It’s the last day of November, and I am scrambling around trying to get the house ready for the decorations I promised the kids I would bring out tomorrow. It’s not looking like I will get everything done on my list. Which seems to be the reality most days, especially with a toddler who can pull things out faster than I put them away.
Our dining room table is at this moment covered with styrofoam shipping popcorn, bananas from the gas station, the neighbour’s mittens, assorted Duplo creations, current family read-alouds, Christmas cards in progress, and (storebought) gingersnap cookie crumbs. I’d post a picture if I could find my camera . . .
The older I get the more I realize there’s no such thing as ever being “ready” for Christmas, or even Advent for that matter. And paralysis can set in with the pressure we put on ourselves when our reality doesn’t match our ideal.
So I’m here to say, if you’re that person whose dining room table looks like mine when everyone else you know seems to have their Advent act together, just take a deep breath. It’s ok. It’s ok if you buy your cookies at the bakery. It’s ok if you don’t have a handmade Jesse tree, or 24 days of seasonal fun meticulously planned out. It’s ok if you lost the plan, or feel like you’ve lost the plot. It’s ok if you don’t have an ounce of energy to think about all this, or even a smidgen of Christmas spirit.
That’s not the point of Advent. Advent is not a time to show the world how much we’ve got it together. Just the opposite.
Advent is a time to acknowledge our mess, and be ok with it. Not because we like the mess, but because there is some One who loves us despite our mess.
The best preparation is the kind that makes your heart whisper, I can’t do this. Advent is for the hungry, the empty, the lonely, the lost, and the ones with yesterday’s dishes still in the sink. Advent is for the ones who long for something more, something beyond themselves and their abilities. Something that mere decoration can never bring.
It’s right there in Mary’s song:
He has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
but the rich He has sent away empty. (Luke 1:52-53)
This is the song of the woman who was preparing for the birth of Jesus. This is the attitude of Advent. And it’s all you need to experience the good things God wants to give you. Not. a. single. thing. more.
The reality of Advent is for your real life. If we need some perfect preparation to welcome the mercy of the manger, that’s not good news at all.
So, yes, I am going to clear the table and maybe even sweep the floor. (Jesus may have been born in a barn, but that’s not the look I’m going for, at least not this year.) And make supper for my family, and keep going with the never-ending list. And smile through the inevitable chaos of decorating with kids and the grand design plans of a seven year old. (Please remind me of this tomorrow!)
But I will remember, at the end of another day, it’s ok. Whatever keeps me humble will also keep me ready.
Abraham’s Advent GIVEAWAY WINNERS
Advent begins this Sunday! If you’re looking to journey through Advent with another guy who didn’t always have his act together, might I suggest Abraham’s Advent? It’s a four week devotional that gets right to the heart of Christmas.
I will be giving away TWO copies of Abraham’s Advent (downloadable PDF, worth $7 each).
Just comment on THIS post with your favourite Christmas carol or song to be entered into the giveaway. 🙂 Entry deadline: Saturday, December 2, 6pm (EST).
Feel free to share the giveaway on social media! Winners will be announced Saturday evening!
UPDATE: Our two randomly chosen winners are Thea and Jessica Collins!
Thea and Jessica, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send your copy of Abraham’s Advent on its way! 🙂
Happy almost Advent.
I’m currently loving This is Love/Come Thou long-expected Jesus by paul Baloche feat. Kathryn Scott
Hi Jody! I’ll have to check that one out!
Not an entry because I already have. Just a note to say that this is my favorite Advent devotional and this will be my third year going through it. So wonderful!!! <3
Thanks Ana! So glad you love it. 🙂
My favorite Christmas carol is O Holy Night
I love that one too.
My favorite Christmas song is The Drummer Boy
That’s one of my daughter’s favourites!
Thanks for the encouraging reminder!
My favourite song to listen and sing at Christmas is Christ is Come (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8NuheUzWNbM)
Merry Christmas to your family Lindsey!
Merry Christmas to you too Jessica! 🙂
Jessica! You’re one of the winners! 🙂
My favorite Christmas Carol is oh holy night
Such a beautiful song!
Congrats Thea, you’re one of the winners! 🙂 Please send me an email at email@example.com and I will get your copy to you.
this is such a great idea. I haven’t really focused much on advent in the past. It seems like a great time to start.
I love Advent! It’s become such a meaningful season to me. I hope it is for you too!
I love the song Mary did you know..
That song can send shivers down my spine.
Hi Lindsey! My favorite Christmas carol is “Silent Night.” There’s a song written by Daniel Kantor called “Night of Silence,” which is a gorgeously poignant song written to be a partner song with Silent Night. The two together give me chills.
Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for the suggestion, I love discovering new Christmas music.
my favorite Christmas Carol is Coventry Carol by Loreena Mckennit
That’s such a haunting song!
I love this advent!
