Three years ago our family began a new Christmas tradition called the Jesse Tree. During advent, the 25 days preceding Christmas, we read a devotional and add a corresponding ornament to our 4‘ tree. Each devotional reveals the roots of Christ throughout scripture as represented by a key event or person. The object of this tradition is not only to show God’s plan of redemption throughout scripture but also to prepare our hearts for the coming Lord. I was content with the devotional that were using, however, I was very pleased to learn that Ann Voskamp wrote her own version of The Jesse Tree devotional entitled Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. If you follow her blog you may be familiar with her 2010 post – “A Jesus Advent Celebration: A Jesse Tree Journey.” This book draws on the same scriptures, expanding upon the stories and written with young children in mind.
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp is entirely Christ-focused and scripture-centered. Every day begins with an excerpt from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Once the audience has centered themselves in scripture, Ann unwraps the simple truths within the verses in a warm and loving way that will speak directly to even the youngest listener. If you have read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp then you are familiar with Ann’s incredible gift of pen. If not, another popular book I could compare the style of writing with and the way it addresses it’s reader would be The Jesus Storybook Bible. It’s a love letter written from God — our God who has an “unfailing, unbeatable, unstoppable love” for us! Following the devotion/lesson are “Thoughts to Discuss” with your family and “Family Activities” that help emphasize the lesson, put our faith into action, or spur us to worship. Accompanying the text are soft yet colorful illustrations by artist Martina Peluso. Together they form a heart-shaping work.
**I received this book for free as a member of the Tyndale Blog Network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
“No matter what happens in the world, the truth is always this: you were formed by Love…for love.” December 2
“God sees our tears now. And the hurt flooding our world right now. And He offers everyone the greatest gift – a rescue, a wooden cradle, a wooden cross – and He whispers, “Come to Jesus.” December 4
“The Ten Commandments are more than God saying, “Here are My rules of law for you”; they are God saying, “Here is My real love for you.”” December 10
“The love of God can come over any wall, can open the door of any heart, can find anyone, anywhere, in anything.” December 11
“Christmas is close now. Only one thing is necessary – just let your hands and your heart be a space for love to come into the world.” December 22
“It’s true: Jesus came into the world for you! And it’s really true: you came into the world for Him, to let everyone know about Him.” December 25
December 5 – Talks about counting our gifts.
December 9 – The lineage of Christ and how God can use messy family trees – turn something bad into good.
December 10 – Do not say My name without love.
December 15 – We were made to worship God.
December 7 – Mentions how people were sacrificing children to fake gods.
About the Author:
Ann Voskamp is a farmer’s wife, the home-educating mama to a half-dozen exuberant kids, and author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, a New York Times sixty-week bestseller. Named by Christianity Today as one of fifty women most shaping culture and the church today, she’s a global advocate for needy children with Compassion International, a loser of library books, a stirrer of soup, a loud laugher, a kid snuggler, a Jesus lover and honestly, a bit of a mess. It’s okay really. Grace is the most amazing of all. Her online journal, one of the top 10 most widely read Christian blogs online, is a relief of quiet vulnerability and an oasis of sacred, seeing God in the everyday ugly beautiful: www.aholyexperience.com