Monthly Archives: November 2017

The Jesse Tree: Day 1 through Day 7

Hello, Mama readers! Are you as excited as I am? Enjoy the first seven days!

Day #1 – Introduction – The Jesse Tree

Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-10


Ornament: The Jesse Tree – This ornament can either show a stump or a tree, but it’s important to have both the roots and the branches showing. 

Story: The Jesse Tree, “Introduction”, pages 8-9 / The Jesus Storybook, “The Story and The Song”, pages 12-17

Song: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (Watch it here) and “Come, Thou, Long Expected Jesus” (Watch it here)

The point: Jesus was not only the Root of David, but the Branch. David called him LORD, yet He was descended from David. Such a wonderful mystery!

Suggested activity: Get your tree! It’s kinda hard to start putting ornaments out unless you have a tree. And it’s a great way to have a conversation about trees. Bonus if you go to a tree farm and actually get to see a tree that is still rooted in the ground.

Alternative: Plant a seed and talk about roots and shoots as you do.

Day #2 – Creation 

Scripture: Genesis 1:1-5, 26-27


Ornament: The World (or the Sun & Moon) – This ornament represents the Creation, so be as artistic or as simple as you wish. 

Story: The Jesse Tree, “The Jesse Tree”, pages 10-11 / The Jesus Storybook, “The beginning: a perfect home”, pages 18-27

Song: “The Seven Days of Creation” (to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”)

On the first day of Creation the Good Lord gave to me… His light so we all could see.

On the second day of Creation the Good Lord gave to me… the sky up above and His light so we all could see.

On the third day of Creation the Good Lord gave to me…land, sea and plants, the sky up above and His light so we all could see.

On the fourth day of Creation the Good Lord gave to me…sun, moon and stars, land, sea and plants, the sky up above and His light so we all could see.

On the fifth day of Creation the Good Lord gave to me…birdies and fishies, sun, moon and stars, land, sea and plants, the sky up above and His light so we all could see.

On the sixth day of Creation the Good Lord gave to me…animals and people, birdies and fishies, sun, moon and stars, land, sea and plants, the sky up above and His light so we all could see.

On the seventh day of Creation the Good Lord gave to me…a day to rest…and…praise Him… (pretend to sleep)…animals and people, birdies and fishies, sun, moon and stars, land, sea and plants, the sky up above and His light so we all could see.

The point: Jesus is part of the godhead and as such, was present at Creation. He has always been.

Suggested Activity:  Decorate your tree and think about how special it feels when you are done with your work. Think about how God felt after creating us.

Day #3 – The Fall 

Scripture: Genesis 3:6-9, 14-15


Ornament: The Forbidden Fruit and the Serpent – This ornament can be any variation of this theme. One year I just had a red apple. However, last year I thought, “Maybe the forbidden fruit was purple??” Beside that, I wanted the serpent represented as well because the prophecy says that it is his head that Jesus would bruise.  

Story: The Jesse Tree, “Paradise Garden”, pages 12-15 / The Jesus Storybook, “The terrible lie”, pages 28-37

Song: “Satan is My Enemy” (Watch it here)  

The point: God had a plan for our redemption through Jesus from the very moment sin entered the world. In His punishment to the serpent, God prophesied of Jesus coming as our remedy.

Suggested Activity: Write a letter to God thanking Him for His plan of salvation for us.

Day #4 – The Flood 

Scripture: Genesis 6:5-8


Ornament: The Rainbow or Ark – I chose the rainbow because it is more colorful and represents His promise to us. But I also like the idea of the ark because it represents God’s provision for the righteous.  

Story: The Jesse Tree, “A Boat Full of Animals”, pages 16-19 / The Jesus Storybook, “A new beginning”, pages 38-47

Song: “Arky, Arky” (Watch it here)

As a silly aside, you can listen to goats singing Christmas carols. They are hilarious and make the kiddos laugh. My middle son said that it makes him imagine what it would have been like to be on the ark full of animals. So we can tie this in, right?! 🙂 (Watch it here)

The point: Although God cannot stand sin and had to destroy it, He made a plan of deliverance from His wrath for the righteous.

Suggested Activity: Have a family Lego night! Have your children build elaborate creations. How would they feel if they were destroyed? How do you think God felt when He had to destroy what He had created?

Alternative: Make a list as a family of as many promises of God that you can come up with and hang them somewhere prominent through the Christmas season (and beyond!)

Day #5 – Abraham’s promise 

Scripture: Genesis 12:1-4, 7, 15:5


Ornament: The Stars in the Sky – Later on there will be a single star, but this ornament shows the many, many that were shown to Abraham. (I just got a glittery ball ornament and dotted it with a gold pen and it turned out really well.)

Story: The Jesse Tree, “Strange Visitors”, pages 20-22 / The Jesus Storybook, “Son of laughter”, pages 56-61

Song: “Father Abraham” (Watch it here)

The point: God promised that the whole earth would be blessed by Abraham’s seed (Jesus) and that his descendants would be innumerable like the stars in the sky.