Advent is probably my favourite season. 🙂
I also love O Holy Night, like so many others here 🙂 Fun give-away, sorry I missed it!
A wonderful song!
MY favorite Christmas song is Silent Night. But I’m sure it wasn’t really a silent night!!
Haha, yes, certainly not all silence! I like to think that perhaps there was a silence when Mary finally snuggled in with little Jesus… at least for a little while. 🙂
I appreciated the encouragement of this post.
I’m glad. 🙂
This is our first year trying to “do” Advent, and it’s not going anything like I imagined in my head. Thank you for the reminder that it’s not about the little things, it’s about the big one that we’re waiting and hoping and praying for on December 25th 🙂
Just keep it simple! It’s all about our hearts. You never know what unexpected thing (that wasn’t on the plan) might reveal Christ to you in a meaningful way. Just keep your heart open. 🙂
I know the contest is over but I still want to say my favorite Christmas song is “Silent Night”, it always has… always… even as a child taken me to that night and the manager where Christ was born… it just fills my heart with so much love.
It’s a special song, that’s for sure. It brings me back to late night Christmas Eve services by candlelight in our little church in the Northwest Territories. I love to imagine people all over the world singing it on Christmas Eve.
Joy to the world is my favorite
Let heaven and nature sing!
I realize the giveaway is over, but wanted to comment anyway. My favorite carol is “O Holy Night.”
A beautiful song!
It’s a favourite of so many for a reason. Beautiful song!
My favorite Christmas song is Home for the Holidays 🙂
I like that one too. 🙂
when I was a kid my parents used to listen to Bing Crosby at Christmas! I loved those times…
I still have a tape of Bing Crosby’s Christmas that we listen to in our big old truck! Love it!
Not an entry, but just wanted to say that we did this devotional in our small groups at church and it was THE BEST!
Thank you for sharing it with everyone!
Oh, I’m so glad to hear this! I’m happy it was a blessing to you and your group. 🙂
I’m a new follower/fan as of today. I’m a mother of 3, and I became a grandmother this year! I home-schooled my 2 older children, but the Lord didn’t seem to have that in His plans for my 3rd child, who is graduating this year, hallelujah! I remember those days of my dining room table looking like you described yours and feeling like a failure, but my kids remember it totally different. I’m so thankful they look back and remember the fun and the love and the happiness, and that they couldn’t see my heart full of brokenness and fear of not measuring up. We need to pray for the Lord to continually give us the sight and faith of a child. Looking forward to reading!
Hi Angela, so nice to have you here. I love what you said about needing to have the sight of a child. It’s such a good reminder, and I appreciate the perspective of the generation who has gone on before! Blessings to you.
Growing up we listened to the old, traditional favorites.
Also, my father would play Luciano Pavarotti on the cassette player, is voice was so beautiful.
Now, I pass on the ‘classical’ versions to our granddaughter. She loves it too.
Have a wonderful Christmas. Happiness and Health to all!
Thank you Danielle! A wonderful Christmas to you too. I love those classical versions.
I would add, deep breath! But yes, it IS okay!
Yes to the deep breath! 🙂 More than one!
When you talked about never being “ready” for advent. That really resonated with me. Christmas does not come unexpectedly. It is a set date, yet everyday it seems to come to soon. I’m just not ready. And so instead the season passes by like a blur. Life will never be ready. I will never have the time or the life to do a Pinterest perfect celebration of advent, but it is important that I do celebrate this time, not only for my children, but for myself.
Jeanette, I think Advent is a great gift – a way to pace and prepare ourselves. Sometimes the simple things make the most difference. In our family it’s the nightly lighting of our Advent candles, and reading of Scripture. There are lots of activities we could be doing, but just picking one meaningful thing can make a big difference. As a mom I also make a point of focusing my own devotional time on the themes of Advent, which lets my heart be centred on Christ in the midst the busyness!
I related to this so much! Thanks for the encouragement!
My favorite song is Oh Holy Night. I just discovered this blog and it looks lovely!!
Welcome! I hope the blog is an encouragement to you. 🙂
This is not a giveaway comment as it’s already over! I just wanted to thank you for reminding me that we don’t have to be perfect and “have it all together” before we settle in to advent and Christmas. Yep, my kitchen table is covered with sewing projects, receipts from my purse and gifts that need to be mailed! But, I too, will clear the clutter and let go of the ideal!
It’s so hard sometimes to let go! But so worth it!
I’ve not given much thought to Advent, until this year. I have always been so busy “doing” stuff and not taking the time to just listen or reflect. I’m tired of getting caught up in the season and it’s about time that I stopped and listened.
Lisa Joy Starr
Yes, just a few quiet moments with ears open are sometimes all we need!
I love that this is your personal journey. That helps with perspective. Thank you for your labor of love.
I’d love to read and experience this advent journey! Sounds wonderful! Thank you for sharing it and using it to bless others!