Twelve Gifts of Advent: Waiting for the Promised One

The word Advent comes from the Latin word that means “coming.” Traditionally, Advent is the season of waiting and preparing for the One who is coming. And as amazing as the Christmas story of the babe in the manger is, its meaning becomes a whole lot deeper when we understand the story that came first.

The story of creation and fall, and of the long waiting for the coming of the promised one.

I originally had the idea for this advent devotional a few years ago when we were doing resurrection eggs at Easter time. If you’ve never heard of resurrection eggs, they are Easter eggs in a carton, each with a small object inside. Each object helps tell a part of the Easter story. This simple way of telling the story was fantastic. It was hands on learning for my young son and so simple for me. Once the eggs were assembled, all we had to do each day was open one up and read the corresponding scripture.

This devotional works much in the same way. Each day, you open a gift. Inside the gift is an object that helps to tell the story of Advent – waiting for the coming of the promised one. The objects really help in remembering the story! Do all twelve days in a row, or spread them throughout the season – it’s up to you!

**CLICK HERE TO SKIP RIGHT TO THE eBOOK**

Here’s a video I made that shows everything I put in our boxes…

 

How to Make the Advent Boxes

Most of the items for the boxes can be found around your house, but for ones you may need to purchase I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. All you do is wrap up the object and add a tag with the corresponding Bible verse to be read.

DAY ONE – CREATION 

Genesis 1

Globe ball

DAY TWO – FALL

Genesis 3

Tree branch

DAY THREE – PROMISE

Genesis 3:15

Rainbow

DAY FOUR – PEOPLE

Genesis 12:1-3

People figurines

DAY FIVE – MESSENGERS

Isaiah 6:8

Envelope

DAY SIX – LIGHT

Isaiah 9:2-7

Battery operated twinkle lights

DAY SEVEN – SAVIOR

Isaiah 53

Life saver candy

DAY EIGHT – SILENCE

Malachi 4:5-6

Earplugs

DAY NINE – ANGEL

Luke 1:5-25

Angel ornament

DAY TEN – GIRL

Luke 1:26-33

Girl figurine

DAY ELEVEN – BABY

Luke 2:1-21

Baby doll

DAY TWELVE – CROSS

John 3:16; 19:17-18

Cross made from two sticks

Want to make this even easier?

I’ve put together an awesome resource for you! It’s everything you need to make these gift boxes a fun Advent tradition for your family.

Introducing.. Twelve Gifts of Advent: Waiting for the Promised One – a hands on family Bible study!

For only $5, you get more ideas and instructions, a devotional guide for each day, printable tags, and more!

Here’s an example of day one…

The devotional goes through each day, explaining the significance and making it really easy for you to lead your family to a fuller understanding of everything that came before the baby in the manger. There’s even printable images for you to use if you don’t have time to get physical objects together for the gift boxes!

And I wanted to make it super affordable for you, so for only 5 bucks, it’s a no brainer!

My Favorite Bible Study Tools: 5 Simple Things to Help You Dig into the Text

My Favorite Bible Study Tools_ 5 Simple Things to Help You Dig into the Text

As Summer begins to come to a close and the new rhythms and routines of Fall come near, I am realizing that I have done a terrible job with personal Bible study over the last few months. So, as I prepare to get myself back in gear and (re)start some good habits, I want to share with you my favorite Bible study tools! They are nothing terribly groundbreaking, but they do a great job of helping you really dig into your Bible.

Here they are…

#1 A simple notebook

What kind doesn’t really matter. It could be a plain composition notebook, a journal, a sketchbook, or whatever. It just needs to provide a place to write down notes, prayers, verses and quotes, doodles, and whatever else you can think of jotting down.

#2 Colored pencils

I like using colored pencils over pens to write in my Bible or notebook because they are not quite as permanent. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the color bleeding through to the other side of your page. I just recently bought this Sargent set for my son as a step up from Crayola. They are really nice and I think I’m going to have to swipe them for my Bible study. 🙂

#3 Commentaries, word studies, Bible atlas, concordance, etc

While we do have quite a few commentaries and the like, I’m going to be honest, they don’t leave the shelf all too often. That is because my absolute favorite resource for studying the Bible is found in a super convenient place – online!

