The Jesse Tree: Best and Most Kid-Friendly Way to Celebrate Advent

shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.    The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.  Isaiah 11: 1-3

What is the Jesse Tree?

“The Jesse Tree is a way of telling the story of God’s plan from the beginning of time to redeem His people by sending a Savior.  It follows the lineage of Christ’s family and key people in the Old Testament that God uses to tell His story from Creation through Christ’s birth.  It is a countdown daily to Christmas with the telling of a story, and an ornament that acts as a symbol and visual reminder of the story.” – Jacki Rucksdashel, The Jesse Tree Project.

An Ornament Exchange:

A little over a month ago, my friend Andrea (one of the women in our church small group) said she had a project for the 7 of us called: the Jesse Tree. It would involve each of us making several sets of ornaments and then doing an exchange. At the end of it all, we would come away with a beautiful set of ornaments and a Christmas advent tradition for our families for years to come.

I never could’ve predicted how special this would end up being. On so many levels.

I admit I was overwhelmed at first, but I was compelled by the vision, so we did it. Here’s a pic of the Joseph coats I made with my girls. Granted, they were mainly just playing with the clay, but they loved being involved.

We had 2 weeks to get our sets to Andrea and then we’d all meet up for a girls night for the exchange. Andrea organized them all for us in beautiful boxes and included a small photo album with the Scripture readings for each day and pictures of our families so we could pray for each other.

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Haley’s Story: One family touched by the Jesse Tree

Right before we met up for the exchange,  I was walking into church and saw my neighbor Haley, who I was pretty sure was not currently a church-goer. I was so excited to see her (and her husband), I messaged her right away. She explained that over the past month, God had been truly changing their lives. She also wanted to know if we were in a small group and if so, could they join. Um, yes.

My only sadness was that we had just finished all of our ornaments and were about to do our exchange. Little did I know, God had something special for Haley.

After posting a pic of our girls night where we did the exchange, I clicked on #jessetree to see what other people out there had done. That’s when I saw a Jesse Tree giveaway! How perfect would it be to give these to their family?! Fast forward, out of 553 entries, she picked me!!!!!!!

It’s hard to put into words how special it was to present these to Haley. We have developed a huge heart to show Christ’s love and light in our neighborhood and have been sowing those seeds for almost five years. To see a family come to Christ, have instant community and be given a set of (gorgeous) ornaments that explain the story of Jesus throughout the pages of Scripture… I am in awe. I thought God was late to the party. I questioned His timing in bringing Haley to our group. But through this whole process, God reminded me that He is far more kind than I am and He is able to demonstrate His goodness in ways that are far outside of my box.

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Haley’s family praying together as they do the Jesse Tree Devotional.
The Most Kid-Friendly Advent Devotional: 

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After talking with Jacki Rucksdashel (founder of the Jesse Tree project) on the phone, she decided to include a devotional for our family as well. Let me tell you, it is AMAZING. She wrote this devotional because she had trouble finding super kid friendly devotionals. It reminds me a lot of the Jesus Story Book Bible and every story points to Jesus.

Here’s what each day includes (as stated on her website):

  • Verse of the Day
  • Bible Reading for THE STORY (My husband and I found this to be our own study time with the Lord to prepare our hearts for Christmas, and we read THE STORY to our kids.  When they get to be a little older, we plan on reading the story from the Bible. Of course, do whatever is best for your family!)
  • THE STORY– This is the Biblical account written in narrative form for young children.
  • Questions to check for understanding.
  • Prayer to get you started.  Feel free to pray your own prayer!
  • Worship–songs, poems, videos or books to inspire praising Him.
  • Extended Activity–Extra optional activities to do with children to help solidify what they learned.

It is geared toward kids ages 3-8. Our kids are 6, 4, 3 and 1 and are LOVING it. We typically read the story out of her devotional and then stream the YouVersion Kids Bible app through our phones onto the TV and re-watch it.

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Supplementing with the  Version Kids Bible App is a great way to engage younger kids with the Jesse Tree.
How YOU Can Participate in the Jesse Tree:

  1. Get a group of women together to do an ornament exchange.
  2. Order the devotionals through the Jesse Tree Project.
  3. Get a small Christmas tree & shoebox for displaying & storing your ornaments.

Coming from someone who has the best of intentions but poor follow through, you will not regret the investment of time you put into this. It will get the Bible story deeper into you and your kids and also help you focus on the true hero of Christmas.

3 Comments on “The Jesse Tree: Best and Most Kid-Friendly Way to Celebrate Advent

  1. Elizabeth!! I continue to be so amazed at God and how He orchestrated all of this! Thank you for sharing your story. Your love for others is so inspiring and I pray I too can be looking for ways to love others around me. I’m so glad you like the devo! That blesses me so much and I love your ornaments and the photo album idea! You have some pretty great friends. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas celebrating the joy we have in Jesus.

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