Pinecone Candles DIY Simply Wonderful

Add a beautiful DIY element to your Christmas programs.
Drawn to the simplicity of these Christmas decorations, I wanted to share them as a TO-DO for your group as well as adding a lovely devotional thought. Teach-Worship-Create.
Pinecone candles
Using a kitchen shears-or smaller garden pruning shears (make a few calls to have several available for your program). Cut the top half off of your pine-cones, one at a time. I suggest lining your work area with a plastic garbage bag or table cover. Using a Hot glue gun-glue in your tea lights and it is just that simple. Line them down the center of a table, group them, or give them as fits. Be sure to use the tea-lights with the hardened plastic insert. For those hosting large events- this may be just what you are looking for.

Have each person share a situation in their life which seemed “IMPOSSIBLE” at the time, but each must also acknowledge God’s work in that situation. Allow each person just a minute or two- Be a gracious “director” here.

Alas, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! There is nothing too hard or too wonderful for You.
~ Jeremiah 32:17(AMP)

Today we have each been part of creating the impossible- A pine-cone that when it’s candle is lit- glows, showing the beauty of the flame. Traditionally when one lights a pine-cone on fire people scatter and call the fire department! You have contained the power of the fire, redirecting its energy. Impossible? Of course not.
Now if you want to hear about IMPOSSIBLE- Read about the parting of Red Sea, the fiery furnace of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, a virgin birth, the raising of Lazarus and all the other miracles recorded in the Bible. We serve a God who works in the realm of the impossible every day.
No matter how impossible we see the situation we’re in today, or how hopeless and difficult the road ahead seems to be, there is a truth that reaches through to where you are today – a promise that our God sees what we don’t see, and He works the whole thing out and brings us through. God sees possibilities in our impossibilities – for with God nothing is impossible.
It seems hard for us to completely trust Him when our world is crashing in around us, but as we grow in our relationship we trust…more today, more tomorrow…more in the future because of the faithfulness of this One who was born, lived and died so that we could be forgiven and restored with our Loving Father.

Today, let’s pray…holding one another up as they go through their own difficult life circumstances- We must learn to take our eyes off the circumstances and look to Jesus. Joy, knowing the faithfulness of our Savior.

Conversations around the Manger

I believe that often some of the best programs capture the voice of our women as they share with one another.  Personal experiences are……. personal.  When our women share their own lives and loves- connection happens that might not otherwise.  For the leader, this is also an opportunity to “manage” a program rather than being solely responsible for all of the details.  This is one such program.

Many of your women will have Nativity Sets. (Some may not, while others have several). Invite women to bring and display their Creches, or collections that have “meaning” to them for various reasons.  “Meaning”: This is open to interpretation, isn’t it?  Your planning may be as simple or elaborate as you choose….do the Creches become centerpieces, or are they displayed on tables? Will this be a quiet time of storytelling, or will it be part of a larger program?

Sometimes the women’s stories will be about what the “Advent: Coming of the Savior” means to them personally. Their story may be focused on the person that gave them the treasure.  The story may bring back memories, or remind them of humorous family moments.

Individuals can share in small groups around tables, or representative stories can be told for the whole group.  Create Community.  Before you leave- form a circle-hold hand and pray for one another – and for others.

Devotion: A Shared Nativity Story from the Gilger Family:

“If you ever want to see Jesus again, you’ll pay the ransom!”

Nativity view of 2 sets

My children are all forces of nature. Strong, independent world changers.  I must admit that they also possess a quick wit that has always led to memorable stories at family gatherings. Like every year we decorated our tree, hung the garland and the lights, added stockings and snowmen, and laid out the Nativities.  Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the wisemen all took their places. Hot chocolate was made, Christmas music played and our 4 children acted like….. well,…. children.   I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m afraid midst the perfect moments there were dirty dishes. a few broken bulbs, and tinsel everywhere.  Hallmark Cards never quite catch the delightful humaness of family!  My husband and I chose to relax into the beauty of it all as the children asked to bring their blankets down to sleep in this place of magic.  Dishes and deep cleaning would wait until the kids were asleep.  *IF they would actually fall asleep!

As a Salvation Army officer there is a pace of Christmas busy-ness that can rob you of energy and inspiration.  The years taught us some lessons about time and memories for family and how to creatively integrate them.  There were days we could have won awards for best parents ever and others where we barely crawled into bed at night.  It is never easy, but we press on – for we are the visual representation of Christ- and this we cannot forget.  See the best- Love well.  Forgive one another often, and hold onto Jesus.

This same year our children- (we still do not know exactly WHO to this day) decided to give us a Christmas illustration that we would retell over and over.  That first day after the decorations went up- our “Baby Jesus” went missing.  In the days to follow strange things were in store for us.  One day there was a little green Star Wars Yoda lying in the manger.  Another, a ransom note that we were to leave $25  behind wisemen #2 for the safe return of the Savior of the World. There were days when there were keys in the manger… cupcakes, the lambs, and the angels took their turns.  I suppose it was their own version of “Elf on the Shelf”…   Finally, on Christmas Day – Baby Jesus appeared!  We were all waiting for it, though there was a small part of me that wondered if maybe he had been LOST forever.

Jesus is here!  Jesus is here!  So often we replace him with things, and “stuff” and activities.  So often we are sidetracked by life, and circumstances and we are captives of our exhaustion and emotions.   Jesus is central to Salvation.  He is our strength. Our Protector.  Our lifesong.  Hold onto that.

Remember Jesus in practical ways every day.  Live your life and love others in a way that is compassionate.  We are responsible for our own attitudes and our words. Others actions are not a reason for us to compromise ours.

Read Luke 2:1-20 and close in prayer.

IDEA: Children’s Advent Calendar

Advent gives us the opportunity to focus on Christ’s Coming.  Simply download, print and share with your little ones!

(A resource for Sunday Children’s sermons, use in any of your Children’s Ministries programs, Afterschool Club, etc.) Women’s Ministries engaging youth and adults is important ministry indeed!

Every day during the month of December one name of Jesus is given. Day 1: Youth make papercraft Advent Candles. Days 2-25 much learning is done- simple illustrations that help us to understand who Jesus is as we celebrate the season of Christ’s coming.

DOWNLOAD: Childrens Advent Book-Knowing Him by