I love biblehub.com for pretty much anything you could need for studying the Bible. Commentaries, word studies, maps, concordance, different translations, devotionals – they have it all!

If you are looking to take your Bible study up a notch, I highly recommend giving this website a try.

#4 The Bible

Of course! Can’t have a Bible study without one of these important little books. 😉 For the longest time I used an NIV Bible until it was finally falling apart like crazy and I bought a new one. I had seen how popular Bible journaling was and I loved the journaling Bibles. So, I decided to buy an ESV Journaling Bible. I love it!

I’m definitely not one of those super amazing artistic Bible journalers, but I love having extra space for making little doodles or writing notes.

#5 A Bible Study Guide

Now, I definitely don’t think a devotional or Bible study guide is at all necessary to have a great personal Bible study. However, it can be helpful to have a plan and a little help as you dig into the text. Right now my personal favorite Bible study devotional is the “Journal and Doodle Through the Bible” series by Kari Denker. If you are looking for something new and fun that will also dig you deep into the text – look no further. Go grab her free Ephesians study right now! (I also reviewed Kari’s studies right here.)

Well, those are some of my favorite tools for studying the Bible. Are you getting ready to start a new study this fall? What are some of your favorite tools?

 

Affiliate links included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Steadfast Family.

The ULTIMATE Operation Christmas Child Round-Up

The ULTIMATE Operation Christmas Child Round-Up

Can you believe it?! There is less than a month until National Collection Week!

Are you participating in Operation Christmas Child this year? We’ve been packing shoeboxes since K was really little and it is one of our favorite Christmas traditions!

As we prepare to pack our boxes, I thought it would be fun to do an OCC round-up. I know I learned a ton while gathering all these posts together. Now you’ve got all the info you need right at your fingertips and you’ll be able to pack an awesome box too!

Are you doing OCC with your kids? Get my FREE Operation Christmas Child Five Day Mini-Devotional by subscribing (it’s free!) either in the sidebar to the right or at the bottom of this post!

 

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OCC Official Info

Order free materials and promotional items

OCC Evangelism and Discipleship

Packing a box

Volunteer opportunities

Stories, photos, and videos 

Can’t get out to build a box? Build one online!

Ultimate Operation Christmas Child Round-up

What is OCC Anyway?

Mama Jenn covers the Who? What? Why? When? Where? How? of Operation Christmas Child is this post.

Dawn from Mama Knows shares 10 Things You Should Know About Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

OCC-3

Box Packing Ideas

General Ideas

20 Items to Pack in Operation Christmas Child Boxes – Mary from Homegrown Learners shares 20 great essential items to pack in your box.

Kelly from Faithful Provisions shares 101 ideas of items to pack in your shoebox that will work for both genders and most ages!

Jules shares some great tips for packing a box on a budget.

Some great shoebox packing tips from Simple Girl.

Boy 2-4

What to pack for 2-4 year olds – Boy or girl!

Operation Christmas Child: Ideas for 2-4 Year Old Boys & How to Build a Shoebox from wife. mom. superwoman.

Boy 5-9

Ideas for a boy 5-9 shoebox gift

Boy 10-14

According to this article, the boxes they receive the fewest of are boys 2-4 and 10-14. Here are some great ideas for boy 10-14!

Eleven Gift Ideas for Boys Ages 10-14 – Some more great ideas for this underrepresented group!

Girl 2-4

100 Shoebox Ideas for Girls

Girl 5-9

Ideas for Girl 5-9 Operation Christmas Child Shoebox

The details of what they packed in their girl 5-9 box from Kalyn of Creative Savings

Girl 10-14

Packing for older girls can be difficult, but can make such a difference in their lives! Check out these great ideas.

Ideas for a girl 10-14 shoebox

Packing Boxes of Love had a great idea of packing clothespins and rope in an older girl’s box

Ultimate Operation Christmas Child Round-up

Hosting a Packing Party

Preparing for the Operation Christmas Child Packing Party from Jenae at I Can Teach My Child

Clip With Purpose has a great idea for encouraging your church to donate materials for boxes all year long!

