Monday, November 2, 2015

Star From Afar - A Fabulous New Christmas Tradition

Its November guys!  Can you believe it??? I certainly can't!  But the beginning of November means its time to start some Christmas reviews & posts!  I know, I know.  Many of you are thinking, "But we haven't even had Thanksgiving yet!  Don't worry.  Our family doesn't forget Thanksgiving.  There's plenty of Thanksgiving fun going on over here.  But I like to share Christmas posts with you guys early for two reasons.  1.) Its never too early to celebrate Jesus' birth!  2.) I wanna make sure you guys have plenty of time to order this awesome Christmas tradition before the Christmas season officially begins.  What tradition am I talking about?  The Star From Afar!

We don't do Santa in our house.  Don't get me wrong.  There are plenty of Christmas cartoons and silly fun.  But my girls know there is no Santa.  Their gifts come from family.  And they're OK with that.  We just don't want to muddy their belief system.  Santa and Jesus are both "supernatural beings" who can be everywhere and know everything - like whether you are being good or bad.  We just don't want to take the chance that, when they find out we weren't truthful about Santa, they think we aren't being truthful about Jesus - even for a moment.  Its just not worth the risk.

Now, please don't get me wrong.  If you do Santa with your kids, I don't in any way think you are a "bad parent."  This is simply the way our family has decided to handle Christmas.  That's why I LOVE the idea of Star From Afar!  Think "elf on the shelf" with a focus on Jesus!  And, for all you moms who have pulled your hair out trying to think of creative ways to put that blasted elf out every night - mini marshmallow bubble baths, pooping Hershey's kisses in the toilet - this is so much easier!!!

Here's how it works.  You set up the nativity scene with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, and the shepherd and sheep in the creche.  Place the Wise Men somewhere in the house (as far away from the nativity as possible).  Then, while the kids are sleeping, hide the star somewhere in your house. The next morning, the kids have to search for the star.  Once they find it, they take the wise men and place them next to the Star.  Repeat this every night.  The star even has a hook on it so that you can get creative!  Hang it on the tree (and then have the kids place the wise men on the nearest table).  The instructions say that, on Christmas Eve night, you move the star to the top of the nativity.  Then the kids can move the wise men into the nativity on Christmas morning.

There are so many things to love about this set!  To begin with, its well made!  The set costs $34.95 plus shipping, but you get the nativity, the creche, a hardback book, and a reusable box to keep the whole thing safe until next year!  The book even has a helpful list of daily Scriptures to read as you do the activity!

So let me give you a rundown of what I like and dislike about the set.
First my likes:
1.) Its seems very well made.  You seem to get a lot for $35.
2.) The idea is so creative and a great way to get your kids interested in the Christmas story!  It really brings them in and makes them part of the story!
3.) Its easy!  As I mentioned, you don't have to do in-depth planning like you have to do with the elf on the shelf.  You simply have to move the star each night - and not forget where you put it. (I add that part because that is TOTALLY something I would do!  Haha!)
4.) The book contains Bible verses for each day - and they aren't all nativity verses!  December 2 is Psalm 119-105 - "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path."  December 13 is 2 Corinthians 9:15 - "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"
5.) The instructions for the crèche are on the side of the box - along with a picture!  Some how I missed this when I first set it up, and even though it's a simple setup, I couldn't figure it out! (We've been lacking in sleep in our house lately. A two year old having nightmares about Tigers will do that to you.) But once you follow the instructions (or even just look at the pic) you can figure it out with no problem!  And I love that the crèche comes apart so that everything fits back in the box for easy storage!

Now some dislikes:
1.) The book and the instructions insinuate that the wise men ended up in Bethlehem on the night of Jesus' birth.  Although there are differing opinions on when they actually met Jesus, its pretty universally accepted that they did not arrive on the night of the birth.  This doesn't bother me greatly though.  After all, EVERY nativity scene out there includes the wisemen.  And they really should be incorporated in the story since they are such a key part. There are many ways to change the game to fit what you're teaching.  You can simply explain to your kids that the wise men didn't arrive that night, but arrived later.  Or you can continue the game through January 6th - The Day of the Kings. If you aren't familiar with this holiday, its a celebration of the day the wise men met Jesus and presented their gifts.  (You can learn a little more Here.) Continuing the game through January 6th is a great way to differentiate between the day of Jesus' birth and the day the wise men arrived (which many scholars believe happened at least several months later).  If you want to get even more realistic, you can take down the creche and remove the shepherd and sheep after Christmas day.  You could even put the baby Jesus and his family in your child's doll house - or make a little house out of one of the boxes the Christmas gifts came in (another fun craft)!  Then, have the wise men arrive on January 6th at the house of Mary and Joseph.

