive them from Chantz and continue to share any news about the clinic.

For now, I will let you in on some news that I received from Chantz over the last few weeks…

November 14, 2016

Anna –

We are having delays getting going on the construction. Major flooding going on here for the past two weeks. Rain just does not seem to want to stop. We have had two of our properties flood. Thousands and thousands of houses have flooded. That has kept us very tied up. We cannot even cross the bridge to get to Ascension at the moment.

I am hopeful that this week we will be able to get there and then get started on construction next week. I will keep you in the loop on how things are progressing.

December 9, 2016

Thank you so much for your help in raising this money. The bridge and road just became passible yesterday to get to Ascension. We will begin with the remodel soon. I will keep you guys up to date with pictures when we start.



And so Chantz can move ahead with the clinic with full funding, and hopefully good weather!

There are ongoing costs of about $700/month USD to keep the clinic running, as Chantz mentioned in his first email to me about the clinic:

  • $300/month for the doctor
  • $200/month for the nurse
  • $200/month for medicine

And so about twice a year I’ll do some more fundraising to help with those costs.

For now, feel free to give on the GoFundMe campaign site as we end off 2016, and anytime after. I’ll pass along any funding that comes in to the ongoing costs of the clinic.

Blessings on you all!

Thank you ❤

Posted in $$$$$

Decluttering for Profit


This fall I made $600 cleaning out my house. Yep, you read that right – $600.

I have been slowly decluttering our house for a couple of years now, learning the fine line of Enough vs. Too Much.

Finding the balance that is right for my family of four – so that no one feels deprived but there is room for creativity and new ideas and hospitality in our home.

Figuring out what my three men plus me can live without, what we can keep, and what we can treasure. Some items are just too precious, and we’ve meticulously narrowed it down and gone through every unopened box from the moves through the years.

I’ve had to be understanding of all our different personalities, and the mix of living with people who may be more attached to certain items than I am 😉

And I think we’ve done it – for now.

To be honest, if it was just me I’d be setting up shop in a tiny house, off the grid, living off the land, with only a few creature comforts (like movies – I love movies).

But I’m very glad that it’s not just me, so a bigger house it is, and trips to the grocery store, and paying utility bills – for now.

I’ll be discovering ways to incorporate my frugal, minimalist, and pioneer ways into our lives in the near future – but for now it is good to feel like we’ve arrive at Enough.

Of course, Enough for us is excessive when compared to other parts of the world, and I feel this every day – and I am forever learning how to share the blessing of More Than Enough. But that’s a post for another day 🙂

Let me break down this idea of decluttering for profit – this might come in useful over the next few weeks as Christmas approaches…

  • What works best for you? Decluttering in one big swoop or working through individual rooms/closets/cupboards? Figuring out your decluttering style is essential for this process, since getting overwhelmed will only hinder any progress you make. I did a mix of both – I decluttered in layers and categories. One room at a time, obvious non-essential items first (anything we hadn’t used for a few months, or outgrown, or broken, etc.) Then items that we didn’t like once we took a good look at them (clothing, accessories, linens, home decor, etc.). Then items that were excessive (ask yourself if you’re REALLY going to need that or use that in the near future). Then came the slower process of minimizing items with memories attached – this will take the longest – sometimes you will have to relive the memory again and heal from it or celebrate it one more time, or share the memory as you are passing the items along to another home. No matter how many times I try and pass along my Cabbage Patch doll (even to a child in Dominican!) I simply cannot seem to do it 🙂
  • As you declutter you’ll find there are three categories – just like on the reality TV shows – Trash, Donate, Keep. But I’m going to add /Sell to Donate – this is where the profit may come in 😉 Unusable items go in the Trash pile. Usable items that you no longer want to use go in the Donate/Sell pile, and treasures or usable items that you still want to use go in the Keep pile. You may need a designated room for your Donate/Sell pile – depending how much decluttering is going on!
  • Take the Trash pile out of the house, never to return – you are well on your way to ridding your home of clutter – congratulations!
  • Put the items from the Keep pile back in the rightful place in your home, ready to be used by your family. Treasures in the Keep pile need to find a spot in your home that keeps the area easy to clean when needed, or special memory boxes (we’ve got 2 big totes – one for Josh & I and one for the boys) kept in a small storage area of your home where they can be easily accessed if needed or wanted.
  • Now we get to the Donate/Sell pile – this is the money-maker 🙂 Decide which items you may not want profit from – this will be different for everyone, just go with your gut feelings. Move those out of the house as soon as possible – arrange for delivery or pick up within a few days if possible. The key is getting items out of the house. What’s left is For Sale.
  • You have a couple of options before you – yard sale or online sale. My husband banned yard sales a few years ago, he just couldn’t do it anymore. I get it, it’s not for everyone, so I started selling on Kijiji. I realize Kijiji is not the best option for everyone, but it works for me and I always make sure transactions occur on my front porch/driveway if my guys are not around. But usually I set meeting times for when I won’t be home alone. Or I bring/send one or two of my guys to deliver items to buyers.
  • If you sell on Kijiji, make sure you get at least a couple of good photos of each item – you’ll soon discover what sells and what doesn’t in your area. I sold many items from home renovation materials (used glass blocks, used medicine cabinet, extra roofing supplies) to clothing to toys/games to my digital piano (that was a hard one but I finally admitted to myself that I’d much rather sing than sit down at a piano – though I am SO GLAD I know how to play). Kijiji sales also require you are available most of the time to answer emails/texts and set up meetings. It’s like a part-time job for the duration of your sale. So I limit the sales to twice per year decluttering and one month of storing possible sales items. If they haven’t sold in a month, they’ve had their chance and they get donated. The key is getting items out of the house 🙂

And that’s how I made an extra $600 in about one month – decluttering for profit.