Shoebox Stuffing Party ideas plus free printable organization labels from The Flanders Family.

Amanda shares her experience with both a big packing party and a low-key box packing playdate.

Waddlee-ah-chaa shares some great ideas for a birthday party packing party – plus a link to a neat OCC All About Me Printable to include in your box!

Ultimate Operation Christmas Child Round-up

Crafty or DIY Ideas for Your Box

3-Step, Five Minute Drawstring Totebag for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

Necklace or Bracelet Bead Kits

Super fun ideas for using the inside of your shoebox lid for an extra surprise!

Fat Quarter Bags – a simple sewing project for your boxes

This awesome family had a great idea to put a bandana in the bottom of their box as “reusable wrapping paper”

Write a special message on the inside of your box.

Free Small Doll Sewing Pattern for Operation Christmas Child Boxes

Ultimate Operation Christmas Child Round-up

Behind the Scenes

What I Saw In An Operation Christmas Child Shoebox (from Hungry for God Starving for Time) – take a peek into a distribution center.

Delivering OCC boxes in Ecuador – Join Mary from Homegrown Learners on her trip to Ecuador to deliver boxes to children

A missionary’s advice on shoebox packing – Unsolicited Advice About Shoeboxes

Erin from the Humbled Homemaker shares five things she learned from participating in an OCC distribution in Costa Rica.

Jessica from Smarter Each Day shares the amazing story of a boy greatly impacted by a OCC shoebox gift, plus some great packing tips.

Ultimate Operation Christmas Child Round-up

Additional Information

Should you pack your box in cardboard or plastic? Mama Jenn tackles this question in her post “Operation Christmas Child: Paper or Plastic?

10 Ideas to Pack an Operation Christmas Child Box – Tons of ideas for packing a frugal box. This mom packed 45 great boxes for only $45!

Some great ideas for writing a note to put in your box from faithful provisions.

Are you packing a OCC box this year? What are your tips? I’d love to hear them!

Operation Christmas Child Round-Up

Affiliate links included.

Journal and Doodle Through The Bible – REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

Today I am sharing with you one of my new favorite things. I’d like to introduce you to my new favorite Bible studies, Journal and Doodle Through the Bible!

Journal and Doodle Through The Bible

I had been in a bit of a Bible study rut when I came across these intriguing studies. I had never done anything quite like them!

Created by Kari Denker, of the Stone Soup for Five blog, these studies combine simple drawing, journaling, and in depth Bible study for a devotional experience that will knock your socks off!

Here’s five reasons why I love the Journal and Doodle Bible Studies…

Journal and Doodle Through The Bible

1. They are Perfectly Planned for You

Each study is broken into individual sections with tasks separated by checklists. I don’t have to waste any time or brain power trying to figure out what to do next because it is already all set-up for me! This is perfect for my quiet time, which tends to be frequently interrupted by my darling children. I can easily put down the study and pick right back up where I left off!

Journal and Doodle Through The Bible

2. They Dig Deep into God’s Word

I’m not going to lie, I am really picky about my Bible studies and devotionals. There is just so much out there that is fluffy and cheesy! The Journal and Doodle Studies do a great job at helping you dig deep into the passage you are studying. They cover context, key words, reflection, application, and more.

3. They are Created to Be Memorable

Oftentimes while reading my Bible I find myself finishing a passage and then promptly forgetting everything I just read. These studies are amazing for helping you slow down and really reflect on what you are reading. Plus, the doodling seems to activate another area of your brain, helping you to better remember what you are studying.

Journal and Doodle Through The Bible

4. They Are Great for all Ability Levels

I am a terrible artist. Seriously. I have drawing abilities about on par with a seven year old (and that may be a diss on many a seven year old’s abilities). At first I was a little hesitant to do a Bible study like this, because I thought it wouldn’t work for me and my limited abilities. I’m glad I decided to give it a try because I couldn’t have been more wrong! Kari does a great job guiding you through the doodling, complete with lots of examples! Perfection is discouraged and mistakes are welcome. Of course, if you are more artistically inclined, the sky is the limit with these studies!

