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Adventure Calling – Volume 1

Adventure Calling ©, Vol.1, is a booklet that walks through the season of Advent to help children and families understand what the season truly means. This book is the ULTIMATE guide to Advent. Your child will learn things they never knew. They will hear things that sound impossible. They’ll believe things that they knew were true all along.

Adventure Calling follows a story line of four characters—Hope, Love, Joy and Peace—in search of a Light. They will journey through different places, longing in anticipation to find this Light that is coming. Along the way, Hope will learn to be joyful, Love will learn to be hopeful and Joy will learn to be loving.

Adventure on with your kids this season! The booklet is designed to teach kids all about Advent through devotionals (journal entries), stories, games, family activities and scripture. Adventure Calling is PACKED with resources that will teach and entertain your child and your family.

Don’t think we forgot about the parents! As the kids grow in their knowledge of anticipation and excitement this season, we want to encourage you as well. Below you will find devotionals on hope, love, joy and peace—all written by parents, for parents. This Advent season can be a bit crazy, but try to find these four virtues in the midst of the craziness.

Let this be a new adventure for you, your family and God! And may hope, love, joy and peace fill your hearts and overflow into the world around you. Merry Christmas! And, as always…ADVENTURE ON!

Adventure Calling ©, Vol. 1, booklets are available for purchase on AMAZON.COM!


Week one—HOPE

Are you a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty person?

I am definitely a half-full girl, sometimes to a fault. Thinking back, I know for a fact that I have misrepresented and masked my own fear by trying to put a positive twist on things. One clear example comes to mind during this season: I have hijacked the word HOPE.

I can’t tell you how many times I have said things like, “I hope Grandma likes the letter you just rushed writing” or “I hope we aren’t late for church again!” (A lot of this is in the inflection; but, parents, you know what I mean!)

I used hope to replace the word fear. What I really meant was, “I am afraid grandma will realize you didn’t give your best effort” or “I am afraid everyone will see us come in late and think we don’t have it together.” I took a word that at once was life-giving (the definition of HOPE… to believe, desire, or trust) and made it life-sucking.

I am committing now to let HOPE be what it was intended to be: comforting, believing, trusting … and, most importantly, shared.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.—Psalms 62:5

—Jeninne Van Sickle


Week Two—LOVE

1 John: 3:18 says, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.”

If you’re anything like me, there are a million things pulling at your time and attention during this Advent season. Even though I find myself talking about what Christmas means, I don’t always find myself living out the meaning of Christmas.

One of the greatest gifts we as parents can give our children is an invitation to come along with us and love those in need around us. What better way to demonstrate the love that compelled God to send his son Jesus to this world than by teaching our children to show that same gift of love to others?

When I look back over my childhood I have so many great memories of different Christmas traditions, but the ones that I will never forget were the years we served and loved others together as a family. One year right after opening our gifts, we all piled into the car and drove to downtown Columbus. As I’m sure you can imagine, we as kids were not super thrilled about this at the beginning. But, we spent the rest of our day serving and having dinner with the homeless at a local shelter. I was in fifth grade and I can’t tell you a single gift that I received that year, but I vividly remember the feeling of community, purpose, and love my parents welcomed me into that day.

Our kids won’t always remember what we say or all the stuff they open on Christmas morning, but when we teach them through our actions how to truly love others, we give them a gift they will never forget.

—Anna Brooks


Week Three—JOY

It was December and I was in my normal hurry-mom mode. So much to do, lists going through my mind. To be honest with you, Christmas was probably my least favorite holiday. The pressure to find (or create) the perfect card, the many holiday parties, the baking, and the financial burden of Christmas left me feeling defeated. Not to mention the guilt I felt for not taking each opportunity I had to remind my kids of what Christmas was really about.

I was teaching preschool at this time, and my then-four-year-old and three-year-old went to work with me. One day on the 5-minute drive home my son observed, “Christmas is Jesus Birthday…right, Mom?”

Halfway paying attention I said, “Yes.” I could tell in the glimpse I got in the rear view mirror that the wheels where turning. I became distracted with my daughter and didn’t pursue the conversation. All of sudden, with complete accomplishment and JOY, I heard him say “I get it! I get it!”

“What do you get?” I asked.

“It’s the goodie bag!”

He went on to explain that the gifts he received on Christmas (Jesus’ Birthday) where his goodie bag. The true gift was Jesus being born, but the gifts he received were the “goodie bags;” the gifts given out to kids who attend the birthday party.

A couple of months prior to this, on the occasion of his sister’s birthday, we explained that she would be getting gifts because it was her birthday. But, he wouldn’t be left out; he’d get a goodie bag. His four-year-old mind was making sense of this in relationship to Jesus’ birthday.

And God was using him in that moment to remind me that all the “things” that seem to be draining are not the gift. I needed to see them as the “goodie bag” of the season. I was missing the gift and focusing on the goodie bag.

—Jeninne Van Sickle


Week Four—PEACE

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas story comes a bit later in Jesus’ life.

Eight days after Jesus was born, his parents named him. Then, after waiting the prescribed amount of time, they took him to Jerusalem for his dedication. As the young family approached the Temple, they encountered a man named Simeon, who had been hanging out there for a long, long time, “in prayerful expectancy of help for Israel.” Luke tells us “the Holy Spirit was on him” and had promised him he would see the Messiah before he died. On this day, as he observed Jesus’ family, he knew his prayers had been answered.

He took Jesus into his arms and said: “God, you can now … release me in peace as you promised. With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation” (Luke 2:29−30, The Message).

What was it about seeing and holding Jesus that gave Simeon peace?

Our English translation of these verses tells us Simeon had been awaiting HELP. Jesus’ presence meant help had arrived! And that brought Simeon peace.

The tumult of the Christmas season is often just a magnification of the frenzy we experience during the rest of the year. Especially when our children are young, our concerns for their care and well-being can be all-consuming. We often feel desperate for help.

If we take the story of Simeon seriously, we see that the help we need might not be physical; it might be emotional (spiritual).

Knowing God has come, that he has fulfilled his promise to send a savior, means he has sent help. In fact, he himself is here to help. Think about that, and let it bring you peace.

—Carolyn Smith

Adventure Calling © was dreamed and created by multiple ministries and volunteers of University Carillon United Methodist Church. The booklet was creatively designed for children to learn exciting, new things about the Advent season.

Adventure Calling © Team: Anna Brooks, Bobby Brooks, Candice DeNucci, Eli Enot, Holly Fohr, Taylor Fohr, Bev Greek, Jeff Hill, April Lattimer, Carolyn Smith, Jeninne Van Sickle, Lilly Van Sickle, Jen Welch