There just might be gold in them there closets, and cupboards, and spare rooms, and basements, and garages… 🙂

Posted in Life

Read Through the Bible in 2017 :)

2017 Bible In A Year Journal

I have one more book to introduce to you before the year comes to an end…

I wasn’t sure I’d finish this project in 2016, but it was a little easier than I thought, and I have so much fun putting books together, so I was able to finish it up in time 🙂

The 2017 Bible in a Year Journal is for you…

  • If you’d like to read through the Bible in one year
  • If you’d like to know more about God and His people
  • If you enjoy jotting down your thoughts or favourite verses
  • If you’re looking for a different approach to your Bible reading

The 2017 Bible in a Year Journal matches up a daily reading plan with special holy days on the calendar – Lent, Easter, Advent, and Christmas. You’ll read through the gospels before Easter and the Old Testament before Christmas. Each page provides a scripture passage for you to read, and space for you to write, doodle, or draw. Feel free to make a mess of this book – in fact, that’s the idea!

Find this book on Amazon & enjoy your journey through the Bible 🙂

Posted in Faith

Fun Advent Resource For Your Family


It’s not too late to grab a fun Advent resource for your family!

Advent begins this Sunday – November 27th – so you have 3 more days to get a resource from The Jesse Tree Series for Advent 🙂

What Is Advent?

The word “Advent” means coming. The fourth Sunday before Christmas marks the beginning of Advent season. Advent is a time of waiting – for Christmas and for the coming of Jesus to our world. During Advent, we prepare our hearts and our homes to celebrate the birth of the Messiah.

What is a Jesse Tree?

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” – Isaiah 11:1

Jesse was the grandson of Ruth and Boaz. Jesse was the father of King David. The prophet Isaiah prophesied that a very special person would come from Jesse’s family. This person was Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The Jesse Tree traces Jesus’ lineage all the way back through the Old Testament. A collection of stories make up the Jesse Tree – stories of Jesus’ family and Israelite history. The Jesse Tree is a fun way to celebrate Advent with the children in your life.

How To Use The Jesse Tree

On the first Sunday of Advent, read the first story in The Jesse Tree – Creation. Depending which resource you are using and the age of the children, read the story/devotion, turn to the scripture passage, discuss the question in the Talk About section and read the prayer. Do this every day during the Advent season, in numerical order, finishing up on Christmas morning with the final story – Jesus Is Born!  *You can also encourage the children to turn to the scripture passage in their Bibles, or lead the Jesse Tree devotions with your family.*

publication3 The Jesse Tree – 28 Colouring Pages With Stories For Advent – Each page highlights a story of Jesus’ lineage or Israelite history & an illustration to colour.

Amazon     Etsy


The Jesse Tree – 28 Family Devotions For Advent – Each devotion highlights a story of Jesus’ lineage or Israelite history, a scripture reference to read, a discussion idea and a prayer reading.

Amazon     Etsy

publication1The Jesse Tree – 28 Ornaments For Advent: Family Devotions & Images To Colour – Includes ready-to-read devotions and ready-to-colour illustrations. The devotions match up with the symbolic images. Attach the coloured images and/or devotions to construction paper, wood cut-outs, string, etc. & hang on a tree or garland. Laminate for a keepsake.

Amazon     Etsy


Posted in Faith, Motherhood

Discovering Hope Leads to Surprising Joy


I wrote this post 2 days ago… then I got the most amazing news yesterday… something I need to share first, before anything else…

I can officially say the Medical Clinic in the village of Ascension in Dominican Republic is FULLY FUNDED.

Can I shout it from the rooftops please? Can I get an Amen? Maybe a hallejuah? A praise God?

THANK YOU for all your prayers and your generosity 🙂 I will continue to update you about the project. I know Go MAD is sending me some pictures of the work progression really soon. And I know they are so grateful. What a blessing it has been to watch this unfold the last few weeks. Much more to come….

Back to the blog post… it’s a good one too 🙂

It starts with a dream…

I had the most amazing dream. I was invited to a night out with my Joshua. We were at the event, people were singing a beautiful song, they were happy to be there. Then the guest speaker was being introduced. It was me. I was off in the background of the location, puttering around with something, but I was holding a stack of Discovering Hope books. I wasn’t going to take the microphone. They were waiting. Josh knew I was terrified. He went to the podium and started to explain why I wasn’t responding to the invitation to speak. Something in me decided it was time. Even though I didn’t know what to say, or what words would come out once I put the microphone to my mouth, or how they would sound – I took the stage. And started talking. And stumbled. And did my nervous laugh. And didn’t make any sense. And then talked some more. And eventually I got to the point, the reason for speaking, the message that was on my heart to share with you…

I have been surprised by joy.

As I have pursued the discovery of hope – set my sights on the good, my focus on what HAS come, my vision on what IS YET to be – I have also found joy.

It can only be God.

Where once I could only see the bad, I could only focus on what HAS NOT come, I could only envision what was LOST – now there is so much more.

There is life in place of death.

There is light in place of dark.

There is hope in place of despair.

There is joy in place of sorrow.

Joy is new for me when it comes to Caleb. I have discovered ways to hope, ways to celebrate, different perspectives, restoration, and renewal.

But I’m not sure there was ever joy.

Just like in my dream as I was surprised by the invitation to come forward and share with the audience.

Just as I was so unprepared for what was coming.

Just as I had to make a decision to put one foot in front of the other and see what would happen.

So it is with Caleb – I am surprised by what he shares with the people who meet him, I’m unprepared for the ways he touches this world, and I’m in awe of every step we take as we decide to grab hold of God’s plans for him.

My son surprises me, my God surprises me – I am so surprised by joy.

Now that is a message I can share any day.