Suggested Activity:

1) Stargaze as a family and try to count the stars for a minute. Think of the enormity of God’s promise to Abraham.

2) If weather doesn’t permit this, check out this footage from the Hubble space telescope.

Day #6 – The Sacrifice

 Scripture: Genesis 22:1-14


Ornament: The Ram – You could do a number of variations on this, such as fill a glass ornament with white wool yarn, or attempt as I did to paint a ram. 

Story: The Jesse Tree, “A Test of Love”, pages 23-25 / The Jesus Storybook, “The present”, pages 62-29

Song:  “There is a Redeemer” (Watch it here)

The point: God asked Abraham to offer up his only son Isaac. Instead, God provided a substitute for Isaac, a ram. God offered up His only Son, Jesus, which provided the ultimate substitute for us.

Suggested Activity: As a family, wrap a cross or some other representation of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Place it under your tree to represent His gift to us. Write “FROM: God” and have each family member write their own name on the “TO: __________ ” portion of the tag.

Day #7 – Jacob 

Scripture: Genesis 28:10-22

Ornament: Jacob’s ladder 

Story: The Jesse Tree, “Stairway to Heaven”, pages 26-29

Song: “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder” (Watch it here)

The point: God repeated the promise that He had given to Abraham and promised Jacob that his seed would be as the dust of the earth and that through his seed (Jesus) would all the nations of the earth be blessed.

Suggested activity:

1) Be a blessing to someone and write a note to someone to remind that person how much God loves them.

2) Find a big, semi-smooth rock and have your children try to lay their heads on it like a pillow and think of Jacob’s fitful night and eventful encounter with God.

Are you enjoying these? Feel free to let me know what worked and didn’t work for you.

Next week’s devotionals will post on December 6. Check back in!

Blessings and much love, 


Jesse Tree: 2017 Introduction – “A Treasured Family Tradition”

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots…” ~ Isaiah 11:1  

Hello, Mama readers!

As we head into the 2017 Christmas season, I’ll be re-posting my Jesse Tree devotionals.

Have you caught the Jesse Tree bug yet? This is our family’s third year using this tradition as a tool to keep Christ in Christmas and we are all really looking forward to it! I have been able to fine tune it this year and will be sharing some tips with you as we go.

As I mentioned last year, our reason for doing this was simple and the decision, easy. Shane and I had been struggling with just how much we want to focus on this time-honored tradition of the Christmas tree. Did our kids treasure the nativity scene as much as they did the tree? Were we perhaps placing it above the true meaning of Christmas? We didn’t like the thought of that.

One thing that adoptive and foster parents will relate to, is that we typically don’t have full influence over our children from birth. In some cases, Jesus is not taught at all and Christmas is all about Santa and reindeer. And the tree.

As a family, we kicked Santa to the curb, along with all of his reindeer, a long time ago. DISCLAIMER: We DO NOT judge friends and family who celebrate that stuff. No, we do not worry about your spiritual condition and pray for you to “see the light.” Seriously. It’s just that as a family, with SO MUCH worldly influence already poured into our sweet children before we ever met them, we are just dialing that way back. WAY. BACK.

But the tree? I just felt that there was a way we could totally redeem that tradition so that our children could enjoy it while still completely focusing on Jesus and the reason He came for us, by such humble means, no less.

And then I found the Jesse Tree!

If you and your family are ready to share in this beautiful journey with us this Christmas, just follow along on my posts and you should be able to get a pretty good idea of what to do!

I’ll be posting a week’s worth of devotionals at a time, three days ahead, to give you a head start on prepping for activities and making ornaments, if you want to do the whole shebang.

The two books we are using this year are:

The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones

The Jesse Tree, by Geraldine McCaughrean

In addition, I found my list of “things to keep in mind” that I made at the end of last year, so here it is!

1. Split the activity into two parts – Morning and Evening. In the morning, pull the ornament, hang it on the tree and read out of the story book or read the Scripture. In the evening, do the song, activity and read what wasn’t read in the morning.

2. Sing more songs / Christmas carols. I was so intent on finding songs that fit the theme that we missed our usual singing by the light of the tree time.

3. Find meaningful activities to do less often. The activities overwhelmed me a bit. Some seemed too grandiose to do within a day, while others didn’t seem to fit or were less meaningful. And honestly, I would rather do more difficult stuff less frequently if it has meaning. Our Passover meal and Lights Out nights were incredibly special and the kids got a lot out of the parallels. I’d also like to find more crafts to do for next year.

4. Have the kids make their own Jesse Tree ornaments. Our family ornaments that Shane and I made are special, but I will want my kids to have their own for years to come.

5. Replace ornaments instead of adding. The tree got really, really full and the kiddos didn’t know how/where to place the ornaments. Had I told them to simply replace one of the plain colored balls I had already placed, it would have made for a less crazy tree. 

6. When in doubt and time runs out, Scripture is the most important. There were days that we were rushed for time and were trying to cram it all in. In the end, the Bible says it best.

I pray that you and your family are richly blessed by this wonderful tradition. 

Blessings and much love,