All in all, I love this product and the idea behind it!  I would definitely recommend it!  And I know its gonna become a Christmas tradition in our house!

I received product free of charge, from Star From Afar LLC, in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New" Book Review

I have to tell you guys, I'm SO EXCITED about this review! You may remember my reviews of Long Story ShortOld Story New, and the other Gospel Story items.  I love Marty Machowski's Bible studies for kids.  He has a way of taking complicated Biblical truths and explaining them so that a child can understand.  And he's done it again in The Ology

Marty Machowski's Gospel Story Bible Study Aids For Families

Several months ago, I did a review of Marty Machowski's Long Story Short.  This is a fabulous family devotional on the Old Testament!  Today I'd like to introduce you guys to the rest of Mr. Machowski's Gospel Story collection!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"Song Of The Stars" Book Review

Let me start this review by saying I LOVE Sally Lloyd Jones!  If you haven't read the Jesus Storybook Bible, go out IMMEDIATELY and buy a copy for every little child you know!  Its wonderful!  So I jumped at the chance to review Sally Lloyd Jones' Christmas book, "Song Of The Stars."

"M Is For Manger" Book Review

You guys, Christmas is coming!!!  Ahhhh!!!!  I'm so excited!!!!  We love Christmas in our house!  We go ALL OUT!  Decorating, baking, Christmas movies, Christmas music, and Christmas books!  We love snowmen and reindeer and gumdrops.  But most of all, we love Jesus!  So we try our hardes to make sure that we keep the reason for Christmas very clear in our own minds and in our kids' minds.  That's why we love storybooks about the first Christmas!  "M Is For Manger" is a new favorite!

Monday, September 21, 2015

"God Made All Of Me; A Book To Help Children Protect Their Bodies" BookReview

As a mom of three young kids, I often feel like I have this parenting thing down. At least, the baby part.  I mean, I've done it three times now. But as my oldest grows, I realize more and more that there are going to be some interesting challenges ahead.  One of those challenges is broaching the subject of child abuse.  We owe it to our kids to teach them that there are certain things that other people aren't allowed to do to them - like touch certain parts of their body.  Its awkward even writing that sentence, so you can imagine how awkward it is to talk about.  But it needs to be discussed.  And it needs to be handled appropriately.  Thankfully, the folks at GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) and New Growth Press have provided a book to help us parents out!

"The Plans I Have For You" Book Review

I'm always on the lookout for children's books with great biblical lessons.  We have tons of books about God's love for us. (And I don't believe you can have too many of those!)  And we've got lots of books about God's awesomeness.  (Again, you can't have too many!)  But I think this is our first book about God's plans for us - and I'm so glad we found it!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

"God Bless Our Fall" Book Review

I love Fall.  Its my favorite time of year!  I love cooler weather, lovely breezes, falling leaves, pumkins, comfort food, Thanksgiving, and Autumn colors.  I also love getting books about Fall to read with my kids, and "God Bless Our Fall," by Hannah C. Hall, is a great addition to our collection.

Monday, August 17, 2015

"The Navy Seal Art Of War" Book Review

As you may have noticed by the title, this isn't my typical book review fare. But when I had the opportunity to receive this book for review, I couldn't pass it up!  You see, my husband loves books about the military - and he's a business man!  So I thought he'd enjoy this one!  He agreed to read and review it for me!  So you get a special treat today - a review written by my husband...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"For The Love" Book Review

I love Jen Hatmaker.  There.  I said it.  And I mean it.  We've never met in person, but I feel like we're soul sisters.  She gets it.  She really gets it.  And she's able to write about it in a simple, yet profound; touching, yet hilarious style.  I first became acquainted with Jen when I read "7."  It was funny - REALLY funny.  Like wet your pants kinda funny.  But it was also deep and spiritual.  (How on earth does she hit both of those extremes in one book!?!) So when I got the opportunity to review "For The Love," I said, "I'm in!  Sign me up NOW!"