Journal and Doodle Through The Bible

5. They are Fun!

While I do thoroughly enjoy a good theological book or a detailed commentary, I love how fun this type of study is! It is so nice to take break from child wrangling and have a little fun with my Bible study during my quiet time.

Does this sound like something you’d be interested in? I have good news! Kari is generously to offering a free copy of her latest study pack to one lucky Simple Life. Messy Life. reader!

Journal and Doodle Through The Bible

The winner will receive a digital download (PDF) of the special launch week package – Journal and Doodle studies for both 1st and 2nd Corinthians, plus 4 doodle reference sheets! (If you don’t want to take a chance on winning, go grab the pack now before launch week is over – the studies are very reasonably priced!)

Enter below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Summer Search for God – Week 7 – Conduct a Science Experiment

*UPDATE*
An updated version of this eBook is now available in the shop.

Join me as I blog through Summer Search for God

For eight weeks this Summer I will be blogging through my eBook, Summer Search for God. I want to be able to give some more examples of how you can do the activities, so I will be sharing how me and K go through the devotional.

I’d love for you to join us! If you don’t already have the book, grab it here for free. Then, share how you are rocking the missions using the hashtag #summersearchforGod on Instagram or Twitter. If you write a blog post on your experience, please leave a link in the comments!

You can find links to the previous weeks below…

Week 1 – Build a Fort

Week 2 – Make a Special Treat

Week 3 – Go for a Hike

Week 4 – Create a Masterpiece

Week 5 – Go on a Treasure Hunt

Week 6 – Get Wet


mission 7

Mission Description

For this mission you need to conduct an official science experiment. There are many different types of science experiments you can do. You should take a guess at what will be the outcome of your experiment (that’s called a “hypothesis”) and then do the experiment to see if you were right! Two good places to find ideas for your science experiment are the library and the internet.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1 NIV

What We Did

K was very excited when I told him that the next mission was to do a science experiment. We’ve just recently started doing more science for homeschool preschool and he loves doing the experiments!

For this mission we decided to do the classic “sink or float” experiment!

First, I had K gather some objects together…

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Then, I wrote them down on a paper with space to write the predictions and results.

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We filled up a bin with some water…

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…and got to work testing our objects!

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We kept track of the guesses and results – and K enjoyed learning the word “hypothesis.”
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And of course you can’t have a bin of water laying around without a little water play time!

 

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The verse for this mission was Genesis 1:1. We talked about how God created the whole world and science is how we learn about the world God made. We kept our discussion pretty simple, but if you’ve purchased your copy of Summer Search for God you will find more discussion points, verses, and ideas.

 


Do you have your copy of Summer Search for God yet?

Grab one here and get all the missions, journal pages, and the parent debrief files. It’s currently free for subscribers!

Summer Search For God - Spiral Cover

Summer Search for God – Week 6 – Get Wet

*UPDATE*
As of 5/9/16 this eBook is now available in an updated version in the shop here

Join me as I blog through Summer Search for God

For eight weeks this Summer I will be blogging through my eBook, Summer Search for God. I want to be able to give some more examples of how you can do the activities, so I will be sharing how me and K go through the devotional.

I’d love for you to join us! If you don’t already have the book, grab it here for free. Then, share how you are rocking the missions using the hashtag #summersearchforGod on Instagram or Twitter. If you write a blog post on your experience, please leave a link in the comments!

You can find links to the previous weeks below…

Week 1 – Build a Fort

Week 2 – Make a Special Treat

Week 3 – Go for a Hike

Week 4 – Create a Masterpiece

Week 5 – Go on a Treasure Hunt


mission 6

Mission Description

For this mission you need to get wet! There are so many ways you can enjoy spending time in the water. If you live near a beach, lake, or pool you could go swimming. However, even if you don’t there are lots of other fun things to do in the water. Have a water balloon fight, run through a sprinkler, set up a slip-n-slide, play in the rain – those are just some ideas to get you started. You can do whatever sounds fun to you, just as long as you get wet!

Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. – Psalm 51:2 NLT

What We Did

K was super excited about this mission! After I read him the description, he got right to work drawing “rain” on his journal page.

 

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After he finished drawing, he decided he wanted to “get wet” in the sprinkler.

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After he played in the water for a while, I called him over for a little object lesson.

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We just happened to have a 5 gallon bucket full of dirt handy, so I had K come join me by the bucket. First, we reviewed how everybody does bad things except God and those bad things are called sin. I told him that sin is kinda like being all dirty and we can’t wash off the dirt. Then, I had him rub his hands in the bucket of dirt.

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We talked about how when we are all dirty we can’t be with God because He is clean and good. We need someone to wash us clean too. I told him that when Jesus died on the cross he washed our dirty sins. Then, I sent him back out to the sprinkler to wash his hands clean.

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He came back and did the lesson a few times before he moved on to other things. It turned out to be a fun and memorable experience!

 

If you have purchased your copy of Summer Search for God, then you also have access to additional ideas, scripture references, and parent material. If you haven’t downloaded your copy yet, what are you waiting for?!


Do you have your copy of Summer Search for God yet?

Grab one here and get all the missions, journal pages, and the parent debrief files. It’s currently free for subscribers!

Summer Search For God - Spiral Cover

Summer Search for God – Week 5 – Go on a Treasure Hunt

*UPDATE*
As of 5/9/16 this eBook is now available in an updated version in the shop here

Join me as I blog through Summer Search for God

For eight weeks this Summer I will be blogging through my eBook, Summer Search for God. I want to be able to give some more examples of how you can do the activities, so I will be sharing how me and K go through the devotional.

I’d love for you to join us! If you don’t already have the book, grab it here for free. Then, share how you are rocking the missions using the hashtag #summersearchforGod on Instagram or Twitter. If you write a blog post on your experience, please leave a link in the comments!

You can find links to the previous weeks below…

Week 1 – Build a Fort

Week 2 – Make a Special Treat

Week 3 – Go for a Hike

Week 4 – Create a Masterpiece


 mission 5

Mission Description

For this mission you need to go on a treasure hunt. However, before you can go on a treasure hunt you will need a map. Figure out where you will search for the treasure and draw a map of that place. Then, get together any gear you will need for your search. Once you are all set, go searching for some treasure!

If you look for [wisdom] as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. – Proverbs 2:4-5 NIV

What We Did

This mission was really fun! I read it to K and we talked about how God’s Word is like a treasure that we would search and search for. After our short discussion, he got started right away drawing treasure maps!

Drawing maps and learning about God!

Little did he know that I had something planned for him later in the day! While he was upstairs having his quiet time, I got to work planning a treasure hunt!

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It was really simple to throw together! First, I cut out some small pieces of construction paper. Then, I wrote simple clues on the papers. Each paper had a clue for where he could find the next piece of paper. The last clue led to a surprise – a candy bar! – with a message written on it: “Search for wisdom like hidden treasure.”

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Once everything was ready, I hid the clues around the house…

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…and hid the treasure inside his lego table, surrounded by some coins we made way back when we learned about Zacchaeus.

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When he came down from his quiet time the treasure hunt was on!

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He ran around finding the clues and having a blast!

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When he found the candy he was pretty stoked! It was a special treat for him!

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The message on the “treasure” gave us another opportunity to talk about the verse application.

If you have purchased your copy of Summer Search for God, then you also have access to additional ideas, scripture references, and parent material. If you haven’t downloaded your copy yet, what are you waiting for?!

 


Do you have your copy of Summer Search for God yet?

Grab one here and get all the missions, journal pages, and the parent debrief files. It’s currently free for subscribers!

Summer Search For God - Spiral Cover

Summer Search for God – Week 3 – Go for a Hike

*UPDATE*
As of 5/9/16 this eBook is now available in an updated version in the shop here

Join me as I blog through Summer Search for God

For eight weeks this Summer I will be blogging through my eBook, Summer Search for God. I want to be able to give some more examples of how you can do the activities, so I will be sharing how me and K go through the devotional.

