It’s almost December. The month in which we sing…
Joy to the World! The Lord has come, let Earth receive her King! Let every heart prepare Him room, And heaven and nature sing…
But if most of us are honest…it’s also a stressful month: tree decorating, present wrapping, gift giving, cookie baking, family visiting, party going, people pleasing, schedule stressing….
You know what I mean?
This season inherently creates stress. We feel pressure to attend the parties, bake the cookies, buy the presents, light the candles… because have you seen Facebook and Pinterest? And do you know how my family does it? And have you been to the bookstore? And have you seen the commercials? There is a LOT to do!
That’s the way Christmas is for many. I can’t buy groceries without seeing all the baking, wrapping, decorating, and doing options.
(And this isn’t meant to sound trite or to belittle the way you celebrate Christmas.)
What if ….
This year, you celebrate as YOU think Christmas should be celebrated?
You love baking? Then bake away – and smile big – and share some with me;)
You love gift giving? Then shop and give – and bless many!
You love holiday parties? Then attend and smile and hug and light up the room.
But, what if not? What if your baking skills are at best ok, and you don’t like it much anyway? What if your funds for gift giving are sparse? What if holiday parties make you break into hives?
Take a deep breath and decide: This season will be different. I will not rush and spend and bake – unless I love it. Unless I can. Unless I feel compelled. Unless it feels like a gift of this season and not a burden.
This year, I find myself a single mom. I can’t do it all. I don’t even want to do it all. What I want is for my sweet kiddos to embrace this season for what it truly is…
A time to celebrate our King – the One we worship. A time to acknowledge He came and is coming. When their voices sing “Joy to the World!” I want them to mean it. To mean, HE is the joy to the world. He is the reason for our joy.
Not the latest and greatest gift. Not the perfectly iced cookies. Not even the running to and fro to parties.
He alone is the reason for and gift of this season.
A season that I LOVE – I am Christmas’ biggest fan. I love my Christmas tree. I bake because my Hannah loves it. I love shopping to find the PERFECT gift and watching eyes light up on Christmas morning when the wrapping is undone.
I do not want to get lost in my to-do list this year. (As has happened most years.)
I want to make memories today and tomorrow –and throughout this season – that someday we will look back on and say…remember when? Not remember when I got the new eye shadow palette from Urban Decay or the new Skylanders game, but remember when we had a Jesse tree? Remember when we read and prayed each night?
Because the truth is…I can’t tell you what I got for Christmas a few years ago. But, I remember making candy with my family and giving it to everyone we knew. I remember losing the directions for our artificial tree and my dad drilling new holes to fit the branches. I remember Christmas Eves at my aunt and uncle’s home and Christmas mornings at home.
And most of all…I remember Advent.
The weekly lighting of the candle at the churches of my youth. I can see my little self sitting on the wooden pew – not older than 6 or 7 – as the acolytes lit the candle in the wreath on the table near the altar.
So, this year, Advent will be intentional for Hannah, Owen, and me. We will sing Joy to the World, taking the directive for every heart to prepare Him room seriously.
If you’re not familiar with Advent, the word means “coming.” And the celebration of Advent focuses on anticipating, longing for, His coming – both His birth and His second coming.
Because this baby born in a manger on Christmas Day died for me and you just 33 short years after His birth. And after three days in the tomb, he rose again, promising us that he’s conquered death and will return again, allowing those who follow Him to live with Him for eternity.
That’s the meaning of Advent – of this season – a time set aside to focus on Him and His coming.
If you’d like to join us in preparing Him room, we are using a few resources.
Our family: Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. This is a beautiful book I purchased at a local bookstore for $12. Each day includes a scripture reading, Bible story reading, thoughts to discuss, and family activities.
Me: I purchased the Advent book from She Reads Truth. And while there’s not time to get this book, I highly recommend the She Reads Truth app for your smart phone. Each study costs either $0.99 or $1.99, and they are worth every penny. For Advent, you can purchase O Come, Let Us Adore Him for $1.99. Each day includes scripture, a short devotional, and comments from other readers.
If you’d like to know more about Advent, I love these resources too:
Advent: for the ones who know longing by Sarah Bessey
Advent 01: Hope from Ann Voskamp
Favorite Advent Resources from Tsh Oxenreider
The Season of Advent (and printable guide) from The Village Church
While I never know how much time I will have to write, I pray I am able to share what our family learns as we progress through this season of miracles.
Let every heart prepare Him room!