The Gift of Advent in Ukraine

I can't even believe Christmas is just a week away! I'm a Christmas junkie. I looooove me some Christmas. I may, in fact, be the friend that calls her other Christmas-lovin' friends the minute Christmas music is first heard on the radio, “K103 is playing Christmas music!!!” Mmmm I love it all.

I love the decorations, the music, the smells, the fooooood, the special Christmasy outings that involve mittens and hot cocoa (except if you live in Oregon don't do the Polar Express…lame-o), the movies, the family togetherness…ALL OF IT. Havalah was born on December 22nd and that was the best Christmas ever. We had snow that Christmas! My Grandad had to go pick up my parents to get them down their hill so they could make it to the hospital. I remember laying in the hospital bed with my sweet little Hava-bundle, snow was falling outside, Jed and I were watching reruns of A Christmas Story non-stop. It was a sweet deal becauseTBS was doing a marathon, so each of the times we woke to feed Hava in the night we caught a different part of Ralphie. Pure bliss. 🙂

Best Christmas EVER

So, how does a Christmas lover handle her first Christmas away from family and all things cozy and familiar??? Very carefully.

Glimpses of Christmas at MTU

So far we've been doing really good! I got a bit weepy when I saw my mom post pics of my 2 nephews helping her and my dad get their Christmas tree; I felt sad my kids weren't there. But other than that moment, it's been A-OK. I know a HUGE part of that is because Jed's awesome parents arrive here on Saturday and will spend Christmas with us!!! Woot! They live in Kosovo, so it's just a short little jaunt for them to get to us. They won't even be jetlagged! It will be so great. The kids are super excited to show Grammy and Papa their new digs.

MTU classroom- best snowman!!!

The other night we had our friends Oleg and Tanya over and introduced them to A Christmas Story. They loved Ralphie, and it was fun to watch them watch it. Classic America right there folks. I made cinnamon rolls (that didn't rise, ahem…) and thumbprint cookies. We drank coffee and tea; it was cozy and festive and perfect (Until Addy started throwing up. Oy. Let's just make sure to get that bug through the whole fam before Christmas Day, mmmmk?).

Thtuck, thtuck...THTUCK!!!!!

A couple years ago we started celebrating Advent with our kids. Celebrating it here in Ukraine has been such a sweet experience. I'm really not exaggerating when I say I think our Advent “Family Time” has been key to our kids transition to life in this faraway land.

Every night we gather at the table with kids in jammies, pour our tea, light our candles, and turn out the lights. We listen to a piece from Handel's Messiah and either Jed or I read a portion of Scripture that goes along with the music. We got that plan here.

Then we read from our most favorite Advent book ever: Jotham's Journey. If you have grade-school age kids I highly recommend Jotham! We first read it 2 years ago at Advent (thanks Lanny!) and then again this year. The kids didn't remember the plot twists and turns, so it's been super fun. It's awesome how the little devotional at the end of each chapter lines up with our Handels pieces.

Then after Jotham we listen to/review our memory verse for the week. We started using an app from Children Desiring God for Scripture memorization and I'm in love.

The kids thrive on our nightly “Family Time”. They love the tea, the togetherness, and the routine of it all. I'm oddly comforted by it too. Tonight Jed and I were talking about how sweet our Advent time has been and the fact that Family Time will definitely continue after Christmas. We've never been a family of nighttime routines, mainly because with work schedules and church and friend committments we were often away in the evenings. Now that we're in Ukraine, especially with these early winter nights, we are rarely gone in the evening, so we actually have some consistency. It has been beautiful. Many people thought moving in the winter was a pretty difficult choice, but I think it was actually a gift. God knew our family would need a bit of a hibernation period as we enter this new life. It's hard to hibernate in the summer! 🙂

So, that's how we are preparing our hearts and our home for Christmas. It looks far different than any other Christmas season we've had, but it's sweet in different ways as well. We don't have any Ugly Christmas Sweater Party to go to, but we have each other. As our new country is in upheaval and people stand in the freezing streets longing for their voices to be heard, we long more than ever for God's Kingdom to come here and now. In this Advent season we thank Him for coming that first Christmas Day, and we look with longing and expectation for that day when He will come again. On that day all will be made right. No more pain, no more injustice. Come Lord Jesus, we wait with expectation for You!

Merry Christmas dear friends! May your hearts be filled with joy this season as you say YES to Him.




  1. yoongz · December 18, 2013

    Love your Advent plan with the kids! Tip for your baking – if you are using an American recipe for any sort of baking & it calls for Baking Powder, you will need at least 1.5 to 2 times what it says cos in Europe the baking powder is not double-acting like in the US.
    Have a most Blessed Christmas & a fulfilling new year!

    • kimnjed · December 20, 2013

      Oh thank you for that!! I bet that’s the problem. Too bad the baking powder comes in teeny tiny little envelopes. I should’ve brought some with us in suitcase!

  2. Joe and Kim · December 18, 2013

    So fun to keep up. Miss you all. Joe and Kim

    • kimnjed · December 20, 2013

      We miss you too! Have fun in Hermiston. JEALOUS. 😉

  3. Phyllis Hunsucker · December 19, 2013

    You are so wise! I also love Advent and Christmas, and Advent was such a comfort to me and to our family in the year that was the hardest for us. Advent is good when all is well, but it’s essential when everyone needs a little extra.

    We’ve been reading an Advent book this year and really, really enjoying it. I want to try Jotham’s Journey next year, or sometime.

    • kimnjed · December 20, 2013

      Oh what book are you reading? We’ll need a new one next year.

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