I’d love for you to join us! If you don’t already have the book, grab it here for free. Then, share how you are rocking the missions using the hashtag #summersearchforGod on Instagram or Twitter. If you write a blog post on your experience, please leave a link in the comments!

You can find links to the previous weeks below…

Week 1 – Build a Fort

Week 2 – Make a Special Treat


 

mission 3

Mission Description

For this mission you need to go on a hike. The destination is not what is important, so pick wherever you would like to go. Instead you must focus on the journey. As you walk, pay close attention to the things you observe in nature. What do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear? What can you feel? It would be a good idea to bring along a bag that you can use to carry home any interesting things you find.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. – Romans 1:20 NIV

What We Did

Like with the previous weeks, I started with reading the mission to K and then I let him color in his mission page. Then, I read him the week’s verse. This verse was a little above K’s head, so I abbreviated it a bit and really focused on how God created the world with his mighty power.

We love going on nature walks, but with a new baby in the house getting out for a nature walk wasn’t really feasible this week. Thankfully, the missions are so easy to adapt to being low-key (or more involved if you want!). So, we headed out to the backyard!

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I gave K instructions to look for things that reminded him of God’s power. We looked at the sticks and the cool circles on the roots of the tree.

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We also turned our gaze upwards and looked at the tops of the trees. We even found a birds nest in the branches.

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We ended our nature time by looking up to the puffy clouds. The whole time we talked about the powerful God who made all these cool things.

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Oh yeah, this little cutie was hanging out with us too. 🙂

Another fun mission accomplished!


Do you have your copy of Summer Search for God yet?

Grab one here and get all the missions, journal pages, and the parent debrief files. It’s currently free for subscribers!

Summer Search For God - Spiral Cover

Summer Search for God – Week One – Build a Fort

*UPDATE*
As of 5/9/16 this eBook is now available in an updated version in the shop here

Join me as I blog through Summer Search for God

For eight weeks this Summer I will be blogging through my eBook, Summer Search for God. I want to be able to give some more examples of how you can do the activities, so I will be sharing how me and K go through the devotional.

I’d love for you to join us! If you don’t already have the book, grab it here for free. Then, share how you are rocking the missions using the hashtag #summersearchforGod on Instagram or Twitter. If you write a blog post on your experience, please leave a link in the comments!


 

 

fort

Mission Description

For this mission you need to build a fort. Make sure to build it big enough for you and anyone who is joining you to be able to fit inside. You will also want to make sure it is sturdy and doesn’t fall down. What building material you use is up to you. Use whatever you have available. Once your fort is constructed you may want to bring some necessities inside, such as blankets, pillows, books, and a snack.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. – Psalm 18:2 NIV

What We Did

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First, I explained to K what was going on and I read the mission to him. Then I read the verse (shortening it a little for him) and talked a little about how God is like a fortress/fort.

Then I asked him what kind of fort he wanted to build (“we’re going to do it today, Mom?!”). He said he wanted to build a tree house. I told him that probably wasn’t going to happen, but he could still draw his idea.

After he drew his tree house, we talked about building a blanket fort and I helped him think through how he’d do that. Then, he drew a blanket fort. After he was done drawing, I did the writing for him in the last two sections.

Then, we built a fort!

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Once the fort was up, I surprised him with a nerf gun attack! (Easily his favorite part!)

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Afterwards, we settled in the fort with a snack and revisited the verse we read. I asked K if I was able to shoot him with the nerf gun when he was inside the fort. He said no and we talked about how God is like a fort because he protects us and keeps us safe – just like his fort kept him safe from the nerf gun.

At three, K is at the young end of age to do Summer Search for God, so I do have to simplify some things for him. However, thats one of the benefits of the devotional – it can easily be adapted for every age in your family!

Do you have your copy?

Grab one here and get all the missions, journal pages, and the parent debrief files.

Summer Search For God - Spiral Cover